Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November Warmth

Hi all,
Here are some upcoming program opportunities in case your travels take you to New York City!

November 21st: Christopher Layer in a solo recital sponsored by the New york Flute Club.
This concert is pretty exciting. The NY Flute Club was founded in the early 20th Century, the first such organization in the country. It is an honor to be asked and I will be joined by two dear musical friends: Irish guitarist/vocalist Brendan O'Shea and violinist/fiddler/hurdy gurdy player Paul Woodiel. Here is the NYFC web site for details:

November 28th: Brendan O'Shea CD release party!
Bren and I have toured with trinity irish Dance Company for ten years or more, and his new CD of original songs is sure to bring him even more acclaim as one of the most gifted songwriters of New York City's East Village music scene. Here is his web site:
And his Myspace:

Best wishes to all and I hope to see you around town this month!
Peace, love, and BBQ,
Christopher Layer

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fugit fugits...

Here is the last of the Moab entries...It was a wonderful season this year at the Moab Music festival:

-Paquito DeRiviera killed with his composition "Conversations With Cachao". Bassist Robert Black was featured in this tribute to the groundbreaking Cuban musician named in the title.

-The string quartet "Ethel" played a concert that was not so well-received. Not surprising; the pieces they selected for the concert were "out of touch" with the audience. That was too bad. However, I enjoyed their suite of pieces from Phillip Glass' score for the film, "The Hours" as well as a tasty little one-off from cellist, Mark Summer. It was a lovely evening with my friends Margaret Mercer, and Jamie Bernstein watching the sun setting over the Colorado River Canyon at Castle Valley. Colin Fryer, the vigneron and rancher hosted the evening outdoors at Red Cliffs Lodge/Castle Creek Winery.

-Paul Woodiel, Mazz Swift, Jeron "Blind Boy" Paxton and I played two concerts together during the festival. Both were sold-out and very well-recieved. My especial thanks to hostess, Jennifer Spears. the concert at her ranch was topped off by a spectacular fireworks display to the delight of all in attendance. Thanks Jennifer!

-Lastly Paul Woodiel and I hosted a "Musical Walk" with trad tunes along the trail in Hunter canyon. The photo is from that concert, snapped by photog, Neil...oops, sorry Neil..no last name at the moment.
P.S. Next entry is from Bergen Norway on this Friday!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Fifery Furnace

Robert Burns "Wantonness" on the fife, recorded in the Fiery Furnace of Arches NP courtesy of Steve Damron.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

La Loge Rouge

Here we have something red...an electric bass balalaika to be specific. Wielded by one of The Red Elvises last night in the music tent of The Festival Of Nations here in Red Lodge, Montana. This multicultural jollification promotes tolerance and celebrates diversity: an amazing goal for a town of 2,500. The old mining town, perched on the north gate of Yellowstone National Park still retains scandinavians, germans, irish, and scots. Each group has a dance troop, food booths etc. The german contingency has an amazing brewer, and his beer was super fresh as tasty beyond measure. It was an honor to represent the Scots and Irish here this year. I will remember this weekend very fondly for years to come. The festival was really fun and all enjoyed the piping music. Some the local boys had their own...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Recepie

Hi all,
Just getting ready to head off to Montana for engagements in Red Lodge and Butte this weekend and the next! Here is a little summer recipe I made up as a way of using up the fresh stuff in my fridge.

Tuna Sashimi With Fresh Pimento Salsa

Pimento Salsa ingreeds (Make this first and let chill in the fridge while you get the rest of it together.)
10-15 fresh green pimento peppers seeded and chopped
2 medium or one large heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes chopped
1 medium Vidalia onion chopped and micro-waved for 10 seconds
3 carrots finely chopped
4-5 small kirby cucumbers peeled and cut into 1/3" pieces
1 lemon juiced and zested
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1-2 tablespoons Canola oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Durkee red hot or Louisiana hot sauce (or to taste)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme chopped
(optional: 1 teaspoon fresh cilantro chopped)

Combine all ingreeds and mix well in a big bowl. Put in the fridge and give an occasional stir. Can be assembled the day before for ease and extra flavor, although I prefer to make it the same day.

Tuna Sashimi
Select three very fresh medium tuna steaks at your fishmonger
Just before cooking, rinse well in very cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
Give the tuna steaks a very light coating of asian chili oil or hot sesame oil.
Roll the sides of the tuna steaks in sesame seeds to coat and transfer to a very hot skillet with a dollop of canola oil. Salt each side very lightly as you flip them in the pan.

Do not move the steaks for at least two to three minutes while they sear, then you may check for doneness. Sear each side for no more than three minutes maximum, remove from skillet and set aside to rest for at least five minutes. (If you do not let them rest, the steaks will be hard to slice and dry inside. The tuna should be just ever so pale pink in the middle.) The tuna should be above room temp when served, but by no menas "hot".

Assembling the dish:
-Wash and dry a single large piece of tender leaf lettuce and set on a chilled plate to form a sort of bowl.
-With a slotted spoon, place a nice scoop of the fresh salsa in the center of the lettuce leaf.
-Slicing against the grain, slice your tuna steak and fan across the pile of salsa.
-Place a dollop of plain Greek yogurt on top of the fan of tuna slices and garnish with fresh cilantro or a thin slice of fresh lime.

Serve with a side of rice and a crisp chilled white wine: Savignon Blanc, St. Veran, Dry Riesling, or my current fave:
A nice "Languedoc Picpoul De Pinet" about $11 at your wine shop.

Dessert: Mango or coconut sorbet with chilled mint tea


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chris-cepie...try it!

Hi all,
Here is a summer salad I made up just now. Try it.

Chris Layer's Sabi-Slaw
You will need:
1 head of Napa Cabbage or Bok Choy, "slaw-chopped".
(or double the other ingreeds and use both!)
4 average sized carrots, grated. (I don't peel them, but I do give them a good scrubby wash.)

For the dressing:
1 Tablespoon of ground horseradish OR 1 teaspoon of Wasabi paste.
(Make sure you know how hot/potent your Wasabi paste is!)
1 Teaspoon of red pepper flakes*.
(Or add flakes to suit as far as heat, but beware: as the mixture "cooks" in the marinade it gets hotter!)
(*For a Korean "kim-chi" twist, substitute Srirachi hotsauce for the pepperflakes to taste.)
2 Heaping tablespoons of sesame seed. (Use the black seeds if you can find them.)
1/4 of an average sized sweet onion, grated or diced finely. (Vidalia if possible.)
1/3 cup rice vinegar.
2 Tablespoons of Honey. (Or to taste, for sweetness.)
5 Tablespoons canola oil. (Mild Sesame oil is OK too but will change the palate, for sure.)
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, coarse crystals, if you please.

1/2 lemon. (Keep aside until just before serving.)

Combine the "dressing" ingreeds, less the oil and whisk them together, then add the oil, whisk again, set aside.
In a large glass bowl, combine dressing/cabbage/carrots and toss until well-combined.
Once tossed, GENTLY press ingreds down a bit to maximize marinade/slaw contact.
Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the salad and insure it's well-sealed.
Place bowl in the cooler for at least one to two hours to chill.

Just before serving, squeeze the lemon over the salad and give the mixture a toss to fluff it up.
Garnish with fresh mint or cilantro. Serve with pork on the grill, baked beans, and salad. Dry riesling or beer, please.
Consume it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010



Nagasaki Calling

Each time I return to Nagasaki, I recall my history classes and the presence of Europeans here in the 17th Century. The Dutch established trade relations in this city when all other japanese ports were closed to the West. Our performance here was memorable, and the cast visited the Atomic Bomb Peace Memorial here. I refrained from that emotional visit, but recommend it to anyone passing this way.

The photo in this entry was one I snapped of several ancient Shinto and Buddhist "shari" shrines on the island of Inoshima during my visit there in March. Inoshima was the site of Kulai Khan's first failed invasion attempt in the year 1274 when the "Kami-kaze" literally "god-wind" destroyed his fleet at the foot of the island temple and city behind.
Tomorrow: Kumamoto....and Oysters!!!!!!!

Japanese Food Chain

Nagoya, July 9th
While strolling on the Nagoya Castle Grounds, I came upon an odd pair; This stag munching on the lawn while the raven ostensibly munches on the stag. The cruel bird (I never was a fan of ravens and their daunting song) harried the stag for 15 minutes or more, the stag waving his antlers at the bird each time he alighted on his rump.

Our opening night was well-received with 2,300 attending. The cast rose to the occasion, in lieu of jet-lag and so many new pieces. All in all an excellent start to the tour. Next stop Nagasaki.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Opening Night

Aichi Prefectural Arts Theater, Nagoya, Japan-Just looking out at the lush green grounds of Nagoya Castle across the street from our hotel. The soft summer rain has turned the arboretum and surrounding gardens into a sort of weepy blob of verdant sponges, drifting peacefully to and fro in the sweet lulling breezes of July in Japan. It's a weird sight since the whole place is really a dynastic fortress, complete with the slanting stone battlements and buttressed bastions of an old European stronghold: The age of gunpowder was well under way when the Samurai rulers and warlords built this stop on the king's highway between Kyoto and Edo. (Tokyo)
So opening day's schedule: Rehearsal with Brendan O'Shea, and Barret Harvey at 10:30am this morning then lunch and off to the theater for opening Night! Full company onstage, new pieces, new lights, new sound, new, new, new. Nearly all of the 2,500 seats are sold for the show and the dancers, who are some of the youngest and strongest we have ever carried with the Company, are pounding the boards frantically. Every step and jump aimed at giving their best tonight. It's no small achievement if the performance goes as planned: Mark and Natalie Howard are really pushing the group of dancers to their limits getting them in shape for the show. It is a monumental task, given the prep time leading up to the tour, but both are well up to the task, and enthusiastic if not fanatic in their belief in Trinity.

After rehearsal last night Brendan asked me what I thought makes a great musician in terms of craft. I answered from my heart, thinking back on how I had behaved during the day's work...me being short with him, or just ignoring the suggestions of others. Smiling inwardly, I answered "patience".
Much love to all, and many thoughts to those in the Gulf of Mexico

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Nagoya Dreaming

Having escaped 100 degrees of Gotham at home, the Trinity Irish Dance Company has gathered it's forces, summoned the wind and touched down in Nagoya, Japan. We will be shedding here and then performing the first concerts of the tour here as well. Art Director, Mark Howard has cooked up some new works, and the band has new material as well. Looking forward to lifting the dancer's feet and sharing this great company with the people of Japan! Yokoso okoshi kudasai mashta!!!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ni Hong On 3,500 Yen A Day

Yes, it's true I'll be boarding the plane for Japan in 23 hours and rambling the ever-so-clean highways and byways of that lovely place once more! Trinity Irish Dance will be touring thru the 21st and I may stay for an extra wee bit to visit my old teacher and his wife in the mountains. (see photo) Much love to all and hope to see you on the Shinkansen:-)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Springy Music!

Not to be outdone by the mockingbirds, my pal Mazz Swift and I are doing a bit of springy music tomorrow night(weds) at Caffe Vivaldi on Jones Street, here in the village:7pm-8pm Come join if you can!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ellis Island Tartan Day

Spectacular days for Scottish Culture on Ellis Island this last weekend. Calum Pasqua and I played there. Here is some Video:
Love, Chris

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Snow Falling on Cherry Blossom...Ick.

Yes, it seems impossible but after this unbelievable visit to Kamakura, Enoshima, and Zushi for a day off Tuesday...It snowed here in Tokyo last night. An excellent few days tho: I took Kieran Coleman, who is on his first trip dancing here, to visit Mr. Nakagawa, my old bassoon teacher and his wife. We all had a great day of traveling around the sea side and seeing the ancient capitol-Kamakura with all of it's charms. It was nice to get out of tokyo for the day and the sun was welcome after a few drippy days. We all had super fab pork cutlets(Hooiser soul food) and hot sake at the end of the day in a little joint known for such things. The warm sake was jus the thing to finish a windy day by the sea! Yesterday, my painter friend: Naomichi Okutsu came to visit me in the city and brought some of his new works which were lovely and gave me a sketch lesson...Yay! We headed over to Shinjuku for dinner and had some really spicy curry which was again, just the thing since it began to SNOW as we exited the elevated metro train...sigh. Sunny today and the last of my three days off...
Bye for now,

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Toky-town Breakdown!

Yes, it's true folks: all powder is creamy in Japan. It has something to do with the equatorial gibbis, reversing the coriolis effect during transcontinental flights. Nevertheless, here I am in Tokyo etc. doing press shows for the upcoming Trinity tour this July. Mr. Nakamura, our agent here, took Kieran Coleman(Yes, the dancer.) and I out for a smashing platter of sashimi, some yakatori, miso, flaming welk(Yes, flaming welk.) and a host of other culinary delights after we landed last night. We are just west of the Ginza, which is cool since it's close to the Tokyo Palace grounds, one of my favorite places to go running in the morning. Hugz,

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Brendan Voyageur

Well, the road again for me kids...it WAS swell to be back in NYC for our little winter spewage/meltage. Now it's sort of like a huge coffee coolatta in the gutters of Gotham. Yay!
Anyway, just home practicing my pipes until Thursday, then off to Billings, Montana to perform with the Billings Symphony.
We'll take a spin through Shaun Davies' Brendan Voyage, a programatic suite for Uilleann Pipes(yours truly) and orchestra written back in the 80's. (That means from before the Lord-of-the-Titanic-Riverdance-Effect.) Anne Harrigan will conduct in her usual slendiforous manner without question.
Peace and Plenty,

Monday, February 1, 2010

Layer Duo Splits Musical Atom!

Yay! Here is a picture of my dad (aged 85) and me this last Saturday in Battle Ground, Indiana: playing for the annual Burns' Night soireƩ. The local bagpipe band: The 42nd Royal Highland Regiment Incorporated of Lafayette Indiana, hosted the event. The dancers had fun and so did we.
Some of the tunes dad and I played were: Angus Campbell, Smith's a Gallant Fireman, The Drunken Piper (I never was...) Mary's Wedding.
Next stop: Holland, Michigan, Thursday for a duo gig with Martha Waldvogel, and then on to Battle Creek Saturday night where Martha and I will play with the Battle Creek Symphony, in Kellogg Hall, of course! (Insert bad breakfast cereal puns here if you wish...)
P.S. Her is a preview of a little web site Anee Harrigan made for me: JUMP

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On the road

DEN airport:
Great session with Tony DeMarco last Sunday in NYC ALL the Irish heads were there...unbelievable.
Great gigis for APAP with Norouet in NYC this last week.
-Lovely session at Swift last night with Issac Alderson and Eamon O'Leary.

Back on the road for a bit now:
-Moab, Utah for the annual Robert Burns Tribute Concert with the Moab Community Dance Band, The Playford Trio, Sandra Wong, and Marta Burton! The haggis will be flowing on the 23rd of January!
-Then on to Houston Texas for some more Scots fun with Andrew Wier(of Braveheart fame) for a one-nighter.
-On to Indiana for a family visit and see my lovely nurse/stylist Roz Wollen.
-On to Michigan for a gig with harpist Martha and the Battle Creek Symphony on the 6th of Feb. Home to NYC after that:-)
Hope to see you "out there"!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hi all,
Well the APAP season is already upon us. Here are the details regarding FREE concerts in town with my Quebec Trad quartet, Norouet as well as the super fab trio, Des Temps Anton:
Thursday, Jan 7th, 7:30pm @ Swift on East 4th Street(Near Bowery St.)
Friday, Jan 8th, 10pm @ Barbes, Brooklyn
Sunday, Jan 10th @ The Scratcher on East 5th Street(Near Bowery St.)

We need your support and the bands are way amazing!
Please drop by to see us if you can!
Best wishes,