Monday, April 26, 2010

The weary lie in bed and ramble

In the absence of my gorgeous Jane, I ramble to no-one, a typewriter.

I am quite weary, joyously so. Folk festivals are so wonderful. Each is different. The St Albans Folk Festival is in an utterly mysteriously isolated valley a million miles from Sydney, yet only a helicopter's blade away (as we found out on the Saturday night when alcohol and a misplaced esky took out one punter). Generally they are a civilised and grown up affair - life as should be lived.

The hastily named 'Flying Penguins' got an unpaid gig, two gigs, for our first ones EVER. We got the last of the Friday night band slots in the large tent (the Marquee) and we slayed it. Our brand of old-timey blurgrassey music captured people's entertainment radars and I felt a return to the days when I enjoyed life behind the microphone of voicepopfoible. However I am now ever slightly more grown up, I go by my own name, and I hope I will not be as rude or offensive as I was back then. I was back in the saddle as it were. It was Mick & Nikki's first exposure to my performance style, and by the end of the weekend they had got the swing of it, particularly Mick (mandolin & guitar) who nicely matched my onstage relationship with the audience. Jane also was gorgeous, cheeky and singing wonderfully (and belting the banjo bravely and with verve). Nikki (double bass and singer) will warm to it with her own style and it was all a lovely thing to experience. People felt welcomed, and humoured, and jigged along by our performance and our music. It was so great to see people singing my Beach Pockets song plus the covers that we did (like Prince's 'Kiss').

A pearler moment was when I asked the audience what their highlight was. And couple in their 60s (at a guess) yelled out 'getting married at the festival!!'. We then started the 'get up get up get up' audience participation to commence 'Sexual Healing' (by Marvin Gaye). It was wonderful. Jane sang the song at the couple and it all felt very 'gathered' (to use a Quaker term).

But back to Friday night. We did SO well that the festival director offered us two more gigs in the Marquee (and PAID us) to replace the Irish legend Andy Irvine who was stuck in the UK by the volcano. God bless those Icelanders! So instead of two gigs, we had four. We are now a seasoned band and ready for more. We very nearly have 3 sets of material, and will now start to incorporate more originals. But the covers are really fabulous to help consolidate a unique fun sound.

Thanks to the Ukastle Ukestrans and LakeMacUkestrans who came to the festival and actively supported us. It was a joy to have them there, as it so much contributed to broadening the community experience.

This morning I started to fret in my sleep at about 4am, thinking 'I should get up and try to write a song for the Chorus Cup which is an annual competition "held on the final morning of the Festival. Teams must have a minimum of 3 people who write a song, about the Festival, and include a Chorus! They then present to a panel of Judges, and are allowed (expected) to provide bribes!". I awoke at 7:15, grabbed the puter, wrote some lyrics describing our good fortune, the inevitable toilet mishaps etc, and had people organised into a singing rabble by 8:30 where we rehearsed some pitiful chords, harmonies and melodies.

We were up against some stiff children's competition, and with a little bit of rudeness we really thought we would get negative marks. And we didn't bribe the judges (except with toilet paper). Turns out we won. What a surprise!!!

And the winning lyrics?

We were young we didn't know much in two thousand and ten
But we felt we had to try it out, to launch a band again
So we threw our hat, way in too early in a land of great tradition
And launched ourselves upon the folk of a festival in St Albans

But we didn't stand a chance of doing much until the ice cap blew its lid
That iceskofellgofuku or whatever goddam it is
For dear old Andy got stuck there and it opened up the way
When Andy Irvine failed to make St Albans in oh ten Anzac Day

So iceskofellgofuku we see the great connection
Between St Albans halls, old dogs balls, and volcanic intervention
For we made good, despite lack of wood and toilets overflowing
We just clenched our cheeks, ate weetbix, and valiantly kept going

The Flying Penguins, we had our break, when that old volcano blew
For Andy didn't make the trip, that plane t'weren't able to flew (fly!)
And Friday night was wonderful, and Lainey gave us more
We kissed that wonderful lady in red, you could have said we scored.

But there were times that we wondered if that Irvine man was coming
When a helicopter from the sky came midst the Wheezers strumming
But we were relieved that Irvine didn't arrive in that contraption
But we were soon to find subdued relief in overdue constipation

Oh yes the shit man he was tardy
The shit man he was tardy
We clenched our cheeks, held our nose and were very gently farty
The shit man he was tardy
The shit cart he was tardy
But the toilets overflowed in their little blue
On my shoes and on my cardy

ahhhh yes.... what a supremo lyricist I am ! (not).

what a lovely weekend. now I must sleep.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

An open letter to my dear fellow Foibles.

I am reborn. Am sitting on a glorious front verandah couch, 6am, overlooking a small escarpment with a light smokey fog settling in this isolated valley near Bulahdelah and I think of you Aaron, Steve & Chris.

We had such a good wonderful creative dozen or so years. But after about 3-4 years of breaking up, we finally did, and I feel I have now found my new musical loves to replace what we had.

That's harsh. Of course you will never be replaced. We loved and hated and played with each other over such a long period of time (perhaps 10% of my projected years on this planet!) that it will never be replicated. But this is now where I want to be.

I am indeed a strange one, (though how can ageing be anything but strange and exciting). Strange because here I am playing some sort of faux bluegrass, doing contemporary covers and the odd original. And to boot it is with my gorgeous banjo-playing girlfriend and Mick & Nikki, a lovely couple from up the bush. We have 'a sound' and I am rather optimistic that it is going to work. What I do want to replicate is the strength, passion and richness of the relationships, the marriage to someone else's geography, the travel, the bad and the good gigs, the festivals, the lifestyle. I had found this with you my dear foibles, but the passion and focus faded (as you do), and now we have all moved on.

For now, I can feel it again. Praise the Lord in all her mysterious and glorious follow-me-ways.

Now, if only songwriting would return with vigour, and all this creative blogposturing was put into new songs.

p.s. This band is better (yesterday named Barefoot Bleuglass) simply because voicepopfoible only had 3 composite words as its name. This one has 4! So there!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Further ramblings on starting a community musician biznes

Good morning. The only time I seem to find for doing this is during occasional moments of 3/4am insomnia.

The last 3 weeks has been hellish fun/busy/too busy. Mostly with 'professional development'. What a wonderful thing it is to have professional development which is a joy.

The beginning of the 3 weeks was holidaying with Ruby. Treachery Head proved its name correct and destroyed the camper trailer. Cables broke. This is the main accommodation device for festivals, so that was a blow. Thanks to Stan (distant-father-in-law twice removed of ex sister in law type) we fixed that and I was then able to move onto the National Folk Festival with Jane.

The National is and should be an annual pilgrimage. It is how life should be lived, without nuclear weapons and with lots of music, good food (well...ok...healthy....fastish food), dancing in the streets and diversity. I was not accepted to play this year, so at the urging of Jane, and at the last minute I applied to be a volunteer. Came up with 'stewarding' which wouldn't be my preference (mc'ing, stage managing yes, stewarding - no). It involved five 4 hour shifts on a twentyfour hour roster, two of them at 4am. Turned out to be interesting and vaguely fun.

I workshopped a lot, enjoying Kristina Olsen's 'playing lead guitar for dummies', Frank Jones' 'how to steal a song', and Ben Stephenson's awesome DADGAD / Irish guitar workshop. And the Kwela stuff with Andy Rigby was fun, as always. I learned a lot, did some choir type workshops and came home to do the uke Tuesdays.

Both the LakeMacUkestra and the Ukastle Ukestra are doing quite well and evolving at different paces. I also now have approval from the Fingal Bay Sports Club to try out a Port Stephens Ukestra (Ukestra Port Stephens? Ups?). Heaven's waiting room can have a ukestra as well I reckon. Will try and get PR happening v. soon. The Bay is where I grew up each and every weekend. So it is a vaguely attractive idea to head there once a week and to see if I can bring more uke joy to the lots of retirees who seem to hold the fort up there.

THEN. I bolted off to Melbourne. Saw Kyrie's premiere of her first feature film, a rather B-D grade horror slasher film called El Monstro Del Mar. She is the nice girl, Hannah. As it should be for my daughter. My youngest (Ruby) was also in it, as a school bus extra (which is a rather accurate reflection!).

But the PD continued in Melbourne, seeing some very old friends who are community musician types, talking and playing endlessly about how to bring music to the people. Peda & Ruth in Inverloch are very very inspiring, as are the Strating twins and Lyndal and Strat. Thanks so much to all of them for helping me with resources and thinking and music.

That should do for now. I hope it ain't so long to the next post, and that the next one is more reflective.