Tag Archives: america

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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Thank Crunchie It’s Friday! – A Royal Easter Egg, Hot Cross Buns and a dose of nostalgia

crunchie

The other day I walked into my local supermarket and was immediately drawn to the chocolate section – no great change there – but this time I was hit by a wave of nostalgia as I spied the neatly stacked boxes of Cadbuy’s Crunchie Easter Eggs.

It’s not that I haven’t seen chocolate Easter Eggs over here in the US, although they certainly don’t seem to go in for them on the same scale as back home. Some years when Christmas was still a recent memory, whole supermarket aisles would be taken over, floor to ceiling, with as many varieties of Easter Egg as you could imagine. Some would fit into a teacup, and others could weigh as much as a small child. The standard package though was usually a hand-sized milk chocolate hollow egg, surrounded by two chocolate bars. And Crunchie was always my favourite.

As a child I couldn’t understand people who saved their Easter Eggs, making them last long into the summer months. My view was that if I didn’t eat the chocolate, someone else might, so by the evening of Easter Sunday I was always looking a little green and feeling sorry for myself.

These days, I have to rely on my sister sending me ‘Easter Egg care packages’ from the UK to satisfy my cravings, or just go without, which I know is the more sensible option. But, where’s the fun in that?

easter eggs

Talking of fun, I read an article recently about the Royal Easter Egg which is made by Nick Crean, the Royal Warrant Holder for fine chocolates, in his London factory. Made of dark chocolate, it weighs 4lbs and is filled with lots of goodies.

Photo: Andrew Crowley

Photo: Andrew Crowley

You can read the whole article on how they create the Royal Egg here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/9946679/An-Easter-egg-for-the-Queen.html

Finally, if after all that chocolate, you need some carbs to soak it all up…here is one of my favourite recipes for Hot Cross Buns. They’re really easy to make, and taste SO delicious!

I found the crosses a bit too much bother to make out of dough though, so I just use icing which works great.

http://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/hot-cross-buns/

hot cross buns

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Callaghan’s 12 Days (Videos) of Christmas – Part 2

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and is looking forward to a fantastic New Year.

To continue with my “12 Days (Videos) of Christmas” project, here is another video. This is a live recording of my song “Green Eyes”. It was written as an anniversary present to my husband and was originally called “Blue Eyes” until I sang it to him for the first time and realised his eyes were actually green!

So the title was quickly changed, and it’s now one of my favourite and most requested songs at my shows.

I hope you enjoy it, and that 2013 brings lots of good things for everyone!

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Weird And Wonderful Moments From The Road

As another leg of touring ends and I head back for some time off the road in Nashville, I thought I would share some of the moments I’ve experienced during my 2 1/2 years of touring in the US.

To date I have visited 30 states and performed in about 25. That still leaves plenty of places on my list to visit! Along the way I have met some truly wonderful people at shows, house concerts and out and about and had  so many laughs with the amazing artists I have had the good fortune to share the stage with including Shawn Mullins, Matthew Sweet, Erick Baker, Griffin House, Matthew Perrryman-Jones, and Steve Forbert.

Here are some photos which capture some favourite moments from the road, as well as some amusing or downright bizarre sights. One moment that still sticks in my mind was whilst touring with Shawn Mullins. We were all doing laundry in Dover, New Hampshire (laundry is part of the glamour of touring!) and saw a man walking his pet goat along the road, just like walking a dog! Unfortunately I couldn’t find a photo of that, but that is the beauty of touring – you never know what you’re going to see next! From sea to shining sea, over 100,000 miles, I have seen some crazy, beautiful and exciting things, here are a few of them…

At a gas station in Kentucky….
We took a photo of their restroom sign, apparently they were filming us!

This donut and coffee store in Austin TX has an open door policy for Monkeys…I waited and waited, but none came in.

This Ohio truck stop offers Boneless Bananas – suitable for vegetarians

You know your gig is in a good part of town when the store next door sells this!

Enjoying a colourful wind farm in Asheville North Carolina

On the Freeway…The new super-hyper-mega walmart has a new mega-cart

Flying back from Portland OR – quite a view!

You’ve heard of Hank’s Lost Highway? The GPS has lost this road under the ocean!

Callaghan fan- club in Atlanta GA, with amazing posters

Wild Gators near a gas station in Alabama. I didn’t realize there was any other kind!

Who needs protecting from who here…?

Down on the gulf coast…these fellas must be driving to that Coffee shop!

A local band playing on one of the islands visited by the Cayamo music cruise.

An beautiful bright sun on 30A highway, Florida – check out the 30A songwriter’s festival in January!

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What a week, what a show…Recording my first live CD

It felt good being back in Atlanta again. After so much time on the road and recently spent writing in Nashville I love the opportunity to get back to the city that has become my first American home.

A chance to drive down familiar roads, catch up with friends, and to start rehearsals for my show at The Red Clay Theatre just north of the city, in Duluth.

This was the first week of band rehearsals but preparations for the show had been going on a lot longer. For this show I wanted to push the boundaries and really see what is achievable despite being an independent artist on an independent-sized budget. I wanted the audience to feel like they had seen a big show in the intimate setting of a 250-seat theatre.

I was venturing into areas that I had never been before – designing a lighting plan, timing the set to know how much space was left in between each song, costume changes, as well as recording and filming the whole night.

Luckily I had help. Lots of help from people who I cannot thank enough, and who worked so hard putting the show together with me. I now understand why those arena shows have hundreds of people on the team!

The day of the show went by in a blur. It reminded me a bit of how on your wedding day people tell you to take a step back and enjoy the moment. There was so much going on that it was a challenge taking it all in. Because of extra time needed sound-checking for the actual show and for the recording, as well as a few issues with positioning the new grand piano and a guitar breaking, I was still on stage at 6pm, only an hour before the doors were opening.

And I still had to film backstage interviews, get dressed, go through vocal warm ups, and eat some dinner! This is so often the scene before a show though, and there was so much riding on this particular one it was hard to relax. Somehow it all got done, and I was there right on time to walk onto the stage for the first song – a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Walk The Line”.

The set list for the whole show was:

Walk The Line / Folsom Prison
Look Around
Sweet Surrender
Smile
Close My Eyes
Love Me For A While
Piece of My Heart
Get Me Through Tonight
The Edge of Love
It Was Meant To Be
Green Eyes
Alone
Lost
Over The Rainbow
The Only Thing Real
Noah’s Song
To Be Loved By You
Best Year
At Last


I’m still working out which songs will be on the final live CD which I hope to have available by the end of the year. A good idea for some Christmas presents!

I’ll be putting up some live footage soon on my Website and Facebook page, as well as some photos from the show.

I can honestly say I learnt more from this show than probably all the others I’ve done combined, and maybe there are some things I’d change next time, but that’s what performing is all about. Learning and improving. And I can’t wait for the chance to do the next one…I’m already thinking of new ways to make it even bigger!

I’d like to say a big thanks to the team who helped bring the show to life:

Kip Connor – Recording 

Shalom Aberle – House sound, Red Clay Theatre

Eddie Owen – Owner

Zach Wetzel – Lights

Steve Sherrick – Videographer

Jolene Eyre – Wardrobe/ Styling

Lisa Stephenson – Hair styling

Scott Lowden – Photography

And to my wonderful band!

Tom “Panda” Ryan – Bass, Backing Vocals, Musical Director of the band

Jon Poole – Drums

Davis Causey – Electric Guitar

Jeff Box – Keyboards

Shannon Cochran – Acoustic/ Electric guitar

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A thought for those hit by the storm…

Unfortunately the joy of the weekend was followed by Hurricane Sandy – and it was shocking to see the devastation that unfolded in towns and cities where I have enjoyed playing shows and meeting people. I hope individuals and communities who have lost possessions, homes and even loved ones, will find the strength to get through a very difficult time.

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Ever thought about house concerts? America’s Best New Music Venue could be closer than you think…

It’s about four in the afternoon and the car is pulling up outside a lovely red brick house in North Georgia. We are welcomed inside by Jimmy and his wife Marie along with a comforting aroma of hot apple cider and pumpkin pie that drifts in from kitchen.

The living room is a medium-sized space, open plan to the kitchen, and full of every kind of chair, stool and sofa. There is just enough space at the end of the room to comfortably accommodate the equipment we begin bringing in from the car. It only takes a matter of minutes to start getting everything in place – this is a routine practiced many times over, which is kept deliberately simple.

There will be no special effects tonight, no expensive drinks or stranger on the door. There will be no tedious waiting in line for bathrooms, no noisy people at the bar, and no struggle to find a parking space. Tonight will be as close to home as it gets. This is the charm and ease of the House Concert.

It’s 7pm and guests start arriving, enjoying drinks and snacks, and having a good catch up with friends not seen for too long. Despite everyone’s busy lives filled with work, travel and family commitments, they are brought together for one evening through a shared passion for music. Everyone who can afford it puts a donation in the hat as they come in, to help keep the artist moving down the road.

By the time 8pm comes around it’s time for the music to begin. Sometimes the host of the concert will say something to welcome everyone to their home, show where artist donations can be left, and introduce the performer. But tonight Jimmy’s youngest son Patrick takes the lead and, although only 8 years old, confidently plays the part of compere.

The show is in two parts, around 45 minutes each, with a break in the middle to refresh drinks, stretch legs and perhaps wander over to check out the “pop-up music store” in the corner of room offering souvenirs of the event; posters, T-shirts, and CDs that are happily autographed at the end of the show.

And House Concert set lists are always a little different to the regular. In this relaxed environment newly written songs are tried for the first time, well known sing-along-classics get included, sometimes with an experimental twist, and time is always left between songs to talk. For a real conversation between musician and audience, including questions about how songs were created and sharing amusing stories from the road.

At the end of the evening when the music stops, the CDs are signed and the glasses are empty, for the performer there’s a warm feeling that your circle of friends has been increased by 25, or 40, or 90 or however many chairs were filled that night.

House concerts are a truly amazing way to enjoy live music, make new friends and be directly involved in helping to further the career of an independent artist. You don’t have to live in a mansion to host a house concert. They can be as small as 25 people in your front room to over a hundred spread out in your back garden.

I have toured all over the US and house concerts are so often the highlight of my travels. They have introduced me to some wonderful people who I now consider true friends. They have enabled me to have some amazing experiences; waking up overlooking the Puget Sound in Washington State, trying to waterski on a Michigan lake, and making it possible to afford to travel to Austin Texas to perform at SXSW.

If you love live music and would be interested in hosting a house concert, I urge you to go for it. All the information you’ll need, and more, can be found on my website www.callaghansongs.com/houseconcerts or on the Concerts In Your Home site, www.concertsinyourhome.com

It’s so simple, and so much fun. You’ll wonder why you never thought of it earlier.

See you at your house!

 

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East Coast Tour Journal – Part 2 – Illness, Cancelled Shows and a return to Music City

I didn’t expect to be writing the second part of my tour blog a week after returning from the tour. But I also wasn’t expecting to get ill enough to have to cancel performances, as well as nearly missing one by 5 minutes…

My last blog left off on Thursday night, the day before the Boston show. We were driving from Philadelphia to Boston. A drive that Google Maps had suggested would take about 5 hours ended up, due to unexplained traffic jams, potholes on the New Jersey Turnpike and hold ups, taking 9 hours. The romance of the road really seems a little absent on those kind of journeys.

As we finally made it into Boston the time was 7:45pm and I was due on stage at 8:00pm. There was a baseball game on so there was no where to park, I was in my travel clothes, had no makeup on, and had a truck full of music gear which had to be loaded into the venue. I knew the show couldn’t be delayed as it was being webcast live on the internet. After all those hours sitting in the car trying with all our might to get to Boston, I thought it would surely all be for nothing and the show would start without me.

But sometimes incredible things happen on tour and you surprise yourself how fast you can move. As we pulled up to the venue, and double parked, a group of people came rushing out to help load in. While the crew set up and line checked all my gear I headed to the dressing room, threw on some clothes and makeup in 8 minutes and ran onto stage right at 8:00pm. The room was heaving with people and the crowd were fantastic. After all the stress and endurance of getting there, it turned out to be one of the best shows of the tour. Thanks everyone at Cafe 939, The Red Room, Boston!

The tour continued to be a lot of fun, dueting with Matthew Perryman-Jones and Matthew Mayfield during their sets, to great audiences.

A few days later I started to get that sinking feeling that all singers get when a cold is coming on.

With each day my voice was getting weaker and the pressure in my head was increasing until I felt it was going to explode. I tried my best to keep on singing but it was incredibly frustrating willing my voice to work and feeling helpless. It’s hard to make sound vibrate through a stuffed up nose!

I tried all manner of remedies to keep me going including menthol inhalers, vitamin supplements, cold and flu potions, a family remedy of a good old Irish hot toddie – its effect was very soothing in the short-term! A kindly couple, husband and wife preachers, even offered to lay on hands and seek divine help to keep me singing – I should perhaps    have accepted their offer because the cold kept getting worse.

In the end I ended up having to pull out of two shows and spent 3 days in bed trying to get as much sleep as possible.

It was only until the very last night of the tour that I felt back to myself again. Thankfully the venue, The Altamont in Asheville NC, was a great place to finish the tour – the video above was taken there. Things really finished on a high as all three singers, band members and tour management retired to an Asheville Karaoke bar to entertainingly (to ourselves at least!) re-interpret some classic tunes.

I’m learning with each tour I go out on that you can’t control everything, and the best way to get by is to expect the unexpected.

I’m looking forward to spending this month in Nashville and getting to write lots. As much as I love being on the road, sometimes sleeping in the same bed each night feels so good.

One thing I was less happy about was the not-so-small intruder I found crawling along the corridor of the house when I returned.

Now that looks like a spider that should be hunting outside the house!

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Callaghan – East Coast Tour Journal (Week 1)

Tuesday Sep 18th – Johnson City, TN – Vienna, VA

The tour has officially begun!

What probably have been a 6 hour journey in the sunshine became an 8 hour drive in the pouring rain. It started the minute we set out from Tennessee and didn’t let up the whole day.

For anyone thinking touring might be glamourous, the reality is more often like today – hours spent in the car, a $10 lunch at Subway and visits to very questionable gas station restrooms.

But despite the delays, I made it Vienna for the show at Jammin’ Java. And the first night of the tour did not disappoint. Great show, great crowd and a lot of fun getting to hear my tour buddies Matthew Mayfield and Matthew Perryman-Jones playing live.

I’m very much looking forward to a comfortable bed in tonight’s hotel, and then it’s onto Charlottesville, VA…

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Wednesday 19th – Vienna, VA – Charlottesville, VA

What a difference a day makes. Today the rain stopped and the sun came out.

An early start this morning to get to Charlottesville in time for a radio interview and performance with 106.1 The Corner. You can hear the archive here:

http://1061thecorner.com/pages/4418003.php?contentType=33&contentId=74704

Our route took us on back roads all the way to Charlottesville through rolling hills and past farms with white picket fences. A very welcome change from the interstate.

After the interview there was some time to look round the town of Charlottesville. Sometimes it doesn’t happen like that on tour days, there is only time to get to the venue and start the unloading and soundchecking. So I love being able to get a feel for a place, and Charlottesville, with its small independent shops and pedestrianised streets was a real joy.

Tomorrow we head to the streets of Philadelphia…

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Thursday 20th – Charlottesville, VA – Philadelphia, PA

Tonight’s show started late at The World Cafe Live due to there being a Grilled Cheese and Craft Beer party in the room before us. I’d never heard of such an event, but what a great combination!

The show went really well and I loved getting to perform a song with Matthew Perryman-Jones during his set.

One of the lovely things about visiting Philadephia is getting to stay with a friend of ours who we met through the house concert circuit. We have made so many great connections through doing house concerts across the US and it makes such a big difference when traveling to stay in a house rather than a hotel and get to chat with lovely people.

Maybe one day I’ll try and do a coast to coast tour of just house concerts!

Friday’s show is at The Red Room Cafe 939 in Boston and will be webcast live from this link: http://www.concertwindow.com/shows/matthew-perryman-jones-matthew-mayfield-callaghan

Callaghan with Matthew Perryman-Jones at The World Cafe Live, Philadelphia PA

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Fish and Chips, Pints of Beer, S’Mores and Grits – A Transatlantic Feast

 

Traveling, seeing new places and having adventures is great fun, but sometimes there’s nothing that feels better than home. Familiar surroundings, friendly faces and the ease and comfort of many things that you know.

It has been 9 months since I’ve been back to the UK and so the next 3 weeks are a long awaited treat. I won’t be doing any gigs while I’m back, just catching up with friends and family and seeing how my hometown of London has changed after the recent Olympic celebrations. I can’t wait!

One thing I miss while living abroad is certain foods that I never even realised I liked that much when I was in the UK, but suddenly when they’re not available, strange cravings appear.

For those of you in the USA interested in sampling some British favourites, most Publix and Kroger supermarkets have some in their “Ethnic Food” Aisle (an amusement in itself!). You can pick up things like Jammie Dodgers, Heinz Baked Beans, Marmite, and even tins of Spotted Dick which, although sounds like an unfortunate condition, is a type of boiled fruit cake, and actually very tasty with icecream or custard.

   

The foods I’m most looking forward to when I go back are fish and chips drenched in salt and vinegar, a pint of beer in a British pub, and the biggest bar of Cadbury’s chocolate I can find.

And I thought it was about time I introduced the UK to some great American classics, so I’m taking back in my luggage some grits, graham crackers and marshmallows to make S’Mores, and I need more suggestions!

What is your favourite American food that you think I should take back to introduce to my British friends and family? It can be anything, as long as it travels well.

Leave your suggestions below and I’ll let you know how they go down across the pond!

 

 

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