Blogpost May 24th 2016
Greetings from a fitfully warm Los Angeles. We’ve been here two weeks already and only now do I feel this side of the planet is the right way up! There’s so much to catch you up on … let’s get going.
My Australian Celtic Festival experience in Glen Innes was wonderful. Not only did I get to perform with Michael Fix again but I also presented three workshops celebrating Manx culture.The workshops were originally aimed at school children between the ages of 4 and 11 and the first one, held at the local library certainly had kids attending but one was only three and the other 4 were no more than 5 years old. Have you heard the phrase: “Like herding cats”? Well that just about sums up the situation. With two of the little girls crawling about under the tables provided, another little girl crunching her way through a very large bag of crisps and a little boy more interested in the contents of his nose than anything else, my saving grace was a stash of paper and a pile of crayons. They did enjoy the Manx fairytale: The Mermaid of Gob-Ny-Ool which I was able to show them on my lap-top and out of which a number of very colourful drawings were created.
My first official appearance at the festival took place on the Thursday night at an event called A Thousand Welcomes. After a display of Celtic dancing and a buffet of fresh pasta (;-) I introduced the fabulous documentary “Island Bound” inspired by the Island’s year of culture in 2014, Davy Knowles takes us on a journey to trace where and how the roots of Celtic music moved, changed and still influences music today not only at it’s source but much further-a-field, especially north America. It was very exciting for me to facilitate and present the premiere showing in Australia. After the film was enjoyed, Michael Fix and I performed a twenty minute set and I attempted to answer questions about the film and all things Manx from the audience. All in all the evening was a great success.
The opening ceremony took place the following morning outside the town hall where local dignitaries gathered in their official regalia and welcome speeches were made and the Flame of friendship was lit. I was invited to sing the Australian National anthem as well as the Manx national anthem in Manx Gaelic and English. I think I got away with it though I was a little embarrassed to meet a genuine Manx speaker in the form of Alistair Neale who gave a lovely speech after my singing.he reassured me that my phonetic rendition of the anthem was just fine. Phew! The following morning – at 5.45am! – Bob and I attended the Dawn ceremony at the Festival’s main site and home of Australia’s modern Standing Stones. I was asked to raise the Manx flag along with Alistair. An honour for the both of us.
On the heels of the Dawn ceremony came the Grey Street Parade where a colourful cavalcade of kilt-wearing, drum marching, pipe playing people representing a multitude of Celtic nations, paraded up and down the main street. I then had another workshop to present up at the site.
I had no idea what to expect but in the designated tent, we set up colourful posters on the flimsy walls – provided by Culture Vannin and the Manx Tourist Board – a large TV screen was provided for the other fairytales I wanted to share and a microphone to talk to the gathered crowd. Five minutes before the scheduled start time, one little girl with her mum and grandma sat right at the front and until we got going they were my audience. By the end though I’m happy to say the tent was full and everyone went away more knowledgable and enthusiastic about all things Manx than when we started.
Saturday night culminated in an hour long set with the wonderful Michael Fix. We had an excited crowd and a fabulous response to everything we did including the lights failing on the very last note of the set. I honestly thought someone was being dramatic and bringing the house lights down only to bring them back on for an encore. Timing is everything. The lights were fixed quickly and an encore was taken. I’m excited to build on the musical partnership with Michael and we certainly have our hopes set on a busy Festival season in Australia early next year. Keep your fingers crossed for us?
And so my last performance was a final presentation of the workshop and this time the tent was full to bursting from beginning to end. It was a great experience to share my enthusiasm for the Island with people who knew little or nothing of it’s magic beforehand and who went away genuinely thrilled by it’s amazing history and it’s quirky uniqueness.
Bob and I left shortly after the workshop was complete and headed once more toward Sydney and a last burst of Grand-parenting joy! We had five further days of giddiness and giggles with our gorgeous girls – jo included of course! What a charmed existence we lead.
We left Sydney on Sunday May 8th at 9.50am and arrived at LAX 14 hours later, three hours before we set off! Those first few days are a complete blur of fuzziness … Who?/What?Where?Why? Are thoughts that still echo round my time-zoned-out brain. One delightful event that we gladly stayed up later than 8pm for was a Richard Thompson Trio show at the Teragram Ballroom downtown LA. It’s fairly shocking to realise Richard and I have known one another for more than thirty years. It’s always a complete joy to spend time with him and especially to sing together. This was also the first time Bob and I had seen the Trio … wow, what a dynamic, combination of great talent! Richard generously sent me the set-list and said … sing on what you know and even on what you don’t know! I stuck to what I thought I knew and loved every second.
We have plans to see as many friends as possible in the next two weeks and I’m hoping for some creative magic to spark off more songs with some of those lovely people. I’m also revisiting the book (sharp intake of breath!) and make a plan to finish the third re-write over the summer. There are other plans to create over the summer months once I’m back in the UK … Daphne’s Flight is stretching her wings in readiness!
This weeks’ video/song is a re-vamped version of one of my demos written on Logic and released on Under Construction II. Mike Slamer thought the song might work for a TV show he was working on about 18 months ago. I added another verse and he created amore organic/acoustic track which works great. Visuals are from photos and a little footage during our recent Glen Innes escapades. Hope you enjoy.
Thanks as ever for dropping by. I know I say this a lot but … I really do appreciate it!
Till next time, take care.
Love, light, peace and joy!
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