A Love Letter to Ireland…of sorts.

We have all felt it; the doldrums, the melancholy, the gloom you experience after returning from a long-awaited getaway. It’s commonly referred to as “post-vacation blues” and I’ve got ’em bad!

Don’t get me wrong, I adore my hometown. So much so, I’ve even made a career out of convincing other people they should love it too. I also cherish the opportunity to explore the world, absorb different cultures and marvel at the scenery but often times with a keen desire to return to the familiar. With all that said, this strangely strong post-vacay malaise has caught me a bit off guard. This overwhelming “off-ness” has forced me to take a step back and do what I do best, over-analyze and obsess ad nauseam. After a several-weeks-long journey of self-discovery, here’s what I’ve figured out. It’s Ireland’s fault! Please allow me to explain.

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I blame the people. Folks like Johnny, the Killarney National Park jaunting car driver; with his well-worn tam, straight outta central casting looks, quick-witted humor and thick Irish brogue. His unrelenting insistence on my husband and I using his red plaid woolen blankets to shield ourselves against the crisp gale of an October morning and seemingly genuine interest in whether we were enjoying our time there. All that sincerity and charm…the nerve! Continue reading

How to Find Great Live Music in Unexpected Places

It’s true the main reason I’m here is to reminisce, report on and give a few inside secrets about experiencing some of the most inspired music vacation adventures my twisted little mind can think up. BUT today, I’ll let you in on the absolute best, well-kept secret to discovering the most memorable “I’ve got to tell you about the time I saw…” life moments out there. Are you ready?

Listen Local.

That’s right, I said it. Get out and find your local happening venues where “the next big thing” might be perfecting their craft right now.

My husband still hasn’t lived down the time he was “not interested” in taking me to see Gavin DeGraw at a local bar literally weeks before I Don’t Want To Be hit big.

With local in mind, let me tell you about a few of my favorite talent troves here in my hometown and underrated music incubator, Huntsville, Alabama.

Humphrey’s Bar & Grill

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Humphrey’s Bar & Grill courtyard, photo courtesy of AL.com

Why I like it here: Comfort. From casual music appreciator to full-on aficionado, you’re going to feel right at home here. The food is tasty and the environment is super-relaxed with an outdoor space that’s beyond inviting on any cool afternoon. They keep the line-up fresh with numerous genres represented and if you’re not necessarily a night owl, they often have live music at varied times throughout the afternoon and evening. Continue reading

Some Great Reward: Rome and Depeche Mode’s Global Spirit Tour

Today I begin with an ending…of sorts. You see, what has up to this point been my singular bucket list item for as long as I can remember, was recently checked off thanks to an adventure with my amazing mother.

As your quintessential child of the 80s, the musical influence which served as the soundtrack to my formative years was Depeche Mode. David Gahan, with his creamy baritone, and Martin Gore, with his angelic bari-tenor, sang to me about love, cynicism, hope and just enough naughtiness to make them feel slightly forbidden. Seeing them perform live has been “the dream” for much of my adulthood. Finances, distance, parental responsibilities and the like have always thrown up barriers to making this ticket a reality; that is, until my truly bad-ass mother kicked down those barriers and said to me, “I just did something crazy!” The crazy? Buying tickets for me and her to see my bucket list band…this summer…in Rome.

We land. We’ve got four full days in Rome. We’re off and running. We’ve chosen a three-room guest house/bed and breakfast conveniently located within a 2,000 year-old stone’s throw of the Colosseum, Tre R Colosseo. The rooms are modern and clean, the included daily cappuccino and pastry provided by the adjoining restaurant is delightful and there is a well-stocked mini-fridge with refreshing beverages awaiting your return after a hot Roman walk. The owner and staff are friendly and accommodating and are exceptionally helpful with arranging transportation. Unexpected bonus: Get in a cab anywhere in the city and, regardless of any language barrier, simply say, “Colosseo” and you’ll get close enough.

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Tre R Colosseo seen from the second level of the Colosseum.

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My morning cappuccino and, on this day, chocolate croissant from Oppio Caffe.

Together, Mom and I agree to employ my “top three and then, let’s see” travel mantra. First up on our top three? The Colosseum. (because, required)  Continue reading