Category Archives: New experiences

This country is HUGE! “Callaghan Across America Tour” (Part2)

The Painted Desert, Utah

The Painted Desert, Utah

This country is huge!

It’s something I’ve always known, but never is the sheer scale of the US more apparent when driving through the West of it. I’ve heard many people mention how America is a young country and doesn’t have history that goes back a long way, which is true in some ways, but driving through the painted desert in Utah feels like looking back into prehistoric times.
The landscape looks so untouched and colossal, you can almost see the dinosaurs walking around on the hot sand.

The feeling of being overwhelmed by my surroundings has continued from the moment we drove across Texas, heading West. As someone who normally passes the hours of a long journey by sleeping, I haven’t been able to keep my eyes closed, worrying that we’ll drive round a corner and see an even more breath taking sight.

painted desert

The painted desert will be one of my favorite sights from this coast to coast trip, one favorite of many. Visiting the Grand Canyon was also something I’d always wanted to do, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. And the list of memorable experiences seems to be endless on this trip – meeting some Navajo Indians in Utah, riding the NY NY roller coaster in Vegas, seeing Celine Dion perform at Caesars Palace, seeing the elephant seals on a California beach on Highway 1, electrocuting some pickles in Austin TX (we were staying with a scientist, and who hasn’t wondered what an electrocuted pickle might look like?! Note of warning – don’t eat the pickle at the end), and reaching the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco which completed our coast to coast adventure.

"Callaghan Across America" reaches the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

“Callaghan Across America” reaches the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

elephant seals, california

The Elephant Seals on the beach on Highway 1

The "Pickleator"!

The “Pickleator”!

Tonight ill be in Denver Colorado for two shows this weekend before heading back home to Nashville.

Although this tour isn’t even over yet, I’ve already been looking at the map for next year. This country is so huge, there are lots more places yet to visit!

To see all the photos from the tour, head over to www.facebook.com/callaghanmusic

While I was driving today, I got a call to say that the “Callaghan Across America” Tour is featured in this week’s Billboard magazine. Please check it out!

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Recipes from the road – Mexican chili chocolate chewy cookies

mexican chocolate chewie cookies

Mexican Chocolate Chewies – delicious and gluten free too!

 

The “Callaghan Across America” tour continues to make its way West across the country. Since my last blog we have been to Clarkston MI, Frankfort IL, Chicago IL, Louisville KY, Nashville TN, Columbia MO, Lawrence KS, Manhattan KS, Bentonville AR, Eureka Springs AR, Dallas TX, Austin TX, Houston TX, – then a seriously long drive across 3 states to get to Tucson AZ, and last night in Las Vegas NV!

You can see lots of fun photos from the road over on my Callaghan Across America album on Facebook.

The shows have been going great and we’ve been seeing many weird and wonderful things on the road.

One of the great things about touring this way, i’ve discovered, is the food! Usually at regular shows we end up eating a lot of fried and quite unhealthy food, but the house shows are full of delicious home cooked food. I thought id share a couple of my favourites from the tour so far. Because I have such a sweet tooth, naturally I had to start with a dessert!


Mexican Chocolate Chewies 

This recipe was given to me by the host of the concert in Austin TX. They are made with deliciously dark cocoa powder and no flour so they are surprisingly light, gluten free, and completely irresistible!

 

Ingredients:

2 cups pecans, roughly chopped

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (King Arthur’s Black Cocoa powder works really well to give a deep chocolatey flavour)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp chipotle chile powder (we used 1/2 tsp and it tasted very good!)

1/4 tsp kosher salt

3 large egg whites

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

king arthur black cocoa

King Arthur Black Cocoa


Steps:

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

While the oven is heating, arrange the chopped pecans in a skillet (frying pan) or on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 5 minutes or until they’ve turned darker brown (but not black) and smell fragrant.

Mix roasted pecans with the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, chipotle chile powder and salt.

Stir the egg whites (no need to whisk them first) into the dry mixture until the batter is well mixed. Stir in the vanilla extract and chocolate chips.

Drop tablespoons of the batter on the baking sheet an inch apart, as the cookies will spread while baking. Bake for 15 minutes or until you see cracks on the surface.

Remove sheet from oven, lift parchment paper with the cookies still on it, off the baking sheet and cool on a rack. Allow cookies to cool for 20 minutes before removing from the paper as they’re very delicate.

They will keep for a few days in an airtight container.

Original recipe taken from The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain

homesick texan cookbook

 

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“Callaghan Across America” House Concert Tour (Part 1)

Callaghan Across America - Philadelphia PA

Callaghan Across America – Philadelphia PA

I’m just over a week into my “Callaghan Across America” tour and so far have travelled about 4,000 miles.

I have sampled some of New England’s finest fish and chips in Boston, enjoyed a sea air-filled run along the harbour, ridden the Mount Washington incline in Pittsburgh, enjoyed some Cinco De Mayo cocktails, taken a very chilly boat ride on the Chicago river, run up the Rocky Steps in Philadelphia and tasted a very interesting popcorn flavoured cream dessert in Cleveland.

Callaghan Across America - Enjoying some Boston Fish n Chips!

Callaghan Across America – Enjoying some Boston Fish n Chips!

Callaghan Across America - An early morning run in the NE sunshine

Callaghan Across America – An early morning run in the NE sunshine

So far I have pledged my support for a range of sports teams including the Redsox, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Indians, Ohio state, Michigan, The Cubs, and Perdue! I’m sure there are no rivals in amongst those…right?!

Callaghan Across America - with the Terrible Towel in Pittsburgh!

Callaghan Across America – with the Terrible Towel in Pittsburgh!

And all along the way I have performed house concerts in people’s homes. I have done 9 of the 26 on the tour so far and have absolutely loved each one. Although each host does things a little differently the common theme running through all is a room full of music loving people eager to hear some original songs and sing along to a few familiar covers. I’m finding that not only have a lot of people never been to a house concert before, but have never really heard about them either.

It’s true that before I moved to the US I hadn’t come across the house concert format, and since moving here I’d only done the odd one slotted in amongst regular public shows. So this tour, doing exclusively house concerts coast to coast, is also a first for me. I keep wondering why I’d never thought to do it before, and whether, in this age where unsigned independent artists are finding it ever harder to use traditional routes of promotion like TV and radio, house concerts will become the number one way of spreading the word about new music.

Callaghan Across America - A typical house concert

Callaghan Across America – A typical house concert

To me house concerts are the oldest form of social networking. Nothing means more than a friend telling another friend about a new artist they have discovered. It goes even further than lending someone a CD, by saying “come to my house this weekend and hear the artist perform up close for yourself”!

Strong connections are made between the audience and the performer at the shows, and they become the best individual marketing and PR ambassadors that you could wish for!

4,000 miles in, the next stops will take me out West to some places I’ve never visited before and some I’m really excited to see again including Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, California, and Vegas!

If you’d like to see more photos and updates from the Callaghan Across America Tour, head over to www.facebook.com/callaghanmusic

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Day 1 of “Callaghan Across America” Tour, and another live record preview!

Image

After many months of planning and talking about it, the “Callaghan Across America” Tour  has finally begun!

The last 3 days have been spent driving from my home in Nashville to the start of the tour in Boston. Tonight will be the first show, and then there will be 25 more that will take me all across the country to San Francisco. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of cool people, seeing new places and playing some new songs I’ve been working on.

Here is a video for a song from my upcoming live record, to be released on July 1. This song was recorded live in a stud in Nashville and is a foot-stomping, hand-clapping anthem all about leaving someone!

I hope you all enjoy it, and have a great weekend!

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Callaghan Live in America

callaghan live album

After months of planning, decision making, and experimenting, the countdown has finally begun. My new live CD will be coming out on July 1st, and I can’t wait!

The record is an album of two halves. The first half, a live recording of songs from my full band show at The Red Clay Theatre in Duluth, GA, and the second half, songs from a live session at Quad Studios in Nashville TN.

I love the way the record feels like a true representation of a live show – acoustic and intimate as well as full on rocking out.

The process of recording each half of the album couldn’t have been more different.

As someone with an impressively large collection of live CDs and DVDs, I thought recording the live show would be no problem. How wrong I was! What I hadn’t fully realised was that most artists record a live album or DVD during a tour, taking the best performances from several different shows. However, as an independent artist relying on favours from friends to help with the recording, that was not going to be an option. It had to be one show, one night, one take. Quite a challenge, but I love the energy that was captured, and in some ways there is nothing more real than doing it this way.

Callaghan and band at The Red Clay Theatre, Duluth GA

The Nashville studio session presented different issues. I was really excited about getting to record the old-fashioned way where a bunch of musicians all get together at the same time, in the same room, and someone presses the record button. Just how I imagine one of my all-time favourite artists, Buddy Holly, might have made his records.

callaghan in studio

The only change to how I had imagined things was that Greg (the producer) had set up each musician in their own little area so that every instrument wouldn’t bleed into every microphone. It was such a thrill getting to record playing and singing at the grand piano, and looking over my shoulder to see Donnie playing the violin part live at the same time.

The final track list for the album ended up as:

FULL BAND
1. Green Eyes
2. Noah’s Song
3. Close My Eyes
4. Lost
5. Walk The Line/ Folsom Prison Blues

ACOUSTIC SESSION
6. When You Loved Me
7. It Was Meant To Be
8. Love Me For A While
9. Over The Rainbow
10. If This Is Love

callaghan in studio nashville 2

To give you a little preview taste of the live album I’ll be posting some listening videos to my YouTube Channel over the next few weeks, starting on Monday.

For anyone in the Georgia area, I’ll be performing a CD release party live with full band on Saturday June 29th and The Red Clay Theatre in Duluth GA. Tickets are available now from: http://public.ticketbiscuit.com/eddieowenpresents/ticketing/158234

To keep up with all the news on the album release and lots more, come say hi on my Facebook Page.

To download a song from my studio album for free, head over to www.callaghansongs.com

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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A week in the life of a top British Film Photographer (who’s also my big sister!)

There are many places to draw inspiration in life. One of them for me is my big sister.

Like me, she took the plunge of leaving a life with a regular pay check behind to follow her dreams.

Quitting her job as a lawyer in London, she decided to make a career out of one of her biggest passions – film photography.

It has been amazing over the last few years to see the stunning images she has captured, and to see her become more established in the industry.

This is a short film she created using Premier Pro to capture a week in the life of a film photographer. It doubly amazes me that she has made this momentous career move whilst also having a baby. My nephew Noah is now 2 and features a lot in the video, partly just because he’s such a cute model (not a biased auntie talking I promise!)

I’m just getting into the world of making mini videos. The one I made from my time on music cruise Cayamo was done on iMovie (http://youtu.be/RE7Z5AVFbxU) and I’ve also heard of a program called “Vine” that takes 3 seconds video clips that can be edited into something cool.

I’m looking forward to doing some more experimenting!

If anyone has any other cool programs you like to use for this kind of thing, I’d love to hear about them!

For more information about Stephanie Callaghan-Smith’s photography, visit http://www.callaghansmithportraits.com

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Callaghan Across America

callaghan across america

I’ve decided to set myself a challenge for the Spring.

A road trip like no other.

Starting in Boston on May 3, I’m going to make my way across the USA playing a house show each night, traveling from sea-to-shining-sea! The tour will wind its way across the USA to reach Berkeley California by June 2. What the route will be between those two destinations will depend on who hosts a show!

The tour’s called Callaghan Across America.

I’ve been doing house concerts since moving to America. They were an innovation to me, something I had not come across on the other side of the pond, but once I had done a couple I was hooked.

So, for a couple of years now, as well as playing in clubs and public venues all over the USA, I’ve also been setting up my PA system in people’s living rooms and  playing live for them and their friends.

More and more people are opening up their homes to live music and inviting their friends to hear artists they love. For listeners, house shows offer a relaxed and intimate way to hear live music. For independent artists like me they offer a fantastic way to reach new fans, make new friends and stay on the road making music.

This tour is going to be a great challenge, and also a celebration of this growing grassroots movement in live music. We’ll see if house shows alone can take Callaghan Across America!

On the way I’ll be stopping at interesting sites and sampling local food from each place, so I’ll definitely be looking for some great recommendations on which direction to go!

If you might be interested in hosting a house concert – even if you’ve never done one before – head over to my website that has information about what’s involved: www.callaghansongs.com/houseconcerts

To let me know that you might like to host a show please email callaghanmusic@me.com

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The Joys of Turning Two

Jelly and Ice-cream, chocolate cake with Cadbury’s chocolate buttons, numerous books and videos of Noddy’s adventures, and a super cool wooden car complete with hippy-looking driver. These are just a few things that go into making up the perfect two-year old’s birthday party.

The birthday boy in question this time was my gorgeous nephew, Noah.
Having just flown in from Nashville a couple of hours earlier, I was so pleased to be able to celebrate the day with him. I’m not sure how much he understood of the concept of birthdays – indicated by the fact that when my sister asked him who had brought all of his lovely presents his reply was “Santa”. Oh well.

But he certainly looked like he had fun with them, and nothing summed up the pure joy in the eyes of a two year old as when his giant chocolate cake was placed in front of him.

Priceless!

Turning two with birthday cake

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It’s not too late for New Years Resolutions…as long as they’re fun!

funny new years resolutions

 

As the first weeks of the New Year pass by, those New Years Resolutions that were set leading up to Christmas are probably already getting some of us down. Plans that seemed so virtuous now just seem like a drag. So I thought I would share some more easily kept New Years Resolutions that are just a little bit more fun!

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An American-British Feast – Pumpkin Cheesecake and Eton Mess

pumpkin cheesecake

I’ve been living in the US for 2 1/2 years and have had the pleasure of being invited to three Thanksgiving celebrations.

I have really enjoyed trying the traditional dishes of turkey with gravy, various types of dressings, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and a particular favourite of mine – pumpkin pie.

But this year the pressure was on as I was invited to prepare the dessert – the only dessert! And as an extra twist it had to be gluten free.

The world of gluten free cooking is not one I’ve ever explored, but I was determined to find a recipe that would taste fantastic to everyone and not put anyone in the Emergency Room by the end of the night – definitely the very least you want from a dinner party!

I hedged my bets and went for two different desserts. A variation of my favourite pumpkin pie – Baked Pumpkin Cheesecake, and an old tried and tested recipe from home called Eton Mess.

The only thing I needed to do to make things celiac-safe was to use gluten free ginger snaps for the base of the cheesecake. All other parts of the cheesecake, as well as everything in the Eton Mess recipe is already gluten free.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

This is from Nigella Lawson’s book – Feast. In my opinion Nigella is one of the queens of homemade puddings (the other being Delia Smith) and this recipe definitely did not disappoint. The only tip I have when making this is to try and use the food processor to mix the ingredients. If you use a kitchen aid or do it by hand you risk getting too much air in the mixture or not mixing enough and ending up with a grainy texture to your cheesecake.

FOR THE CHEESECAKE BASE

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (or gluten free ginger snaps)

1 stick butter, soft

FOR THE FILLING

1 15oz can unseasoned pumpkin puree

1 cup sugar

6 eggs

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 1/2lbs cream cheese

Place the graham cracker crumbs in a food processor and then add the butter, cut in pieces. Process until the crumb mixture starts to clump together like damp sand.

Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9in springform pan to create an ven layer. Put the pan in the fridge while you make the filling. Preheat the oven to 325F.

Put the pumpkin puree and cream cheese into the processor and run the motor until the cheese blends into the pumpkin. Add the sugar and with the motor running, break the eggs one at a time down the tube of the processor. Scrape down and process again, adding the lemon juice and blitzing to make a smooth mixture.

Wrap the outside of the crumb-lined springform pan with plastic wrap. Give a good few layers to make sure everything is completely waterproof. Now sit this on a large piece of double-layered heavy-duty aluminium foil and bring it up around the edges of the pan to make a nest. Sit the foil-covered springform pan in a roasting pan.

Scrape the cheesecake filling into the springform pan, and then pur recently boiled water in the roasting pan to a level approximately halfway up the cake pan.

Bake for about 1 3/4 hours, or until the filling has set with only a small amount of wobble left at its centre; it is worth remembering that it will continue to cook as it cool down. Take the pan out of the water bath and sit on a cooling rack, removing the foil as you do so. When it is cool enough, put the cheesecake in the refrigerator overnight, before removing the sides of the pan to slice.

For my version of Eton Mess, see my previous blog: “If Heaven Was Made of Meringue, This is What it Would Taste Like!

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