Interview: Michael Johnathon of Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour, 2014

Image courtesy of Woodsongs dot com and Michael Johnathon. Photo by Larry Neuzel.
Image courtesy of Woodsongs dot com and Michael Johnathon. Photo by Larry Neuzel.

Image courtesy of Woodsongs dot com and Michael Johnathon. Photo by Larry Neuzel.

From humble beginnings in 1998, from a small venue that sat just 20 people in the audience, Michael Johnathon has built the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour into a public broadcasting colossus. Woodsongs is heard and seen around the globe each week from its current home in the Lyric Theatre, Lexington KY.

The program showcases bands, performers and troupes from across the broad spectrum of bluegrass, Americana, roots, acoustic and alt-country, and a few others around the blurred edges of folk.

It’s a 100% community and volunteeer-run operation, making its longevity and sustainability all the more remarkable. And laudable.

It gets even better than that – but you’ll have to listen to the interview for the part that rocked me back on my heels.

And upturned kayak.

The show has reached an eye-watering 750+ episodes as of April 2014, many of which are freely available from the Woodsongs website in audio and video formats. Apart from its legion of individual listeners, Woodsongs has spawned a string of coffeehouse groups which meet to experience the show as a community.

The log cabin. Image courtesy of Michael Johnathon.
The log cabin. Image courtesy of Michael Johnathon.

And it’s not like Michael has anything else to do with his spare time.

Like being a singer-songwriter of many years standing. Or touring. Or arranging other concerts. Or building a log cabin and surrounding structures plus landscaping and bridges etc. bare-handed. Or being a father of two adult children (and two more on the way in one hit).

No, I lied. He’s all of that and more.

An just get a load of where he got his folk beginnings from. I can only interpret my silence at hearing who his neighbour was in upstate New York as a little mild shock and awe.

On a chilly autumnal morning in Sydney, I stepped off the Manly* Ferry and found a suitable-ish place to record an interview over the shaky airwaves from Australia to Lexington, Kentucky. A picture of my luxurious chair in the ‘recording studio’ appears below.

*¬†For international audiences, ‘Manly’¬†refers to a suburb and location on the north side of Sydney Harbour named ‘Manly’. We don’t believe in forcing gender stereotypes onto our aquatic transport vessels. Actually, if anything, we refer to them as ‘her‘ for the most part. Continue reading

Taliska On Tour In ACT, NSW and Victoria, 2014

Taliska. Image courtesy of Taliska.
Taliska. Image courtesy of Taliska.

Taliska On Tour To Eurobodalla, Jenolan Caves, ACT and Victoria, 2014

Taliska is bringing a taste of Scotland to a parts of New South Wales and the ACT this month. They’re then plying their Celtic trade closer to home in Ringwood and Portarlington (Victoria) and many places beyond.

Hopefully they’ll be near you, and if they’re not, that’s just all the more reason to start loving their music and get them to your town next time they’re back this way.

OR get yourself on a Greyhound or Murray’s bus to one of the three venues, stat.

Definitely like them on Facebook and follow the trails, talents and travails of Taliska.

Who are Taliska?

Claire Patti has a voice that has to be heard to be believed, and she plays the harp (the stringed one), french horn and piano accordion. Claire sings harmonies with the guitar-playing band leader Marcus de Rijk (note the strong Scottish influence in that name — mmm, maybe not so much), while Geoff Jones plays pipes, whistles and bodhran. Angus Downing makes the whole thing fly with his wonderful fiddle playing. Taliska’s traditional Ceilidh will have your feet pounding the tiles.

The mini tour will take in a gig at the always popular Merry Muse in their new home at the Burns Club in Kambah, a performance at the majestic Jenolan Caves plus a house concert in one of the best locations on the Eurobodalla Nature Coast at Congo (just south of Moruya).

T1
Image courtesy of Taliska

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Owen Campbell on ‘The Pilgrim’ Tour, May 2014

Owen Campbell to play The Abbey, Canberra on Friday 2 May
Image courtesy of Owen Campbell

Owen Campbell to play The Abbey, Canberra on Friday 2 May 2014

Australian blues man Owen Campbell has been busy promoting his latest album ‘The Pilgrim’ and will be taking the show back to his old stomping ground of Canberra atThe Abbey on Friday 2 May 2014 to kick off his ‘Remember to Breathe’ Tour.

Show only tickets are available for just $20 or dinner and show is $65. Booking fees apply to both and the details are available at The Abbey.

Owen took some time out to talk with Bill Quinn who was cooling his heels at Central Railway Station – the foyer of the Sydney Gaelic Club proved to provide the best acoustics.

*** Audio file will be removed at the end of February 2020 ***

Bill Quinn: I’m stood above Central Station where the tunnel is a hive of activity for buskers, and that’s very appropriate as we’re talking with Owen Campbell. Owen, how’re you going?

Owen Campbell: Good thanks, mate.

BQ: Owen, tell us what’s up in the world of Owen Campbell at the moment.

OC: Just a lot of work, a lot of touring. I’ve just started a national Australia tour that started at Deni[liquin] Blues and Roots FestivalDeni[liquin] Blues and Roots Festival last week and’s going all the way up to the Blues On BroadbeachBlues On Broadbeach Festival at the end of May. So that’s about six weeks, and then I’m driving back to Sydney then flying out for a six week tour in the US.

So just flat out, man.

OC1
Image by Swamp House Photography, courtesy of Owen Campbell

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1993: One Year Into My Life On Stage(s), A Monster Is Born! (1993)

1993: One Year Into My Life On Stage(s), A Monster Is Born!

1993: One Year Into My Life On Stage(s), A Monster Is Born!

In 1992 I was press-ganged, as organically-chosen head of the social club of my workplace, and the person most likely, to present a charity trivia quiz for a couple of hundred people.

That night in mid-September 1992 when I picked up a microphone for the first time properly — the Kraken awake’d.

Bill Quinn died that night and Billy Quinn awoke.

Some months later, needing a gag for our follow-up, I wrote to two likely lads who were then plying their trade on Triple J, formerly 2JJ or 2 Double J.

I wrote my letter, forgot about it and life continued. Six days before the 1993 quiz, I came rolling in, rolling in, rolling rolling, as I came rolling in [drunk] and my long-suffering then wife said a package had arrived and was in the hall.

Yeah, I did a few cartwheels and dive rolls that night. Therein was the tape with this on which I later edited to remove references to the selected charity (The Smith Family) so I could re-use it to get utility for many other charities, not for profits and 21 years later…. I think I need to book a certain venue for a date in September.

Enjoy. I know I did and have!

Billy Quinn
Overheard Productions
www.overheardproductions.com