21 April 2009

Fairbridge Festival - the final leg

It's really hard to describe Fairbridge village near Pinjarra and the site where Fairbridge festival has been running now for 17 years. It is a truly fascinating place with an incredible history. The idea was concieved by Kingsley Fairbridge to bring over under-privileged and orphaned kids from England and give them a new start here in Australia, teaching them farming skills and housing them in this purpose-built village - a series of small wooden cottages that housed about 12 - 15 kids in each with a 'house mother' to each cottage. There's been controversy over the years as to the morality of those actions as it turned out that a lot of the kids weren't orphans at all and didn't find out until later in life that they'd been lied to, believing their parents to be dead. I'm sure Fairbridge's initial intentions were good ones, a better life for the kids and a new breed of farmhands for Australia, but as in any big organisation, mistakes were made and the legacy has its dark side as well as its good. Have a look at some of the sites, it's fascinating stuff.

Anyway, this is the site for the festival and it really has such a great vibe. The artists stay in the cottages that are dotted all over the place amidst the marquees and venues, the craft and food stalls, cafes and bars. We had a brilliant time, it was really hot and I guess our only complaint was the unbelievable amount of dust that settles in your lungs each day. We love this festival though, it really does take on the village feel and the Aussies here in WA are always so pleased to see us back. Because there's such a distance between here and the Eastern states (it was a four and half hour plane journey from Canberra) a lot of touring artists miss off Perth and its a big mistake - its gorgeous here - both the people and the places.

with Ros and Liz at FairbridgeAnyway, we spent the weekend hanging out with our other Aussie sister, Ros Barnes, whose husband and our dear friend Steve is the artistic director of the festival. We had some great laughs and saw some great music. A highlight for us was doing a round-robin songwriters stage with David Francey and Craig Werth, Old Man Ludecke (His name is Chris Ludecke and he's a brilliant songwriter and banjo player from Canada and not in the slightest bit old!) and Western Australian Rose Parker. David, Craig and Chris are living proof that the music coming out of Canada is still as vibrant, fresh and original as we remember from our Canadian tours back in the 1990's.

Chris with Big Rory at Port Fairy in 2006Another highlight was getting to know 'Big Rory and Ochie' - two amazing street theatre performers who delight young and old alike. We first saw them at Port Fairy 3 years ago and I got a photo of Chris with Rory (pictured) - we're now chuffed to have met them out of costume (Mike and Rachel) and what lovely people they are.

We were delighted once again to have Liz Frencham join us for another set, our last in fact in Australia for two years, as well as some beautiful guest vocals from Ros. Thanks Gals.

So that's it. This afternoon we went for our final dip in the Indian Ocean and tonight we have some friends gathering at Steve and Ros's to raise a glass or two before we drive out to the airport at 2am. To say we've had a great tour and a wonderful time really doesn't do our time here over the last seven weeks justice. It has been incredible and the best kind of adventure. To all our friends who have shared our wonderful capers, we thank you all for the memories and laughs,love and friendship and we'll see you in a couple of years. To the many people we've had the privilege of playing to, those who have followed our music over the years and newcomers alike, thank you for the support and keeping our excess baggage charges down by relieving us of all those CDs. You're top audiences and make us feel very loved and special. Don't be going anywhere now, we'll be back in two years and you'd better all still be here!

We hope you've all enjoyed reading about our escapades and seeing snaps of people and places we've visited. It's been good fun doing this diary, so much so that we're already looking forward to doing it all again in 22 months!

17 April 2009

From the Sussex Inlet to Canberra

After leaving Sydney on Sunday we headed down the east coast to stay with our friends, Suzy and Ronnie at the beautiful Sussex Inlet. We are utterly ruined by the amazing kindness and hospitality of our Oz friends and have found ourselves staying in some stunning houses during our trip, Suzy and Ronnie's house is no exception: it sits on a cliff top overlooking the inlet and is nestled in lush bushland, attracting wonderful wildlife and birds like I've never seen before.

Feeding a Kookaburra by handOne morning I spent hours twitching and spotted among many others the yellow robin, the wattle bird and Sea Eagle - wow. Below us in the inlet, and looking like some prehistoric throwbacks, a couple of Pelicans circled; what a treat. The highlight of the day for me though came in the form of a very friendly, and not in the slightest intimidated, Kookaburra that flew into the garden and let me get within a few feet of it to take photos. It even showed an unbelievable amount of trust by taking food out of Ronnie's fingers! What a great bird the Kooka is, and what a sound it makes, especially when you get a couple of them together, it sounds like they're having a right laugh! Don't know what their collective noun is but we figure it should be 'a comedy of' or 'a stand up of'!

The Wildwood Instruments guysLeaving the paradise of Suzy and Ronnie's place (and yet another dose of gorgeous dog therapy in the shape of Matty and Berry) was really hard but we had the consolation of going to the National - a brilliant festival in Canberra and our 3rd visit there. The National has been going now for forty-odd years and used to travel each year to a different state until 1992 when it settled in Canberra as a central point. It still has a featured state each year though and this year it was SA which means if you make the journey to Canberra from say Adelaide, you get free tickets. Cool eh?

Ruth Hazleton, Kate Burke and Nancy Kerr with JulieIt's a big festival with a huge range of stages, from small, intimate club type tents, to aircraft hangar sized with enormous video screens. We had great gigs and were delighted to be on stage with some old friends over the course of the weekend. James Fagan and Nancy Kerr joined us for a steaming version of 'White Water Running', Cameron MacDonald flew up from Melbourne for the day and sang 'Thorn upon the Rose' and 'What Goes Around', then we did the whole of our Sunday set with Liz Frencham on Double Bass, revisting the songs we recorded together on 'Perfect Mistake' as well as throwing Liz in the deep end and getting her to play on some of our new stuff. It was a fantastic gig, we loved every minute of it.

Canberra can drop quite cool in the evenings at this time of year and this time we were also subjected to a deluge of rain on the Monday that soaked the site like an English festival! We ended up playing in Martin Pearson's (comedian and the sharpest knife in the drawer) scratch band for an end of festival party gig at the Troubadour wine bar, the centre of the festival and the hub for audiences and musos alike. We went on stage at just after midnight and finished at just this side of 3am! What a great band though, Martin, Chris, Me, James and Nancy, Liz and on percussion a lovely player called Peter Vadavalou. We took it in turns to sing something and everyone joined in. It was quite magical and the range of songs was brilliant. Thanks to Martin for asking us, we know those spots are coveted by musicians each year and we were really touched to be asked.

Michael KennedyLots of musical highlights, too many to name them all but a few of them for me were Rodney Crowell (what a brilliant writer) and Michael Kennedy (Chris joined him for a beautiful duet of the Michael song she covered on 'Rosella Red' - Pennyweight Hill - sublime).

For such a big festival, it's amazing how it still manages to retain a real village feel. If you want a slice of the Australian folk scene then you won't go far wrong by booking your flights to Canberra for Easter, this festival has it all and something for everyone. Top marks.

So next stop Western Australia where we'll be catching up with our old friends Steve and Ros Barnes and heading down to our last festival, Fairbridge, an hour or so south of Fremantle. All that and a good weather forecast too - 30 degrees each day - our top up before we fly home!

 

06 April 2009

From Tazzie to Sydney

After four glorious days off in Swansea it was time to get back to work with three gigs in Tazzie so we bid a sad farewell to Noel and Neil and hit the road north to Launceston. We were booked in to do a couple of live radio sessions and link-ups in the afternoon, it was great to play for people who hadn't heard us before, especially when their reaction was so effusive.

I have to say, the radio was probably the best part of our trip to Launceston, the gig was a new venture for the promoter and turned out to be a bit of a mistake; the people who came were lovely but there was just too few of them and the venue was pretty gross, ah well, one out of a whole tour isn't too bad eh? The fact that the worse gig of the tour fell on my birthday (Julie) didn't make me bitter at all!!

Brunie deck viewThe next morning we hit the road early in order spend as much time as possible at our next destination, Brunie Island. We'd been told Brunie is beautiful and also that the people we were going to be doing a house concert for are lovely, both of those things turned out to be understatements. Anyway, the journey from Launceston took just over three hours and was very pretty indeed. The ferry over to Brunie Island leaves from Kettering, a lovely harbour town half an hour south of Hobart. The ferry takes 20 minutes then once on the island (there is a north and south island that are connected by a spit of land road) everywhere is pretty much drivable within an hour, top to bottom. Our destination was Dennes Point on the Northern tip and only a 20 minute drive away. Brunie is like a minature version of Tasmania, utterly beautiful but even more laid back and stress free, if that's possible.

From the top of the hill in BrunieOur hosts soon to be new friends were Brendan and Marlene, a delightful couple who retired to the island 6 years ago and bought this amazing place on 450 acres. They have a flock of Marino sheep (divine) chickens, geese, an orchard and a view from the top of their land to die for. Brendan took Chris and myself up on the back of his Ute, we were like a pair of kids with the wind in our hair riding up the side of these steep hills but when we got to the top - wow!

As it turned out, the community in Dennes Point is vibrant and full of interesting people, at least the ones that came to the house concert were anyway, we met so many lovely people and had a great gig to top it off nicely.

We spent the next day exploring bits of the island before catching the ferry back to Kettering and on to the next gig just 15 minutes the other side in a vineyard just south of Hobart in Margate; Brookfield Winery. Yet another great venue and fab gig, one of the radio presenters who interviewed us two days before came along with a friend and was as effusive about the show as she had been about the session so I think we've made a new friend on the radio there.

The While and Matthews 'Air miles award' for the night went to Sue & her husband who had just arrived from Sheffield the day before for the gig. (OK so they were here for a holiday too!) Have a great holiday guys and thanks for coming to the gig, great to hear that accent again.

The following morning we had a 6am (!!!!) flight to Sydney so had to be up at 4! Boy, that was a challenge but we made it. We were taking part in an afternoon charity concert in Sydney in aid of refugees which was also a tribute to Eric Bogle and his songs. It was a great line-up which included Eric himself, Colcannon, Martin Wyndam Read, Judy Small, John Williamson and us. We each sang an Eric song as well as a couple of songs of our own. It was a really lovely concert which not only raised a large sum of money for a great cause but also was a reminder of what a great songwriter Eric is. (He's also a top notch fella too and we love him!).

So that's us up 'til now. We've got a few days off which we're spending at our friends house in the Sussex Inlet, yet another amazing house with a spectacular view and dogs to cuddle too! We're 3 hours south of Sydney on the east coast with about the same distance to travel to Canberra on Thursday for our penultimate festival here in Australia, the National.

03 April 2009

Lizzie at Rainbow Retreat

 

Lizzie all grown upAs you know we've been staying here at Meredith House, a guesthouse in Tasmania belonging to our close friends Neal McDermott and Noel Stanley. Last time we were here three years ago, they were hand-rearing a baby Bennett's Wallaby (Lizzie) that had been orphaned when its mother had been shot. She was so cute and Julie and I spent endless hours cuddling and gazing at this wonderful creature. N&N had fashioned a pouch which they used to wear around their bodies and that's where she used to sit when she was being bottle fed. I used to love feeding her. I could feel her heart beating and she smelled so lovely. Holding a wild animal in your arms and it trusting you in return is really something else.

She used to dash around the house at breakneck speed, hopping here and there and never bumping into anything! It was a special time and something I will never forget. Kangaroos and Wallabies are strange to us anyway so when you develop a close relationship with one it's very special indeed.

When Lizzie was old enough she was sent to a nature reserve where she now lives with her own two joeys, lots of other wallabies and five Wombats (one of whom is called Germaine Greer because she's an Aussie and she's a grumpy old Woman). Yesterday we took the trip up the mountain to Rainbow Retreat, about two hours drive from Swansea, to visit Lizzie. It was a winding, slow drive up there in heavy cloud but worth all the tummy turns.

Rainbow RetreatRainbow Retreat is situated in a kind of micro rain forest. It's where people go when they want to get away from everything. Ian and Peter have three log cabins that they rent out and a big beautiful lodge which is their private home. The view from the deck at the front of the house is breathtaking, it really is. You look through the gum trees and down the mountain to the deserted beach far below. The land has just been protected by the government so it will be a haven for the wild life up there, and all the rescued animals that Ian and Peter take in, look after and eventually re-introduce back to the wilderness, for some time to come.

As we pulled up the drive, Neil spotted Lizzie looking wonderfully healthy with a full pouch. This will be her third joey since she was released up there. It was so good to see her hopping about obviously happy and full of life.

and here's a wombat ... but what's that little furry creature?We were then introduced to the Wombats. Wombats are the cutest of creatures, fat and solid with little bear faces and big feet. It was only when I held one, yes I got a cuddle, that I realised how heavy they are. They are quite shy however and Peter was telling us that they don't like to imprint them too much as they do have to go back to the wild.

It was reassuring to know that little Lizzie has done so well and so have her babies. We loved our day out and next time we come down here we'll be back at Rainbow Retreat for a longer visit for sure.

 

 

31 March 2009

Tasmania

It's ... errrm ... an emuTasmania - where do we start? It is one of the most beautiful, breathtaking islands we've been lucky enough to visit in our well travelled careers. The flight from Melbourne is a little over an hour, we landed at 4, picked up the hire car and headed north from Hobart up the Tasman Highway, following the east coast with the Tasman sea to our right. It was a lovely afternoon, a spectacular mackerel sky dappling the late afternoon sun.

The landscape is lush and varies with every passsing mile; long, sandy beaches on the one side, vineyards then eucalyptus tree-covered hills, then rocky fields followed by wide sweeping rivers on the left. It really is quite breathtaking.

We have three days off before the first of the three concerts on the island and, luckily for us, our dear old friends Neal and Noel own and run Meredith House - voted the best guest house in Tasmania and worth every single vote it received - it's gorgeous. It's great to see the boys again (and to sample Noel's fine cuisine!) and it's also great to be back in this beautiful town, Swansea, with it's lovely beaches and totally relaxing atmosphere.

We had a day trip to a Nature park today and were complete tourists feeding the Kangaroos and Wallabies and seeing all the other amazing creatures indigenous to Australia; Koalas, Tasmanian Devils, snakes, Possums, etc...

You've heard the saying "all work and no play...." well there's not much chance of that here in Tassie!

23 March 2009

Melbourne

Well it's been a great weekend of gigs for us here in Victoria. Friday night was our Brunswick festival concert at the Town Hall in Brunswick, Melbourne. It was a packed house and from the moment we stepped on stage the audience gave us a brilliant welcome back to Melbourne and we had a ball.

Chris and CamWe had a very special guest join us for three songs, Cameron MacDonald. We first met Cam when he was 13, his Mum Meg is a dear friend who we stay with when we're in Melbourne. Although Cam feels like family to us this is by no means nepotism, he is an exceptionally talented singer/songwriter who has spent the last few years featuring in brilliant musicals like Miss Saigon. He's about to launch himself as a solo artist - watch out for that name, we think he's going to be a star (though to us he already is). Cam knows every word, nuance, harmony and even introduction on our 'Stages' album so it was great to get him up to sing 'Thorn upon the Rose', 'The Leaving' and then teaching him 'What goes Around'. The audience were blown away by him, quite right too, thanks Cam.

Saturday was a three and a half hour drive up to Yackandanda festival where we had an afternoon and an evening concert. It was probably our hottest day of this trip, certainly on gig days anyway, so the stages were a bit uncomfortable under the lights but it was great to return to this sweet little town and equally sweet little festival. We also got to meet up with our old mate Kristina Olsen who was on great form and sang some great new songs. Also David Francey (Chris and Kellie covered his song 'Green Fields' on their 'Too Few Songs' CD). Again, we heard some of his beautiful new songs since we last heard him three years ago, will definately be tracking down his latest album when we meet up with him again at the National festival in Canberra.

Harmony Row Vineyard concertThe next morning was an early start, another three and a half hour drive for an 11am soundcheck at Harmony Row Vineyard near Kyneton, about an hour north of Melbourne. We've had the privilege of doing a number of vineyard concerts over the years in our trips to Australia and they are a joy to do. This one was no exception.

Macedon RangesThe Melbourne based female duo Bluehouse opened the afternoon's music (after everyone had been suitably wined and dined) and they did a great show. Hope their duo manages to survive the year's separation they are about to endure as Jaqui moves up to Broome in a couple of days while Bernadette remains on Phillip Island, south of Melbourne. To give you an idea of distance, you'd get fewer airmiles out of London to Moscow than the girls will be racking up! Good luck gals, keep that music alive.

We had a lovely gig there in the Macedon Ranges wine region, there are worse ways to kill a Sunday afternoon: dinner, wine, singing a few songs and the view wasn't half bad either!

20 March 2009

What we did on our holidays!

The Eureka building, MelbourneWe've had couple of days off here in Melbourne before we embark on the next run of festivals and concerts; the first day we spent recovering from the the long drives we'd done on the previous two days, the second day however, we decided to revisit downtown and so took a tram into the city centre.

Of all the cities we visit in Australia, Melbourne is the one we've spent the most time in and are very familiar with, it's also the one we would probably cite as our favourite. It has a really cultural and vibrant feel to it and parts of it seem really old; little terraced houses with their Victorian facades and funky little cafes with their array of 'cinno's' - cappocinno, skinny cinno, mallowcinno, mochacinno, soyacinno, muggocinno, cuppacinno - the list is endless!

Back in the day, there was a political battle between Melbourne and Sydney as to who should get the right to become the capital of Australia, in the end it was too much of a tug of war so Canberra was decided upon to take on the role. I'm so glad Melbourne didn't get it, it's too cool a place to house politics, it has a bohemian feel to it that might have been strangled out of it had it become a capital city.

Julie at the topAnyway, I digress. Off we went into town to be proper tourists for the day, armed with a list of things we wanted to do. The city centre is disected by the Yarra river, a glorious waterway that is surrounded by skyscrapers and spanned by ornate and spectacular bridges. We had lunch on the swanky Southbank overlooking the water and on the opposite side to the very beautiful and newly renovated Flinders railway station. You can easily lose an hour or so just sitting watching the world go by and that's exactly what we did before embarking on our big tourist attraction of the day - the Eureka building.

The view from the topThis is the biggest skyscraper in Melbourne, a staggering 92 storeys high and the fastest lifts in the Southern Hemisphere, travelling at a staggering 9 metres per second. From the bottom to the skydeck on the 88th floor takes less than 40 seconds! Nothing quite prepares you for the views you see when you exit the lift - it is totally breathtaking from any of the angles as you circle around the floor. It is gobsmacking! Eureka at 300 metres high is the tallest residential building in the world, has 52,000 sq metres of windows and the top 10 levels of glass are 24 carat gold plated. We were spell bound by the sights and can honestly say it was worth every cent of the $16 (£7) each it cost us. Don't ever visit Melbourne without stopping off here.

Having been totally blown away by Eureka, we came reluctantly back down to earth and did a little shopping (girls on tour) before heading home for dinner with friends. A Lou Reed song springs to mind, I'm sure you can guess which one, indeed it was - such a perfect day.

 

19 March 2009

From the Blue Mountains to Melbourne

It's a few years since we've done a proper road trip here in Australia, the second time we came here we did a mammouth expedition from Melbourne to Brisbane taking three days to cover the 850 miles. It was a magical trip and we passed through some amazing places ranging from deserted highways and dense rainforests then dropping down to the beautiful gold coast. Someone had made us a cassette of their favourite duo and thought we might like them, they were the Indigo Girls and we absolutely fell hook, line and sinker for their wonderful music. It was a great road trip with a beautiful soundtrack. Since then we've mostly flown from state to state but this time we wanted to take a couple of days out to explore a corner of Australia we hadn't seen, the South East.

The Seahorse InnOur journey started in the Blue Mountains, dropping down to Sydney then heading towards Canberra. From there we kept heading south until we eventually hit the coast at our destination for day one - Eden. This is a BIG country but so utterly beautiful, not in the lush, green way that we see at home but in a stark and vibrant way. You have to wonder at the incredible resiliance of this land; it's been in a drought for a decade, has had fires ravish its bushes and still it holds on and keeps replenishing and renewing itself. It's awe inspiring really.

The last couple of hours before we made it to Eden on the first day were a bit hairy. The worst time to be travelling through bushland and forest roads is when the shadows start getting long and the sun is on the wane. This is the time when the wildlife are waking up and are liable to wander onto the road, still half asleep; kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and koalas. Around 5 o'clock we noticed the first Wallaby, within minutes another so the last leg of the journey took quite a bit longer than anticipated as we watched keenly for any hopping visitors; killing skippy would have well and truly ruined the trip!

Paddling in the sea at the Seahorse InnAt last we arrived in Eden (aptly named - it really is). However, the recommended hotel we'd been given turned out to be another 10 minutes down the coast at Boydtown, the Seahorse Inn Hotel. It was so worth the trip, a beautiful hotel sitting on the edge of the beach of the bay - spectacular. Thanks to Bob Charter for the recommendation.

We could easily have spent a few days there at the Seahorse Inn but a friend was celebrating his birthday and we'd been invited to his party the next night so we sadly bid farewell the next morning and headed out for our second day of eight hours of driving (thank God for cruise control!), not before, however, having a paddle in the sea!

Scorched Trees in VictoriaBack behind the wheel we headed west, crossing over the border from New South Wales into Victoria. The evidence of bushfires stretched on for mile after mile as whole forests had the black scars of scorching on their tree trunks. We made it back to Melbourne safe if a little weary but both of us really glad we'd done it. Beautiful sights, miles of rubber and road and this time, a Stephen King audio book for entertainment, not quite the Indigo Girls but it had us gripped!

 

15 March 2009

Blue Mountains

We've just finished our last set at the Blue Mountains Festival and what a time we've had! This is a great festival set in the heart of the Blue Mountains and if you've never been here before, imagine the Grand Canyon blanketed in Eucalyptus trees and you're on the right track.The Three Sisters

This is the second biggest canyon in the world and just down the road from the festival site in Katoomba is the glorious 3 sisters (pictured), 3 rock formations that are framed by the breathtaking canyon beyond.

As if the setting is not enough, we have the fun of the festival to enjoy too and what a line-up it's been this year. Since we were last here three years ago they've added a bigtop marquee and we had a great gig there on Saturday evening. Having said that, all the stages are great here and the audiences are so loyal and friendly, following us from stage to stage all weekend and generously giving us standing ovations without even being prompted!

with Eliza Gilkyson and Nina GerberWe also had the thrill of joining Eliza Gilkyson and Nina Gerber on stage to sing on her beautiful song 'Tender Mercies', what a great kick that was.

Other great artists here this weekend were, to name but a few, The Beez (Germany), Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter (Aboriginal Australians), The Topp Twins (NZ), Eric Bogle and John Monroe (Scottish born Australians), Shooglenifty (Scotland), BlueHouse (Australia), Blue Mountain Rain (Australia - featuring our dear friend Liz Frencham, the double bassist on our Perfect Mistake album), Preston Reed (USA) and Peter Rowan (USA). That's literally just a handful of the amazing people that have been on here. Great festival, great talent and the prettiest place on earth.

Tomorrow we're embarking on a little holiday road trip. We're driving from here back to Melbourne over a couple of days, taking the picturesque route down the south-east coast to Eden, stopping overnight there ('...one day soon, I'm gonna find my road to Eden') then heading on to Melbourne the next day. It's about 7 hours driving each day but we haven't been down to that bottom corner before so it's a perfect opportunity when we have a couple of days off. We'll let you know how it goes, Thelma and Louise eat your hearts out!

12 March 2009

Adelaide

Ranger and RadarOn Tuesday we bid a sad farewell to Port Fairy and also to Janet and Sandra (though we'll be meeting up again at the end of the trip in WA) and headed for Adelaide. It's a long drive by our standards but for Aussie's it's par for the course really. It took us about seven and a half hours.

After crossing the border from Victoria the scenery started to get quite lush as we travelled through South Australian wine regions, passing by some quite famous vineyards. Australia has been in a drought state for years now so much of the greenery has turned brown, but the vineyards looked beautiful and healthy.

It was wonderful to arrive at our dear friends, Eric and Carmen Bogle's house, nestled in the hills overlooking Adelaide. It's a divine place, inhabited by equally divine people. Trinity SessionsEric and Carmel have treated us like royalty for our stay here and on the road an oasis like this is a precious gift. Another major bonus about being here is the gorgeous doggy therapy that the Bogle boys, Ranger and Radar lavish upon us - bliss!

We played a lovely gig at The Trinity Sessions last night, really great venue and a top audience. Off to the Blue Mountains tomorrow, 8.45am flight so it's up at 6 for us and bye bye Bogle paradise.
 

09 March 2009

Port Fairy

On stage at Port FairyWell it was our sixth visit to Port Fairy Festival and we can say beyond any shadow of doubt, this is the best festival in the world. We have had a ball.

Our first concert was on Saturday night on Stage 1, a great marquee that holds about 2000 people and it was packed for our Aussie album launch of 'Together Alone'. What a way to return to PFFF; a brand new album and set and we were welcomed back in true Aussie fashion, they sang, laughed, cried and cheered - we were flying!

One of the best and much anticipated concerts at Port Fairy is always the 'Women out loud'  round robin on Sunday afternoon. We've always been privileged to have been invited to take part in it each time we've been and although we've shared the stage with some amazing women over the years, this one was probably the most inspirational. There were six acts on stage; Us, Sally Ford (a great Aussie singer songwriter), Nancy Kerr (Divine) with her honourary woman accompanist James Fagan, Jo Jo Smith (outstanding R+B singer and guitarist) Ajak Kwai (From the Sudan, a humble and gifted singer) and last but not least Eliza Gilkyson (Americana singer songwriter extraordinaire) with her unbelievably gifted lead guitarist Nina Gerber. What a line up.Women out loud

So everyone sits on stage and we take it in turns to sing a song, the concert lasts an hour and half and during that time magic starts to happen. We all start contributing on each others songs and before the time is up, friendships have been forged and musical tapestries have been woven.

If you havent heard Eliza Gilkyson before (Bob Harris is a big fan) check her out. Following in her Father's footsteps (Terry, he wrote 'Bare Necessities' and 'Memories are made of this') she is a great writer but not only that, she's a superb perfomer, not to mention her taste in accompanists - Nina is world class in the Michael Landau style of electric guitar - she makes the Fender weep, awesome. (What a thrill when she joined in on Julie's 'Somewhere I walk alone')

Jo Jo Smith - oh boy, that woman can groove. (We later saw her with her band - OMG!!)
Watch out for some great new songs making their way into the folk world - Nancy Kerr has found her pen and has written 7 songs in 3 months. We heard one of them and it was really beautiful. Couldn't resist sneeking in on the piano on that one.

It was an honour to have been part of such a great event, thank you Ladies and thank you PFFF for asking us. (Chris even got to host it this time!)

On stage at Port FairySunday evening was our next concert on stage 3 - a huge marquee that held about 3000 people. It was the first time in our own right on this stage (We made a guest appearance with Mary Black a few years ago) so it was really exciting. It was a great gig and we signed CDs for an hour after the event. Janet and Sandra managed to video some of the concert so hopefully we'll be able to put some of that on the website some time in the near future.

The final concert was Monday morning, our farewell to the festival and what has always historically been our request show and requests this year filled the 45 minutes with old favourites.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Port Fairy for the best one yet and special thanks to all the brilliant people who run it and make it the most artist-friendly festival in the world. On to Adelaide tomorrow, watch this space for the next South Australia leg.

 

07 March 2009

From Melbourne to Port Fairy

The view from the decking at Port FairyHaving endured the torturous journey from Manchester to Dubai then on to Melbourne, it was wonderful to arrive at our old friend Meg's house and get a proper sleep in a proper bed. We had a day off before our drive to Port Fairy and spent it happily catching up with Meg's son and our adopted nephew Cam, who tagged along while we worked our way down our job list of picking up CDs, collecting the Dulcimer and Bodhran that Wildwood Instruments are very kindly lending to Chris, and then meeting up with our agent and going through the tour itinerary.

It was a lovely day even though the weather was disappointing. Apparently, only two days before we arrived the thermometer had touched 42 degrees in Meg's house but when we landed (typically) it plumetted to 12!! To top it off, Australia has had a nine year drought but of course we managed to break that too and had rain for most of the day. It's a blessed relief for the Aussies but bad luck for us.

We drove to Port Fairy yesterday (Friday) and checked into our accomodation for the weekend. We've struck gold this time, we've been given a beach house for our stay and it is paradise. It's an upstairs apartment with a deck that stretches its whole front and literally over-hangs onto the beach. It's still quite cloudy but has warmed up now so we've spent much of our time here so far watching the waves roll in and walking on the beach. We've also got Janet and Sandra staying with us (our dear friends who run our mailing list) who are on holiday for two months.

Us with Eric BogleWent down to the festival site last night (our first gig isn't until tonight) and hung out with our old pal, Eric Bogle. Great crack, top bloke.

So we're now on the big build up to our first gig tonight. We're launching 'Together Alone' on Stage 1 so it should be a great return to Port Fairy, watch this space for photos and to see how it went.

Pennyweight Hill - Chris with Michael Kennedy
I'm On My Way - Port Fairy Festival
What Goes Around - Port Fairy Festival
Excerpts - Port Fairy Festival
Port Fairy Festival image
Port Fairy Festival image
Port Fairy Festival image
Port Fairy Festival image