From The Vault: Music Hunter – Live and Local In The Blue Mountains, April 2018

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Image courtesy of Live and Local

In April 2018, I spoke with Meg Benson from Music Hunter event entertainment about the upcoming Live and Local festival in and around Katoomba, NSW.

For reasons best known to myself but lost in the mists of time, this went out on Soundcloud only at the time and never had an accompanying blog article to go with it.

Meg Benson is one of those arts and entertainment powerhouses without whom the fabric of the independent arts and music scene would collapse in on itself. Just a quick scroll through the photo sets on the Music Hunter Facebook page tells the story of years of diverse events she’s produced for the good folk of the beautiful New South Wales Blue Mountains.

I had met Meg very late one misty evening in the main street of Katoomba as my kitten and I were having a late dinner before heading back to Sydney. (Long story. ‘Boris’ was my temporary charge and I rehomed him a few months later in far north western Sydney. He has fond memories of the Blue Mountains.)

Meg was heavily involved in placing acts in Live and Local, and she spoke to me first about the event and then about Music Hunter.

*** Audio file will be removed by the end of March 2020 ***

*** Audio file will be removed by the end of March 2020 ***

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Image courtesy of Music Hunter

Text of the interview with Meg Benson:

Bill Quinn: For those unfamiliar with the Blue Mountains of New South Wales,, you might not know that this area is just a hot-bed of music, art, talent, and festivals. If you’ve been around Katoomba, you might have already been to the ukulele festival, you might know that the Blue Mountains Music Festival has just finished.

But there’s so much more coming up this year, and it starts probably tonight, but on Saturday there’s something very important happening. To tell us all about that, Meg Benson from Music Hunter is with us. G’day, Meg.

Meg Benson: Hello, Bill. Thank you for having me.

BQ: Tell us about what’s happening on Saturday.

MB: I’m very enthusiastic to share our festival information for Katoomba Live and Local that’s happening this Saturday.

Our program itself is accomplished, experienced, seasoned musicians and also emerging, fresh talent. And 25 percent of our performers are under 25 years. We also have quite a strong (about 12 percent) Aboriginal performers, we’ve got some multicultural performers, some South American music, Mongolian throat-singing, Turkish music, Celtic, jazz, blues, classical, hip hop, electronica – we have a lot of diversity here in the Blue Mountains.

And yes, it’s live and local.

So Live and Local is a strategic initiative that we can’t take the credit for, but it’s something we jumped at because for me, I was really happy to be a part of it because it’s part of my values to create opportunities for musicians that are dignified.

In one day, in Katoomba, 80 musicians are going to get paid $150 each for a 45 minute set – obviously some of them are in groups so they’re not all solo. On top of that, we have community groups, larger ensembles, and some schools appearing as well – we’ve got a bit of ‘rent a crowd’ there.

So basically we’ve got quite a good cross-section of our community performing this Saturday between 2 and 8pm in the CBD of Katoomba.

The Live and Local initiative is something that was funded by Create New South Wales, and administered through the Live Music Office of New South Wales. And this initiative in Katoomba is led by council, and then their task was to engage with local music industry movers and shakers, which is me – Music Hunter, the event organiser, curator, and co-publicist.

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Image courtesy of Music Hunter

BQ: 80 performers are getting paid to perform at a half to one-day festival; that’s quite remarkable.

MB: Exactly, that’s why it’s so exciting. I think that’s the reason why I started organising events ten years ago was to create dignified opportunities for musicians. Some of them would find it hard to get a platform to play; they’re not really going to be wanting to play in a really noisy pub. They do want an attentive audience.

However, this festival is kind of unique. What I would normally present is where you might hear a pin drop. OR I do those loud, full-bodied dancing and full sound events in some pubs, and that’s a different type of thing again.

What we’re doing here at this festival is we’re not just caring about the musicians, we’re also caring about the local businesses, and we’re not doing a festival with street closures and bringing in musicians from other areas. All of these musicians are local and at least 50% of the band is local; in most cases it’s between 75% and 100%, depending on the number of people in the band.

So that’s pretty cool, but what we’re doing with the venues is we’re also activating the economic impact of our town by having the concerts inside existing businesses. Some of them are non-traditional music venues such as galleries, cafes. We have three galleries. We really wanted them to be a part of it.

We do have the Baroque Room, which is a traditional performance venue. We do have the church hall called Junction 412 which has a capacity of about 150 people in there, it’s quite a nice one. And Big Beat is our 100% deadly venue which is right in the civic centre arcade, a central part of the festival.

We have Aunty Jack’s which, in the past, did have a bit of a history with a bit of groovy jazz and things like that. But it’s been a pancake place, it’s been a Korean place. These guys are new so it’s going to be a really nice way to welcome them into the town.

We’ve even got one in the food court, we’ve got one in a tiny little cafe called Elephant Beans which has got one solo act there.

So there’s really a chance to have a wander around Katoomba Street and check out our little business area.

BQ: You mention Create New South Wales, you mention the council. I’ve really been cheered in the last few years by seeing so many councils in travels through Queensland and New South Wales and ACT where they’re wanting to engage with independent musicians, they’re wanting to put a focus on business, and they’re wanting to get past that fly-in, fly-out that some festivals have.

It looks like you’ve got all of that in spades.

MB: Yeah, and so once again, this year the Live and Local model that was presented to us – and in fact the Live Music Office only administers this to councils – and this strategy was specifically made for councils in the western Sydney area and regional areas of New South Wales. So Mudgee, Orange, Hawkesbury, Camden, Parramatta. And if you have a little look on Youtube, you might find a Parramatta Live and Local Youtube clip. You’ll definitely be able to find one after ours.

We’re pretty proud of the number of musicians we’ve got. We’ve attracted a fair bit of attention from the funders and ministers, so they’ll be rolling up in packs to our official opening and being official guests there, because I think everyone’s quite excited about…

Let’s just say we don’t do anything in halves up here!

We only do music really well up here. We already have quite a few people that give a lot to keeping it going. There’s three of us that are doing it pretty hardcore, and there’s probably another three movers and shakers that do it occasionally.

And something unique is happening up here and between us we’re creating an impact that is more important than whether we feel competitive in a small market place. And the need for creating more opportunities for the large amount of professional, talented musicians, there is a need for it.

Personally myself, I can’t meet all of that need even though I’ll be seen as someone who I felt like I was filling a gap when I started it. I got limitless requests and I realised it was a really big area, so when other people came out to play and started adopting a similar model to what I was doing, which was putting the right act in the right place and being an independent host not attached to one single venue.

That’s quite a unique thing up here, and so there’s a couple of other promoters up here that do that really well. And you know what? Since they’ve come on the scene, I haven’t actually had less people come to my events, so what I like is that together we’re taking that burden on. We weren’t deluded that we were going to get rich quick, but we decided to do it anyway, so we’re doing it.

So, it’s actually nice. Some of those promoters have been on the festival committee and there’s various other brilliant people: braddiedrich.com who’s helped with some data and graphic design. I’ve really enjoyed the collaboration and the sense of not being alone, and being part of such a brilliant initiative. When doing something that has so many good feelings and right ethics from the start, it’s really easy to get cooperation from people around you.

I don’t put my hand up to help at things when I don’t pay musicians. I might not get paid a lot in doing that, but it’s certainly not my hobby to organise things where people don’t get paid. So, for me to be involved in this and to experience how far that good will travels, that people are so excited that this many musicians are getting paid.

We’ve got a band like the Penny Dreadful. They’ve got a 14 year old drummer and an 18 year old and it’s really cool. They’re doing a 45 minute set, they’re being paid $600 and it’s encouraging for them.

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Image courtesy of Music Hunter

BQ: Where can people find out about Live and Local online?

MB: We created a website and it’s KatoombaLiveAndLocal.com.au [expired site?] From that website, you’ve got options to connect up with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Facbook page is probably the most active one.

The festival is on one day between 2 and 8pm, so don’t think it’s at night time otherwise you’ll miss it. Having said that, if you do miss it, you can come to one of my other events that I’m running after that. Yes, I am crazy, but I already had that commitment before I said yes to this festival. So I’ve got an amazing gypsy jazz performer down at the Clarendon.

But anyway, we’re not here to talk about that!

BQ: Yeah, you can!

MB: [Meg goes on to talk about the utility of the website, however, it seems to have since disappeared off the face of the earth, and the Facebook page appears to have been stripped of all content.]

BQ: And I’m going to guess there’s a radio station that’s also behind you as well.

MB: Yes, we’ve had ads on the radio for the last month, and I just recorded three new ones yesterday morning and they’ve already been on air, just for the last piece of excitement, so people don’t hear the same old ads they’ve heard for the previous three months.

BQ: And that radio station is?

MB: Radio Blue Mountains 89.1FM! And that’s brilliant, and we’ve also given them a gold-plated invitation to have a fund-raising barbecue at Junction 142 – 142 is conveniently the number they are in the street (Katoomba Street) so you won’t lose them.

And they’ll be doing the barbecue there so you can meet some of the characters who volunteer. That’s very convenient, because that venue doesn’t have a cafe; musos and volunteers get hungry, and that’s very handy.

BQ: So that’s all happening on Saturday 7 April at Katoomba. It’s Live and Local. And look for Music Hunter – that’s not in the Hunter Valley where I am at the moment, it’s up in the Blue Mountains. It all happens on Saturday between 2-8pm, and do stick around for the ticketed events afterwards.

Meg, thank you so much for talking with us tonight on Overheard Productions, and have a fantastic festival.

MB: Thank you very much, and maybe we’ll see you, but if we don’t, we’ll see you next time!

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Image courtesy of Music Hunter

From The Vault: The Woodford Files 2014-2015 – John Smith (UK), January 2015

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Image courtesy of John Smith

Originally posted on Timber and Steel blog: https://timberandsteel.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/the-woodford-files-john-smith-uk/

John Smith is performing at Woodford Folk Festival, and at the time of writing has just finished his last show at The Duck.

While that’s bad news for anyone on site who missed his gigs, or for anyone who got along and just wants to see more, the good news for John is that he can now find a shady tree and try to keep cool for the rest of the festival.

“This weather is too hot for my blood!” he observed to the lunchtime crowd of Duck Eggs, as he referred to them, in a friendly way.

While pumping up the nachos at The Chef’s Table and their other gastronomical delights.

Bill Quinn was phonetically challenged….

I’m sorry, I’ll read that again.

Bill Quinn was challenged in terms of phone access which left John with some extra time to enjoy the shade of the Coopers Bar, but they eventually caught up for a chat:

*** Audio file will be deleted by end of March 2020 ***

*** Audio file will be deleted by end of March 2020 ***

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Image courtesy of John Smith

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Yard Of Blondes Launch Second Single From Upcoming Album (Lowland)

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From left to right: Burak Yerebakan: Guitar / Fanny Hill: Bass, Vocals, / Vincent Jacob: Vocals, Guitar / Forrest Mitchell: Drums/ Vocals. Image courtesy of Yard of Blondes.

Yard of Blondes are preparing to release an album later in 2020, and they’ve just launched their second single ahead of the full record. Lowland, a jaunty, upbeat indy pop track (with maybe some darker themes just under the surface) is a great follow-up to last year’s release of You and I & I, a heavier, rockier track.

Yard of Blondes are based in Culver City, just near Los Angeles, USA but their roots come from across the Atlantic in France. Fanny Hill (bass, vocals, and one half of the French connection) got in touch about an interview, and a few days later on a sweltering late summer day in Darwin, Australia I was talking down the line with Vincent Jacob (guitar, vocals et aussi de la belle France).

Bill Quinn: G’day, Vincent.

Vincent Jacob: Hello. How are you?

BQ: Good, and as I found when I did a little bit of research about the band, I can also say: Bonsoir, ça va? Bienvenue, et c’est un plaisir de vous parler.

VJ: Oh, quel bon français. Bon! Ça va.

BQ: Un peu. Seulement un peu!

Now that we’ve gone down that [French] road, Vince, can you tell me about the origins of the band in France.

VJ: So, actually we started the band in the US, but Fanny and I, the founders of the band, we’re both French.

But we met in Los Angeles.

We were playing music separately in France, both of us, and then we landed in the US – we didn’t know each other – and we met. I guess we were there for the same reason; we needed to escape Europe for a bit, and we ended up in the sun on Venice Beach in LA and we met.

Fanny was here on vacation; she didn’t plan to stay, but we started making music together, and she wanted to stay, so we stayed.

We had friends in common, but they didn’t introduce us at all. We met randomly!

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Image courtesy of Yard Of Blondes

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From The Vault: The Woodford Files 2014-2015: Paper Lions, David Cyrus MacDonald and Confederation Entertainment Inc., December 2014

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Image courtesy of Paper Lions

Article originally appeared on Timber and Steel: https://timberandsteel.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/the-woodford-files-paper-lions-david-cyrus-macdonald-and-confederation-entertainment-inc/

While sitting in the media centre, writing in the last post about how Overheard Productions got its name, Bill Quinn overheard David Cyrus MacDonald drop in to talk with the office staff.

About 3.6 minutes later, David and Bill were outside the donga by the Spirit of Woodford office, standing variously on the wooden palets or in the mud, dodging dangerous ants the size of small cats, and speaking over the sound spill creeping up the hill from Bluestown, chatting about Paper Lions, music advocacy, and the wondrous, wonderful Woodford.

And Confederation Entertainment Inc.

*** Audio file will be removed by end of March 2020 ***

*** Audio file will be removed by end of March 2020 ***

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Image courtesy of the Paper Lions

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From The Vault: The Woodford Files 2014-2015 – Miami Marketta and Rabbit Radio (Gold Coast), December 2014

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Image courtesy of Rabbit Radio

Originally posted in Timber and Steel: https://timberandsteel.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/the-woodford-files-miami-marketta-and-rabbit-radio-gold-coast/

I’m not certain, but it may be that Rabbit Radio has gone the way of the dodo. Their website comes back with an error message, and their last tweet was some time in 2016. Shame.

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Image courtesy of Streema

Bill Quinn’s Overheard Productions title is about many things, but mostly about the chance slivers of conversation or even a word or two that leads to a new discovery.

Standing in The Duck at The Chef’s Table, waiting on a plate full of life-giving nachos, Bill chanced to hear and then see Joey Channon, the stage manager at The Duck for the morning and early afternoon sessions, and had his interest piqued by Joey’s t-shirt (Rabbit Radio).

Two days later, and Bill and Joey were seated in the most salubrious of surrounds (on the slippery slope at the back of the gent’s toilets next to The Duck and The Travelling Sisters‘ caravan), chatting about performance spaces, and radio, and grass roots music development.

*** Audio file will be removed by the end of March 2020 ***

*** Audio file will be removed by the end of March 2020 ***

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Image courtesy of Miami Marketta

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From The Vault: The Woodford Files 2014-2015 – The Travelling Sisters, December 2014

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Image courtesy of The Travelling Sisters

The Travelling Sisters are a lot of fun. I mean, when you get to hang out in a caravan for a week in the middle of a busy festival precinct you’ve got to bring the happy haps a fair bit, yes/no?

Laura, Elle and Lucy are The Travelling Sisters. See if you can pick out which is which on the audio recording below. Hint: Laura is the blonde. Typing out the text from audio over five years later, I’m not going to even try. Soz.

Mixing music, theatre, improv and audience participation, The Travelling Sisters fill that little caravan-y void where some punters might remember a couple of late night clowns used to perform out back of ‘The Duck’ (the venue formerly known as ‘The Duck and Shovel’).

Albeit that they’re performing at the more universally awake hour of 5/5.30pm (see below for days and times).

Bill Quinn caught up with Laura, Elle and Lucy the morning after a very special and important day in the Woodford lives of these three young performers.

Please excuse the sound spills. We did ask for trouble by agreeing that if anyone interrupted we would treat it not as a problem but as an opportunity.

*** Audio will be deleted by the end of March 2020 ***

*** Audio will be deleted by the end of March 2020 ***

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Image courtesy of The Travelling Sisters

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From The Vault: Liz Frencham’s Joy Spring Tour – September 2013 – Interview

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Image courtesy of Liz Frencham

The audio from this interview was originally linked to a Timber and Steel article on 26 September 2013. This article is being added over six years down the track as part of a project to move most of Overheard Productions’ audio files to text.

Liz Frencham starts her Joy Spring tour in Newtown tonight, Thursday 26 September, and continues through September along the Eastern Coast and hinterland, stopping in at Newcastle, Canberra, Wollongong, Newtown, Glebe, Allambie Heights and Katoomba and then continues into Queensland with more dates to be announced.

Bill Quinn managed to get some time to chat to Liz Frencham about the tour and her upcoming recordings – listen to the interview below and check out her full list of tour dates (so far).

*** Audio file will be removed by end of February 2020 ***

Bill Quinn: On a very, very muggy afternoon in spring, it’s time for a spring tour, and who better to bring us that than the lovely Liz Frencham. Hello, Liz Frencham.

Liz Frencham: Hey, Bill. Nice to talk to you again.

BQ: Tell me about the tour.

LF: I’m a big spring fan; I’m such a fan of spring I moved to a very cold area in the central highlands of Victoria because the spring is so dramatic. You go from very, very misty, cold, no-sun type winters into this beautiful time where basically the whole town first of all gets peppered in snow drops, and then an explosion of colour as all the daffodils come up. And the little hyacinths with a red/purple colour.

You know it’s all happening; I like that. I feel like I can come to life at the same time too.

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Image courtesy of Liz Frencham

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