Thursday, April 23, 2015

Boston with Méara Meara

Silly kids!
Making music with friends is a lot of fun!

Haley and Dylan have been enjoying Monday afternoon music making sessions with uilleann piper, Keegan, for the past few months. Keegan has been cyber-schooling since January which leaves him more time for his music and Monday evenings they all enjoy a session from 7-9pm. Haley has a violin lessons in Philly in the afternoons so in the between time, they all get together to share tunes, arrange sets, and laugh together.

Around March, when they had a few gigs come up together, the kids decided they needed a "band" name. They ended up deciding on Méara Meara which mean "Lively Fingers" in Irish…if you've heard them play, you'd understand how perfect this name is.  You can check out their website

Haley and Dylan had played at The Burren in Boston back in November and the month before they performed, Keegan had been there with a youth exchange program. Brian O'Donovan asked if the three of them could come back together to open for one of the bands and we eventually settled on April 15th. It ended up being a great night! The kids did a great job performing their four sets and we met the three musicians in the Mairtin O'Connor Trio and got to hear their lively set of wonderfully arranged tunes! What a great night of music!!

Backstage at The Burren with The Mairtin O'Connor Trio.
Sound Check at The Burren

A little video of their set thanks to Stephen Shepard…

The next day, we spent the day in Boston. We had a few mis-adventures…a couple sites we wanted to see were closed during the week (until the following Monday of course) and we attempted to get some good photos of the kids. We walked around a lot, saw whatever we could see, had some incredible Italian food (home-made pasta), then headed to a local session for some lovely tunes. We were pleasantly surprised to see Flynn (a guitarist for The John Whelan band who backed one of Haley's slow airs on the kids' new CD).

This photo cracks me up.
We were out late Thursday night and took awhile to get moving on Friday then drove to NYC where the kids were hosting a session for Donie Carroll.

Because they hadn't had enough Irish music the three days prior, they spent the early afternoon busking in NYC on Saturday before we drove home.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

CD Release

Tony Lawless at offered to do an online CD release for Haley and Dylan's new CD "Heart on a String." Here's a link to the article he wrote.

Being the "mom-ager" has become almost a full time job and in between it all, my computer screen broke and I sent it for a repair estimate. Ugh! (I will not be getting it fixed in the near future.)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gigs, sessions, CDs, and more gigs...

So much has happened the past couple weeks….

Haley and Donie Carroll open the event in NYC.

 Haley was lucky enough to be invited to two Sober St. Patrick's Day events this year. The Sunday before St. Patrick's Day was the event in Philadelphia and on Tuesday was the Sober St. Patrick's Day event in Manhattan. After our first St. Patrick's Day outing in a pub when Haley was five years old, I must say what a pleasure it is to have dry events for her to enjoy playing the music she loves. The Sober St. Patrick's Day events are a wonderful celebration of true Irish culture, dance, and music. Such a great idea Bill Reilly had a few years ago!

In Philadelphia, Haley played with her Méara Meara bandmates, Dylan and Keegan then the three of them joined all the other fabulous musicians for the finale. In Manhattan, Haley and Donie Carroll opened the show then she performed with her Converse Trio mates, Keegan and Alex, for a set before they joined the All Star Ceili Band on stage for most of the rest of the program.

The All Star Ceili Band in NYC
Haley and Dylan's CDs, "Heart on a String" arrived and they began selling them online on their website and for digital download on  Here they are autographing the CDs for their customers.

Last Thursday, Haley, Dylan, their friends Livia and Emily, and I drove out a night early to beat the snow storm here at home because they had a performance in Vermont as part of the Sligo Six. We had to leave after Dylan got home from work at 10pm, pick up the girls and their van, and I drove until 2am when we stopped at a hotel for the night.

We work around 8am and enjoyed out free breakfast before completing our journey. We took our time, stopped a few places for Dylan to take photos, and arrived in Vermont in time for supper with Mark, his wife, and our hostess for the weekend, Jesusa. After supper, we drove to Jesusa's where the girls swam in her family's indoor basement pool for over an hour! Fun! They went to bed at 9pm and fell asleep before their heads hit their pillows.

Saturday morning, the kids got up and ate a delicious breakfast before rehearsing for a couple hours with Patrick (the trio coach). Then we headed to a session a few towns over before sound check for the performance.

Sligo Six sound check.
The kids did a great job in the performance! Everyone did their best and it went really well! We got up really early in the morning Sunday and drove to White Plains, NY for fiddle lessons for Haley and Livia before making our way back home.

The amazing accordion player, James Keane (Haley's buddy Paraic's uncle), attended their weekly Monday night session. Wow! He played some amazing tunes and there were musicians all over the pub.

Last night Haley and I attended a small private house concert with Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill. I can tell you this is the very best way to hear Irish music…up close and personal and acoustically…nothing separating us from the musicians. Martin was on top of his game!

He was invited up for an encore and instead of playing, asked Haley if she'd use his fiddle to play a few tunes (she didn't have her own).  Haley said initially, his fiddle felt difficult to get sound out of but once she played the first tune and got used to it, she loved the way it sounded. Fiddle envy. She might have played all night if she could have.

A few years ago, while driving to the airport on our way to Ireland, we were listening to NJ101.5's Dennis and Judi who were doing a "Where Are You Now?" topic hour. Haley called and told them she was on her way to Ireland to compete in the All Ireland. They asked her to fiddle them a tune over the phone then looked her up on youtube. She called again about a year ago to talk to them about homeschooling.

Yesterday, they were doing an hour about "Titles You Hold." Haley called to tell them about her All Ireland fiddle title and they invited her and Dylan to come in today for lunch with them and to play some Irish music on air. So we did.

The kids have played on a couple other radio stations over the years but this was the largest. The hosts, Dennis and Judi were so nice to them and there was a huge spread of food brought in by Biagio's.

Here's a link to the radio station's post about the hour with video.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New CD!!!!

Haley and Dylan's CD is finished and uploaded to Diskfaktory for printing!!!

The last couple days have been pretty hectic…proofing the cover and the tune sets, lots of texts and emails to the various people involved, and lots of time on the internet. We are hoping to receive the freshly minted CDs in time for a St. Patrick's Day release but we are cutting it close!

I am so grateful to all the people in our lives who have made this CD possible. John Whelan for offering to produce and record. All his time and travel, his advice, and his patience in working with the kids (and me) was incredible. Brian Conway for being a great teacher and imparting his knowledge to Haley all these years, for his friendship and support, and for playing a set with Haley on the CD. Thomas Boyer for his expert mixing and mastering. Matt Ferrara ( for the beautiful photography, the wonderful graphic design of the CD artwork, and his patience with all our changes. Paul Keating for having a first listen and, as Haley says, his "way with words." John and Jackie Kelly for their help with picking photos and a title and my friend, Lynette, for her input and support when I needed it.

We are so lucky to have so many wonderful people in our lives!!

If you'd like to order a copy of "Heart on a String" just click this link to our website store page.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Pre-St.Patrick's Weekend...

Irish musicians refer to this month as "March Madness." Due to St. Patrick's Day, gigs take up many more weekends than any other month….December runs a close 2nd though. We started last week with some great (legendary) Irish musicians playing concerts close by and Saturday night another band was in town. Haley met Mairead from Altan a couple years ago at a festival in Dublin, OH while she was performing with The John Whelan Band. We saw her again this past summer while they were touring in NY and Mairead invited Haley onstage with them while we were at the Fleadh in Sligo Ireland in August.

Haley had been looking forward to Altan being in town for months. Mairead invited her to join them again which made it even more exciting for her. We arrived in Philly, parked the car, and walked out of the parking garage at the same time as the band was crossing the street to go to supper. Mairead invited us to join them and introduced us to her daughter, Nia, who is just a year younger than Haley.

After supper, we walked back over to the Annenberg and Mairead taught Haley a number of tunes, in 20 min, she would later play with them on stage. Once the tunes were learned, Haley and Nia shared a few tunes including a lovely jig Nia had written.

Haley and I went out into the audience to watch the first half of the show. Altan's new CD, Widening Gyre, is a mixture of Irish and Bluegrass music. They always put on a great show! We backstage during intermission and watched from there until close to the end when Haley went out to join them.

This photo was posted on Facebook by Doug Wallner.
What a fun night!!

Sunday morning we were up bright and early…especially early due to the time change and our late night the night before. Haley and Keegan played some Irish tunes for an Irish Mass at St. Malachy's Church in Philly.  (They made it onto the late night news on Sunday night...!/news/local/Parishioners-Raising-Money-to-Preserve-19th-Century-Church/295581561)

We all drove straight from church to their afternoon gig, the Down Jersey Celtic Celebration at Cumberland County College, for a sound check.

Haley, Keegan, and Dylan recently named their trio Méara Meara ( They have been rehearsing once a week before the Monday night session they all attend. They sounded awesome together!

Friday, March 06, 2015

Working Up to St. Patrick's Day...

The past couple weeks have been incredibly busy as my Irish musicians ramp up for St. Patrick's Day. Here's a few of the musical things they have been doing…

Every Monday, if the weather isn't too lousy, we head to Media, PA for an Irish music session at Sligo pub. Two weeks ago, they had some guests at the session…a few members of The Chieftains, Matt Molloy, Tim Edy, and Martin Murray stopped in for some tunes. It was a rousing night and eventually a large number of musicians…word got around.

The next night we went to The Chieftains' concert and Haley, Dylan, and Keegan joined them onstage for the finale.

The Chieftains finale.

Haley with Matt Molloy.

Tim and Dylan talk guitars while Keegan and Haley listen in.
On Friday night, Haley and I went to a concert in West Chester, PA given by Haley's teacher, Brian Conway, John Whelan, Brendan Dolan, and Mary Courtney. We originally planned for Haley to have a fiddle lesson prior to the concert but Friday rush hour traffic spoiled those plans. Brian had Haley join him and Brendan onstage for a set of strathspeys followed by The Mason's Apron then she stayed up for their concert finale.

On Sunday which was full of freezing rain and snow, Haley and Dylan with their Converse Crew counterparts played Irish music for the afternoon at Rockwood Museum in Wilmington, DE for the opening of their Irish castle exhibit. We took a tour of the museum and heard enough ghost stories for them to want to return for a night ghost tour at the museum some evening.

The kids' CD is in post-production, mixing and mastering. John is sending us mixes to listen to each evening and we are in talks with Matt Ferrara, the graphic designer, to decide on cover choices, colors, etc.... They are hoping to have everything ready for a St. Patrick's Day release. It will be tight!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

More recording...

In the past couple weeks, Haley and I have learned a lot about music and recording.

We've researched the tunes she recorded to find out composers and dates composed. Haley has sent some emails to tune composers to find out how to go about licensing them for her CD if they have a copyright.

She has written her liner notes for her CD, taken them to her writing tutor for corrections, and written her final draft which I sent off to the graphic designer along with her tune list for the CD.

Today, Haley and Dylan did some different studio recording work.

Haley's writing tutor, Kathryn Ross, began her own publishing company this year. She wrote and published her first book called, Mother Chicken's Eggs, a Christian parable. Another homeschooler, Noah Berg illustrated the book and her illustrations are amazing! Miss Kathy and Haley have been working for the last few months on the audiobook version. Haley created the sound effects and music to go along with the book's text, using traditional tunes and original compositions.

Miss Kathy and Haley spent half of each Tuesday writing workshop creating together and practicing the audiobook. On Friday, they performed the book live for Miss Kathy's family visiting from New England. They will be performing the book live for area Christian schools and book openings/signings as well.

Today, Dylan, who has been studying sound engineering as part of his homeschooling curriculum, recorded and produced the audiobook for them. It took them the better part of six hours to complete three tracks for the audiobook; an introduction, the actual audiobook, and a resource guide for discussion after the story. The recording went well. Dylan still has to mix and compress the files before it is ready for release.

Here are some pictures…

Dylan putting his sound engineering skills to use!

Miss Kathy recording.

Haley enjoying the process.

Haley recording music for the track.