Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Best present ever.

A lot of people ask me, "How do you find the time to keep that blog of yours?" Well, they have a good point. I have been stupid-busy lately, and I've been a bad, bad, bad blogger. I'm sorry. I'm determined to get back on track, focus, and keep a routine.

I generally dislike routine. In fact, if I saw a Facebook page called "routine," and there was that elusive "dislike" button, then I would click on that. That's how passionate I am about disliking it. But I can understand how it makes like a bit easier.

In related news, I got a DISHWASHER!!! This is possible the best present ever. After returning from a month in Europe, I wandered back into my house, expecting the messy nonsense and disarray in which I left it, and there, shining and, I swear, with a choir of angels singing around it, was a shiny new dishwasher. Well, technically, it's slightly used, but it's definitely shiny, and it works magic, I tell you, magic.

Even though, I suppose it's technically a vacuum-cleaner present (you know, like how you're not supposed to get things like vacuums or blenders for your birthday), I just about cried when I saw it. I did my first load last week, and I was so amazed by how sparkling the forks were that I decided to wash all of the silverware immediately.

I am so excited about all the free time I'll have now that I don't have to stand at the sink and grumble and scrub, thinking about all the more amazing things I could be doing rather than dishes. Maybe I'll actually have time to keep up this blog.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tomatoes, bread, mayonnaise, mmmmmmmmm...

When summer rolls around, and tomatoes actually turn red on the INSIDE, -- not just a thin shell of color -- there is nothing better than a tomato sandwich. It's really only two months out of the year that it's worth it to make such a meal, and that time is just about here. Yesterday, I ate tomato sandwiches for three meals. It was a good day.

The best recipe:

Two slices of bread, lightly toasted, although it's just as good without the toasting
Two thick slices of ripe ripe tomato
Real Mayonnaise, preferably Hellmann's (seriously, don't even attempt to use Miracle Whip, or you will foil this divine recipe)
a wee bit of salt and pepper, if you choose

What's your favorite summer snack?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Awesome summer mix-tape Volume 43

I love summer. People complain about the heat and the humidity, and I say, "Bring it on." I would so much rather be hot than cold, despite the argument that it's easier to put on more layers than run around nude. That, I say, is what sundresses are for. Sundresses and swimming pools.

Sunday night when I stepped out of the tour van in Cincinnati, having been in 70-degree perfection for exactly four weeks, it felt like I was stepping into a sauna. Even thicker than a sauna though because saunas are dry heat. This was a sticky wall of summer, and I suddenly realized I missed home a little bit.

Of course, I've been at Lakeside daily since my return. I've also been outside gardening in my floppy sunhat, getting drenched in sweat after pulling five weeds, and rushing to the pool for redemption.

Today, I'll be a guest on State of Affairs, one of my favorite radio programs, talking about the songs of summer. I'm excited. I've never been a guest on a talk radio show before, even though I pretty much solely have the radio turned to WFPL (or BBC 4) these days. Don't get me wrong, I love my WFPK, but I can't listen to music when I'm on tour. It's like working when I'm on break or something.

Anyway, the producers of State of Affairs asked me to give them my top three summer songs, which was a difficult task. I had a much bigger list, which I'll share with you now, while leaving my top three choices to be revealed during the live radio broadcast at 1:00 Eastern (that's 6:00 for you UK listeners ... stream live at www.wfpl.org).

For now my list keeps growing, as I woke up this morning with Louden Wainwright's "The Swimming Song" in my head and thought, "Ooooh!! I should have listed THAT one!" But so it goes with Top 3 lists or Top 5 or Top 10 ...

Anyway, some good Summer Songs that didn't make my list but could have ...

Anything by the Beach Boys. I had to learn "God Only Knows" for a wedding last weekend, and I forgot how awesome their wacky chord changes are, especially for a band that sounds so simple on the surface. I like all those old fun songs about surfing, t-birds, and even the new-fangled "Kokomo." It might be horribly catchy, but I love that steel drum.
As for the Beach boys, let's go with "California Girls" and "Surfin U.S.A." for today's mix tape.
"Sunny Afternoon" -- The Kinks
"4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy)" - Bruce Springsteen (okay, so i mostly love this for the accordion, but it fits the theme)
"Summertime" - Gershwin (duh)
"Vacation" - The Go-Go's (why is there an apostrophe in their band name??)
"A Summer Song" - Chad and Jeremy
"La Isla Bonita" - Madonna (had to put a Madonna song on here)

What's on your Awesome Summer Mix-Tape?

(those of you who read my blog here and wonder why there are so few comments ... come say hi on www.Facebook.com/brigidkaelin ... the conversation usually happens over there)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Playing accordion on a Punk Rock Record.

Yesterday, I found a prize in my mailbox: the new CD from the band Coliseum, called House with a Curse. This was exciting on many levels. I love new music. I love free music. And I love it when someone whose record I played on remembers to give me a copy of the CD. Otherwise I don't usually get to hear how whatever I played turned out.

If you know Coliseum's music, you are probably thinking, "Seriously?? Brigid Kaelin played on their record? That's weird." Well, it's not the most likely combination, but the accordion makes a surprising amount of sense on punk/hardcore music. I swear it does.

Their CD comes out on June 22, and it will also be available on vinyl, for you record collectors. Track one is me on the organ and accordion (the magic of multi-track recording), as well as Peter Searcy on the cello. It's one of those dramatic introductions to a rockin' record -- rockin' in the punk rock sense. I've been in a sensitive sad cowboy music kind of mood lately, so it was really fun to put on a hardcore record and drive around in the truck, all the while telling FWT, "Hear that?? That's the accordion."

Coliseum is playing an all-ages show at Skull Alley in Louisville on Friday at 10:00 sharp (I love it when a band says "sharp" because I actually believe them!) and there is no cover charge. Hear that? It's free. How awesome is that? It's also a combined photo show with photos from Nick Thieneman.

I also love the bizarre Louisville small-world story that led to this. I first heard of Coliseum (I admit to not being the Queen of the Hardcore Punk Scene, so I probably should have heard of them sooner.) when I was in the UK in 2008. Peter pointed out a Coliseum poster hanging in the window of a cool record shop in Manchester, England, and said, "Hey, that's Ryan Patterson's band!" I met Ryan months later through completely different folks, and look at that ... now I'm the silly accordion player on his band's new record.

Other guest musicians on Coliseum's new release: Jason Noble, Will Oldham, Peter Searcy, Jeremy and Nick from Young Widows, Carrie Neumeyer from Second Story Man, and eight year old Oliver Cox. (Also, in a Louisville-bizarro-story, I happen to teach piano lessons to this eight year old Oliver Cox. Gotta love Louisville.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New addictions and good cheese.

Two things happened to me in the UK that often happen when I go on the road. First, I got hooked on caffeine again. It was the British hospitality; I couldn't refuse a nice spot o' tea. I'm paying for it now, as I have had headaches the past two days. It's time to wean myself off it again because I just can't stand being reliant on something like that.

The second thing is that I started eating cheese regularly. My tummy and joints don't like dairy, but I looooooove cheese. I eat it in moderation back home, a few times a month, but never in large doses. In the UK, however, it's tricky to find non-dairy and non-meat foods. I ate a lot of fried potatoes while I was there, but I also -- and this was mostly because of the strict budget I was on -- bought a baguette and some cheese pretty much daily. It was much cheaper, and, more importantly, the FANCY cheese was much cheaper.

I give you this photo of a wedge of French Brie -- deliciously creamy and unbelievable on a baguette with a slice of apple -- for £0.77. That's about one dollar, folks. Can you blame me for buying that daily? I priced the same amount of Brie at Kroger yesterday for about $10.00. I guess that's just another reason to buy local. France is a lot closer to England than to Kentucky.

Time to wean myself from the Brie.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Video of Laphroaig Day at Islay Whisky Festival

I have a lot of favorite shows from the May 2010 UK Tour, but I may have to put the Islay Whisky Festival at the top of the list. It was the show where we were essentially background music, and those kinds of shows generally don't stay in my memory at all. This one, however, was freckled with tastes of 30-year-old Scotches and people from all over the world. It was a long day, I got sunburned, but I had so much fun that the hard work didn't matter.

The kind folks at Laphroaig TV sent this link over, and since I was bad about posting video blogs (sorry about that, by the way, Butch and I were sharing a laptop, so I didn't really have time to edit the video I took ... will do that someday soon), I thought you might appreciate a video look.

http://www.laphroaig.com/tv/channel2Feis.asp You have to be 21 to enter the site and view the video.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kitchen, I missed you most of all.

I like being on the road. While I'm there, troubles from back home float away, my voicemail doesn't torment me, and I am constantly meeting new and interesting people, and, I hope, making them smile. But there are a few things that I miss. Family and friends, obviously, are the biggest ones. Twitter was a nice way to send out those text messages to people who would appreciate many of the bizarre sights that I saw. It's hard being in another country and not being able to just pick up the phone and call or text your mother when you see a unicorn frolicking through the Welsh mist (I swear I did. Butch says it was a white mare, but he couldn't see the horn because he is clearly not pure of heart.)

Something I didn't even realize I missed until I got home late last night is: my kitchen. Isn't that sad? All these weeks of dining in charming restaurants, lovely meals at the homes of new friends, and barbecues on abnormally perfect Irish summer days, and I missed my kitchen of all things.

This afternoon, when I had a piano lesson cancel on me and had 30 minutes to kill, all I wanted to do was go upstairs and bake bread. I don't know if it's the soothing part of baking chemistry that relaxes me or maybe the ability to actually take the time to cook something rather than move on to the next town/gig, but I longed to use mixing bowls, and wooden spoons, and dish after dish after dish.

I've been too busy today to cook anything beyond a Tomato sandwich (with Bibb lettuce from my garden, of course), but I can't wait to sit down with my cookbooks and favorite recipe blogs (www.OysterEvangelist.com I have missed you so!) and make a grocery list. I can't wait for that smell of onions and garlic sauteing in olive oil. I can't wait until my garden produces more than just lettuce.

That all being said, I think my cooking will commence tomorrow. Tonight I'm going out to dinner with my parents. I think after weeks and weeks of eating mostly variations of fried potatoes, I shall have a salad tonight.

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup and Welsh promises.

Wales is always the craziest part of my UK tours. Whether it's a bizarre snow-globe type of village, a dragon crossing, or street signs with 6 F's and 4 L's, it's always an adventure. One night in Wales during my 2008 tour, I swore allegiance to Liverpool's football/soccer team because a batty old Welsh lady threatened my life if I didn't.

I take my vows very seriously, and since I promised her I would always root for Liverpool, I spent the next weeks after my tour researching Liverpool's team. For Christmas that year, my dad even got me a Liverpool t-shirt, and I like to mention that Steven Gerrard is my favorite player whenever it comes up in conversation. I don't have the right TV channels to actually follow Liverpool soccer, but if you ask me who I like best, I won't hesitate.

Anyway, my thoughts on The World Cup this year.

1) I felt bad for Rio when I heard the he hurt his knee, but I was secretly excited for Stevie G. to be the new captain.
2) I love that games can end in a tie. It's sort of like everyone getting an award just for showing up. But I've never liked playing competitive sports, so the idea of a tie is nice.
3) I think all sports commentators should have Scottish accents. It makes these games so much more fun to watch.
4) I understand the geography, but it still blows my mind that South Africa is only one-hour time difference from England.
5) I don't have World Cup Fever yet, but I'm trying. Must find my Liverpool t-shirt.
6) I'm playing a fancy wedding tomorrow in The Hamptons, and I'm wondering how many guests will sneak to the hotel bar to watch the US/England game.
7) Is it wrong to be for England? I mean, I SWORE allegiance to Liverpool. I'm telling you, this Welsh lady was really scary.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Roundabouts Rule.

I don't think the following statement will require me forfeiting my US Passport, but some of you will undoubtedly disagree. I like roundabouts. They make sense, they save gas, they prevent road rage, they prevent car-sickness, and they make you feel like your journey is coming along nicely. And if you miss your exit, you can keep circling around, you know, BigBen-Parliament style.

One thing I hate about driving back in the States is that it can take 10 minutes to drive half a mile if you hit the wrong stoplights. It can be overly frustrating to sit in traffic behind those morons who insist on turning left at stoplights without a turn arrow. At a roundabout, who cares if someone is turning left? It matters not.

I also love BBC Radio 4, with it's nonsensical soap operas that are somehow compelling even when the drama is a young girl's biology exams coinciding with her family's "Open Farm Day," whatever that is. It's better than the BBC News that we get, even though I love listening to the BBC News back home. It somehow makes softens terrible international news when you hear it in a British accent. I shall miss Radio 4 next week, however, and I wonder if my local public radio station could, perhaps, start work on its own soap opera.

There were a few other things that I like, but I can't remember now. Off to Dublin tomorrow, then off to New York.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Blogging from the road.

I was thinking the other day about my blogs, specifically how I have not been doing the best job giving you a play-by-play of life on the road. Then I got to thinking about how this whole celebrities-on-twitter and random musicians-blogging-from-the-road phenomenon gives the world a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes. It's partly edited, however, by what people choose to write about, but also I think there's a hesitancy to write the daily routine because, well, it's really not that exciting.

We don't know what it was like for rock bands in the 60s and 70s to tour together, other than the legendary stories that are left behind. Can you imagine what John Lennon or Keith Richards's Twitter feed would have looked like? I'm hoping they would have tweeted about more than baked potatoes and pretty scenery. But, at the same time, maybe not ... they'd likely leave out the tweets about hours in the bus, getting carsick, getting on the band members' nerves, and superfans.

Anyway, if I haven't been giving you enough details about the trip, it's that I figure it's really not that interesting. Their have been hours in the car (thankfully, those hours have been in a foreign country, and so the scenery is always interesting and often dotted with ancient ruins). There have been moments of car-sickness. Butch and I have surely gotten on each other's nerves The superfans have all been a pleasant surprise, so nothing interesting to say there. And I'm not just saying that to satiate them because they are probably reading the blog. One of them in particular doesn't even have internet, but he turned up at 3 different shows in 3 different regions of the country. I can tell you straight up it's amazing to have fans like that when you're thousands of miles from home.

So to sum up, we have seen some crazy things here, but I didn't tweet them all. Here's a starter list:

a windmill being delivered on an extra-long lorrie (a Semi truck, for you Americans), down an incredible narrow road in a remote area of Scotland. Terrifying when you are driver in the opposing lane.

polite road signs: "So sorry for the delay"

crazy road signs: "Zebra crossing" and "Oncoming traffic in the middle of the road"

a group of 8 redheaded pre-school children being taken for a walk .. on a leash, a la reindeer.

I'm in Europe for another week, taking some time off before the next show (a private party in New York). I may even take a break from the blogs because I'm finding it difficult to relax when I'm constantly searching for WiFi.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First day off? Work and play.

What do you do on your first day off after a tour? Play a radio show, of course. Saturday evening in Edinburgh was supposed to be my last show, to be followed by a week's vacation in Scotland. But when Edinburgh's Leith FM radio station asked me to stop by and play a few tunes, I happily obliged.

I also didn't make myself pretty, thinking, "It's just radio," when of course, the whole thing was streamed live on a webcam. Sorry for the messy pigtails, everyone. I'll make up for it next time, and I promise to never again say the words, "It's just radio."

The best surprise of the afternoon was that I wasn't the only music guest invited on the show. The other guest, who arrived just as I was finishing up, was one Ray Wylie Hubbard, whose recent Louisville show I had regrettably missed. The live in-studio and chatting backstage about mutual friends in Austin, of course, made up for it.

Also making up for it was going to his show later that night in Edinburgh. I must admit that it seemed pretty weird to go see a Texas songster on your first day of vacation in Scotland. It was also strange to be in the audience after 14 days straight of being on-stage. Even stranger was being the only person besides Friend-with-a-Truck to sing along with "Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother." I felt like dancing, but felt compelled to be polite.

Scottish crowds are a bit more rowdy than English audiences, but they were still oddly well-behaved. Ray's show was in a place called Cabaret Voltaire, in a dungeon-like cavern in Edinburgh's Old Town. The sound was wonderful, and the set was fantastic. In America, this would have been the place to drink and talk and sing alond loudly, but in the UK, this was a reverential space to be quiet and listen to the traveling troubadour.

It was a really fun start to a vacation, and seemed appropriate. A fortnight of playing live music shows, and my first day off, I go to a live music show. I guess I love my job.