This week, Colm Mac Con Iomaire, violinist and singer with Irish group The Frames tells IrishCentral about his experience of the music scene in America.
America was my generation's version of Tír na n-Óg (The Land of Eternal Youth).
Born and raised in Dublin to west of Ireland parents, my house growing up was always a way-station for relatives and friends traveling to and from Boston, Chicago and New York. Some visiting, some staying.
Some of my aunts and uncles still speak in that unique "Gaelic-speaking Connemara meets America" dialect.
An aunt bought us a gift-subscription to the "Junior National Geographic" and I remember as a young child getting up extra early and waiting for the postman to deliver the monthly magazine.
It would just be me and a silent house, poring over pictures and features on tarantulas and Pueblo Indian cave dwellings, or grizzly bears and Giant Redwoods.
As a teenager I fell in love again with Kerouac & Steinbeck's America but it was the 'Pre-Giuliani' New York that consumed myself and The Frames on our very first US tour back in 1993.
With Jeff Buckley and The Sin É Club on St. Mark's Place; a crack-cocaine epidemic; a flop house straight out of the Barton Fink movie (complete with perspiring wallpaper); and that urgent, vibrant, and dangerous New-Orleans type atmosphere, this New York was closer to Martin Scorcese's "Taxi Driver" than to the "Sesame Street" of my childhood.
I quickly learnt that not only are there many New Yorks but there are actually many Americas.
Over the past 20 years, I have played and traveled with The Frames through most of the American states. States of mind as much as places.
We've traveled from the north-eastern idylls of Maine and Connecticut, south to the genteel and hospitable Carolinas, west from the Gulf of Mexico through Houston, Tucson and Albuquerque, northward to L.A. and San Francisco, up through the jaw-dropping northwest in Oregon and Washington State, and eastward again through the beauty of Montana and the tundra of the Dakotas.
From the "Echo Lounge" in Atlanta to "the Fillmore" in San Francisco, from the "Show-box" in Seattle to the "Metro" in Chicago, and from the "Egyptian Theatre" in Boise Idaho to "Radio City" in NYC, it has been quite an adventure.
Vast and inspiring, a place full of promise and contradiction, America, you still have my love and attention.
More about Colm:
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