Folk On The Road – Endless Sky: A Personal, Musical Love Letter To Mparntwe

Alice Springs - First visit in March-April 2021
Anzac Hill at Alice Springs. From the author’s first visit in March-April 2021. Before I knew the word ‘Mparntwe’, definitely before I knew how to pronounce it. Thanks, Xavia for the video instruction during Endless Sky, recorded by 8CCC Community Radio et al on 21 August 2021 at Araluen Arts Centre, Mparntwe, transmitted on 13 September 2021 – see article for link.

This article also appeared in an edited format in the October 2021 edition no. 144 of Trad & Now magazine – available in good newsagents and some sketchy ones too. Or by subscription at www.tradandnow.com.

This article was principally written on the lands of the Central Arrernte people in Mparntwe (Alice Springs). I’m creating this online version on the lands of Western Arrernte people and doing the most recent of many edits in Walyalup (Fremantle) on the lands of the Whadjuk people. I pay respect to the traditional custodians of these lands: past, present, emerging, and those to come. The author of this rambling tome was born on Ngunnawal land.

Endless Sky – A Personal, Musical Love Letter to Mparntwe

by Bill Quinn

Darwin Festival 2021 went ahead from Thursday 4 to Sunday 22 August 2021, and as the song says, it was against all odds.

Well, not all odds, but many.

In these pages [of Trad & Now magazine] we’ve discussed the challenges (and strangely the opportunities) that Covid19 or corona virus or SARS2 has presented to the worlds of music, arts, entertainment, and hospitality.

For now, I have to tip all of my hats in the direction of Harbour View Plaza in McMinn Street, Darwin and say the sincerest and deepest of thanks to everyone at Darwin Festival who made DF21 happen. That it happened at all is remarkable. That it blossomed forth in such sparkling, memorable fashion is an incredible accomplishment.

If you were attending the festival from out of town, or were new to the festival, it may have appeared a seamlessly professional and comprehensive series of so many events covering all the aspects of the yarts imaginable. Apart from three days off for Darwin’s Lockdown Light III (17-19 August 2021), the show went on, and every spot on the program that I can recall was filled with sparkling talent.

Yeah, sadly many southern artists could not make it to the Top End to join in the joy and fun. That was a shame.

Festival CEO James Gough and Artistic Director Felix Preval, and the scores of production, box office, talent-wrangling, stallholder-herding, sales, corporate liaison, sponsor-schmoozers, and volunteer coordinator Mathilde Mercadier – all of them ducked, weaved, bobbed, re-organised, rescheduled, reordered, and (strike me down, I’m going to use the P word) yes, they pivoted. (There goes a dollar in the buzzword jar.)

Together they created an amazing event, a jewel in a groaning, heaving, bloated, glorious calendar of Darwin and Top End events.

Darwin Festival 2021. Image by Bill Quinn.
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Barry Skipsey – Singer, Songwriter, Photographer

Image courtesy of Barry Skipsey

Overheard On The Road
Observations, interviews, and stories from the backroads, main roads, and city streets of Terra Australis and the world
– This article appeared in Trad & Now magazine in early 2021.

Barry Skipsey – Photographer, Singer-songwriter, Northern Territorian
by Bill Quinn with Madison Collier

In June 2021, the Central Australian Folk Society (CAFS) and Top End Folk Club (TEFC) held their slightly delayed 50th Top Half Folk Festival at Mary River, NT.

You can read all about it in Trad & Now edition 143, September 2021. Mentioned in dispatches is Barry Skipsey, a man of many talents, with a story to tell that’s in many ways a common tale: come to Australia’s Northern Territory for a few weeks; stay for decades.

But in the most important way, it’s unique to Barry Skipsey.

A man who just yesterday (as I type in late 2021) appeared on stage in Alice Springs with no less than Scotty Balfour, Ross Muir, and David Evans in the ‘Living Histories’ show: stories and songs from the legendary band Bloodwood, plus their solo adventures outside the band.

On a Sunday afternoon in June, The Shavings had finished their singing workshop and the afternoon concert was kicking in, we had a chat with Barry, dressed in his territory rig and leaning against his territory rig. (First rig is a clothes reference, the second is a mighty automobile that ploughs the Stuart Highway and beyond).

Image courtesy of Barry Skipsey

Bill Quinn: Barry, you’ve been doing folk for about 145 years?

Barry Skipsey: (Laughs) Seems like it. I’m only 64 but yeah, we’ve all got aches and pains. I’ve got a couple of brand new knees in recent years.

BQ: But you’re not originally from the Northern Territory?

BS:  No, I was actually born on King Island. I’m a Tasmanian, technically.

I left there when I was about six years old. My father was over there building soldier settler homes. My brother and I were born there, and I left there when I was six. And I often say that we came to Australia. We came to Melbourne.

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Xavia – Horizons: Music Inspired By The Landscapes of Centralia

Image courtesy of Xavia. Photo by Micah Barnes, Micah Barnes Photography (vimeo.com)

One of the great joys of music (and the yarts in general) is making new discoveries.

When I went to my first National Folk Festival in hometown Canberra, Australian Capital Territory in 2005, it was a journey of only 2.7kms from my first home into another world or planet.

When driving through Sydney and listening to FBi Radio 94.5FM, I love mostly hearing only music and artists whom I’ve never heard before.

Same syndrome applied last night at Monte’s Lounge in Mparntwe Alice Springs, Northern Territory during the 8CCC Community Radio 102.1fm – Alice Springs & Tennant Creek Sunday Sessions. All bangers, all new to my ears.

Image courtesy of Xavia. Picture by Jeff Tan Photography.

I’d never heard of Xavia before August 2021 when the first draw of a bow across her cello reduced me to a watery pile of salty liquid on the dusty grounds of the Sunset Stage of Darwin Festival in Garramilla Darwin, Larrakia country.

But much as I didn’t know Dave Crowe Music either (also performing in the same concert that night as Resin Moon), I’ve probably heard Xavia’s music before but didn’t know it. Various gods (especially sun gods) thank the moguls of film, TV, and other media that love to pay phat or medium stacks to independent artists to licence their art.

(Not every Australian would know the band Flight Facilities, but I’d wager that about 80% of Terra Australians could instantly recognise one of their songs.)

I should also tip my Stetson to the others on stage that night: Casii Williams, Paul Ah Chee, Bambadino, and the magnificent Alice Sings under the direction of Ed Gould. If the performance of Endless Sky at Araluen Arts Centre is totally new news to you, then hi. I’m Bill ‘Quinny’ Quinn. I thought we’d met! (I’ve mentioned it just a few times on social media in the last two months. Just a few.) 😉

Ok, muggles. Strap yourselves in, and be prepared to slap your Mparntwe mates with a bunch of lightly-dampened celery and bellow, ‘Why did you not tell me this was happening in August? What am I to you? Chopped liver? A block of flats? A ham sandwich? Why don’t you love me anymore?’

Ok, admittedly that’s at the top of the dial for intensity of response. Let’s move on, shall we?

We shall. Click here, and don’t thank me later. Thank THEM!

Back to Xavia. This is her song ‘Horizons’ – the original version.

Through the wonders of technology, you can experience many different versions of ‘Horizons’ with just a few clicks of a keyboard, or twitches of your thumbs on your preferred device.

I inwite you to do just that. Then if so motivated, go to http://www.xaviamusic.com/ as I did and hoover up her music for less than you’d spend on a great meal and a craft beer at Monte’s Lounge in Todd Street, Alice Springs. My personal recommendations: Chicken Mesquite, a Dawn Patrol, and Xavia’s current single Saule – and I’m still working on how I add the acute on the ‘e’ on this laptop that doesn’t have a numbers pad…

No, wait. I came up with a solution last week. It helps if you speak French, but that’s not a pre-requisite. Once more with feeling: Saulé. Formidable! Facile!! (French for ‘wonderful’ and ‘simple’.)

^^^^ My Favourite Song and Record of 2021.

My opus ex animo article in the October 2021 edition no. 144 of Trad And Now magazine is called ‘Endless Sky – A Personal, Musical Love Letter to Mparntwe. It’s ok as articles go, but the online version is more polished, eye-wateringly longer, and contains embedded photos, videos, and links. I mean, it will do when I finish playing with it in draft. Two weeks and one day now.

It’s coming like Christmas, but hopefully before. 😉

Bill ‘Quinny’ Quinn
Mparntwe/Alice Springs
Central Arrente NT
Australie

As with all my articles, it’s a living, breathing, evolving, ever-changing beastie, and I’ll tinker and tweak it for days to years to decades to come. If a link is busted, or some detail is wrong or could be improved on, please post a comment or get in touch via the Contact page. BQ.

Top Half Folk Festival Turns 50

Top Half Folk Festival celebrated its 50th in time-honoured tradition: with cake.

This article also appeared in Trad & Now magazine in August 2021.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and almost three hundred hearts were filled with music, song, poetry, and good cheer in June as the Top Half Folk Festival (THFF) returned – after a year on sick leave – to celebrate their milestone 50th annual event.

Covid19 had cancelled the festival in 2020, and conditions were still dicey in the lead-up (meaning some interstate visitors could not make the trek north). But it all kicked off in brilliant conditions and sublime surroundings at the Mary River Wilderness Retreat on the June long weekend.

While I’m not on commission for the venue, I highly recommend you add this little accommodation gem to your itinerary if you’re headed to the top end.

Situated just over 100kms east of Darwin along the Arnhem Highway, the cabins and sprawling campgrounds are tailor-made for a folk festival or a stopover. And the management have been generous and constant supporters of THFF since it moved to that locality in 2000.

Well, half of it moved there. Let’s go back a step.

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From The Vault: The Woodford Files 2014-2015 – John Smith (UK), January 2015

john-smith
Image courtesy of John Smith

Originally posted on Timber and Steel blog: https://timberandsteel.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/the-woodford-files-john-smith-uk/

John Smith is performing at Woodford Folk Festival, and at the time of writing has just finished his last show at The Duck.

While that’s bad news for anyone on site who missed his gigs, or for anyone who got along and just wants to see more, the good news for John is that he can now find a shady tree and try to keep cool for the rest of the festival.

“This weather is too hot for my blood!” he observed to the lunchtime crowd of Duck Eggs, as he referred to them, in a friendly way.

While pumping up the nachos at The Chef’s Table and their other gastronomical delights.

Bill Quinn was phonetically challenged….

I’m sorry, I’ll read that again.

Bill Quinn was challenged in terms of phone access which left John with some extra time to enjoy the shade of the Coopers Bar, but they eventually caught up for a chat:

*** Audio file will be deleted by end of March 2020 ***

*** Audio file will be deleted by end of March 2020 ***

JS1
Image courtesy of John Smith

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From The Vault: The Woodford Files 2014-2015: Paper Lions, David Cyrus MacDonald and Confederation Entertainment Inc., December 2014

paperlions
Image courtesy of Paper Lions

Article originally appeared on Timber and Steel: https://timberandsteel.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/the-woodford-files-paper-lions-david-cyrus-macdonald-and-confederation-entertainment-inc/

While sitting in the media centre, writing in the last post about how Overheard Productions got its name, Bill Quinn overheard David Cyrus MacDonald drop in to talk with the office staff.

About 3.6 minutes later, David and Bill were outside the donga by the Spirit of Woodford office, standing variously on the wooden palets or in the mud, dodging dangerous ants the size of small cats, and speaking over the sound spill creeping up the hill from Bluestown, chatting about Paper Lions, music advocacy, and the wondrous, wonderful Woodford.

And Confederation Entertainment Inc.

*** Audio file will be removed by end of March 2020 ***

*** Audio file will be removed by end of March 2020 ***

PaperLions1
Image courtesy of the Paper Lions

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From The Vault: The Woodford Files 2014-2015 – Miami Marketta and Rabbit Radio (Gold Coast), December 2014

rabbitradio
Image courtesy of Rabbit Radio

Originally posted in Timber and Steel: https://timberandsteel.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/the-woodford-files-miami-marketta-and-rabbit-radio-gold-coast/

I’m not certain, but it may be that Rabbit Radio has gone the way of the dodo. Their website comes back with an error message, and their last tweet was some time in 2016. Shame.

RabbitRadio
Image courtesy of Streema

Bill Quinn’s Overheard Productions title is about many things, but mostly about the chance slivers of conversation or even a word or two that leads to a new discovery.

Standing in The Duck at The Chef’s Table, waiting on a plate full of life-giving nachos, Bill chanced to hear and then see Joey Channon, the stage manager at The Duck for the morning and early afternoon sessions, and had his interest piqued by Joey’s t-shirt (Rabbit Radio).

Two days later, and Bill and Joey were seated in the most salubrious of surrounds (on the slippery slope at the back of the gent’s toilets next to The Duck and The Travelling Sisters‘ caravan), chatting about performance spaces, and radio, and grass roots music development.

*** Audio file will be removed by the end of March 2020 ***

*** Audio file will be removed by the end of March 2020 ***

MiamiMarketta
Image courtesy of Miami Marketta

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From The Vault: The Woodford Files 2014-2015 – The Travelling Sisters, December 2014

the-travelling-sisters1
Image courtesy of The Travelling Sisters

The Travelling Sisters are a lot of fun. I mean, when you get to hang out in a caravan for a week in the middle of a busy festival precinct you’ve got to bring the happy haps a fair bit, yes/no?

Laura, Elle and Lucy are The Travelling Sisters. See if you can pick out which is which on the audio recording below. Hint: Laura is the blonde. Typing out the text from audio over five years later, I’m not going to even try. Soz.

Mixing music, theatre, improv and audience participation, The Travelling Sisters fill that little caravan-y void where some punters might remember a couple of late night clowns used to perform out back of ‘The Duck’ (the venue formerly known as ‘The Duck and Shovel’).

Albeit that they’re performing at the more universally awake hour of 5/5.30pm (see below for days and times).

Bill Quinn caught up with Laura, Elle and Lucy the morning after a very special and important day in the Woodford lives of these three young performers.

Please excuse the sound spills. We did ask for trouble by agreeing that if anyone interrupted we would treat it not as a problem but as an opportunity.

*** Audio will be deleted by the end of March 2020 ***

*** Audio will be deleted by the end of March 2020 ***

TTS1
Image courtesy of The Travelling Sisters

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From The Vault – The Woodford Files 2014-2015: Brass Knuckle Brass Band, December 2014

brass-knuckle-brass-band1
Image courtesy of Brass Knuckle Brass Band

The Brass Knuckle Brass Band is the sister band of Moochers Inc who appeared on The Woodford Files last week.

If you stopped, looked slightly up and right, and mused, “Sister act? But dude, they’re all dudes!” then score five points for Gryfindor.

Coming out of Canberra faster than the Federal Highway or a politician with a dog-eared credit card, BKBB will explode everything you ever thought about brass bands, unless those thoughts are sexy, fun, dance, sweaty and more sexy.

Yes, brass is definitely the new black and if you knew sousaphone like I knew sousaphone, oh oh, oh I’m getting too old for this site because that gag was told me to by the midwife. At my birth.

Herewith, Cameron Smith, band-leader extraordinaire.

*** Audio file will be deleted by end of March 2020 ***

*** Audio file will be deleted by end of March 2020 ***

BKBB1
Image courtesy of the Brass Knuckle Brass Band

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

PTA-D01
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.

PTA-D02.jpg

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