Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Music And Travel - The NYC/Ireland Edition

If I were to describe one of my ideal jobs it would be to be a travel show host or author who journeys around the world looking for good music and good food. I mean how amazing would that be? So whenever I do travel for my own pleasure I make sure to find where to hear great local artists. Just a week ago I got back from a 10 day trip to New York City and Ireland and have finally recovered from the jet lag...oh the jet lag...

Before I left on m trip I reached out to the Twitter community and asked for recommendation to hear local New York artists. A guy in Nashville who follows me recommended me to his friend and local NYC artist Aaron Zimmer to either hear him play or to get some recommendations from. Aaron immediately responded and said he would be glad to get me the low down for the weekend I'd be there. OK, how cool is Twitter that a girl in Los Angeles would get a recommendation from a guy in Nashville for a guy in New York for music tips? Twitter haters step back!

After a red eye flight to New York (brutal) I connected with Aaron over email and he not only recommended a good place to hear local artists but also recommended food places with amazing cheesecake and a booze cruise. This guy apparently knows the way to my heart, cheesecake and good music. Aaron pointed us to Rockwood Music Hall which is a venue that takes up two store fronts and has a stage in each with new artists and bands playing each hour on both stages. We went to check it out Saturday night after a delicious meal in Little Italy (Sicilian meatloaf is gooood) and discovered a venue that is much needed in L.A. What I've always wanted here is a venue where artists can perform without having to bring all there own people or they don't get paid and where you can hear multiple artists without getting kicked out because you only paid for the first act. Rockwood seems to be a place where people go because they want to hear good, new music. There is no cover and occasionally they pass around a basket where you can pitch in to help pay the band supporting the artist.

That evening we were lucky enough to catch Philadelphia artist Nicky Egan. At first glance you'd think she sang country or was a folksy singer/song writer type but oh no. Girl has some serious soul! Nicky Egan has an incredible voice and makes singing R&B and Soul look easy. I purchased her album Good People as soon as I got home and haven't regretted that decision one bit! Nicky played the piano and was supported with a guitarist and bass. Along with her original songs she covered The Black Keys and Janis Joplin giving them her own personal twist. Rockwood and Nicky was a win. Thank you Aaron!

After catching Memphis on Broadway, lunch with our New York boss and a great conversation with the bartender at Joseph Leonard in the West Village about music in New York and the music industry we headed off to Ireland. Another red eye flight and we arrived bright and early in Dublin ready to tour the city delusional from the lack of sleep. We stood out like sore thumbs the entire trip but we didn't mind. We were just happy to be there. The hipster movement has obviously not made its way to Ireland and the Irish were not to sure what to do with my hot pink Ray Ban knock offs and love of mustard yellow clothing. They don't do much color there...

Every pub in Ireland has music but we had an especially great time at Folley's Pub in Kenmare where we stayed all night listening to a local Irishmen sing Irish folk songs with everyone in the pub singing along. I was just sitting there harmonizing and having fun minding my own business when he asked where we were from and asked if I would sing a song for everyone. This would not be my first time to sing in a pub in Ireland. Two years ago the same thing happened in Galway. I need to just stop singing along... Next thing I know I'm up there playing his guitar and singing "I'll Fly Away" and forgetting all the words. I blame the cider. A few days later we were listening to the singer at our castle (yes, our castle. you read right) during a sing-a-long in the lounge. She noticed three new young women sitting and asked us where we were from. "Los Angeles" "Oh really?! Do you sing? Will you sing a song for us?" What in the world?! I wasn't even singing along this time! Apparently if you are from Los Angeles you must be talented. I didn't realize I needed to prepare music for my trip to Ireland...

While in Galway we stopped into the King's Head pub as they were having a live band that night. We waited for the band Frantic Jack not knowing what to expect and quickly realizing that Galway is a college town and the drinking age is 18... We also noticed that we were severely under dressed. Trying to blend in, with no success as we must have "American" stamped somewhere on our bodies, wearing jeans and t-shirts, we saw the crowd of women and girls flooding in dressed as if they were going out in Hollywood. The three of us who actually do go out in Hollywood were not dressed appropriately for the Galway night scene. Nonetheless Frantic Jack took the stage as people gathered closer and they riled up the crowd opening with Mumford and Sons "Little Lion Man." They sang about 80% cover songs that everyone knew and the rest their original songs. Everyone in the pub was singing along, dancing, drinking and having a jolly good time. The whole time I was thinking what it would like if these guys played in Los Angeles. People in L.A. don't dance at shows. They usually stand there with their arms crossed with the look on their face that says, "What you got? Impress me." We thoroughly enjoyed Frantic Jack and were even more surprised to find out after researching their music online that their original songs are mostly songs about God including one that made the top 10 in Ireland. There is no mention anywhere of them being a Christian band and I wouldn't have guessed from the show but several of their songs are obviously inspirational in nature. The show was full of energy not only from the band but from the crowd and the energy was contagious. Its been a while since I've been to a show like that.

Our trip was a huge success and we had a wonderful and exhausting time. We kissed the Blarney Stone, I conquered driving on the left side of the road and enjoyed some pretty good music. Until the next adventure! Sláinte!

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