Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tarja & Orpheu visit from Amsterdam 23rd - 27th November 2006

Luke's cousing Tarja and her boyfriend Orpheu came to Dublin for a wedding. They stayed with us, which was great because we got to return the favour... we've stayed with them when we've been in Amsterdam.

So... they arrived on Thursday afternoon while Luke and I were at work. Luke met them at a pub downtown after work and brought them back to our house. Luke jams on Thursdays so he came in and we all made our way to Pearse Tavern so that Luke could hang around with us for one Guinness before he had to leave for jam at 7:30pm. On the way to the pub Luke got a text message which said that jam was cancelled so we all cheered that Luke would be around for the evening. We went to the pub for a couple of pints and then decided that we should go home for something to eat. None of us felt like cooking so we picked up a couple of pizzas and ate at home. After dinner we headed back to the pub to meet Brent and Sharon. We had a good night from there.

Friday Luke & I went to work and Tarja & Orpheu spent their day shopping, etc. After work I went out for a drink with some work mates and ended up staying with them until about 10:30pm. Luke was jamming and then met up with Tarja & Orpheu w(who were out with a friend for a while before that) so at around 11pm I met up with them all at a pub downtown. After that we all headed back home to bed.

Saturday Tarja & Orpheu were up and out of the house by 10am as they had the wedding to attend. Luke and I took it easy and didn't leave the house until about 1:30pm. We headed to the market (for fresh olives and sun-dried tomatoes) and then poked around the shops at clothes. (Didn't buy any). We also bought some lovely mussels so that Luke could cook them for the four of us as Tarja & Orpheu love mussels and cooked them for us when we were staying with them in Amsterdam. Dinner was fantastic (thank you Luke). After dinner T & O had to head to a party at the bride's Godmother's house (mansion). We were invited to attend as well but weren't up to facing 100 strange people that are all dressed up (besides, I have NOTHING nice to wear in a situation like that). They headed off to that at around 9pm and Luke and I were joined at our house by Brent & Sharon for some drinks, etc, then we headed out to a club downtown so that we could do some dancing. We had a good night, ripped up the dance floor (not me so much, but the others totally did), got home at 3:30am and went directly to bed. Tarja & Orpheu arrived at the house not long after us.

Sunday T & O got up and went to do some souvenier shopping. Luke and I stayed in and hung out and did some tidying up. When they came back we went and met up with a friend of theirs and the five of us went to Howth for a look around (the seals were in the harbour, there was a great little market and the weather was pretty good) and a steak at Cibo (the restaurant that Slev works at). We had a pint in the afternoon and then headed to dinner at 6pm. Our steaks were amazing. The best we've had. After dinner we walked back to the train station and headed back into the city. It was about 9pm when we got back to the house so we parted with their friend and then put our pyjamas on and relaxed. It was lovely.

Monday morning Tarja & Orpheu were off so we said bye before work. Great few days.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Weekend in Tipperary 17th Nov - 19th Nov

Fishing in Tipperary (not so successful)!

The plan for Tipperary was to go fishing. Brent and Sharon went to an Uncle's house and borrowed two rods and Brent bought a few lures at a fishing shop on Grafton.

The 5 o'clock whistle went last Friday and I was outta there! Luke and I met at home after work so that we could pack and get our shit together. Sharon and Brent were picking us up at 7-7:30pm. On his way home, Luke stopped at Tesco and bought tons of sausages, eggs and rashers for brekkie. We went to Centra down the street to pick up some beer, packed our overnight bags and we were ready. At 7:00pm we got a text from B & S saying that they were running a little late. That was ok, Luke and I had a cup of coffee. At 7:30pm we texted them. An Uncle was in town and was using their parking space so they were held up. No problemmo, we switched on the tv. At 8:00pm we got a text saying they were on their way. Yoo-hoo. We were excited. They pulled up in front of the house and Brent helped us bring everything out and load it into the car. For four people going away for only two days we had TONS of stuff. We each had an overnight bag, there was a 'ghetto blaster', a bucket (in case we caught some fish), 2 rods, lotsa beers, stuff for breakfast and dinner, a table ping pong set, and so on and so on. The boot of the car was jam-packed.

Sharon drove (thank you Sharon!) the 2 1/2 hours (45 minutes of that was just getting out of Dublin. The traffic was horrific). After a quick journey we were in Tipperary and we were excited. It was pitch black and we were in the middle of nowhere but we were excited to be there! We pulled up to the property (lead by the owner) and were very impressed. The house was huge. Three bedrooms, three bathrooms, fireplace, large kitchen, living room, dining room and backyard. Fantastic. We put stuff away, cracked a beer and had a seat at the table. We then played a round of cards and then decided to walk over to the local hotel/pub for a drink before last call (Luke was itching for a Guinness). We walked around the corner and discovered that the joint had already closed so we walked back to the house, cracked another beer and pulled out the beer pong. We had a good laugh and then hit the sack fairly late.

Got up Saturday morning, Luke made brekkie (it was to die for, see photo of meat plate). At about 11:30am we packed up our gear, some beer and bundled up. We walked to the river and started the fishing. After an hour we decided to walk a little further to see if there was another spot that might be more suitable. There wasn't, so we walked back to the original spot (a tiny, old, country road wooden bridge) where we continued to catch nothing. From there we walked down river, into a pasture where, again, we caught nothing. After another hour we decided to walk back to the house, drop everything off and walk to the pub for a pint. On the way we passed a field where we were greeted by a beautiful horse. The background was mountains with snow, there was vibrant green grass. It was incredible.

The hotel/pub looked quiet so we decided to walk further down the road to the one other pub in this teeny, tiny town. On the way we stopped at a pottery store, which was full of beautiful hand crafted dishes, etc. From there we continued down the road until we stumbled upon the pub. To our disappointment it was closed as there was an important match that day so everyone was at it. We turned back and walked to the hotel/pub which was open. We ordered a pint of Guinness each and 4 soups and 4 sandwiches. The woman serving us suggested we get 4 different sandwiches and share them, so we did. They, and the soup, were dynamite. Just like what your mom would make, you know? We finished eating and ordered another pint. The server let Luke pull his own pint, so that was exciting. We then moved from the dining area to a little cubby area by the fireplace where we pretty much spent the rest of the day, cosied up and laughing, telling stories, etc. It was great craic. A nice way to spend a chilly winter day. We enjoyed the woman server so much that we invited her to stay at the pub after her shift finished so that we could buy her a couple of drinks. We agreed to meet back at the pub at 9pm, two hours later. After a few hours we decided to head back to the house for dinner. Sharon & Brent made a great spaghetti with homemade meat balls. Delicious!

After dinner we were full and tired and so we lazed on the couch for a little bit. Luke fell asleep. Sharon, Brent and I decided that we would drag our lazy butts off the couch to meet the woman. We put Luke to bed and made our way back to the pub where we had a nice chat with the woman (who turned out to be the owner) and one drink and then we headed home, sat back on the couch, Luke woke up, we chatted and watched tv and then went to bed.

Next morning Luke cooked brekkie again, we packed, and then headed back to Dublin.

Thanks for another great weekend, Brent and Sharon!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Angel Pier in NYC

Angel Pier in New York City Nov 1-6th 2006.

The band got accepted to play at CMJ Festival 2006 in NYC (the reason I didn’t come to Canada with Jess in Sept – sorry everyone!). There were only 5 bands from Ireland chosen and we were one of them. We haven’t even been a band for a year yet and we got into this festival, which is a huge deal and achievement for me since my previous bands never got accepted.

Overall it has been a good couple of months for the band:
- We got into the HWCH festival in Dublin, which is the biggest showcase for bands in Ireland.
- We got our EP done as well (you can buy it at
- We were mentioned in the HOTPRESS magazine (equivalent to Rolling Stone, just Irish) after our performance at the HWCH
- Voted the “Best New Find” by the HOTPRESS
- And now CMJ, which is the biggest showcase for bands in the world.

Our flights were paid for by the Irish Music Council (Ireland is really good for supporting the arts here) so all we had to do was find a place to stay and worry about just having enough for food and beer.

The Festival was from Oct 31st to Nov 5th and we were playing on Nov 4th, the Saturday. Our showcase was called ‘Music from Ireland’ and the other Irish bands were on the same bill. We were the newest band and the only unsigned band to take part of ‘Music from Ireland’, so that’s a good sign.

Anyway, I was hoping Jess would be able to come as well, but she was nicer than me and went to Canada to see you all, which meant she had no days left. So it was going to be just the boys, for the first time alone for more than a night. We don’t really hang out that much as we all have our different lives and, well, live either 40min or 1hr from each other so it’s not always easy to get together. However, we practise 3 times a week. We don’t really do everything together like what I was used to (with how the Ottawa bands were) so I wasn’t sure how we would all get along.

Day 1
We met at the airport at 8:00am that day and made sure we had everything and proceeded to check in. We were told that we should not say we are going to play a festival as that would mean we would need a working Visa. I didn’t think that was true, as the US government was not paying us. But the plan was to just lie while going through security.

At security:
Darragh went first “I am just going to NY for 5 nights to see some bands from CMJ”
US controller “But you’re not playing?”
Darragh “Ahhhhh, no”
US controller “Why you lying? I saw you standing with 3 other guys and one of them is holding a drum! So you are NOT a band? Just be honest”.
Darragh “Well, we are a band, ya, ahhhhh”.
US controller “Are you getting paid to play there?”
Darragh “No!”
US controller “Then you have nothing to worry about, as long as you are not getting paid you are ok”

During this whole thing I was standing at a booth hearing this in my right ear and in my left I could hear Mark being asked a bunch of questions and him just saying “Uhhhhhhh, ahhhhhh, emmmmm”. I had to laugh. Mark got nervous, Darragh couldn’t lie (not that we needed to, but no one listens to me) and Slev, well, he got nervous and flustered as well, and ended up talking really fast and he sounded like Brad Pitt in the movie Snatch, like a Pikey, but in Ireland we call them Travellers… it was freaken’ hilarious. It was like listening to a Leprechaun.
I got through with no problems. I swear with the Polish and Canadian passports it’s easy to get through anything.

Plane ride was, well, a plane ride. Long, uncomfortable, long and we had a nice bumpy landing which I wasn’t too pleased with (I hate turbulence).

From the airport we got a cab to our apartment. (Oh ya we rented an apartment in the Lower East side right at the tip of Manhattan. The cab ride was about 40min or so due to traffic, but we all just enjoyed the views, especially Slev and Mark as they hae never been to North America). Eventually the cab stopped on a small side street but didn’t pull over or park so I didn’t think this was our place, which was good as we were stopped in front of a Hells Angels clubhouse. Just then the cabbie said “This is it”. I thought he was joking, but he wasn’t so we were staying next to the Hells Angels. This was going to be interesting.

We took all our stuff out of the cab and just dropped it in between the motorcycles as Darragh went into the building to get the man we rented the apartment from. In that time Mark, Slev and I had the pleasure of meeting our 1st Hells Angel (later to be known as Kevin). He didn’t even ask questions, just went off on us about leaving our luggage and standing near the bikes. I thought we were going to die. Finally the landlord that we rented the apartment from came out and told Kevin we just got there…which seemed to simmer him down a bit. He thought we were leaving and didn’t remember that we were told (as every guest staying where we were is told “don’t look at the bikes, don’t touch the bikes don’t even think about the bikes and when you leave make sure the cab stops away from the bikes”). But since we just got there and didn’t get that word of advice yet Kevin said “Oh well welcome to New York”. We figured to be in the good books with these guys we would give him our CD. Turns out that Kevin is actually part of a road crew and works with bands like Nickelback and The Strokes.

Once we got up the 3 flights of stairs (and I packed way too much) we realized the apartment had no TV or radio… nothing!!! I wasn’t too happy about that. On top of having to share beds there was no TV! Then the owner (who turned out to be a vegan Buddhist) told us we can’t cook meat in the apartment. I almost LOST it. They should really advertise this type of stuff. Americans I tell you… they expect 4 lads from Ireland not to cook meat… have they ever seen the Irish fry up breakfast? Oh ya he said no alcohol in the room as well…ha-ha. Ok sir…
Then all of a sudden we hear our CD just blasting out on the street. It was Kevin the Hells Angel playing it louder then anything I’ve ever heard.

Once we all got unpacked and showered we decided to go eat as it was going on 6pm NYC time (11pm Dublin time). We were too hungry to decide or walk around looking for things so we just got the 1st thing we saw… we had Burger King.

After that Darragh (who stayed in the same area last year when he came to NY) said we should go for a drink at this pub around the corner. I forgot what a difference there is between pubs in America and the UK. We walk in and there are like ten people there with lap tops having a bottle of beer or coffee… you would never see that in a pub in Ireland. The tables are made here (Ireland) for pint glasses, not laptops and coffee. So we sat down in a corner and started to get into the pints, after about one we decided we better stick to beers we know or bottles as all the American beers tasted like water and no one really knows how to pour a proper pint. They just make a mess out of it. But thinking back that’s just how we do it in Canada as well, I am not used to lazy beer pouring anymore or beer tasting like water.

We eventually left that place and went back towards our street where most of the bars were.
We hit lots of little pubs along the way and drank quite a bit. We even ended up in a Chinese restaurant (just cause the bar was still open) and there was karaoke hosted by a transvestite. We didn’t know what to do… stay or go… plus the place was pretty empty, but we stayed to see what this was all about. That ended up to be a good place as the man/woman=transvestite was the funniest person we’ve heard. He/she could sing but should have been a stand up comedian. We eventually gave out some CD’s in that place to the remaining people we met there and they ended up playing the CD at the end of the night as well.
From there we just went from bar to bar until I got really tired and wanted to head home, but we only had one key so we had to all stick together, so we decided to pack it in.

Day 2
I got up early and went to look for a grocery store to get food. I was going to make French toast as I found maple syrup. I got back to the apartment and realized we had no frying pan so I went down to the owner’s apartment to see if we could borrow one. He asked me what I was cooking. I said French toast, then he says:
“I told you guys, no alcohol, no meat…”
I’m going “ Ya, ya, we know”
Then he says “…no eggs”
And the first thing to come out of my mouth was (PG 13 version) “Are you freaken jokin’ me!?”

Anyway, after that he told me “Ok just this time, but no meat or eggs, etc.”

I made a nice big breakfast for everyone and then we got ready and headed out towards mid town. We had to register for the festival at Lincoln Place. We eventually found our way…we missed a subway stop and then the train turned into an Express to Queens, and we ended up 30min away from Manhattan, in Queens.

We had lunch at Central Park and then went to register. After that we bummed around mid town window-shopping, stopped for a pint, I bought Jess a glass ring. The type she got in Venice but it broke. Then it was starting to get dark so I figured I would take the guys to Times Square cause it has to be seen at nighttime. So we came we saw and we went back home.

That night we went out to see 2 of the Irish bands play that were playing the same night with us. And that was day 2, mostly sightseeing.

Day 3
I was either depressed or really jet lagged but I did not get out of bed and the apartment until about 7pm that night for dinner. I just felt like staying in. The guys went shopping for power supplies for the guitars, etc and I took care of the changing strings and tuning. I did go to the grocery store and bought MEAT! I bought some fresh Salami and fried it and made a great sandwich!

We shut it down early that night, as we wanted to be in proper rested shape for the show the next day.

Day 4
Slev, Mark and myself decide to go into SOHO and do some shopping around and just checking out the area, Darragh stayed in as he felt jetlagged and wanted to be fully rested for the show. We walked for at about 3hours and then came back, made a quick late lunch and started to get read. We had to be at the venue at 630pm.

The show:
The show itself was good and we played tight and had energy and lots of people we’re very impressed. However, we had a miserable time on stage due to technical issues but you have to keep on putting on a show. There were lots of people that came to see us that only know of us through the internet, plus some friends. My friend Mike and his wife Anna came from New Jersey as well. It was nice to see them. I hadn’t seen them since Jess’ and my wedding. After the show the 4 of us (they brought a friend) took off elsewhere for a drink and chatted. After they left I hopped into a cab (man, cabs in Manhattan are great and cheap) and met the guys at a different bar where they went to see another band play. Being part of CMJ was cool cause our passes would get us into see any shows (that were part of CMJ) for free. There were some good bands in NY that week.

Day 5
I got up early (Darragh was already gone - he was up at like 9am doing shopping) went to the internet place and tried to change my flight to that day, as I was getting sick of NY. It’s pretty filthy! Dublin is dirty but NY is disgustting and I missed my wife and was tired of sharing a bed with Slev and just wanted to go home. But all the flights were booked so I decided to take it easy. When I got back from the internet place Darragh was back and Slev and Mark were getting ready to leave to do some shopping as well. Darragh and I stayed in for the afternoon and chilled out. Once the guys got back we decided to head out for a bit to eat. We went to an Irish pub across the street. The beer was shit! I had a Guinness, which came in a coke glass and there was no 2 part pour. Slev had a Smithwicks and well if you closed your eyes you and tried both you wouldn’t be able to know what is what - both were crap. BUT it was happy hour and it was 3$ per pint so we drank. After that Darragh got a text from his buddy who invited us to Brooklyn where he lives. He told us what pub to meet him at so we eventually got in a cab and headed off to Brooklyn. We got to the Cherry Tree Pub (we were not sure what to expect with a name like that) but to our surprise we walked into a as proper as an Irish Pub as they have in America. But there was atmosphere there and beer in proper glasses and good freaken Guinness. The pub was really neat the outside had a fireplace and little caves with pillows, etc. Looked like a hobbits back yard or something. I introduced the guys to the pitcher that night and well our last night in NY was pretty fun.

Once we got back that night, I pulled out the chips and dip - something they don’t do in Ireland, so the guys loved it. All in all a good laid back night with a bit of craic.

Next day before our flight we met a reporter from the Irish Voice (New York newspaper for the Irish Community) and did an interview – you can read it here, just copy the link

We flew out at 6pm and got to Dublin next morning at 530am. It was good to be home.