Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Greater Hartford Irish Festival 2013

Haley and I have spent a large part of our summer traveling. She leads a rather exciting life and needs me along for the ride. Last weekend we drove to CT for the Greater Hartford Irish Festival so Haley could play with The John Whelan Band. The really great part was Haley's friend, Sofia, and her family live close enough to the festival that we were able to spend the weekend with them. We drove up on Friday and the girls spent all afternoon and evening tackling a long list of things they had planned to do...everything from making jewelry to homemade soaps and scrubs to playing some music. They kept each other busy all day.

Saturday morning we got up early, the girls made French toast, and then we headed to the local lake beach for a swim. Haley and Sofia ran with boogie boards into the lake, jumped off the docks, and took a turn at paddling a couple kayaks Sofia's father and brother had rented. After swimming came showers, lunch, and a drive to the festival. Haley did a sound check with the band then performed...the band was scheduled to play 30 min after the festival opened.

They played a great set broadcast live over the internet. We watched a ceili band, did a little dancing, looked at all the crafts on display, and ate some festival food before heading back to Sofia's.

Sunday, Haley and I headed to Brian's for a fiddle lesson before a rough drive home. Little did we know that the normally 2.5 hour drive home from White Plains would take over 4 hours. We hit traffic a couple times then closer to home, a torrential downpour caused flooding of a major road. Haley and I made it through the flooded area only to find ourselves as one of 3-4 cars on a normally very busy highway with traffic backed up going the other way for miles and miles. It looked like the zombie apocalypse had hit and everyone was leaving New Jersey. We made it home eventually.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Swannanoa Videos...

Here are a couple videos of the kids from the Swannanoa Student Showcase.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Recording Gig....

My daughter was hired today to go into a recording studio to set down violin tracks onto a song....a song she'd never heard before this afternoon. The man running the show would give her an idea of what he wanted, let her listen to the part of the track and play around with it, then tell her to take the basic melody and "run with it." According to Clay, Haley, "spoke the language." She understood exactly what he meant when he said things to her like where to start, which note to change, how to add more feeling or make something fancier and she took direction really well. She came up with some amazing sounding stuff to go along with the song with melody lines, harmony, and rifts. Sometimes Clay had an exact idea of what he wanted, sometimes he let her play around and come up with something herself, and other times she played something he hadn't thought of before and he liked it and kept it.

It was a really neat experience and something she'd never done before. I guess we can now add the pop music genre to her list.

Haley and Paraic working hard in the studio...a lot of time in the studio is spent waiting.

Rock Star Haley.

Learning the basic melody line.

Swannanoa Gathering 2013

Wow! It's been awhile since I posted. We've been busy. We just had one of our favorite weeks of the year (for the past five years) at the Swannanoa Gathering in North Carolina. This year Ritch and Newt drove down with us so they could visit his sister and family while Haley, Dylan, and I went to camp.  We broke up the drive down by stopping to see our new grandnephew, James, and having lunch with his parents. What an adorable little guy!

We arrived at Kim's house around 4pm. They were having similar weather to what we've had....lots and lots of rain. Newt, whose main goal in life is to fish and wrestle claimed he would catch enough fish from their pond to do a fish fry the next day. He woke early (I heard him walking around about 6am) and got in the boat as soon as someone unlocked the garage for him to get his pole. Uncle James joined him and between the two of them and a couple fish from Dylan and Thomas, they caught enough to feed 12 people with quite a bit left over.

Newt showing me his catch so far.

Can't hardly see it but Thomas' dog, Pepper, is swimming out to get in the boat.

Uncle James teaching Newt how to clean the fish.

Haley and her cousin, Meredith. They spent the day doing hair and make-up.
We had to get up early in the morning to be at Swannanoa. I was lucky enough to get a volunteer job which helped pay for Dylan's tuition so I had to help with checking in students. My kids love everything about camp. We have been going for five years and see many of the same people plus make some new friends each year. Many of the people have watched my kids grow up over the years. 

This year Haley took an Advanced Scottish Fiddle class with Brian McNeill which she absolutely loved. She came out of class the first day and said she was going to take it again next year. She also signed up for an Irish Fiddle class with Liz Carroll. It was an intermediate class but she really wanted to learn some tunes from Liz. She and her friend Mackenzie ended up asking Liz to record tunes for them each day then went into another room or outside to learn them together...plus taught each other some of their own tunes. 

Dylan took a guitar class with Eamon O'Leary and another with John Doyle plus a banjo class with Eamon. He learned some new tunes and a new tuning for his guitar from John so he was very happy.

Our evenings were spent listening to concerts with the great instructors performing, going to dances (or the kids helping play for them), and ended with the kids playing sessions until the wee hours.

Late night session with Brian Conway, John Whelan, Rose Flanagan, et. al.

Really, Mom. Quit using that flash!

Haley helping the ceili band.

Dylan dancing. (Had to capture that moment.)

Haley receiving her scholarship certificate.

Dylan playing guitar for the ceili band.

Haley and Dylan (that is his nose on the left under the bow) playing tunes with Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely with Martin Hayes listening in.

The last day of classes...Haley's Scottish fiddling class doing a drive by fiddling.

The last night of camp is the Student Showcase. Haley and Dylan performed a few times. I will post some video soon.

Monday, July 01, 2013

"Music Brings People Together."

A couple weeks ago at Haley's fiddle teacher's home, someone ascribed that quote to the late, great Irish piano player Felix Dolan and we all agreed as we stood around looking at each other. None of us would know the other if it weren't for the music. I was thinking about that quote again this weekend as we spent Saturday evening with a large group of musicians at a "stealth wedding" and Sunday evening at an Irish session. I think about all the wonderful people who have become such a large part of our lives because of the music.

A couple weeks ago we were invited to a party at our friends', Marion and Gabe's, home. They often host get togethers with good food and great music until all hours of the night so we looked forward to going. Early last week I received a call from Marion asking if we could keep a secret. Their little get together was not simply to celebrate her graduation (she just received her PhD) and Gabe's new baby (a baby grand piano, that is)...they were going to surprise everyone and tie the knot at the party and wanted to know if Haley would provide the music for their wedding!

Saturday night we arrived a bit early. They were still preparing the bouquets and hair rings so Haley got to make her own. We helped hide everything just as the first unsuspecting guest arrived. The party began with lots of music....Gabe on his new piano with fiddling by Haley and Paraic then Jeremy joined in, whistle provided by Paddy, singing, piano playing by a talented young pianist, and a bit of dancing from Josh. (As an aside...you just have to check out the video of Josh and his dance group on America's Got Talent. They are awesome!!!! Actually this video is even better because it shows the best parts of the dance...the parts America's Got Talent edited out.)

Eventually they got everyone into the living room to watch Josh dance to Haley's fiddling.

Josh getting ready to dance.

Then, as had been worked out prior, Gabe asked Haley to play the slow air she had played to qualify for the All Ireland. (It was their way to explain Haley playing without Gabe accompanying on piano.) When she finished, the asked for an encore and Haley started playing an O'Carolan tune so Marion could make a quick change into her wedding gown. When she got the signal, Haley switched to Planxty Fanny Power and the bridesmaids and bridesman began walking down the make-shift aisle. It was about then the "audience" of fellow party goers began to figure out what was happening...or began to think they were doing a rendition of Midsummer's Night Dream.

Haley playing the wedding party down the aisle.
The wedding was beautiful! The vows brought tears to my eyes. The surprise was wonderful!

The Wedding Party.

The evening continued with more music and I sat around thinking what an amazing life my child gets to lead. One filled with wonderful music and friends!