National Folk Festival – Grimick – Interview with Griff, March 2013

Image courtesy of Grimick
Image courtesy of Grimick

Chris ‘Griff’ Griffiths is one third of the membership of Sydney band Grimick and one half of its name.

Confused? Never fear. (Small band member joke there; we move on.) Yes, never fear because Griff has a black belt in algebra, and is not afraid to use it.

Grimick are Griff, Mick (join the naming dots there) and Dr Fear.

I first encountered Grimick at Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival several years ago and was quite mesmerised by their songs and music. Later, listening to their wonderful album ‘Dazzle’, I was even more enchanted. Firstly, for the stunning production values and warm, rich sound, and secondly for the fact that Grimick have this tendency to give their music away.

Griff explains more about this giving-away ethos in the interview, both giving away CDs at gigs and giving you the ability to download the whole shooting match at their website.

I interviewed Griff at Punchbowl Boys’ High School in Sydney’s south-west earlier this week and we spent a bit of time talking about the benefits to be had from inter-meshing music and education.

And by and by, we did discuss music, and Grimick’s first foray to the National Folk Festival this weekend.

Highly recommended. See them if you can.

*** Audio file will be removed at end of February 2020 ***

Image courtesy of Grimick

Bill Quinn: 2013 is a year for doing interviews in new and interesting places. Already I’ve done one in a harness racing kitchenette, and now we’re at the Punchbowl Boys High School. I’m talking to Griff from the wonderful band Grimick. Hello, Griff.

Chris Griffiths: How’re you going? Thanks for making your way out to sunny Punchbowl on this Monday morning.

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National Folk Festival – Wheeze and Suck Band – interview with Tony Pyrzakowski, 2013

Image courtesy of the Wheeze and Suck Band
Image courtesy of the Wheeze and Suck Band

This interview originally appeared on Timber and Steel in March 2013:

Wheeze and Suck Band have since wound up, and a cut-down version of the band perform as Traditional Graffiti. Tony Pyrzakowski performs with Butch Hooper as Hooper and O’Toole.

As I’ve said many a time on stage and in print, I don’t even try to have a veneer of objectivity when it comes to some bands.

They’re just my favourites, and I adore their music and I’ll hunt them down at every festival and sing along, and sometimes dance along, and that’s just the way it is and ever shall be, Wheezer World without end, amen.

So yeah, I quite like the Wheeze and Suck Band.

There, we’ve got that bit established.

If you think age shall weary them, just click on the video link below and suspend disbelief. It says so much with music and dance in this shaky clip I took at St Albans Folk Festival from a couple of years ago (usually held on an Anzac Day weekend — put it in your calendar now; thank me later) is the range of ages the Wheezers appeal to.

What child could resist jumping around to a bunch of men in funny hats and cloaks? And that’s for the young at heart and the young in the head.

And the young in age.

It’s enough to even make you groan with empathy (and maybe a little sympathy) to John ‘Red Tips’ Milce’s jokes, trotted out at irregular intervals in pure Lancashire-ish.

Fiddler-player Tony Pyzarkowski is one third of a regular trio along with Butch Hooper and Kevin ‘Bodhranworld dot com‘ Kelly who form “Kelly’s Heroes” and bash out three hours of stuff you probably know, stuff you may know and stuff you may not have heard of in PJ O’Brien’s pub in Sydney every Sunday night from 6-9pm. (No chance on Easter Sunday — that’s National Folk Festival central.)

After last Sunday’s session, Tony had a bit of a chat about what’s going on with the Wheezers and looked forward to the National Folk Festival starting this Thursday 28 March 2013 in Canberra.

Image courtesy of Wheeze and Suck Band

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George Mann Talks About The Almanac Singers CD and Tour, July 2013

Image courtesy of George Mann
Image courtesy of George Mann

George Mann proved to be a great hit with Australian audiences when he toured in 2012, and so he was a very welcome returnee in 2013.

Around the time of the Illawarra Folk Festival in January, George played a series of shows, predominantly with Rik Palieri, but also teaming up at the festival and later in the month at Wongawilli with compatriots Rick Nestler, Dom Flemons and Reanna Flemons née Muskovitz.

George Mann and Rik Palieri have recorded a CD of the songs of the Almanac Singers and in July 2013 plan to retrace the steps of the legendary 1941 tour.

On a stinking hot day (that’s an Australian term for ‘mighty hot day’ for our North American friends) at the Illawarra Folk Festival in Bulli, George and I found a cool spot and George told me more about the planned tour.



SANS performing at the 2013 National Folk Festival (Australia) – interview

SANS at ethno ambient. Image courtesy of SANS.
SANS at ethno ambient. Image courtesy of SANS.

Interviewing Andrew Cronshaw is a bit like watching Waragamba Dam in flood.

There’s a mighty capacity, but the volume contained therein and the urge for it to surge out means there’s a fair old splashing and cascading over the spillway.

(This is a musical knowledge thing, not early-onset incontinence — just did want to clarify that one.)

Andrew Cronshaw (and the relatively more calm, still waters of Ian Blake) have been comrades in music of the world for many a year, and delighted audiences at the National Folk Festival in 2010.

A very salient memory is a packed performance in the Coorong on the Saturday evening when the MC (me) had been directed erroneously to the Budawang and ended up sprinting twixt venues, doing a slide into home base staying upright to collect a microphone and bounce on to stage to give a slightly breathy but knowledgeable intro courtesy of having seen them both at the National Library of Australia mid-week.

Andrew Cronshaw and Ian Blake were performing at a fantastic afternoon on Aspen Island, literally in the shadows of Canberra’s Carillon, on a balmy Monday afternoon in mid-March as Canberra celebrated a day before turning 100 years young. I grabbed a few minutes with Andrew and Ian as the zephyrs zephyred and the dragon boats came in and the sound guys eventually started to test the drums on stage.



Andrew and Ian will be performing with the new collective badged SANS:

Andrew Cronshaw – electric zither, fujara, marovantele, kantele, ba-wu etc.
Sanna Kurki-Suonio – voice 
Tigran Aleksanyan – Armenian duduk 
Ian Blake – bass clarinet, soprano sax etc.

Performance times at the National Folk Festival:

Friday 29th March – Trocadero, 9pm
Saturday 30th March – Budawang, 12.30pm
Sunday 31st March – Marquee, 4pm

Ann Vriend (Canada) 2013 Australian Tour – Interview at The Basement, Sydney, 2013

Image courtesy of Ann Vriend
Image courtesy of Ann Vriend

Ann Vriend (Canada) is a very regular and very welcome visitor to Australia and this week she’s touched down in Sydney to kick off a month of shows that will take her south to Tasmania and north to Queensland — with appropriate stops along the way.

Ann’s first shows are in Sydney at The Basement where she’s received some great support from David Hand and Newport Consulting; the tour opener was fairly bursting with staff thereof.

In between set-list writing, sound-checking and dress-up* for the show, Ann took some time out to talk with me about weather, Aus-stray-lee-an pronunciation, more weather and suburb names. And music.

* When Ann came back in for the show, I dead-set wondered who was this elegant woman who looked like she was off to the races. And why was she waving at me from across the room?

I’m blaming it on jet lag.

*** Audio file will be removed at end February 2020 ***

Bill Quinn: When we have people who tour here from overseas, we have some who come here once and then we never see them again. And then we have others who tour here and they keep coming back, and back, and back again.

As a pundit and a punter, I’m totally OK with that. I’m sitting here with one who keeps doing that, and we’re very happy for that: Ann Vriend from Canada, hello and welcome?

Ann Vriend: Helloooo, and thanks for having me.

BQ: So, this would be something like trip number six, or something like that?

AV: No, it’s… well, I have to do math… but it would be eight, because my first was 2005 and I’ve come every year.

BQ: Every single year?

AV: Yeah. In your summer – that’s not by accident!

BQ: I tend to talk about weather, but what have you left behind you in Edmonton?

AV: Just before I left, we got about a foot of snow in one night. By the time it’s March, I’m a little bit over snow. So, if you go to my Facebook page, you can see the ‘before I left’ snow pictures, and the ‘after I left’ view of Sydney Harbour with palm trees.

BQ: So for the next few weeks, there’s going to be lots of pictures you’re sending back home in strapless numbers…

AV: Oh, I already posted a picture at the beach, like “Ha ha! I might not be rich, but there’s some perks to my job!”

Image courtesy of Ann Vriend

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A Folking Memory of Songs and Under-garments and Bravado and Musical Performance Advice from an Illawarra Folk Festival, Bra’

  • Andrew Winton, David Hyams and Bernard Carney at the bar, Illawarra Folk Festival. Photo by Bill Quinn.

Andrew Winton, David Hyams and Bernard Carney at the bar, Illawarra Folk Festival, 2012. Photo by Bill Quinn.

Last night a song came on the Saturday Night Forever Classic Hits and Memories Relive Show on the radio. And the song is a brilliant soundtrack to my current never-ending task of cleaning, packing, clearing, selling, and carting stuff to op shops, charity stores and the tip.

Lyric cheat
Lyric cheat

The song (Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da by The Beatles) I learnt via ABC Sing books in primary school and ABC Radio 2CN and 2CY back in the 1970s.

And from listening to Beatles records in the Dickson Library in Canberra after school.

I took the song in my head to a ‘Songs We Sang In School’ themed concert at Illawarra Folk Festival a few years ago, in answer to a callout from the organisers.

I’d worked up a bit of vaudeville to go with it, but the setting for the concert was an intimate affair up the hill in the Chapel.

At that time, the venue was just the chapel itself, not the awesome little elevated tent show it’s now become.

The small, subdued crowd didn’t really seem to suit the energy of what I’d planned, so I did a Dylan song instead.

However, I *did* mention to Bernard Carney in passing that I was planning to do the song before I changed plans. Bernard Carney, apart from his decades-long anthology of original music, has made a regular feature of his festival appearances in putting on all-singing, all-dancing, multi-muso, multi-instramental, multi-styles and genres Beatles Singalongs at festivals and gigs around Australia.

At my casual remark that I was minutely and momentarily stealing his thunder (i.e. not in the slightest), Bernard shot me one of his trademark sideways looks, twiddled his ‘tache, and said, “Why don’t you come along and sing it at The Beatles Singalong?”


Me. Mr Amateur Warbler Plus, who occasionally slid off notes like a slippery dip.

Singing with electrified accompaniment in front of ~400 people.

Feel the fear and don’t think twice, it’s alright. (Gratuitous Bob Dylan references are my jam and cream.)

“Oh, yeah. Alright. No big.” Translation: OH MY GAAAAWD!

Always up for a challenge, me. “That a (hu)man’s grasp should exceed [their] reach, or what’s a heaven for?”

Possibly vice versa. I never can recall.

Come the appointed night, with the thought of going on stage and singing with a backing band, I had so much adrenaline pumping through the veins, you could stick a cord into any orifice and light up a small city.

Ask Craig Dawson — he was sat next to me and had to ask permission to say something before I went up there.

Singing at full belt is a service I do provide
Singing at full belt is a service I do provide.

I’m glad he did because he said, “Give it everything. Don’t hold back. Leave it all out there on the stage.”

I can scarcely remember getting more timely, salient, or sage advice. Thanks, Campusoid.

I strode out, barefoot and in shorts, bandages around my legs where the gumboots had bitten into my calves, plonked a bag on the stage, nodded to no less than Liz Frencham on bass, David Hyams on geet, and Bernard himself wielding his axe. 🎸 There were others.

I fluffed the first line because I was – still am – crap at singing lead with accompaniment, rarely if ever know when to come in. But I made up for lost ground, and when we hit the first chorus, I had props.

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, life goes on, bra…” ♪♪♪

And every time I hit the word ‘bra’, I threw a St Vincent de Paul shop-bought bra out into the audience.

If I missed a note, or got a half-tone off or slurred a word, who cared? Everyone was tossing bras around the crowd. 💄

An enduring memory of that night came as I sang, “🎼🎵🎶 Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face!” And on every syllable stabbing a finger at Billy Folkus, the late, great, flawed but fabulous Bill Arnett.

Picture, if you wish, an Australian twin of Billy Connolly in the fifth or sixth row. Billy had one of the bras tied around his head like some large, hairy, pseudo-effeminate character from a Jane Austen novel.

I walked off stage to shrieks of laughter and gales of applause, cheering and clapping, and the knowledge that noone — not one single person — needed to know my name. Just that they had had a fun time and laughed lots and maybe had a story to tell.

It chrystallised everything that’s core to my being about performance and writing and speaking and radio and singing and living:

It's not about me; it's about us.
“It’s not about me; it’s about us.”

It’s not about me. It’s about you.

It’s about them. It’s about us.

I don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy old world and never aim to. That people can tell me stories as if anew that prominently featured me – but they didn’t know nor realise it was me – is a cause for great personal joy and satisfaction.

It’s the song, not the singer. Play the game, not the ball/song carrier.

Another enduring memory out of all of that was the amused, bemused and c-mused look on Bernard’s face as I bounced off stage and over to the bar to collect the bottle of wine I’d won as a runner-up prize in the Yarn Spinning Contest earlier that day.

I necked it in about 15 minutes flat, which only partially damped down the raging flames of heat and adrenaline. That provides something of a ‘call-back’ to the Billy Connolly reference. I highly recommend the book ‘Billy’ by Pamela Stephenson. (Please check for possible triggers before reading.) Pamela talks about how Billy could drink a stonkering amount of alcohol after a gig but stay high-functioning because of the counter-balance of adrenaline.

I know what that looks like, though mercifully, I’ve never been a slave to the drink. Also, if Billy Connolly is premier league, I’m Sunday park football. Not even in the same postcode.

Bernard Carney watched my exit, stage right, and with another of his trademark looks, leaned into his mic and wryly observed to the audience:

“I think we’ve reached a seminal moment in Beatles Singalongs!”

The next morning, as we were setting up in the Slacky Flat Bar for the day’s shows, one of the cleaners walked up to me swinging one of the bras around her fingers, and with an incredulous look on her face asked:

“What went on here last night?!”

That, my friends, is why I folk.

Billy’s Going The Nude Nut: World’s Greatest Shave (with help from Creative Image Hairdressers)

Billy Hairy O'Quinn from County Clare.
Billy Hairy O’Cuinn from County Clare. It was his forefather (or possibly his fifth father) Seamus O’Cuinn who started the family tradition of the first male born of every litter to not have eyes equally open when selfie photos are taken on smart phones. First recorded incidence: 1757.

### STOP PRESS — I dropped into the salon that’s going to shave my head and interviewed Teresa from Creative Image Hairdressers, cnr Boddington Crescent and Carleton Street, Kambah, ACT, Australia (phone +61-2-6231-4217). An absolute pleasure to speak with someone who loves what they do for a living, focussed on family and community, and quick with the wit when it comes to a shaggy do put-down for fun about the willing victim! Coming here now! ###

The photo above is me, though not as you may know me. (Actually, looking at that photo again, I look a bit like one of Dr Who’s Cybermen!)

I’m raising funds for the Leukemia Foundation.

Cancer is an insidious little [unmentionable] of a beastie and it discriminates not based on age, gender, race or creed.

It doesn’t give a damn whether you’ve lived a good, bad or indifferent life. Whether you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth or struggled from day dot to make ends meet.

It can advance and ride rough-shod over our lives and our relationships and our families, and it doesn’t give a flying fig who it takes down on its merry dance.

I know. It took my baby bro’ out in 1998 at the wizened old age of 26, and then just to waggle its arse at us, it crept up from nowhere and took out Dad out in 2006.

I’d like to meet Cancer some day and kick it fair and square in the nads.

I can’t.

I can only do what I’ve done in some ways since 1992 and rattle a tin under your nose.

In 2013 I’m shaving my hairy bonce and visage to support the Leukemia Foundation.

Will you help? You can, and it can cost you from zero to whatever you want to put into the tin.

Click here and you can just leave me a message of support or donate if you like. Believe me; if you don’t have the means to make a donation, just a short message will mean all the world to me.

If you have the ability to chuck in a few bucks that’s grand, but it’s not a requisite.

It’s totes your call. And I’ll love you either way, whether you’re shucking clams into the donation pot, or leaving words of encouragement.

And if you’re at the National Folk Festival, it all gets real on Easter Sunday at 12:36pm outside the Session Bar.

Facebook event is here:

And my special thanks to Teresa from Creative Image Hairdressers in Kambah for doing the hack and slash work. If you’d like Teresa and the team to do something a wee bit more sedate and considered, give Teresa a yodel on 02 6231 4217.

And tell her Billy sent yer!

No Bills.
No Bills.

Fun Machine: Tipping Folk On Its Glittery Head, 2013

Fun Machine at Canberra Centenary Celebrations. Photo courtesy of Martin Ollman.
Fun Machine at Canberra Centenary Celebrations. Photo courtesy of Martin Ollman.

You don’t have to go back too far ago to a time when Fun Machine were an energetic three-piece band making underground waves in Canberra’s lively, teeming independent music scene.

But in a couple of short years (as opposed to the long ones which sadly died out in the late 1800s), Fun Machine’s star has been rising, thanks in no small part to some solid support from the Canberra Musicians Club.

And the amazing advocacy provided by 666ABC (AM Radio) Canberra for all things Canberra indie, but specifically Fun Machine. I may be wrong, but I believe that breakfast announcer Ross Solly may want to adopt them all, which is no mean feat as over this time, the band has doubled in size.

At Canberra’s ‘One Very Big Day’ this week to celebrate the city’s centenary, Fun Machine played to a heaving, sweaty mess of young and old beautiful people, as the last of the fireworks fell away (some into the crowd, allegedly!) as they put a fairly massive stamp on their cross-genre and cross-market universal appeal.

See a full photo set by photographer Bron King (aka guitarist Sam’s mum) here on Facebook:

Gigging around Canberra in various formats and bands, the members will rejoin as Fun Machine at this year’s National Folk Festival at EPIC in Canberra over the Easter Long Weekend.

If I were you, I’d… wonder whether those red pumps go with that skirt.

No, if I were giving you a serving suggestion for your Nash experience, I’d be taking a very brightly-coloured Spandex highlighter and putting a golden ring around Fun Machine in your programs.

On Tuesday last, as Canberra celebrated 100 years young with a mass of parties at the shops, I caught up with Bec Taylor and Chris Endrey from the band. Bec starts us off and that would be Chris you can hear crunching his way through the first of Canberra’s autumn leaves as we stood in salubrious surroundings outside the gents at O’Connor Shops. Bec and Chris had just done a stripped-back, rootsy, acoustic set under their duo moniker ‘Yes/No’.

*** Audio file will be removed by end February 2020. ***

Image by Knight Photography

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National Folk Festival: two weeks and counting

Image courtesy of the National Folk Festival (Australia)
Image courtesy of the National Folk Festival (Australia)

In two weeks’ time, on Thursday 28 March 2013, the grounds of EPIC (Exhibition Park in Canberra) will eschew all traces of horse floats, cattle-judging, burnouts and street cars named ‘WarnieRoolz’, and will burst into life, colour, song, dance, percussion, spoken word and related arts for the 2013 National Folk Festival.

I stopped across its threshold in 2005 for the first time ever; never mind that I grew up two decent golf swings away from its front door.

I’ve been making up for this yawning gap in my musical life ever since.

On that first night in situ at Flemington Road, Mitchell I fell hopelessly in love with an event and a music genre/genres.

(I also fell in love and found another almost-ex-Mrs-Quinn in the CD Shop, but that’s another story…)

Bodhrans in the Grandstand. Photo by Billy Quinn.
Bodhrans in the Grandstand. Photo by Billy Quinn.

Eight years down the track, gearing up for a ninth consecutive, I’m excited again as the Canberra air chills in the early mornings and late evenings, as the leaves decide they’ve had a good run over summer and now it’s time to turn brown, red, or amber and see if they can jag an invitation to go meet the ground.

I’m excited as I drive past the EPIC show grounds every couple of days, and sense movement at the station and strange new structures being erected or imagined.

No, it’s not a car show. Dorothy, we’re not in Deniliquin anymore.

It’s the National Folk Festival. Arrayed in a slightly different configuration this year, with some changes, tweaks and sundry twists and turns.

If you were sat at home thinking, aw, might give it a miss this year, my suggestion would be this.


Firstly, for Canberrians, ACT is the feature state in this Canberra’s centenary year. So Canberra will be well-represented for the festival and the world to see.

Spoilt for choice. Photo by Billy Quinn.
Spoilt for choice. Photo by Billy Quinn.

Secondly, there is an eye-watering line-up of quality music and song and all that other stuff catalogued above.

Over the next two weeks and across the festival itself, I’ll be bringing some tastes and teasers and forecasts of things to come and those that are here and now.

The microphone’s primed, the camera (lol) is warmed up and the video camera has just been fished out of the garage sale pile.

Join me as I preview the National Folk Festival 2013, and please do join us all as we welcome the world in this year again at Easter at our church of the blessed folklore in Canberra. And much as in Rome there will be white and black smoke issuing from the……………………… fire buckets. Where did you think I was going with that?!

Full program available in read only format here:

Tickets available here (early bird tickets on sale until Sunday 24 March):

Handy set of FAQs:

Billy FJ Quinn

Overheard Productions

Reporting from EPIC, this is Overheard Productions...
Reporting from EPIC, this is Overheard Productions… Oh, just for clarification, I’m not with Artsound FM anymore, and the dongle and laptop have also gone to meet their makers. The beer too has been drunk (unlike the drinker).

A treasured moment from 2012 National Folk Festival — The Miss Chiefs are back and on the program this year. Listen to my interview with them earlier this year here:

Kim Churchill — off to tour USA and Canada, 2013

Image courtesy of Kim Churchill
Image courtesy of Kim Churchill

Kim Churchill has a few more shows to go in Australia before he heads off to USA to join the tour of one Stephen William Bragg (aka Billy Bragg).

At the Cobargo Folk Festival in February 2013, Kim Churchill was the recipient of my vicarious joy at this news, and we spontaneously had a chat, leaning on someone’s trailer, outside a venue, out in the open — which was a bit of a mistake because as I now know: don’t try to do these things in a flukey, swirling breeze.

I’m sure you’ll cope. Muggins here did the best he could with the sound balance. [Audio file will be removed by end February 2020.] Interview text:

Bill Quinn: I’m standing here with Kim Churchill. Hello, Kim.

Kim Churchill: Hello, Bill.

BQ: Kim, You’re about to go to America and tour with someone and I’m just a little bit excited about that. Tell me what you’re going to do in America.

KC: I’m going to do the opening slots for a guy named Billy Bragg.


KC: Yes!

BQ: How the hell did you jag that one?

KC: Ah, bottle of scotch.

BQ: Elaborate!

Image courtesy of Kim Churchill

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