Landing with a bang, the magic of Cork, Ireland
Greetings from Cork City, the sister city of San Francisco in the southwest of the Emerald Isle!
Not even sure where to begin, so much has happened since the plane landed in Dublin on Tuesday morning – it feels like we have been here months already! I ended up on the same flight from Chicago to Dublin as my drummer, Will Bates, so we crossed the Atlantic side by side, only to meet bassist, Sean Stillinger in the Dublin airport upon arrival. It was raining of course, just to make sure we knew we were in Ireland ; )
Dublin is alive and bustling as usual, despite the rain, and we pulled into Isaacs hostel in city center, only to meet a friend and past colleague of mine from Marin, George Taylor, who was staying in the same hostel! He had just finished a 3 week bike trip all over the west of Ireland and was on the way back to California. Sharing lunch together was surreal, serendipitous and very fun. Even more fun was witnessing Sean and Will through many humorous moments as they realized they weren’t in Amerikay anymore. For example, at the cafeteria register the server asked Will “Are you OK?” which is the Irish way of asking “Can I help you”. Will was quite confused and said, “Yeah I’m OK, are you?” taking it personally as if she had asked him, “is there something wrong with you?” I had to explain later that this was quite a normal way to address a customer, and it was very amusing!
First stop after lunch was the Book of Kells in the Trinity College, which was my second time paying homage to one of the great gems of Irish history. Then paid a visit to my dear friend Liam O’Maonlai, one of Ireland’s greatest musical legacies, who had just performed the previous night with Bobbie McFerron on one of Dublin’s grand stages. Too bad to have missed that one! Look out for the next Riverdance called “Mouth Music” which both of these artists will be a part of. And if that was not enough, we finished the day by performing casually in the lobby of the hostel. The guests and management loved the music so much, they invited us back to play again and stay for free when we come through Dublin on the way home!
Day 2 we hopped the bus to Cork and arrived earlier than expected to the beautiful city I called home for 3 sweet months in 2005, some of you may recall those emails as well. So we pulled out our instruments on Patrick’s Bridge and began to busk, testing Sean’s portable, battery powered amp and Will’s travel cajon. Our music filled the air and we caught many a passer-by’s attention, even a few Euro’s. The exchange rate is horrid at the moment. For 100 US dollars you get 55 euro, and that doesnt go very far in Ireland these days, so every coin in the case helps!
The percussionist, Aharon, arrived to Cork in the afternoon from Paris, and we settled into our host stays, thanks to my dear friend Graziela (Brazilian belly dance teacher in Cork), my sweet friend Lionel (from Congo), and a great service called couchsurfers.com. And then we hit the town! Walking through the city streets, I haven’t been here for a while and I just kept bumping into old friends, musicians and folks that I share great memories with from the past. It had a sort of home coming feel for sure. We went to one of the many music sessions on the town at my favorite pub, the Sin E. Even tho it was a Wednesday night, Cork was raging as always. Music thrives, people go out and party is on 7 days a week in this town. All you do is walk out the front door and you are in the party!
Day 3 was yesterday – our Ireland debut show and first concert after the CD release! We played at the campus of University College Cork in an art gallery which had the most gorgeous acoustics ever. I would pluck a violin string and the whole building vibrated along, so cool! A free concert to the university community and well promoted, we had 80 people in the audience giving their full attention, and we felt very well received. Sold all the CD’s we brought to the show and couldn’t have asked for a better tour launch.
Finished the evening by attending another concert of another world fusion bamd led by a Brazilian guitarist and his German wife on violin. Had a drummer from India, a saxist from Italy and many other guests through the night. I jammed on violin with them, and Lionel got up to play the drums at one point. Graziela was dancing the whole time. Fun, fun, fun!
I am up at dawn tomorrow to go teach singing classes in the countryside of West Cork, and we play a big concert in a special venue called Future Forests tomorrow night. There will be no sleeping involved! So I must catch some sleep tonight. I am feeling so happy to be here with the band, and to feel so warmly welcomed by the Cork community of extended family, friends and musicians.
Sending you all lots of love and joy!