Tag Archives: Callaghan

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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“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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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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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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Callaghan’s 12 Days (Videos) of Christmas!

Not long to go before the holidays. I hope everyone’s looking forward to some rest and relaxation!

As a thank you for all the support people have given me and my music over the year, I’m giving the best present I can think of – more music!

I’m doing my very own “12 Videos of Christmas”, starting today,  live from my living room!

The first video is my favourite Christmas hymn, “O Holy Night”. I’ve been performing it as the encore in a couple of recent shows and people have been asking for it – so here it is!

Tomorrow’s video will be one of my new songs.

You can watch the video now on my Facebook Page  where I’ll be posting more in the days ahead.

All these videos, and more are also on my youtube channel.

Hope you and your families all have wonderful holidays!

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What Is It About Christmas Music That Makes You Want To Poke Sharp Objects In Your Ears?!

Young woman wearing Santa's hat is screaming.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you “Be of good cheer”
It’s the most wonderful time of the year”

Well, Andy Williams, sometimes it doesn’t feel like the “hap-happiest season of all” when the local radio and in-store music stations have offered you countless variations of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” or “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and it’s not even lunch time yet.

Amazingly, the song that tops the list of most performed Christmas songs, aptly titled “The Christmas Song”, has been covered over 109 times (I lost the will to continue once I’d counted to 109). This particular holiday song is by no means the most annoying though. I think it’s one of the good ones, although I decided not to sample Daffy Duck’s version.

It’s not that Christmas music is a bad thing. In the right setting, and produced well it can put you in a wonderfully festive mood. But tuning into any radio station, or walking into a store in the months leading up to Christmas I am left with the overwhelming impression that these organizations all possess the same 10-track Christmas CD and have been given instructions to play it on a loop until eventually people can take no more! I cannot even imagine what it must be like to work in one of these stores around the holidays, but I’m pretty sure it could be classified as a form of mental torture.

I think the problem may be even worse in my home country of England than the USA. Because we don’t have Thanksgiving or do much to mark the occasion of Halloween, preparations for Christmas sometimes begin as early as September so the music on a loop starts then too. The strange thing is, after two Christmases spent in the USA, I have actually begun to miss the songs that drove me so crazy in the UK. I’d never really thought about it before moving to the US, but Christmas Songs are innately part of the culture of each country. There are songs played over here that I’d never heard before and British Christmas tunes that never get a look in. I don’t think any of my American friends have experienced the festive joy of hearing Noddy Holder of 70’s UK-rock band Slade scream “It’s Christmas!” at the top of his lungs before launching into “Merry Xmas Everybody“, nor have they heard the lyrical genius of The Darkness’s hit tune “Christmas Time, Don’t Let The Bells End” or Cliff Richard’s crooning over his classic “Mistletoe & Wine“. And no Christmas journey was ever complete without hearing Chris Rea’s “Driving Home For Christmas“.

So maybe this proves my point that it’s not the songs themselves that people grow to hate, but how many of the same songs they are subjected to each year. Perhaps the radio stations and the stores need to branch out a bit more and treat their listeners and shoppers to a new Christmas tune once in a while.

In the interests of bringing new Christmas songs into the world, here is my offering. This is a video for my original Christmas song “Snowflakes” featuring people from all over the USA and beyond! I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it doesn’t make you want to rip your ears off this Christmas! Daffy Duck, if you’d like to cut a version of it, please get in touch.

Merry Christmas 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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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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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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