Tag Archives: Live Music

Tuesday’s Tunes Special: The Kiss Country Guitar Jam.

13 Nov

Tonight, my mom and I are going to The Kiss Country Guitar Jam, which is a country concert that benefits Mission Children’s Hospital in Asheville. The concert will feature country artists Dustin Lynch, Craig Morgan, Randy Houser, and Matt Stillwell. Though this is the 5th year that Kiss Country and The Orange Peel have had this concert, this year is the first year that I am going, and I am so excited. I love country music more than anything, but I also know that this particular show is going towards the children in Mission Hospital who are sick, struggling, and just need something to make them smile.

Even though I didn’t go to Mission Children’s Hospital for all of my surgeries and intense physical therapy, I was born there. In some strange way, I feel a connection to all the kids who are there now. I feel like I can empathize since, a little over 20 years ago, I was a two pound one ounce baby in the NICU of Mission Children’s Hospital, using all the strength I could muster to simply survive.

So, to all the children currently in Mission Children’s Hospital who are fighting to see just one more day, tonight is for you. Tonight will serve as the reminder that we are thinking of you, though those thoughts may seem far away at times. It’s through kids like you that we know what it is to not simply survive, but thrive.

The similarities between music and writing.

4 Oct

Last night, my friend Olive and I went to see a band called First Aid Kit perform at the Orange Peel, a popular, but small live music venue in downtown Asheville. First Aid Kit is “a Swedish folk duo composed of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, whose close vocal harmonies and woodsy, folk-influenced songwriting take influence from the likes of Fleet Foxes and Joanna Newsom.”

I first recognized the connection between music and writing when First Aid Kit played their song, “Emmylou.” Take a look at the chorus of the song:

I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June
If you’ll be my Gram and my Johnny too
No, I’m not asking much of you
Just sing little darling, sing with me

Even though this song specifically refers to singing, I feel like it can apply to writing as well. The great thing about singing (and writing) is that even though it can be a one-person job, the pure joy in it is found when it’s shared with others. Yes, the majority of the time when I write, I write for me. I used to sing as well, and when I did so, it was mainly due to the fact that it made me happy. However, how lonely would writing be (and singing for that matter) if we weren’t able to touch people with our words and music? In my opinion, it wouldn’t be nearly as rewarding. Yes, it is an incredible feeling when I’m able to write out a specific memory and know that simply writing it out has brought me a sense of comfort that wasn’t there before. However, I don’t think I would be able to push through my writing ruts and my bad writing days if it weren’t for the people who were supporting me and encouraging me to keep on writing. I feel like it’s very similar in terms of singing. After all, when you go to concerts, you always hear the musicians constantly thanking their listeners for their love and support. I have no doubt that in their minds, they wouldn’t have been able to push through the hard days of songwriting without the support and love from their fans.

Though there were so many years that I wrote simply for me and me alone, that focus has definitely shifted over the last year. Even though I still do write for myself due to the fact that it’s incredibly therapeutic, I also write in order to impact others with my words. I write to share my story. However, I share my story because I want it to help others: others with CP, others who want a window into what CP is like (like the parents and friends of kids with CP), others who don’t know much about CP but have a desire to learn. Without the presence of those “others” wanting and needing me to keep sharing my story, writing about my life would be so much harder. Therefore, it is because of the support and encouragement from all of you that I am able to sit down at my computer every day and share my story, though some days it seems to come together very slowly. Thankfully, there’s no time frame for my writing. The only required constant is writing something, anything every day.

Dave Matthews Band.

6 Sep

I was lucky enough to see the Dave Matthews Band perform live a few years ago. It was one of the best performances I’ve ever been to. Moral of the story: If you ever get the chance to see Dave Matthews in concert, GO! 🙂

Saturday Song: Ghost Town.

25 Aug

I came across the band First Aid Kit earlier today when I was looking on the Events page of The Orange Peel, a live music venue here in Asheville. I’m definitely going to try to see them perform on October 3rd because I love their folk-y sound. 🙂 Let me know what you think!

When in Ireland, visit Dublin, the city of street performers.

22 Jul

Since I’m a lover of live music, I loved all the street performers I came across in Dublin yesterday!

 

 

When in Ireland, find home in the most unlikely places.

17 Jul

Twice in the past week I have heard two different Irish cover bands play “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. Other than “Wagon Wheel” being one of my favorite songs in general, it’s also a song that speaks of North Carolina, my home state. It’s just so weird to think that twice in one week I’ve heard a song that instantly has me thinking of North Carolina, Asheville, the mountains, bluegrass music, and the place that I feel most connected to. I’ve realized that even when I’m in Ireland, I can still receive the strong pull of home.

There are mountains here in Ireland, but they are nothing like the Blue Ridge Mountains that I call home. Every so often I find myself searching for the blue hue that holds so much security and comfort inside me, only to slowly realize that the specific color that holds so much emotion for me cannot be found in the mountains here. At the same time, however, I think if the Ireland landscape was more like the landscape that I’m used to at home then it would make it that much harder for me to leave next week.

It’ll be hard to say goodbye to a place that I feel has taken root so quickly in my soul. Before coming to Ireland, I was a bit hesitant. I didn’t know if I would like it or not. I had no idea what to expect, other than the fact that I was looking forward to seeing the green beauty that I had poured over during all the times that I watched P.S. I Love You. No words can describe how amazing it has been to realize that home isn’t always one specific place. When I come to think of it, I’ve found home in multiple places.

My first home was in a small town in South Carolina. It was where I grew up, and even though it has now become a place that doesn’t hold very much meaning for me, it will always be the place where I first learned about life. I think of riding my Barbie Jeep, my gocart, and my four-wheeler. I think of making mud pies in my Barbie kitchen. I think of my childhood friends…and the friends that ended up not being very friendly towards me. I think of finding my love of theatre, which is also when I realized that it was possible to have another family outside of my immediate family that was there to love and support me just as much. I think of growing up, of the days that I lost myself in books because I needed a way to escape the days when the pain was too much. I think of the nights when I made my own little space in the bottom of my closet that was equipped with a light, blankets, a pillow, a book, and a pencil and paper that I used in order to write away what I was feeling. I found security sitting in my closet…with the realization that the harsh world lay just outside. I found out what it meant to dream.

My second home was Salem Academy, an all-girls’ boarding school in North Carolina. Though I didn’t consider it my home until my senior year there, by my senior year I didn’t want to leave. It took a year to find my own place, but once I did, I knew that I’d never be the same. I found a part of me…a part of me I hadn’t really embraced before. I found my true self…or at least the beginning of my true self. I wouldn’t have been able to embark on the journey of figuring out who I truly was were it not for my best friend Skidmore. I met her during my junior year at Salem, and she was the first friend that I discussed my entire life with, the good and the bad. Skidmore was the first person I completely opened up to, and having someone who reacted so positively to all that I knew I needed to say was also something that was necessary. Without Skidmore’s love and non-judgemental acceptance, I wouldn’t have been able to start to figure out who I was…or what the meaning of home really was.

My third home is, as a whole, North Carolina….but more specifically…the Blue Ridge Mountains and Asheville. I’ve always been a mountain girl, but I’ve never been able to say that I have had the chance to live among a landscape that I love….until last August. And being in Asheville makes home feel even more real to me because I’m in such an artsy city…while also knowing that it is a mere 5 minute drive to reach the Blue Ridge Parkway…or the place that makes me feel completely alive. Writing has done the same thing…given me that feeling of being truly alive. Therefore, being able to write among the landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains…it’s unreal, and yet, it’s what I’ve been doing.

It’s hard to imagine that Ireland has, in a way, become another home for me. And yet, I’m not all that surprised. I can’t think of one person that I know who has come to Ireland and not fallen in love with its beauty. But it’s more than just the beauty. It’s the people…it’s the quaint little village towns and the college cities…it’s the pubs and the pub atmosphere (which, I’m surprised to report, have held more character and comfort than I ever imagined), and it’s the music. I’m a true music lover, and I listen to music every chance I can get. Here in Galway, live music can be found all over the city on every night of the week. I love that opportunity. It’s probably one of my favorite parts about being in Galway. It’s not just live music every night though…it’s free live music. For a true music lover like me, it can’t get much better than free good live music every night!

So even though I’ll be leaving a home next week, I’ll also being going home to a place that I love more than anything in the entire world. Despite the fact that I’m leaving, I know I’ll be back. A place can’t take hold in my soul so quickly and not be a place that I don’t plan on returning. I don’t know when, or under what circumstances, but I know that I’ll be back. I can feel it. After all, there’s only so long that you can stay away from home, even when, sometimes, home has the ability to be so many different places all at once.

When in Ireland, don’t bash all cover bands.

14 Jul

Before last night, I wasn’t a fan of listening to a cover band perform instead of listening to traditional Irish music. However, after hearing an Ireland rock cover band called The Antics perform at The Spanish Arch last night, I was reminded how much I miss rock music. Plus, two of the musicians weren’t bad to look at, so that definitely helps, right?

When Alex and I first got to The Spanish Arch, the pub was packed with people and there was hardly any place to sit. However, I soon realized that once we got our drinks and just meandered, eventually a table would free up. Last night we got extremely lucky and snagged a table that was pretty much right in front of the stage.

I told myself before we went out last night that I’d stick to buying one drink of Bulmer’s and then just see where things went. I’m glad that I stuck to this strategy. On the second song that The Antics played, two guys (both in suits. Why are guys in suits so much more attractive?) came out in front of the band and started dancing. There was another guy with them as well, but he seemed content to just watch the two other guys make fools of themselves. They were completely hilarious though. I couldn’t seem to stop laughing. At one point, one of the guys (the drunker of the two) asked Alex to dance. At first she declined, but then when he got happily down on his knees and begged she gave in and danced with him. It was so funny to watch. You could tell that all of the guys were enjoying themselves. After Alex danced with the drunkest guy, he came back a few minutes later and apologized profusely. Maybe he had realized then how drunk he was. Either way, at that point Alex and I came to the conclusion that the two guys who had started dancing in the first place were really gay (or just so drunk that it seemed like they were gay)…which was fine, but it was also very unfortunate since one of the guys (not the one that danced with Alex but the other one) was pretty cute. Anyway, since the guy of the group who was the most drunk reached the point of trying to get one of the security guards to dance with him, he was told to leave the pub, so the two guys he was with followed him. Since they had to leave in order to accompany their super drunk friend, they asked Alex and I if we wanted the rest of their Bulmer’s, and we happily took the cider off of their hands. Getting free drinks two nights in a row? I could get used to this.

The night got even better when the band played “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. I got so excited when the band was about to play it that I screamed really loud, and the lead singer responded: “Holy shit.” In my head I was thinking: “Hey, I’m just being the music lover/music supporter that I am. There’s nothing wrong with enthusiasm for a band, especially if I’m at a pub in Ireland. Sheesh, dude.” Anyway, the band members were surprised when a few people in the pub knew all the words to “Wagon Wheel.” I didn’t make a motion to say that I was originally from North Carolina. I was satisfied to just lose myself in the fact that I was hearing one of my favorite songs in a pub in Ireland. So, so cool. The unfortunate part of hearing “Wagon Wheel” was the fact that it made me pretty homesick for a few songs afterwards. However, once The Antics started playing songs by Blink 182 and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, the homesickness had passed.

It was a really fun night, especially because we stayed the entire time that the band played. However, that meant not leaving The Spanish Arch until about 2am. Though that was fine with Alex, I had hit my limit at about 1am. At that point, I began to find all the super drunk people really annoying, especially because by that point 2 people had almost spilled their drinks all over me. Thankfully, I didn’t end up getting beer spilled on me, but I wouldn’t have been happy if an entire drink would have landed in my lap. Though I was pretty much “done” with the whole scene by 1am, I knew that I didn’t want to walk all the way back home by myself. Plus, since it was Friday night, I knew there would be more people on the streets, and the mantra “There’s safety in numbers” wouldn’t leave my head (plus the fact that I knew that Alex carried pepper spray with her at all times). So, even though we didn’t get home until about 2:30am and my back pain was insane by that point (which I’m guessing was because we had gone out the night before last too), it was a really fun night. However, going out 2 nights in a row is as much as I can do at this point, so tonight will be spending reading and resting up, especially since we leave early tomorrow morning for our day trip to the Aran Islands.

When in Ireland, don’t miss Shop Street in Galway City.

13 Jul

My roommate, Alex, and I have come to love Shop Street, which is right off of the main square in Galway City. As well as Shop Street having shops ranging from tourist stores, jewelers, and my favorite bookshop here, Charlie Byrnes Bookshop, there are also some great pubs that always have live music.

In terms of pubs along Shop Street, so far we have been to The King’s Head, The Quays Bar, and The Spanish Arch. The King’s Head was the first pub we went to along Shop Street, and it was a great pub to start with, mainly because it was really big and had loads of seating (as opposed to the pubs we went to in Dingle last weekend that were pretty small). Alex and I enjoyed the live music we heard at The King’s Head on Tuesday, but since it was a cover band playing American songs, it wasn’t music that we wanted to hear night after night. We can hear American music when we’re home. We wanted traditional Irish music like we had heard the first night that we were in Dingle last weekend.

Last night Alex and I went to The Quays Bar as well as The Spanish Arch. We saw a sign outside The Quays Bar that the live music was supposed to start at 10pm. Lesson number one in terms of Ireland pubs: don’t believe everything you see/read. We went into The Quays Bar, and despite it being absolutely huge, there was already anywhere to sit. Go figure, right? Eventually though, we did find 2 seats, so then we got drinks and waited for the music to start. I settled on pear-flavored Bulmer’s, or Irish hard cider, which is normally my drink of choice. It felt like we waited forever for the music to start, and in all actuality, we did. Despite seeing the sign outside that said live music at 10pm, the musicians didn’t even start warming up until 10:55pm. This morning the woman we’re staying with told us that that tactic is often used in Ireland so that people will drink more before the music starts. We laughed because the tactic had definitely worked. Sadly, when the music actually did start, it wasn’t the traditional music that we were looking for, so we left in search of better music.

The better music was found right across from The Quay’s Bar at The Spanish Arch. We knew as we went through the doorway that we had come to the right place because number one: they weren’t playing American songs (what a relief!) and number two: they were playing the type of songs that are normally associated with traditional Irish music: jigs and reels. Even though the musicians didn’t have all of the instruments that I have come to associate with traditional Irish music (acoustic guitar, accordion, and fiddle), the simple fact that they were actually playing Irish music (except for one slip of Free Fallin’ by John Mayer) made me happy. As well as coming to the simple realization that my favorite thing about Ireland has been having the chance to listen to live music every night for free (minus the Euros that I normally spend on cider), my favorite instrument is definitely the fiddle. Granted, I’ve loved the fiddle before I came to Ireland. It’s such an amazing instrument, and I knew there had to be a concrete reason as to why I love Alison Krauss so much (not counting the fact that I just love bluegrass music in general).

Last night was also the first night that I experienced having someone buy me a drink (and buy the end of the night 2 people had bought us drinks at 2 different pubs). It was a very strange feeling. Since I’m not of legal drinking age in the states, it wasn’t something I was used to. So when a guy brought me another Pear Bulmer’s when Alex and I were at The Quay’s Bar, I was very hesitant. Thankfully, Alex could tell that I was really nervous, so she talked to the guy who had bought us drinks so that I didn’t have to say anything. It was in that moment that I realized what a great friend I have in Alex, and after talking to the guy who bought us drinks, we realized that he was harmless (plus the fact that Alex said she would kick the crap out of him if he did anything that made me feel even the slightest bit weird, which was a definite relief). I think it was just weird for me because since I don’t go to bars in the states, I’m not used to the normality of just having someone buy me a drink. However, Alex pointed out to me that it’s a pretty normal thing. However, to be as safe as possible, we created a believable back story. We were sisters, Alex and Annie, from Oregon, who had spent the past week traveling around Ireland and were heading back to the States in three days. Honestly, it was pretty exciting and fun, and I’m truthfully glad that Alex had thought of the idea before I introduced myself. I don’t think I would’ve thought to lie. However, Alex told me later that she did it because it’s fun and because she knew how nervous I was so she wanted to reassure me that nothing bad would happen. Thankfully, it helped a lot. As well as liking the idea of introducing ourselves as sisters from Oregon, last night will definitely be one that I won’t forget. It’s pretty cool to say that the first time someone bought me a drink I was at a pub in Ireland.

The night ended with Alex and I ordering pizza and cheesy bread from Papa John’s, which we completely dominated in about 20 minutes. I knew that I would need something to soak up all the cider I had enjoyed (plus the fact that the walk home consisted of me saying ‘I’m SO hungry’ every few minutes), so why not make it a food that’s super greasy, super delicious and cheesy and wonderful, and super American? Yummy Papa John’s + watching about half an hour of the third Harry Potter movie before going to sleep was the perfect way to end such a fun night. I really think it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in quite a while.

Last night’s live music hunt was a definite success, and in a little while Alex and I are heading back to Shop Street so that I can begin getting gifts for friends and family. When I realized yesterday that I only had 2 weeks left in Ireland, I realized that I better start looking for gifts. As well as needing to head to Shop Street in search of presents today, we’ll also be back there later tonight in search of some more music. The great thing about Shop Street though is that it’s packed with pubs, so I’m pretty sure that we could go to a different pub every night from now until we leave and still not be able to say that we’ve been to all the pubs on Shop Street. We’ve got to at least try though. How else are we going to spend our nights in Ireland? In all reality, spending them hunting for the best live music and enjoying cider is the only way to go.

When in Ireland, go to McDermott’s Pub in Doolin.

1 Jul

When my mom and I were traveling around Ireland before my study abroad program began in Galway, we stopped in Doolin because we heard that it had some great live music, and boy did we find it. There were only 3 pubs in Doolin, so we were able to go into all of them to see which had the best atmosphere and music. The winner was McDermott’s Pub, which was packed with people by the time my mom and I got there and had some great live music.

I particularly liked the music at McDermott’s because the musicians were younger. There were 2 guys and a girl, and the girl was definitely my favorite. We later learned that she was a well-known fiddle player and could play a huge variety of instruments. Her talent was pretty obvious, and it was great to hear her play. Sadly though, I don’t remember her name or I’d share it with all of you.

Anyway, if any of you ever get the chance to go to Ireland, make the trek to Doolin for McDermott’s Pub. You won’t regret it! 🙂

 

When in Ireland, seek out the live music.

29 Jun

Last night Alex (my roommate) and I went to Eyre Square in downtown Galway in search of live music. We took the bus, which I prefered since I’m trying to save my energy as much as I can. Anyway, the bus dropped us off at Eyre Square, and we went hunting for music. We saw this pub called Richardson’s and saw a sign that said “Live Music Tonight” and decided to take a look.

The pubs in Ireland can be pretty different from one another, but I like them. Richardson’s was pretty typical. Warm, inviting, plenty of places to sit. Though it wasn’t packed when Alex and I got there, there were still a good many people there enjoying the soccer game that was on tv. Though I didn’t drink last night, the bartenders were very nice and asked us if we wanted anything. Since the pub wasn’t packed, I think it gave the bartenders a chance to try to make sure everyone was happy and enjoying themselves.

The live music started at 9:30, once the soccer game was over. The band was made of up a fiddler player, the beautiful red-headed accordion player, and a guitar player. Alex and I were set for the night once we saw the beautiful red-headed Irish guy. The music was really wonderful too. Since the pub wasn’t packed with people, Alex and I enjoyed it more because rather than the musicians having to play over the noise, the music just played for itself. About halfway through the night, one of the band members (the guitar player) asked if there were any Americans in the house, and Alex and I said yes. His response: “There’s always one.” We laughed.

They then proceeded to play a Bob Dylan song as well as a Simon and Garfunkel song. Alex and I sang along to the songs we knew and cheered happily once the songs we over. Even though the music was amazing and neither of us wanted to leave, I knew that if we didn’t leave after a while we wouldn’t be up for our Lit class at 9 this morning.

We did end up making it to our class this morning, and both of us are still happily chattering about how much fun we had last night. Tonight we are planning to try to find the band we heard last night. I’m sure they’d enjoy having two American girls being their groupies, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.