Thursday, April 30, 2009

Respect your ELDERS! Or, my favorite things, Part 2

Another slow day on the home front so it's time for more of my favorite things. Tonight's topic? The Elders. I've said it before and I'll say it again...these guys are great. I first heard of them in 2007. I just happened to catch their song "Racing the Tide" on one of the digital music channels on TV and thought, hey, these guys are pretty cool. I jotted down the name of the band and CD so I could look for it later. But get this...just a few days later the newspaper came with an insert for a local Irish festival. An Irish festival that takes place practically in my own back literally takes all of 15 minutes to walk from my house to the fairgrounds where the festival is held. I'd been meaning to check out the festival, but never did for various reasons...couldn't get out of work, it was raining, I had tickets to a concert out of town, etc. Well, as I flipped through the insert I made up my mind that I was going this year, no ifs, ands or buts...because The Elders were one of the main acts!!! How cool is that? The festival runs Friday through Sunday. I made plans to go on Friday. The Elders were SO GREAT that I decided to go for their set on Saturday night as well. Couldn't get out of work Sunday afternoon, or else I would have been there that day as well!

So, what kind of music do these fellas play anyways? you may be asking. Well, their sound has been described as "Arse kickin Celtic music from the heartland." Pretty well sums it up. They play traditional Irish music kicked up a notch. Many of their songs refer to the history of Ireland, such as the songs "1849," "Hard Line," and "American Wake," and there's a bit of mythology thrown in as well, with songs like "Banshee Cry." Not too much in the way of sappy love songs, but for the romantics out there, give the beautifully tragic "Love of the Century" a try. Mix in a few foot-stompin' instrumentals like "Michael's Ride" and "Turnpike," and there you have it. The Elders.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Elders, please. Do yourself a favor. Check them out. Their website. MySpace. YouTube. See for yourself how awesome they are. Then, do yourself another favor. Find out when they'll be in your area, and go. They put on an amazing, high-energy show with lots of audience participation. Sing, dance, clap, jump...basically do whatever Ian (lead singer) tells you to do, that wily, charismatic Irishman!

If you're wondering which of their albums to buy, because of course you're now feeling compelled to buy one of their albums, I'd say go with Live at the Gem. It really captures the fun and energy of their shows and has a lot of their best songs, though they've released two phenomenal albums since then. Racing the Tide and Gael Day, their two most recent albums, will blow you away, they're so good. Really, you can't go wrong with any of their albums.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

...these are a few of my favorite things...Part 1

OK, I'll be honest here...I don't really have anything important to say right now, but I'm trying to get into the habit of posting regularly so rather than not write anything at all, I thought I'd go into a little more detail on things I like, which was briefly discussed a few days ago.

Here you have some CDs that I've been listening to a lot lately. It's hard to choose a favorite from this bunch, but let's start with the one on the left, with the pretty little blond lady on the cover. That's Cara Dillon's spectacular new album Hill of Thieves. It wasn't available for order until January of this year, but lucky for me I was able to score a copy back in November from a fellow who attended one of her concerts.

Cara's an amazing singer originally from Dungiven, Northern Ireland. I guess I should say musician instead of singer...she plays a bit of fiddle and tin whistle as well. Hill of Thieves is an amazing album consisting mainly of traditional Irish and Scottish songs. The exception is the title track, "The Hill of Thieves," but you'd never know it. Set to the Fred Morrison tune "The Lochaber Badger," it blends seamlessly with the other songs, giving the album a focused, cohesive sound. On the lively "Spencer the Rover" Cara's breathtaking vocals join with those of her brother-in-law, Seth Lakeman for a sound that is nothing short of divine. Then fast-forward to "The Verdant Braes of Skreen," where Cara's wistful soprano damn near breaks your heart. Go ahead, give it a listen.

Seriously, just do yourself a favor and buy the album. With songs ranging from haunting and heartbreaking to uplifting and so much more, there's something here for everyone. If these wonderful songs and Cara's heavenly voice don't touch your heart, you probably don't have one to begin with. Go. Buy it. Listen to it. Love it. Then buy all of Cara's other albums because they're almost as good.

Well, that's enough shameless Cara promotion for one night. (Side note...I am in no way affiliated with Cara, and stand to make no profit from sales of her album. I just want all of you to realize what I did many months ago...that Cara is awesome.)

I'm out like a trout. TTYL.

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

OK, the weather is insanely awesome here in NY right now. Well, right now it's chilly and wet, but we had 4 days of temps in the mid-70's to high-80's. Crazy. Anyways, today I took advantage of the nice weather to get a few shots of my favorite subject, Little J, at the playground. To be honest, I think they came out awesome. Like, super awesome. OK, OK, I admit some of the super awesomeness came from my photo editing software, and yes, it's pretty hard not to get good shots when your subject is this darn cute, but come on. Give me some credit. I have more pictures. Lots and lots more. But I'll be nice and keep it short and sweet. Admit it...they're good.

In other, unrelated news...ya know how I said I like making jewelry? Now I'm gonna try to make money from making jewelry. I now have my own store on Etsy. It's called...what else..The Laughing Girl. Check it out. Not like, right now, because I don't actually have anything up for sale yet, but the store is set up. Just need to take some pics of my jewelry and get those posted, which I'm hoping to get done this week. Here are a few pieces I've done in the past, just to give you an idea of what's to come.
OK, it's getting really late...or should I say, really early? I'm off to bed. Later, taters.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Come on in, and laugh a while!

Hello, and welcome to my happy little corner of the universe, aka "The Diary of a Laughing Girl." The Laughing Girl...that's me. (Ahem...I'm the one on the right. The lad on the left is Brent Hoad from my favorite band, The Elders. Do yourself a favor...if you get the chance to see them, GO! You won't be sorry. And if you can't, at least get their brand new CD, Gael Day. No lie, it's the best CD I've bought all year. And I've bought a lot of CDs.) A friend of mine, inspired by the title of a Jenna Reid CD, decided that I, too, am a laughing girl. I can't really argue with that. I'm fun. I'm goofy. I'll laugh at just about anything...myself included. So, it stuck. Of course, some of you know me by my real name ('s Kristin) and that's OK too. Kristin, K, Laughing Girl, whatever. Heck, the kid I babysit has taken to calling me Doodleberry, whatever that means. Don't know where she got it from, but it makes me laugh so by all means, if the mood strikes go ahead and call me that. I'm not picky. Just don't call me Kris. That's my mom, and it'll just confuse things. I don't like confusion. I also don't like broccoli, reality TV, and people who are serious all the time. I do like music (obviously I like The Elders; other current favorites are Julie Fowlis, Jenna Reid, and Cara Dillon, though that's subject to change at any minute), reading, crafts (especially scrapbooking...though I'm woefully behind on my scrapbook...rubber stamping, and jewelry making), Private Practice, chocolate, plaid, and the color blue. And my dog. I love my dog. Her name is Dixie and she's cooler than most people I know. She doesn't care that I sing off-key, tell jokes that aren't funny, and absolutely can not say the word "abominable."

Let's see...what else can I possibly tell you about myself (that isn't incriminating, at least...)? Well, I'm 28, obviously female, and very, very single. My favorite sport to play is field hockey, though I've not played since college. My favorite sports to watch are baseball and hockey, though the way the Yankees are playing these days, I'd rather not watch. I have a tattoo on my's a fiddle with the notes to an old Scottish song wrapping around it. I hate to brag, but it's pretty much the coolest tattoo I've ever seen. I collect snowmen. I've seen every single episode of ER...most of them more than once. I have an identical twin, plus a younger brother and sister, a cat named Pumpkin, and a dog named Dixie (though if you've read this far, you already knew that). I'm planning a trip to Ireland and Scotland, though I probably won't go for another year or two, at least.

So, in a nutshell, that's me. Anything else you want to know? Go ahead and ask. I might not give you a serious answer, but I'll try. Stay tuned for more about me.