2022 has been a big year for fans of Canadian folk-rocker Neil Young.
(Arguably it’s been a big year for Neil himself, but he wasn’t available for comment prior to press time.)
It’s been 50 years since Young’s seminal album ‘Harvest’ was released in February 1972. (The column author was in first grade at Rosary Demonstration School at the time and was sadly oblivious to this moment in musical history.) ‘Harvest’ was the best-selling album of 1972 in the USA and has remained Neil Young’s best-selling album to date.
‘Harvest’ was remastered and re-released on 2 December 2022, and not surprisingly in this digital, multi-platform age, it comes with a host of extras. The reissue comes in either vinyl or CD box set form, with both including two DVDs. Young’s much-bootlegged ‘BBC In Concert’ is included on CD and vinyl in the respective packages, and three ‘Harvest’ outtakes are also made available in physical form for the first time – on a third CD or a 7-inch record in the vinyl set.
And early December 2022 saw the debut limited release of the 1971 film ‘Harvest Time‘, a documentary covering the ‘Harvest Barn’ sessions at Young’s northern California farm, his performance with the London Symphony Orchestra in London, and in Nashville there are scenes of Young working on various album tracks.
Support act is the wonderfully talented local singer-songwriter Carla Geneve.
MTRC have a new seven-track EP out and about – ‘Back In The Day’. It’s a mixture of reworked Weddings, Parties, Anything and Mick Thomas and the Sure Thing tracks, plus some others from The Saints, Johnny Thunders, and Neil Young & Crazy Horse. It’s a teaser for a 2023 album in the works titled ‘Where Only Memory Can Find You’.
On Monday 12 December in Fremantle time for the interviewers, and just a tick or three of the clock into Tuesday for the interviewee in Melbourne, Mick generously gave some of his time at the witching hour to talk with Frank Hodges and Bill Quinn from 107.9FM Radio Fremantle about the upcoming dates in WA.
Bill Quinn: Hopefully on Saturday we can bung on some balmy weather, but joining as from the cold, Siberian-like/Arctic wasteland that is Melbourne, we can say hello, good evening, Mick Thomas.
Mick Thomas: Hello to you.
BQ: Is it as bad over there as we’re hearing? Is it really, really cold?
MT: It’s too cold for this time of year, in my opinion.
BQ: Mick, before we dive into questions about the EP and the upcoming album and the gigs, I’ve got a bit of a confession. In the last ten years or so, I’ve lost track of the Mick Thomas story since the days when I was part of the furniture at the Illawarra Folk Festival – where you were always a very welcome visitor to the Slacky Flat Pavilion.
Can you just fill us in with what you’ve been up to in the last ten years or so?
MT: I’ve been making records and putting together bands, different bands. Yeah, I just kept making music; that’s my thing. That’s why I keep making records.
The new thing is The Roving Commission which is me and Wally [‘Mark “Squeezebox Wally” Wallace] who was in the Weddings with me – Weddings, Parties, Anything. Wally came back into it and had a big part – a big role in it.
We thought we wanted a second singer in it, so we’ve run through a bunch from Shelley Short to Ayleen O’Hanlon to Jac Tonks to Brooke Russell. And we finally ended up with Brooke Taylor who’s there at the moment, and she’s sort of killing it, and we really like that.
So I really like that second singer. We’ve played lots, we’ve made some records during the lockdowns of Melbourne, which is something you guys in Perth didn’t get.
But we got it. It was pretty big and it was pretty strong, and it really affected us. But we made a couple of records. And we made them in our back rooms and we sent our files to each other. It was a big deal.
Having not ventured from Perth/Fremantle since landing in Western Australia in April 2022, it was great to zip off for two weeks in a rented campervan to see the great south west, mostly to take in the 2022 Albany International Folk ‘N Shanty Festival. Heading off towards a weekend of music, song, and good people is hard to beat.
It was my first time driving in Western Australia and proved quite the revelation. WA for me conjures up images of stark rocky ranges, miles of pindan dust, and a harsh, dry climate. But Freo to Albany and return via Denmark, Nannup, and Margaret River has the look and feel of south east NSW or Victoria. Dairy cow, vineyard, and tall tree country.
Albany is quite stunning. Turning up early and staying late was wise. A boat across Oyster Harbour and up Kalgan River, a morning zip around King George Sound on a whale-spotting boat, a spin out to the wind farm, and wanderings around the tops of Mounts Melville and Clarence (Corndarup) – all recommended diversions. Bring a jumper.
Add in a trip to a local brewery and the giniversity and that was a pretty full first visit. Now add 2.5 days of a shanty festival and stir liberally.
This article also appeared in edition 151 of Trad And Now magazine in September 2022.
Here in south west Australia, and in niche but growing enclaves around the country and the world, many of us are starting to get a little excited for the upcoming Albany International Folk ‘n’ Shanty Festival which takes place from Friday 30 September to Sunday 2 October 2022.
“From fireside folk sessions and concerts, to full blown pub shanty singing, from tales of pirates, whales and shipwrecks; the Albany International Folk ‘n Shanty Festival turns historic Albany/Kinjarling into a playground of maritime culture.” – shantyfest.com
Albany may not lay claim to the most remote festival venue on the continent, but there would be few that could beat it. Albany is 3,335kms by road from Melbourne, 3,864kms from Sydney, and about a five hour drive south from Perth.
But more of the festival itself in a future edition. I mention it here for context to say I’ve been booked in to attend for a while, so when news of a CD launch of sea shanties and songs of the sea* bobbed up, my interest was already piqued.
* There’s a difference between the two. All shall be revealed hereunder.
Band members were understandably taking any chance to plug the CD and gig around Fremantle in the lead-up, and group member Jon Cope spent some time during ‘Folking Around’ on Radio Fremantle to talk in detail about the recordings’ evolution and background.
Normally, I would have been one of the interviewers, however, I was struck down by a debilitating (non-plague) illness that week, so my colleagues of the airwaves manned the bridge and took the wheel: Frank Hodges (asking the lion’s share of the questions) and Alan Dawson (on the panel, knobs, buttons, and light comic relief).
One of the joys of landing in a new locality is the gradual discovery of new venues, local watering holes, gigs, and music sessions.
After a self-imposed hermitical existence in Brisbane for three and a half months at the start of 2022, I jumped in to south west Australia with both boots upon arrival in April, and have since been to stacks of lively places for all manner of events.
It helps to be filling in as co-host of ‘Folking Around’ on 107.9FM Radio Fremantle on Mondays from 9-11pm AWST – go to www.radiofremantle.com.au to listen live or on-demand to months of previous shows. (Spot the subtle plug? No? Good.)
Host Frank Hodges starts every show with an extensive run-down on gigs in the Greater Perth and Fremantle areas, and it’s been great to zip out and experience some of these first-hand.
On a chilly July Sunday afternoon, I set off to the Inglewood Bowling Club in Mount Lawley. For the sensible, it’s a drive to the back of Inglewood Oval and a park right outside the venue on Stancliffe Street. For me, it was a bus to Fremantle, train to Perth Station, then a very pleasant hour’s walk north in pale, wintry, late afternoon sunshine.
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.
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
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).
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.
Folk On The Road – Fieldsy: A Divine Slice Of Dublin Via WA
This article also appeared in Trad & Now magazine in July 2022.
Back at last behind a typewriter (for Trad & Now) after a break of about six months.
Those months have gone by in something of a blur. Mparntwe, Brisbane, and Perth are all now in the rear view mirror. Darwin seems like a lifetime ago. (It’s been nine months in earth years).
Crash-landed in Fremantle in late May and looking to drop an anchor here for a while, it occurred to me I’d gone the year without any live original music gigs in the calendar. (With the exception of Bushtime at Woodfordia on New Year’s Day.)
Soon after making that realisation, social media chimed in with an alert to say that perennial favourite Daniel Champagne was appearing at Freo.Social in a few days’ time. One quick online transaction and some changed social plans later, and come the first Friday in June, I was plonked in the band room at this wonderful WA venue.
Just before the gig, I noticed the support act was ‘Fieldsy’, and with no other information to go on, I pictured a bald bloke in a blue singlet with three chords, six teeth, and the truth.
The reality was something (and someone) quite different.
Fieldsy comes from Dublin, from a large, rowdy family. A Catholic schoolgirl who went on to become a singer-songwriter recording artist in several guises. Then in the early 2010s when the Celtic Tiger had roared, reared up, and been well and truly tamed, Fieldsy and family decamped to Australia in search of better economic fortunes.
Cut forward to 2022, with even more musical incarnations under her belt, Fieldsy is making a return to performing after a few months off with vocal maladies and a dose of the dreaded corona plague.
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.)
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.
In late June 2020, Jeremiah Johnson and I tried to do what I term a ‘guerrilla interview’: an off-the-cuff chat, no interminable plans to talk at some point in the future which may get moved up to 36 times, just a wham-bam, thank you, man for the good talk.
We got snookered twice. The first time by a dodgy connection from Coconut Grove, NT (me) and somewhere near Mareeba, Qld (Jeremiah), and we gave up after two or three minutes.
The second time worked a charm a few days later, this time from Bellamack, NT (me) and Cairns, Qld (Jeremiah). Most of that went out as a live Facebook video which you can view now at www.facebook.com/OverheardProductions, but you’ll have to scroll down or use the search function, or just click on the hyperlink earlier on this sentence. I’m all over WordPress like a cheap suit. Not so much.
The process of getting the interview onto the website – www.OverheardProductions.com – took a little longer. Let’s just leave the ‘guerrilla’ title for Facebook and call this version: Jeremiah Johnson Talks About Indie Music In The Time Of Pandemic. Fun Fact: I just went to Facebook to check the actual broadcast date, and Facebook helpfully reports it was: ‘About two weeks ago’. Great.
Bill Quinn: It is Wednesday the 20-somethingth of June. It doesn’t really matter that much since it will be in the text.
I’m speaking with Jeremiah Johnson in Cairns. G’day Jeremiah.
Jeremiah Johnson: G’day Bill, how’re you going?
BQ: Very good. Now despite pandemic, you’ve been a fairly busy boy lately. Tell us about that.
JJ: Well, I’ve just been consolidating probably about 40 songs in the music catalogue, trying to navigate the rest of the year as far as bookings go, and I have just taken a booking for my first live show in Cairns on the 24th of July, so that’s very exciting.
BQ: That is exciting.
Up here in Darwin, we’re a little bit spoilt because gigs have been back on for a little while. We try not to chuck it in other people’s faces. But what’s it been like there in Cairns? How have people been feeling about not having live gigs, both as performers and also the punters?
JJ: I can only speak from my point of view and that is that it’s been a really weird feeling to not be able to pursue your work and to not play music in front of people.
I mean, that’s what we like to do the most, so as far as the rest of the community is concerned, I’m not sure but I know that people love live music, they love getting out with their friends, and I’m sure that would be difficult, yeah.