The Sickle Of Life: Interview(s) With Sveta

Sveta01
Image courtesy of Sveta Lyublyu Knokyablokov

In July 2019 during the Darwin Fringe, I met a vibrant, funny, and larger than life character named Sveta* who was presenting her show ‘The Sickle Of Life’ as part of the Fringe lineup.

The next day, I met a pleasant, outgoing, chatty festival volunteer named Lana.

It took a good few minutes on that second meeting to realise that the performer and the volly were one in the same person. That’s a good as any recommendation for the skills of an actor as you could hope for.

The chance to see ‘The Sickle Of Life’ passed me by due to conflicting festival obligations, and as you’ll read below, it mostly passed others by due to circumstances beyond Lana’s and the audience’s control.

Not even the former Soviet Union’s security services could fix the problem.

But the show is coming to The Venue at Fannie Bay on Friday 6 December, and will hopefully return to the Darwin Fringe in 2020.

On a mercifully mild November Sunday morning, I met up with Sveta and Lana at The Fannie Bay Coolspot for a cup of coffee and a chat.

Or chats.

* See the bottom of this document for a very important security advice about this website.

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Image courtesy of Sveta Lyublyu Knokyablokov

Bill Quinn: I hope this interview goes OK, because the only Russian language I know I’ve learnt from Billy Joel: Live In Moscow and The Hunt For Red October. So I trust your English is better than my Russian.

Sveta Lyublyu Knokyablokov: Well, I’ve been learning English, so hopefully you can understand my accent.

BQ: When did you come to Australia and what brought you here?

SLK: I’ve only come recently because I have been in the search for love, and I know my true love is waiting for me. I’ve been looking for him all around Australia… well, maybe it last six months.

And I started in Adelaide, and then I went to the Brisvegas, then I went to the Gold Coast, and I’m searching for this man that I met in Moscow – that’s part of my story – and apparently, he is waiting for me here in Dariwnd.

That’s why I’m here.

BQ: Aha! Now are you talking [about looking for love] generally, or is there a specific person?

SLK: Specific man!

BQ: Ah, see I thought that the problem was you’d run out of men to find in Russia and had come here looking for love.

SLK: Oh, nyet, nyet, nyet. I am saving my treasure chest for special gem.

And you see, I am the last hope for virgin [pronounced ‘wirgin’] bride in Knokyablokov family. It’s getting a bit of a worry for the family, but I am saving myself for the right man, and that’s why I am here because I met him, and I’m here to find him.

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Image courtesy of Sveta Lyublyu Knokyablokov

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A Punter’s Perspective 18 — Tuross Music Festival 2009

Tuross Music Festival the first
Tuross Music Festival the first

A Punter’s Perspective

Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

#18 Tuross Music Festival 2009
First published in Trad and Now magazine, October 2009

While it’s been my pleasure over the years to attend the 20th of this festival, the 30th of that festival and the 40th of the other festival, it’s always nice to be there at the birth of one.

It was in these very pages of Trad and Now a few months ago that I read of a new festival cranking up in my second home, the quite stunning not-so-little hamlet of Tuross Head on the south coast of NSW. The festival had its inaugural outing on the second weekend in August, amid enjoyably warm and settled conditions.

Sandwiched between the jazzy township of Moruya and the blues stronghold of Narooma, it seemed a natural location to turn some new musical sods (er, no offence intended) with no particular labels or genres catered for specifically, save for an intentional focus on youth performances.

Festival director Ian Traynor has been very active in the Tuross Head community for many years, and also bobs up at many NSW folk festivals, most noticeably as a bush poet and MC. Ian laid the tools of his accountancy trade to one side for the weekend, which started as a birthday party on steroids and developed into a festival spread over multiple venues. Continue reading

A Punter’s Perspective 10 — It’s only words and that is all…. damn, what’s the next line?

Bill (7)A Punter’s Perspective
Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

#10 It’s only words, and that is all… Damn, what’s the next line?
First published in Trad and Now magazine, May 2008

By Bill Quinn
At a recent singing session, a participant asked a very leading question in between songs.

“I love singing and I love songs, but I can never remember all the words. How do you singers remember not only the words to one song, but to so many songs?”

It’s a fair question. One with possibly as many answers as there were singers in attendance to provide answers.

How does one recall to mind lyrics they’ve written themselves, lyrics written by their peers, and lyrics written by others from one to 400 years previous?

(Arguably, the same question applies to instruments, notes and chords, however, since the author isn’t a musician – or at least, not for the last 27 years – we’ll confine the discussion to the realm of the vocal cords.)

In singing sessions, not everyone is expecting polished performances, and there’s a fair amount of group effort involved; if someone starts to falter, others will usually chime in with a word or phrase or some background accompaniment while the main singer gets back on track. If they know the song. Continue reading

A Punter’s Perspective 06 — Sing! Sing! Sing!

Bill-singA Punter’s Perspective
Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage

#6 Sing! Sing! Sing!
First published in Trad and Now magazine, October 2007

By Bill Quinn

When you front up to any given festival, you’ve generally got a fair idea of who’s on the bill. And yet, one of those grand moments of the settling-in period, after you’ve been tagged and show-bagged, is to scan the program for your favourites. Pen in hand, there are those tantalising moments of deflowering virgin program pages with flowing strokes of biro circles around the tried, the trusted and the ‘man, you just gotta see’ acts.

Conversely, there may be other acts or genres that you zip over, or choose to ignore, or even scratch a dismissive mark through. (The author will refrain from venturing examples here as his insurance definitely doesn’t cover such off the cuff observations.)

For this punter, anything that had ‘choir’ in the title was always a category to avoid like the fugue. However, one of the true joys of many, many discoveries over the last few years has been to admire the wonders of the massed one-to-four part harmonies of many voices.

Choirs rock.

Community choirs, singing groups, singing sessions, and the big daddy of them all (or many of them): the festival choir. There’s a sweet science behind the process of putting several to several hundred voices into beauteous harmony, but to the punter, it’s just a chance to let one’s jaw drop to the canvas, their eyes roll back in sheer aural ecstasy, and to feel the very hairs up the back of their necks stand out in perpendicular, involuntary admiration.

Festival choirs have become a mainstay of many festivals, and they’re well worth seeking out. In smaller festivals, it helps when they’re seeded by established choirs, but after that, it’s open to all comers, because many of the festival support staff, volunteers and even paying punters are closet warblers.

As a friend said many years ago, and it’s stuck to the point of my adopting the phrase, ‘Do I sing? Sure. I give daily concerts in the shower and in the car!’ Continue reading

A Punter’s Perspective 04 — National Folk Festival 2007

IMG00924-20100401-1644A Punter’s Perspective
Random observations on the weird world of folk from the side of the stage

#4 National Folk Festival 2007
First published in Trad and Now magazine, June 2007

 

By Bill Quinn

The 2007 National Folk Festival is by now but a handful of dim, fuzzy, yet pleasant memories on the rear horizon. Before the festivals themes of Western Australia, water and the Middle East fade completely away, here are a few observations on some of the talent and goings on in Canberra over April.

Lessons learnt from the Easter weekend at EPIC: the Canberra Contra Club did not receive arms (or any other body parts) from the US Government in the mid-1980s. The Lawnmowers are not available for freelance landscaping jobs. Madviolet did not take their name from an aggressive (and since discontinued) Dulux paint chart. But it is true: the Jinju Wishu Academy were approached for next year’s Tamworth Country Music Festival – until Academy members quietly explained they are in fact ‘lion dancers’.

The Western Australians were in town in greater numbers than usual, and hopefully those present took the time to meet, greet and hear from a bunch of singers, songwriters and musicians that might not ordinarily make it to the east.

Simon Fox (from WA via Vancouver) treated audiences to a stack of his original tunes, including one that nearly got him evicted from his apartment during the creative process. He’d practised the bluegrass licks so many times that his neighbour above was going quite spare.

Simon claimed it was revenge for his having to listen to his country and western neighbour incessantly banging his foot on his floor (Simon’s ceiling) in time to his own brand of music. The audience burst into applause at the end of Simon’s tune: ‘Yeah, you like it, but you didn’t have to listen to it for hours in a row!’ Continue reading