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

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A Punter’s Perspective #41: Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own II

Belting out drivel on a smartphone at the Carrington Hotel, Katoomba.
Belting out drivel on a smartphone at the Carrington Hotel, Katoomba.

A Punter’s Perspective

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

#41 Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own II

First published in Trad and Now magazine, February 2013

This is where the text goes. Normally.

This article was written in the bar of the Carrington Hotel one Tuesday morning as I stretched the monthly friendship with Trad and Now’s very personable editor to get something vaguely printable in by the sometimes usually rubbery marker some people refer to as a deadline.

I had several challenges that day, not the least of which was a dead laptop.

So over the course of about two and a half hours, I wrote and submitted my article in text on a Samsung Galaxy I.

It was a bit silly. Nay, it was a lot silly.

I didn’t think I still had it, but it’s there in my sent emails on Gmail. I’ll probably save a copy into Dropbox for posterity’s sake.

But I don’t see any need to regurgitate it here now. It’s more for continuity than anything else.

I had a timely and amusing reminder of my publisher’s good humour and brevity of phrase when I told him some weeks later that normal service would be resumed in the March edition. His response was simply:

“Good.”

The Carrington Hotel, Katoomba.
The Carrington Hotel, Katoomba.

A Punter’s Perspective 01 — From a punter’s perspective

The author
The author

A Punter’s Perspective
First published in Trad and Now magazine

#1 From a punter’s perspective
First published in Trad and Now magazine, December 2006

 

Bill Quinn

The world of folk boasts a limitless supply of people whose breadth and depth of knowledge of their craft and art is simply breath-taking. Their technical knowledge is detailed, their repertoires seemingly endless. Some folklorists have researched, collected and interpreted material for decades, their own lives becoming living folk legends of themselves. Traditional and contemporary artists encapsulate decades and centuries of history in a few short verses or stanzas.

But then there be folk like the author: the punters. We’re the people who hang around the back of session bars in dumb-struck awe (“Awww!”). We watch musicians on stage and can’t work out how they tune an instrument and breathe at the same time, much less engage an audience in simultaneous banter. And as for the seamless transition between fiddle, guitar, bodhran and tin whistle – did those people start learning their trade in the womb?!

We don’t know our jigs from our reels or our airs from our graces. We think an autoharp is Dublin’s car club, that a bouzouki is something immediately followed by ‘bless you’, and that lute is something you get paid if you manage to shift a few CDs.

But we attend festivals, buy the music, wear the t-shirts, sniff out the folk clubs, find when acts are playing in the mainstream world, and even surf off into cyberspace to broaden our folky horizons. We occasionally pluck up (pun intended) the courage to blunder up to musicians at an appropriate time and place (i.e. the middle of the campground – Hi, Geraldine!) to tell them their work has moved or touched us in some way or inspired us or had some profound, life-changing effect.

We don’t necessarily know good folk, but we know what we like. Sometimes we even struggle to spell it proper: hey, if it rhymes with ‘joke’… Continue reading