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If there is any activity happier, more exhilarating, and more nourishing to the soul, I can’t think what it might be.
As soon as the First Fleet arrived in Australia, people were dancing. Dance played a vastly underestimated role in the social fabric of everyday life in the colonial era. For most people today, dance has been removed from our cultural existence and is no longer part of community life. It is difficult to imagine, in our modern lives full of technology, the essential role dance once played in life.
Our colonial dance culture encompasses a wide range of dance styles from the English country dances which were immensely popular at the time of settlement, to stately minuets, energetic jigs, flings, and reels, through to sedate quadrilles and couples dances.
Currently the colonial dance repertoire focuses only on the second half of the colonial period and ignores the rich diversity of the earlier time. Through comprehensive research, I hope to enrich and expand the range of dance and music available from this former period and thus offer a more complete picture of our vibrant heritage.
On the surface, there are very few resources relating to dance in the earliest days of settlement – there are no dance cards or programmes and although there are many reports of dancing till dawn and celebrations which lasted for days, there are few references to specific dances.
Finding the relevant dances requires conscientious study. Researching newspapers, diaries, and dance manuals can establish significant links to notable events, personalities, and places.
Dances can relate specifically to discovery and settlement:- The Trip to Tahiti, Transit of Venus, (Captain Cook’s voyage), Botany Bay - 1788, Lord Sydney’s Fancy, Lord Howe’s Jig (men influential in establishing the colony), The Recruiting Officer (first play staged in the colony 1789).
Dances relevant to prominent people in the colony, for instance, Governor Macquarie - Surrender of Seringapatam Macquarie was present at this event and celebrated its anniversary, Braes of Breadalbane, the Earl of Breadalbane was Elizabeth Macquarie’s cousin and Lachlan’s friend; several places in Australia were named Breadalbane by Macquarie. Lord Castlereagh’s Waltz, patron and friend of Lachlan.
Other dances were known to be popular at the time with music and instructions readily available Monymusk, The Wild Irishman, Nancy Dawson, Tars of the Victory, Highland Reel.
Relics held in Australian libraries and museums also provide a fascinating insight into the culture of the time: a playbill for the ballet Love in Botany Bay (London, 1798), Matthew Flinder’s flute, Elizabeth Macquarie’s cello, Wheatstone’s Elegant and Fashionable Dances for 1808, and Tasmania convict Alexander Laing’s collection of music for the fiddle.
For further information visit my website www.colonialdance.com.au
Next year we plan to hold a number of sessions in Brisbane for musicians and dancers wishing to enjoy these captivating dances.
Heather Clarke 2012
CELTIC MUSIC IN MALENY
An increase in players new to Celtic music has provided an opening for an Intermediate Celtic Session in Maleny, now at Finbar's Lounge Bar, 12 Bicentenary Lane, Maleny on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month, 2pm - 4pm. Interest in the Celtic genre has grown from the weekly Maleny Tunes Class which has been running for over three years, combined with four annual Maleny Celtic Winter Schools to date. The intermediate session provides an opportunity for musicians of all levels to play at a more moderate pace, than is played at the nearby Finbar’s weekly Sunday session, which is popular with the more experienced players. The new intermediate session allows newer players experience at playing in a session and potentially acts as a bridge over time for them to be comfortable enough to play at more advanced sessions.
Players of all levels who would like to learn more tunes can join the weekly Maleny Tunes Class organised by Nicole Murray at Maleny Presbyterian Hall, Cedar St, Maleny 7 - 9 pm. Cost $12. In addition to the weekly general class, Kate Fraser will run a series of programmed nights where there will be an additional beginners’ class. The following are the beginner’s class dates up to Xmas 2012 - October 3rd & 17th, November 14th & 21st, December 5th & 19th. The repertoire will be selected from tunes the intermediate class is playing. The aim is to create a wider community of players who share each other's tunes. Half way through the evening we have break with a cuppa and cake and a chat. New players welcome at the sessions and the classes.
More Info: Kate Fraser 07-5499-9172
OWL VALLEY BLUEGRASS AT CANUNGRA RSL
Bringing bluegrass to the Gold Coast hinterland at Canungra RSL on the 4th sunday of each month. The lineup includes
Our Dynamic line-up was formed in 2012. Several members have played together for over 20 years and received various awards. The Four-Piece Band offers various styles in their repertoire, which include Bluegrass, Aussie Bush, Folk and Country. Drawing from the legendary styles of Earl Scruggs, Lester Flat, Bill Monroe & Doc Watson.
The core band with the occasional guest artist to change the dynamic of the afternoon. Expect energetic driving bluegrass, played by local musicians & guests.
1-5pm 4th Sundays, come along & support local live music & the Canungra RSL.
COME TO A MONTHLY SESSION
ON THE SATURDAY EVENING AT WOODFORDIA
BYO instrument / voice, food, snacks to share around the campfire, camping, sleeping gear.
From dark on the Saturday evening before the
last Sunday of each month. It's lots of fun.
WOODFORDIA'S BUTTERFLY PROJECT
Join our regular working bee at Woodfordia, every last Sunday, from 8.30am in conjunction with the TreeHuggers. Our project works to enhance the Festival site for biodiversity, especially butterflies and other invertebrates. Contact Helen:
or phone 0423 127 492.
Woodfordia TreeHuggers invite you to join our regular monthly working bee at Woodfordia, every last Sunday, from 8.30am - 1pm with a sausage sizzle lunch.
Tasks are undertaken to help have the site looking wonderful for the Woodford Folk Festival. Join our Saturday night music jam and campfire, bring your voice, an instrument and some snacks to share. Contact Paul:
DANCE KALEIDOSCOPE: ENGLISH FOLK DANCE
English Folk Dance is a little bit older than Australian bush dancing, but is very similar. You will have seen the dances in the TV series Pride and Prejudice and in Jane Austen movies.
The dances will be taught and called by experienced teachers so that beginners are able to have lots of fun experiencing the dances. Partners are not required. People dance in sets, that is groups of dancers, so that although you have a partner you are part of a larger group in the dance.
Have a look on our website www.dancekaleidoscope.org.au for clips of the dances.
If you have a question send us an .
WEE WILLI FEST - WONGAWILLI TURNS SILVER
The name Wongawilli has certainly turned heads over the past 25 years, especially in Scotland! But in the main it has become synonymous with a bunch of people performing, preserving and promoting Australian folk music and dance.
The Wongawilli (Bush) Band and Wongawilli Colonial Dancers are part of the non-profit association Wongawilli Colonial Dance Club Inc. and this coming August celebrated 25 years of doing so with a Concert, Bush Ball and Recovery Picnic over in August 2012.
The relationship between the Illawarra Folk Club (Folk Festival) and Wongawilli Colonial Dance Club has been a very close one over the years.
The band, dancers and Club can easily claim to have revived the popularity of Australian folk songs, tunes and dances over its history. The work begun by the collectors of Australian folk songs in the 1950s has been continued with over 15 publications and recordings produced by the Club. In addition the Club has presented many events to further the awareness and enjoyment of this heritage. Such events as Collected Music Weekends, Bush Music by the Seaside, Colonial Balls and 7 Australian Folk Festivals paved the way for the resurgence of traditional Australian music and dance.
The Wongawilli Band has made ( it's ) mark with 7 recordings, with over 20 appearances at the National Folk Festival and travelling around the world presenting its authentic take on traditional Australian folk music.
Website News updated. www.folkalliance.org.au/news/
Latest edition of Australian Folklore Network Transmissions Documents
Once upon a time there was a band of wandering minstrels called The Poachers. Their singer Penny Boys had a voice so pure that the Angels came to hear her sing. Andrew Heath played guitar with fingers so magical that he could make one humble instrument sound like a whole orchestra. Cathy Bell could fiddle so hard as to make the Devil wish he was back in the Kingdom of Georgia. (It was once rumoured that it was indeed the cat’s fiddle). Together they played beautiful folk music that earned them great distinction and many gold sovereigns. They were very happy and laughed and sang for many years at music gatherings throughout the lands. One day however, an evil wizard heard her sing and kidnapped her to another Kingdom. It was far, far away across the seas. The other Poachers were so sad that they wandered alone into the woods and were never seen or heard from again.....
Come on, what kind of fairy tale is this! They’re supposed to have happy endings!
Well, eight long years later, Penny had grown her hair so long that she was able to escape from the castle where she had been imprisoned. She returned from across the seas and set out to find her old musical companions. Cathy and Andrew came in from the wilderness and were delighted to have The Poachers back together again. They had a big homecoming concert on Australia Day and were overjoyed to have all their old friends and family back together once again as well as welcoming new family and friends. The singing and dancing went on well into the night. They were so excited; they planned to have more concerts throughout the year and also to do a recording of their songs. During the eight years they were absent, a new wizard of social networking came along and invented Facebook. And that is the story of how the Poachers became friends with this wizard and can now be found on Facebook and Myspace.
The end.… Cathy Bell
Fiddlesticks the duo (Karen and Jacko) began performing throughout NZ from the early 1990’s, from Music, Wine and Wild Food Festivals to Castle Turrets, All Black Matches and Forest Festivals.
They reached the Finals in the first wave of TV Idol Shows, NZ’s TV1 Show Case and were voted Most Entertaining Act at NZ’s Gold Guitar Awards and Best Instrumental two years running.
Our kids were dragged along with us on all tours with nannies in tow. Then in 1999 a touring bus was bought; touring became a way of life, home schooling began and soon after their two boys, George then 9 and Mackenzie 7 elbowed their way onto the stage to form the family band.
In 2005 Fiddlesticks made the move to Australia to work
with Queensland Arts Council on their Ontour By Request & Ontour in
Now 2009 is the year for George and Mackenzie to go after their dreams and Fiddlesticks is once again a duo.
Fiddlesticks mix the Acoustic with the Electronic, the Celtic with the Swing and accompany it with Karen’s love of those Blues notes. Throw in a few yarns and a whole heap of energy and you have the Musical Roundabout Fiddlesticks are known to create.
or visit the website
THE BRISBANE FOLK HISTORY PROJECT
(BFHP) Michael Tully
Many of you may be wondering if we are still going. When we started the project I foolishly thought that we would complete it in a couple of years. Two and a half years on and we are still plugging away. The project has been a bit quiet for a while, mainly due to committee members other commitments and also making sense of what we have collected so far. However significant progress has been made and we are indeed still active. We hope to proceed to the next stage soon, funding permitting. We have successfully acquitted our grant from the Brisbane City Council and the $5600 dollars plus the $1200 raised by our launch concert have gone towards setting up our basic infrastructure, buying recording equipment for interviews, transcription services and paying our research coordinator for her valuable time. All our committee have made an amazing contribution. Andrea Baldwin has coordinated our research above and beyond the hours that we were ab le to pay her for. She has completed the first draft of our book and excerpts from it will appear in the folk rag over the next few months. I hope reading these will jog some memories and bring more anecdotes to add to the story. Our other ambition of a DVD is so far on hold due to the expense however our audio collection has grown considerably with the acquisition of many recordings made by Stan Arthur. These include a recording of an early Pete Seeger concert in Brisbane. Many of these been digitised at Mark Smith’s Real Productions. Much more work needs to be done, but I can envisage a possible CD release in 2010.
Stan’s collection also includes a vast amount of magazines and posters that need to be sorted in order to find historically important information. We currently need volunteers who have some knowledge of the era to help with this. If you can help please call me on 0732558268.
My heartfelt thanks go out to our wonderful committee, Alison Mackenzie, Andrea Baldwin, Jenny Greder and Mary Brettell for their great work and perseverance. My thanks also to the many volunteers who conducted interviews. At present we would welcome any ideas and input from our Folk Music Family. A general meeting will be held within the next two months and I encourage anyone who would like to make a hands on contribution to the project to attend.
Bill Scott: On the Folk Centre
Bill: Actually there were a couple of coffee lounges that started in Sydney, but at that time in Queensland you couldn’t sing in a pub and there were no coffee lounges around at all. And when Pete Seeger came to Australia - this was around 1962 or 3 - he was going to Sydney and Melbourne, and there was a team of about 20 of us in Brisbane and we said, Well, why can’t Pete come up to Brisbane and do a concert for us here? We’d got to guarantee him some money, so we all put in twenty pounds each - which was a lot of money. We got in touch with Pete and he said, Yeah, yeah, I'll come up. So we hired the Stadium, the old Stadium, not the current one, which was tarted up about 30 years ago, and he actually performed in the Boxing Ring - in the middle. And we were very lucky in that we had a sell-out, which means we didn’t do our money and we were able to give Pete a really decent fee.
So we still had, I suppose, about two hundred and fifty quid, and we said, What’ll we do with this? Will we take our money back or what? And we said, No, we won’t, we’ll start our own coffee shop.
Stan was the moving spirit, and he discovered this sort of attic room in the Royal Geographical Society building in Ann Street. So he bought second hand tables and chairs and painted them black, and they got hessian and hung it on the walls and painted everything black. By expending our two hundred and fifty quid, we had a coffee shop! I was on the Committee, and I said, There’s only one thing, it’s got to be proper coffee, none of your damned instant stuff. And everybody said, Yeah, yeah. That’s great. So we started up there and it exploded really, and the bloke at the Royal Geographical Society said, We’ve got a big basement down there, why don’t you move down into the basement? So we did, and that’s where we eventually stayed for the next nine years I think - down there. We carried the decor and colour scheme down there - black! But it was a marvellous coffee shop.
We used to hire and pay a featured artist every weekend. We only used to open three nights a week - Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights. People like Don Henderson, Margaret Kitamura, and people like that. And, as well as that the resident group was the Wayfarers, which was Stan Arthur, Gary Tooth, Theo Bosch, and Bob Stewart. The four of them, they used to belt out everything from Israeli folk songs in Jewish and we used to get a lot of Irish from Stan, of course, and we had chess sets and draught sets. The good thing about the Folk Centre was at that time in Brisbane nothing happened on a Sunday night - and there were a lot of kids - University Students, and Student Nurses from up at the Holy Spirit Hospital on the Terrace, and kids from Teachers’ Training College - and they’d all be at a loose end on a Sunday night. They’d all be broke and they could come down to the Folk Centre - I think it cost a shilling or two bob to get in - something like that. And you could get a big doorstep slice of bread with a tin of baked beans on top for about a shilling and a cup of coffee for sixpence and they used to come down and feed themselves. There were kids all over the place. Heinz baked beans on toast - very cheap. So it flourished.
People who went to the Folk Centre have never forgotten it. On several occasions
middle aged ladies have come up and given me big hugs and blokes have come up and shaken me by the hand
and said, I used to come down to the Folk Centre when I was a kid. Dave de Hugard was a
Pharmaceutical student at the Uni - that’s when he started his interest in folk music, coming to
AN INTERVIEW WITH ALESA LAJANA
by Ewan MacKenzie
Q1: Your music is a rare blend of Celtic, Roots and World music influences. What has led you to arrive at that place?
I was exposed to a wide range of music while I was growing up. My father had a passion for folk music, while my mother had played accordion in a classical orchestra in Germany. Despite this I think my passion for the guitar blossomed of its own accord with little influence from my parents in the latter years of high school. I had many friends that were passionate about artists like Bob Dylan and Neil Young. I guess that is where the seed was planted and I nurtured that passion by attending music festivals in Australia and listening widely. I have a deep appreciation for all styles of music and find it difficult to pick one favourite. Perhaps that is why these flavours are present in the music I write. A by-product of indecision *laughs*
Q2: What instruments are you playing on Home Calling?
Q3: You have a beautiful touch on the finger picked Celtic tunes, how have you developed
that aspect of your playing?
Q4: On the CD you do the old classic Satisfied Mind. What inspired you to record it?
Q5: You sing your original song, First Star, in German. Why is that?
Q6: An obvious influence is Tony McManus – who else have you admired and learned
Q7: In live concerts, are you planning to perform with instruments such as cello
and tabla, as on the CD?
Q8: There is a tune on the CD (name escapes me and the CD is in the car) that is
very similar to an Indian raga style – what inspired this tune?
Q9: Describe your practice regime…
Q10: How can readers get their hot little hands on Home Calling?
Q11: Congratulations on getting married!! Where to from here?
At present Shenzo is arranging music for his debut album with the Stunt Orchestra and I am composing the final few tracks for my follow-up album of all original music with ABC Classics.
JAMES CRAIG - SHANTY SINGALONGS
Ahoy you landlubbers who yearn for the songs of the seas! If you happen to be passing through Sydney, this can be arranged under very salubrious conditions on board the beautiful fully-restored 134 year-old square-rigged sailing ship the James Craig moored in Darling Harbour at Wharf 7 near the Australian National Maritime Museum.
During our last trip through Sydney we were indeed fortunate to be in town on the right night. These most enjoyable sessions are organised by Mike Richter with the enthusiastic support of The Roaring Forties. The Shanty Singalongs generally run on the fourth Thursday evening of each month from 7.30, but it is wise to look at the Sydney Heritage Fleet website www.shf.org.au/WhatsOn/WhatsOn.html or give Mike a call on 0419-992-119 ahead of time, to check whether there are any date changes because of special circumstances.
These cheerful gatherings are held below decks in the comfortable area that once used to be part of the cargo hold. This spacious floored area has a galley and heads (toilets, to you landlubbers!) and makes a very snug acoustic space for the stalwart crew to exercise their vocal chords. In the warmer months they gather on the main deck, enjoying a glorious view of the city lights across Darling Harbour. It's not just the great singing that we enjoyed so very much, but also the interestingly varied input of those folk in attendance.
The evening we were there, Don Brian had brought in a copy of A Selection of Chanties from the Nimrod. Next, a shanty night first-timer read a poem she had written - she was looking for a tune to set it to. In this enterprise she was offered very able assistance from the very fine wordsmith John Warner, whilst Kathie McMahon-Nolf from Kurrajong suggested a traditional tune that suited her words very nicely. Patricia Early had a recently unearthed book of songs by the late Stan Rodgers. Mike had some interesting material about the early days of South Australia's maritime history from a 1928 publication The Making of A Sailor. Margaret Walters was in fine voice and brought forth some real gems from her broad repertoire. Sandra Nixon (of the great acoustic venue, The Loaded Dog) was busy with other crafty tricky-fingered fibre and fabric folk who continued the old foc'sle tradition of the visual crafts.
Dawn Richter, Mike's wife, is a keen quilter who has actually pieced a fine commemorative James Craig quilt. The scope of the many and varied interests of those on board was truly limitless!
We were all enjoying ourselves enormously when a powerful voice joined in our chorus from the above deck. It heralded the arrival of Martin Pearson and Marina Hurley from Melbourne who were in Sydney for a performance the following day. Their accommodation was nearby so they decided to pop in and say hello and join in the singing circle.
By this time we were beginning to think that things couldn't be much better. That was, until Dawn Richter called us all to supper! No 'ard tack on this ship! Besides the usual basics, there were warm savoury treats that melted in the mouth and then, the piece de resistance, Dawn's brilliant Chocolate Cake.
What a great night it was! Our many thanks go to those cheery folk who made it all possible. Each evening's modest $7 per person contribution covers the cost of supper and helps towards the maintenance of this wonderful ship, so if you'd like to partake in all these delights, just give the ever-helpful Mike a call. We're now on his regular James Craig Shanty email list, and very much looking forward to our next nautical sing on board when we travel south again.
Evan and Lyn Mathieson
THE DON HENDERSON PROJECT by Mark Gregory
Don Henderson was one of the first in the folk revival to take up the pen to write about things happening around him, in the cities, the mines, the building industry, the maritime industry. He took up issues too with many anti-war songs prominent in his work.
Although Don died in 1991, a number of his songs found a new use - particularly in opposition to the Iraq War and in the struggle to protect Rights at Work. Don's work shows that he comfortably spanned musical boundaries, folk, country, rock, blues, rock opera and talking blues.
Sally Henderson and Mark Gregory set up the Don Henderson Project to begin the process of producing an up to date selection of Don's songs on CD and introduce his songs to a new generation of the folk song and Labour movements in Australia and elsewhere.
The project is established under the auspices of the Queensland Folk Federation. The project has the support of many singers of Don's songs: Gary Shearston, Alex Hood, Helen Rowe, Dave de Hugard, Danny Spooner, Tommy Leonard, Anne Bermingham, Bill Berry, Griff Bignell and Craig McGregor.
The Don Henderson Project is funded through a sponsorship system whereby a donation of $150 entitles the donor to 3 of the double CDs when they are published as well as being named in the CD booklet (more info at donhenderson.com.au/sponsor.html ). To date the sponsorship has raised more than $4000 from individuals, folk clubs, folk festivals, folk federations and union and Labour history branches and even a foundation.
We are getting close to our target, but we hope this update will encourage further sponsorship!
Please visit donhenderson.com.au for more info and download a sponsorship form.
CROWS NEST - A Small Country Town
How many of you have driven through a small country town, blinked, and missed it? If ever you are up Crows Nest way, make sure you stop and check it out! It’s amazing what you can find bubbling away under the surface.
Rhys and I have been living up in Crows Nest for almost three months now, we thought it would be a peaceful, quiet change from the city – boy were we wrong! As we were signing up and collecting the keys for the house, Catherine, one of the ladies at the real estate agency, invited us to come along and see if we would like to join the local choral group. All we had to do was turn up with a drink and a plate of food, the fact that some of us aren’t too great at singing, like me, didn’t seem to matter. So along we went and that was the start of some wonderful new friendships and lots of music. At the fortnightly gathering there is a mixture of singers, musicians, artists, writers and lots of chat and music. It has become an evening not to miss and Liz our choir mistress comes up with some amazing songs for us to try. We were meeting at Catherine and Randall’s home but have now been able to hire the local CWA hall across the road from The Grand Old Crow. Everyone is so enthusiastic that it has been decided to have a Music Session on the alternate Fridays, which I’m sure is going to be just as much fun and I can’t wait to try out my three mandolin chords.
The Arts Council is very active in the town as well, with various happenings all through the year. They often hire a bus to take people to shows in places like Esk, Toowoomba and even Brisbane. There are Operas in the Vineyards, Crows Nest Day in October where our choir will be singing even though the “Worm Races” are the highlight. In November they are putting on a French Theatre Restaurant Show which is being written by a local playwright and we will all participate in this event as well.
Every third Sunday the Grand Old Crow pub has been putting on live music out on the sidewalk thanks to Chad and Michelle from Up In Folk and Steve and Mel of Piccolo Poets. It is hoped that this Sunday afternoon event will take off and there are a lot of musicians in the area and more moving in all the time. People from out of town are always welcome.
There is also the Crows Nest National Park with walking tracks to The Valley of Diamonds and a rock pool complete with waterfall and granite gorges. Can’t guarantee how much water is in the waterfall at the moment. There are picnic areas and camping grounds and just along the road there are the two dams, Perseverance and Cressbrook.
On the first Sunday of the month we head to Strummers in Toowoomba, only 46 km away and a guarantee of some more great music thanks to Allan Mackey and Toula. Rhys and I have also been lucky to have had so many friends visit us from the big smoke and these visits have turned into some great music weekends.
So next time you pass through our new home, Crows Nest, stop and have a look around. There is an Art Gallery, Coffee Shops, The Grand Old Crow pub, huge Antique place, the Carbethon Folk Museum & Village also Crows Nest markets on the first Sunday of the month. Just out of town there is the Bunnyconnellen Olive Grove & Vineyard on the road to Haden and Goombungee where there is another great Art Gallery and Antique / Coffee Shop, plus a great pub The Pioneer Arms. Heading towards Toowoomba you have Hampton where they hold the Hampton Food , Arts and Music Festival every May. You can then keep driving along the New England Highway passing through Cabarlah where you have more Art Galleries, The Farmers Arms Tavern, Black Forest Hill Cuckoo & Grandfather Clock Centre, Danish Flower Art and heaps of nurseries. If you don’t want to head into Toowoomba itself you can head down the mountain to the Spring Bluff Railway Station. The other option is from Hampton through the Ravensbourne National Park and Esk. Both are beautiful drives.
So we look forward to seeing you all up this way sometime,
don’t forget your musical instruments, voices and winter woollies.
It can get quite cold up here at times.
by Pat Hall
There is something in the air in Brisbane, as yet another couple return to join the acoustic folk music scene. Chuck & Chris Euston are the driving force of STOCKADE. Its genesis was in Irish/Bush music when the original line up included their two sons.
Based in Coffs Harbour for the last 16 years, this talented couple have paid their dues in the clubs and pubs playing a wide selection of music from Café Jazz , R&B , Country Rock, Old time dance and good ol’ Rock‘n’Roll.
They have returned home to Brisbane to settle at Mt Cotton and have bought a refreshing mix of earthy roots and blues with touches of the Irish and Aussie to the Folk Redlands crowd. Chuck plays acoustic guitars and wonderful mandolin while Chris, who is best known for fine piano skills and fabulous harmonica, backs up on accordion & mandolin. Both are singer/songwriters and delighted the crowds at Redlands Folk Festival 2007 with originals like Social Security and Public Liability.
As Chuck says Stockade is like a bus…people get on & off… and the latest to join us is Geoff Carwardine on bass & vocals… it’s great to have him share in this continuing musical journey.
Not only are they professional entertainers, their talents in live sound mixing are of a high standard. Performers & audience appreciated their last minute filling the breach at the last Folk Rag Fundraiser concert in East Brisbane and more recently their work at Folk Redlands Festival.
STOCKADE plays engaging earthy roots music with fine harmonies…. it's in Brisbane.
Contact: Phone: 07 3289 9724 or
THE FLOOR SPOT
One Way Into the English Folk Club circuit
By John Thompson of Cloudstreet
Performing a floor spot is the best way to get a booking in an English folk club. While the name may suggest spontaneity, a little research, a recommendation or two, and a phone call to the organiser of the club can make all the difference.
When we first landed in the UK in 2003, we knew very little about English folk clubs. For a start they seem to number in their thousands, and no two are the same. Some clubs meet monthly, others weekly, some only “occasionally”. Some clubs are constantly on the move, while others proudly proclaim the longevity of their tenure in the one pub (until their recent move; the Herga held the record at 42 years!). For some clubs, an audience of 30 will be a big night, for others (such as the Red Lion in Kings Heath in Birmingham) 60 is a small night with over 200 expected for their biggest nights (e.g. whenever Vin Garbutt is in town).
The clubs in the UK are very much grass-roots organisations, run by their members so that they will have somewhere to play, with their role as a venue often seen as secondary. Many of the clubs regularly run singers’ nights, with no guest artist being booked, but everyone paying a small amount to attend. (In fact for some clubs, these are their best-attended nights). A common pattern is for a club to run singers’ nights every week, then use the money raised to subsidise a monthly guest night, with booked performers.
We were keen to establish ourselves on this circuit and were looking for a way to introduce ourselves to some of the larger clubs. We’d been told by friends familiar with the scene that floor spots were the answer. The idea is that you contact the club organiser as early as you can before a guest night and offer to play an unpaid spot before the main act. As an unpaid support act, you at least have the opportunity to perform before the club’s regulars and show them what you can do..
We found a good starting point was to scour one of the many free folk mags (like the Folk Rag in Queensland) and then pick a night when the club we were after had someone booked that we knew (early on we caught up with James Keelaghan and Bob Fox at the Twickenham Folk Club in London). Once you’ve done that, all you can do after that is play your 15 minute spot the best you can, and hope that the organisers like your set. We quickly found that club organisers were not averse to quick decisions. It’s best to have your diary ready!
Out of 15 clubs around the South of England and in the Midlands, we were booked for 14 gigs as a result of our floor-spots (the exception being the night Nicole was sick and I went by myself – I’m still recovering emotionally). Each gig seemed to build on the last, with folkies being a gossipy lot who let each other know quickly that there was someone new on the circuit. Club spots can lead to recommendations to other clubs and to festival organisers and at festivals more club-organisers see your performances and so it goes.
Although some of the clubs are quite small it is not uncommon for clubs to fill their bookings 12-18 months in advance. One organiser told us of his decision to never book an act on the basis of material mailed to him. In these days of technical wonder, he found that a great recording didn’t necessarily indicate an ability to “put on a show”. He was not alone in deciding that he needed to see an act before he could confidently book them.
The large number of clubs means that, although each club may not represent the wealth of ages, it is possible to spend a season in the UK and perform at 3, 4 or 5 clubs in a week. This is good work for musicians who don’t mind a bit of driving. It does require an initial investment of time, and energy, and a willingness to take a chance on unknown venues across the country, but the floor-spot route into the folk club circuit is one way to get a start. And along the way, you can meet a lot of the people that make up the international folk family – singing their songs, playing their tunes, and keeping the music alive.
Cloudstreet (John Thompson and Nicole Murray) - find them at www.cloudstreet.org
ONLINE MUSICAL COLLABORATIONS AND RECORDINGS
Ever thought what it would be like to have Alison Krause play fiddle on your next demo CD? What about Donovan Gall doing percussion and Barry Bales on bass for your humble musical creation? Maybe a bit of button accordion from Sean Quinn to augment your entry to the next TFF song writing competition?
Well it is not as far fetched as you may think. David Pendragon, a Canberra musician and sound engineer has produced a CD – The Journey, which is a collaboration of 32 musicians most of whom he has not physically met.
Mr Pendragon produced the album using the Internet as a means of communication. Musicians from all parts of the world have contributed their work via the web for this landmark CD. T he 16 diverse pieces of music on The Journey incorporate up to 10 musicians on some tracks and up to three on others. It took David over 12 months to put it all together. Amazingly in creating The Journey, David’s computer was the conduit and central processing station.
It all started with David Pendragon meeting fellow musicians through forums on a number of online music distribution outlets (OMD’s). These forums not only provided an exchange of information and a chance to discuss various musical topics, but an opportunity to have each other’s musical compositions reviewed. It was an excellent opportunity for peer feedback.
Among David’s musical cyber-buddies have been a Novocastrian mother of 4; Ian Cameron, a fiddle player from Ontario and a cedar wood flute playing Native American who records via his laptop in the prairie lands of USA.
Some of Mr Pendragon’s reviewers liked his work so much that they offered to contribute to these compositions either as an instrumentalist or vocalist.
To achieve this, a music file in the form of a backing track, usually comprising basic vocal and instrument, was uploaded (128kbs) in MP3 format to the contributing musician. The musician downloaded this MP3 music file on computer and incorporated it with appropriate software, e.g. Pro Tools.
It was then up to the musician to devise an appropriate accompaniment to the back track. This in some instances required much time and experimentation in order that all instruments fitted and blended. David was also able to, through ‘Skype’ (a free internet telephone service), have a conversation with contributing musicians as they were accompanying the backing track. In this way Mr Pendragon could listen, comment and give valuable feedback as to how well the contributor’s vocals/instrumentation fitted in to the overall sound and feel of the piece.
It was also important to create a click track for every music file sent, to enable the various online contributors to be synchronised with each other as well as with the basic backing track
Sometimes a 24-bit file was needed for quality purposes and this would entail sending music files in a hard copy CD format via snail mail to a musical collaborator.
David Pendragon stresses the need to have adequate back up storage (e.g. DVD or high GB hard drive), a broadband connection to the Internet due to its superior speed and capacity and good quality equipment.
His recording studio situated at his home in Canberra consists of a Mac 1.42 gig dual processor with 1 gig of Ram, a Digi 002 sound card, Rode microphones (NTK, NT3, NT2), an Allen and Heath console with wizard 20 channel, Lexicon reverb, dbx compressor and Pro Tools LE 6.1 software.
For beginners there are cheaper entry options available that give reasonable results. The website homerecording.about.com is a good site to explore for those starting out.
So step one is to meet your musical peers through various OMD's such as
VIRGIN AUSTRALIA GIVES TRAVELLING MUSICIANS A BREAK!
APRA members are now able to start taking advantage of a more musician-friendly baggage allowance thanks to a special industry deal developed between Virgin Australia and the Australian Music Industry Network (AMIN).
LIABILITY INSURANCE FOR PERFORMERS
As many of us have become painfully aware, liability insurance is becoming a must for performers making public appearances these days. The QFF has been getting calls from quite a number of folk, particularly in the ‘not quite full-time muso yet’, or community group category’ who are looking for advice on affordable liability cover and they advise that a number of more reasonably priced options are now available, eg:
The Queensland Folk Federation Incorporated P: 07 5496 1066
OLD BUSH SONGS
The centenary edition of Banjo Paterson's classic collection
“ Australia is in real danger of losing one of its most important cultural signposts – the old bush songs and verse – passed down to us at the end of the nineteenth century.” So say folklorists Warren Fahey AM and Graham Seal, Professor of Folklore at Curtin University ’s Australia Research Institute.
“We are particularly concerned that the old songs and ballads are disappearing, and many Australians seeing them as little more than colonial curiosities. Our language has already changed dramatically and as our culture continues to dumb down, we are forgetting about those nuts and bolts that identify us as a unique people. Young Australians know little, if anything, about the Australia of Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson, John Shaw-Neilson and Miles Franklin let alone the rich tradition of bush songs and poetry.”
Fahey and Seal have teamed up to produce the centenary edition of Old Bush Songs which celebrates A.B. Paterson's pioneering role as a song collector, and documents the history of one of this country’s most enduring and important books. It includes recently collected material, rare illustrations and photographs, as well as background information to bring these old songs to life for today’s audience.
“All is not lost,” say the two folklorists, as Australians are still singing these songs, “but the cultural warning bells are also ringing.” Says Fahey, “The days of campfires have been replaced with barbecues, stock rides by highway drives and the lounge room piano by the television set, but given the right opportunity homemade entertainment has a habit of resurfacing. Old songs, poems and yarns remind us where we came from as a people, and especially how we travelled down through the years. They remind us of our pioneering heritage, warts and all. Our language, also born of the bush, already reflects these influences and one could point to so many other aspects of today’s fragile society where our customs and traditions have bent to international influences.
Says Seal, “Old Bush Songs deserves its special place in Australian literary and cultural history. For students and performers of Australian folk song it provides virtually the only sustained glimpse into an almost-vanished way of life, its attitudes and expressions.”
Old Bush Songs - ISBN 0733315917 – rrp $32.95 – publication July 2005
Warren Fahey AM CM is a folklorist, broadcaster, writer, performer and graduate of the Dingo University . He is the author of numerous books, and writes regularly for The Bulletin magazine. He recently released two albums with ABC Music: APanorama of Bush Songs and Larrikins, Louts and Layabouts, and an ABC Audio Book of Classic Bush Poetry. He has a website for Australian folklore www.warrenfahey.com.au
Graham Seal has just become Australia ’s first Professor of Folklore and works from the School of Australian Research Institute at Curtin University of Technology. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including the edition of Old Bush Songs published in 1983.