Darwin Muso Series: Emma Rowe

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 Emma Rowe Music

Emma Rowe

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.

* Try saying, ‘Heats in Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Nimbin, Newcastle, Sydney, Illawarra, Melbourne and Adelaide’ ten times fast.

Emma Rowe grew up here in tropical Darwin and went from being a “sad teenager” with a cheap guitar to developing a unique talent for crafting quirky contemporary rock songs that combine lust, hope, frustration and joy in a surprisingly complicated but completely relatable style. Emma is a regular on the Darwin music scene as a headliner and support for touring artists.

After her set in the Passport to Airlie competition, Emma joined me in the beer garden to have a chat.

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Emma Rowe performing in Passport To Airlie – Darwin at Darwin Railway Club

Bill Quinn: Tell us the Emma Rowe story!

Emma Rowe: Oh god, that’s a big question.

Basically, I guess it started when I was a sad teenager, and my mum noticed. And she brought home this cheap guitar from Cash Converters, and was like, ‘Here! Put your sadness into this!’

And it worked!

BQ: Was that here in Darwin?

ER: Yeah, I grew up here. Technically not born here, but I moved here when I was really young.

BQ: So many people I’ve spoken to have come here from other places. What was it like growing up with music in Darwin?

ER: I loved it. I really loved growing up here. It’s really communal and that’s really reflective in the music scene.

That’s what I love about the music scene here. We all know and love each other, we’re all really supportive, and I love that feeling: I love feeling supported by my scene.

BQ: I’m glad you said that because I’ve only been here for less than six months, and I actually wrote this down tonight. I’m picking up on a really big, supportive vibe amongst musicians, so it’s something that’s very important here.

ER: Oh yeah, for sure, it’s everywhere, and it’s wonderful. And I think that actually goes for the whole NT as well. We know all the musos in Alice Springs and in Katherine, and we’re all just really connected and really communal. It’s lovely.

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Image courtesy of Emma Rowe Music

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Darwin Muso Series: Alice Cotton

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

PTA-D01
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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[Audio Interview] David M McLean, Skinny Devil Music Lab and Lexington Music Awards

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Image courtesy of David M McLean

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 the 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.

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Image courtesy of David M McLean

Interview: Lucie Thorne on tour

Image courtesy of Lucie Thorne
Image courtesy of Lucie Thorne

Lucie Thorne is doing one of the things that she does best — touring around Australia, making her way into major centres but also a few places off the beaten track as well.

After two successful runs in Australia in recent times with Pieta Brown, showcasing the ‘Love Over Gold‘ album, Lucie is back on the road solo, albeit with long time collaborator percussionist Hamish Stuart, and teaming up for a double bill in Bacchus Marsh with Liz Stringer.

I should stop mentioning that the locations for doing these interviews are a little weird because I can’t remember the last time I did a straight face to face interview in a studio. For this brief chat, I was located in the salubrious surrounds of the Brisbane City Youth Hostels Association dormitory room, finishing the interview just a tick before house-keeping arrived with the industrial leaf blower, while Lucie was relaxing on a friend’s property in South Australia complete with 3D cattle.

If you’re reading this on the day of publication (Tuesday 3 June 2014) you can tune in and hear Lucie live on air on ABC 774 Melbourne with Lindy Burns from around about 9pm AEST. You can listen online.

Details of Lucie Thorne’s upcoming gigs:

Wednesday 4 June – Melbourne Folk Club (Bella Union at Trades Hall), Vic
Saturday 14 June – Baby Black Cafe, Bacchus Marsh, Vic
Wednesday 18 June – Smiths Alternative Bookshop, ACT
Thursday 19 June – The Grand Junction Hotel, Maitland, NSW
Friday 20 June – 5 Church Street, Bellingen, NSW*
Saturday 21 June – St Martin’s Hall, Mullumbimby, NSW
Thursday 26 June – house concert, Blue Mountains, NSW*
Friday 27 June – house concert, Kangaroo Valley, NSW*
Sunday 29 June – Mudbrick Pavillion, Mallacoota, Vic

* See Lucie’s gig listing for booking details.

It’s an oldie but an absolute fave:

Lucie Thorne interview recording studio: Room 205 at Brisbane City YHA
Lucie Thorne interview recording studio: Room 205 at Brisbane City YHA

Interview: Van Larkins (Queensland)

Image courtesy of Owen Van Larkins
Image courtesy of Owen Van Larkins

Interview with (Owen) Van Larkins

Progressive Acoustic Fusion — Finger-style Guitar

On one of those nights earlier this year where I could have pulled up stumps in Blackheath, Balmain or Bollongong, I opted for the middle option on a warm evening at a programmed open mic night (for want of a cleaner turn of phrase), one of many put on each week under the label ‘Songs On Stage‘.

It was an eclectic mix of local performers at The Cat and Fiddle that night but the gig was also host to a visiting performer: Owen Van Larkins (who puts his music out as Van Larkins).

Owen and I took a few minutes to catch up talk about music, touring and venues, and I apologise now for the charming backdrop of traffic on Darling Street, Balmain:

Title track from Wandering Hands by Van Larkins:

Jenny Spear: Black is a Colour

Jenny Spear
Jenny Spear

Jenny Spear

Black is a Colour

As Jenny Spear and I sat down to have lunch and a chat about her new album (‘Black is a Colour’) at Digress Restaurant and Lounge in Canberra City, I proved once again that while I do like my humour and observations laced with irony and straight-facing, I can be just as thick and literal as they come.

‘You know, this album will work well across a couple of genres because there’s an old traditional folk song called, “Black is THE Colour”.

To her credit, Jenny was very polite as she shot me a look that registered the comment, but she let me come to my own learning as sometime later a question revealed, “Yeah, well, that’ll be Track Three then”.

Jenny had contacted me many months ago out of the blue, at a rather crazy time as I was bouncing around New South Wales and ACT, and we made vague plans to catch up somewhere sometime somehow.

Then one night as I stopped off at the monthly music blackboard at the Royal Hotel in Bungendore, Canberra singer-songwriter-author Chris Johnson announced Jenny Spear as the woman sitting next to him, pumping out a fair slab of Neil Young’s back catalogue with him.

In late August, Jenny and I finally caught up over some wonderful Indian pizza at Digress. We didn’t realise it at the time, but Jenny was to soon perform there as the Merry Muse club took an unusual and welcome diversion to another venue for one night.

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