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Full report on our activities in 2007 and looking forward to 2008.
The Newport Bush Orchestra hit the road to Colbinabbin on 24 November to play at the local Bush Dance. Here's just a taste of their performance:
No photos this month as nobody remembered to bring a camera. Everyone brought their instruments and voices however and it was a great night. There were a few surprises, such as Rob coming out with tunes from Led Zeppelin (a beautiful guitar piece called Bron-Yr-Aur) and a few snatches of AC/DC. Then a few members of the Footscray Multicultural Choir dropped in from round the corner where they'd been doing a gig at The Substation, and gave us a song from their repertoire, a rollicking round called Malt's Come Down. Choristers (and also NFFC regulars) Alan and Greg J. were heard conspiring to bring back the rest of the choir for a proper performance next year, so stay tuned.
On a request, Leonie led us all in Moondance which seems to be developing as a great singalong and guitar solo song. Greg O. and Moira led us in a wonderful blues tune with spontaneous fiddle and guitar solos popping up all round the circle - nobody wanted to stop!
That'll have to do for now, and that was our last "Fourth Friday" night for the year, but we'll be back next year and as usual all are welcome. Lots more activities are planned so keep an eye on our calendar.
Friday the 26th was a great night for the Folk Club - to celebrate Greg O'Leary's birthday a committee was formed (Alison, Greg and Simon), lots of plans were made, and they spent ages decorating the hall and setting up the PA. When people started there was a bit of "What's going on here?" but then once the glasses were charged, and instruments tuned up everything started to happen.
People took turns at getting up on stage with Greg H's new pa (lots of leads, mikes, mixers etc) and so the music took off - Michael and Simon started with Tom Paxton's The Last Thing on My Mind, Greg, Maryanne and Steve played a couple of James Taylor songs and Danny and Jackie did I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones. Alan and Jackie sang a couple of old favourites including I'll Fly Away and then Alan launched into the Bob Dylan classic Masters of War. Mike D sang a few and lots of others got up and tried out the PA. Christine, Alison and Jackie put on a great performance with a couple of lovely songs. While Christine has been around the Folk Club a long time this was the first time she really "found her voice" and it was great to hear. As often happens there were Gregs in abundance with Greg J taking the stage for a couple of songs including his original My Botox Baby. Meanwhile everyone got in to the spirit of things with a few drinks and lots of chat.
Eventually the birthday boy came in, and he was very pleased to see his mum (96 and still going strong) sitting in the front row. Greg got up on stage with his fiddle and played a few swing tunes with his old mates Ray and Rob- great music from the pros. After plenty of applause Michael got to the stage and, after a brief speech thanking Greg for his many contributions to the Folk Club, Bush Orchestra and other groups, Alison presented Greg with a huge birthday card hand-drawn by Leonie (see picture at right) and a gift of 2 lovely shirts ( just right for the stage) on behalf of everyone there.
Then it was time for coffee and cakes and more chat - as usual it was all very social and lots of new friendship were struck. After the break - the fiddlers (about 8 of them with some mates on guitar and bass) played through the bush tunes and that lead in to the gypsy standard Dark Eyes. Dan O was asked if he knew the words and apologetically said he only knew the Russian ones - well, that was good enough for us! Almost everyone who had an instrument joined in and we played through the song (with and without words) many times. Then it was on to a beautiful duet (Dan and Gail) for Danny Boy with Greg providing the violin accompaniement. What else? A sublime version of Waltzing Matilda by Ray (fresh back from years in Canada) and more songs than I can remember. By 11 we all had had our fill and so it was time for The Parting Glass and home. With the decorations and lots of food there was a lot of packing up and so it was fantastic that so many people made light work of it all. This was another lovely night of music and friendship - no wonder people keep coming back. See you next month.
The night started right in the groove with trio "Krystal and the Uncut Stones". Krystal Pace, supported by local music shop owner Tommy Blank on guitar and Chris Dawes on bass and acoustic guitars, crooned through all our old favourite blues and soul numbers with great style. Krystal is a young local singer with a voice of velvet. Tommy played some superb guitar breaks and Chris joined in with rich harmonies and, like all bass players, kept it all together. Look out for Krystal and her Stones around the traps - they do a range of venues and I could see them effortlessly adding drums and some brass and doing cabaret (if that was their bent).
Then, after the break, it was Jenny M. Thomas (I guess she uses the M to distinguish her from all the other Jenny Thomases, but I don't know any other like this one!). Jenny is an extraordinarily talented musician. She is also one of those rare musicians who take a genre and turn it on its head. Her background in classical music and traditional Indian music influences her highly original versions of those classic old Aussie folk songs and shanties like Waltzing Matilda, Bound for South Australia and Little Fishies, and even nursery rhymes like Kookaburra. Her mastery of the violin was obvious - she uses strong rhythmic bowing, and sometimes other tunings, to create the characteristic droning and sliding Indian sound. Close your eyes and you'd swear she was playing a sitar ! She also played banjo mandolin on a number of her songs, and told the story of one in particular that her mother would sing to her as a child (singing to this kid obviously did wonders). I think we were all at once challenged, delighted, in awe of, and most thoroughly entertained by her performance. And she said she'd come back again next year! Jenny M, you're on.
The September Folk session was always going to be different from usual. Not only was it Grand Final Eve, with the Cats supporters saving their energy for the big game, and school holidays, but also some of our musos were off to folk events around the country. Alison, Simon, Christine and Wendy were up at Rose's Gap (near Hall's Gap) for a weekend of music making, and Greg and Toby were up at Goulburn for a 'conference' of the traditional Australian folkies. We look forward to seeing, and hearing what news and tunes they bring back from these events.
So, those who weren't away came along for a session in Newport. As seems to be the case most months, there were about 25 or so of us who were up for music and it turned out to be a really nice night of playing and joining in. There were a couple of new people (Ken - a local with a banjo who also gave away a tenor uke, and a few who travelled from Melton, and Point Cook, to be part of the Newport folk scene). As usual Dave kept up the poetry tradition with Banjo Paterson in a more reflective mood in his poem On Kiley's Run and later in the evening back to his rollicking humour with An Idyll of Dandaloo. Newcomer Kade gave us the Jon English classic Six Ribbons with a good many people singing along.
There were even a couple of requests - Maryanne once again outraged all cat lovers with Nobody's Moggy Now (by request, perhaps from a cat hater?) and Alan was glad to oblige a request for Donna Donna, with Maryanne reminding him of the guitar chords along the way! Leonie and her sister Nicki sang the Van Morrison classic Moondance - which was a great one for everyone to join in with - both playing and singing. It was Leonie's birthday (she gave her age as "one year older than she was last year"), so Jackie brought along a cake and candles and we all enjoyed wishing her a happy birthday in song. Ken - a local who had seen Jackie and a few other NFFC regulars perform at the BreaCan fundraiser in Williamstown - brought along his 4-string banjo and got things going with the guitarist's first fingerpicking tune - Freight Train. Alan's daughter Zoe sang the Frente song Bizarre Love Triangle and later in the evening Split Enz's Stuff and Nonsense with Alan singing harmony in the chorus. It's always great to see young performers getting up and having a go. The aforementioned Dave is Zoe's grandfather, so there were three generations of her family performing this night.
The good old singalong songs popped up as they always do; Michael got them going with the Dream a Little Dream of Me and Maryanne with Too Ra Loo Ra and just about everybody playing along and singing Danny Boy . Lots of lovely voices were heard with even a few well placed harmonies. Fiona played Annie Laurie on the fiddle and got the string section going, Moira played a couple of Bach pieces; the very familiar Minuet from the Anna Magdelana Book and the first movement of the Fifth Brandenberg Concerto. This was a delightful and unusual arrangement with Michael accompanying on guitar and Steve on bass. Alan finished off the night with The Parting Glass - as is now the pattern, 11 o'clock was the time to finish off.
New connections, some first performances, maybe some new directions (with the classical tunes) and lots of possibilities for the future.
A detailed report is below but here's a treat - a short video of Michael, Greg, Steve, Barry and Greg, playing Lady Be Good. Barry's drum solo is really something; his hands are way too fast for the camera to keep up! The swirling colours at the end are caused by me clapping madly with the camera dangling from my wrist, still running - I left it in as the effect somehow captures the excitement of the moment.
When you think of third birthdays, the mind turns to fairy cakes, lemonade and noisy kids.
Our third birthday session was really great night where everyone got involved in the spirit of things - some new folk (welcome Louise and Fiona and a few others), some young folk (Alison's son Lucas got up and sang a verse of You Are My Sunshine...not to mention Spiderpig) and of course plenty of older folk doing what they do best. As seems to be the case it was a bit of a slow start (which had me wondering if 8 people could make a dint in the cake) but sure enough there were plenty of people in the hall by about 8.15 and the night took off.
There were a couple of odes to the feline variety of animal. Maryanne sang Nobody's Moggy Now by Eric Bogle and Alan sang The Cat Came Back which has a happier ending, especially for the cat. Toby always comes out with something different - his love song to a particularly beautiful brew of beer (Cairns Bitter) took a few of us back to a time when the amber liquid was our most significant other, and a moving version of Neil Murray's song My Island Home (made famous by Christine Anu). The evocations of places far away continued when Mike sang a beautiful song he wrote on a trip to England which recalled the time, the place and the spirits who were said to have died there.
The ukeleles again featured prominently, and actually started off the night as an awesome foursome (Christine, Alison, Jackie and Dan) with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band classic My Walking Shoes Don't Fit Me Any More... and then asked all in attendance to Loan Me Your Heart. Jackie also played her latest number and showed what a long way she has come in 2 years (when she couldn't play either a chord or a song). What better evidence for the value of the folk club than unleashing her musical talent on the world. Go Jackie!
The Bush Orchestra made an appearance with their (by now) well known set of Railway Hotel, Rita Baker, Jack and Lil and Black. They have learned heaps more tunes and we can look forward to them bringing more to the folk club next month.
Later on in the night we heard a great solo performance on the uke - Dan did his version of Live and Let Die and then followed up with the Beatles classic Something. For anyone who thought the uke was only for 3 chord songs his performance was a real revelation.
What else - Rick sang a Bob Dylan circa 1963 in recognition of Bob's visit to Oz, and then got a few of us singing along to the folkie classic Caledonia. Louise, a folk club first timer, also did the Bob thing with her very stylish version of Don't Think Twice, It's Alright, though before that sang an Irish lament in celebration of her Irish heritage.
Steve even got in the swing of things taking centre stage with the Captain Pugwash theme tune on the bass, Wendy played a couple of tunes from Begged Borrowed and Stolen with Greg O'Leary, Lyn got us in the multicultural feel with a nonsense song from a Javanese Opera (I can honestly say I have never heard it before), Moira played Air on a G String and Fiona (also a first timer) played Annie Laurie - which got everyone joining in with sweet harmonies and general accompaniment. We also heard from Helen and her squeeze box - first time we have heard her soloing at the folk club - and it sounded beautiful. Oh - and there was also (as advertised) the first performance of the newport gypsy swing band - Greg, Greg, Mike, Steve and the inimitable Barry Stillman (his surname belies his activity and performance on percussion) jammed away at the old standard Lady Be Good. It all seemed to work pretty well and they will be keen for more performances at the folk club and around in the future.
What else? There was the cake (Death By Chocolate) and tea and coffee, lots of chat, networking, talk of buying new instruments and an all round good time was had by all. We finished off with Home Sweet Home (theme and variations by Greg O), Louise even gave us a down home Country and Western ballad that got everyone feeling a bit lonesome and then You Are My Sunshine by everyone including young Lucas.
The first 3 years have been pretty good fun, and lots of folk have been developing their skills and performing and playing with others. I am sure the next 3 will be just as much fun except that there will be more people to play with, and lots more opportunities for anyone who is interested to perform throughout Newport and beyond. However the Friday session was just about the present - and that seemed a pretty good place to be.
With a dozen or so primary-aged children sitting on cushions at the front, we wondered..."are we in the right place, or is this a school outing to visit historic sites in Williamstown?" No, this was it. The first BOT for locals (and yokels).
Greg Hammond and Maryanne Daglish opened the evening with a beautiful selection of songs and tunes. Maryanne performs with such poise and grace (OK, I admit, I'm a smitten fan ... is it just the name association that makes me think of Maryanne Faithful (or Mary Travers) ? Her songs were delicately complemented by Greg's punchy, modal-sounding guitar (he uses more open tunings than I do, and I labour with a few!). Mmmmm... shades of Jacqui McShee and John Renbourn here. Perhaps there's something in the wind. Greg also played some of his own numbers, confirming his skills as a singer/musician in his own right as well as an accompanist.
Mike Daly (who owned up to fathering at least some of the gaggle at the front, a contingent from the Footscray Steiner School ) was joined by friends Rob Carroll (also in Celtic band Braemar) on guitar and Rob Ware on keyboard. A local singer/songwriter, Mike's songs are powerful, personal and full-bodied. The strong guitar rhythms and keyboard overlay filled the little Breizoz back room to its rafters. Mike and his group perform in various guises around town, make sure you catch them.
After the break (and the departure of the mini-mosh pit at the front), I opened the second half with a couple of songs, including as a birthday tribute my self-penned vitriol to the Member for Bennelong (Duped!). The other song, Arthur McBride, whilst set in the Ireland of the 1800's, continues to resonate today as Marine Corp 'press gangs' scour the US looking for more cannon fodder for Iraq. Climbing down from my soapbox, Heather Cummins joined me on violin to play some sets of tunes. Heather is one of a fairly rare breed of classically-trained violinists who really does 'get' Celtic music (she's got the 'nyah'). The two of us are part of a 5-piece group centred around Woodend called Black Forest Rogues. Heather played a range of jigs, reels and a klezmer number, which I accompanied on guitar. Now, I know I'm totally biased, but from where I was sitting it all sounded bloody brilliant, and I think the audience agreed !
Local singer/songwriter Frank O'Brien, accompanied by Russell Kelley on piano accordion and banjo, completed the night. Frank's skilled finger-picking guitar and Russell's tasteful backing provide the perfect instrumental vehicle for his delicately droll (can I say that ? I guess I just did !) compositions. Singing numbers from his CD The Sun is Yellow (see what I mean?) which he forgot to bring with him to sell on the door (I've got my own copy, and highly recommend you get yours), Frank's mix of the whimsical, the absurd and the just plain bloody hilarious made his bracket a true listener's delight. Russell's accordion playing ( à la parisienne in parts) really got Breizoz manager Catherine Ryan going - at one point I thought she was going to break into a rendition of Piaf's Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (which happens to be Greg's and my theme song, eh Greg?). These guys also perform around the local traps in various guises; look out for them, support them, give them your money!
And finally to cap it off, Simon and Maryanne led the stragglers-who-wouldn't-go-home in a couple of singalong numbers to send them on their way. Fair to say I think, another great night at Breizoz on Thursdays !
A huge thank you to all who attend and support the BOT, the audience many of whom are dedicated NFFC regulars, Christine on the door, the musos, Breizoz management, Greg O'L for his PA, NFFC Executive for moral (is that the right word Michael?) support, and any others I've missed.
Next gig (30 th August): Greg O'Leary & Greg Hildebrand, with support act Helen McLachlan & Mandy Keating.
...the BOT goes on...
The July session was another great example of the good vibe that is created when you get a whole lot of musos who come together to share their skills and play with and for each other.
Years ago I used to read M. Scott Peck (The Road Less Travelled etc) who wrote about the process of community building, and I always feel a sense of wonder at the folk club nights as this process happens each and every time, but always in a different way. When there are a number of new folk at the session, as there was last Friday, there is always a heightened level of self-consciousness as we get the night underway, and it just that little bit harder for performers.
A friend teaches craft and she talks about the hum that begins when her students begin working - for musicians, there is a time before the hum when it is harder work to play or sing or recite a poem, and the clock seems to move very slowly. Then it happens - I can never pinpoint the moment because as soon as it happens the clock is forgotten, one song flows in to the next,and everyone has a role to play in the Newport musical community. The break between playing has always been so important as a networking time, but more than that it is a time when we are all able to enjoy this community - everyone is your friend and there is a shared experience to talk about. This is one reason why many of us are loath to go home - it is such a great thing to be part of a community that the desire for more is very strong.
Anyway, these reflections might be an interesting way of saying that I forgot to take notes of who played what - but I do remember that we had a some new people come along to play and watch (welcome Moira - fiddle , Bill, Rob & Greg - guitar, Phil - tenor banjo, Dawn - listener and singer), we played lots of fiddle tunes and plenty of 3-chord songs, sold a couple of Bush Orchestra books and recruited a few new Bush Orc. members. Maryanne and Greg H gave us a couple of lovely songs accompanied by Neil on the djembe - we haven't heard one of those for a long time. Neil also got us singing and playing along to an old Australian favourite, The Backblocks Shearer.
Dave told us about the properties of a proper swag (from the Henry Lawson story The Romance of the Swag) and recited my favourite peom (Bloody, Bloody, Bloody), and Alan finished the session with a rousing rendition of The Parting Glass right on cue at 11pm - so we reckon it was a night of good clean fun. Next month's session (Aug 24th) is our 3rd birthday so we will have an incredibly rich and large chocolate cake to celebrate the occasion. I might see you there.
To really get the flavour of the evening, here is a "panorama" photo of the night, with everyone sitting around in a big circle. The perspective is a bit odd and a few people got cut in half but I know they'll forgive me...
The photo is too wide to show on this page, click the button below and it will pop up in a new window where you can scroll from side to side.
It's unanimous! "Breizoz on Thursdays" is off to a wonderful start. Thursday 28 June was another great night out for acoustic music lovers. This time Paul Wookey expertly worked the room at the second "Breizoz on Thursdays". Paul was ably supported by local performers, Greg Hammond and Gerry Nelson.
Paul Wookey is a class act around the Melbourne and wider acoustic scene and has been for decades. Paul made the most of the warm and relaxed atmosphere at Breizoz to bring the audience into his musical world. Paul performed 2 sets of songs that spanned country-tinged ballads, blues, to his original, intimate songs about Victorian towns and people. Paul hails from Gippsland and several of his songs drew on his personal experiences. One stand-out song was about a Gippsland mining strike and the pivotal role the miners' wives played in keeping the community resolved to win safer and more humane working conditions.
There's a lot to like about Paul's music. Confident and relaxed presence, great voice. Expertly plays his old and worn Martin 6-string in an amazing range of styles, perfectly matching his songs. Paul had his old musical buddy, Greg O'Leary (fiddle) on stage for several songs. Their between-song banter and their musical rapport were great to experience.
Both guys played up to the roles of "cranky, aging troupers", but still able to push the musical envelope on the fast-paced numbers. Paul added that extra 'degree of difficulty' by not letting Greg know what he was to play next. Would it be an intimate, slow ballad ... or a bluegrass scorcher?... a wry smile, and off we go. You have to have played music together professionally for a long time to try this on in front of a live audience. It adds to the fun if you can do it. They can. And they sure did.
Greg Hammond opened the evening with a set of instrumentals and songs, including his new adaptation of the Dorothy Hewett poem, Rapunzel In Suburbia. In a feat of multi-tasking you don't often see, Greg O'Leary simultaneously assisting on fiddle and PA mixing desk duties.
Newport musician, Gerry Nelson, followed Greg with a great set of songs and instrumentals. Gerry's got a great stage presence that the audience really appreciated, is a fine guitarist across many styles and his songs ranged from the swing/jazz influenced to blues and beyond. The audience loved the song Would You Like to Play the Guitar... a tongue-in-cheek tribute to that 'barmy army' of musicians on the verge of stardom, and salutary warning to their ( must keep my paid job or the family starves!) partners.
This wonderful evening's enternainment was (of course) supported by the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club.
For more details phone Greg on 9397 5224 or
See Greg's MySpace for more on the 2007 Breizoz program.
The NBO played at Newport Railway Station as part of its 150th birthday celebrations. See the video below...
We started off informally with Georgie and the Georgettes (Ted, Alan,Simon & Michael) singing Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe - always good to see the young performers getting up and having a go. Then Greg H previewed a new song - had a great singalong chorus but a set of tricky lyrics that will be unveiled next month. He then played a beautiful instrumental he composed many years ago when he and we were all much younger. Simon Leverton got the fiddlers and guitarists going with the Irish pair of tunes, one called Stitches in Britches and the other...not. Then it was time for some a couple of old singalongs - Maryanne lead the folk classic All Around My Hat and Michael and Simon sang that lovely Tom Paxton tune Last Thing on My Mind. Ted showed us some very impressive Nick Charles style finger picking with a blues number, and Rick sang a song of boat builders.
Then the Ringwood Folk Club contingent took the floor - there were about 7 of them who had made the trip over and it was great to hear their versions of the Railway Hotel, Black Cat, the Gervasoni Waltzes and Sweet Marie. They invited us Newporters to join in, and so there was a solid 15 instruments joining in by the end of their bracket. Alan then got people singing along with his version of Sixteen Tons, Maryanne gave us another folk song (where someone sadly drowned), Neil sang about life in earlier times and the Greg J got a bit political with a song about the harsh treatment of asylum seekers in Australia. Dave recited the popular CJ Dennis poem The Play - the story of the Sentimental Bloke taking in a bit of cultcha (Romeo and Juliet).
By then it was time for a well earned break. It gave everyone the chance to make introductions and find common repertoires and musical interests. After the break the fiddles lead the way in a session of well known Newport tunes (Rakes of Mallow, Portsmouth, Horgans and lots more.) It was a delight to be part of such a big session with so many fiddles and other instruments bringing together people from Ringwood, Carnegie, Werribee, Balwyn and St Albans (see video below). We had a couple more songs, and tunes before Alan brought things to a end with The Parting Glass. Just as we were ready to finish, there was a few more tunes that had to be played, and then Greg O really finished things off with a couple of rounds of God Bless You, a fitting note to end such a great night of music and fellowship.
Finally the doors were closed at about 11:30 so we reckon it was another very successful night. So now the caravan moves on to Newport Railway Station on Sunday morning, then Breizoz on Thursday for Paul Wookey and then barely enough time to complete our tax returns before the next session in July (actually there's about 4 sessions next month so we will keep you posted). If you like folk music, Newport seems to be the place to be!
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It’s been talked about for months, and finally it’s happened – on Thursday 31st May the Breizoz creperie in Williamstown played host to a new acoustic music venue – "Breizoz on Thursdays". Brainchild of local singer guitarist Greg Hammond, who is joined by Gisborne resident and long–time folk music enthusiast and performer Simon Leverton, this stunning venue, a former seaman’s mission at the back of the French–styled restaurant on Nelson Place, is the perfect setting for fine acoustic music.
The gala opening night last Thursday exceeded all expectations, highlighting in a dazzlingly brilliant performance by star act singer/guitarist Nick Charles. It was a full house from the start. Simon warmed the friendly and eager audience with a bracket of songs ranging from blues to traditional folk, finishing with one of his own, an acerbic commentary on honesty in politics called Duped ! The audience joined in enthusiastically. Then Greg did several numbers, in which his skilful guitar work and passionate singing had the audience enthralled and delighted. After a short break, the evening was then given over to the musical mastery of Nick Charles.
Nick makes guitar playing look soooo easy, yet his skilful fingers entice from his guitars (one a rich and powerful Santa Cruz dreadnought, the other a beautifully polished steel National resonator) such delicately fashioned and intricate sounds as to leave you breathlessly wondering how? Or just plain wow! Nick’s playing draws from many influences, such as the finger-picking style first popularised by Chet Atkins, and the lightning picking runs of Doc Watson. But his repertoire isn–t limited in any way to a particular genre – for example his version of the old Fleetwood Mac hit Albatross is simply exquisite, and so fittingly performed in this former seamen’s mission ! Nick’s singing, in that very engaging bluesy/cruisey style, complements his guitar work perfectly and adds to the illusion that this is all done with a minimum of effort. This feast for the senses filled every corner of the old chapel room for a full 80 minutes, and after prolonged applause Nick capped off the evening with an encore. It was indeed un soir pour se souvenir !
Next month Greg and Simon have managed to snare master balladeer Paul Wookey, with support from popular and very talented local singer/guitarist Gerry Nelson. Mark this venue on your musical calendar – "Breizoz on Thursdays" – last Thursday of the month.
The fourth Friday of the month at Newport – I still clearly remember the first session (Aug 2005) where there were 3 musos and an audience of 2 – so its great to see familiar and new faces come in to the community hall for live and local folk music. There were about 30 people in the room by the time things got started at a bit before 8:00. Ted kicked things off with Doc Watson’s Deep River Blues, then gave a plug for his guitar teacher's (Nick Charles) performance at Brezioz next week before playing a NC original – St Judes Rag.
Simon Leverton played Tell Old Bill, a song he picked up at Port Fairy this year from the American blues /roots player Eric Bibb – I can see why Simon went out and bought the CD as it’s a great tune. The PF influence must have rekindled Simon’s inner songwriter as his next tune was the self–penned and highly political Duped, which will no doubt feature in his own forthcoming CD. We look forward to hearing more originals from our member from Gisborne.
The Bush Orchestra then got up and played a set of well known Australian fiddle tunes (Railway Hotel, Rita Baker, Jack and Lil and Black Cat – now known as Set 1!) with gusto and then had a go at Ochnee Ochnen Sue, a Swiss-Italian tune that is still a work in progress.
Trevor (pictured) performed (for the first time) and sang the Green Hill of France, Greg sang about the dangers of using too much Botox and Maryanne took us down with a sad song and then (thankfully) lifted us up with a rousing, all join in, rendition of All Around My Hat. Dave took us back in time with Hitched, the 'Wedding Scene' poem from The Sentimental Bloke – as always his characterisation of the bloke draws people in – lovely to watch the faces of a captive audience. Then we had another set of Australiana – Rick played The Wallaby Track, Suanna showed her newly aquired jazz violin skills playing a cool version of Waltzing Matilda with Michael on guitar and Steve on bass, Richard from the Melbourne Folk Club played a few Australian tunes on the mando, and got fiddlers and guitarists to join along and then Toby accompanied himself on the squeeze box for a song of Ned Kelly, written while Ned was on the run, and, in some quarters believed to be written by Joe Byrne. A few uke tunes from Alison and Jackie and then time for a cuppa.
After the break, the Newport Fiddlers tried out a new tune Frieze Britches which sounded great, and then got everyone to join in the NFFC Scottish standard (and 2 chorder) The Campbells Farewell to Red Gap and the Athol Highlanders Farewell to Loch Katrine. All of guitars and ukes provided the backing – reminded me of the suggestion (if Marilla brings along her harp) that we could call the group the String, Harp And Guitar of Newport. Anyway it sounded pretty good and we had just about everyone playing. Simon lead us in Jock Stewart before (another) protest song – Tom Paxton’s Letter from LBJ with some words to take us from Vietnam to Iraq.
Danny played It Must Be Love on his resonator (metal) uke, before following up with an equally quirky rock anthem that killed the notion that the uke is a sweet little accompaniment to the voice. Ted, Toby and Rick all played another song and then it was almost time to go – however Alison and Jackie were still full of enthusiasm (at almost 11:00pm) and played Erie Canal (with Steve) and then a performance version (full intro, outro and solo fiddle) of Loan Me Your Heart. Its been only 2 years, and a few lessons from the master, but they are now a pretty tight unit and all ready to take on the RSL gig on June 17. Danny Boy provided the conclusion to the night – we all gave the first verse a bit of a work out before letting Suanna finish the session with her violin – just lovely. Another great night of musical fellowship – a true community of likeminded souls.
What’s next? Dont forget this Thursday at Brezoiz, 7pm, for Nick Charles, with Simon Leverton and Greg Hammond, and then onto the Newport RSL on June 17 with Red Rock Rambles, Jackie and Alison, Newport Fiddlers and a few other top acts – starts after lunch and goes though till about 5pm. Beyond that – well be back at the Community Hall on the 4th Friday (22 June) for another session and Greg and Simon have already booked Paul Wookey for Brezoiz on June 22. Lots happening so I might see you around.
The Newport Fiddle and Folk Club might have to be rebadged the Guitar and Folk Club –such was the preponderance of the six–stringed instruments on Friday.
Michael told us the story (well, one of many) about how Waltzing Matilda was written, then the Jillettes played the Craiglee March and Waltzing Matilda set, following up with Waiting For Emilie (renamed Waiting for Jilly in honour of our Canadian friend). If anyone has too many frequent flyer points we would love to bring Jill over for a session.(Want to know more about the origin of Waltzing Matilda? Try this website and this one).
Then we heard Streets of London with Ted’s finger picking to back the harmonies of Alison and Maryanne. Alan took us back to the 1890s and the start of the Labor party with a song of the shearer’s strike, The Ballad of ’91 – rousing stuff. Greg’s father did a poem about the evils of swearing, and Dave tied in with the World Cup with his recitation of How MacDougall Topped the Score.
One of the highlights of the evening was Jackie's performance of The Drover’s Boy, a poignant song written by Ted Egan. The song tells a story and I won't give away the ending, but let's just say appearances are deceiving and the end of the story certainly packs an emotional punch.
The Bush Orchestra played a medley of old favourites including The Railway Hotel and The Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye.
As usual it was the chat between the two musical sessions that demonstrated the value of the monthly meeting – enough time for people to chat and have a cuppa, find overlapping repertoires and map out performance possibilities. The hum was the sort of thing that you’d love to be able to bottle for a blue day.
After the break Alison and Jackie lead everyone in some singing and playing – Froggie Went a Courting was well known enough for all of the guitarists to have a go at playing along, and then teamed up with Greg O to play Loan Me Your Heart. Chris dug in to the collective memory with Country Roads which was backed up with a few poor taste jokes at John Denver’s expense.
Maryanne and Lyn teamed up for a couple of songs on guitar and piano accordion respectively, and Lyn showed hidden talents by borrowing a guitar and giving us a solo song.
Alan finished the night with The Parting Glass – and then it was home – apart from a couple who had a few more songs to share over in the corner as we all packed up. A lovely night of music and warm fellowship – not much wonder the research suggests that singing with friends is good for one’s health (and perhaps for the soul...) Outside there was the music of the rain for much of the night so it was pretty good on all fronts.
10am Saturday morning and Newport was buzzing to the sound of Won’t Go Quietly (WGQ), the local folk/bluegrass outfit featuring Bob and Flora Lord on mandolin and guitar, Rob Durbridge on banjo and Don Gula on Bass. They launched into a couple of quick toe–tapping tunes and then mixed up the program with some slow songs, a bit of Johnny Cash and some more fast tunes. Lots of nice music that brought Mason St alive, and even had one of our local characters doing a soft–shoe shuffle in the park (my kids got a kick out of that!). People walked by and stopped to listen for a while before going about their business – a really nice feel – especially as the sun broke through the clouds.
The lovely surprise of the set for me was Rob Durridge playing Lee Kernaghan’s song The Changi Banjo. Forget the jokes about the banjo – this was a moving tribute to the prisoners of the second world war and evoked the Anzac Day spirit – very nice. WGQ rounded off the set with a couple of Australian songs and then they were ready to enjoy the fruits of the labours – a nice strong coffee from our sponsor Pears on Mason. Well done guys – it was a great.
Maryanne then took over with a very strong set of familiar and lesser known folk songs with a passing parade of her musical mates. Maryanne gladly accepted Don Gula’s offer to provide bass for the set and this gave a lovely full sound to the set. She started off with Greg Hammond on guitar, and played Plaisir D’Amour, and then All Around My Hat the old Steeleye Span song. Lyn Shoobridge joined Maryanne on vocals, guitar and a bit of recorder on a couple of the songs, and Greg O’Leary picked up his fiddle and joined in the set. Alison, complete with fairy costume, put in a cameo appearance and provided harmony on Streets of London before flying off to another gig. Maryanne’s beautiful voice carried beyond the café to the park and the other shops and I know many people really enjoyed her songs.
Rhys, from Pears on Mason, was flat out the whole morning so while the music didn’t quite stop the traffic, some people stopped to have a coffee and listen to the music while others just paused a bit on their way to wherever. The kids in the park and their parents enjoyed the morning – don’t know that the musicians can claim all the credit but they certainly provided a wonderful aural backdrop to life in Newport – not a bad contribution to theday. So well done musos – it was a great morning.
Once again, Greg O’Leary generously provided his PA system, technical expertise, some fiddle accompaniment, and even a bit of vocal harmony throughout the morning. The Folk Club is very very lucky to have Greg’s support and professional expertise as we work to develop a culture of musical performance in Newport – as always, many thanks Greg.
So that was the weekend – Monday night the Bush Orchestra is back in action (14 last count and still growing), a few more locals are buying banjos (read it whichever way you like) and at next month’s session we are expecting a visit from Marilla’s new harp – given that it is her first instrument (the one she has learned for many years) it will be again worth the effort and the $5 admission.
Might see you there!
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Sorry, no report this month
It was a night of powerful performances – everyone seemed refreshed by the long break and full of energy. Greg H kicked off with 2 of his own songs, Kerry Brea and another on whose name I missed. Then Maryanne and Neil performed a couple of songs on guitar and banjo, weaving their voices together with beautiful harmonies.
Bill brought out one of his many ukuleles (he told me afterwards he has about 20!) for Dream a Little Dream of Me and... something else, what was it...? Greg J played two songs in his dramatic and heart–felt style, followed by Mike D, who filled the hall with his wonderful voice on 2 original songs.Our regular poet Dave gave us one of his best yet – Saltbush Bill's Second Fight by Banjo Paterson. In fact there was plenty of poetry this night, with a couple from Jim (including a biting satire on precious pub poets) and Ted also giving us a poem written by his sister.
Pat (all the way from Preston) was sitting unobtrusively in a corner with a button accordion between his knees, but when called on he quickly energised the whole crowd with a couple of cracking polkas. The fiddlers and guitarists could not help but join in. Then there was Simon and Alison on uke and mandolin, Alison and Jackie showing the results of their hard work and a bit of coaching from Greg O'Leary, and Ted with a performance of The Drovers Dream . Alan wound up the first half of the evening with the Joan Baez song Donna Donna, which had everyone singing along with the chorus.
After a cuppa the NFFC orchestra (that is, anyone with an instrument) played the folk club's standard set – Rakes of Mallow, Portsmouth etc – which sounded pretty good (according to Greg O who was in the kitchen listening). NFFC newcomer Suanna impressed us all with her fiddle playing, her wide knowledge of tunes and ability to pick up those she didn't know in a flash. Lyn on piano accordion (with Greg O and Suanna) played the Swedish Tune Gurdebylaten and then Greg gave us a musical history lesson by playing its Aussie derivative – "borrowed and changed around a bit " by Syd Briggs.Dave came back again, departing from the usual Australian poetry for a bit of Shakespeare; the "All the world's a stage" speech from As You Like It.
Bill reprised on Cheek to Cheek and we played a few old favourites – nobody really wanted to go home – before finally packing up just before midnight.
Newport Convention played in the Hobsons Bay Summer Sounds program at Paveys Reserve (Newport Lakes) on 25 February.
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