Thaar be Pyraats round tha’ Bend

Getting a tour set up is probably very easy if you are famous, well known, have a great following… but I’ll tell you, when you are unknown entity (like poor wee me) – it’s tough. So after many calls (where nobody calls back) and emails (where you are delighted if you get an answer) I had managed to set up 4 gigs in Arizona … which was great – but none in my 1st real stop Bend, Oregon which was a shame as Bend is a lovely place, full of pubs and breweries … and it was half way to St Patricks day – why didn’t they know they needed me ! 🙂 . I was grumbling about this to Steve Behrens of 67 Music one Friday after a Mahers gig, Steve sympathized and had a couple of suggestions as he used to live in that area. I followed these leads but still no joy.

dwmindblown

The following Friday, Dorothy was driving us back from a Mahers gig when we ground to a halt in a huge traffic jam on the I84. It had been a great night (as usual in Mahers) and we’d stayed a wee bit longer than intended (ok, ok, Dorothy did her best to drag me away from excessive blethering and Guinness… but got distracted by her own bletheryness 🙂 ).. anyway it was after midnight and we were tired and well and truly stuck in traffic. I checked my email on my phone… there was a new mail from a name I didn’t recognize (Sarah Pollock Holmes), so I opened it … it was a hoot, this was Sarah from the Celtic Rock band 5-pint Mary in Bend inviting me to play a guest spot with them on Friday September 19th at a Pirate party – cool – and she’d written the email in Pirate

So… a few weeks later, I’d played my last 2014 gig in Mahers (see my last post or watch the video), had our short trial run trips in the Washington / Portland area and headed down to Bend, our longest drive in “our rig” for a 5-day stay, explore and of course… Pirate Party.

Pirate Party 2014

Bend is a lovely place, we actually stayed in Sisters which is 18 miles north of Bend. Remember in my last post when I mentioned my 12-string Taylor guitar had eaten its way through 3 batteries on my last evening and even at that the internal pickup had given up on my encore (which actually (to my surprise) turned out really well) – I found a music shop which was a Taylor dealer – Music Makers, Dan, the owner, was fantastic – he called Taylor and after a 5 minute call where the Taylor guy had verified that my guitar was under lifetime warranty (even though I’d forgotten to register it 7 years ago… ooops) – he’d agreed to ship everything needed overnight so that Music Makers could fix it.Sweet! They fixed it and all it cost was $15 for a new set of strings, fitted and tuned… fantastic service!

Anyway, we headed along to the Pirate party place on the Thursday as we hadn’t brought any Pirate clothes with us on our trip (how dumb is that 🙂 ?) and they were doing “fittings” the day before… these were serious Pirates! So we met Ivy who was transforming people into Pirates, Dorothy became “buxom Bess” … and she convinced me to wear my Kilt (very piratey apparently 🙂 ).

Wench Dorothy

On the Friday, we headed over to the Pirate ranch – a large property which had become something out of the Pirates of the Caribbean for the weekend – complete with masted ship and barrels (with beer tap attached!). I sat in with 5-pint Mary playing Bodhran as they are already a pretty tight band… adding someone who is busking through their songs would probably have diminished their sound rather than adding to it. I enjoyed playing bodhran again – and playing in a band again – being non-essential to the sound was also a novelty as normally I am all there is.

When the band stopped for a break, I got my guitar and did some vaguely piratey songs – getting pirates to goo aaaarrrrrr and whoop and join in with gusto was easier than I thought – they were all well in the mood and all fired up by 5-pint Mary’s superior piratey performance. I went down really well, it was a pleasure playing for such an appreciative bunch of scallywags and wenches 🙂

See my piratey bit here

5-pint Mary rounded off the night, I joined them again for part of the set and we ended the night well… aaaaarrrr! So with lots of happy pirate handshakes, hugs and sharings of rums (and of course some whisky), we headed off back up the road to Sisters – with promises of a repeat performance next year and a bunch of new friends… especially 5-pint Mary – a great band, great musicians – and most importantly – great people who love what they do.

Watch the pirates live stream here (ok, it was live then… and you may have to look through the clips as it has no definite address – it’s about 1hour 32 mins)

For the next two weeks we become explorers around Boise, Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, Utah… and getting ready for my next performances – Friday 3rd October in Scottsdale, AZ at the Skeptical Chymist, Saturday 4th Oct in Tim Finnegans, Phoenix, AZ, then Wednesday 8th Oct in Fibber McGees in Chandler, AZ… should be fun – watch for my next post to see if it was!

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Taking the High Road…

We did it! … 2nd week September on the Monday we had packed up our house and had it moved into storage (Willamette Valley moving company were absolutely superb!). On the Tuesday we moved the stuff we will need for the next year into our 5th wheel which was in storage and headed off to the Roamers Rest, an RV park on the Tualatin river (where we had spent many a happy day Kayaking over the years). The change from 3 bedroom luxury house to a 5th wheel (even though it’s a nice one) was a shock to our systems Big_Hug

The whirlwind of chaos that followed (and the sneaky Birthday Party for Chris Hatzi – all secretly orchestrated by his lovely wife Ellie) … and an overnight in the Paramount hotel, Portland (while the RV had an overnight in Curtis repair shop to fix a couple of last minute things) ran away will the time and before I knew it I was headed to Mahers with Dorothy in our truck to play my last Lake Oswego gig in Mahers Irish pub. See the video here  When I think back to my first appearance in Mahers five years ago, I did it more to get Dave & Mark Maher off my back than anything (they are persistent feckers!). I could only confidently  remember the words to 8 songs – which I played. Little Mahers (as we now fondly called it) was really pretty small, there must have been around 10 people in – and still I was nervous getting up there to play. The songs went down great, I loved doing it and I had the realization that I could actually become a solo performer – I just never had the confidence to do it before.  On Friday 12th September 2014, I took to the stage, no nerves, fully confident, a crowd of over 100 people crammed in, lots of experience playing in pubs, parties, festivals… I had come a long way – and these people had all come to see / hear me . The crowd was tremendous, they were clapping and joining in from the 1st song. I let them sing a full chorus of “the piper o’ Dundee” on their own – a song which I know none of them knew before I started playing it there. Lynn who now works on the admin side of Mahers, I know her as one of the Mahers Irish Dancer’s mums who used to organize the Celtic Christmas events we had, baked me a cake with a tartan base, guitars around the middle and a dozen conflicting signposts on top (as Gabrielle Maher joked… I don’t have a feckin’ clue where I’m headed) They gave me a whisky (Macallans 12 year old – nice!) and drank a toast to Dorothy and I. Mahersand cake

It was great to see so many good friends there and people who had helped me get my act in gear – Steve & Cathi (from 67 Music who do a great job of promoting Celtic music in the Pacific Northwest) (with lovely party ballons too!), Kevin Nettleingham from Nettleingham audio who recorded my CD, Dorothy who puts up with me and many, many more. In my extended break (thanks to Jack the server for filling in for me) I tried to get around as many people as I could to say hello and goodbye… and maybe managed a third of those who came to see me (apologies if you were there and I missed you!) When I got to the last song – I got a standing ovation… that is a really nice feeling… it was wonderful. They of course wanted one more song… which is not allowed in Lake Oswego after 10pm… as if by magic, my guitar pickup stopped working (it was on it’s 3rd battery of the evening… yes there was something wrong with it)  and I sang the proclaimers song 500 miles with my guitar unplugged. It was magical. I sang the verses and everyone… and I mean everyone sang the choruses. When the song was over, there were cheers, hugs, thank-yous, more hugs and then it was all over… well apart from another 2 hours chatting, laughing and drinking!… The last Mahers gig of 2014 was over… it was time to take the high road! See the Sept 12 Mahers video here 

It’s ready !!!

Kevin was off to Costa Rica, all artwork was done, the CD master was off to the manufacturer for printing,… now what? We needed to set a release date – ok, time for another Spanish coffee. Another fine Saturday afternoon with Steve and Cathi Behrens in Hubers and we had our release plan set – it would be in Mahers on Sunday March 2nd, we would need posters, web sites, emails, table tents … and agreement from Mahers that this was ok. Gabrielle Maher immediately agreed and couldn’t do enough to help, she recommended the marketing place down from the pub (www.gisimarketing.com) for the posters and table tents as they already did all the Mahers printing work.

Great – we had a plan… but no material. My kelticbill.com website was obsolete  Apple had abandoned iWeb (which I used ggrrrr).  I would have to redo the website – so decided to use the theme and colors from my CD. All I needed was a web publishing package… shouldn’t be hard to get –  there were quite a few out there and several web services. Aaaargh … after going cross-eyed looking through them all and trying evaluation copies for a day, I still couldn’t decide which one to use…  they all did much the same as iWeb had done… but all had restrictions of some kind or other… off to bed dazed and befuddled by technology.

My (lovely) daughter ( 🙂 ) had given me Adobe creative suite as a present a few years ago (I love Adobe photoshop) – so I had the bright idea to investigate Dreamweaver – the professional web design tool included in creative suite. Boy it looked complicated, but after following a couple of tutorials and youtube videos I had built a small test site and could see that this would take much longer to do that the other packages… but I could do whatever I wanted with my site as I would have total control (evil laughter!!!).

I got absolutely hooked… I spent days deep in the bowels of web-site design and html… and loved it! My inner geek had fully re-emerged and after a couple of weeks hard slog I had put together what I still think is a pretty nice web site ( www.bill-mullen.com) and learned a lot in the process.

On-line CD sales – you can’t go wrong with CD Baby, I signed up and put in all the details they needed to do digital music distribution. I loved their sign-up process – their 1st question was “how do you want to be paid?”… at last a website that doesn’t just take your money! I linked the services (iTunes etc) which CD Baby arranged for me to my website and set the release date to be the day before my release party – so I could be sure it was all available on the day.

The CD artwork was all I needed to put together my release poster and table tent notices, after some wrestling with Photoshop files it all looked good – working with Tyler at Gisi was great – he really knew his stuff and did a great job of the posters and table tents… at a good price!

A few late nights to complete the final touches and I was ready – 67 Music (Steve & skOt)  Mahers, Posters & table tents, new web site, new email were all ready, the music was all set to be ready on 1st March on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, Google and Shazam, the royalties were all paid and registered with Harry Fox Agency and the boxes of CDs had arrived… we were all set for the release.

bill proof