Tag Archives: Travel

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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“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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The Joys of Turning Two

Jelly and Ice-cream, chocolate cake with Cadbury’s chocolate buttons, numerous books and videos of Noddy’s adventures, and a super cool wooden car complete with hippy-looking driver. These are just a few things that go into making up the perfect two-year old’s birthday party.

The birthday boy in question this time was my gorgeous nephew, Noah.
Having just flown in from Nashville a couple of hours earlier, I was so pleased to be able to celebrate the day with him. I’m not sure how much he understood of the concept of birthdays – indicated by the fact that when my sister asked him who had brought all of his lovely presents his reply was “Santa”. Oh well.

But he certainly looked like he had fun with them, and nothing summed up the pure joy in the eyes of a two year old as when his giant chocolate cake was placed in front of him.

Priceless!

Turning two with birthday cake

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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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Back to Reality…An East Coast Tour, and a Live CD show

Callaghan East Coast Tour 2012

After taking 3 weeks off to visit friends and family in London, I am re-adjusting to life back in the US and getting straight back to my job of performing and making music.

I don’t often take breaks – partly because there are constantly too many things on my list to do! – but this one I think was well earned. After countless shows over the last few months to promote my album “Life in Full Colour” I was ready for some down time.

Touring, I find, is an interesting existence. Each day is carefully planned, so you know what time you have to get up, how many miles to the next venue, what time load in is, where you need to be for soundcheck, what time I’m on stage, meeting people after the show, and then driving to the hotel. Then it all repeats the next day, exactly the same routine, different place.

Assuming everything is going to plan it can be a relatively stress-free time, and getting to do what I love each night sharing my music with an audience gives me immense enjoyment.

But you can’t be on the road all the time, and it’s good to get some breaks from constantly performing to work on my playing, my voice, and to find the time to work on new song ideas.

So, after my mini break, I am very excited to be starting an East Coast tour in a few days with two other performers; Matthew Perryman-Jones and Matthew Mayfield. We’ll be starting the tour in Vienna, VA, and heading all the way up the coast hitting places such as Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Cleveland, Charlotte and finishing up in Asheville, NC.

You can see all of the dates and ticket details on my website www.callaghansongs.com/gigs

There’s also a very special show I’m currently working on for the end of October. On Saturday October 27th I’ll be performing a full band show at The Red Clay Theater just north of Atlanta, GA. It’s a fantastic 250-seat theater and the whole show is going to be recorded for a live CD that I plan to release before Christmas.

As much as I enjoy the acoustic shows I perform, getting to play with the full band is something else. The musicians are mostly from Shawn Mullins’ Band and mind-blowingly awesome! I love getting to experiment when I perform full band shows and do different versions of my songs, as well as some very surprising covers! You can find all the details about the show and get tickets from www.eddieowenpresents.com

Maybe I’ll see some of you there!

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Afternoon Tea at The Ritz – A perfect end to a perfect break

Afternoon Tea at The Ritz, London

London Baby! I’ve been enjoying a couple of weeks rest and relaxation visiting friends and family in my old home town. It’s great being back in a city which never ceases to amaze me in its scale and diversity. It’s been a great time to be back – the feel good factor surrounding the games is still going strong!

London is a city of contrasts in all manner of things. One example would be the weather – you never know what you’re going to get. Last Thursday night I met with friends in a rooftop garden on the Southbank of the Thames – after 10 minutes braving the cold wind we had to go inside, and all agreed that Autumn had come. One week later we were enjoying drinks outside again in hot sunny weather – sometimes it only takes an hour to go from summer to winter, and you have to carry a range of layers to prepare for all eventualities.

I have had two contrasting experiences in the last couple of days doing two old school British things. On Wednesday night I went with friends to a night at the Bingo! A top prize of £20,000 was promised and I was amazed at how quickly experienced players could survey multiple cards, while I was struggling to check all the numbers on my single card. I didn’t get close to winning the big prize, but I enjoyed a good meal of ham, egg and chips! (that’s fries across the pond!)

On Thursday I enjoyed doing something which I think will seem quintessentially British, but which I had never done before – I went for afternoon tea at The Ritz. It was quite an experience.

We were first served champagne (my kind of afternoon tea!) followed by a fantastic range of delicate sandwiches varying from cheese with onion chutney, chicken and horseradish mayonnaise, smoked salmon, and of course the afternoon tea classic – cucumber.

There was a huge selection of different teas to choose from, as well as coffee and hot chocolate.

Then more food…freshly made warm raisin scones served with strawberry jam and clotted cream, as well as a variety of amazing cakes. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly eat one more crumb, a dessert trolley was wheeled by with two more cakes to choose from – a lemon drizzle cake and a strawberry pistachio cake.

All in all it was just as fantastically indulgent as I had imagined and I’m so glad I finally got the chance to go.

So I didn’t win £20,000 on Wednesday, but I might have gained 20 pounds on Thursday. Even though I may have to spend a few days working up a sweat in the gym once I’m back home, every bite was definitely worth it!

Callaghan with the Commissionaire at The Ritz London

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Fish and Chips, Pints of Beer, S’Mores and Grits – A Transatlantic Feast

 

Traveling, seeing new places and having adventures is great fun, but sometimes there’s nothing that feels better than home. Familiar surroundings, friendly faces and the ease and comfort of many things that you know.

It has been 9 months since I’ve been back to the UK and so the next 3 weeks are a long awaited treat. I won’t be doing any gigs while I’m back, just catching up with friends and family and seeing how my hometown of London has changed after the recent Olympic celebrations. I can’t wait!

One thing I miss while living abroad is certain foods that I never even realised I liked that much when I was in the UK, but suddenly when they’re not available, strange cravings appear.

For those of you in the USA interested in sampling some British favourites, most Publix and Kroger supermarkets have some in their “Ethnic Food” Aisle (an amusement in itself!). You can pick up things like Jammie Dodgers, Heinz Baked Beans, Marmite, and even tins of Spotted Dick which, although sounds like an unfortunate condition, is a type of boiled fruit cake, and actually very tasty with icecream or custard.

   

The foods I’m most looking forward to when I go back are fish and chips drenched in salt and vinegar, a pint of beer in a British pub, and the biggest bar of Cadbury’s chocolate I can find.

And I thought it was about time I introduced the UK to some great American classics, so I’m taking back in my luggage some grits, graham crackers and marshmallows to make S’Mores, and I need more suggestions!

What is your favourite American food that you think I should take back to introduce to my British friends and family? It can be anything, as long as it travels well.

Leave your suggestions below and I’ll let you know how they go down across the pond!

 

 

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