Tag Archives: songwriting

Day 1 of “Callaghan Across America” Tour, and another live record preview!

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After many months of planning and talking about it, the “Callaghan Across America” Tour  has finally begun!

The last 3 days have been spent driving from my home in Nashville to the start of the tour in Boston. Tonight will be the first show, and then there will be 25 more that will take me all across the country to San Francisco. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of cool people, seeing new places and playing some new songs I’ve been working on.

Here is a video for a song from my upcoming live record, to be released on July 1. This song was recorded live in a stud in Nashville and is a foot-stomping, hand-clapping anthem all about leaving someone!

I hope you all enjoy it, and have a great weekend!

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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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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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If Heaven Was Made of Meringue…This is what it would taste like! My version of the Great British Recipe, Eton Mess

There are not many things I find more relaxing after a long tour than coming home for a few days and getting time to cook, or more specifically, to bake.

I don’t know what it is about the sweet stuff that fascinates me so much (although getting to eat it afterwards is obviously one giant incentive!)  but I love the different creations that can come from so few ingredients. Let’s be honest, when your main ingredients are butter and sugar, it’s pretty likely it’ll taste good.

I’ve been staying in Nashville recently with a great friend who likes to throw parties a lot. It’s great for me not only because it means I get to meet loads of other cool people in Nashville, and not least because several of her close friends happen to also be professional chefs. Not a bad deal!

At one recent party I wanted to contribute something to the overflowing table of food, and decided to make the dessert. A bit of pressure, making the only dessert while being surrounded by the city’s top chefs, so I had to pick a fail-safe option. And there is nothing more fail-safe than homemade meringue.

So easy to make, and completely irresistible when combined with large amounts of cream, mascarpone, sugar and fresh fruit. And I threw in some spun sugar too for some extra sweetness and crunch. I ended up making the recipe again the same week because I liked it so much.

So here’s the recipe – give it a try, it’s bound to help make this a great weekend:

(Recipe adapted from http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/meringues.html)

Meringues (makes about 8 individual meringue nests)

2 large egg whites

4 oz (1/2 cup) caster sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 300F/ 150C/ Gas Mark 2

Line a baking sheet with silicone paper or parchment paper.

To make the meringues, place the egg whites in a large bowl and, using an electric hand whisk or kitchen aid on a low speed, begin whisking.

Continue for about 2 minutes, until the whites are foamy, then switch the speed to medium and carry on whisking for 1 more minute.

Now turn the speed to high and continue whisking until the egg whites reach the stiff-peak stage. Next, whisk the sugar in on fast speed, a little at a time (about a dessertspoon), until you have a stiff and glossy mixture.

Now all you do is spoon 8 heaped dessertspoons of the mixture on to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly.

(You can also just do one giant meringue if you’re just going to break it up later.)

Next, put the meringue on the centre shelf of the oven, immediately reduce the heat to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C) and leave them for 30 minutes.

After that, turn the oven off and leave the meringues to dry out in the warmth of the oven until it is completely cold (usually about 4 hours).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can top with cream and fresh fruit, or go for an even more indulgent option…

3 peaches, cut into slices

Raspberries, strawberries (sliced), or other fresh fruit

Small tub of Mascarpone, or alternatively use regular cream cheese (don’t worry too much about the exact measurements for these ingredients, just do it to taste)

Small tub creme fraiche, or alternatively about 200ml whipping cream

1 tbsp Sugar/ Powdered sugar to taste, add more to taste

1tsp Vanilla extract

Cook the peaches in a pan with a little cold water and a couple teaspoons sugar. Keep on a low heat and cook until softened. You can also add in a handful of the raspberries if you like. When cooked, put into a dish to cool.

Mix the mascarpone, creme fraiche and vanilla together and add sugar to taste. Mix in the fresh fruit. (Leave some for topping)

Break up the meringue and add to the cream mixture. Break some up fine, and leave some big chunks too.

Once the cooked fruit has cooled, put in the bottom of your serving dish. Spoon the cream and meringue mixture on top.

Top with remaining fruit.

If you’d also like to add some spun sugar on top for decoration, here is a great website with videos about how to make spun sugar. It’s very easy! http://www.cookingwithcandra.com/blog/2010/04/12/butter-pecan-cheesecake-with-spun-sugar/

 

 

Enjoy!!

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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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