How great is inflight internet!! I am en route from South Carolina to San Francisco. I just had 48 hours in the lovely city of Columbia, SC.
The South has always intrigued me. I guess I've haven't spent that much time in the southern states and had preconceived notions that indeed, proved to be correct....in a good way.
I arrived in Columbia airport and was met by Debbie from the staff of SCETV.She made me feel like a million dollars with her warm welcome. What is it about Southerners and their hospitality? She left me at my hotel with time to get to know Columbia. I stayed in the nicest Hilton I've ever been in. The staff were so welcoming and when they accidentally sent me to a smoking room they were mortified and insisted on buying me breakfast....the way to my heart! Seriously, at this point I thought can everyone in the town be this lovely? The answer is YES!
First....and most importantly THE FOOD. The night before the pledge I went to a gorgeous restaurant called Hampton Street Vineyard. It was hot....really hot and that alone is my excuse for having a gorgeous glass of cool Rose. Now I lived in France so I know something about Rose. This type of wine is not so popular here and usually if I ask for it I get presented white zin which is not even close so I was very surprised to find a restaurant that had a choice. I ate at the bar and chatted with the very friendly locals while having the best Butternut Squash soup. It was totally random and fun.
Sometimes I try to hide my accent somewhat as invariably no matter where I go, people ask me the same questions about Ireland which can get repetitive if you just want to have some quiet time. Here, it didn't seem to matter. I talked, people chatted, we had a great time. A man at the bar recognised me from PBS so tried to buy me a round. I decided it was the best thing to make my excuses and get out of the place before things got out of hand. I have to have some sort of discipline when I am out on the road. I was singing live in the studio the next evening so I had to get some rest and stay away from the vino. What a lovely place though. The menu is remarkable and unexpected. Sophisticated, friendly and fun. a difficult thing to perfect.
I went for a run the next morning and swam in the gorgeous sea water pool at the Hilton. Badly needed in the Southern heat. I was ready to roll at 5pm for SCETV.
I have done a few pledges now so I am starting to be familiar with the process. SCETV was special. First the staff treated me like they knew me for years. Everyone from soundman to on screen talent were just lovely. The pledge was a success which was so great to know and I left with such a wonderful impression of the station. We chatted a lot off screen about ....well.....food. They had heard a rumor that I am a pie lover. It is the best thing about the south in my opinion. We talked about important things like my favorite pies...I have many.....coconut cream being the top.
If anyone has any new suggestions for pies , by the way, I want to hear them. eg. I had a raisin cream pie recently which was superb. I am not a lover of the fruit pie. I like a cream filling or pecans...or both! Any kind of custard is good too. OK I must stop talking about pies!
So I left this morning with a 4.30 am wake up. Oy! I didn't sleep well at all thru the night knowing i had this travel day ahead of me. I am fine with travel really but if I haven't slept at all it just kills me. The best thing however is inflight internet. I can actually get work done en route. Where am I off to? San Francisco to sing for the Giants game. I've to learn Take me out to the Ballgame as well as singing the Anthem. I was asked how it felt to be singing a foreign anthem this week. I was shocked. The US Anthem is not at all foreign to me. It is a thrill and an honor every time I sing it. I haven't done a Christina Aguilera on it yet !!!
I dont feel like a foreigner here. I have a green card and feel American. I don't know what I will do when I am eligible for citizenship. I want to vote but part of me wants to remain Irish. I think I can have dual citizenship so maybe I will do that.
So this week has been all about the launch of the the album and indeed I can tell you now that as of Sept Razor and Tie will release not only my dvd and cd of Beyond Celtic but a collection of other recordings called The Road Not Taken. On this album you will find studio versions of some of the songs of the live show. You will also however find several unreleased tracks. I will put up a teaser or two for you next week. I think you will be pleased. My producer Steve Skinner has done a great job as usual and he just makes me sound good. There are a few surprises on this. I listened to some of the tracks last night and I really am proud of them.
Sharon Browne from Celtic Thunder gave me a shout out on the forum this week which resulted in many loyal Thunderheads signing up to show me some support. I was just thrilled. I haven't a big machine to help me with this so to have someone as great as Sharon spread the word, it is HUGE for me. I've come to know the boys in CT so well and they've become friends. They have done nothing but be encouraging and I am delighted with their encouragement and recommendation to the fans. They head over to the US soon and boy have Thunderheads a treat in store for them.
More tour dates have come in this week, in the North West and North East. I will post them over the next few days.
Anyways, as I fly to San Francisco, I can't help thinking how lucky I am to be doing this. 10 years ago today I did my last show with Riverdance. It took me a few years to climb out from under it's protection indeed, it's harness. I am so grateful to the show for giving me my big break but also teaching my life lessons on being a performer on and off stage. I am very proud to have been part of it.
I played San Francisco in my first tour with Riverdance. Now I am coming back to the theater district in S.F. with my own show. A full circle moment. I am excited about it. but first.....
I have a few things to do this weekend while there, to plan for my holiday concerts but mostly i plan on enjoying the ballgame(once i figure out how it is played!) and the San Francisco atmosphere. Anyone got any recommendations for restaurants?
Gawd, now I am back to thinking about pie.