Tag Archives: British

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 – “When You Loved Me” – Live in America

My new album “Callaghan Live in America” is coming out very soon – on July 1st. I can’t wait!

This song, “When You Loved Me”, is one I wrote recently with amazing writer and friend of mine, Angela Kaset.

Side A of the record is Live on Stage with a full band. Side B is a live acoustic session recorded at Quad Studios Nashville.

‘When You Loved Me’ is from the acoustic session. The idea for the song came from a conversation with a friend who is in her 80s. We were talking about her first love in New York City when she was a teenager and how she had always wondered what had happened to him and how things might have worked out if they had met at a different time in their lives. It’s funny how memories of that first significant love stay with you even though you go on to have other wonderful relationships. I guess these days you can check out that first love on Facebook!

But there’s something special about the way things used to work in the days before social media when that first special person could leave you with memories that last a lifetime.

Feel free to share this song with anyone you think might enjoy it.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Keep “Keep Calm and Carry On” For Everyone

keep_calm_is_not_a_trade_markjpg

In 1939 an unknown Civil Servant working for the British Government designed a poster that would not only give hope and encouragement to citizens during WWII but would go on to become one of the most recognisable and iconic images of the last 70 years.

The “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan has been adapted the world over, constantly popping up around the UK, from The London Olympics to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee street parties to bakery shop windows urging customers to “Keep Calm and Eat Some Cake”.

I even created my own version of the poster with the slogan “Keep Calm and Listen To Callaghan”!

keep calm and listen to callaghan poster

The intention of the wartime propaganda poster was to raise the morale of the British public in the event of a Nazi invasion. And the sense that it conveys of urging communities to pull together and encourage hope still rings through.

In 2000, an original copy of the poster was discovered in Barter Books, a secondhand book shop in the North of England, by the store owners, Stuart and Mary Manley. The ubiquitous nature of the image over the last decade is largely down to the fact that they decided to start reprinting and selling posters from their shop.

Up until recently there have been no restrictions on people reproducing the “Keep Calm and Carry On” design, or creating versions of their own as it is deemed to be in the public domain.

That was until 2011 when Mark Coop of UK-based company Keep Calm and Carry On Ltd registered an EU trademark in an attempt to take ownership of the very British and newly famous image. Although his application was turned down in the UK, he is now attempting the same in the European Union, the US and Canada. If granted, this would mean his company had sole rights to reproduce this image.

Some feel that not only is this wrong due to the fact that Mark Coop did not himself design the poster, but also because it takes away the very meaning and spirit behind this piece of artwork. It was created for the public and should be left for the public to enjoy.

If you would like to object to the trademark, you can sign the petition on the campaign website here: http://keepcalmcampaign.co.uk/

Let’s try and keep “Keep Calm and Carry On” available to everyone!

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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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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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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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When searching for a perfect dessert, it’s hard to beat the good British Pud

While some people are addicted to reading the latest fashion magazine or finding out the gossip on the Hollywood grapevine, there is nothing I find more relaxing than sitting down with a good cookery book and reading it cover to cover.

Although I enjoy looking at lots of food related books, it’s really the desserts that get me going. For me, combining a few simple ingredients to create the most heavenly treats is one of life’s purest pleasures.

While I don’t usually need an excuse to start flicking through the brightly illustrated pages, this time there is a definite reason. The friend who owns the house I’m currently staying in is having a dinner party and I volunteered to make dessert. And this particular friend also happens to have been a food writer in years gone by so is not easy to impress!

For our last little gathering I made a variation on the British recipe for Eton Mess, adding some caramelised peaches and spun sugar pieces, and it went down a storm. So the pressure for a repeat success is on!

When I last visited the UK I brought back a cookbook that looked like it would stand me in good stead for some culinary reminders of home – Jamie’s Great Britain. It has some fantastically British sounding recipes in it like “Bubble and Squeak”, “Wee Scotch Eggs”, “Queen Victoria Sponge”, and “Humble Pea & Ham Soup with Fluffy Dumplings”.

That last dish is so British in fact that when the Capital was at its smoggiest, Londoners used to refer to a low visibility day as a “real Pea Souper”.

And of course the book wouldn’t be complete without a recipe for the dish loved by children and adults alike, and the very first thing I ever learnt to cook myself – Jam Tarts.

But I think this dinner party might call for something slightly more sophisticated than a plate of Jam Tarts, so the search continues.

The good thing about a task of this nature is the almost mandatory sampling of many kinds of puddings. Incidentally, one of the many interesting “lost in translation” moments since moving to America was finding out that “pudding” in the US refers to a smooth custardy dish, not simply as another name for any dessert as it does in the UK.

I found a trip to the Nashville Famers‘ Market was the inspiration that I needed, and with all the fresh and tasty looking apples that were in season, I decided to go with one of my favourite British recipes, Apple Crumble.

I usually serve apple crumble with hot custard or cream, but an even more perfect accompaniment I found was a recently discovered ice-cream by Talenti, called Sea Salt Caramel. I think this particular ice-cream goes perfectly with just a spoon, but on apple crumble it’s also fantastic. It’s a pretty decadent treat.

If you like the sound of Apple Crumble, there are loads of great recipes for it online. You can’t go far wrong with Delia Smith’s though, which you can find here, and she even has a handy conversion table on her site for measuring in cups: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/galleries/delia-waitrose-recipes/best-ever-apple-crumble.html

NB: The photo I used is not actually a picture of my apple crumble, due to it being so delicious that it all got eaten before I remembered to take a photo! So this one is borrowed from http://pincurlmag.com/tag/apple-crumble

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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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