Tag Archives: Singer-songwriters

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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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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The Countdown to Life in Full Colour #4

Callaghan "Life in Full Colour"

# 4 – It Was Meant To Be

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 released on iTunes May 1st.

In my last blog I mentioned co-writing, and this song “It Was Meant To Be”, happens to be another one of the co-writes on my album. Written with two other writers, one of whom was John Peppard (who also co-wrote the Grammy-winning song “In Another’s Eyes” by Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood).

This song seems to be quite an audience favourite – both at live shows and people telling me it has been played at their wedding, which I think is so cool!

“It Was Meant To Be” is an unadulterated, simple, straight-from-the-heart love song about the moment when you feel all the stars align and everything falls into place.

The song was written several years ago and has been recorded a few times in various different ways – stripped back and slowed right down on the piano (as on my EP “Nothing You Say”) to the full band version on the album. I really love the album recording and had great fun experimenting in the studio with new sounds like mellotron.

I’m sometimes asked what it’s like to sing the same song over and over again. I have no idea how many times I have sung “It Was Meant To Be” but it’s probably in the thousands. There must be something special about this song though because I get something different from it each time I perform it. I have a feeling I’m still going to be singing it years from now and I hope it continues to connect with the people who hear it.

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Countdown to “Life in full colour” #3

Callaghan-banner Life in Full Colour

# 3 – Nothing You Say

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 released on iTunes May 1st.

“Nothing You Say” is one of the older songs on the album. It was written several years back with a friend and very talented keyboard player called Luke Juby.

Luke and I wrote quite a few songs together – another co-write “If only for tonight” is also on this album.

Although I write a lot of songs on my own, I really enjoy co-writing because of the different places it can take you to. When you’re working with someone else or even several co-writers at once, ideas, stories, outlooks on life, opinions, emotions can all be multiplied. Of course, you don’t want to have too many writers on one song – the old “too many cooks…” saying probably applies quite well. But whenever I co-write I usually end up with a song that is definitely different than it would have been if I had written it completely solo.

One thing that’s interesting on this particular song is the piano part. The piano track that you hear on the finished album track is actually the very same one that was on the original demo for this song. And it’s pretty much because at the time of recording the album I wasn’t able to find any keyboard player that could play Luke’s part! When I perform the song live I do my own version on the piano, there’s no way I’d attempt what Luke plays. He has a style all his own and it’s part of what brings such an interesting feel to this song.

“Nothing You Say” was also the title track of an earlier EP I released on iTunes a few years back. But it was such a special song I knew I had to give it its rightful place on the album.

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A magical musical experience on the open seas

There’s a world I never knew existed until recently. A world of tropical desert islands, fantastic live music 14 hours a day, 24-hour pizza and ice-cream, and where you might just end up singing karaoke with Edwin McCain!

This world is Cayamo and I just experienced it for the first time.

It was 7 days of pure fun, travel, great company, great food and most importantly, fantastic music.

I was on the cruise as part of Shawn Mullins’ band so got to play 3 shows with him and by the end of the week I was thrilled to have been offered my own hour long show which was great fun. The line up of artists playing on the boat was amazing and included Shawn Mullins, John Prine, Lucinda Williams, Chuck Cannon, Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, The Civil Wars, and, a highlight for me, James McMurtry.

I was first introduced to McMurtry’s music while I was on tour with Shawn last year. The ipod in the RV shuffled onto a song called “We can’t make it here anymore” and I was instantly hooked. I spent the next few days downloading McMurtry songs onto my own ipod and listened to them constantly.

So when I saw he was going to be on the boat, I was beyond excited. The great thing about the way Cayamo is set up is that the performers can get to chat to each other in the artist section of each little venue. I just about plucked up the courage to glance at James McMurtry while on the boat but striking up a conversation was a bit too scary!

I did however get to meet and hang out with some other lovely artists including Enter The Haggis, Sarah Buxton and Edwin McCain (who I now have to thank for teaching me a thing or two about the game of Blackjack and the karaoke version of “Don’t You Want Me Baby” by Human League).

On top of all of that, the other passengers on the boat were so much fun to get to know. Some of the biggest music fans I’ve ever met, and I hope i’ll get to meet some of them again as I travel around the States this year.

What a crazy world it is when you get paid to cruise in the Caribbean sun! To slightly adapt a song of mine, it really was one of “the best week’s of my life”. I really hope next February I’ll be boarding the boat for another adventure on the high seas, and maybe I’ll see you there!

p.s. If anyone would like to see some photos from the cruise as well as a video of Shawn Mullins and me doing an unplugged duet of “The Only Thing Real” head over to my facebook page: www.facebook.com/callaghanmusic

p.p.s For more information about Cayamo, go to www.cayamo.com

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