[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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Humph Hall: An Open Letter to Warringah Council (NSW, Australia)

Image courtesy of Humph Hall via NSW Folk Federation (www.jam.org.au)
Image courtesy of Humph Hall via NSW Folk Federation (www.jam.org.au)

### STOP PRESS. On Sunday 9 March 2014, I had a long chat with Wayne Richmond at Humph Hall about this epic saga.

There are two sides to every story, but this one’s more like a dodecahedron. Wayne was quick to acknowledge the positive input from Warringah councillors, mayor and even the personal attention of NSW planning portfolio.

Articles to come here and at Timber and Steel soon.

Humph Hall: An Open Letter to Warringah Council by Bill Quinn

Written on the E89 bus from Bilgola Plateau to Railway Square, Sydney NSW, Australia

Friday 7 March 2014

If a picture says a thousand words, here’s several million for you.

Go to Google Images — http://www.google.com/imghp — and search on ‘humph hall’ then scroll, view, scroll view, next page, etc. That will tell you the value of this venue more eloquently than I can. But do read on!

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When it comes to angrily shaking my fists in a Peter Finch/Shaun Micallef ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore’ style of protest, I prefer direct contact.

I just don’t online petition. I’m glad for you to do so, but don’t ask me to sign one.

So having read in The Manly Daily about the latest in the legal wrangle over fire and safety at Humph Hall, and the fact that Warringah Council is now dragging Wayne Richmond and Gial Leslie into court over the matter, I took time out from my morning ritual of staring inquisitively out the bus window along Barrenjoey Road to Haymarket, and tapped out the below, patiently navigating council’s rather confusing and limiting web-site to submit my two cents’ worth.

To contact Warringah Council, go to: http://www.warringah.nsw.gov.au/

“Liking Facebook pages and reposting memes is not enough in days like these.”
— Bill Quinn via Billy Bragg. Continue reading

Interview: Van Larkins (Queensland)

Image courtesy of Owen Van Larkins
Image courtesy of Owen Van Larkins

Interview with (Owen) Van Larkins

Progressive Acoustic Fusion — Finger-style Guitar

On one of those nights earlier this year where I could have pulled up stumps in Blackheath, Balmain or Bollongong, I opted for the middle option on a warm evening at a programmed open mic night (for want of a cleaner turn of phrase), one of many put on each week under the label ‘Songs On Stage‘.

It was an eclectic mix of local performers at The Cat and Fiddle that night but the gig was also host to a visiting performer: Owen Van Larkins (who puts his music out as Van Larkins).

Owen and I took a few minutes to catch up talk about music, touring and venues, and I apologise now for the charming backdrop of traffic on Darling Street, Balmain:

Title track from Wandering Hands by Van Larkins:

Fun Machine: tipping folk on its glittery head

Fun Machine at Canberra Centenary Celebrations. Photo courtesy of Martin Ollman.
Fun Machine at Canberra Centenary Celebrations. Photo courtesy of Martin Ollman.

You don’t have to go back too far ago to a time when Fun Machine were an energetic three-piece band making underground waves in Canberra’s lively, teeming independent music scene.

But in a couple of short years (as opposed to the long ones which sadly died out in the late 1800s), Fun Machine’s star has been rising, thanks in no small part to some solid support from the Canberra Musicians Club.

And the amazing advocacy provided by 666ABC (AM Radio) Canberra for all things Canberra indie, but specifically Fun Machine. I may be wrong, but I believe that breakfast announcer Ross Solly may want to adopt them all, which is no mean feat as over this time, the band has doubled in size.

At Canberra’s ‘One Very Big Day’ this week to celebrate the city’s centenary, Fun Machine played to a heaving, sweaty mess of young and old beautiful people, as the last of the fireworks fell away (some into the crowd, allegedly!) as they put a fairly massive stamp on their cross-genre and cross-market universal appeal.

See a full photo set by photographer Bron King (aka guitarist Sam’s mum) here on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151350025671378.1073741828.521931377&type=3

Gigging around Canberra in various formats and bands, the members will rejoin as Fun Machine at this year’s National Folk Festival at EPIC in Canberra over the Easter Long Weekend.

If I were you, I’d…wonder whether those red pumps go with that skirt.

No, if I were giving you a serving suggestion for your Nash experience, I’d be taking a very brightly-coloured Spandex highlighter and putting a golden ring (eh you?) around Fun Machine in your programs.

On Tuesday last, as Canberra celebrated 100 years young with a mass of parties at the shops, I caught up with Bec Taylor and Chris Endrey from the band. Bec starts us off and that would be Chris you can hear crunching his way through the first of Canberra’s autumn leaves as we stood in salubrious surroundings outside the gents at O’Connor Shops. Bec and Chris had just done a stripped-back, rootsy, acoustic set under their duo moniker ‘Yes/No’.

Fun Machine on Triple J Unearthed: http://www.triplejunearthed.com/FunMachine

Times for Fun Machine at the National Folk Festival:

Thursday 28 March, 11pm — Scrumpy
Friday 29 March, 11pm — Majestic
Saturday 30 March, midnight — Majestic
Sunday 31 March, 3pm — Majestic
Monday 1 April, 5pm — Majestic

Kim Churchill — off to tour USA and Canada

Image courtesy of Kim Churchill
Image courtesy of Kim Churchill

Kim Churchill has a few more shows to go in Australia before he heads off to USA to join the tour of one Stephen William Bragg (aka Billy Bragg).

At the Cobargo Folk Festival in February, Kim Churchill was the recipient of my vicarious joy at this news, and we spontaneously had a chat, leaning on someone’s trailer, outside a venue, out in the open — which was a bit of a mistake because as I now know: don’t try to do these things in a flukey, swirling breeze.

I’m sure you’ll cope. Muggins here did the best he could with the sound balance.

Kim’s remaining Australian dates:

Thursday 14 March — Beav’s Bar, Geelong (Vic)
Friday 15 March — Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne (Vic)

Saturday 16 to Sunday 17 March — Blue Mountains Music Festival, Katoomba (NSW)

Dom Flemons — my personal hit of the 2013 Illawarra Folk Festival

Image courtesy of Dom Flemons
Image courtesy of Dom Flemons

Dom Flemons — the real deal

I’m one who normally shies away from imported phrases and clichés — until that phrase or word or even that cliché is the most appropriate and resonant to unpack whatever notion or feeling or thing (a technical term, beg pardon) you want to get out there.

Case in point: I arrived at the Illawarra Folk Festival roughly 20 hours before I’d planned, on Thursday night. And when I surfaced on Friday morning, with one eye open, one eye closed, and a third eye tied behind my back for safe-keeping, about half a dozen people then independently proceeded to tell me, and of their own volition bailed me up, tied me down, roped me off, and press-ganged me on board the good ship Dom Flemons.

“Maaaaaate, you gots to see him!”

When I did indeed see him, I kid you not: I was spell-bound.

I was not alone by a long chalk.

The Miners Camp venue was full to over-flowing x 2, and everyone was spell-bound for the duration. When even many young children around the age of four or five even stopped their fidgeting and drawing with crayons for a song or two — well, that’s a fairly good barometer of the appeal of a performer.

Before that performance, and the packed out stage at Slacky Flat Bar the next day, I took just a few minutes of Dom’s time, high above the dog track in the grandstand on Friday morning, to have a chat.

I present that interview: live, uncut and un-fiddled with. No editing or anything.

The typed out wordification will be along later this week.

If you are only roughly within a quarter turn of the earth’s orbit away from anywhere Dom is playing on this tour, just get there.

Like I said: the real deal.

A Punter’s Perspective #36 — The Paperback Sessions

Paperback Sessions at Smiths Alternative Bookshop, Canberra City
Paperback Sessions at Smiths Alternative Bookshop, Canberra City

A Punter’s Perspective

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

#36 The Paperback Sessions
First published in Trad and Now magazine, August 2012

Regular readers of this column, apart from probably needing a little light therapy, can probably discern a few recurring themes.

Not the least of these is the little bubbles of childish joy the author gets when a new venue or opportunity for live, original music makes its way onto the scene.

I’ve spent most of my adult life railing against two eminently and easily explodable myths: 1. Canberra’s boring, and 2. There’s nothing to do in Canberra.

Both are, of course, big steaming piles of dynamic lifter.

Friday nights particularly are troublesome with the multiplicities of options if you haven’t been able to replicate yourself into about six or seven independent entities.

Without having to refer to a gig guide, I can tell you that you need to divide yourself between the Phoenix bar, Bucky’s Lone Wolf gigs at the Harmonie German Club, the always wonderful Front Café, the newly-launched Canberra Musicians Club gigs at the Polish White Eagle Club, folk gigs at the Merry Muse, the Transit Bar conveniently located under the youth hostel, the odd very fine line-ups at Alliance Francaise and the occasional gig at old stagers, Tilley Devine’s.

Not bad for a metropolis of only about 360 000. And that’s just the gigs riffed off the top of the head. I’m sure there are many others. (See www.culturazi.com for any missing bits and pieces.)

Still, it’s a thing of joy and beauty to welcome a new player onto the scene. Because if you want to get away from three-chord covers bashers, replete with drum machines, in the clubs, Canberra really does offer a feast of the good stuff. And we’re big and ugly enough to offer a smorgasbord and share the audiences and audients about.

Which is not to say the occasional gig doesn’t kick off with the sound rattling around in poorly-attended venues. That will happen. Some days are diamonds, some days are when you struggle to clear the venue costs and pay the sound guy.

So. One such venue made its way into Canberra’s mix recently with just the right amount of fanfare, immediate support and a growing profile.

Continue reading