Sunday, October 26, 2014

Converse Trio Re-Shoed?

For the past three years, Haley has competed in a trio with her friends, Alex and Keegan. The first year  while playing in a session, they decided at 10pm the night before the trio competition to pick a couple tunes and compete the next morning. It took them until sometime after midnight to come up with tunes they all knew (the Super Mario Bros theme song seemed to be the only thing they could come up with for awhile) and they went with it. The judge told them afterward they all played amazingly well but they weren't "together" in their variations. (The point of a trio being to be in sync with every note and variation in the tunes.)

The following year, they planned ahead. The rehearsed a couple times in the months leading up to the MidAtlantic Fleah so they had their tunes together and their variations worked out for the most part. Keegan's pipes teacher, Patrick, met with them the night before the competition and helped them work out a few kinks. They took 2nd in the under 15 age group. They all wore Converse sneakers and called themselves The Converse Trio. It became a bit of a joke but the name stuck.

This past year, they were a little more serious. Patrick, offered to work with them more regularly. They picked tunes early and rehearsed about once a month in the 4-5 months prior to the competition. Patrick worked with them without us parents in the room. They had a lot of fun working and playing together. They performed a few gigs together with Dylan backing them as well. They placed 1st at the MidAtlantic competition in under 15 and the judge told them she would buy their CD when it came out. We all went to Ireland where they placed 3rd. It was the highlight of Haley's trip!

We came home from Ireland and the following month the Converse Trio plus Dylan were asked to perform at the Philadelphia Ceili Group Festival. They rehearsed and arranged their music. They put on an excellent set! After their set, a man at the bar called them over. He told them he works for Converse and would like to create custom Converse sneakers for them all. We weren't sure what to expect but they gave him shoe sizes and on Friday four boxes with shoes arrived at a friend's home for the kids.

They are awesome!

Haley and I picked them up and yesterday gave them out at our joint rehearsal/Studio2Stage viewing party. Look at all those smiles!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Haley's Blog...

Back in August, I posted my take on Haley's participation in Studio2Stage, a camp where they put together an Irish dance production in nine days featuring 85 dancers and 5 musicians from all over the world. Here is my blog post from August.

Haley just uploaded her post about the experience on her blog Tuneful Journeys. Here is a link to her new post.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

New York Trad Fest 2014

Imagine many of the best of Irish music (and other traditional music styles) in the New York area all in one venue on one night! That's New York Trad Fest and heaven for my young fiddler!

Haley and I arrived in NYC early in the afternoon. We walked to the Cake B*ss Bakery for a delicious snack. Haley loves to watch the TV show for ideas on cake decorating. (I think one of her other dream jobs besides fiddler or make-up artist is baker.)

After we found a quiet place to enjoy our desserts, we walked blocks and blocks stopping into different stores to try out make-up with mini-makeovers or look at knick knacks or clothing. We saw Rockefeller Center, Times Square, and Radio City Music Hall.

Some sites we'd rather not have seen like the naked cowboy at Times Square…okay, he wasn't completely naked but it was disturbing nonetheless.

Haley and three of her young fiddling friends, Jayne, Joanna, and Bram, opened the show as representatives of the next generation. We usually only see these kids once or twice a year so it was nice for her to re-connect and share some tunes with them.

What followed was a wide selection of musicians playing Irish, Scottish, and Bluegrass music for hours! The crowd was lively and the venue, Connolly's Pub adjacent to Times Square, was really neat. We stayed until nearly midnight and there was still music going on.

If they have a 3rd annual New York Trad Fest, I'd highly recommend it!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Weekend Ramblings

Haley has grown a lot this year so we have been seriously shopping for a full size fiddle for the past couple weeks. This has been involved a lot of research, driving, and for Haley, playing fiddle after fiddle after fiddle. Last week, we drove to Long Island and Haley spent the day playing fiddles…a whole lot of fiddles then went to White Plains for a fiddle lesson and session at Dunnes. We spent Tuesday afternoon visiting two other violin shops and playing what they had to offer. At one point we had six different violins in the house…some she preferred for fiddling and others she liked with her classical music. Friday we drove to White Plains to have Brian listen to the fiddles then returned the three we'd taken from the shop on Long Island the week before.

About halfway between NY and home, Haley played a lovely house concert gig with the guys (see photo above). It was a beautiful home and an attentive, enthusiastic audience. The hosts had gone all out. They had the entire home decorated, Irish snacks and foods, Irish books, and a video beautiful Irish scenery played in the background. The "band" played some fun sets of tunes with John singing songs between. (I love his voice.) We had a late night.

Saturday morning we woke early and drove to Fortescue, NJ on the Delaware Bay. When I was young we always took the family boat out of Fortescue to go fishing. Two years ago, Hurricane Sandy damaged much of the town including The Charlesworth Inn, a restaurant whose owners are supporters of Irish music. Unfortunately, the State of NJ forgot about Fortescue when handing out grant money to rebuild. Recently, the owners of the Charlesworth were informed by the state they must be open and running before the new year in order to receive any grant money so work crews of volunteers have been helping clean and repair the Inn. We decided to join the volunteers for the day and help out where we can. Haley and I packed up dishes then helped paint in the basement where the flood waters had damaged the floor and walls while Dylan and Daddy helped break down damaged chairs, scrape floors, and caulk windows.

Haley helping paint.
Putting in a window and caulking.

 We rode back home, got showers, then headed to the kids' gig at Emley's Hill Methodist Church where they were playing at a coffee house to raise money for a food bank. Some local children sang, Haley and Dylan played a set, and a band, including our friend Mike, played Civil War era music to finish off the night. Haley and Dylan joined them for Ashokan Farewell. It was a fun concert.

Today Haley's friend Emily and her mom came to play. Emily is an amazing Irish harper who won an All Ireland under 12 harp slow air title in 2013, the same year Haley took home the All Ireland trophies. The girls played some music together and worked out a couple sets for a gig they have in March but mostly they spent the afternoon decorated, and eating, cupcakes and hanging out together. 

One last photo just because it looks really fall-like and Halloween-y.