As the year comes to a close, we find ourselves looking back at the many memories of 2017. The great experience at IBMA week in Raleigh, the release of our album "Life Between the Lines", the many fun festivals we were a part of, the multitude of familiar faces and new friends we hung out with. They all help paint the picture of an exhilarating and exceptional year for Fireside Collective. Of all the fine memories that come to mind, none shine brighter than our recent trip to Mexico. Since we've been home, people have asked what we were up to down there. Well, since you asked, we'd like to invite you along on a little photo tour of our travels... come on!!
We began our journey to Mexico early Sunday morning out of Greenville, South Carolina. After a few connecting flights and some sprinting through airport terminals, we found ourselves in Dallas, Texas. Next stop, Mexico!!
The view from the magnificent Villa where we stayed on the side of Lake Pátzcuaro. The lake has been inhabited by the local Purhépecha Indians for centuries. There are numerous towns around this large body of water and each town specializes in a certain type of commerce. Each morning we would watch the locals hop in their boats and paddle out into the lake for a day of fishing!
Here is a view of the 10 bedroom villa where we were staying, known as “La Gloria de la Angeles” or the Glory of the Angels. It was built on the side of a hill leading down to the water and was one of the most beautiful homes one could imagine. Each day we woke up to fresh cooked meals, a variety of beverages, and of course, a shot of Mezcal!
Here we are in the courtyard of the monastery in Tzintzuntzan. This is the location of the main concert at the end of the week and also the place where we would rehearse with the local Purépucha band throughout the week. This young Mexican boy was explaining how the Spaniards built this monastery with the stones from the local Purépucha ruins.
Here is a shot of the ruins. They overlooked the lake and present day Tzintzuntzan.
One of the 3 Purhépecha songs which we learned. They sounded difficult initially, but once we broke them down and analyzed them, they didn’t seem much different than our songs!
We didn’t fly any basses down. Instead, we borrowed some local basses. Here we have the local Purhépecha bassist, Carson from Fireside, and Karl from Bill and the Belles. Notice the size of the bass corresponded to the size of the bassist!
A flier for our first show in Mexico!
Pictured here is the band “Bill and the Belles,” an excellent American roots band out of Johnson City, TN. They were the perfect band for this trip as they brought along a deep knowledge and appreciation for folk music. We loved sharing the stage with them and if you haven’t heard of them, check them out!!
This is the local Purhépecha band that we were performing with. At first, the language barrier was clear, but before long we were learning all about one anothers music and having a blast! They were great musicians and wonderful people!
Even though we were in Mexico, we still got to celebrate Thanksgiving thanks to our fearless leader, Doug Beatty! He managed to bring 2 turkeys down to Mexico in a cooler, and despite some confusion for the TSA agents, we had a wonderful Thanskgiving!
Bill and the Belles performing during one of our six shows together. During our trip, we had various concerts around Lake Pátzcuaro, leading up to our big Sunday performance in Tzintuntzan. We met so many kind people throughout this trip and the music we shared went over very well!
Did I mention the food?? Wow!! Every where we went, the food was remarkable! The freshness of the ingredients mixed with the local flavors and spices made eating one of the most enjoyable aspects of the trip!
One of our performances led us to this beautiful island in the middle of Lake Pátzcuaro! They claimed to have the most authentic “Day of the Dead” celebration. Pictured here is the island graveyard and some of the remnants of the recent festivities.
Here is a cool shot of our shadows on the islands’ “Lagoon.” Every spring, this fills up and provides water for the inhabitants of the island.
Enjoying some cervezas before one of our performances!
Some of our “biggest” fans in Mexico!
Mmmm, more exquisite food. One of the only food pictures I got without a bite taken out of it...
The locals advised us to take a shot of Mezcal and a shot of fermented pepper juice each day in order to stay healthy. When in Mexico...
Our final concert was a big celebration in the heart of Tzintzuntzan. Tzintzuntzan means “place of the hummingbirds” and it was the center of our travels through Mexico. The mayor even bought us shirts for the big show!
Here we are enjoying some street gorditas before our performance. Notice the various band members sporting their stylish new shirts!
The big concert in Tzintzuntzan featured various Mexican bands as well as an incredible dance group. During one section of their show, the female dancers pulled random members of the crowd up to dance with. Our very own Tommy Maher was among those selected, and while the others danced in the crowd, Tommy got to showcase his moves on stage in front of the whole audience!
It’s not usually a good thing to end the night surrounded by police officers. This was certainly an exception! The Tzintzuntzan police were very friendly and we were happy knowing they were on our side!
Holy molé!! This homemade molé was some of the most amazing food we had!!
Pictured here are our amazing translators, Marcela and Isaac. Not only were they top notch translators, they were also great musicians! Isaac is an incredible mandolin player and Marcela is a beautiful singer, together they made some amazing music!!
On the left we have Hugo and Suzie, the owners of the beautiful home we stayed at. On the right, the man with the plan, Doug Beatty. Doug put the whole project together and took great care of us. Thanks for the journey of a lifetime Doug!!
The fuel that kept Fireside burning, Mezcal!!
We went straight to the source to find out how this magical elixir was created.
We figured we might as well bring some home...
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Our journey to Mexico was uplifting, inspiring, memorable, and musical. We couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share it with!
Joe reflecting on an amazing experience...
The people of Mexico were so kind. They were grateful that we were sharing our music and we had many deep connections. They wanted us to bring back the message that Mexico is a safe and beautiful place. They hoped that more people would come and enjoy the wonders of Mexico.
Thank you to the fine people of Mexico for being so welcoming!! Everyone we met was so kind and the experiences we had will stay with us for a very long time. We learned a new style of music, we ate some incredible food, we talked with wonderful people, and we made countless new memories which have enriched our lives and left us filled with hope!
Now we find ourselves with just 2 more shows in 2017. We hope to see our Raleigh friends this Saturday at the Pour House. Raleigh has been that home away from home that we’ve needed to keep moving forward and we couldn’t think of a better place to help us close out this year. On Sunday, we’ll be back in the mountains performing at Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard with the Jeff Austin band. We’re so excited to be so close to home for this New Years Eve and we can’t wait to share it with our mountain family!!
The days are getting shorter, the nights longer, and the woodsmoke is drifting through the crisp November air here at the Fireside Homestead. The sunshine becomes more precious this time of year, and often times we look back on summer's warmth with fondness. But the quiet solitude of a cold mountain night has its own beauty and warmth. It can bring about a sense of togetherness as friends huddle close around a fire, or a feeling of calm as you enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend or even a stranger. It's clear the seasons are changing, and that change often brings new opportunities as we approach the dawn of another year.
Opportunities...sometimes they come banging on your door and other times they are subtle and elusive, waiting for a keen eye to seize them! Recently, Fireside Collective was presented with an amazing opportunity to travel to southern Mexico as part of a cultural exchange with the indigenous population of Michoacán. Yes, folks, we are gonna bring the grass down to Mexico! The band, along with our friends from Bill and the Belles, will be putting on some concerts around Lake Patzcuaro and sharing our music with the people of the region. We'll even be learning some of their traditional folk music! There's a lot to explain here so head over to Hummingbird Music Project for more details.
Once we return, full of tacos and tequila and maybe possessing a new funky stringed instrument from Michoacán, we are pumped to be playing some awesome shows around NC and TN! We'll be doing a house concert hosted by our friends in the wonderfully brilliant band Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys, a tag-team show with Songs from the Road Band at The Grey Eagle, and two shows to celebrate the New Year. One will be at the Pour House in Raleigh, NC and the other at Oskar Blues in Brevard with the Jeff Austin Band! Be sure to check out our tour page for details on these and other shows.
At times, the cold is hard to bare, but like everything in this life, it won't last forever (especially if you're going to southern Mexico and it's 77 degrees out!). This time of year is an opportunity to reflect on what is important, to gather around the fire, and to embrace whatever changes may be at hand. We are so happy to be on this ride with everyone and super excited about whatever opportunities await! We'll seeya back home soon, with lots of pictures from Mexico and probably a few souvenirs...Until then, stay warm, friends!
Winners of 2016 Merlefest Band Competition!!
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