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.
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!
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..]
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.
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…
To tell the story of Harry Manx would take several lifetimes, and hopefully a progression of life-form hierarchies 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…
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 if it can go close to kicking the Clarendon into a cocked hat. Or any poultry millinery for that matter.
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.
Lucie Thorne is doing one of the things she does best — touring around Australia, making her way into major centres, but also visiting a few places off the beaten track.
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.
I can’t remember the last time I did a straight face-to-face interview in a studio. For this brief chat, I was in the salubrious surrounds of a Brisbane City Youth Hostels Association dormitory room, finishing the interview just a moment before house-keeping arrived with the bins, hose, and industrial leaf blower. Lucie, meanwhile, was in South Australia relaxing on a friend’s property 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.
*** Audio file will be deleted at the end of February 2020 ***
In Manly today, as I took a few minutes in a favourite perch high above the Corso at the New Brighton Hotel, I heard a young singer-songwriter setting up in the prime position at the eastern end of the famous strip, with his back to a fairly choppy swell.
Taj Ralph just did the one bracket, a mixture of covers and his originals. The voice announcing the songs was powerful but undeniably young. And as I made my way down there, I heard him answer sheepishly to what must be a common question: “I’m 12”.
There’s something highly engaging about the way a 12 year old says casually: “I wrote this one a couple of years ago”. And he had a couple of those.
In my bar-side perch, I thought I heard Taj say that he had been selling CDs the last time he was busking, but the rains had come and he couldn’t sell them anymore. But down on the street level I got the real story: the “ranger” had come along to tell him he wasn’t allowed to sell his CDs.
The Miss Chiefs is the serendipitous musical union of three young women whose massed ages don’t stretch too much past the half-century. Laura Zarb (Blue Mountains), Amelia Gibson (Canberra) and Vendulka Wichta (Cooma) have not been performing for long, however, they grabbed the attention of many immediately and they’re about to play three east coast festivals.
After a week locked away together, creating and rehearsing, The Miss Chiefs played a set in front of an appreciative crowd in Queanbeyan last Sunday, and Bill Quinn (Overheard Productions) caught up with them afterwards.
Bill Quinn: We’re here at The Artists’ Shed in Queanbeyan and have just seen a – was it a performance or a rehearsal…?
Laura Zarb: Awwwww, a bit of both!
BQ: … of The Miss Chiefs – Amelia, Vendulka and Laura. Laura, you’re the mother of the troupe; you’re the eldest.
LZ: It would seem so, yes!
[Laura is an elderly 25.]
BQ: So, I’m going to ask you about the genesis of the group.
LZ: The genesis. Well, it was at the National Folk Festival…
(But he’s about to do a week or so of solo stuff so make sure you read to the end!)
Tracking back even further through my backlog of recorded material, back a fair few weeks ago now, Bruce Watson was on the road with three of his Victorian compadres (I could have said Mexican, but didn’t) for the Unsung Heroes shows in a few venues. Sadly, this article didn’t get to see the light of day in time for those shows, but as you’ll read, the project has quite the life that will see it around for some time to come. Here Bruce talks about how the concept came about and what the future plans are for the project.
And then, you can start scribbling dates in your diary as Bruce prepares to have a mini-assault on ACT and the southern highlands/Illawarra hinterland/central coast and Hunter region over the next ten days.
Bruce Watson: It’s a collection of four singer-songwriters – which is sort of unusual for singer-songwriters to all get together. But we all met at a thing called the Darebin Songwriters Guild which is based in our local area in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.
And we got together to do that, and the actual idea for the project came from Moira Tyers, and she was just basically talking to people about it. She formed a band with Wendy [Ealey] and Neil [Robertson]. And I heard about the project and said, ‘This is really good. I’ve got some songs that would fit into that idea, and I’d love to be involved in some way’.
So I was invited into the project.
We actually started with about ten people. And gave the initial concert with a whole lot of local songwriters that did songs on the theme of ‘Unsung Heroes’.
Then we gradually filed it down to a manageable number of people, and to more of a thematic approach, with the organising principle being: time. It’s chronological, going from settlement (and a little bit of a flash-back to pre-settlement Australia) and it goes right through to a few contemporary people – a few people who are still alive and doing amazing things.
So that’s how the show started, and it’s turned into a show that’s got a narrative and a set of songs and the visuals are really important. It’s got a slide show component that’s quite important. Continue reading →
Liz’s collaborations, bands and projects are legendary. If you laid out her records end to end, including her solo, band, contribution and bit part playing thereon CDs… my, it would take a long time to pick them all up again.
Liz spent part of winter cocooned away in rural Victoria, but in recent times she’s been on the road with her bluegrass outfit Jimmy the Fish, and with the inspired pairing with Fred Smith as Frencham/Smith.
Sometime in the late 1980s, or so it seems, Liz had an interview with Bill Quinn which included one landline, one mobile phone as conduit, and another mobile phone as recording device. Liz was in picturesque southern Trentham, and Bill by the banks of the Moruya River on the beautiful Eurobodalla Nature Coast in rural, coastal New South Wales.
As Liz prepares to strike out on a tour with US singer-songwriter Gregory Page, I started by asking Liz where her preference for solo or band performing lay.
Liz Frencham: I wouldn’t call it a preference. It’s exactly the same, say, as playing playing with Jimmy the Fish and playing with Fred.
Playing solo is “different” and it requires different skills. Probably one thing it has in its favour at the moment is that it still completely terrifies me.
It’s not something that I’ve mastered. It’s exciting and I haven’t settled into a comfortable groove, which makes the possibilities seem more endless. I wouldn’t say it would be a preference, per se.
I am a bass player, and when you’re fitting into your role the most is when you’re accompanying somebody else.
Waiting in a cold studio in Canberra, unable to make contact with my planned interviewee, feeling pretty low and de-energised, but still noodling on Facebook (mostly trying to find contact details for aforementioned interviewee), a concept was born: guerilla interviews.
In front of me were 450+ Facebook ‘friends’. Most of these are musicians or in some way related to the industry.
Surely someone out there must have something to plug and be yearning for some exposure.
I put the call out to two, and one put their hand up.
Pete Akhurst of Canberra.
He’s on at The Front on Thursday 18 April 2012 with Marshall Okell.
Click here and enjoy. Note: all the usual cutting, pasting and snipping and trimming and balancing and equalising are not to be had. This is interviewing in the raw:
*** THE AUDIO OF THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN DELETED FROM SOUNDCLOUD DUE TO SPACE LIMITATIONS ***