Sunday morning. Nameless random Nashville hotel.
OK, it's the Marriott. I am lying here in the quiet. Just finished watching the political shows that consume my every Sunday morning. I really should be at mass and while I am catholic, for some reason my addiction to social and political dialogue seems to hold more attention than the ramblings of a nameless catholic priest in a church I don't know. God forgive me.
I've had quite the week. It started in Long Island where I had 2 sold out shows at The Patchogue Theater. Those folks were in the mood for a good time. Somehow people seem to be more involved in my concerts than they used to be. They laugh and sing more. They clap louder. I suspect it is because they need to have more of a good time than they used to. Life is more stressful these days. People havent as much funds in their pockets. A night out does the world of good. We had 1100 on both nights and they were determined to have a great night out.
Once we finished the shows I headed into New York. I have a storage unit there since I left a few years ago. I actually was based in New York for about 15 years total. It is my spiritual home. The day I arrived as a kid in 1989 I knew I belonged there. I remember everything about that day. It was the start of my love affair with the Big Apple. We have had many ups and downs and indeed divorced( well, separated) in 2008 but really I will never leave my town. Do you ever forget your first love? I know the city better than anywhere in the world including Wexford. Once I get back in town, things just seem to fall into place.
I was hugely busy but had some priorities. I wanted to spend time with some people I hadn't seen. NYC makes it difficult to get together with people but I got to spend time with my lovely friend Phyl who I stayed with, hang with Jean Clancy(Celtic Thunder General Manager) and my long time friend and Riverdance Company Manager Thom Clay. Much mayhem ensued.
With Phyl, I got to go to Becco, one of my favorite spots on restaurant row. I always enjoy the Pasta Symphony there, a highly recommended fresh homemade pasta. The service was impeccable and the NYC vibe was perfect. I love talking to the waitstaff on restaurant row as they are Broadway performers waiting for the break. Most are full of dreams and anticipation, some bitter as hell. Both serve a table with a story to tell that I want to hear.
Phyl is an amazing cabaret artist with a remarkable career to show for it and one of the most magnetic performers I have ever seen. She has been family and friend to me for 20 years. When we get together we laugh more than anything really. Noone, and I mean noone, has a more hilarious approach to life than she. She gave me the quintessential New York evening with pasta, vino and fall of yer chair laughs.
Of course that didn't satisfy me. I simply had to continue into the night once Phyllis sensibly decided she would retire for the evening. I headed out to Jean's wine bar, Claret. I love the place. It has a gorgeous food and wine menu. Jean is the most accomplished person I know. She speaks French and Italian, knows random facts about every food known to mankind, can cook up a storm, is a wine uberkind, runs Celtic Thunder with lazer precision and is loyal to a fault. We have been great friends for a long time now.
I remember the day we got that first CT CD mailed to us. Sharon Browne asked us to take it to Irish America like we had done with Celtic Woman. We didn't know that day what the Celtic Thunder show would achieve. I remember listening to Keith and thinking "star potential" so i am feeling a lil bit psychic with my predictions. The new release is out in a month and I am hearing AMAZING things from people in the industry not connected to Thunder. Keith is making waves and it couldn't happen to a nicer fella.
Anyways, jean and I talked about the music business which we are both fairly obsessed with. I love hearing her talk about Thunder. Sharon and Jean are so proud of what has happened and how the show is progressing. I know i learned a lot from both of them as a producer and am inspired by their achievements. The show simply would not exist without them. Anyways, we talked and talked but i got sense and got out of there before it got too late.
Midweek, I met Thom Clay, my old boss in Riverdance on Broadway. He is now company manager of Nice Work If You Can Get It. We met for lunch but he invited me to come to see the show that night. I knew Kelli O Hara was in the show. I had asked Kelli to be in my first PBS special but she was busy in the Kennedy Center at the same time so it didn't happen. I love her voice. You will recognise her from her performances in South Pacific and Light In the Piazza.
So I went to the show and laughed my head off. I wanted to hear Kelli sing some more serious songs but ultimately I had a complete ball and howled through the whole evening. Judy Kaye is hilarious and indeed won a Tony for it. The chandelier scene is just hysterical. Kelli and her partner on stage Matthew Broderick have a great chemistry and seemed to enjoy the whole performance so that made me love them both.
I went back to Kelli's dressing room after and she graciously invited me to have a glass of wine. In walks Matthew Broderick, Chris Sullivan and a few more cast members and we had an impromptu cocktail party full of showbiz stories, inside jokes and everyone in the room attempting an Irish accent. I was rather impressed that they all spoke highly about Wexford Cheese and Wexford Ale....didnt have the heart to tell them it isn't brewed at home but it is a County Wexford recipe.
The night ended in a nameless Broadway bar with crew from various shows gathered around a table to talk showbusiness. I lapped it all up like soup.
I left New York because I felt like I had graduated. It was time. But, it will always have a hold of me. I get to have the best of both worlds so I am there quite a lot. This week reminded me why I am part of it. I understand it and it certainly understands me.
A quick flight to Chicago to make sure my house is still standing had to happen. Honestly, I have spent about 2 months there this year but I guess it is what I signed up for.
I flew to Nashville 2 days ago to start a week of projects. I went straight from the airport to the studio where I starting demoing songs. I wasn't in the best of voice from the flight i think so I am not at all happy with what we cut so i will go in again on Tuesday to go again. Marcus Hummon, Bernie Herms and I wrote a song called East Of You, West Of Me a few weeks back. I love everything about it not least the fact that I am writing with these legends but spending time with inspiring people is what I live for. Anyways, my first go does not do the song justice. I am nothing if not a perfectionist so I start again this week.
The rest of this week involves meeting Outback Concerts to finally decide on route and dates for Christmas. Yes, I know it is not far away and I know I need to get this out to you guys soon but once we get it routed this week I should have the information soon. Right now I have only about 10 dates iron clad but we will add a lot more this week. The tour officially starts in the Zeiterion, New Bedford, MA on November 24. Tix not released yet. As for the show we have some major guests including the current world Irish dance champion Michael Holland , gorgeous newly written holiday songs, new musicians and a GUARANTEED great night out for the holidays. It is hands down my favorite tour.
I've been invited to visit the Grammy Nashville Offices this week so I am going to drop in to see if some of that magic rubs off on me. If you don't know by now, I am obsessed with country music so getting to call in on the center of it all will be a treat. I am also going to a red carpet event. Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics filmed a documentary called The Blackbird Diaries and the Ringmaster General about the making of his new Nashville album with Stevie Nicks, Martina McBride, Alison Kraus etc etc and there is a fancy launch party on Wednesday. I promise to sneak some party photos to you guys on twitter. The question is how do I get to talk to Stevie. Will work on that.
The rest of this week involved planning 2013 with my manager Robert. He has some great unusual plans so we will see what pans out. Right now the rest of the year is fairly mapped out but know this. I have 2 separate recording projects. I head back to New York in late September to knock out the first and then I will be back and forth to Nashville over the coming 6 months for the second one.
Thanks for the cards and letters....and the starbucks treats.....but most of all for that level of support which holds me up and moves me forward.
Love ye for it.