Music, Mahem… and Boots!

Music, Mahem… and Boots!

fullsizeoutput_6cf0-1.jpegUPDATE: Live shows (more tbc) – Bowery Vault Friday 12th April 5pm; Radio Cafe Thurs 18th 7pm

We’re still only a few days into our visit to Nashville and already me and Neil are feeling like we’ve always been here… The town is just steeped in music, musicians and music-making. You can’t talk to someone in a bar or walk through Downtown – or anywhere else – without finding yourself in the company of kindred spirits. Everyone we’ve met so far has been overwhelmingly friendly and welcoming, and you never know who you’re talking to! Neil enjoyed the company of a fellow drinker at one of our local bars and found he was talking to Steve Forrest who played drums with Brit rockers Placebo and now has his own band the AOKs ( I met up with a talented fiddle player, Diana from Moxi Strings ( who often plays in Ireland and then enjoyed trading some Blarney with her partner, Galwayman Dave from We Banjo 3 ( who can also be found touring Ireland. He pointed us in the direction of some more interesting music venues so we’re off to try one out tonight…

“Manifest Destiny”, Nashville locals, stopping us to have a jam in Broadway 🙂

Downtown is a chaotic, colourful sensory overload of a place – country music, bluegrass and rock spilling out onto the streets where dedicated party-goers drink and dance their way from bar to bar. Can’t help but think my neices and their pals – the Kelly Twins Posse – would lap this up!! Having said that, Nashville is also a beautiful green city and the riverside area is a tranquil haven away from the hustle and bustle. This coming week we’re planning on getting out to play at a few more venues around town and then maybe use a rental car for a bit of sightseeing – up til now we’ve been taking shared local cabs, because it would be a shame to let too much driving interfere with our drinking!!! We’ve also been working on a new song and will post an early version on here soon. In the meantime, here’s a snippet of our first live performance of our song “Nashville” – complete with appreciative audience – in Nashville!!! Thanks to Vero and Emily at the Bowery Vault for having us 🙂  You can catch us doing a set there Friday 12th April, 5pm – check out their FB page for details. 

If you haven’t visited already, you can find out more about us and our music at

Our new single “Cowboys and Indians” is out now on iTunes, Amazon, Google, Spotify etc… You can watch the video here:     Cowboys and Indians (Playing Indian) Dawn Kelly & Neil Bailey’s MAGPIE22

The story begins… We play Nashville!

The story begins… We play Nashville!

Flight changes, delays, security hold-ups – we had it all! But the wonderful thing was that our guitars were welcome everywhere and we had no trouble taking them as hand baggage onto all of our flights. Because I’m a bit ( a lot) of a neo-hippy, I loved the seat number we were allocated on the transatlantic flight – 22!!! But it didn’t save us from all the traumas, so we had to had to resort to alcohol…

Joshua Odine – fabulous sound – look him up!!!

Jetlag has eaten into our first few days, but hasn’t stopped Neil going off on a wandering/drinking/meeting new friends adventure (and amazingly, finding his way home at 4am) while I had a ‘nap’ that lasted 10 hours hahaha… Yesterday, we went along to an eclectic little venue in trendy East Nashville (where we’re staying) called the Bowery Vaults and joined a talented bunch of songwriters sharing their wares. Have to report that our first outing of “Nashville” here in Nashville went down a storm… I’ll post a snippet of the the video soon 🙂

We’re lucky to have a beautiful, comfortable apartment all to ourselves within throwing distance of Downtown where we’ve already started to work on new songs. Nearby, the infamous Sky Blue Cafe serves killer breakfasts, brunches and lunches – you have to queue to get in! Our Host, Kristina, has been so welcoming and took us on a tour of all the key places of interest. Now, we have to go exploring ourselves…We’ll be reporting back soon on our next musical adventures – and our expeditions!!!

Live at the Bowery Vaults 4/8/19


Dawn and Neil’s Awfully Big Adventure… in Nashville!!!

Today’s the big day – Neil and I are on our way to the airport, guitars at the ready and hearts on fire. Our motto? Don’t dream it – do it!

We’re going to be like a big pair of kids set loose in a giant playground and we’re inviting you to share our journey. We’ll be sending photos, new music, live performances, and lots of laughter 🙂 Nashville, here we come!

“Can You Love Someone Who Did Bad Things?”

“Can You Love Someone Who Did Bad Things?”

In the wake of all the recent abuse allegations, comedian Sara Silverman posed this question, which was widely reported in the press, and resonated with something I have often felt: Can you (or is it OK to) love someone who did bad things? For me, the answer is always going to be a resounding “yes”. Don’t we try to teach our children that it is their bad behaviour we don’t like, not them? Given how flawed so many of us are, doesn’t it also follow that we still need and want to be loved, even if we’re far from perfect? The demonisation of all of the recent perpetrators of bad behaviour is worrying. Yes, it is absolutely necessary to expose and discourage abusive or unwanted sexual attention and to ensure that abusers face the consequences of their actions – but does bad behaviour make someone a complete monster? Does it mean they have no redeeming features? Are they unlovable? Are we not allowed to love them? That’s what I liked when Sara Silverman’s discussed her love for fellow comedian, Louis CK – her contrasting, but not conflicting, feelings of disapproval and love.

‘Don’t we try to teach our children that it is their bad behaviour we don’t like, not them?’

When I was growing up, I learned early on that many of the ‘responsible adults’ in my life weren’t very reliable, and in some cases, not to be trusted. Yet, in the main, as I got older I was able to separate out my hurt and anger from my need to love those I wished to love. I chose to forgive them, rather than continue to bear the burden of my own rage and pain. Some things (and people) remain unforgiven, because what they did was unforgivable, but that is a choice for each and every victim to make, not the media or the public.

Later this week, at an evening of ‘Memories’ hosted by Bristales in Bristol, I’ll be sharing IMG_0009a memoir about my father that demonstrates the love I felt for him, despite his many failings. I know how greatly loved he was by many, but also, how hurt others have been by his actions. Our story isn’t like the ones at the heart of the current media storm, he was wild and sometimes neglectful, not abusive – although my mother, were she still alive, might not agree. But my relationship with her is a whole other story!

“.. A great big bear hug from my old Dad was the true currency of love.” (Colours – a memoir of my father.)

The key for me has always been, and still is, to follow your own heart and love whomever you love. They may not live up to your expectations, they might let you down, they might even do “bad things” – but no-one can tell you who to love, and, let’s face it – it’s pretty hard to stop loving someone. Does the mother of a killer stop loving her child? The sister of a drunk driver? The friend of a felon?You may not like things about someone, you might even be rightfully angry and judgemental, but yes, of course you can still love them.

An evening of MemoriesBristales, The Room Upstairs, The White Bear, 133 St. Michael’s Hill, BS2 8BS Bristol.    Friday 24th November 2017, 7 – 9.30pm.                  Tickets on the door or book here:                                       


“What Do You Do?”

“What Do You Do?”

This question comes up hundreds – no – thousands of times in one lifetime. At parties, walksIMG_9560 in the park, from strangers, or new friends. They’ll all ask… “So, what do you do?”  I answer as honestly as I can, “I write, I sing, I teach a bit, some volunteering, you know…” What I can’t know is how somebody is receiving this information. Many make it known that they think that this sounds creative, or even exciting. Others might want me to qualify this statement, for instance, to say that I’ve published two novels, or that I only teach part time, usually for agencies and more recently in my own home – TEFL. Nobody asks straight out how much money I earn, but I can see that the ‘value’ of what I do is often judged in monetary terms.

I was rather delighted years ago by a policeman who described my then lack of a full-time job, but busy schedule singing and writing, as “gainfully unemployed”. IMG_E6338At the other end of the scale someone close to me recently stated that I’d “never worked” since they’d know me, a devastating blow to my self esteem. A full-time Masters degree; a play; a published novel; a batch of songs; some teaching in secondary and at home; my creative writing class (voluntary) for the homeless – do they all count for nothing? Why? Probably because my efforts don’t always generate an income, and I am not seen to be partaking in the daily grind of a regular job.

It made me think of all of my friends who are creative – singers, musicians, writers, actors – are they not allowed to describe themselves as ‘actor’ or ‘writer’ if they’re not currently in paid work, or generating money somehow? What about the legions of artists who have gone before – Keats, Van Gogh, Dickenson, IMG_E9275Kafka, Poe… all died undiscovered as great artists, many in poverty, and often ridiculed when they were alive.  For every one of these, there are thousands more who will remain forever unsung – talented, in every sense of the word, but maybe not at promoting themselves or making money. The lesson, if there is one, is to accept that the creative urge is an essential part of human experience and expression. We write and sing and ‘make’ because we must, because we are gifted (or cursed) with something within us that seeks the light. A bud that struggles through the dark winter soil to greet the first rays of spring and then blooms in the wasteland or the depths of a cruel season doesn’t care about the environment, or whether you buy it and put it in a vase. It just blooms.


Glastonbury 1 – Dawn 0

Glastonbury 1 – Dawn 0

Glastonbury festival occupies a unique space in the national psyche as a mass haven for hippies, revellers and music lovers. For almost 50 years, festival goers, old and young, have flocked to Worthy Farm to let their hair down and party like its 1969. This year was my first visit ever. I went as a volunteer for Shelter, working in the Meeting Place bar run by Avalon, a busy, noisy, fun-filled space where people came to drink and dance their socks off until the wee hours. My learning curve was steep – no bar experience in over 30 years to professional mojito and cocktails mixer who could juggle a frozen margarita, a couple of real ales and four pints of cider on the side. No problem.


When I wasn’t working ( 3 x 8 hour shifts over 5 days), I was immersing myself in the fantastic, friendly atmosphere and catching some of my favorite acts: Radiohead (awesome), Rag n Bone man (heart and soul), Biffy Clyro (spent too much time ogling tattooed body to really listen), London Grammar (exquisite). In addition to the big stages, Glastonbury offers a host of smaller size venues with an eclectic mix of bands and artists. I was delighted to catch 2 bands who hail from Bristol – The Peoples String Foundation, maestros of gypsy jazz and marvelous smiles, and and Cut Capers, whose fusion of swing jazz and rap kept us all jumping. If I’d had more time I’d have explored the circus and comedy tents, spent longer in the healing and Green fields (where my old Friend Steve Murrell was doing the sound for Speakers’ Forum – when he wasn’t accompanying me to gigs and events and shooting the breeze!)

On my second night I joined a throng of friendly,energised people up in the field by the ‘sacred stones’ for the annual Summer Solstice celebrations. They didn’t disappoint. A giant wooden phoenix ready to be lit, drummers in fluorescent body paint, hordes of fire twirlers, an opera singer in angel wings, a choir, incarnations, and… fireworks! It felt as if a whole nation’s budget for the year was being let off in one night – fantastic.

The only negative I have to report is that the amazingly dry weather led to a bit of a dust storm during the first few days and I suffered from a tight chest and scratchy voice for the whole week- no singing for me 😦 Since returning home I’ve been exhausted and my symptoms have mushroomed into a hacking cough which makes it hard to sleep and still no singing voice! But would I go again? Would I !!!

Ps No, I’m not going to discuss the toilets. Unmentionable.