Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Friday, February 9, 2018

UK TOUR: Cambridge

Half-pint of Guinness makes the pub chips
look enormous.
We left the Cotswolds before the sun rose on Wednesday morning, as it was a 3-hour drive to Cambridge and we had to be at the BBC Radio station before noon. It’s only 150 miles or something, but traffic is always bad, particularly around Oxford, so we got an early start. 

We’d been up since 1am in Cirencester having a great chat with The Black Feathers, so it wasn’t pleasant waking at 6:30a for a drive. Tis life on the road, however, and it’s still significantly better than touring in America. A 3-hr drive here is considered a long travel day, while on American tours, it’s typical to drive 8-12 hours to the next gig. I like to leave time to explore the towns, pull off for historical markers, and enjoy a cuppa.

After playing 3 songs and doing an interview on the BBC Cambridgeshire with Jeremy Sallis (who is absolutely delightful, as is his cohort, Glenn!), we arrived at the Six Bells pub, run by Eileen and absolutely wonderful woman. She was reading a novel in her pub and popped across the street to show us our rooms. 

I spent the afternoon meandering medieval bits of Cambridge and getting lost among markets and cobblestones, entering the imposing King’s College Cathedral, seeing the dark oak wood carvings of Henry VIII (I particularly liked the H+A carvings, like Henry + Anne = LOVE 4EVA UNTIL I CUT OFF YOUR HEAD!). The stained glass was amazing, and I still don’t understand how any of those massive buildings actually got built, even though I’ve read Pillars of the Earth. 

Later, I enjoyed some great conversation with Eileen and then met up with an internet friend, whom I know from a UK Mums Facebook group. She’s American, but has been in the British Isles since 2002. Also, she’s a redhead with two kids and she’s a crunchy-type momma too (and a brilliant urban planner), and it was great fun meeting her in person. 


The Six Bells is a small pub and we packed it to the gills. Steve and I played semi-acoustic, with just a vocal mic, so I wouldn’t have to scream over the banjo. The large crowd went silent as we played, as the uber-polite English audiences do, and we just had a blast playing a long set of original tunes. We mingled and made friends and then played a shorter set with some singalongs and requests. It was a grand evening, distracted only by the fact that my phone was blowing up with some stressful stuff back home (we have a house on the market, and of course, everything happens when I don't have a minute to deal). 
King's College Chapel in Cambridge
Cambridge!
BBC Radio in Cambridge with Jeremy Sallis.
They still have phone booths!
King's College Chapel stained glass.
I loved this. So OLDE!
Market in Cambridge
The Six Bells pub in Cambridge -- delightful.
A room in the Six Bells pub!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

UK TOUR: Cotswolds, Cirencester

Brigid Kaelin, Steve Cooley & THE BLACK FEATHERS

There’s a mystery series I love called Agatha Raisin by MC Beaton. They are quick reads with nothing terribly scary, and they are set in a fictional village in the Cotswolds. As Steve and I played in a played in Cirencester (a Cotswolds town - well, city, not village), I liked to pretend I’m a private detective. It was particularly fun driving through these village towns and trying to imagine which one is most like the fictional village of Carsley (I’m thinking it’s Barnsley). 

Cirencester seems off the beaten track to many English folk we encounter, but I first went there in 2008 when I met a friend on Couchsurfing (remember Couchsurfing?!). He’s continued to be a friend, though he has since moved to Bristol (it’s Neil, from my first tour blog!) and I continue to go to Cirencester, about an hour from Bristol, whenever I can.

After an attempt at visiting the ruins of a Roman villa (it was CLOSED for winter when we arrived and the caretaker said, “don’t tell me — you looked on Google and it said we were open” — um YES?! If this happens all the time, perhaps you should change your hours on Google?), we headed for the venue.

We played in a pub called the Golden Farm, which has a perfect music venue attached to it. The building is 15th century, with a “new" addition built in the 17th or 18th century. The Vaults is the music venue, and WOW, what a room. The sound was fantastic, and our hosts for the evening were delightful — as they always are. 

The Black Feathers, whom some of you have actually MET when I hosted a house concert for them in Louisville last fall, are Ray and Sían and they are just the nicest and smartest and most talented people you could ever come across. They live above the pub, and we stayed with them. I was in the attic/music studio and stared at rafters from the 1400s as I drifted off to sleep.

In the afternoon, Ray and Sían took me for a quick tour around town to see winding cobblestone streets, old churches, and the tallest hedge yews in Europe.

Our friends, The Layers, opened the show for us at the Vaults, and we got to hear some rocking’ 3-part acoustic harmonies and excellent original tunes. Thank you for sharing your gifts, The Layers, and thank you to all in Cirencester who ventured out on a Tuesday evening to hear live Kentucky music.


LEGO recreation inside St. John's in Cirencester.
TOUR DOGGIE!
Delicious feast prepared by Sían during soundcheck.
Aneil! He came all the way from Wolverhampton.
Thank you, Aneil!
The Layers
Adorable street in Cirencester
In the Cotswolds, they have hares (like
Kentucky has horses and Chicago cows).

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

UK TOUR - Bristol wrapup days 1/2


OUR UPDATES! Lots of TMI here, per usual.

Most important thing to note: I SLEPT 9 hours straight last night and woke up on my own. I'm pretty sure I woke up in the exact same position in which I first closed my eyes. IT WAS AMAZING. This morning I brushed my teeth without anyone tugging at my ankles or grabbing my breasts. Speaking of breasts, OUCH! I spent 3 days away from Angus in late December, and I only had to hand express once. But this time -- only a month later -- I was rock-hard-engorged-leaking-through-my-sweater by the time we landed in Bristol, a mere 18 hours after I'd last nursed the wee one. I knew he was growth-spurting before I left, but OMG, ouch ouch ouch. Poor Steve Cooley knows more about my breast ducts than he cares too. It's been sad watching the liquid gold go down the drain, but I haven't had time to grab any cabbage leaves yet down it goes. Oddly, I'm not worried about drying up completely because breastfeeding remains the one thing about motherhood that apparently is natural and easy for me. Everything else is a crapshoot, but I'm good at making milk.

ANYWAY - last night's show was fun because it was hosted by a good friend (whom I met on Couchsurfing 10 years ago, of all places!) and we had a blast playing at Grounded in Horfield. Neil sung 4 beautiful songs, and I loved listening to him. I bragged on Steve enough to embarrass him, and he was jet-lagged enough to tell some grand stories about his previous UK tours.

We left Atlanta at 6pm for Amsterdam, and arrived in Bristol at 10am Bristol time (5am Louisville time), but i was able to sleep about 4 hours on the flight, which is pretty much what I sleep at home on average. While Steve got a nap, I had Neil drag me ALL over city centre Bristol. We walked about 5-6 miles through beautiful city and showed me the sights and we climbed Cabot Tower (109 steps according to Wikipedia, but I counted more...) and saw all the way to the Welsh Mountains and it was just a blast. Speaking of Wales, Pip's Real Hot Chocolate Co was at my show last night!!! He's a friend I met in Crumlin a zillion years ago, and it was DELICIOUS (literally, thank you for the chocolate!) to see him.

Also, Alan George Downie appeared at our gig last night, which surprised me more than any surprise visitor ever has (and i've had an odd amount of surprise visitors in my life!!). This was crazy because I last saw Alan on Thursday when he sat in the front row at SOLD OUT!! Brigid Kaelin - Send-off to Scotland! -- and though he is actually FROM Scotland, he's lived in Louisville since the 1960s. I know him from my dad's days working at AIR DEVIL'S INN, and it was Alan who booked me my first gig in Louisville at ADI. AND HE'S HERE IN ENGLAND!
So crazy.

Anyway, I'm perky as can be on 9 hours of sleep and one cuppa. Off to buy a guitar now (long story, but we didn't bring one from home), and we'll catch up later!


Tonight's show is at Mr. Wolf's Bristol : SongSmith Brigid Kaelin/Where The Night Falls/Howard Silverman is the event page. We'll be appearing on Bradley Stoke Radio Studio in the 6:00 hour GMT. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

UK Tour - airplanes and club lounges!

Greetings from the Atlanta airport Delta Sky Club in Terminal E! We have a 3-hour layover before our flight to Amsterdam, and we are spending those 3 hours watching people load baggage onto an enormous plane. They are in the cold rain, while we are sipping cappuccinos and refilling soup bowls and hitting the cookie bar. We are not even partaking in the complimentary beverages because I honestly just don't feel like drinking. Angus nursed all night, and I'm pretty sure a sip of alcohol would put me right to sleep at this point. I'm tired, and I've got a Transatlantic flight ahead of me -- and I'm flying COACH!

I know, I know. Most people fly coach. I've been fortunate to land some pretty sweet upgrades in my past, but tonight's flight is full, alas, so not even The Secret will help me this time.

Here's a funny thing, though: I'm really, really looking forward to tonight's sleep because I suspect it will be better than the last month's sleep with the teething toddler. Who looks forward to an overnight flight in coach? MOTHERS!!!

Saying goodbye was not tearful today, and for that, I am grateful. Steve and I took an Uber from my house to avoid any tearful moments at TSA. Graham had his fair share of, "Mommy, please don't go" moments, but Angus wasn't sure what was happening. He was pretty happy in his daddy's arms, so that was good.

I have downloaded Lonely Planet England and spent the flight to Atlanta informing Steve of various and interesting facts about the southern England ("Look, did you know Banksy is from Bristol?!"). He was less than impressed about all facts shared, but that is just how Steve is. I love that about him. I'm plotting which castles and henges we will be able to visit while still maintaining radio appearances and gig punctuality.

It should be a fun time. I hope I have the energy to maintain good social media and blogging fun on my way.

Thanks for a wonderful send-off show to the awesome people who bought advance tickets to the concert at the Bard's Town. It was a blast, and we'll do it again sometime.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Interrupt a man.

My sweet little privileged boys playing in the show!
Every woman I know is on fire lately. Whether that means finally seeking out therapy or finally calling out nonsense and bad behavior when you see it, it means a change is not just a'coming; it is a'here. And I LOVE IT. It's empowering and it's a weight off my shoulders I never realized was there.

When my second-born was revealed to have a penis, I was incredibly relieved. I knew, right then, that his life would be significantly better than if he'd been born with a vagina. I knew that I'd have an easier job as a parent, not having to explain every nuance of dressing, catcalling, expressing yourself, being careful, being smart in class, but not raising your hand all the time -- all those things that women have dealt with and all the burdens we have shouldered. In that same moment of relief, I also felt massive responsibility to try to make these fortunate middle-class white males I would raise to try to understand just a fraction of what women go through on a day to day basis.

My #metoo anger comes out in frustration sometimes. My 5-year-old will behave like a typical impatient 5-year-old and interrupt me. When I'm feeling ragey, I'll respond, "NEVER INTERRUPT A WOMAN." I know that "never interrupt" would be good enough, but I add those two words because I feel some need to over-correct thousands of years of systemic sexism. My sweet boy is told not to refer to game pieces as "guys" or animals at the zoo as "him," because I want him to learn that "male" is not the default. I also want him to be a strong leader, but to recognize his own privilege -- and that he must offer helping hands to those not beginning life on a pedestal. When his friends in his preschool get upset that I make all the monkeys jumping on the bed GIRLS ("she fell off and bumped her head"), I feel a little smile of "now you know what it's like!" before obviously remembering that the 3-year-olds are not, in fact, the enemy.

But their parents are! Even if it's me.

Today I ask you to interrupt a man -- or at the very least call them out. Speak up for us. I've seen too many men out there going on and on about things they clearly don't understand, assuming that our powers are balanced from the get-go. They are not. If you're an artist on a bill with almost entirely men, SAY SOMETHING. Promoters seem to think that if they throw a few women on a festival line-up that they are being woke and making sure there is representation. That's not good enough! Don't make us compete with each other for a few token spots, while a bunch of white guys get to play the same three chords with the same beards and same flannel shirts and have the arts scene be okay with that. Don't make us sound ungrateful when we *are* the token woman: SAY SOMETHING. Don't sit back and agree with me on Facebook without doing anything about it: SAY SOMETHING.

And of course -- same goes for race. I'm not perfect, but I'm trying to get better. Know better, do better. If you didn't know before, now you do. It's okay to improve yourself. That's what we're all out to do, right?


Monday, January 15, 2018

Inspector Gadget coats and packing skillz

Photo has NOTHING to do with the blog,
but look how cute my boys are. 
You guys, I'm the queen of packing, and I'm starting to get verrrrrrrry excited about packing for my upcoming tour. I don't like to check a bag, and I also like to make sure I bring an accordion and plenty of CDs. That doesn't leave much room for clothes, and this is a winter tour, requiring more than a couple of layers. But I once packed for myself and a toddler for a month in Europe with just one carry-on, so I've got this, people. I've got it.

Part of my excitement is that I got that awesome Baubax bomber jacket that has, like, 15 pockets for various devices, which eliminates the need for a carry-on on a flight. I'm pretty excited to model it for you all because it's, like, this jacket that I invented in my head ages ago on some RyanAir flight where I had to buy a seat for my accordion because it was cheaper than paying for it as a carry-on , but I didn't have to put in any effort to make it happen. Instead someone else is getting rich, but at least I get my Inspector Gadget jacket.



Video from UK Tour - Cotswolds

A little video of country roads, Roman villas, and pheasants that don't want to live.