Claire Hawkins is a super talented singer/songwriter from New York City who is currently living in Ireland. She first reached out to us last year with her idea of a tour consisting of performing at hostels around Europe and has since performed with her Journey Instruments guitar in Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Bulgaria, Romania, and the UK. And best of all, she films it so we can go along for the ride with her!
We decided to catch up with Claire while we are all in quarantine to see how the experience has gone and how using a collapsible guitar has held up for her during her travels:
How long have you been playing guitar?
I’ve been playing guitar for about 8 years now. I had been writing songs my whole childhood, but after giving up on violin at 9 years old, my parents needed some extra convincing that I was actually going to stick with guitar. Whether my constant pleading was convincing enough or I just wore them down, I eventually got a guitar for Christmas when I was 15, and no present has even been able to top it!
Who are your biggest guitar influences?
I’m really inspired by songwriters who use guitar as a way of telling their stories. I think artists like Anaïs Mitchell and Glen Hansard are really fantastic at that.
What drew you to Journey Instruments?
My idea to tour youth hostels across Europe on the Foreign Voices Travelers Tour
came from a desire to combine my love of music with my love of budget travel. I spent a year of college studying and traveling in Europe, so I was very familiar with the ins and outs of backpacker travel, but the idea of adding a guitar to the mix was certainly daunting. Being based in Ireland, I knew that most of my touring was going to require flying, and as I’m sure every guitar players knows, traveling with a full size guitar is stressful, and usually expensive. When I found out about the Overhead™ Collapsible Acoustic Travel Guitars, I immediately wanted to work with Journey Instruments. I remember feeling like someone had invented the perfect
guitar for my very unusual tour, and I was right!
Claire after receiving her brand new Overhead OF310 collapsible travel guitar
How does having a collapsible guitar compare to other guitars you’ve owned?
I’ve only owned full-size guitars in the past, so I was expecting my Journey Instruments OF310 to be a big change for me. Of course it was a big change in terms of convenience when traveling, but I was excited to see that there isn’t much of a compromise with the sound. Shows on the Foreign Voices Travelers Tour have had a wide range of set-ups from intimate acoustic living room settings to bigger amplified concerts, and my Journey Instruments guitar has worked perfectly for all of them!
In what ways has traveling with your guitar changed since getting a Journey Instruments guitar?
It’s completely changed the way I travel for my tour. Not only has it saved me the anxiety of flying with a full-size guitar, but it’s even allowed me to get some extra sightseeing in when I don’t have time to stop by the hostel to drop it off because it’s light enough to carry with me. My guitar has also been a great conversation starter on the road. It turns out when people see you “break” your guitar in half at the end of a show, they have a lot of questions!
Claire performing on stage with her Journey Instruments guitar
Where are you planning on taking your guitar next?
I was supposed to perform in Vilnius, Lithuania this month, but the show was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19. Even though the Foreign Voices Travelers Tour is on hold at the moment, I’m excited to take my Journey guitar back on the road as soon as it’s safe and responsible to travel again!
What are three albums people should be listening to right now?
The Lone Bellow’s new record “Half Moon Light” is fantastic. They’ve been a favorite of mine for years. I can’t recommend Yola’s “Walk Through Fire” enough. I saw her play in Dublin a few months ago and it was such an incredible show that I immediately bought tickets to see her again in New York when I was home for Christmas. I’ve also been listening to a lot of great Irish music since moving to Dublin, and Orla Gartland’s new EP “Freckle Season” has been on repeat recently.