National Folk Festival – Wheeze and Suck Band – interview with Tony Pyrzakowski

Image courtesy of the Wheeze and Suck Band
Image courtesy of the Wheeze and Suck Band

As I’ve said many a time on stage and in print, I don’t even try to have a veneer of objectivity when it comes to some bands.

They’re just my favourites and I adore their music and I’ll hunt them down at every festival and sing along, and sometimes dance along, and that’s just the way it is and ever shall be, Wheezer World without end, amen.

So yeah, I quite like the Wheeze and Suck Band.

There, we’ve got that bit established.

If you think age shall weary them, just click on the video link below and suspend disbelief. What says so much with music and dance in this shaky clip I took at St Albans Folk Festival a couple of years ago (Anzac Day weekend — put it in your calendar now; thank me later) is the range of ages the Wheezers appeal to.

What child could resist jumping around to a bunch of men in funny hats and cloaks? And that’s for the young at heart and the young in the head.

And the young.

It’s enough to even make you groan with empathy (and maybe a little sympathy) to John ‘Red Tips’ Milce’s jokes, trotted out at irregular intervals in pure Lancashire-ish.

Fiddler-player Tony Pyzarkowski is one third of a regular trio along with Butch Hooper and Kevin ‘Bodhranworld dot com‘ Kelly who form “Kelly’s Heroes” and bash out three hours of stuff you probably know, stuff you may know and stuff you may not have heard of in PJ O’Brien’s pub in Sydney every Sunday night from 6-9pm. (No chance on Easter Sunday — that’s National Folk Festival central.)

After last Sunday’s session, Tony had a bit of a chat about what’s going on with the Wheezers and looked forward to the National Folk Festival starting this Thursday 28 March 2013 in Canberra.

The Wheeze and Suck Band at the National Folk Festival:

Friday 29 March – The Majestic, 10pm
Saturday 30 March – Scrumpy, 10pm
Sunday 31 March – Marqee, 5pm

SANS performing at the 2013 National Folk Festival (Australia) – interview

SANS at ethno ambient. Image courtesy of SANS.
SANS at ethno ambient. Image courtesy of SANS.

Interviewing Andrew Cronshaw is a bit like watching Waragamba Dam in flood.

There’s a mighty capacity, but the volume contained therein and the urge for it to surge out means there’s a fair old splashing and cascading over the spillway.

(This is a musical knowledge thing, not early-onset incontinence — just did want to clarify that one.)

Andrew Cronshaw (and the relatively more calm, still waters of Ian Blake) have been comrades in music of the world for many a year, and delighted audiences at the National Folk Festival in 2010.

A very salient memory is a packed performance in the Coorong on the Saturday evening when the MC (me) had been directed erroneously to the Budawang and ended up sprinting twixt venues, doing a slide into home base staying upright to collect a microphone and bounce on to stage to give a slightly breathy but knowledgeable intro courtesy of having seen them both at the National Library of Australia mid-week.

Andrew Cronshaw and Ian Blake were performing at a fantastic afternoon on Aspen Island, literally in the shadows of Canberra’s Carillon, on a balmy Monday afternoon in mid-March as Canberra celebrated a day before turning 100 years young. I grabbed a few minutes with Andrew and Ian as the zephyrs zephyred and the dragon boats came in and the sound guys eventually started to test the drums on stage.

*** THE AUDIO OF THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN DELETED FROM SOUNDCLOUD DUE TO SPACE LIMITATIONS ***

*** THE AUDIO OF THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN DELETED FROM SOUNDCLOUD DUE TO SPACE LIMITATIONS ***

Andrew and Ian will be performing with the new collective badged SANS:

Andrew Cronshaw – electric zither, fujara, marovantele, kantele, ba-wu etc.
Sanna Kurki-Suonio – voice 
Tigran Aleksanyan – Armenian duduk 
Ian Blake – bass clarinet, soprano sax etc.

Performance times at the National Folk Festival:

Friday 29th March – Trocadero, 9pm
Saturday 30th March – Budawang, 12.30pm
Sunday 31st March – Marquee, 4pm

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

The Miss Chiefs — interview

At the National Folk Festival, 2012. Image courtesy of The Miss Chiefs.
At the National Folk Festival, 2012. Image courtesy of The Miss Chiefs.

The Miss Chiefs talk about upcoming festival performances

The Miss Chiefs are Laura Zarb, Amelia Gibson and Vendulka Wichta from New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

Coming together at the National Folk Festival in 2012, they’re back together to perform at three folk festivals including a return to the National in 2013.

I spoke with the three girls after an informal performance at The Artists’ Shed in Queanbeyan on Sunday 13 January 2013.

The audio file is below and the text will appear this week on the Timber and Steel nu-folk blog.

AND be sure to check out the official video below of The Miss Chiefs performing ‘Hallelujah’ at last year’s National.

2012: An Overheard Productions year in review

Overheard Productions

2012 in review

[Insert audible groan of indecision mixed with ‘Oh well, why the hell not’-ness.]

I realise that ‘Year in Review’ blogs and lists can seem as passé as flash mobs and….. other things that are passé.

Like saying that things are ‘passé’.

But as per the opening sentence, ‘Why not?’.

As with many things that I’ve written since age 14, this may provide a mixture of utility for others (especially if I’m reduxing your interview or news event) and utility for me. It’s a natural progression from the Year in Review emails and Farcebook notes I’ve written in years gone by.

This 2012 version was prompted by that nonsensical Farcebook function that purports to consolidate your 20 biggest moments of 2012, using an algorithm that was obviously created by a very finite number of monkeys on a finite number of very old typewriters.

Radio

My glittering pseudo-career on community radio took an extended break in May when I hung up my boots from Artsound FM.

I love presenting radio programs. I’ve discovered so much good music, so many talented performers and met so many good people through it. But it’s nice to have a little more breathing room and leisure time.

I tend to throw myself in to things like this, boots and all, somtimes at the cost of sensible balance with other things, so I have enjoyed putting my energies into other areas.

Continue reading

The Acca Daiquiris: with a twist of jazz

The Acca Daiquris
The Acca Daiquris. Image courtesy of The Acca Daiquiris.

When you break down the name of some bands, they really do tell you exactly what you need to know. In this case, it’s taking hard driving rock numbers and serving them up in the cocktail bar (at Lounge Lizard O’Clock) with a smooth finish.

I had heard the name The Acca Daiquiris before through friends in high and low places associated with Thursday nights at the National Press Club and other jazz-related venues, but gun to my head, I’d struggle to pick them out of a line-up.

So when bass player Geoff Rosenberg contacted me via social networking last week, I had little to go on. But true to my congenital affliction (chronic interviewitis), come 7pm on Friday night we were conversing o’er the telecom lines, and I started by pointing out to Geoff that I was breaking some very new ground with this interview.

Bill Quinn: Now Geoff, this is the first time I’ve done an interview with a covers band so please be gentle with me.

Geoff Rosenberg: Yeah, I suppose we are a covers band, but we don’t always see ourselves as such. We do do covers, but we do original arrangements.

BQ: Just on that point, do you find there’s any snobbery on that? “We do originals and you do covers?” Continue reading

A Punter’s Perspective #37 – Billy Bragg interview

Billy Bragg
Billy Bragg

A Punter’s Perspective

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

#37 Billy Bragg interview

First published on the Timber and Steel blog on 12 September 2012
Second published in Trad and Now magazine, September 2012

Recorded in the studios of Community Broadcasting Association of Australia member station 2XX-FM, Canberra on Friday 7 September 2012

Getting this interview was in some ways a 25 year odyssey, in other ways a two-year process, and in yet another, a 17 day exchange of emails.

More of that elsewhere because as I expected, Billy Bragg was his charming, effusive, generous, articulate and engaging self for 21 minutes. We’d still be chatting had we not gotten the wind-up.

But on a clear, crisp early Spring Friday night in Canberra, and god knows where Billy was – I never did find out – two Bills had a chat about music, assumptions (grr!), death, life, the moon, first words, and giving the punters what they want.

Now if reading great swathes of text is not your thang, do here undereth clicketh:

Bill Quinn: He’s coming to Australia in a couple of months’ time but we have him here telephonically; it’s hello and welcome, Billy Bragg.

Billy Bragg: ‘ey, Bill. ‘ow are you?

[I’ll eschew the phonetics from here on, but even just these five words made me smile.]

BQ: Billy, I’m going to start and finish with a slightly clichéd question, and in between, we’ll see where we go.

Your signature song is “Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards” which is a bit like a snowflake, never the same thing twice, always evolving and grabbing the zeitgeist. In 2012, are you just a little bit spoilt for choice with subject matter for that song?

BB: Heh! Unfortunately I am, yeah.

That’s the problem with being a topical songwriter; sometimes things just keep popping up, y’know? I’ve got a week or so in New Zealand before I get to Australia. I hope I’ll be able to zone in a little on what’s happening in Australia. And see if I can shape some of the lyrics of “Great Leap Forwards”.

I mean, some of the verses are universal, but one or two of them are specifically about the UK. Maybe I might just be able to Australianise them if possible.

I’ll see what I can do!

Billy Bragg, Hamer Hall, Melbourne. 19 October 2012.
Billy Bragg, Melbourne Recital Hall, Melbourne. 20 October 2012.

Continue reading