David M McLean is yet another of those prolific musical entities that are the engine room of independent music. You know the sort of person who slogs away in the foreground and background, tirelessly making things happen and ensuring the world is a music-filled and art-filled place to live, breathe, and hear.
A writer, composer, guitarist, producer, teacher, and possibly most front-brain right now, the brains* behind the Lexifest music awards for Lexington, Kentucky.
* Refer to the audio for how the brains and brawn of this event are distributed and attributed.
Late last year, I spoke with David as he sat in his truck with his cell phone somewhere on a cool Lexington KY evening. We spoke so long that my intention was to break the interview into two parts. However, after a series of technical gremlins and many edits later, I’ve whittled this down into the one sound file.
Part of the editing leaves the back end of our chat slamming like a door in a stiff breeze, so apologies for my abruptness!
I’m looking forward to hearing about Lexifest 2017, and here’s hoping the blizzards stay away from town in the run-up this year!
The program showcases bands, performers and troupes from across the broad spectrum of bluegrass, Americana, roots, acoustic and alt-country, and a few others around the blurred edges of folk.
It’s a 100% community and volunteeer-run operation, making its longevity and sustainability all the more remarkable. And laudable.
It gets even better than that – but you’ll have to listen to the interview for the part that rocked me back on my heels.
And upturned kayak.
The show has reached an eye-watering 750+ episodes as of April 2014, many of which are freely available from the Woodsongs website in audio and video formats. Apart from its legion of individual listeners, Woodsongs has spawned a string of coffeehouse groups which meet to experience the show as a community.
And it’s not like Michael has anything else to do with his spare time.
Like being a singer-songwriter of many years standing. Or touring. Or arranging other concerts. Or building a log cabin and surrounding structures plus landscaping and bridges etc. bare-handed. Or being a father of two adult children (and two more on the way in one hit).
No, I lied. He’s all of that and more.
An just get a load of where he got his folk beginnings from. I can only interpret my silence at hearing who his neighbour was in upstate New York as a little mild shock and awe.
On a chilly autumnal morning in Sydney, I stepped off the Manly* Ferry and found a suitable-ish place to record an interview over the shaky airwaves from Australia to Lexington, Kentucky. A picture of my luxurious chair in the ‘recording studio’ appears below.
* For international audiences, ‘Manly’ refers to a suburb and location on the north side of Sydney Harbour named ‘Manly’. We don’t believe in forcing gender stereotypes onto our aquatic transport vessels. Actually, if anything, we refer to them as ‘her‘ for the most part. Continue reading →
Fred Smith: Taking ‘Texas’ to Tasmania (and Tilley’s, Tempe, Turning Wave…) First published inTrad and Nowmagazine, June 2008
Two more weekends and I’ll be going home
My home’s a nowhere
But a nowhere where I’m known
Where the sheep are nervous
And the men are all good blokes
Take me back to where the people get my jokes
From ‘American Guitar’, Texas (2008) by Fred Smith
So saying the above (or rather, singing the above), Fred Smith did literally head home — to Australia.
Fred’s first chance to play ‘American Guitar’ to a live audience came on his last night in the USA, after three years, coincidentally in a town called Frederick. (His first gig three years earlier had been, just as coincidentally, in Fredericksburgh).
The next morning after its debut, Fred hopped on a plane and returned to Australia via a two week tour of Canada.
Avid Trad and Now readers may have followed some of Fred’s adventures in these pages as he tripped around the USA from house-husbanding to house concerts, from suburban conventionality to folk conventions, and to a string of gigs, festivals and song contests along the way.
Fred has now been back in Australia for about six months and he’s appreciating the return to his old neighbourhood. Launching his ‘Texas’ album at Tilley’s Devine Café in Canberra last month, Fred relates a quote on topic: ”Home is the place you go where they’ve got to let you in.”