Mae’s First Concert Rule

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been places I don’t belong.  Usually it’s not so much that I truly don’t belong, as much I don’t appear to belong.  I am sort of an old soul chameleon.  I enjoy having different hobbies and interests that don’t necessarily mix amongst themselves.

When I moved to California and became involved in a few different scenes, whether it was music, surfing, desert camping or antiquing, I found that as long as you play the part and believe that you belong, you can generally avoid standing out.

The first time I met the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I was at a charity event with a friend/date; I’m not sure what he was, honestly.  I bought my way into a small show, but there was a clear segregation between invited celebrities and ticket holders.  My “date” was clearly more interested in mingling with the bartenders while I was interested in making my very first attempt to score a couple minutes with the Peppers; any of them would do.  So while my “date” and I went separate ways, I found myself locking eyes with another fan who did not dress the part.  I mean, I had clearly been prepared in a sparkly pink sequin shirt, leather pants and spiked heels.  He was in a Chili Pepper t-shirt and Dickies.    Still, as I stood alone, as did he, at least we knew we had something in common; Chili Peppers.

After the usual introductions, he quickly asked if I’d been into the forbidden area of the evening; the main house.  I likely replied with something goofy like, “but we aren’t allowed in there”.  Fan Boy had a hint of trouble in his eyes, said “come on” and grabbed my hand.  As we approached a kitchen area, which had a wide open door to the back of the mansion, he stopped me and looked me dead in the eyes and said “if you act like you belong here, no one will question you.  Act like you own the place”.

So in the door we went, amongst buzzing kitchen workers, up the back stairs in stilettos I could barely function in and there we were.  We were in.  This was my first concert rule that I’d keep branded in my mind for all time; act like you belong and no one will question you.  It works because we clearly did not look the part, but we acted like we did…until we approached the band Continue reading

An Irish Ballad for St. Patrick’s Day

It’s only appropriate as we approach St. Paddy’s Day, that I indulge myself in more Ireland talk. On our first trip to Ireland, we tried not to plan and follow the stone walls to wherever they might lead us. We did a few things that Rick Steves suggested too, however. Though we spent most of our trip travelling around the Irish countryside and avoiding crowded tourist destinations, we did spend a couple nights in Dublin and took in the Musical Pub Crawl.

I fell in love with Irish music on this trip.

The music ranged from traditional to humorous and of course included beautiful and mournful ballads. The musicians that lead the crawl vary from night to night, based on traveling musician schedules and we were lucky enough to have Anthony Bools. His voice had so much character and fit the tone for each type of song chosen.

They had a professionally recorded CD compilation of various musicians that lead the tour and it has been a mainstay on my Ipod for a few years now. I couldn’t have been more pleased to have heard this particular song live, with fiddle accompaniment and later have a version to play at home, while I dreamed of Guinness and seisúns. I do suggest the tour if you are interested in learning about Irish music. The real feel of a seisún can be found in a good local pub, where the musicians play amongst themselves instead of to a crowd but this is an opportunity for a musician to take a moment between songs and discuss the fundamentals of the music and the instruments that are so specific to this type of music.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Slainte!

Irish Whiskey on the Horizon

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Saint Paddy’s Day will be here soon. Last year I spent the holiday having major surgery. The anesthesiologists told me that the stuff I’d be getting was much stronger than my Irish whiskey. They were right.

Although St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal for our family, I hadn’t been too devastated because we had returned from Ireland only a couple months before. My husband still swore he’d dress in his annual Leprechaun costume for the occasion, but luckily he didn’t. Though part of me would have liked to see the looks on people’s faces as he sat in that surgical waiting room, in one of the country’s best hospitals, with tights and a top hat.

We enjoy Irish whiskey any time of the year, but the Irish season is amongst us in America and I thought about our trip to Bushmills in Northern Ireland. Alongside many brands of Irish whiskey, Bushmills is a classic.  Most startling was when we took the tour and saw Jameson bottles being pushed along the rolling conveyor belt.  Come to find out, that Jameson drives tanker trucks from the southern tip of Ireland to the northern one, as they have a deal to use Bushmills as a bottling plant.  I find it hard to believe this economic reasoning, but whatever it is, it is humorous to have the #2 Irish whiskey in the world, bottling the #1 guy’s stuff.

We also discovered the greatest job in the world; if you enjoy whiskey that is.  Bushmills whiskey is blended, with other malts and derivatives of other flavored casks for the best flavor.  The master blender, Helen, tastes and tests the blends of Bushmills.  That is her job.  Our guide said she’s picked up and driven home each day because her job is to drink whiskey.  Whether that was a bit of Irish humor or not, I like to believe that Helen has the greatest job in Ireland.

We had such a great day at Bushmills.  My husband and I only take tours that truly interest us, and not for the sake of adding admission tickets to our scrapbook.  I can’t remember a time that we didn’t connect with the guide and develop further conversation as the day progressed.  We ask questions and honestly want to learn.  This day was no different.  We ended up having our complimentary tasting and a few more, thanks to the generous tour guide when we went back to the tasting room.  We sat amongst a gigantic copper still and enjoyed some of the greatest things Ireland has to offer; whiskey and banter.  Our love for Ireland doesn’t end with these two things, but we’ll save more for another day.

Slainte.