|Summer Tour 2010 (Part 1)
September 22nd, 2010
Celtic Spring is on the plane homeward from Indianapolis after a wonderful weekend of performing at the Indy Irish Fest. This was our first weekend together again, after having finished our month summer tour one month ago, and we were delighted to be reunited by our music! We had been on the road from mid -July to mid -August, having logged 10,000 miles and having performed in nine states, and having returned home just in time for four of our band members to head off to college. (Elizabeth is a senior, Deirdre a junior, Sean a sophomore, and Patrick is a freshman.) Maire and Aidan and I had just time to unpack and repack our bags before heading off to a week of fiddle camp before we resumed our homeschooling.
The Indy Irish Fest proved to be one of our favorite festivals. We caught a dawn flight out of Los Angeles, happily met up with Deirdre, who was flying from Kansas City, and arrived in downtown Indianapolis in time to check into our hotel and head off to the festival sight for an early evening performance. Greg is from Indiana, and often reminds us that the nicest people in the US come from the mid-west. (We know he fits that description, but we had to agree with him after experiencing the gracious hospitality and friendliness of all we met, especially the staff running the festival.) Terry Sweeney, the festival's head producer, told us that the festival has been described as a "very large parish picnic," and we agreed; lots of happy folks of all ages, totally enjoying all the great entertainment and excellent food, and when we were not performing, we were happy to join their party. We did four performances, two workshops,(we were very impressed how quickly the locals picked up the Irish ceili dance that we taught them!) and had a living room acoustic jam on a main stage, while awaiting a short rainstorm to pass. Then we dashed off to catch an evening flight home, so the students can return to classes tomorrow morning. While I am writing, our students are studying, and Greg is reading.
Since I never told of our summer travels since the cruise, I will try to catch up now.
After the cruise, we had a month before commencing our summer tour. The boys received an invitation to join a missionary group to Haiti to help out at an orphanage, and had the most amazing experiences. They brought their instruments and were going there to bring joy and some able bodies. They returned from Haiti full of joy and with deep appreciation for the beauty of the Haitian people, and never worked so hard or had such adventures in their lives.
Getting to the orphanage from Port Au Prince was a treacherous adventure. Because of a previously scheduled performance, the boys were not able to travel over to Haiti with their group. They landed in anarchic Port Au Prince alone, and immediately witnessed the devastating effects of the earthquake. (The airport looked like a junk yard that been cleared just enough for the airplanes to land.)Though they were only traversing fifty miles, the journey to the orphanage took seven hours on treacherous, ruined roads, crossing through rivers, up into the mountains to the orphanage. The orphanage had miraculously survived the earthquake, but more buildings were needed. The boys were put to work getting large rocks out of the river for a new building's foundation, and then with primitive tools, they helped to dig the foundation. The work was very strenuous, but the boys were happy to be able to help. They were very moved by the Haitian children, who were always singing, and playing soccer. The Haitian people who had no material goods seemed so happy and grateful for what little they had. One evening was spent at a village further up the mountain where the missionary priest said Mass for the villagers, and then after Mass the Haitians sang for about three hours. The boys shared some of their music and dancing with the people. The boys were at the orphanage for about five days before they had another long and wild drive to to Santo Domingo, crossing at a border that was like a war zone. They had to cross the border on foot, crossing at a hole in a fence. They spent two days at a resort in Santo Domingo before heading home, but after being with joyful people who had nothing, it was too much of a juxtaposition for the boys to really enjoy the comforts of the resort. They did have a wonderful time scuba diving for the first time.
Celtic Spring began their summer tour performing for a weekend Celtic Festival in Flagstaff. Our next destination was a Thursday night show in Hartford, Connecticut, and Sean and I wanted to get to the East as quickly as possible to have some leisure time on the New England coast. Leaving Flagstaff on a Monday morning, we made a plan to drive straight through, making only necessary stops. Our general approach on the road is for Greg to do most of the day driving, and I do the late/all night driving, with the children taking over when we want a break. Sean was eager to help with the night driving. I assured him that I was good for the first all- night drive, but then would need his help for the second night. By Tuesday night at midnight, Sean was crossing the George Washington Bridge into New York City, to continue on the 95 N into Connecticut, arriving at our friend's house at 3:00 a.m. Our friends, the Rylands, generously shared the Connecticut home with us, and we were deeply grateful to be sleeping in beds once again. We were able to spend Wednesday at the beach, and celebrate Greg's birthday with a New England seafood dinner!
We performed the next seven nights in a row. We were in Hartford on a Thursday, happily meeting up with friends at the show: Melanie and Margaret Ryland, Joe Renzoni, our dear photographer friend, (we have lots of great photos he took of our Hartford and Maine shows, that we still have to post!), and dear little Sydney, one of our sweetest and youngest fans, who we hope joins us next time with her lovely Irish dancing.
From Hartford we headed on to Wilmington, Delaware where we performed at the beautiful Baby Grand Theater, and were hosted with wonderful hospitality by the dear and gracious Rodden family, in their gorgeous stone castle-like home in rural Southern, Pennsylvania. Then on to Silver Spring, Maryland for a show, then north to Pennsylvania, leaving that theater around midnight, and having to be in Berlin, New Hampshire for a show the next evening. Leaving Pennsylvania at midnight we at least expected no traffic, but upon reaching the freeway, the traffic was stopped. We were all exhausted and just wanted to get to our next destination between Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Our plan was to drive as far as Hartford, and then stay in a hotel, continuing north the next morning. Greg has a special gift of what I call "bird navigation." He can glance at a map while driving, and find all kinds of small roads that will lead us in the right direction, avoiding the traffic. I could do that if I studied that map for a good amount of time and then wrote down my plan. Greg is a living GPS! We arrived at our hotel around 3:00 a.m., slept in to 11:00, and continued north, arriving near Berlin, New Hampshire, just in time for the soundcheck.
Our next four shows were produced by a dear man, Phill MacIntyre, who runs his own theater in Maine, but books his bands for other venues. Phill books Celtic bands throughout the year, and especially loves the Cape Breton musicians. We called Phill for directions to the theater in Berlin, and he told us for where to meet him so he could lead us to the theater. From that moment we were in the very fine care and hospitality of Phill. He lead us up and down and all around the rural roads of Maine where we performed for filled and enthusiastic audiences, early on performing on a Good Morning Maine show on the NBC affiliate in Portland. We stayed in his large barn turned theater/house for the week and were happy to have a place to unpack and settle for a while. We were very well cared for and fell in love with the rugged Maine terrain and people.
Our friend, Joe Renzoni, joined us for our Maine shows, and along with
documenting our shows with his lovely photography, joined us for the Sleeping Tune on his acoustic bass. Thank you, Joe!
During our Maine visit we met up with the Ryland's dear priest friend, Fr. Paul , who invited us to eat lunch at his college. The college cafetaria provided a culinary feast, all kinds of organic, delicious, vegetarian food, and we feasted both on the food and Fr. Paul's wonderful company. We were hoping to have time for the Sacrament of Confession while we were in Father's company, but the hardship of a performer, is that there is never enough time for spending with friends. Father told us that he was coming to one of our shows, and we asked him if after the show we could go to confession. (Sharing our lives so intimately requires lots of God's grace!) Phill and the sound guys must have wondered what we were doing disappearing one by one, walking around outside with Father, and they were very patient waiting for us, as confession for a family of eight takes a bit if time. We were grateful to Father, Phill, and all of audiences who made our Maine performances so much fun.
Then on to one of favorite places in the world: Cape Breton. We had six days off before our next show in Ohio, and our destination was Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
We left Maine on a Friday morning, stopping only for gas and blueberries, and arrived in Cape Breton around 10:00 in the evening. Sean had researched the square dance schedule for our time there, and had one planned for each night of our visit. (We old folks were content to attend one of the dances, leaving the young ones to go gallivanting between 10:00 and 1:00 in the morning, not including travel time to the remote dance locations.) We arrived at our hotel in Inverness, and Sean, Deirdre, and Patrick went off to a dance in South Margaree. Phyl had told us of some of his musician friends in Cape Breton, and had even kindly let them know of our visit, and Sean was delighted to find that the dance that night was played by Phill's friend, Colin Grant, an amazing, young Cape Breton fiddler.
While in Cape Breton we hiked in the Highlands and saw moose and eagles, attended 4 square dances, ran into our friends of previous visits, the MacQuarries, who were incredibly friendly and hospitable, attended a jam session at the Red Shoe Pub in Mabou, attended an outdoor festival in Port Hood, and met up again with our friends, Margaret and Melanie Ryland, and their dad, Chris. They had just spent a week at a great Celtic music camp in Nova Scotia.
Chris Ryland had plans while he was in Cape Breton to visit a wonderful Catholic writer, Anthony Esolen, who summers in Cape Breton. Greg and I were delighted to be part of the visit, while all the young people headed off to the dance at Glencoe. (A nice hour drive from where we were staying in Arichat.) We had a lovely evening at the Esolen home drinking tea and eating cookies and scones with homemade raspberry jam, made from their own field of raspberry bushes. Their son, Davey, played piano for us, and we shared all kinds of stories, having interests in common of literature, the Catholic faith, music... We were wishing the young people could meet the Esolen family, and the next day on our way back to the other side of the island, we stopped at the Esolen home for a short visit. Soon everyone was out of the cars, and picking and feasting on raspberries, and talking and laughing.
The Rylands and our family left Cape Breton at the same time, heading for Ohio, with an overnight stop at the Ryland home in Connecticut. We decided it would make the trip easier if we did not try to stay together, but we ended up near each other for much of the trip. We stopped for dinner along the coast in Maine, finding a place for New England Clam Chowder. The restaurant was crowded, so we decided to get take the dinner to a nearby beach park. It was a perfect evening at sunset, we all sat down to delight in our meal, when hordes of mosquitoes descended upon us. We had that chowder downed and were back in the car in all of three minutes. No wonder we had the park to ourselves!
We ended up separated from the Rylands as we continued to Connecticut, but ended up arriving just five minutes after they had arrived. It was midnight and sleep was welcomed. We still had along drive to Ohio.
We attended Mass at the local church in Westbrook before continuing our drive. We had the pleasure of the Ryland girls 'company as Chris wanted to finish up some work at the house. That made another day of travel pass quickly. We stopped for homemade ice cream between the Pennsylvania and Ohio border, and arrived in Steubenville around 8:00 in the evening. We were trying to arrive in time for a birthday party for friends but arrived at the end. We have friends in Steubenville, and our young people were planning with whom they were going to stay. Four of our children wanted to stay with good friends who had moved from our town, and the girls wanted to stay at the Ryland's whose main home was in Steubenville. Elizabeth and Deirdre assured us that the Rylands had plenty of room for us as well, and we agreed thinking that we would be the least bother with them. We arrived to Sandi, the mom, directing us to the parent's lovely bedroom suite, that looked like a lovely bed and breakfast living room/bedroom. The old Steubenville homes are old and beautiful, full of ornate wooden molding, high ceilings, big windows. We tried to protest but Sandi would not hear of it. We were awakened to tea served to us in bed. We had always heard of the Rylands' gracious hospitality and we experienced it first hand on this trip.
We performed an evening show in Steubenville and the next day headed on to the Dublin, Ohio Irish Festival. We had always heard that the Dublin Irish Festival was one of the biggest and best in the country, and we were delighted to be part of the line up, especially since some of our favorite bands were also performing there, Natalie MacMaster and Solas. We have gotten to know Natalie quite well since she married Donnell Leahy and we have been attending the Leahy fiddle camp for four years. Natalie and all the Leahys are some of the nicest people we have ever met, and my cousin, Mick McAuley plays the accordian in Solas. (Mick's dad and my dad are first cousins, and our grandpas are brothers.)
We checked into the hotel and arrived at the same time as Natalie. Her niece, Emily Flack, the oldest Leahy's daughter, was also with Natalie, as she was going to do some singing and dancing in Natalie's show. We were so happy to see Natalie and Emily again. We ran into Mick McAuley later that evening at the festival.
We had shows on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, and were then able to spend Saturday evening watching Solas and Natalie perform. Celtic Spring could be found right in the front of the very large audience watching the shows until almost midnight.
The plane is landing, so to be continued...