Happy Burns Night!

Hello everyone, and Happy Burns Night! Feargal and I attended a terrific celebration hosted by our friends Sarah and Geoff at the weekend, with poems composed for the occasion, some beautiful single malts and delicious haggis.

CD Baby and Haiti relief
For those of you who don’t already know it, beginning today (Monday, January 25th) and continuing for two weeks, the good people at CD Baby are donating US$1 of their cut from every CD sale, and $1 from every download sale over $8.99, to the American Red Cross and to Mercy Corps, a Portland-based relief organization with a large presence in Haiti. So if you’ve been thinking about buying either my CDs or any of the other excellent albums available through CD Baby (Gerry O’Beirne’s beautiful Half Moon Bay and The Bog Bodies And Other Stories spring to mind), now would be a good time to do that. Visit CD Baby for more info.

Street teamers wanted
I’ll be heading off shortly to do a few UK gigs before I leave for Spain and the USA, and could do with a bit of help getting the word out: the organiser of the London gig, for one, has just emailed me to say that thus far he’s sold a grand total of one ticket! I’d be hugely grateful if you could have a look down through the list of gigs at the end of this email and pass on the info to any friends of yours in the places I’m passing through, if you think they’d like my music. I also have stacks of flyers listing all my upcoming tour dates from February through April, and would be delighted to send a few out in the post to anyone who’s in an area where I’m going to be playing and has a place to put them.

The week after the aforementioned London gig, I’m off to Bilbao, Spain, to perform at the grandly named Palacio de Congresos y de la Música Euskalduna, and straight on from there to the USA. I’ll be attending the International Folk Alliance conference in Memphis from February 16-21, then embarking on a whirlwind tour, playing 20 shows in 23 days.

Double CD
Along with my first-ever solo US tour comes the re-release of my first two albums as a double CD for the North American market. The idea for the double CD package came from Kari Estrin, an amazing woman in Nashville who’s been manager or tour manager in the past for such illustrious names as Janis Ian, Tony Rice, Suzanne Vega and 3 Mustaphas 3. In the short time I’ve been working with her she’s been a real inspiration. She’s looking after the radio publicity for the US release, and will be sending out 550 copies to stations around the country. The two individual albums have already been getting quite a bit of airplay on folk radio programs over there; I was particularly chuffed when I Won’t Go Home ’Til Morning was named “CD of the Week” by WFMT’s The Midnight Special, a show I can remember listening to it as a child in Chicago on New Year’s Eve – the only night of the year I was allowed to stay up late enough to hear it!

Singers wanted
The week after my return from the US, I’m going to be playing a double-bill gig with Cornish band Dalla at Grampound Community Hall in Cornwall ... which leads me to mention that I’m still looking for fellow singers to join me for ‘In Gratitude I Sing’, the canon I debuted at that same gig back in March 2009. On that occasion, members of Dalla and fellow Cornwall-based band Corncrow bravely volunteered to sing it with me, despite the fact that I’d written the song that afternoon and had only five minutes to rehearse it with the others before the show. Now anyone who wants can download the sheet music and MIDI file from my website, so there’s no excuse for not giving it a go. If you’re coming to any of my gigs over the next year or two and fancy joining me onstage, please do look it up!

New album
The new recording is still being tweaked and twiddled as I write. Máire Breatnach came in last week to put a few fiddle and viola tracks down, and thanks to the wonders of technology, I was able to listen to them on the computer less than an hour after she’d left the studio, despite the fact that the studio is in Dublin and I’m in Penzance. They sounded lovely and I can’t wait to hear the finished album, but that’ll have to wait until Gerry and Trevor’s hectic schedules once again leave them with a few free days that coincide, like some rare conjunction of the planets.

New idea
When I recorded my last album, I had a grant from the Arts Council of Ireland, which was a considerable help. Now that I’m living in the UK, I’m a much smaller fish in a much bigger pond, and in any case arts budgets are being slashed left, right and centre.

So I think I’m going to try something new. It’s been suggested to me that I invite people to become sponsors for the new album – helping me out with the recording costs in exchange for various rewards, depending on the amount contributed – for example, a sponsorship credit in the booklet, a concert in your home, signed gifts and memorabilia for you and your friends? This is unfamiliar territory for me, so I’m very much open to advice. If any of you would like to get in touch with me to discuss your thoughts, that would be wonderful.