Xavia – Horizons: Music Inspired By The Landscapes of Centralia

Image courtesy of Xavia. Photo by Micah Barnes, Micah Barnes Photography (vimeo.com)

One of the great joys of music (and the yarts in general) is making new discoveries. Hence this blog and so, so many Overheard Productions and related social media pages.

When I went to my first National Folk Festival in hometown Canberra, Australian Capital Territory in 2005, it was a journey of only 2.7kms from my first home into another world or planet. (And 2.9kms from the second abode ages 4-18; we moved from no.20 to no.34 in 1970 – #DownerRepresent).

When driving through Sydney and listening to FBi Radio 94.5FM, I love mostly hearing only music and artists whom I’ve never heard before.

Same syndrome applied last night at Monte’s Lounge in Mparntwe Alice Springs, Northern Territory during the 8CCC Community Radio 102.1fm – Alice Springs & Tennant Creek Sunday Sessions. All bangers, all new to my ears.

Image courtesy of Xavia. Picture by Jeff Tan Photography.

I’d never heard of Xavia before August 2021 when the first draw of her bow across her cello reduced me to a watery pile of salty liquid on the dusty grounds of the Sunset Stage of Darwin Festival in Garramilla Darwin, Larrakia country.

But much as I didn’t know Dave Crowe Music either (also performing in the same concert that night as Resin Moon), I’ve probably heard Xavia’s music before but didn’t know it. Various gods (especially sun gods) thank the moguls of film, TV, and other media that love to pay phat or medium stacks to independent artists to licence their art.

(Not every Australian would know the band Flight Facilities, but I’d wager that about 80% of Terra Australians could instantly recognise one of their songs.)

I should also tip my Stetson to the others on stage that night: Casii Williams, Paul Ah Chee, Bambadino, and the magnificent Alice Sings under the direction of Ed Gould. If the performance of Endless Sky at Araluen Arts Centre is totally new news to you, then hi. I’m Bill ‘Quinny’ Quinn. I thought we’d met! (I’ve mentioned it just a few times on social media in the last two months. Just a few.) 😉

Ok, muggles. Strap yourselves in, and be prepared to slap your Mparntwe mates with a bunch of lightly-dampened celery and bellow, ‘Why did you not tell me this was happening in August? What am I to you? Chopped liver? A block of flats? A ham sandwich? Why don’t you love me anymore?’

Ok, admittedly that’s at the top of the dial for intensity of response. Let’s move on, shall we?

We shall. Click here, and don’t thank me later. Thank THEM!

Back to Xavia. This is her song ‘Horizons’ – the original version.

Through the wonders of technology, you can experience many different versions of ‘Horizons’ with just a few clicks of a keyboard, or twitches of your thumbs on your preferred device.

I inwite you to do just that. Then if so motivated, go to http://www.xaviamusic.com/ as I did and hoover up her music for less than you’d spend on a great meal and a craft beer at Monte’s Lounge in Todd Street, Alice Springs. My personal recommendations: Chicken Mesquite, a Dawn Patrol, and Xavia’s current single Saule – and I’m still working on how I add the acute on the ‘e’ on this laptop that doesn’t have a numbers pad…

No, wait. I came up with a solution last week. It helps if you speak French, but that’s not a pre-requisite. Once more with feeling: Saulé. Formidable! Facile!! (French for ‘wonderful’ and ‘simple’.)

^^^^ My Favourite Song and Record of 2021.

My opus ex animo article in the October 2021 edition no. 144 of Trad And Now magazine is called ‘Endless Sky – A Personal, Musical Love Letter to Mparntwe. It’s ok as articles go, but the online version is more polished, eye-wateringly longer, and contains embedded photos, videos, and links. I mean, it will do when I finish playing with it in draft. Two weeks and one day now.

It’s coming like Christmas, but hopefully before. 😉

Bill ‘Quinny’ Quinn
Mparntwe/Alice Springs
Central Arrente NT
Australie

As with all my articles, it’s a living, breathing, evolving, ever-changing beastie, and I’ll tinker and tweak it for days to years to decades to come. If a link is busted, or some detail is wrong or could be improved on, please post a comment or get in touch via the Contact page. BQ.

Top Half Folk Festival Turns 50

Top Half Folk Festival celebrated its 50th in time-honoured tradition: with cake.

This article also appeared in Trad & Now magazine in August 2021.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and almost three hundred hearts were filled with music, song, poetry, and good cheer in June as the Top Half Folk Festival (THFF) returned – after a year on sick leave – to celebrate their milestone 50th annual event.

Covid19 had cancelled the festival in 2020, and conditions were still dicey in the lead-up (meaning some interstate visitors could not make the trek north). But it all kicked off in brilliant conditions and sublime surroundings at the Mary River Wilderness Retreat on the June long weekend.

While I’m not on commission for the venue, I highly recommend you add this little accommodation gem to your itinerary if you’re headed to the top end.

Situated just over 100kms east of Darwin along the Arnhem Highway, the cabins and sprawling campgrounds are tailor-made for a folk festival or a stopover. And the management have been generous and constant supporters of THFF since it moved to that locality in 2000.

Well, half of it moved there. Let’s go back a step.

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Daniel Champagne – Live In The Time Of Corona – Interview

Daniel Champagne playing at the Darwin Railway Club, Saturday 23 January 2021. Pic: Bill Quinn.

This article also appeared in Trad & Now magazine in mid 2021.

While the world is in various stages, tiers, and iterations of lockdown thanks to corona virus, Australia is one nation that’s managed to escape relatively lightly with restrictions.

That’s doubly or even more so for Darwin.

After what I’ve termed ‘Lockdown Lite’, hospitality venues were starting to open here again in May 2020, gigs were on again from June 2020, festivals with some restrictions were on in July 2020, and open air music festivals were live and kicking by the end of the year that dare not speak its name. (Even though I have. Others still call 2020 ‘Voldemort’.)

It’ll be a while yet before we see international touring acts flooding back to our shores, but nationally, musicians are starting to shake the mothballs and cobwebs off their touring paraphernalia, and live music is limping back to life.

A welcome returnee to the north, Daniel Champagne is a hometown boy from Brogo, New South Wales. Brogo for me was always a bit blink-and-miss-it on the map, and be careful to slow down quick because the highway takes a mighty dogleg off the end of the bridge, though Daniel is a font of information about this fascinating part of the far NSW coast. (That all came over a dinner of Darwin music-related people on a monsoonally wet top end night, and before the recorder went on. Ask him about it sometime.)

The last time I interviewed Daniel was in a radio studio roughly 4000kms away, and ten or so years and a half dozen lifetimes ago, so as the wet season rains poured down in Nightcliff NT, we sat at an outside table under the awning and got a more up to date state of play.

Daniel Champagne playing at the Darwin Railway Club, Saturday 23 January 2021. Pic: Bill Quinn.

Bill Quinn: Daniel, as a temporary resident I can say: Welcome to Darwin!

Daniel Champagne: Thank you. It’s good to be here.

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Providing Food During Pandemic – Interview with Peter Pilt (CEO, Foodbank NT)

Image courtesy of Foodbank NT

The Foodbank Hunger Report makes for sobering reading as we tuck into our smashed avo breakfast and second chai latte, or rip into a chicken parmigiana and included pint of tap beer. That bar bill you’re stumping up for could put food into the mouths of many starving Australians who might not have the luxury of three square meals a day.

If you’ll crave an indulgence, the author spent several years in the mid 2010s when $10 could and did provide enough groceries to keep going for three days. Necessity is the mother of invention, and you might be amazed at the creative ways some people are forced to employ just to provide themselves with the most essential sustenance to keep alive.

“Foodbank is Australia’s largest food relief organisation, operating on a scale that makes it crucial to the work of the front line charities who are feeding vulnerable Australians. Foodbank provides more than 70% of the food rescued for food relief organisations nation-wide.” – What We Do, Foodbank website, https://www.foodbank.org.au/hunger-in-australia/what-we-do/

In late June 2020, I met with Peter Pilt at the Berrimah warehouse of Foodbank NT to find out more about their operations with special interest in their work during the pandemic of Covid19. No further preamble is necessary. Peter is one of the most eloquent, passionate, and driven individuals I’ve had the pleasure to interview, and the audio needed no editing:

Peter Pilt, CEO of Foodbank NT talks about their operations

Bill Q: Good morning from beautiful Berrimah in the Northern Territory.

Now, for anybody who might be listening in around the country, it’s the start of winter in Australia, and I’ve got to tell you it’s currently 29 degrees and feels like 31 degrees. So if you’re suffering in the cold, hunched around the fire, so sad for you.

But anyway that’s enough of that. I’m speaking with Peter Pilt, and Peter runs the Foodbank NT out here at Berrimah.

G’day Peter.

Peter Pilt: Hey, how’re you doing? And hi to everyone listening.

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Overheard In Darwin – Asher Gregory Productions

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Image courtesy of Overheard Productions

Watch this space. We are experiencing high volumes of lack of goods, services, and opportunities to get to a laptop.

For now, go to:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AsherGregoryProductions

Website:

http://www.ashergregoryproductions.com.au

 

Darwin Muso Series – Bella Maree, October 2019

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Image courtesy of Bella Maree

Darwin Muso Series – Bella Maree

Having almost finished the initial batch of interviews following the Passport To Airlie heat in September, Bella Maree answered my callout for other musos to step up and have a chat, emailling to say, ‘What About Me?’

(She didn’t literally use those words, but since she was recently on a lineup with Shannon Noll, it seemed like a bit of wordplay too good to resist.)

Bella Maree has been in Darwin for less than a year, but she’s already a regular on the scene, bringing her mix of originals and covers to the eyes and ears of Darwin’s welcoming audiences.

On a hot but breezy Friday morning, we sat outside at the Nightcliff Foreshore Restaurant and Cafe by the Arafura Sea and chatted over coffee, as Bella Maree unfolded quite the amazing tale of a pretty full life for someone so young.

Bill Quinn: So, Bella Maree, you’re not originally from Darwin?

Bella Maree: No. Before coming to Darwin, I was in Coffs Harbour for a couple of months. And before that, I was between Byron Bay and the Gold Coast for a couple of years.

But before that I was in Thailand for three years, so there’s not really one place that I’m from. I’ve moved around my whole life.

BQ: You’re a global citizen!

BM: Yeah!

BQ: So when did the interest in music start?

BM: My brother Keanu is two years older than me. When I was about eight or nine, and he was ten or eleven, he started learning guitar and singing at school, and he’d come home and show me what he’d learnt.

And basically, that’s how it went: everything he’d learn two years ahead of me, he’d come home and teach me. So, that’s what got me in to music to start with. We started singing together and we had a duo: Strange Angels.

BQ: And bands at school? Did you get together with others there?

BM: When I was younger, yeah. In primary school, I was in a school rock band, and in high school – Grade 8 – me and my brother did a bunch of performances together for the school.

But then in Grade 9, I went into home schooling, and then just towards the end of Year 9, my brother, my parents and I moved to Thailand when I was 14.

BQ: Wow, so how did that go, getting into music and then moving to another culture?

BM: It was… life-changing!

Because I was still doing this home-schooling thing, and I was doing music theory, learning all that kind of stuff, and BOOM! We’re in Thailand, a totally different culture and language, etiquette and everything.

So it was a big learning experience, a life-changing thing.

We continued to do singing when we got there, when we first got to Chaing Mai. We were there for six months and my brother and I sang in restaurants there, and had a bunch of Thai and Burmese friends. We learnt languages from our friends.

Then we moved down south, moved to the islands, and that’s where I got into some bands. My brother moved away to Bangkok, and we were still on the island. Koh Samui was where I was mostly, singing in bands.

So the band members consisted of guys from Europe, America, all different places. Older dudes, and they taught me so much. They showed me all those older songs, older eras, older music. It just really taught me the old school way, and how to lead a band.

I had a lot of experience with them, and a lot of cool shows with them too.

[Tape pauses for the arrival of Bella Maree’s chai latte. And we continue..]

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Image courtesy of Bella Maree

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Darwin Muso Series – Summit, October 2019

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Image courtesy of Summit

Darwin heavy metal band Summit have had a very busy 2019, and it’s about to get even busier as they prepare to head on the road to tour down the east coast of Australia in November.

With the release of a new single in the very near future, the time is ripe for the band to take their music to a wider audience, one that’s already been building off the back of a strong online streaming and Youtube presence.

Having met several band members at a MusicNT meet and greet in August, it was great to catch up with drummer Tom Heffernan and find out a bit more detail about the band’s activities.

Bill Quinn: You’re the new boy in the band, but you’re the spokesperson today. How much can you tell us about the background of Summit?

Tom Heffernan: The boys have been going since 2017. I worked for a couple of them on a major project up here and that’s how we met. I followed them around, watching their shows. They have a lot of talent, and it’s definitely up my alley.

They jumped on to the scene pretty quickly and left a pretty big footprint on the place. I just love their music.

Wes [Beck] is the leader of the band, and he organised it from the go. He was out of the scene for a long time before this band started. Greeny [Matt Greenaway] was over here working from Sydney way, New South Wales, and the two brothers [Jordan and James Atwill] are born and bred in Darwin.

I’m not sure how they got together, who spoke to who. I know Wes and Greeny worked together; that’s how they got together.

BQ: Coming from a number of backgrounds, it’s a Darwin band – but you’ve had a fair bit of interest from outside, even overseas. 

TH: Yeah, we’ve had a lot of success with online stuff so far. The EP was brilliant, the first EP [Echoes Of Aberration]. (Obviously, I had nothing to do with that one.) That’s one of the best EPs I’ve seen from a first-time effort.

And the interest has really escalated from that point on.

There was a bit of a hole with a change of line-up for the boys, but we’re full steam ahead now.

BQ: And you mentioned your online presence – that’s the way you get your music out when you’re isolated like in Darwin. What’s that like? I’ve got to say I’m not a fan of the online streaming services because you don’t get much out of it in dollars and cents. But I notice that you get a lot of plays on Spotify; is that helping?

TH: Oh, it definitely helps get the music out. That and Youtube. Without it, I’d say it would be a lot harder. There’s not a lot of revenue in it, as you said, but that’s the way of the world today.

But the exposure’s nothing like it used to be. To see a band back in the day, or to hear a band, you had to go and see them or buy a CD. [Online streaming] is handy, but there’s no money in it.

But it’s great for the exposure side of things being in an isolated area like Darwin.

We haven’t ventured too far out of the territory, maybe not at all. So big things coming for us soon.

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Darwin Muso Series: Danger Den, October 2019

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.

DangerDen

Danger Den

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.

* If anyone wants to claim a bigger battle of the bands competition in Australia, kindly fill in the 36 page nomination form on the website and send to Overheard Productions with a non-refundable $200 admin fee.

Danger Den describe themselves as a pop rock group, though their sound definitely leans towards the heavier side. Danger Den are emerging artists in Darwin’s very diverse original music scene, but they’re already finding some traction and interest from live audiences, playing their own blend of punk and rock music.

I didn’t manage to catch up with Danger Den on the night at the Rails, but sometime later, I met up with vocalist Jeremy Uyloan to learn more about the band.

Bill Quinn: Tell me a little bit about the Danger Den story.

Jeremy Uyloan: Basically, me and my friend Donald – BigD; he’s the big guy with the man bun, the lead guitarist – we’ve been playing music since middle school. I’m 21 now, and he’s 22.

And we stopped around graduation, and we decided to either go to uni or work. But really that didn’t last long!

BQ: What, the uni or the work?

JU: Both, actually. Donald wanted to do IT, and I got into full time work. And I stepped down because I didn’t like it. Donald got a job and left studies.

So we formed Danger Den in early 2018. We were looking for drummers, so we looked at the Darwin Music Scene page [on Facebook]. That’s where we found Neil [Wright]; we were looking for any punk drummers out there, and Neil put his hand up.

We were a three-piece for a while, but then we eventually got our fourth member – our newest member who joined us is Callan [Power]. He also plays in the band Temperamental, who also competed at Passport To Airlie.

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Image by Adnan Reza

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Darwin Muso Series: Ward Hancock Trio, October 2019

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 Ward Hancock Music

Ward Hancock Trio

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.

* It’s big. Like really big. Huge. You might think it’s a long way from the Darwin Bus Interchange to Six Tanks – and it gets further on Friday and Saturday nights – but that’s just peanuts compared to how vast the scope of the Airlie Beach Festival of Music’s Passport To Airlie competition is. (With apologies to Douglas Adams, but I’m starting to scratch around for enough gags to see out this bracket of interviews.)

Ward Hancock is an emerging artist from the Northern Territory, though his young years belie the amount of musical runs on the board he’s already chalked up. His style and repertoire have a strong basis in reggae, but zip around to visit blues, dub, and rock.  A home-grown Darwinian, Ward along with his trio won first place in the Passport To Airlie competition, and they’ll be off east in November to represent the Top End on the Whitsunday Coast.

I thought I might miss my chance to speak with Ward after the event, but I managed to reef him away for a few minutes right at the end of the night, and he reflected on his musical background and the competition win.

Bill Quinn: In 80 000 words or less, what’s the Ward Hancock story?

Ward Hancock: I found guitar when I was about 12, because I wouldn’t stop playing an old ukulele that my parents had. No, at first it was drums – drums were the first thing, then I gravitated on to guitar because it was a bit cheaper and a bit quieter.

My thing was I always wrote songs, I always like writing songs more than learning songs. I started singing in about Grade Seven or Eight, because noone else would sing.

The first couple of years, people told me not to sing! Fair enough; it didn’t sound too great. I’ve heard recordings; it’s not pretty, but…

BQ: You’ve got to start somewhere.

WH: Exactly! I just evolved into a singer. I was always a guitarist, but evolved into a singer. Always a songwriter.

There’s a lot of great opportunities living up here. I think one of my first bigger gigs was at the Noonamah Tavern. My earliest memories were of big, tough guys drinking in the beer garden. Bikies, you know? I had no idea, but I had some great experiences with that; I kind of cut my teeth on that.

I had great mentors like [Darwin music legend] JK, and Michael Henshaw – who did sound tonight – he’s a great supporter of music as we were growing up. Mickey at the Happy Yess, and countless other Darwin locals.

WardHancockTrio

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Darwin Muso Series: Crystal Robins, October 2019

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 Crystal Robins

Crystal Robins

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.

* If you laid out all the competitors from 13 regional heats from Darwin to Adelaide end to end… they’d likely be very annoyed and would probably resent the dry-cleaning bill.

Crystal Robins is a very popular multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter, and a regular fixture at events and venues around Darwin. Crystal’s strong passion for music and the performing arts saw her play in a variety of jazz, rock and folk-punk bands in Sydney, but she now makes Darwin her home.

I had a brief chat with Crystal after she performed the penultimate set in the Passport To Airlie heat.

Bill Quinn: So, tell me the Crystal story!

Crystal Robins: Wow! I have to turn my brain on again!

I’ve been playing music for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Sydney, I played in quite a few bands there. I studied music at uni…

BQ: Where was uni?

CR: The Australian Institute of Music. I studied jazz and contemporary music there, playing flute.

But I’ve always loved playing guitar, and writing songs and singing.

CrystalRobins

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