Darwin Muso Series – Summit, October 2019

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Image courtesy of Summit

Darwin heavy metal band Summit have had a very busy 2019, and it’s about to get even busier as they prepare to head on the road to tour down the east coast of Australia in November.

With the release of a new single in the very near future, the time is ripe for the band to take their music to a wider audience, one that’s already been building off the back of a strong online streaming and Youtube presence.

Having met several band members at a MusicNT meet and greet in August, it was great to catch up with drummer Tom Heffernan and find out a bit more detail about the band’s activities.

Bill Quinn: You’re the new boy in the band, but you’re the spokesperson today. How much can you tell us about the background of Summit?

Tom Heffernan: The boys have been going since 2017. I worked for a couple of them on a major project up here and that’s how we met. I followed them around, watching their shows. They have a lot of talent, and it’s definitely up my alley.

They jumped on to the scene pretty quickly and left a pretty big footprint on the place. I just love their music.

Wes [Beck] is the leader of the band, and he organised it from the go. He was out of the scene for a long time before this band started. Greeny [Matt Greenaway] was over here working from Sydney way, New South Wales, and the two brothers [Jordan and James Atwill] are born and bred in Darwin.

I’m not sure how they got together, who spoke to who. I know Wes and Greeny worked together; that’s how they got together.

BQ: Coming from a number of backgrounds, it’s a Darwin band – but you’ve had a fair bit of interest from outside, even overseas. 

TH: Yeah, we’ve had a lot of success with online stuff so far. The EP was brilliant, the first EP [Echoes Of Aberration]. (Obviously, I had nothing to do with that one.) That’s one of the best EPs I’ve seen from a first-time effort.

And the interest has really escalated from that point on.

There was a bit of a hole with a change of line-up for the boys, but we’re full steam ahead now.

BQ: And you mentioned your online presence – that’s the way you get your music out when you’re isolated like in Darwin. What’s that like? I’ve got to say I’m not a fan of the online streaming services because you don’t get much out of it in dollars and cents. But I notice that you get a lot of plays on Spotify; is that helping?

TH: Oh, it definitely helps get the music out. That and Youtube. Without it, I’d say it would be a lot harder. There’s not a lot of revenue in it, as you said, but that’s the way of the world today.

But the exposure’s nothing like it used to be. To see a band back in the day, or to hear a band, you had to go and see them or buy a CD. [Online streaming] is handy, but there’s no money in it.

But it’s great for the exposure side of things being in an isolated area like Darwin.

We haven’t ventured too far out of the territory, maybe not at all. So big things coming for us soon.

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Darwin Muso Series: Danger Den, October 2019

Darwin Muso Series is a string of an indeterminate number of mini to medium to mega interviews with Darwin-based musicians and performing artists. Starting in September 2019, and we’ll see how many we can cover over the next weeks/months/years.

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Danger Den

The Darwin Railway Club played host to the Darwin regional final of the Passport To Airlie competition in mid-September 2019.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music is held in November, however, in the lead-up, the organisers stage what is arguably* Australia’s biggest battle of the bands competition.

* If anyone wants to claim a bigger battle of the bands competition in Australia, kindly fill in the 36 page nomination form on the website and send to Overheard Productions with a non-refundable $200 admin fee.

Danger Den describe themselves as a pop rock group, though their sound definitely leans towards the heavier side. Danger Den are emerging artists in Darwin’s very diverse original music scene, but they’re already finding some traction and interest from live audiences, playing their own blend of punk and rock music.

I didn’t manage to catch up with Danger Den on the night at the Rails, but sometime later, I met up with vocalist Jeremy Uyloan to learn more about the band.

Bill Quinn: Tell me a little bit about the Danger Den story.

Jeremy Uyloan: Basically, me and my friend Donald – BigD; he’s the big guy with the man bun, the lead guitarist – we’ve been playing music since middle school. I’m 21 now, and he’s 22.

And we stopped around graduation, and we decided to either go to uni or work. But really that didn’t last long!

BQ: What, the uni or the work?

JU: Both, actually. Donald wanted to do IT, and I got into full time work. And I stepped down because I didn’t like it. Donald got a job and left studies.

So we formed Danger Den in early 2018. We were looking for drummers, so we looked at the Darwin Music Scene page [on Facebook]. That’s where we found Neil [Wright]; we were looking for any punk drummers out there, and Neil put his hand up.

We were a three-piece for a while, but then we eventually got our fourth member – our newest member who joined us is Callan [Power]. He also plays in the band Temperamental, who also competed at Passport To Airlie.

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Image by Adnan Reza

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Darwin Muso Series: Ward Hancock Trio, October 2019

Darwin Muso Series is a string of an indeterminate number of mini to medium to mega interviews with Darwin-based musicians and performing artists. Starting in September 2019, and we’ll see how many we can cover over the next weeks/months/years.

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Image courtesy of Ward Hancock Music

Ward Hancock Trio

The Darwin Railway Club played host to the Darwin regional final of the Passport To Airlie competition in mid-September 2019.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music is held in November, however, in the lead-up, the organisers stage what is arguably* Australia’s biggest battle of the bands competition.

* It’s big. Like really big. Huge. You might think it’s a long way from the Darwin Bus Interchange to Six Tanks – and it gets further on Friday and Saturday nights – but that’s just peanuts compared to how vast the scope of the Airlie Beach Festival of Music’s Passport To Airlie competition is. (With apologies to Douglas Adams, but I’m starting to scratch around for enough gags to see out this bracket of interviews.)

Ward Hancock is an emerging artist from the Northern Territory, though his young years belie the amount of musical runs on the board he’s already chalked up. His style and repertoire have a strong basis in reggae, but zip around to visit blues, dub, and rock.  A home-grown Darwinian, Ward along with his trio won first place in the Passport To Airlie competition, and they’ll be off east in November to represent the Top End on the Whitsunday Coast.

I thought I might miss my chance to speak with Ward after the event, but I managed to reef him away for a few minutes right at the end of the night, and he reflected on his musical background and the competition win.

Bill Quinn: In 80 000 words or less, what’s the Ward Hancock story?

Ward Hancock: I found guitar when I was about 12, because I wouldn’t stop playing an old ukulele that my parents had. No, at first it was drums – drums were the first thing, then I gravitated on to guitar because it was a bit cheaper and a bit quieter.

My thing was I always wrote songs, I always like writing songs more than learning songs. I started singing in about Grade Seven or Eight, because noone else would sing.

The first couple of years, people told me not to sing! Fair enough; it didn’t sound too great. I’ve heard recordings; it’s not pretty, but…

BQ: You’ve got to start somewhere.

WH: Exactly! I just evolved into a singer. I was always a guitarist, but evolved into a singer. Always a songwriter.

There’s a lot of great opportunities living up here. I think one of my first bigger gigs was at the Noonamah Tavern. My earliest memories were of big, tough guys drinking in the beer garden. Bikies, you know? I had no idea, but I had some great experiences with that; I kind of cut my teeth on that.

I had great mentors like [Darwin music legend] JK, and Michael Henshaw – who did sound tonight – he’s a great supporter of music as we were growing up. Mickey at the Happy Yess, and countless other Darwin locals.

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Darwin Muso Series: Crystal Robins, October 2019

Darwin Muso Series is a string of an indeterminate number of mini to medium to mega interviews with Darwin-based musicians and performing artists. Starting in September 2019, and we’ll see how many we can cover over the next weeks/months/years.

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Image courtesy of Crystal Robins

Crystal Robins

The Darwin Railway Club played host to the Darwin regional final of the Passport To Airlie competition in mid-September 2019.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music is held in November, however, in the lead-up, the organisers stage what is arguably* Australia’s biggest battle of the bands competition.

* If you laid out all the competitors from 13 regional heats from Darwin to Adelaide end to end… they’d likely be very annoyed and would probably resent the dry-cleaning bill.

Crystal Robins is a very popular multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter, and a regular fixture at events and venues around Darwin. Crystal’s strong passion for music and the performing arts saw her play in a variety of jazz, rock and folk-punk bands in Sydney, but she now makes Darwin her home.

I had a brief chat with Crystal after she performed the penultimate set in the Passport To Airlie heat.

Bill Quinn: So, tell me the Crystal story!

Crystal Robins: Wow! I have to turn my brain on again!

I’ve been playing music for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Sydney, I played in quite a few bands there. I studied music at uni…

BQ: Where was uni?

CR: The Australian Institute of Music. I studied jazz and contemporary music there, playing flute.

But I’ve always loved playing guitar, and writing songs and singing.

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Darwin Muso Series: Alice Cotton, September 2019

Darwin Muso Series is a string of an indeterminate number of mini to medium to mega interviews with Darwin-based musicians and performing artists. Starting in September 2019, and we’ll see how many we can cover over the next weeks/months/years.

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Image courtesy of Alice Cotton

Alice Cotton

The Darwin Railway Club played host to the Darwin regional final of the Passport To Airlie competition in mid-September 2019.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music is held in November, however, in the lead-up, the organisers stage what is arguably* Australia’s biggest battle of the bands competition.

* You’d be doing very well to beat 12-13 major locations across half the continent.

Alice Cotton is an emerging artist who has returned to Darwin to ply her musical trade(s). Alice has a unique twist on folk-country music with original songs steeped in warmth and humour. Her songs draw influence from old-time American music, with a nod to growing up in humid climes amongst a tight-knit community in the Northern Territory. Alice is recording her first EP in late 2019.

Bill Quinn: What’s the Alice Cotton story? With music!

Alice Cotton: I was actually studying classical music; I used to play classical flute, but I just found it a bit of an elitist culture.

And then I really got into music therapy. It was through that I started song-writing and doing my own stuff.

I found it gave me more space to be more creative and do what I wanted to do and do gigs more easily.

BQ: Is that your ‘rent gig’? Do you do music therapy during the day?

AC: Yeah.

BQ: That seems to be a bit of a theme!

AC: Yeah, Crystal [Robins] as well! We actually studied together through University of Melbourne [Alice in Melbourne, Crystal in Sydney].

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Image courtesy of Alice Cotton

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Darwin Muso Series: Ben Evolent, September 2019

Darwin Muso Series is a string of an indeterminate number of mini to medium to mega interviews with Darwin-based musicians and performing artists. Starting in September 2019, and we’ll see how many we can cover over the next weeks/months/years.

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Image courtesy of Ben Evolent Music

Ben Evolent

The Darwin Railway Club played host to the Darwin regional final of the Passport To Airlie competition in mid-September 2019.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music is held in November, however, in the lead-up, the organisers stage what is arguably* Australia’s biggest battle of the bands competition.

* If you can find a bigger one, I want it stuffed and mounted on display at ARIA or APRA headquarters, please.

Opening the batting for muso chats on the night (and for this series of interviews) was Josh Tarca of Ben Evolent.

(Just a quick Overheard At Passport To Airlie from my notes here. My mate leaned over as the third act came on and said, “I think the announcer said this band is from the Netherlands”.

Me: “No, the band’s name is ‘Ben Evolent’!)

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Ben Evolent performing in Passport To Airlie – Darwin at Darwin Railway Club

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Passport To Airlie – 2019 Darwin Heat (Darwin Railway Club)

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Image courtesy of Airlie Beach Festival of Music

Passport To Airlie – Darwin Heat (Darwin Railway Club)
Friday 13 September 2019, Darwin Railway Club

The Darwin Railway Club played host to the Darwin regional final of the Passport To Airlie competition in mid-September 2019.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music is held in November, however, in the lead-up, the organisers stage what is arguably Australia’s biggest battle of the bands competition.

And you’d have to argue very convincingly to beat this: regional finals in (take a deep breath): Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Nimbin, Newcastle, Sydney, Illawarra, Melbourne and Adelaide.

It’s huge.

And budding musos are all vying for the chance to participate in the final at Airlie Beach in November.

As well as the performance opportunity in 2019, the overall winner gets to return to play the main stage the following year, receiving four nights’ accommodation, VIP main tent passes, a $1000 performance fee, and a spot on Music View TV (Cairns).

If you’re a regional muso aiming to get your music to a wider audience, it’s well worth a shot.

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Mensch, Monique in Australia, 2019

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Image courtesy of Mensch, Monique!

Folk On The Road

Mensch Monique!: Interview at Cobargo Folk Festival

Mensch, Monique! were in Australia earlier in 2019, playing gigs, house concerts and festivals. I caught up with Jule and Georg at Cobargo Folk Festival to find out how musical and family life had been treating them since the days of The Beez.

We spoke under a blazing sun, with welcome shade from the café marquee, perched
precariously on milk crates, sipping on ginger and lemongrass over cubed
ice (just brilliant on a baking hot day).

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Cobargo Folk Festival 2019

Bill Quinn: How long has Mensch, Monique! been going? What are you doing? How is it going?

Jule Schroder: Well, actually, Georg and me, we have been playing since 2007.

BQ: And how about music?

JS: Exactly! Playing music! (And we’ve been playing together longer than that!) But I was in a band called ‘The Beez’; for such a long time.

BQ: The Beez? Can you spell that? I’m not familiar with this band.

[If you can’t pick up the irony in that sentence, go to https://overheardproductions.com/?s=The+beez where you can read just one or two articles about this band by the authour over the past decade.]

JS: Tee Hahr Eeh Bee Double Eeh Zsedh. We were one Australian, one American, and two Germans.

BQ: And one of the Deutshes is now Australierin!

JS: That’s right. Deta got married to Rob a long time ago and now she’s got her spouse visa.

So, anyway, I was playing with The Beez, being busy. And there was just no point [after the birth of first child]. We couldn’t play gigs. Or we could, but it was just too hard.

So when I left The Beez in 2014, we said, “Let’s write some songs together”. And why not in German? And that’s what we did!

And it just takes a long time. You know, we’ve got two kids now. But we do it in our own tempo. Our own speed, you know? And we love it!

BQ: That’s very interesting that you do your songs in German, with English being the lingua franca for the world, the language that the majority of the planet understands. Tell me about when you perform in Germany. Is it 100% in German? Or do you mix it up a bit?

JS: We mix it up, but it’s really interesting because I talk to a lot of musician friends from Germany, and we came to the… schluss? … conclusion that we just HAVE to write songs in German because it’s our language.

It just doesn’t make sense that we only write songs in English, because that’s not our language.

And it’s a bit hard to sing in German, I must say. And what is really interesting for me is, because I write most of the melodies, I don’t think in German when I write the melodies. I can’t do that. It’s really interesting.

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Nina Lipscombe Art – ‘Witch’ Exhibition, Katoomba, March 2019

Image courtesy of Nina Lipscombe Art

Interview with Nina Lipscombe, Katoomba (NSW)

Arriving in the Blue Mountains for a few days at short notice, I consulted the font of all knowledge on what was going on in most regions (Facebook Events), and it turned up an exhibition in Katoomba called ‘Witch’ by local artist Nina Lipscombe.

The paranormal, mythological, and mystical aren’t things that normally pique my interest, but increasingly, I’ll have a look at subject matter outside of normal interests.

I’m glad I did.

‘Witch’ is an intriguing exploration of themes that may not exactly leap off the promo flyer or internet page. Speaking of our friend social media, a comment on the event page led to an exchange with the artist Nina Lipscombe, and a few days later, we were sitting in the leather-padded comfort of the guest lounge at the Carrington Hotel.

Bill Quinn: Just for my background, can you tell me a bit about how you came to be involved in art.

Nina Lipscombe: It’s an interesting story, because I didn’t do it very much in high school. I was doing theatre and television, but right after high school, I decided to dabble in it.

So I bought a kit from Hobby Lobby! It was Bill Alexander; he was the original happy painter. He’s the one that actually taught Bob Ross, with the happy clouds and the trees and everything else.

I bought this oil painting video, went to my garage, started painting, and I fell in love with it.

From then on, I started to make acrylics, water colours – mostly oils still – and it just kind of evolved from there.

I didn’t really get too involved with the arts scene in Tennessee at the time. But later in 2011, I moved to Argentina, and it kind of thrived from there.

I had exhibitions, I did workshops, I had private classes with really amazing teachers there, and I took off.

BQ: When I think about art around the world, Argentina definitely is on that list. I’m gonna say that the Tennessee art scene is not one that immediately springs to mind. What was that like?

NL: Yeah, you’re right about that! I’m not 100% sure; I never got highly involved with it. They do have some good art galleries, and really good art has come from Memphis. But the art scene there compared to Argentina and compared to here in the Blue Mountains is not quite as big.

Image courtesy of Nina Lipscombe Art

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Folk On The Road – 2019 Cobargo Folk Festival

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All images in this article by Bill Quinn

Folk On The Road

A highly irregular series reflecting on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

Back to Cobargo

Cobargo Folk Festival (CFF) in early March 2019 was a breath of fresh air for many who made their way to the beautiful green valleys and rolling hills just north of Bega, New South Wales. Not too far south of Narooma, and within a five iron of a heaven.

For this peripatetic scribe, it was a homecoming of sorts to the world of Australian folk festivals. A temporary one, as it transpired.

CFF came towards the end of a week or so in the Eurobodalla/Sapphire Coast region, just after the last member of my immediate family had left their home of almost twenty years in Bodalla, on an estate overlooking the quite stunning ranges of the Deua National Park.

But it was also a proper return to folk festivals after roughly five and a half years of continually wandering up and down the Australian east coast, from the deep south of New South Wales to the middling far north of Queensland.

(A handful of hours at Slacky Flat, Bulli in 2016 and 2019 doesn’t really count, does it?)

In those intervening years, the closest I’d come to our festival culture was random assorted gigs, and attendances, media, and volunteering/MC-ing at regional Queensland festivals in Cleveland, Stones Corner, and Boyne Island.

Though all events had minor folk elements, it was wonderful to be back among the campers, revellers, singers, musos, and so, so many familiar faces in a dedicated folk festival.

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