Monday, May 26, 2014

Weekend Ramblings: Memorial Weekend 2014

This weekend felt a bit like a week at music camp. Concerts, late night sessions, lessons, and performances all rolled into one weekend and my fiddler is excited to hit another sessions tonight. With orchestra rehearsals at an end on Friday nights, I had thought we might be home this Friday but a visiting uillean piper with his accompanist and dancer doing a house concert had us back across the bridge not far from where orchestra rehearsals took place.

We had never met Joey Abarta before but had watched a number of his youtube videos…Irish music is a relatively small, rather close knit community where people know each other. His playing was great and he was backed by Owen Marshall on bouzouki and guitar (with a little banjo but that might have come out during the session) and Jackie O'Riley's feet tapping a rhythm with her lovely sean nos style dancing. At the end of the concert, Joey asked Haley, Alex, and Keegan up for a couple sets then we rearranged chairs and made a circle for a session. The house was full of musicians and the session was great. I had to drag Haley out a little after midnight because I was getting tired and still had a little over an hour drive home.

Alex, Haley, and Keegan with Joey and Owen

Part of the session…couldn't fit it all in.
Saturday was a nice day at home. I cleaned, the kids practiced, the boys helped out around the house, and Haley cleaned her room. In the afternoon I drove Haley and Dylan to their gig with Alex and Keegan at the Vicmead Hunt Club for a private party.

Haley, Alex, and Dylan dress to the nines warming up while waiting for Keegan to arrive.

We parents were not part of the party so we dropped the kids off to do their thing then Alex's parents went to another dinner they had scheduled and Keegan's mom, Lynette, and I went to dinner ourselves. We sat and talked for hours then went back to pick up the kids. Once mine came out, we got in the car and it wouldn't start…dead battery.  My car picked the "perfect" time to let me down in a parking lot full of fancy, expensive cars, a Rolls Royce was a couple cars down, and with people I don't know, Lynette and Keegan had left and Alex's parents hadn't arrived to gather him up yet. Ugh! I called AAA because I knew that could take awhile if I needed them and texted Lynette who came back to rescue us. It took us a little while to figure out it was the battery (though Dylan was sure that was the problem) and to find out if Lynette had jumper cables (she did). Thank goodness we had a very capable Dylan with us. He jumped the car and we were able to get home…though after all the troubles, very late.

Sunday Haley and I were up bright and early for a drive with friends, Livia and her mom, Amy, to NY for fiddle lessons. I know I have said before on this blog how much I love carpooling to NY for fiddle lessons. It doesn't always work out to where we are able to carpool but when it does, the drive is so much quicker and way more fun! Haley's fiddle teacher did have a Sunday afternoon session but it was cancelled this weekend so we drove back to NJ and Haley decided she'd like to go to the Sunday session at The Plough and the Stars.

The session was packed. There were 16-17 musicians at the point with the most musicians. Some came and left and others joined in. One of the musicians we know from Brian's sessions in White Plains, NY was visiting the area and showed up which was a real treat. The musicians who had done the house concert on Friday night were there hosting the session. We also saw some musicians we hadn't run into in a couple years and the regulars. The music was great!

Session at one point in the evening.

Haley at the session
Today, the boys are off school so we are taking a bit of a holiday….then heading out for more Irish music tonight!

***Check out Haley and Dylan in concert from your very own home next Tuesday night at 8pm (EDT) on Concertwindow! (Click on link!!) All proceeds will help cover Haley's travel expenses to Ireland this August to defend her All Ireland under fiddle titles!***

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Weekend Ramblings…Mother's Day

We meet the most interesting people while the kids are performing different venues. These "chance" meetings often result in some great musical fun. This past Saturday was no exception. Haley and Dylan had a gig playing two shows for an Irish music dance school in PA. They were to play a set for the school to dance along to live and then do a couple other sets throughout the show to give dancers time to change costumes, set up the stage, etc…

We arrived early for a rehearsal since they'd not played the music for the dancers so timing needed to be worked out and they needed to know when to come on and when to play. After all the rehearsing, we went backstage to the "green room" where we met a former lead Riverdance dancer, Jason. He was also doing similar to Haley and Dylan, a couple numbers on his own, but also dancing along with the dancers for a couple of their numbers.

Jason is also a co-founder/co-director of the new group, Hammerstep, which combines Irish dance with tap, hip hop, and other styles of dance. His solo numbers included beat boxing with Irish dance and he asked Haley if she'd like to join him on one and combine her fiddling with his beat box and dancing. They worked on putting something together for a few minutes and decided they could pull it off for the first show. (I didn't do such a great job capturing it but you'll get the idea…my first attempt at recording video with an iPad. Sorry.)

The shows were well put together and the dancers talented. They were huge productions with costume changes and props. Between shows we were fed and were able to meet and talk with a number of the dancers. It was an enjoyable day!

Last weekend I was sick so we didn't make it up to Brian for a fiddle lesson. We decided to drive up on Mother's Day…because what else would I want to do but listen to Irish music on Mother's Day? Haley and I enjoyed the day together with a drive, a lesson, and a session afterward.

My Mother's Day gifts? My husband gave me a clean house and the soup I ordered, plus the iPad. Newt gave me a funny card and frozen Snicker's Bar. Dylan left me a lovely heart felt post on Facebook. Haley made me homemade, gourmet, chocolate-covered strawberries, and other hand-made gifts (Irish breakfast tea bags with little hand-made tags, a sweet card, a jar with many reasons why she loves me inside, and some scrapbooking stickers. I am a spoiled mommy!

Thursday, May 08, 2014


An Irish musician we know, along with some of his friends, started a website called Concertwindow where people play music into their computer and other people can watch on their computer in the comfort of their own home. It works like Skype except people pay a nominal fee (at least $1) to "attend" the concert. During the concert they can type messages to the performers (suggest tunes or give a thumbs up) and "tip" the performers.

Haley and Dylan have been wanting to try out the site for awhile now but we put it off until we had a purpose for doing it. Haley is going to Sligo, Ireland in August to compete in the All Ireland competition. She and Dylan are going to perform a Concertwindow concert on Tuesday, June 3 @8pm (EDT). Anyone can join and watch…so if you'd like to watch some talented young Irish musicians and help Haley go to Ireland to try to win back the under 12 All Ireland cup, then join them for the concert!!!