Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Peter Searcy's new album (& goodbye earx-tacy.)

I got an email from one of my favorite people, Peter Searcy, letting me know that his new EP, Fire Escape Promise, is finally up on iTunes. His Bandcamp page, which previously only had one song available, seems to be updated as well, which is great if you prefer higher-quality audio files to MP3s. Now if I could only get him to book some shows in the UK...

A few months ago, I would be urging you to buy this album from earx-tacy, but, alas(insert exclamation comma here), it is no more. Sad, but we knew this was coming. I gave away all my earx-tacy gift cards before I left town -- with a heavy, but psychic, heart. Perhaps you Louisville folks could shop Underground Sounds or Better Days?

Thanks to Meredith for going to the clearance sale and sending this photo to me:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Paris or Barcelona? We went with...

A few weeks ago, I posed the question: Paris or Barcelona? A shocking number of people voted for Barcelona, with several anti-French comments abound. I must admit I wondered if the anti-French comments were from people who had actually been to France.

I know Paris gets a bad reputation when it comes to many Americans, but I've never found it to be any snobbier than any other big city. I mean, the guys at Pick a Bagel in NYC actually yell at you or move on to the next person exasperatedly if you haven't decided between sesame or everything. In Paris, they just smirk and roll their eyes -- a bit more sophisticated and condescending, but also more civilized.

Still, what is it about Barcelona that made it the winner 50:1? And why did I pose the question to begin with? Well, David is required to do a semester abroad from April to June, and those were the two best options for his MBA. We ended up going with Paris, so I hope I don't disappoint the majority here. It was a better school for his degree, has far more vegetarian food (I've heard horror stories from veggies in Barcelona), and, ultimately, we both just loved the idea of spending three months in Paris. Maybe we're just still too in love to pass up that kind of adventure.

I assure you, though, we'll be making a trek down to Barcelona. You have all made a very strong case.
P.S. Besides, I've never been to Paris with David. And I love Tyra dearly, but that picture of us underneath the Eiffel Tower isn't quite as romantic as I'd hoped.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A peek into the Edinburgh Christmas Market.

Apparently, Edinburgh is the place to be when it comes to Christmas and Hogmanay. Hogmanay, for you folks back home, is the fancy Scots word for 'last day of the year.' I've researched the etymology of the word and have determined that you won't care. Assume it means: PARTY!

Something must be good about it because we've received over one hundred couchsurfing requests for Christmas/Hogmanay in the past two weeks, which makes me wonder why we were planning to travel during that time.

I stumbled upon the Edinburgh Christmas down on Princes Street by accident last week, and, though I'm working on a more extensive blog about it, I thought you might enjoy a few pictures. It's absolutely adorable and great fun. We had only about twenty minutes to explore before I had to be at the Voodoo Rooms for a soundcheck, but that was enough to catch the Christmas spirit. Of course, my friend Adam says the Christmas Market here is only fun if you're in love, and I am unable to dispute his argument.

Enjoy the photos. Oooooh, I also spied an Ice Skating Rink underneath the castle. Who could resist?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sweden: Part Two. Vikings and Rock Concerts. (More My Morning Jacket)

There's a school of thought that says Americans, by nature, are pushy, competitive, and ADD, because of genetics. The type of people who fled their native countries seeking new lives and adventure would pass down those same explorer/mad-scientist genes to present-day folks. I thought a similar theory might hold true for the Swedes who did not become marauders, and instead remained in their beautiful country. That only seems to be the case for non-concert going people.

The natives we met during our day-trip throughout Stockholm were perfectly charming and helpful. They were tall, beautiful, and willing to give directions or answer questions, always in perfect English, despite the only Swedish I knew was from the Muppet Show. I've never had a better concierge (he was local), and this nice woman we stood by on the ferry was over-the-top helpful.

I'm pretty sure that there were pirate descendants at the My Morning Jacket show last Saturday in Stockholm, however. I've been to plenty of rock shows, but never have I encountered such a crowded (congrats on the sell-out, guys!) room full of pillagers. The show was pure magic -- I should begin there -- but I, as you may recall from the MMJ show in Glasgow, I am a wee lass. The crowd there was at least a foot taller than I am, and I have never been pushed and shoved like that (except that time in college when I was involved in some sort of protest and the NYPD got violent).

We were even all the way back by the sound board, and tall men would shove me aside, then procede to stand directly in front of me. David was a good protector, but he was about five seconds from a fight when one rude person shoved me aside, stepped on my feet, then, when I protested, responded, "It's a concert!" Thankfully, David's never hit anybody in his life, so I wasn't actually worried about a brawl. But this giant then stood RIGHT in front of me swinging his arms wildly, elbowing me in the boob, until he was able to shove some other folks out of the way and get closer.
I took this photo holding the camera above my head:
David took this photo holding the camera above his head:
Note that he had to hold the camera above his head to see the band, and he's not a slight man.

One thing about being short, though, is that you're used to not being able to see at concerts. I didn't get to see any MMJ hair flying around, but the sound was amazing (Concert tip: always stand by the soundboard.)

Despite all that, the concert was great fun and My Morning Jacket was brilliant as always. I managed to keep a smile on my face even while being abused because, at the end of the night, I knew I got to go backstage and see them. A hug from hometown friends is better than seeing them on-stage any day.

Really, though, I hope this comes across more as a funny story than as a complaint. It was a lovely evening, but I was reminded of pillaging and marauding of yore. If there's anything to get rambunctious about, however, I suppose that guy is right. A good rock concert is a good time.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Another surprise package! Defeating Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Getting post is always fantastic, but it's especially exciting when you are at university or abroad (or both, in the case of David). This week we received what might possibly be the best gift ever.

A S.A.D. light! I'm always seasonally affected, but this fall has been particularly bad. That the sun set (officially) at 3:49 pm (and it's dark much earlier in the flat because of the tall buildings and narrow streets) is not helping. By 5:00 pm, I'm ready to skip dinner and go straight to bed. Skipping a meal, folks. You know it's bad.

It's bright as daylight in our living room though.

All I can think of Walt from Northern Exposure, who in Season Five got addicted to his prescription S.A.D. light visor. I can't find a video from this episode, so if anyone knows of one, please let me know. The gift box also included a bar of Hershey's chocolate, which we are eating now. I feel pretty cheerful already. But I do think it's almost bedtime ...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cabaret show .. and some more music videos.

The Cabaret show at the Voodoo Rooms was great fun. I keep wishing Love Jones would get their butts over here (supposedly they've been working on a gig there for years), so I can play there again. Although, actually it appears that I'm playing accordion at Voodoo Rooms for Adam Holmes tonight, so maybe I don't need those silly Love Jones boys anyway (Barry, that's a challenge. Make it happen.)

It wasn't exactly a Brigid Kaelin show, in that I sang mostly covers. David said I was like a cross between my regular ol' stage persona and Jessica Rabbit. Not sure if that means I was more animated or more sultry. But I loved singing the old standards -- Patti Page, Nina Simone, and even some Andrews Sisters (complete with trio and dance steps). I also somehow talked the guys in the band into learning one of my tunes. I always wanted a horn section. Voila! "Watch Out!" with the full band:

Thanks to those of you who were at the show ... it really meant a lot to see you there:)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Edinburgh Cake Ladies.

People keep trying to introduce me to Americans. It's not that I have anything against them; I mean, some of my best friends are Americans. But it would be a shame to live in Scotland for a year and come home without any Scottish friends. The sad thing is that I've lost some of my extrovert-ism over the past year. Many of you are probably laughing, but truthfully, my tendencies are to hole up in a corner and not talk to anyone. My stage career has allowed me to cheat the shyness, but it's become harder as I've been performing less.

Last night I took deep breaths (and half a xanax) and went out -- by myself -- to meet up with a group of Edinburgh women. A few of them I followed on Twitter, but we hadn't had much interaction there yet. They call themselves the Edinburgh Cake Ladies, a moniker that bore such resemblance to my LetThemTweetCake friends (@Tweetcakelou) back in Louisville that I felt obligated to attend.

Like everything else, it's one of those events that I'm really glad I went to, despite my bizarre nervousness in the beginning. I peered through the window of Bon Papillon, a charming art gallery/tea shop in New Town, and saw about twenty-five women laughing and eating cake. Not too intimidating, right? And at least I've got the American angle. That's always something to talk about.

They were perfectly lovely people, and the conversation at the table I joined alternated between Twitter and cake. Oh, and of the KitchenAid Mixer of course, which at least one woman was amazed I had. Except that I don't actually have it here, of course, so maybe they thought I was lying.

Several women had iPads showing all the different cakes from their previous meetings. I'm going to have to step up my decorating skills if I want to compete. But then, something tells me it's not a competition, and that the lumpy-but-delicious birthday cake I made for David last week might be accepted just as graciously as the rolled cream ginger cake iced to perfection.

If you are interested in the Edinburgh Cake Ladies (or want to join up), look at my blog roll to the right of this post and click on their blog.

But enough talk about cake. I've got a show tonight!

Voodoo Rooms on West Register Street
doors at 8:30, show at 9:00 (£8 at the door)
The Saturnalia Cabaret Show
(i'm just the singer)

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving, to all you immigrants in America. That's pretty much all of you (except 1/8th of Tyra).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stockholm on a Budget.

The second we stepped off the plane and onto the tarmac, David said, "Breathe that. Isn't that the best air you've ever inhaled?" He was absolutely right. It was cool, crisp, and pure. Granted, we were about 100km outside of Stockhom at the Skavsta airport, surrounded by uninhabited land and fir trees, but it turns out that unpolluted air is everywhere in Sweden. I felt my allergies vanish with every breath.

What does one do with 36 hours in Stockholm? We knew we were heading to the My Morning Jacket show the night of David's birthday, so that left us with only Saturday day to spend exploring. I'd read most of a guidebook on the flight over, as well as Easy Peasy Swedish, which turned out to be not that easy after all. A Kindle is one of my favorite travel tools, at it allows you to carry around several guidebooks and maps in one slim device. Plus you don't look like a tourist.

As with any good city, Stockholm is best explored on foot. Rather than hit every museum, we opted to wander around and take in the architecture and scenery. I find that a more comfortable way to get the vibe of a city. Plus, you stumble upon charming little Christmas markets that like this one:

We walked from City Centre across one of many footbridges into the Old Town (Gamla Stan). Stockholm is an archipelago, and much like Paris is centered around the Ile de Cite, the medieval town of Stockholm is on a wee island. We walked through over a bridge and under an archway in the Parliament Building and were immediately greeted by street vendors and hundreds of shops along narrow stone paths. Many of the shops are obviously catering to tourists, but they are in extremely well-preserved buildings that are hundreds of years old, all painted in bright pastels.

After getting Swedish Krona from the ATM (Sweden is in the EU, but not in the Eurozone, much like the UK), I made my first impulse purchase from a street vendor: a small cup of mulled red wine, the perfect breakfast food on a cool autumn day.It was sweet and spicy and it cost 30krona (£3.00 or $5.00). We'd heard Sweden was the most expensive country in the world (though an unscientific google investigation ranks it at the 12th-most), so it wasn't an extreme shock. Still, it made us realize that 1000 krona we'd budgeted for our holiday wouldn't go very far if Princess Brigid kept buying sweet treats.

David and I both love food, especially on vacations. It breaks your day into four distinct parts -- three meals, plus a snack or tea or beer -- and gives you a reason to sit still and soak up the atmosphere. I'd read about Chokladkoppen (which I referred to as "chopped salad" although I think it actually means "chocolate" something) in a book, so we headed there first, walking along the main medieval street. Though there would be the occasional car, the streets in Old Town are mostly pedestrian. They are just too small for regular traffic, and there are too many people darting around to make a car viable.

Once we found Chokladkoppen we realized we could neither 1) understand the Swedish menu and 2) see any prices. Rather than be risky, we opted for a Swedish waffle from a nearby Christmas Market. Mulled wine and waffles seemed like a better birthday breakfast (and much cheaper) than restaurant food. So a duo of charming Swedish women made us one chocolate waffle and one blueberry waffle -- both with whipped cream, of course -- for 80Krona (£8.00 or $13). At that point we realized we'd spent about $20 on a tiny cup of of wine and two small waffles. Yipes.

We looked up and realized the Market was in the square surrounding the Nobel Museum. Alfred Nobel is known for two things -- inventing dynamite and leaving, in his will, instructions for the Nobel Prizes. There was a Marie Curie exhibit (the only woman to win two Nobels) going on, but we were too budget-conscious to go inside. Besides, there was another museum we were more keen to see, and that one required taking a ferry to another island.

After walking through a few adorable side streets, we found the dock just in time to catch the ferry over to the Vasa Museum. The guidebooks say to save this for a few days into your time in Stockholm, but I'd recommend it as a Day One must-see. It's the best-preserved ship of its time, and it was completely underwater from the time it sank in 1628 to its recovery in 1961. It's almost completely intact (95% original) with intricate wood carvings all over it and looks like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean. It's also so big, they had to build the museum in an old shipyard around the Vasa, draining the water after the fourth wall was completed. The museum also houses skeletons, clothes, and other artifacts found with the ship -- a ship that sunk only twenty minutes after its first journey.

From there we wandered around the streets, heading back to our hotel on foot. We stopped to read menus, laugh at things like "fillet of reindeer" and "elk meatballs," and catch our breaths at the prices -- $10 Carlsbergs and $20 glasses of below-average wine.

We headed back to the hotel for cocktails because those prices were a little out of our range. Thanks to guidebooks and the warnings of friends, we'd thought to buy a bottle of gin at the duty-free shop. We picked up a $5.00 litre of tonic and mixed our own afternoon cocktails before heading back out for dinner.

Because we are vegetarians, and not quite up for elk or reindeer, we opted for Italian for dinner. For half a second I felt guilty, but then remembered that the restaurant was owned by real Italians. Also, it's is my favorite food, and I rarely get to eat proper Italian meals. We ate in the Old Town at a restaurant called Cafe Michaelango. We had an appetizer of various bruschettas, followed by a risotti and a tortellini dish that we shared, skipping dessert because we were full and skipping drinks because we were broke. Two mains and an appetizer came in at 530krona (£50 pounds or $77), but were absolutely delicious.

We spent the rest of the evening at the My Morning Jacket concert at the Munchen Brewery -- but more on that in another blog. For now, enjoy a photo of small, medium, and large anchors at the Vasa Museum.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lazy Budget Cooking: Potato Chips

I haven't found a great way to make tortilla chips at home -- I think the secret to those must be deep frying -- so I recently wanted an easy, salty alternative. When in Scotland, eat tatties, right? In the age of kids who can't recognize a potato, but know french fries when they see them, it's easy to forget that some of our favorite snacks are really easy to make. This is especially important to remember when your flat is 60 stairs up and you are too lazy to go to the store.

a potato
a splash of vegetable oil

I didn't bother to peel the potato. Instead, just take a cheese grater and use the slicer part of it to slice up the tattie. Put the tatties on a towel for about 20 minutes to dry them out -- this helps them to get crispy and not shrink as much. Then take a lightly greased (with the vegetable oil) baking sheet, and spread out your potato slices. It's best if they don't touch each other. Bake for 12-15 at 500* Fahrenheit, sprinkle salt, and you have non-processed and delicious potato chips.

I'm always looking for easy vegetarian recipes, so feel free to suggest yours.

*If you're low-sodium, leave out the salt. If you get the chips crispy enough, you don't miss the salt. And this is coming from a salt-o-phile.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

A year of leisure? I don't think so.

It's not surprising that I have over-committed myself during my supposed year of leisure. Maybe I'm jealous of David's syllabi (oh, wouldst that someone would write ME a syllabi!) or maybe I just can't be still. Of course, it's both. I want to take time to write and create, knowing that this is probably the only year I have an excuse to really do that ... unless I succomb and join a PhD programme or something.

This week I've got two articles due for actual publications and one for a travel blog, which I suppose is also a publication of some sort. Between the prose-writing, I've got:
12 piano lessons to teach,
10 songs to memorize
4 rehearsals for...
3 different bands,
2 performances (you should come to the cabaret on Thursday at Voodoo Rooms),
1 ceilidh-calling lesson to attend (it's for a band I'm singing with), and
1 show to watch of this other band I'll eventually be singing in.

Not to mention all the fabulous blogs I need to write to keep you riveted by our adventures, a local tweet-up I want to attend, or tours I need to finish booking, or songs I need to write. Ah, the problems of an artist. All is well, friends.

Because I'm saving my Sweden photos for a proper Sweden blog, I now give you a photo of David drinking a Newcastle in ... Newcastle! So post-modern, I know. I hope your brain doesn't explode from such deep thoughts.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Travel Bug.

The best thing about living in Scotland (besides the wide availability of single malts) is its proximity to all kinds of other exciting places. I am still in awe that this morning I wandered around downtown Stockholm, then a few hours later, I was in Edinburgh before sunset. Inexpensive airlines make a weekend in Sweden not just plausible, but extremely likely. It's a dangerous precedent, especially to someone like me, who feels an unfounded sense of entitlement to grand adventure.

I'll share more stories of our adventure in Stockholm in other blogs this week, including some beautiful photos take by David and some average photos taken by me.

For now, I'm worn out. Partying with the rock stars until 2am is great fun. But combine that with my inability to sleep in when I'm in a strange new town, and you don't get a very astute Brigid.

Now I shall regale you with some links and things:
- I first read this article after a link from Joy's blog, but it made me smile and think. I'm in that weird group of people born during the Carter administration. Not really Gen X and not really Gen Y. This woman's article dubs us Generation Catalano -- as in Jordan. Amusing article.
- I caved in and bought a winter dress last week from Anthropologie.
It's orange and super-comfortable. I wear it daily. Now I wish I'd bought the green one too (see photo right). For only £29.95, that would be reasonable, right? Or, with that money, I could travel instead ... travel is more fun than a new dress. So I give you:
- Ryanair's sale flights. I browse these daily. I know they hit you with weird fees, and you shouldn't even THINK about checking a bag. But still, these flights are crazy-cheap, even if you have to tack on £20 in taxes. Daydream with me, won't you? Where would you go?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekend Birthday Plans Revealed!

We are off to SWEDEN!

Contest winners include Scott Mertz and Wendy Davies. Wendy is very good at winning my contests:)

Cabaret Show next week & Clue #5.

I shouldn't have mocked David's MBA Programme last semester. Apparently his teachers read my blog because this semester they've absolutely slammed the students with work. I haven't seen my husband in days, other than for a passing piece of cake or a quick hello on Skype. According to the Facebook posts of classmates, Finance is to blame. Isn't finance always to blame?

While David's been away, I've been busy over-committing myself. Next week I've got two gigs (one as a sideman and one as a singer), plus two articles due for two different publications (one for a bridal magazine tee hee and one for travel). No complaints here though.

Time for me to talk about music! I'm singing in a cabaret on Thursday, November 24. I was initially just supposed to be the singer of the house band, but then the keyboard player vanished. It's a different vibe when you're cuddled up with a microphone singing 1940s swing standards than when you're stuck behind a piano doing the same. I'm working on a way to play the piano parts and still seem like a sultry, cabaret singer. We'll see. The songs are great though, and the guys in the band are talented and fun. We've also worked up one of my original tunes, -- with a horn section! -- so I'm stoked about performing that.

The last time this cabaret played, it was a sell-out, so I'm expecting it to be a good night. Anyone in Edinburgh want to come to the show? I've got some advance tickets for £6, if you want to buy some directly from me. They will be £8 at the door. for more info on the show.
The Facebook Event for the Cabaret night

That's my self-promotion for the week. Now it's time to PACK!!

For where, you ask?

Last clue of the week. Winner(s) get a postcard. New clue: We are going to exchange currency ... and not for a Euro.

Now for an image of band practice in Scotland. Observe the band director properly sipping a cup of tea during rehearsal. Only in the UK, right?

Ok, we are off to ... somewhere spectular for David's 30th birthday. TBA...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My love affair with the NHS.

As someone who has been self-employed for over ten years and paid thousands for health coverage that barely covered anything, I have been in awe of the NHS since my arrival. I've also heard loads of natives here complain about them. At the current moment, I base my love of the NHS on facts, not other people's complaints. That could very well change upon future experience because I am a very fickle lady. So let's not talk politics, shall we?

Facts: I went to the dentist this morning for a check-up. I like my teeth and feel like I should take care of them. The dentist himself spent a good twenty minutes with me, took copious notes, and fancy x-rays. He said I looked good and to come back in six months (my usual routine at home).

Upon check out, the lovely woman apologized and said I'd have to pay for my x-rays. I grimaced because I know what x-rays cost back home -- never less than $150. She smiled and said it would be, "Four pound forty four pence, please." That's about seven dollars. Seven dollars.

I exhaled, laughed, and considered buying the woman behind me some x-rays as well. You know, pay it forward, right?

I adore my dentist back home, but an appointment like that would have cost me almost two hundred. Also, twenty minutes spent with an actual dentist? That's never happened. Check back for more thrilling doctor visit stories!

Also, to continue with the guessing game of "Where are we going for David's birthday?": it's a country where the official language is not English. And I do not know a single word of its official language.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Missing my Scarecrow and my square yard of space.

I've gotten used to living life as a student. In particular, my under-furnished kitchen has become that "square yard of space" to which I have now resigned myself (poor bourgeois me!). Occasionally I remember kitchen tools that made my life easier, but now I peel potatoes with a regular knife and serve soup with a cup.

Yesterday I frolicked about the New Town with a new friend. My winter goal is to get really into cider, and she was trying to help me out with this mission. During the course of our afternoon, we stumbled upon a few shops that made us swoon. Creative Cookware, a wee kitchen shop on Rose Street, was like every wedding/housewarming present you'd ever want, neatly packaged in a small, colorful store.

I caressed measuring cups. I cradled wooden spoons. I drooled over cookie cutters, avocado slicers, apple corers, vegetable slicers, and ... my very own Scarecrow: the Red KitchenAid Artisan Mixer.

I got a little misty, thinking of my own little guy tucked away in a storage space with all kinds of other things I don't really need. I got particularly weepy when I saw the pricetag -- four hundred and nineteen pounds! That's almost as much as a coat from Anthropologie costs.


Busy week ahead. First a weekend away with my soon-to-be-mature-and-no-longer-a-trophy husband (clue to follow). I'm also singing at a big Cabaret show next week in Edinburgh: Thursday, November 24th, 8:30 pm at the VooDoo Rooms. It's not my original music, but it should be a really fun night. I'll be singing songs of the 1940s-ish era with the Saturnalia House Band. I've got some advance tickets for £6 if you want to buy them from me. It's £8 at the door.

Now for my next very, very helpful clue (tee hee, Tara!): It's a different country, one that neither of us have been to before. Ah the joys of living so close to so very many countries!

See? My clues are getting better and better ... well, maybe.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Whisky in the Faucet" -- live video.

I used to be a TV producer, so I am a little obsessed with videos. Unfortunately, I can't really take video of myself, so all those tour videos I take aren't really of me, but of my lovely tour companions. This time, however, I'm being the smart business-lady, and posting a video from the MusicPort Festival. It was a good evening. Here's a song, since most of you were thousands of miles away from the event.

That song is also on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc ... all the usual suspects. Cheers!
I quite like playing festivals. Who wants to hire me?

Oooh! almost forgot to give you a clue about where David and I are going this weekend. Clue #2: We are going to a concert on Saturday there. Correct guess gets a postcard.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Guess where we are going ...

It's David's birthday week, and a BIG birthday at that. You know, one of those 5 or 0 years (but not a five AND a zero). Not that I really need an excuse to do something dramatic or extravagant, but a birthday is just free license to behave irresponsibly.

We are not really big on things, but we ARE big on hedonism. (That's with a lower-case "h," not the nudist resort in Jamaica.) For Christmaskuh, we've already made the rule that we are not exchanging gifts. Rather, we choose a $$/££ amount and buy a basket full of consumables, the luxury chocolates, teas, and alcohols we resist buying on regular trips to the market. Aside from having everything we could possibly want (if not here, in a storage unit in Kentucky), it just feels so much more fun to have a shopping spree at Valvona & Crolla than at Jenners.*

Seeing as we're saving our consumable delights for the holidays, we are partaking in a variation on hedonism for David's birthday: adventure! I tried to keep it a surprise for him, but various circumstances made that impossible. So David may know where we are going, but YOU don't, my friends. If you've been reading for years, you already know that we like to take random weekend trips to crazy places. So let's make a fun game of it. The first to guess correctly gets a postcard.

First clue: I did a report on this place in the 6th grade and have been mildly obsessed ever since. Not very helpful, is it? More clues to follow...

*American translation: It just feels so much more fun to have a shopping spree at Whole Foods than at Macy's.

Today's photos: Adventure! David's photos from an October trip to the Highlands.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tourist in my [adopted] home.

Yesterday, David and I took a day to be a tourist. We walked about eight miles around streets and museums, taking in our beautiful adopted home. Edinburgh is just gorgeous, even when it's overrun by tourists dragging suitcases and natives who haven't agreed on a side of the sidewalk to walk on. (That is a whole other blog.)

Just a few highlights:
the National Gallery
. We were delighted to find portraits painted by Sir Henry Raeburn, as we've read about him in novels. (I like how you can learn just as many interesting facts from a novel than a work of non-fiction.) Also, we live just off of Raeburn Place, so it was extra-exciting to see his work. We also saw a few Botticellis and Raphaels, while David tried to explain the Holy Trinity -- something about which sent me into a hysterical fit of giggles, until David slinked away to the gift shop in embarrassment.
Museum on the Mound
Did I mention already that most museums are free over here? This fact gives even the peasants (and students) a chance to see one million pounds in person. We weren't allowed to take photos, but imagine, if you will, a glass c

ase with 50,000 neatly stacked twenty-pound notes. I've seen the movies and read the books, and I understand that money isn't everything. But it was pretty cool to see the ancient coins from King David I of Scotland and that case of banknotes. Great museum.

The rest of the afternoon -- it gets dark at 4:00, so we only stayed out for a few hours -- consisted of more wandering, several shops, a portion of chips, a gingerbread latte, a pear cider, ice cream, and garlic bread.

I love being a tourist.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Olde York. Pictures, history, and adventure.

The first time I went to York, England, I was living in New York. The connection didn't occur to me until I got home, but I think that's because I'd always thought of New York as NYC or Manhattan. No one ever actually wrote out "York," and it certainly doesn't sound English. In fact, it comes from the Viking community that was once settled there, Jorvik. (And there's your know-it-all trivia of the day).

David and I went to Olde York (just called "York") about two weeks ago. It's about the most charming little English town a tourist could want to visit. Complete with what's called the most well-preserved medieval street in all of Europe, the city centre oozes Tudors and cobblestones, markets and tea houses. It winds around itself, pretending to be on a grid system, but really just spreading outwards towards the town walls -- yes, walls.

Dating as far back as Roman times, the walls manage to be both imposing and inviting. We frolicked along them one morning, pretending to be guarding the villagers. David shot a few invaders with his invisible spears, while I missed all my targets, even in my imagination.

We stayed with a super-smart, super-nice man we met on the Internet. (I threw that bit in there just to freak out my blog-following family members, but it also happens to be the truth.) He opened his home to us, showed us the best curry restaurant in town, where we talked about rugby, physics, and music. After dinner, we all went on an adult pub crawl. By "adult" pub crawl, I don't mean that we saw naked ladies. I mean we went to two pubs, then crawled home before midnight.

The next day we explored the Old City, popping in and out of shops, buying cupcakes from Boy Scouts, strolling hand-in-hand past Roman ruins and farmers' markets. An old blind gentleman shared some town history with us, then told me I was "pretty and well-dressed." This still pleased me despite his obvious lack of, well, sight.

York also happens to be home to an absolutely enormous Gothic Cathedral, York Minster. I can't express to you just how huge this thing is. I mean, I've seen some churches during my travels, but this one spanned several city blocks and -- like most of the others -- was about a thousand years old (though it's been suggested a church of some sort was on the site for about two thousand years). Mystifying. Also fascinating is that the site of this cathedral is where the Roman Constantine was crowned Emperor of the Roman empire.

I'll say that again: The Roman Empire. Sorry, but I think that's what I love most about travel. I think it's absolutely amazing to walk the same footsteps as these huge figures of history, or to see the same hills and streets that famous authors, composers, or even unknown peasants and soldiers saw. The history here is just mindblowing.

Enough awe. Enjoy some pictures.

David is about to fall off the walls!

The Walls and Me.

The Shambles!

David and an important corpse:

And for Lyzz, Colleen, and my parents... Clifford's Tower!

Thanks for reading. Where should we go next?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Deep Thought on DD/MM/YYYY or MM/DD/YYYY.

In the UK, people write dates as DD/MM/YYYY. This is confusing when you are talking about the 1st-12th days of a particular month -- today is 11/9/11 in the US, but 9/11/11 in the UK. However baffling this is to me (it's getting easier, but then I second guess myself), I have to admit that DD/MM/YYYY makes more sense. At the very least, it is consistent. Beginning with the most specific (day), we then move to a little more broad (month), and then to the widest point -- the year.

Still, it seems to me that keeping the year until the very end is not very useful, at least not from a literary point of view. It's kind of like German, where you have this long sentence, but the verb doesn't happen until the end. Ergo, no one knows what you're talking about until the sentence is over. I think a better way would be to begin with the year -- set the stage a bit, you know? Then get a bit more specific with the month, so everyone can start to imagine the season and scenery. Finally, cap it off with a date, just for clarification. YYYY/MM/DD, I say.

That's all today, folks. My mind is spinning with stress, and rather than scream at anyone, I'd prefer to offer you this deep thought.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Memories of Andy Rooney (another namedropping story).

One of the weirdest things about being on vacation is missing celebrity deaths. I was out of the country when Christopher Reeve died, and I got a shock several years later when I found out -- not that it affected my life in anyway, but it was still weird that I'd missed that news. Nowadays, Twitter keeps everyone up to date on such events, but when I'm out of wifi, I'm out of luck. I just found out that Andy Rooney died, and that made me super sad.

My parents never watched much television, but "60 Minutes" was mandatory Sunday viewing from as far back as I can remember. Even in my rebellious phase, I only pretended to be reading during the broadcast. In truth, I would listen to the stories (which, incidentally, were -- and I think still are -- produced to be listened to without any images, as one listen to their podcast will show you) from behind a book or computer screen. My favorite segment was always Andy Rooney -- a well-written bit of comic relief after the heartbreaking/nerve-wrattling magazine pieces.

Years later, Mr. Rooney was my elevator buddy during my time as an intern/production assistant/associate producer at CBS News. Most of the "60 Minutes" staff was relegated to the BMW building across the street, but Andy's office was in the main broadcasting building on West 57th. When I was working at "CBS This Morning," I worked on the same floor as he did. As crotchety as you'd imagine, that was just his honesty. If he thought the coffee at the Station Break was bad, he would tell you. He'd just as quickly tell you if he thought it was great or if your hair looked pretty (Thank you, sir!).

I only saw him a few times a month and mostly in the elevator, but he always remembered me as the girl from Louisville, a place he liked to visit from time to time. He told me he and a buddy there would play tennis on occasion. "Nice city," he told me during our first elevator ride, "I was there this weekend." Everytime I saw him, he would ask me about Kentucky and if I'd been home recently.

It also put me on my best elevator behavior. I didn't want to end up in one of his pieces, as in, "Why is it that young people today never hold the elevator door anymore?" or something like that...

Anyway, that's all the namedropping I've got today. I haven't really told many stories of my days at CBS, but there are loads to tell (like when Jeff Goldblum and I talked chord theory or when Bill Cosby pinched my bottom). If you need another, here's one I shared a few years ago about Walter Cronkite.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Are you going to Scarborough Fair? We did.

The more adventures I'm having, the less time to blog I have. Yesterday I traveled to Yorkshire for the third time in a week -- poor routing for a gig, I'm aware. This time David needed to come with me (he has recovered from his all-nighter) because he is participating in the festival. And not just in a carry-my-keyboard kind of way. He's got a gig of his own, doing a Tex Mex cooking demonstration as part of the programme. Over here, Tex Mex counts as exotic world cuisine, so we'll be having tacos for lunch today.

The drive from Edinburgh to Bridlington is a gorgeous five-hour trip along the North Sea. We passed through some spectacular scenery, including some harrowing moors that caused me to scream, "Heathcliff!" at the top of my lungs for no apparent reason.

We attempted to stop in the adorable seaside resort town of Whitby for lunch
yesterday, but could not find a single parking place in the entire town. Hundreds of men, women, and children dressed in Victorian Gothic attire (black parasols, capes, red and purple velvet gowns) emerged on the streets and headed towards the sea. We thought maybe it was the World Quidditch Cup -- you know, wizards trying desperately to look like muggles, but failing miserably -- or a bizarre Guy Fawkes celebration. Without Google (my iPhone, alas, is useless in the UK), we were forced to use our imaginations.

Many hours later we discovered the truth about Whitby: it's Dracula Weekend! Seriously. When the Count first arrived from Transylvania, he landed in Whitby (Lucy met me at the station...) The town has not forgotten this bit of trivia, and twice a year, goths from around the world converge in capes to celebrate. This year just happened to coincide with Guy Fawkes Day.

Because we were severely overdressed, we moved on to Scarborough (of song), another seaside town about thirty minutes south of Whitby. Scarborough was as washed up as Whitby was hopping. We did, however, go to the Fair. It was not exactly the fair as I'd imagined. The song, which incidentally is a traditional English folk song, not a Simon & Garfunkel original, yields visions of Medieval Farmers' Markets. This was more like a miniature, deserted, Gatlinburg. The town was still adorable, however, and the ice cream superb.

Warning: do not attempt to eat ice cream on a windy day on the North Sea, unless your hair is in a ponytail.

Also, this was going on at 1:00 in the afternoon in Scarborough. Can you figure out what song she's singing?

Me at Scarborough Fair:


Oh, yeah, and I also played a set to a fantastic audience at a great festival in beautiful Bridlington. Here's a video from the live stream. I haven't watched it because I can't watch videos of myself. Check back on the blog tomorrow for more pictures, videos, and other such fun of the festival.

Friday, November 4, 2011

MMJ Pictures & a Brigid show this weekend (singing AND cooking!)

I'm glad I waited to post pictures until I saw the photos David took from the My Morning Jacket show. David is not only a better photographer than I am, he is also about eight inches taller. Looking at his pictures makes me realize that he saw an entirely different show than wee little Brigid did. Rather than a VIP section, venues should make a VSP section for those under 163 centimeters (Go Metric.)

Here's what the concert looked like from my vantage point:

Here's what David saw:

And this:

Slight difference, eh? And I thought I had good seats.

Also, check out the size of the disco ball at the venue. Do you think it was made in Louisville? I like to think so.

And a few links of love now: Southern Indiana area folks, a friend of mine is having a photography opening tonight. He's taken some great photos at several of my gigs, and I wish I could be there to support his other photography. If you are near Milltown, Indiana, here are the details. If that link doesn't work, it's from 5:00-10:00 at Blue Heron Gallery & Arts Market, 129 W. Main St, Milltown, IN.

British friends, I'm playing at the wonderful Musicport Festival on Saturday. It's in lovely Bridlington, England. David will be doing a Tex-Mex cooking demonstration on Sunday afternoon, and I will be there to "help" him.

If you're in Los Angeles, go hear Peter Searcy tonight at a house concert in a gorgeous house in the Hollywood Hills. I wish I could be there. I miss Peter.

Whatever you do, have an adventurous weekend!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Crazy nights in Glasgow: a running theme. (MMJ)

I am so glad we don't live in Glasgow. It's not because the typical city-war (think Louisville v. Lexington) reasons you're probably thinking. Mostly, I just can't keep up with Glasgow. Every single evening I've spent there has turned into some night-on-the-town of epic proportions without any such intention.

Last night was one of those nights. Note to self (and everyone else): if you don't leave Glasgow by 11:30pm, you will be spending the night in Glasgow. After 11:30, your earliest option back to Edinburgh is the 5:20am bus.

Thankfully, David and I were running on the adrenaline high of seeing a pure brilliant (that's Glaswegian for "very good") show and hanging out with very good friends from home. We could have made the last train if we hadn't gone backstage, but, I'm sorry, when does anyone NOT take the opportunity to go backstage? Even when I'm backstage at my own show, I get a little ping of excitement. It just feels so forbidden.

Also, My Morning Jacket is so freaking good. All of them. Also, I've been in a singer-songwriter rut for so long, I'd forgotten what it's like to see an actual BAND play -- not just a singer-songwriter who happens to have a band backing him up. I mean, the bands I've played in all play well together, but it's always clear whose band it is. My Morning Jacket, despite the commanding power of frontman Jim James, looks like a group who loves to play music and travel together. That feeling emanates from the stage, and makes for a really special show.

It was also great to attend a concert that I had nothing to do with. There was no soundcheck or tuning, no start time to fuss over, nothing to pack up at the end of the night. There was just music and entertainment.

Oh, and friends! Because, for those of you not from Louisville, My Morning Jacket is a Louisville band, so I'm absolutely biased. In addition to a perfect show, we also got to have dinner with one of our favorite people in the world before he had to hit the stage. He may or may not have been part of the reason we were tempted into the seedy underbelly of the Glasgow late-night pub scene (I'm actually pretty sure it was my fault). But there was bourbon, friends; talk about a taste of home.

I'm more than a wee bit worried about David, seeing as he was only able to take a thirty minute nap before he had to go to school today. Well, there's worry and horrible guilt at being such a bad influence. Tour buses and bright lights and rock bands and hugs from home and good friends and ... yet another crazy night in Glasgow.

I'll probably write some more about the trip and the show, but for now ... zzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

MMJ in Glasgow tonight!

Last night's shows were fantastic, and now I'm heading off to Glasgow to be an audience member. One of the best live bands EVER is playing there tonight, and that band just happens to be My Morning Jacket. From Louisville! I'm wearing my pink earx-tacy hoodie for wind and heart protection. Tae Glasgow Town I go:) Check back tomorrow for concert review. Warning: I am majorly biased.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Leith Folk Club, Wizz Jones, Adam Holmes, and Me too.

The Eaglescliffe show was super-fun, but I got a good shock when some Blog readers showed up -- as in people who know my blog, but don't know my music. Have I done my music career a disservice with all this prose-nonsense? Is it time for a career change? Or just time for a new album? (And how would I sell said album when the haven for all Louisville music has closed its doors forever? So sad!)

But I digress...

Live music still exists! Tonight (Tues Nov 1) I'm playing an opening set at the Leith Folk Club (The Village on South Fort Street, EH6 4DN) at either 7:30 or 8:00 (I've read two different things). I think it's £8, but the main act is Wizz Jones, an English folk/blues legend who has been playing all over for over fifty years, often with some of the greatest.

I got the call to open this show late last week, so I'm unfortunately pulling double-duty tonight. I'd already promised Adam Holmes that I'd play accordion, guitar, and sing with him tonight at Acoustic Edinburgh (Medina in the basement of Negociants 45-47 Lothian St. - Free). Adam is headlining this show -- he isn't playing until 10 I think, -- so I am going to stick around to hear as much as Wizz as I can.

It's pretty bad form to open a show, then leave before the main act finishes, and I'm feeling uneasy contrition it already, especially because I really would love to hear Mr. Jones. There's some relief in having forewarned the LFC that I'd have to scoot across town to play with Adam (who is a fabulous Edinburgh singer-songwriter I've been working with), but still, it doesn't feel right. But then again, canceling a gig is just not a possibility, and Adam's show will be big fun.

So I've a busy day ahead: rushing from rehearsal, to a solo set in Leith, to a sideman gig in City Centre. Maybe I'll see some of you along the way? I'll let you carry my accordion.

Here's a picture of me playing with Zombie Lovesick Cowboys in Eaglescliffe on Sunday: