[Audio Interview] Harry Manx – 2016 Australian Tour

harrymanx-header
Image courtesy of Harry Manx

This is the audio file wrapped up in a bit of Overheard FM nonsense. The full written version will be here on Monday 17 October 2016 at midday AEST, 10pm Sunday Kentucky, US and 3am Monday UK time.

To tell the story of Harry Manx would take several lifetimes, and hopefully a progression of life-forms over those lives to tell the story, because the story is so mesmerising and complex that we would not be very present and in the moment of most of those lives and that could put the telling of the tale at risk as we would not be making gradual and continuous improvement as…

I believe the expression you’re looking for is, “Ain’t nobody got time for dat!”

Harry Manx performs at the 2012 National Folk Festival
Harry Manx performs at the 2012 National Folk Festival

Harry Manx has already begun his 2016 Australian tour which will take him from Sydney down to Victoria (where he is on stage tonight, Friday 23 September in Frankston) then around to Queensland, South Australia, Perth and up to Broome and Darwin, ending in the beautiful, lovely, gorgeous, I-may-be-a-little-hereditarily-biased New South Wales locales of Katoomba.

Ah, Katoomba. If there’s a more intimate, special venue than Clarendon Guest House, I want it stuffed, mounted, and hung above my fireplace – or I at least want an invite to your venue that can safely kick the Clarendon into a cocked hat. Or any poultry millinery for that matter.

And finally wrapping it all up at Club Saffire in Merimbula.

So it’s a very eclectic path Harry treads, and look, I’d draw you a picture if I had a free hand, but imagine a much-twisted paper clip that’s been sitting on your desk all day on a slow Friday when you’ve been watching the clock since 9:36am – now you’re in the ballpark.

OR picture a moose that somehow wandered into your yard, found your sippin’ liquor in the shed, and is now making a bedraggled, loquacious and somewhat winding stagger back to the forest by a circuitous route, two-thirds of it sideways. You got it! Continue reading

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A Punter’s Perspective February 2014: Phone Drones

Put the bloody thing away!
Put the bloody thing away!

A Punter’s Perspective

Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

Phone Drones

First published in Trad and Now magazine, February 2014

A funny thing happened on the way from the Illawarra Folk Festival.

It was Monday morning and I was walking to the Bulli train station in the light drizzle, a damp swag slung o’er the shoulder, a song in my heart and a tune in my pancreas. And as is my wont on a post-festival morn, I was ruminating on the music and song-filled days just passed when it suddenly struck me.

Something had been missing. Something had not been there. There had been a yawning chasm, a gaping void.

I couldn’t recall one single mobile phone sounding in a concert venue.

Not one loud blast of ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’ at an inopportune time.

No sudden fanfare of Morris Dancing’s greatest hit in inglorious polymorphic tones.

And while others may have suffered in the auditory department from SMS Alertsville, I could not recall one chirp, beep or apocryphal whistling tone* to announce an incoming text message.

(* I’m a liberal with a small ‘l’, but the creation and use of this whistling alert sound for text messages is, in my book, justification enough for the re-introduction of capital punishment. Especially on Sydney trains.) Continue reading

A Punter’s Perspective September 2012: Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own Part III

Nobody gonna break-a my stride. Just give me a minute...
Nobody gonna break-a my stride. Just give me a minute…

A Punter’s Perspective

Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own Part III

First published in Trad and Now magazine, September 2013

“Do you have to go on stage? Can’t you just get a radio mic and just let them know it starts in ten minutes off stage?”

The speaker was (and still is) a talented musician and a lovely bloke and what he was to say next was in no way meant to be demeaning. He was in his own pre-game/pre-show warm up and consequently his head was processing a few things and on auto-pilot.

Meanwhile, the MC was fatigued and slightly ill, on the road for 11 days and 3000 kms by road, rail, air, sea, and lots of walking, pack mule style. He…

Ok, let’s leave this third person malarkey alone. I had been on the train down the escarpment to the gig, nodding off slightly as the NSW Trains carriage gently rolled about from side to side within a narrow range of oscillation.

The phone had rung and the gig promoter had asked me to step in at the eleventh hour to MC the big, almost sold out extravaganza that many in the area had been building up to for many weeks.

An MC's pharmacy shelves
An MC’s pharmacy shelves

I’d literally run down Crown Street then back onto the one that runs parallel, stopping off for a bottle of medicine for later after the show. You know the sort of medicine I’m talking about. It comes in 700ml receptacles, this one was blended (many are single malt), and there are fine healers from Scotland who distill and distribute it for its magical, health-giving properties.

(As it happened, the stopper never came out and it stayed parked outside the venue, and I went to bed, un-dosed and with my medicine uncapped.)

Back to the Green Room. Continue reading

A Punter’s Perspective March 2014: No Such Things As Mistakes

Oops! There are no such things as mistakes.
Oops! There are no such things as mistakes.

A Punter’s Perspective: Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

No Such Things As Mistakes Part I

First published in Trad and Now magazine, March 2014

As has been the case from time to time in the seven years plus of A Punter’s Perspective, ’tis the night before deadline and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a half-decent idea for a folk music magazine article.

Realising my dilemma on the train to work today, I turned to the world’s font of most knowledge (and funny cat videos): Twitter. And I asked publicly to all, and pointedly to three or four music bloggers, what might a good topic be.

Image courtesy of The Dutch Guy
Image courtesy of The Dutch Guy

The answer came from a former radio presenter now blogger/vlogger (a kindred spirit, then) from the Netherlands who goes by the eponymous title of ‘The Dutch Guy’ (@DutchGuyOnAir), and he suggested:

“How about talking about some mistakes indie artists might make?”

By curious coincidence, this is a topic I’d considered before and only pulled back from it at the risk of causing offence.

Causing offence is a service I often provide — usually unintentionally.

I’ve put enough noses out of joint in the music world in the past nine years by commission, omission or at the very least, blind stupidity, and have no need to add to that score by inadvertent misadventure.

I often say that I can have intelligence insulted without watching certain TV programs or listening to certain radio stations. (And that I didn’t mention them by name is at least a sign that I’m learning — slowly.)

Similarly, I have no need to add to the great heaving morass of people I have annoyed by mistake or misinterpretation by going out of my way to rile them up. It’s just not how I’m wired and those who I run into who DO delight in this way of living, well, I just edge slowly away from them and run.

[UPDATE: This article was written at a time when I was pretty happy with life: working 6.5hrs a day at a very large multinational company — the one that never forgets that its THEIR money — bouncing between two locations (a girlfriend’s place in the south west of Sydney and a three-week on, three-week off arrangement taking care of a Tibetan Terrier and a three-level mansion of a place high, high up above the Pittwater on Sydney’s northern beaches.

I did not know it at the time, but all three were: mistakes. But maybe I had to have all of those fall and fail to embed the lessons of crowing too noisily about when things are going well. If you don’t know the parable about the bird that finds warmth and heat from a very unexpected place, then announces it to the world, ask me sometime. It’s not for here or I too could get covered in ship.]

Therefore, some disclaimers.

I am totally in awe of musicians, artists and singer-songwriters.

The concept of playing a three to 20-stringed instrument (or one you blow, slap or pump) while singing and possibly dancing (or at least a little light duck-walking), and then doing that from 20 minutes at a time, for up to three or four hours, leaves me absolutely breathless.

So any observations that I have about how musos ply their trade are made in that context. (See this is the fine print and early warning sign that so many miss and the next thing I’m being pilloried and people are jumping to conclusions so fast they strain their hamstrings.) Continue reading

Interview: Billy Bragg previews his March 2014 Australian/New Zealand Tooth And Nail tour (text version)

Billy Bragg's Australian Tooth and Nail tour
Billy Bragg’s Australian Tooth and Nail tour, March 2014. Image courtesy of Billy Bragg.

Interview audio version first posted in Timber and Steel in September 2013.
Interview text version first published in January 2014 edition of Trad and Now magazine.

Recorded in the studios of community radio station 2XX-FM, Canberra.

Thanks as always to these three venerable institutions for the very fine work they do in supporting folk and independent music in Australia.

In March 2014, Billy Bragg will be touring Australia with band on his ‘Tooth and Nail’ tour, part of a worldwide expo of his latest studio album. Last year, I interviewed Billy as he made a whirlwind promotional tour to Australia. We revisited some old themes and looked forward to this year’s tour.

[For the time poor, the full audio file of this interview (including outtakes featuring gratuitous underwear references) is at: Timber and Steel.]

Having interviewed Billy a year and four days previously, I started by asking him what the last 369 days had comprised.

Melbourne Recital Hall, Melbourne. 19 October 2012.
Melbourne Recital Hall, Melbourne. 19 October 2012.

Continue reading

A Punter’s Perspective #43: Overheard at the 2013 National Folk Festival

The iconic National Folk Festival bunting
The iconic National Folk Festival bunting

A Punter’s Perspective

Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

#43 Overheard at the 2013 National Folk Festival

First published in Trad and Now magazine, April 2013

I usually stop short of epithets like ‘the best’, ‘the greatest’ or such like. But in a relatively short experience of the National Folk Festival (my ninth of a possible 47), this year’s was definitely the most anticipated Nash I’ve personally known of.

A number of variables made the lead up to this one a little tantalising. The organisers made no bones about the fact that it’s been testing times for the National. Some may shudder at words they’ve used like ‘consolidation’, ‘challenge’ and ‘sustainable’, but I’m actually a bit of a fan.

If there are threats to a festival’s viability, you can either fix a smile and adopt a ‘Move on, nothing to see here, all is well’ approach. Or squat on your heels, furrow brows, chew bits of bark and declare we’ll all be rooned.

Or you can call a spade a spade (not a manual earth-moving device) and accept there are indeed challenges and forge ahead.

Disclaimer: I’m observing all of this from some distance, and am NOT privy to any of the National’s internal machinations. Continue reading

A Punter’s Perspective #42: 2013 Cobargo Folk Festival

2013 Cobargo Folk Festival
2013 Cobargo Folk Festival — it were a wee bit wet!

A Punter’s Perspective

Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

#42 2013 Cobargo Folk Festival

First published in Trad and Now magazine, March 2013

Like many festivals I include in my yearly routine, I’m not even going to approximate any sort of objectivity here.

I love the Cobargo Folk Festival.

It’s been an irregular destination for six years, but what a place to end up at?

Whether you’re coming from the north or the south, the approaches through gently rolling green hills and valleys are captivating. Despite having familial ties in the Eurobodalla Shire slightly to the north, it was only on way to my first Cobargo that I drove past Lake Corunna, and nearly ran off the road as I sucked all the oxygen from the surrounding atmosphere.

It’s a stunning part of the world.

And the festival site looks like it was placed there by an inspired land surveyor/geo-spatial technician/landscape art historian. I will never tire of simply drifting around the site from top to bottom, over the ridge and back again, finding some new perspective, some new aspect, some new way the light has hit the trees or crept through a cloud outside the venue, at just the right time and just the right angle.

And all that before the music’s even started. Continue reading