Tag Archives: music

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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Sun, Sea, Sand, Great Music and a few Painkillers (the alcoholic kind!)

There’s nothing better to make the cold early months of the year more bearable than a trip to some tropical Caribbean islands.

This year I was lucky enough to be booked on Cayamo; a music cruise that sails every year from Miami to the Caribbean and for 7 days is home to around 40 artists and 2,000 guests.

Each artist performs three shows during the week as well as collaborating with each other and joining in with some impromptu jam sessions that spring up all over the boat.

onboard Cayamo Music Cruise

I had a fantastic time at all my shows and met some amazing people, got to perform with Shawn Mullins, Erick Baker, and Michelle Malone, and saw some fantastic shows of artists such as Joan Osborne, Dawes, and Delta Rae.

The week is made up of days at sea, and trips to some islands. This year the ship docked in San Juan, Antigua and Tortola.

Tortola was my favorite, with its white sandy beaches and clear blue water. And despite my perhaps over-active fear of sharks, I even dared to take a swim and survived to tell the tale!

One of Tortola’s highlights for me was a special local cocktail called a “Painkiller” that was made from rum, orange juice and coconut, with a little fresh nutmeg added at the end. They were totally delicious and dangerously more-ish!

painkiller recipe from british virgin islands

To share a bit of Cayamo’s magic, I have made a photo-video using some of my photos and some sent to me by friends.

I hope you enjoy it!

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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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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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Callaghan meets Callaghan

Of all the gigs I’ve done, it had already started off stranger than the average. The sound equipment wasn’t quite what I had requested because the venue was worried about making too much noise and scaring its residents. Not something you hear every day as a performer, but then not many venues I play in are also home to a couple of 3,000lb beluga whales. And those whales, who were just around the corner from the stage, apparently have sensitive ears, so we kept the noise down just enough for them to enjoy the show.

I was playing at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta along with a couple of friends of mine from Athens GA; Jon Poole on drums and Michael C. Steele on bass. We had a great time doing the show and, it being a rare all ages show, got to enjoy seeing some very cute kids dancing their socks off up at the stage!

After I’d finished a young girl came up to me and asked me for my guitar pick. She didn’t introduce herself but I later got talking to her and her dad and discovered she was the same girl I’d received an email from a few weeks earlier…

She is 8 years old, and her name is also Callaghan. It’s her mother’s maiden name and she was on google searching for people with the same name as her and came across my site. She enjoyed the music she heard and told her dad all about it. He flew the two of them from their New York home just to come to the Aquarium show and so she could meet me. It was such a cool story and she was so sweet.

The name Callaghan is actually kind of rare in the USA. My family were originally O’Callaghan’s but lost the O when they crossed the sea from Ireland to Scotland, then somewhere in the Atlantic many Callaghans lost the G to become Callahans. I’ve met a few Callahans here, come across a couple of towns of that name, and, of course, Dirty Harry is a Callahan. So it was nice to meet another Callaghan.

There was a reporter from Target Audience Magazine at the show and she took the photo below which ended up in her review of the show.

So, the gig where I got to play for some beluga whales and a new friend named Callaghan will be one I won’t forget in a long time…

Callaghan and Callaghan at The Georgia Aquarium
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Life in Full Colour #6 – Sweet Surrender

Callaghan "Life in Full Colour"

Blog # 6 – Sweet Surrender

I recently read a review of my album which described Sweet Surrender as a “woe is me” song. It has always interested me the ways people interpret songs and how different they can be from my original intention.

I have no problem with people taking whatever interpretation they feel when listening to one of my songs, in fact I’m just happy they’re listening! I always try and write in a way that isn’t so personal that it excludes someone else’s experience and ability to connect to a song.

Having said that, I found the review I mentioned earlier particularly interesting since it was the exact opposite of what I had intended the song to be about. For me, Sweet Surrender’s message is more ‘woe is you, I’m outta here!’

I’m sure a lot of people who have been in a less-than-ideal relationship can relate to the moment when you realise you’re not going to put up with it anymore and make the decision to walk away. Sometimes it can take quite a bit of determination to leave a bad relationship when there could be so many factors making you want to stay, but once you are free and clear you can gain a new feeling of strength and self-confidence.

I think the last verse of the song sums up the feeling for me:

Waking up alone in this silent motel room
Can’t believe you ever talked me into loving you
But there’s no use trying to turn back
All the time I gave to you
Cos it made me who I am 
Somehow I found the strength to walk away

Life is about taking chances, and a life in full colour has it’s highs and lows all of which contribute to who we are.

I’m happy with that reviewer or any other listener making up their own mind about what the song means to them. I think that’s all part of the power and enjoyment of music.

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LIFE IN FULL COLOUR #5

Callaghan "Life in Full Colour"

# 5 – Close My Eyes

This is my mini blog about each of the songs that make up my debut album, “Life In Full Colour”, and the stories and inspirations behind them. “Life in Full Colour” is now available on iTunes, Amazon, or www.callaghansongs.com

Love reckons hours for months, and days for years; and every little absence is an age ~ John Dryden

I think that quote sums up the intention of this song quite well. Being apart from someone you love can be so difficult, especially when you don’t know the next time you’ll see them again, or if maybe you’ll never get to see them again.

I wrote this song back when I was living in London and when the idea of moving to the US was still only a passing thought. I always knew that moving across the ocean and thousands of miles from my friends and family would be challenging but even now, after nearly 2 years of living in the States, and with all the friends I have here,  missing some people never gets any easier.

But for all the moments of heartache it has made me a lot more aware of not taking people for granted and treasuring every second you have.

None of us knows how long we’ll be around or how long our loved ones will be a part of our lives and for all the things which weigh on our minds every day and take up all our time, we should never forget to let people know we love them. So close your eyes and think of someone who makes you happy.

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