Darwin Muso Series: Emma Rowe

Darwin Muso Series is a string of an indeterminate number of mini to medium to mega interviews with Darwin-based musicians and performing artists. Starting in September 2019, and we’ll see how many we can cover over the next weeks/months/years.

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Image courtesy of Emma Rowe Music

Emma Rowe

The Darwin Railway Club played host to the Darwin regional final of the Passport To Airlie competition in mid-September 2019.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music is held in November, however, in the lead-up, the organisers stage what is arguably* Australia’s biggest battle of the bands competition.

* Try saying, ‘Heats in Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Nimbin, Newcastle, Sydney, Illawarra, Melbourne and Adelaide’ ten times fast.

Emma Rowe grew up here in tropical Darwin and went from being a “sad teenager” with a cheap guitar to developing a unique talent for crafting quirky contemporary rock songs that combine lust, hope, frustration and joy in a surprisingly complicated but completely relatable style. Emma is a regular on the Darwin music scene as a headliner and support for touring artists.

After her set in the Passport to Airlie competition, Emma joined me in the beer garden to have a chat.

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Emma Rowe performing in Passport To Airlie – Darwin at Darwin Railway Club

Bill Quinn: Tell us the Emma Rowe story!

Emma Rowe: Oh god, that’s a big question.

Basically, I guess it started when I was a sad teenager, and my mum noticed. And she brought home this cheap guitar from Cash Converters, and was like, ‘Here! Put your sadness into this!’

And it worked!

BQ: Was that here in Darwin?

ER: Yeah, I grew up here. Technically not born here, but I moved here when I was really young.

BQ: So many people I’ve spoken to have come here from other places. What was it like growing up with music in Darwin?

ER: I loved it. I really loved growing up here. It’s really communal and that’s really reflective in the music scene.

That’s what I love about the music scene here. We all know and love each other, we’re all really supportive, and I love that feeling: I love feeling supported by my scene.

BQ: I’m glad you said that because I’ve only been here for less than six months, and I actually wrote this down tonight. I’m picking up on a really big, supportive vibe amongst musicians, so it’s something that’s very important here.

ER: Oh yeah, for sure, it’s everywhere, and it’s wonderful. And I think that actually goes for the whole NT as well. We know all the musos in Alice Springs and in Katherine, and we’re all just really connected and really communal. It’s lovely.

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Image courtesy of Emma Rowe Music

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Darwin Muso Series: Alice Cotton

Darwin Muso Series is a string of an indeterminate number of mini to medium to mega interviews with Darwin-based musicians and performing artists. Starting in September 2019, and we’ll see how many we can cover over the next weeks/months/years.

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Image courtesy of Alice Cotton

Alice Cotton

The Darwin Railway Club played host to the Darwin regional final of the Passport To Airlie competition in mid-September 2019.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music is held in November, however, in the lead-up, the organisers stage what is arguably* Australia’s biggest battle of the bands competition.

* You’d be doing very well to beat 12-13 major locations across half the continent.

Alice Cotton is an emerging artist who has returned to Darwin to ply her musical trade(s). Alice has a unique twist on folk-country music with original songs steeped in warmth and humour. Her songs draw influence from old-time American music, with a nod to growing up in humid climes amongst a tight-knit community in the Northern Territory. Alice is recording her first EP in late 2019.

Bill Quinn: What’s the Alice Cotton story? With music!

Alice Cotton: I was actually studying classical music; I used to play classical flute, but I just found it a bit of an elitist culture.

And then I really got into music therapy. It was through that I started song-writing and doing my own stuff.

I found it gave me more space to be more creative and do what I wanted to do and do gigs more easily.

BQ: Is that your ‘rent gig’? Do you do music therapy during the day?

AC: Yeah.

BQ: That seems to be a bit of a theme!

AC: Yeah, Crystal [Robins] as well! We actually studied together through University of Melbourne [Alice in Melbourne, Crystal in Sydney].

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Image courtesy of Alice Cotton

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Darwin Muso Series: Ben Evolent

Darwin Muso Series is a string of an indeterminate number of mini to medium to mega interviews with Darwin-based musicians and performing artists. Starting in September 2019, and we’ll see how many we can cover over the next weeks/months/years.

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Image courtesy of Ben Evolent Music

Ben Evolent

The Darwin Railway Club played host to the Darwin regional final of the Passport To Airlie competition in mid-September 2019.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music is held in November, however, in the lead-up, the organisers stage what is arguably* Australia’s biggest battle of the bands competition.

* If you can find a bigger one, I want it stuffed and mounted on display at ARIA or APRA headquarters, please.

Opening the batting for muso chats on the night (and for this series of interviews) was Josh Tarca of Ben Evolent.

(Just a quick Overheard At Passport To Airlie from my notes here. My mate leaned over as the third act came on and said, “I think the announcer said this band is from the Netherlands”.

Me: “No, the band’s name is ‘Ben Evolent’!)

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Ben Evolent performing in Passport To Airlie – Darwin at Darwin Railway Club

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Passport To Airlie – 2019 Darwin Heat (Darwin Railway Club)

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Image courtesy of Airlie Beach Festival of Music

Passport To Airlie – Darwin Heat (Darwin Railway Club)
Friday 13 September 2019, Darwin Railway Club

The Darwin Railway Club played host to the Darwin regional final of the Passport To Airlie competition in mid-September 2019.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music is held in November, however, in the lead-up, the organisers stage what is arguably Australia’s biggest battle of the bands competition.

And you’d have to argue very convincingly to beat this: regional finals in (take a deep breath): Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Nimbin, Newcastle, Sydney, Illawarra, Melbourne and Adelaide.

It’s huge.

And budding musos are all vying for the chance to participate in the final at Airlie Beach in November.

As well as the performance opportunity in 2019, the overall winner gets to return to play the main stage the following year, receiving four nights’ accommodation, VIP main tent passes, a $1000 performance fee, and a spot on Music View TV (Cairns).

If you’re a regional muso aiming to get your music to a wider audience, it’s well worth a shot.

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Mensch, Monique in Australia

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Image courtesy of Mensch, Monique!

Folk On The Road

Mensch Monique!: Interview at Cobargo Folk Festival

Mensch, Monique! were in Australia earlier this year, playing gigs, house concerts and festivals. I caught up with Jule and Georg at Cobargo Folk Festival to find out how musical and family life had been treating them since the days of The Beez.

We spoke under a blazing sun, with welcome shade from the café marquee, perched
precariously on milk crates, sipping on ginger and lemongrass over cubed
ice (just brilliant on a baking hot day).

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Cobargo Folk Festival 2019

Bill Quinn: How long has Mensch, Monique! been going? What are you doing? How is it going?

Jule Schroder: Well, actually, Georg and me, we have been playing since 2007.

BQ: And how about music?

JS: Exactly! Playing music! (And we’ve been playing together longer than that!) But I was in a band called ‘The Beez’; for such a long time.

BQ: The Beez? Can you spell that? I’m not familiar with this band.

[If you can’t pick up the irony in that sentence, go to https://overheardproductions.com/?s=The+beez you can read just one or two articles about this band over the past decade.]

JS: Tee Hahr Eeh Bee Double Eeh Zsedh. We were one Australian, one American, and two Germans.

BQ: And one of the Deutshes is now Australierin!

JS: That’s right. Deta got married to Rob a long time ago and now she’s got her spouse visa.

So, anyway, I was playing with The Beez, being busy. And there was just no point [after the birth of first child]. We couldn’t play gigs. Or we could, but it was just too hard.

So when I left The Beez in 2014, we said, “Let’s write some songs together”. And why not in German? And that’s what we did!

And it just takes a long time. You know, we’ve got two kids now. But we do it in our own tempo. Our own speed, you know? And we love it!

BQ: That’s very interesting that you do your songs in German, with English being the lingua franca for the world, the language that the majority of the planet understands. Tell me about when you perform in Germany. Is it 100% in German? Or do you mix it up a bit?

JS: We mix it up, but it’s really interesting because I talk to a lot of musician friends from Germany, and we came to the… schluss? … conclusion that we just HAVE to write songs in German because it’s our language.

It just doesn’t make sense that we only write songs in English, because that’s not our language.

And it’s a bit hard to sing in German, I must say. And what is really interesting for me is, because I write most of the melodies, I don’t think in German when I write the melodies. I can’t do that. It’s really interesting.

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Nina Lipscombe Art – ‘Witch’ Exhibition, Katoomba

Image courtesy of Nina Lipscombe Art

Interview with Nina Lipscombe, Katoomba (NSW)

Arriving in the Blue Mountains for a few days at short notice, I consulted the font of all knowledge on what was going on in most regions (Facebook Events), and it turned up an exhibition in Katoomba called ‘Witch’ by local artist Nina Lipscombe.

The paranormal, mythological, and mystical aren’t things that normally pique my interest, but increasingly, I’ll have a look at subject matter outside my normal interests. I’m glad I did.

‘Witch’ is an intriguing exploration of themes that may not exactly leap off the promo flyer or internet page. Speaking of our friend social media, a comment on the event page led to an exchange with the artist Nina Lipscombe, and a few days later, we were sitting in the leather-padded comfort of the guest lounge at the Carrington Hotel.

Bill Quinn: Just for my background, can you tell me a bit about how you came to be involved in art.

Nina Lipscombe: It’s an interesting story, because I didn’t do it very much in high school. I was doing theatre and television, but right after high school, I decided to dabble in it.

So I bought a kit from Hobby Lobby! It was Bill Alexander; he was the original happy painter. He’s the one that actually taught Bob Ross, with the happy clouds and the trees and everything else.

I bought this oil painting video, went to my garage, started painting, and I fell in love with it.

From then on, I started to make acrylics, water colours – mostly oils still – and it just kind of evolved from there.

I didn’t really get too involved with the arts scene in Tennessee at the time. But later in 2011, I moved to Argentina, and it kind of thrived from there.

I had exhibitions, I did workshops, I had private classes with really amazing teachers there, and I took off.

BQ: When I think about art around the world, Argentina definitely is on that list. I’m gonna say that the Tennessee art scene is not one that immediately springs to mind. What was that like?

NL: Yeah, you’re right about that! I’m not 100% sure; I never got highly involved with it. They do have some good art galleries, and really good art has come from Memphis. But the art scene there compared to Argentina and compared to here in the Blue Mountains is not quite as big.

Image courtesy of Nina Lipscombe Art

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Folk On The Road – 2019 Cobargo Folk Festival

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All images in this article by Bill Quinn

Folk On The Road

A highly irregular series reflecting on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

Back to Cobargo

Cobargo Folk Festival (CFF) in early March 2019 was a breath of fresh air for many who made their way to the beautiful green valleys and rolling hills just north of Bega, New South Wales. Not too far south of Narooma, and within a five iron of a heaven.

For this peripatetic scribe, it was a homecoming of sorts to the world of Australian folk festivals. A temporary one, as it transpired.

CFF came towards the end of a week or so in the Eurobodalla/Sapphire Coast region, just after the last member of my immediate family had left their home of almost twenty years in Bodalla, on an estate overlooking the quite stunning ranges of the Deua National Park.

But it was also a proper return to folk festivals after roughly five and a half years of continually wandering up and down the Australian east coast, from the deep south of New South Wales to the middling far north of Queensland.

(A handful of hours at Slacky Flat, Bulli in 2016 and 2019 doesn’t really count, does it?)

In those intervening years, the closest I’d come to our festival culture was random assorted gigs, and attendances, media, and volunteering/MC-ing at regional Queensland festivals in Cleveland, Stones Corner, and Boyne Island.

Though all events had minor folk elements, it was wonderful to be back among the campers, revellers, singers, musos, and so, so many familiar faces in a dedicated folk festival.

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