Jenny Spear: Black is a Colour

Jenny Spear
Jenny Spear

Jenny Spear

Black is a Colour

As Jenny Spear and I sat down to have lunch and a chat about her new album (‘Black is a Colour’) at Digress Restaurant and Lounge in Canberra City, I proved once again that while I do like my humour and observations laced with irony and straight-facing, I can be just as thick and literal as they come.

‘You know, this album will work well across a couple of genres because there’s an old traditional folk song called, “Black is THE Colour”.

To her credit, Jenny was very polite as she shot me a look that registered the comment, but she let me come to my own learning as sometime later a question revealed, “Yeah, well, that’ll be Track Three then”.

Jenny had contacted me many months ago out of the blue, at a rather crazy time as I was bouncing around New South Wales and ACT, and we made vague plans to catch up somewhere sometime somehow.

Then one night as I stopped off at the monthly music blackboard at the Royal Hotel in Bungendore, Canberra singer-songwriter-author Chris Johnson announced Jenny Spear as the woman sitting next to him, pumping out a fair slab of Neil Young’s back catalogue with him.

In late August, Jenny and I finally caught up over some wonderful Indian pizza at Digress. We didn’t realise it at the time, but Jenny was to soon perform there as the Merry Muse club took an unusual and welcome diversion to another venue for one night.

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Liz Frencham on touring with Gregory Page and Jimmy the Fish

Liz Frencham talks about playing solo

and with Jimmy the Fish and Gregory Page

This is a slightly elongated and fuller version of the interview with Liz Frencham that first appeared in Timber and Steel on 28 September 2012.

Liz Frencham is one of the hardest working women in folk.

Liz’s collaborations, bands and projects are legendary. If you laid out her records end to end, including her solo, band, contribution and bit part playing thereon CDs… my, it would take a long time to pick them all up again.

Liz spent part of winter cocooned away in rural Victoria, but in recent times she’s been on the road with her bluegrass outfit Jimmy the Fish, and with the inspired pairing with Fred Smith as Frencham/Smith.

Sometime in the late 1980s, or so it seems, Liz had an interview with Bill Quinn which included one landline, one mobile phone as conduit, and another mobile phone as recording device. Liz was in picturesque southern Trentham, and Bill by the banks of the Moruya River on the beautiful Eurobodalla Nature Coast in rural, coastal New South Wales.

As Liz prepares to strike out on a tour with US singer-songwriter Gregory Page, I started by asking Liz where her preference for solo or band performing lay.

Liz Frencham: I wouldn’t call it a preference. It’s exactly the same, say, as playing playing with Jimmy the Fish and playing with Fred.

Playing solo is “different” and it requires different skills. Probably one thing it has in its favour at the moment is that it still completely terrifies me.

It’s not something that I’ve mastered. It’s exciting and I haven’t settled into a comfortable groove, which makes the possibilities seem more endless. I wouldn’t say it would be a preference, per se.

I am a bass player, and when you’re fitting into your role the most is when you’re accompanying somebody else.

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