There’s a thunderstorm raging in Stamford, CT and I realise that the rain seems to follow us Scots wherever we go, the only difference being the temperature that carries it.
This blog has been a long time coming, as has my first album ‘ Far From Entirely’. The album title is an apt one for it not only refers to my having much material still to share (we’re halfway through the second album), but is also a place in my mind to which I always wander when I work. Yes, it’s a good place, warts and all.
The last nine months have been an amazing experience. I have known Stamford over the years but more as an ‘acquaintance’. However, living here these last four months has changed all this: Stamford is, most definitely, finding a place in my heart. It not only has a feeling of space, with a forest to the north and beaches to the south, as well as a great ability for one to see the city skyline, but the people I have met are, well, quite wonderful.
I hoped that while I was recording the album I would find some venues in which to play. Steve Hansen, the producer, suggested I go to Casey’s Tavern where a good friend of his plays at their Thursday open mic session. Richard Keith (check him out on iTunes) was so welcoming, as were Hector, Carlos and KC & Anne. Initial shyness wore off pretty quickly.
You arrive each week, Carlos or KC & Anne set up the PA while the musicians arrive and place their guitars in the corner. Handshakes pass around in equal measures to bottles of Heineken. The open mic musicians chat to each other at the bar or out on the street. Some tune their guitars up the alley, others have a smoke out front and life just rolls on the way it’s meant to.
Casey’s is like the favourite room in your house: you can’t wait to spend time there and chill. When you do, the craic is 90, the laughs aplenty, the time speeds by and before you know it, it’s drinking up time and you’ve sung your heart out.
Eric and Donna of The Fez Bar & Restaurant are also great people to spend time with. Seven nights a week, they put on music that is an eclectic mix of genres (jazz, alternative, blues, rock, singer-songwriter) whilst anchored by outstanding musicianship. The restaurant is somewhat of a chameleon: as the diners leave in the late evening, and the band arrives, other customers arrive to enjoy a drink at the bar and watch the musicians set up. The place feels like a relaxed night club. For a Scot far from home and a girl on her own, this place makes you feel like the only company you need is the sound of the musicians performing.
Stamford is brimming with musical talent. It’s not New York. It doesn’t have to be.
And I am happy here and the work I am producing. I hope you enjoy it too.
The cafe is closing, the storm is still raging outside and I will get drenched but that’s alright because this moment, this actual moment in time, is the best feeling in the world.