Sunday, February 28, 2016

Catching Up Post...

Wow! I cannot believe I have neglected my blog for so long! I had a couple posts started then got busy and never got back to them. Life has been a roller coaster ride for the past few months. I feel like I have taken on a second full time job trying to manage the kids' schedules. 

Here is a bit of what we've been up to the last few months…

Around the time Haley and I went to Ireland last fall, Dylan was invited to become the guitarist for a new-ish Irish band/trio called Poor Man's Gambit. They are based about 90 minutes from our house in the Bethlehem/Allentown region and many of their gigs are up that way so Dylan has been doing a lot of traveling back and forth for gigs and rehearsals and the other band members have spent a few weekends in our basement recording tracks for their website and a demo CD.

It has been a wonderful opportunity for Dylan to hone his backing and recording skills. He's started singing a bit and playing more of his other instruments (banjo and bouzouki). It is nice for him interact musically with other young musicians besides Haley, though sometimes keeping schedules straight is like walking a tightrope…this is also complicated by the fact that he's an 18 year old male who doesn't always make his schedule known until the last minute.

They have a lot of gigs booked so looking forward to watching the band grow!

Poor Man's Gambit.
Poor Man's Gambit

Among other things in November, Haley helped out with a fundraising concert at the New York Irish Center with Mick Moloney, Donie Carroll, James Keane, and Gerry O'Sullivan for the Mercy Centre in Bangkok, Thailand. We made a long weekend trip to North Carolina to visit family for Thanksgiving. It was wonderfully warm and we rented a house at the beach so we enjoyed long walks to watch the sunrise and sunsets.

Mercy Centre fundraiser.
In December, Haley was invited by Mick Moloney to perform in his An Irish Christmas shows at Symphony Space in NYC. She has done these shows for the past few years and enjoys the variety of music and the guests. Mick always has performers from other cultural traditions perform. 

Haley and Mick before the show.

One of Haley's favorite parts of performing with bands like this is the pre-show preparation and hanging out with other musicians. She worked with the other fiddle players to come up with a "fiddle" set for the show, learned a couple new tunes from Billy McComisky, the accordion player, and had a great time.

Haley with the fiddlers, Athena, Donna, and Liz.

She got to meet Bill Whelan, the man who composed the music for Riverdance, and hear him play a beautiful composition, on piano with Athena playing fiddle which I think they collaborated on.

Haley with Bill Whelan.
The Irish Christmas Show from backstage. This photo looks like a watercolor painting.
We had a wonderful, quiet Christmas at home. Our family was alone for the holidays so invited some other people spending the holiday alone...our friend, Kira, from Long Island and our neighbors down the street who Dylan helps out now and then. It was a perfect Christmas with food, family, and friends!

Haley and Kira
Between rehearsals, sessions, performances as a duo, Poor Man's Gambit performances, and the holidays, the kids' band, Méara Meara had a number of performances including the one below at Swarthmore Library. The place was packed with over 100 people in a not very large area.

Méara Meara at Swarthmore Library.
They also donated their time and talents to help raise money for the Heart of Camden project. Some other musicians were unable to perform so we invited sisters, Emily and Livia so play and at the end all the kids played a set together.

Celtic Spring at Sacred Heart Church.
The last two nights have been the best. Our friends, Altan, were in the area (kind of) so we were able to   be at two of the concerts on their current tour. Friday night they performed at Longwood Gardens. Haley's friend and bandmate, Keegan, lives close so we went to his house for dinner, went to the concert, then stayed over. What a gorgeous venue!! Haley was able to play a few sets with them and at the end of the concert, they invited Keegan and another wonderful flute player from our area, Paddy, onstage as well.

Haley with Altan

Paddy, Keegan, and Haley with Altan.
Martin having a powwow with Haley onstage…telling her how the song she happened to be onstage for went.
Keegan and Haley with Mairead
That was going to be our only chance to see them. Mairead invited Haley to come to their Saturday night show but it was two hours away and we had a lot to do…the next few weeks are going to be crazy busy so Haley and I went home from Keegan's, stopped at the gym to workout, but on our way to the car after, Haley received a message from her friend from Studio2Stage, Mackenzie, asking if she could come up because Mackenzie was dancing for Altan that night. Haley really wanted a chance to see Mairead's daughter, Nia, who would be at the show, and Mackenzie so we decided to make the two hour drive.

What a great night! We stayed backstage with the band after soundcheck. Sat around talking and eating…I am constantly questioning different musicians about life "on the road" to try to get an idea of what this life my daughter is determined to have is like…good, bad, and ugly. Haley was able to interview Mairead for her blog ( and she got to see Nia and her dancer friends.

Ciaran told Haley this would be his signal for her to take her solo during the finale set.

Altan finale

Haley and Nia after the show.

Haley with her Studio2Stage friends.

March Madness begins next weekend…it's the busiest month for Irish musicians. Haley and Dylan have so many really neat opportunities for performances coming in the next few months! I feel like I need a secretary to keep track of everything and talk to all the people we need to talk to to make arrangements and do publicity but it's all worth it. I am so grateful for the people we've met who have taken an interest in spending time with Haley and Dylan and helping them. We have an awesome musical family!!

I love seeing my kids having so much fun doing the things they love to do most! They are getting to the point where they only need me to be the secretary, for Haley the chauffeur, and occasionally as a sounding board when they want help with certain decisions. It is amazing to watch them mature and take control over their musical journeys, discuss and arrange music with other musicians, advocate for themselves, and make decisions on where they want their lives to go.

Stay tuned!!