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.

Some of my Facebook posts go on for days. Some have applied for their own postcodes.

Many people struggle with this and often ask, “What the hell are you gabbling on about?”

They’re falling into the trap of thinking I’m writing only for them. Yeah, I am writing for publics, but mostly it’s my way of thinking. I’m an extroverted extrovert. I can only make sense of my world by writing stuff down or hearing it out loud.

(And I’ve tried over the years to scream from Mt Painter how much I adore and admire and am jealous of introverts, but they jump to their own conclusions, pull a hammy, and block me and tell everyone I’m a truckwit. Shame.)

In part, it’s also my way of leaving my own feathers and tributes before there’s no place for them here on this earth. Thank you, Bernard Carney (CDs available now).

Well, that escalated into existentialism quickly.

Bill Hairy O'Quinn from County Clare.
Bill Hairy O’Quinn from County Clare.

Over on Facebook, I’m counting down to Easter Sunday 31 March 2013 when I have my head and face shaved for the Leukemia Foundation. Read all about it here: https://overheardproductions.com/2013/03/15/billys-going-the-nude-nut-worlds-greatest-shave/

And please join in on the event because if you’re at the National Folk Festival, I’d love you to be there and bear witness: http://www.facebook.com/events/102837806558033/?fref=ts

So, I started at Song #60 and through my travels and travails, the countdown has been serious, silly and… yeah, both of those.

Last night a song came on the Saturday night Forever Classic Hits and Memories Relive Show which was a perfect soundtrack to the never-ending task of cleaning, packing, clearing, selling and carting to op shops, charity stores and the tip.

Read on, McDuff! _________________________________________________________________ This just came on the wireless: Obla Di Obla Da by The Beatles.

Lyric cheat
Lyric cheat

Anyhoo, this song I learnt via ABC Sing books in primary school and the aforementioned radio station.

And records in the Dickson Library, where I yesterday left a poster for my impending shave.

(Actually, I’m pretty sure it was a folkie I left it with but I was so weak and sick, I did not have the strength to say, “Aren’t you N. from the thing and the group and the singing and the other bits and pieces with the Americana dodad thingumy?” It was Nancy, I found out much later.)

I took the song in my head to a ‘Songs We Sang In School’ themed concert at Illawarra Folk Festival a few years ago, but the setting was up in the Chapel (then just the chapel itself, not the awesome little elevated tent show it’s now become) which didn’t seem to suit the energy, so I did a Dylan song instead.

However, I did mention to Bernard Carney (hi Eleanor Carney) that I was planning to do the song. Bernard shot me one of his trademark sideways looks, twiddled his ‘tache and said, “Why don’t you sing it at The Beatles Singalong?”

Me. Mr Amateur Plus, who occasionally slides off notes like a slippery dip, singing with accompaniment in front of ~400 people.

Feel the fear and don’t think twice, it’s alright.

“Oh, yeah. Alright.”

Come the appointed night I had so much adrenaline pumping through my 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 of me 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’t remember getting more timely or salient or sage advice.

Thanks, Campusoid. I strode out there barefoot and in shorts, bandages around my legs where the gumboots had bitten into my calves, plonked my bag on the stage, nodded to no less than Liz Frencham on bass, David Hyams on geet, and Bernard also wielding an axe. Forgotten the others.

I fluffed the first line because I am *crap* at singing lead with accompaniment and never know when to come in, but I made it up, 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 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.

My enduring memory shall remain as I sang, “Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face!” and on every syllable stabbing a finger at Billy Folkus in the fifth or sixth row; he had one of the bras tied around his head like some large, hairy, effeminate (not much) 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 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:

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 don’t realise it was me is a cause for great personal joy.

It’s the song, not the singer.

And 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 (and necked it in about 15 minutes which only partially damped down the raging flames of heat and adrenaline).

And his words will ring out fore’er: “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 proceedings, one of the cleaners walked up to me swinging one of the bras around her fingers with an incredulous look on her face: “What went on here last night?!”

That, my friends, is why I folk. Billy FJ Quinn with Ted E. Quinn Overheard

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

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