Catch Matt Barker’s fabulous Deuce Radio Show at any tick of the clock — plus download lots of old shows (well, they’re quite young and fresh, but they’re less recent) here at: http://mattbarker.podomatic.com/
I’m not going to even try to translate that into AEDT or PT or ET (phone home, your mother worries about you) as we’re in that state of flux period where it’s 10 hours from London to Sydney, but soon it will be 11 hours and then you switch on the idiot box and we’re already an hour into the Wallabies seeing off another bunch of hapless water buffaloes stuck in the mud* (e.g. Engerland or Scoterland) on their way to blousing out of the Rugby World Cup.
* (c) HG Nelson and Rampaging Roy Slaven — for the uninitiated, wrap your shell-likes around this’un:
That is all!
Bill Quinn Overheard Productions
Sydney, Australia (slightly sou’west today in temperate (not temporate) Holsworthy)
1:36am, Tuesday 20 October 2015 Which at GBP0.47 to the AUD = 5.36pm, Monday 19 October 2015 in London
I overheard a man on Manly Wharf beach one afternoon and his story became one of the most compelling interviews.
Let’s get there, unlike the Manly Ferry which darts out of Circular Quay and pretty much makes a beeline for Cabbage Tree Bay.
Let’s take a slightly circuitous root.
I grew up in the mid sixties and seventies with something of a hefty disdain for Manly.
It was a disdain maintained from a distance of about 366kms away in Canberra, and it was all based on the eternal battle between the mauve of the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (‘Silvertails’) and the Black and White of my beloved Western Suburbs Magpies (‘Fibros’). Rugby League, for the uninitiated.
My family hailed from the west: Parramatta, Harris Park, Guildford and Baulkham Hills. My anti-Manly bias was born of those silly tribal rivalries that sound so pointless in smaller towns like Canberra where I have never been able to take the north vs south thing seriously.
“We’re not that [farnarkeling] big!”
Cliff Notes: I’d never spent much time there, and while visiting friends in Fairlight and on other trips, I was looking for reasons to like the area.
Yes, we’ve fast-forwarded to 2013, and for some reason one day, I’d gone across the briney foam from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf and drifted up and down the Corso and around the back lanes and alleys.
And fell completely and totally and hopelessly in love with the place.
When you get just a little bit out of the centre of Manly, things get a little beige, bland and neo-conservative. But right in the middle of town, it’s like a little melting pot, albeit a flashier more glamorous pot than some other localities that host meetings of many cultures within the scope of what is loosely termed ‘Greater Sydney’.
Me, I love them all.
Walk from Punchbowl train station to the Boys High School (which I did when I first moved to Sydney in March 2013, to interview the assistant principal) and you see pretty much no white faces, hear no Australian spoken, and smell smells that don’t feature in, say, the main street of Miranda.
Take a walk along Forest Road in Hurstville CBD and to have a conversation or transact some business, a working knowledge of Mandarin, Cantonese or Korean would serve you well.
Hang out around various parts of Liverpool and a little Italian will get you a long way.
I know a little Italian. His name’s Marco and he’s a retired jockey.
(Dips the hat towards the film ‘Top Secret’ for that gag. I’m here all week, tip your wait staff, try the risotto.)
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 →
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.
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 →
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 →
1993: One Year Into My Life On Stage(s), A Monster Is Born!
In 1992 I was press-ganged, as organically-chosen head of the social club of my workplace, and the person most likely, to present a charity trivia quiz for a couple of hundred people.
That night in mid-September 1992 when I picked up a microphone for the first time properly — the Kraken awake’d.
Bill Quinn died that night and Billy Quinn awoke.
Some months later, needing a gag for our follow-up, I wrote to two likely lads who were then plying their trade on Triple J, formerly 2JJ or 2 Double J.
I wrote my letter, forgot about it and life continued. Six days before the 1993 quiz, I came rolling in, rolling in, rolling rolling, as I came rolling in [drunk] and my long-suffering then wife said a package had arrived and was in the hall.
Yeah, I did a few cartwheels and dive rolls that night. Therein was the tape with this on which I later edited to remove references to the selected charity (The Smith Family) so I could re-use it to get utility for many other charities, not for profits and 21 years later…. I think I need to book a certain venue for a date in September.
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.]