Bush Gothic – Looking Forward To A Festival In The Past

Bush_Gothic_01
Image courtesy of Bush Gothic

Back in early February 2018, I interviewed Jenny Thomas from Melbourne-based folk band Bush Gothic, at a time when both of us were looking forward to attending the National Folk Festival in Canberra at Easter.

One of us got there!

It wasn’t me. 😥

It was to have been my first National since 2013 when I barely felt like I was there. Some nights I was tucked up in my tent by 10.30pm. It happens some time. But of course, your worst day at a festival beats your best day doing many other things, so…

Events transpired that instead of running around with various recording devices, filing copy for a small coterie of publications, I was roughly 400kms north on Lake Macquarie, providing various gardening and handyman services for a friend.

If you want to give your or any god a good laugh, make some plans!

Back to the subject at hand.

Bush_Gothic_02
Image courtesy of Bush Gothic

It’s been my absolute delight and pleasure to not only see Jenny Thomas and Jenny M. Thomas and Jenny Thomas and the System and the current incarnation: Bush Gothic perform, but also to interview Jenny several times, both here on the blog and also on community radio.

I’m looking forward to seeing Bush Gothic perform again in the not too distant, down one of many dusty roads, but for now, here’s the interview we did in February. You’ll just have to put your headspace into some sort of cerebral TARDIS and pretend you and we are looking forward to another five or six days of magic at an upcoming National Folk Festival!

Follow Bush Gothic on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bushgothic/

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[Audio Interview] Harry Manx – 2016 Australian Tour

harrymanx-header
Image courtesy of Harry Manx

This is the audio file wrapped up in a bit of Overheard FM nonsense. The full written version will be here on Monday 17 October 2016 at midday AEST, 10pm Sunday Kentucky, US and 3am Monday UK time.

To tell the story of Harry Manx would take several lifetimes, and hopefully a progression of life-forms over those lives to tell the story, because the story is so mesmerising and complex that we would not be very present and in the moment of most of those lives and that could put the telling of the tale at risk as we would not be making gradual and continuous improvement as…

I believe the expression you’re looking for is, “Ain’t nobody got time for dat!”

Harry Manx performs at the 2012 National Folk Festival
Harry Manx performs at the 2012 National Folk Festival

Harry Manx has already begun his 2016 Australian tour which will take him from Sydney down to Victoria (where he is on stage tonight, Friday 23 September in Frankston) then around to Queensland, South Australia, Perth and up to Broome and Darwin, ending in the beautiful, lovely, gorgeous, I-may-be-a-little-hereditarily-biased New South Wales locales of Katoomba.

Ah, Katoomba. If there’s a more intimate, special venue than Clarendon Guest House, I want it stuffed, mounted, and hung above my fireplace – or I at least want an invite to your venue that can safely kick the Clarendon into a cocked hat. Or any poultry millinery for that matter.

And finally wrapping it all up at Club Saffire in Merimbula.

So it’s a very eclectic path Harry treads, and look, I’d draw you a picture if I had a free hand, but imagine a much-twisted paper clip that’s been sitting on your desk all day on a slow Friday when you’ve been watching the clock since 9:36am – now you’re in the ballpark.

OR picture a moose that somehow wandered into your yard, found your sippin’ liquor in the shed, and is now making a bedraggled, loquacious and somewhat winding stagger back to the forest by a circuitous route, two-thirds of it sideways. You got it! Continue reading

[Audio Interview] Craig Coombes – Larger Than Life

Interview with Craig Coombes of Naked Tuesday dot me

Image courtesy of Naked Tuesday
Image courtesy of Naked Tuesday

This is an interview I did with Craig Coombes in 2013 at his home in Melbourne for a book I’ve been very slowly putting together on grief.

I’ll include the background of the interview and the book at the end, but since that conclusion will no doubt waffle on for quite a bit (much like the author), let’s dispense with that for now and first get to the subject matter and the man himself.

Craig Coombes received a terminal diagnosis of throat cancer in 2012. Instead of feeling sorry for himself and hiding away from the world, Craig chose a fairly unconventional way of expressing himself and what he was going through.

It’s an approach that’s resonated with thousands of others around the world via social media, and literally millions through his television appearances.

And happily, Craig is witnessing this as he continues to defy the medicos, batting on way past the initial prognosis of his existence.

I started by asking Craig where he was up to at that point, in August 2013.

It started with a diagnosis of laryngitis (as you can tell with this wonderful voice of mine!) Through not improving, and tests, tests, tests, it became, “Sorry, cancer”.

You hear that word, it does change your life completely.

The old thing is that ‘Cancer is a word, not a sentence’. Did they give you hope?

That day they pretty much said it’s a tumour on my vocal chord. And thyroid cancer.

So we’ll do the operation, you’ll have some treatment, and everything will be fine.

Image courtesy of Craig Coombes and Naked Tuesday
Image courtesy of Craig Coombes and Naked Tuesday

It didn’t get fine, did it? Continue reading

The Woodford Files: Trouble In The Kitchen (Sarah Island)

Trouble In The Kitchen at the Concert Stage
Trouble In The Kitchen at the Concert Stage

Youtube has a simple facility where at the push of a button, your shaky video is stabilised and appears much more professionally recorded than when you were actually adding some extra jigginess via mundane bodily functions such as breathing or sneezing.

Or weeping uncontrollably.

Let’s go back a few years.

At probably my first Woodford Folk Festival, I got a treasured copy of the then very new ‘The Next Turn‘ album by Trouble in the Kitchen. As I set off down the D’Aguilar Highway on 3 January, processing eight days’ worth of festy wonderfullness, I was in an emotional, impressionable state, making listening to the 14 tracks all the more powerful.

(Some of my most treasured and loved folk albums have seared straight into the deepest levels of my cerebrum by dint of being absorbed in post-festival drives.)

However, my attention must have wandered on Track Five as I didn’t pick up all the lyrics nor their significance. I acquired and adopted a handful of mondegreens, and ran with those for many months until one day I sat with a stack of 20-25 Woodford-collected/purchased CDs and…

I read the liner notes.

Continue reading

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:

Claymore (Vic.) Flying Saucer Club, Friday 8 March 2013

Claymore (Vic.)
Claymore (Vic.)

Claymore Live

The Flying Saucer Club

First the details, then the existential ponderings.

Claymore are playing at

The Flying Saucer Club
4 St Georges Road. Elsternwick, Victoria

Friday 8 March 2013

From the presser:

Claymore’s reputation as outstanding entertainers has led them to perform at many local and international festivals, they have performed in New York, Scotland, France at the “Festival Interceltique“, the largest Celtic festival in the world many times, New Zealand, Sydney, Melbourne, Launceston (Tasmania), National Celtic Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Queenscliff Music Festival, Big Blues Day Out, Perth International Arts Festival, Brunswick Music Festival and many more.

The band has played many live radio and television performances in Australia and overseas. 

With a mixture of traditional Scottish and Irish music and modern self penned Celtic rock the band represents the best of new age Folk Music.

Through a diverse and unique mix of sound’s featuring guitar, mandolin, fiddle, military snare, the highland bagpipes and even a didgeridoo, it is little wonder Claymore are one of Australia’s most popular festival acts.  A not to be missed extravaganza.

Claymore are one of the first bands to spark my interest in folk music. Unless you count that village fair in Surrey in 1979 where I first experienced Morris Dancing (and have been in therapy ever since). 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