Eleanor McEvoy On Tour In Australia – Interview at Wollongong City Diggers, 2014

Eleanor McEvoy with Danny Priestley and Lindsay Martin of Riogh. Image courtesy of Danny Priestley.
Eleanor McEvoy with Danny Priestley and Lindsay Martin of Riogh. Image courtesy of Danny Priestley.

Eleanor McEvoy landed in Australia this week on tour from now until…. well, until Ireland warms up again in roughly six weeks’ time.

On St Patrick’s night, Monday 17 March 2014, Eleanor was a very special guest of Riogh and the Illawarra Folk Club at what’s starting to look a lot like a St Paddy’s tradition in this south coast of New South Wales town centre. Accessible from anywhere and a short walk from the train station.

(Our correspondent Bill Quinn later that night ventured down the road to another raucous Irish venue, and couldn’t help but notice that, despite the number of prone young bodies decked out in over-sized corporate green Irish hats, the music on the tannoy was Canadian Scots.)

But before that, and after one or three very large jars of piping cold very special St Patrick’s Day tea, Bill spoke a little with Eleanor about the tour.

*** Audio file will be removed at the end of February 2020 ***

Bill Quinn: It’s getting on for 10.30pm on St Patrick’s Day in Australia, which means that over in Ireland, it’s roughly midday. People are at lunch, they’re settling into the snugs, they’re in the bars, they’re making St Patrick’s Day what it is.

Meanwhile, in the sweaty, sweaty, sweaty, hot climes of the Illawarra, at the back stage of the Diggers Club, I’m talking with Eleanor McEvoy. Hello, Eleanor.

Eleanor McEvoy: Hello, how’re you doing?

I can tell you that at home what they’re doing, they’re getting ready for the parade. The parade’ll be at midday.

BQ: Your home town/county is?

EM: Well, my home town where I was born is Dublin, a place called Cabra on the north edge of Dublin, but now I live in County Wexford in a more rural environment.

BQ: And so in all of these cities, all of these towns, in all of these places, they have their own separate parades?

EM: They all have their separate parades. The biggest one is in Dublin City, but I like to think the Wexford one is pretty cool too.

EM1
Image courtesy of Eleanor McEvoy

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Interview: Tolka (Victoria)

Image courtesy of Tolka
Image courtesy of Tolka

Interview with Tolka (Victoria)

I was initially attracted to the sound of Tolka as they reminded me strongly of one of my favourite Australian folk bands. I won’t say which one, though it was mentioned in dispatches and a subject of some discussion when we spoke — press ‘Play’ below to find out more.

When we spoke earlier in the year, on a sultry Saturday evening when the Illawarra Folk Festival was fairly humming, strumming, beating and dancing, Tolka hadn’t at that point put one foot inside the recording studio for their debut album.

However, last weekend, ‘Tunes From The External Hard Drive’ was launched with appropriate fanfare in their hometown of Melbourne.

There are more chances for you to see Tolka for yourself via their gig listing. The album will be available soon at Bandcamp, or contact Tolka directly about where to snaffle a copy.

Upcoming festival gigs for Tolka:

3 to 4 June – Robert Burns Scottish Festival, Camperdown (VIC)
20 to 22 September – Turning Wave Festival, Yass (NSW)

There’s also an exhibition of the album’s artwork at the Brunswick Arts Space from 13 to 28 July.

Dr Gilbert’s Set from the National Celtic Festival, Victoria, 2013:

Interview: Johnny Huckle (ACT)

Image courtesy of Johnny Huckle
Image courtesy of Johnny Huckle

Interview with Johnny Huckle (ACT)

I first saw Johnny Huckle playing in Woden in the late 1980s or early 1990s. My girlfriend/fiancée at the time was working at ATSIC (née Department of Aboriginal Affairs), and more than the odd Friday afternoon would have us plonked at the Aboriginal Club or the Contented Soul watching Johnny belt out a blend of covers and originals.

His rendition of ‘Do The Hucklebuck’ was always a crowd-pleaser.

Fast forward twenty years or more, and I only manage to run into Johnny at festivals. As was the case earlier this year in Illawarra where we finally made some time to gather around the MP3 recorder and have a chat.

Hopefully you can decipher most of the conversation despite the cacophony of competing sound spillage.

Johnny Huckle performing Spiritman:

Johnny jamming with Canberra music and recording legend Trev Dunham:

Interview: Rick Nestler (USA)

Image courtesy of Rick Nestler
Image courtesy of Rick Nestler

Interview with Rick Nestler (USA)

at 2013 Illawarra Folk Festival

Posting this one up just a little bit late in the piece, so hopefully late is better than never.

I had the pleasure of talking with a number of interesting locals and visitors to Australia at the 2013 Illawarra Folk Festival back in January, and Rick Nestler was one of those.

It was a classic piece of going in cold as I knew little more about Rick than his name and how to pick him out of a line-up. However, as is often the case, the interviewee was interesting, obliging, funny and articulate.

Hear Rick talk about skiffle, jug bands, and yes, we talked about ukuleles.

Rick performing at the Illawarra Folk Festival:

Interview: Jeff Lang talks about sound and instrumentation

Jeff Lang on Moors. Photo by Alison Ferrier. Image courtesy of Jeff Lang.
Jeff Lang on Moors. Photo by Alison Ferrier. Image courtesy of Jeff Lang.

Bill Quinn walked into a tent where Jeff Lang was playing at the Candelo Village Fair in 2011 and was promptly blown back out by a wall of sound that might have had Phil Spector raising an eye-brow.

Or possibly his whole head.

Ever since, he’s been intrigued (that’s Bill, not Phil — as far as most pundits are aware, Spector’s views on Candelo are yet to be canvassed) by the sound level created by Lang and band, and was reminded of this at the 2013 Illawarra Folk Festival when one of Lang’s sets had the songs seemingly bouncing off the escarpment.

Finding an opportunity to bail Jeff up in the green room (ie the grass behind the tent), Bill whipped out the all-terrain microphone and quizzed Jeff on the sound matter, among others.

(Please excuse the seven second déja vu moment at the start of the audio; the post-producer still has his ‘L’ plates on for the use of Microsoft Movie Maker…)

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Upcoming gigs: Jeff Lang will be appearing at the Snowy Mountains of Music Festival at Perisher on the June long weekend.

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George Mann Talks About The Almanac Singers CD and Tour, July 2013

Image courtesy of George Mann
Image courtesy of George Mann

George Mann proved to be a great hit with Australian audiences when he toured in 2012, and so he was a very welcome returnee in 2013.

Around the time of the Illawarra Folk Festival in January, George played a series of shows, predominantly with Rik Palieri, but also teaming up at the festival and later in the month at Wongawilli with compatriots Rick Nestler, Dom Flemons and Reanna Flemons née Muskovitz.

George Mann and Rik Palieri have recorded a CD of the songs of the Almanac Singers and in July 2013 plan to retrace the steps of the legendary 1941 tour.

On a stinking hot day (that’s an Australian term for ‘mighty hot day’ for our North American friends) at the Illawarra Folk Festival in Bulli, George and I found a cool spot and George told me more about the planned tour.

*** 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 ***

A Folking Memory of Songs and Under-garments and Bravado and Musical Performance Advice from an Illawarra Folk Festival, Bra’

  • Andrew Winton, David Hyams and Bernard Carney at the bar, Illawarra Folk Festival. Photo by Bill Quinn.

Andrew Winton, David Hyams and Bernard Carney at the bar, Illawarra Folk Festival, 2012. Photo by Bill Quinn.

Last night a song came on the Saturday Night Forever Classic Hits and Memories Relive Show on the radio which was a perfect soundtrack to my current never-ending task of cleaning, packing, clearing, selling, and carting stuff to op shops, charity stores and the tip.

Lyric cheat
Lyric cheat

Anyhoo, this song (Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da by The Beatles) I learnt via ABC Sing books in primary school and ABC Radio 2CN and 2CY back in the 1970s.

And from listening to Beatles records in the Dickson Library in Canberra after school.

I took the song in my head to a ‘Songs We Sang In School’ themed concert at Illawarra Folk Festival a few years ago, in answer to a callout from the organisers. I’d worked up a bit of vaudeville to go with it, but the setting for the concert was an intimate affair up in the Chapel (at that time just the chapel itself, not the awesome little elevated tent show it’s now become). The small, subdued crowd didn’t really seem to suit the energy of what I’d planned, so I did a Dylan song instead.

However, I *did* mention to Bernard Carney in passing that I was planning to do the song before I changed plans. Bernard Carney, apart from his decades-long anthology of original music, has made a regular feature of his all-singing, all-dancing, multi-muso, multi-instramental, multi-style Beatles singalongs at festivals around Australia.

At my casual remark, Bernard shot me one of his trademark sideways looks, twiddled his ‘tache and said, “Why don’t you sing it at The Beatles Singalong?”

Me. Mr Amateur Plus, who occasionally slides off notes like a slippery dip. Singing with electrified accompaniment in front of ~400 people.

Feel the fear and don’t think twice, it’s alright.

“Oh, yeah. Alright.” Always up for a challenge, me. That a man’s grasp should exceed his reach – or vice versa. I never can recall.

Come the appointed night, with the thought of going on stage and singing with a backing band, I had so much adrenaline pumping through the veins, you could stick a cord into any orifice and light up a small city.

Ask Craig Dawson — he was sat next to me and had to ask permission to say something before I went up there.

Singing at full belt is a service I do provide
Singing at full belt is a service I do provide.

I’m glad he did because he said, “Give it everything. Don’t hold back. Leave it all out there on the stage.”

I can’t remember getting more timely or salient or sage advice.

Thanks, Campusoid. I strode out, barefoot and in shorts, bandages around my legs where the gumboots had bitten into my calves, plonked a bag on the stage, nodded to no less than Liz Frencham on bass, David Hyams on geet, and Bernard also wielding an axe. Forgotten the others.

I fluffed the first line because I am *crap* at singing lead with accompaniment and never know when to come in, but I made it up, and when we hit the first chorus, I had props.

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, life goes on, bra…” ♪♪♪

And every time I hit the word ‘bra’, I threw a St Vincent de Paul shop-bought bra out into the audience.

If I missed a note, or got a half-tone off or slurred a word, who cared? Everyone was tossing bras around the crowd.

An enduring memory shall remain as I sang, “Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face!” and on every syllable stabbing a finger at Billy Folkus – picture an Australian twin of Billy Connolly – in the fifth or sixth row. Billy had one of the bras tied around his head like some large, hairy, pseudo-effeminate character from a Jane Austen novel.

I walked off stage to shrieks of laughter and gales of applause, cheering and clapping, and the knowledge that noone — not one single person — needed to know my name, just that they had a fun time and laughed lots and maybe had a story to tell. It chrystallised everything that’s core to my being about performance and writing and speaking and radio and singing:

It's not about me; it's about us.
“It’s not about me; it’s about us.”

It’s not about me. It’s about you.

It’s about them. It’s about us.

I don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy old world and never aim to. That people can tell me stories as if anew that prominently featured me but they don’t realise it was me is a cause for great personal joy.

It’s the song, not the singer.

And another enduring memory out of all of that was the amused, bemused and c-mused look on Bernard’s face as I bounced off stage and over to the bar to collect the bottle of wine I’d won as a runner-up prize in the Yarn Spinning Contest earlier that day (and necked it in about 15 minutes which only partially damped down the raging flames of heat and adrenaline).

“I think we’ve reached a seminal moment in Beatles Singalongs!”

The next morning, as we were setting up in the Slacky Flat Bar for the day’s shows, one of the cleaners walked up to me swinging one of the bras around her fingers with an incredulous look on her face:

“What went on here last night?!”

That, my friends, is why I folk.

Dom Flemons — my personal hit of the 2013 Illawarra Folk Festival

Image courtesy of Dom Flemons
Image courtesy of Dom Flemons

Dom Flemons — the real deal

I’m one who normally shies away from imported phrases and clichés — until that phrase or word or even that cliché is the most appropriate and resonant to unpack whatever notion or feeling or thing (a technical term, beg pardon) you want to get out there.

Case in point: I arrived at the Illawarra Folk Festival roughly 20 hours before I’d planned, on Thursday night. And when I surfaced on Friday morning, with one eye open, one eye closed, and a third eye tied behind my back for safe-keeping, about half a dozen people then independently proceeded to tell me, and of their own volition bailed me up, tied me down, roped me off, and press-ganged me on board the good ship Dom Flemons.

“Maaaaaate, you gots to see him!”

When I did indeed see him, I kid you not: I was spell-bound.

I was not alone by a long chalk.

The Miners Camp venue was full to over-flowing x 2, and everyone was spell-bound for the duration. When even many young children around the age of four or five even stopped their fidgeting and drawing with crayons for a song or two — well, that’s a fairly good barometer of the appeal of a performer.

Before that performance, and the packed out stage at Slacky Flat Bar the next day, I took just a few minutes of Dom’s time, high above the dog track in the grandstand on Friday morning, to have a chat.

I present that interview: live, uncut and un-fiddled with. No editing or anything.

The typed out wordification will be along later this week.

If you are only roughly within a quarter turn of the earth’s orbit away from anywhere Dom is playing on this tour, just get there.

Like I said: the real deal.

2013 Illawarra Folk Festival — interview with David de Santi

Sarah from the WooHoo Revue, appearing at the 2013 Illawarra Folk Festival
Sarah from the WooHoo Revue, appearing at the 2013 Illawarra Folk Festival

On Sunday 6 January 2012, I mooched into the Illawarra and managed to pinch 2’56” of artistic director David de Santi’s valuable time as the countdown to the Illawarra Folk Festival ticks inexorably down.

Note: after a two-hour session at Dicey Riley’s Hotel in Wollongong, the constabulary were testing patrons’ ability to say or spell ‘inexorably’ in order to test levels of sobriety.

The session was one of a series held at Dicey Riley’s Irish pub in Crown Street to get punters in the mood for the merriment to come at Slacky Flat, Bulli from Thursday 17 to Sunday 20 January 2013.

So here’s that brief interview, and the text is available at the Timber and Steel blog.

*** 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 ***

And here’s the very fine TV ad for this year’s festival:

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.

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