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:
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.
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 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’.
*** Audio file will be removed by end February 2020. ***
The Miss Chiefs is the serendipitous musical union of three young women whose massed ages don’t stretch too much past the half-century. Laura Zarb (Blue Mountains), Amelia Gibson (Canberra) and Vendulka Wichta (Cooma) have not been performing for long, however, they grabbed the attention of many immediately and they’re about to play three east coast festivals.
After a week locked away together, creating and rehearsing, The Miss Chiefs played a set in front of an appreciative crowd in Queanbeyan last Sunday, and Bill Quinn (Overheard Productions) caught up with them afterwards.
Bill Quinn: We’re here at The Artists’ Shed in Queanbeyan and have just seen a – was it a performance or a rehearsal…?
Laura Zarb: Awwwww, a bit of both!
BQ: … of The Miss Chiefs – Amelia, Vendulka and Laura. Laura, you’re the mother of the troupe; you’re the eldest.
LZ: It would seem so, yes!
[Laura is an elderly 25.]
BQ: So, I’m going to ask you about the genesis of the group.
LZ: The genesis. Well, it was at the National Folk Festival…
[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 finitenumber of monkeys on a finite number of very old typewriters.
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.
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 →
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.
My very first live to air radio interview was with The BordererS — an Adelaide band based around Jim Paterson and his wife, Alex. The BordererS play a blend of music that’s hard to defind — actually, it’s easy to find (see link above), it’s a tad difficult to define, but once you’ve found it, you won’t want to de-find it. Aren’t typos fun?
Where were we? If you put folk, Celtic, world and dance into a blender, it may come out sounding pretty much like this combo.
Ever since that first inexpert interview, stabbing at buttons and sliding of faders, I’ve had the great pleasure to interview Jim and Alex several times, both in and out of the studio. This weekend they’re heading to Canberra to do two quite different gigs, and when I asked Jim how he’d be placed on Wednesday night for an interview, he said he’d be placed in a comfy chair in his lounge room in Adelaide.
Which is where I caught up with him, telephonically.
Bill Quinn: Jim, I’ve spoken to you many times before, but for others who are just catching up, tell us a bit about The BordererS.
Jim Paterson: Well, I’m six foot five and look very similar to Brad Pitt.
BQ: That’s my recollection.
JP: Ehm, and my wife… she’s kind of like a midget.
No, we’ve been going for nearly 19 years now, and I was just talking with someone today — Gabi, she’s our backing vocalist — and I said that after 19 years, we should be doing the reunion tour now, rather than still going!
I’m Scottish and my wife [Alex] is Irish. And we play around the country and into Europe. And America next year; we’re going to go to America next September.
On a mild Canberra evening, I interviewed Billy Bragg down the line from the UK. While I hammered the text out fairly quickly and it appeared in Timber and Steel a week or so later, and in Trad and Now not long after that, I dragged my heels a little to get the audio edited down.
Luckily, my new multi-channel recording device comes with a handy bit of sound-editing software, and while I’m hardly a master of it, it’s done. Even if Soundcloud is taking forever to load the audio file.
But that’s my problem not yours…… 36% uploaded……
Full details of where Billy’s playing are in the Timber and Steel article — see above for link.
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.
Thank you SO much to the truly wonderful Gareth Huw Evans of Timber and Steel — he’s a credit to Australian music and to effective business and being a good bloke.
Similarly, Heidi Braithwaite from Riot House Publicity has been a model of timely responses and good-humoured help.
And to everyone who’s given the interview a nudge, a like, a re-post or a share: you rock my world and you know who you are. (And I know where you live!)
To go back a ways regarding interviews: in 2008, I spoke in halting, nervous tones down the line with Jim Paterson of The Borderers on my very first solo radio show on Artsound FM, while I tried very hard to work out which buttons to press and which faders to slide.
Jim didn’t realise it at the time, but his simple query in an email created something of a monster (in every sense of the word), and my four years with Artsound were typified by studios over-flowing with guests, musos, family, friends, PR people, mums and dads, and some golden live moments. I think pets is the only….. no, we had some of those too, including my melon collie in later years.
I look forward to many more interviews and live moments elsewhere in the cosmos. I recorded one at this very dining table about 8.5 hours ago and that will be coming to you soon.
For now, Billy Bragg has been by far my biggest — and longest for a non-performance — interview to date. (Myf Warhurst had the gold for a good run, but she’s sitting so very pretty — sigh! — in silver medal place now. Why did I shave that beard off? What was I thinking?! Why am I saying this out loud?)
Transcribing the BB interview took the better part of a working day, albeit with lots and lots and too much of online-y distractions along the way.
I’m an un-ashamed Billy Bragg fan, and he’s my favourite performer of any genre in the world.
As much for his soul and his passion and his politics and his unrelenting drive as for his art. If you could bottle the resonances, you’d outsell coke. And coal. And natural gas.
I hesitated like you can’t know before going down the route of making that personal connection with him about my brother during the interview, but I was ultimately so glad I did. Like a song I partially inspired, written by my good friends Craig and Simone Dawson, I have a little personal dare with myself where I take a deep breath, count 1, 2, 3 and dive in.
I was sat there in the studios of 2XX, having effectively paid/donated a tick under $500 of my own money to a crowd-sourcing project for the privilege. That was a thing of pure socialism. At the time I had roughly five grand in the bank and thought, some of this cash could do more that just gather dust.
If I had known then that less than seven days later I would fall even further down the rabbit hole for two weeks, I might not have been as effusive and altruistic!
Meh. As I fully believe, and as I overheard a new colleague say in as many words today:
“It’s only money — you can always get more.”
So, there I was in Studio 2 or 3:
in a radio studio I’d never used before,
one arm across my body holding mic three which I’d dragged across the desk,
twisted half-way back towards the console to read a few scratchy notes I’d made for myself on screen,
one eye on my watch as we were going to be cut off at 20 minutes and I hadn’t been able to add nineteen to whatever time we’d started — there was too much going on.
And out of all that I had nothing but faith (because I do keep faith) in my ability to somehow make it all happen in an interview that in many ways had been two years or more in the making.
And when I hung up from the interview and had let out a gurgling scream of something to the universe, in the next heartbeat I was on the phone to my brother Greg’s widow to do a quick de-brief. I’d told a few choice and a few badly chosen people what was going on, but ultimately it was Ainslea’s secret.
Anyone who saw me later that night at the Canberra Musicians Club Old Timey gig might have mistaken me for a ten year old boy who’d just gotten the cream, to mix a human-feline metaphor.
Sadly, and this has been a pattern, some elements in the music world and the yarts have again inferred some sort of ego-stroke or self-aggrandisement for Billy Quinn out of all of this.
And to those people, I say two things:
1. It’s not me, it’s you. No, really, this time, it’s you.
3. Press ‘play’.
Me? I’m looking for that next big thing, “exploding over our heads”. ♪♪♪♪♪