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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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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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Two years into my US adventure, I’m sending Love back to London!

London Olympic Decorations

Flags, flags, flags…The decorations are up for the London 2012 Olympics. Photo by Sharon Addison

Today is exactly two years since I moved to the US.

That time has flown by so fast, and looking back over the last 24 months makes me so pleased I took the plunge and got on the plane to follow my dream of doing music full time. The people I have met, places I have seen and experiences I have had have been amazing.

But there are inevitably things I miss out on from back home in the UK. Events that happen in the lives of friends and family that I’m not involved in like before, TV shows and new celebrities that come and go without me ever being aware of them, and I feel a lot of nostalgia for the streets, sights and sounds of London.

And this week is the start of something very exciting going on in my home town – The Olympics are coming to London.

This will be the third time London has hosted the Olympics – the first two in 1908 and 1948.

Photos have been all over my friends’ facebook pages and I have been scrolling through them all to get a sense of how the city is changing and what the atmosphere is like. Quite a few of my friends are volunteering during the games, and lots have been photographed with the Olympic torch.

The games were awarded back in July 2005 when I was still living in London. I don’t think anyone in the UK will forget that week because the elation of winning the bid on the 6th of July was immediately followed by the heartbreak of the terrorist bombings in the city on July 7th.

For all the stereotypes that exist of the British stiff upper lip and reserve, Londoners joined together to grieve when the bombings happened and are joining together now to  celebrate the huge festival that is the Olympics. I think coming together like that is part of what makes London such a fantastic city.

I’ll be watching the opening ceremonies as they’re streamed across the Atlantic tonight and I can’t wait to see what they have planned.

So, two years after leaving London to start my US adventure I am sending a wish that the sun shines on London and that all my friends in the UK love being a part of the games – and hoping they take lots of photos for me to enjoy too!

p.s. On a funny note, I heard a great story on a British radio programme recently about the “Chap Olympiad”. Held annually in London, the event describes itself as “a celebration of eccentricity and athletic ineptitude with the emphasis on panache and style over sporting prowess”. You can expect events such as the cucumber sandwich discus, umbrella jousting and butler racing. There was one particular event that really caught my eye – ‘The Hop, Skip and G&T’ where contestants leap into a sandpit holding a brimming gin and tonic and get points deducted for spillages. If I start training now, maybe I’ll be lucky enough to win the coveted “golden cravat” next time!

 

Butler racing at the Chap Olympiad

A competitor tries to throw his rival off course during the butler racing event at The Chap Olympiad, London. Photograph: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

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