Bands


What a busy week this has been! St Patrick’s Day in Canberra Australia (17 March) saw Full Circle playing at PJ O’Reilly’s Irish pub in Civic.

St Patrick's Day 2009

We set up and played our first set then an Irish dance school came in and performed, and we took it in turns – whenever we took a break, the dancers were on, and the crowd loved it.

St Patrick's Day 2009

When we finished the three brackets we had only a few minutes to pack the sound gear away and head off to Kingston where we played at Filthy McFadden’s Irish pub – if PJ’s was good, Filthy’s rocked.

St Patrick's Day 2009

We introduced a few new tune sets, including Paddy Fahy’s #14 and Dinky Dorrian’s which I’ve wanted to play for ages. And for Dinky’s reel I made full use of the new long lead to head for the dance floor out among the audience – and they loved it. Suddenly I was surrounded by mobile phones! All frantically taking photos!

St Patrick's Day 2009

We met some great people and had two great shows – although the voice was a bit hoarse and the fingers a bit tender after six hours of playing and jumping around. Music sure keeps you fit!

Our guitarist, Butch, had been to Tilba-Tilba on a number of occasions, and noted that some good name bands from Sydney had performed at the Dromedary Hotel there. In conversation with the publican, he had mentioned our Irish band and the rest fell into place.

Full Circle at Tilba-Tilba

Saturday promised a hot drive down – the place is about 300kms from Canberra, about an hour’s drive south of Bateman’s Bay, so I was quite pleased with the offer of a lift in Butch’s car – along with a cut-down version of our sound system.

We arrived mid-afternoon in time to get some excellent food from the cafe over the road and then we set up the venue – an open shed out the back – a former stable perhaps, which contained a functioning jukebox and a small stage. The whole side wall opened out onto the beer garden.

Full Circle at Tilba-Tilba

The other band members had a joke about my insistence on bringing some stage lights – but we were glad of them when it got dark – we would have been invisible to the audience without them!

As a pub show, we started with some up-tempo Irish and Australian songs and some lively reels and jigs – amazingly right from the first bracket people got up and danced – and continued throughout the show.

We were told that bands never shift the regulars from the front bar – but we did :-)

Full Circle at Tilba-Tilba

In fact the audience responded really well to the fact that (a) we weren’t the usual covers/blues band, and (b) we weren’t what most people’s concept of an Irish band was.

During the tunes we went out among the dancers and danced as we played – and on feedback afterwards, they loved the fact that we joined them, rather than staying aloof.

So all up it was a great night and well worth the drive down. We had a great welcome there and I’m sure we’ll be back there before long.

On the way back, we stopped briefly for a rest and stretch, and looked up at the most amazing clear night sky, with the Milky Way in a vivid streak right across it – simply breathtaking!

Cheers
Jerry

Here is one of the best uses I’ve seen of a loop machine/fiddle combination – in the hands of the great Andrew Bird.

Cheers
Jerry

The cold and rainy weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of the 70 or so who came to a birthday party organised at Bungendore Showgrounds. For Full Circle Band, it was initially meant to be an outdoor show, however there was a contingency plan – two large sheds that opened onto each other – one for the banquet, and one for dancing.

But with no sign of people moving to the dance shed, we grabbed our instruments and moved into the banquet shed and played acoustically to the great delight of the audience. We got them singing sea shanties and played tunes and sang about rural life in Australia – we included several numbers from our forthcoming CD.

Full Circle Band

The atmosphere was great – a shearing-shed ambience with some coloured spotlights, great food, and big hearted people. The birthday lad is one of Bungendore’s top woodworkers/designers – and for those who know the Bungendore Wood Works Gallery – that’s saying something! The show demonstrated the country community spirit and family bonds, and everyone had a wonderful time – including ourselves!

I’d heard about her at the Majors Creek Folk Festival – but wasn’t really sure what to expect when I went to the Merry Muse Folk Club this evening. All I can say is catch her when you can. Singer songwriter Ami Williamson has a wonderful liquid tone in her voice and tremendous range. Whether singing quiet ballads or slightly wicked songs her combination of voice, keyboards and drums makes for one heck of a solo act. And she knows how to relate to an audience and work with them through looks, gestures and above all sharing of herself with integrity.

Ami Williamson

She has played a number of the major festivals, and recently toured the war zones with her father John Williamson, in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the Solomon Islands, entertaining the troops – continuing an age-old tradition.

Ami Williamson

The other acts were Freyja’s Rain – a four-piece band from Canberra, and the Rooftop Revellers.

Freyja’s Rain was formed in 2007 by vocalist/pianist/guitarist Jenny Sawer, their name is taken from Freyja, the Norse goddess of love and beauty. Joined by vocalist/bassist Jen Simpson, guitarist/vocalist Brendon Houlahan and drummer Ben Harris, Freyja’s Rain have a great style, with Jenny’s gutsy jazz-style voice.

Freyja's Rain

And the evening kicked off with the combination of Appalacian and gospel style of the Rooftop Revellers. The Revellers are made up of musicians from a number of other bands – comprising Pablo Shopen (banjo, guitar and fiddle) and Ed Radclyffe (double bass) of Dr. Stovepipe and the Fuelers, and Krista Schmeling from the Honeybells.

Overall a great night – and next week promises even more with the Hottentots!

See you there

Cheers
Jerry

It promised to be a warm ride as I strapped the fiddle to the back of the motorbike for the run down to Majors Creek near Braidwood in New South Wales, about 114 km from Canberra. I dressed lightly beneath the outer armour, but hadn’t reckoned with the cloud into which I ascended on the final approach into my destination. Majors is one of the best folk festivals in Australia – smaller and more intimate than the National, but large enough to attract the major acts.

Majors Creek Folk Festival

I entered to the delightful harmonies of MusicOz 2008 winners Mothers of Intention. Tony Pryzakowski’s fiddle playing was unmistakable from the first notes, as were Rosie McDonald’s harmonies. This is a band that just keeps getting better.

Mothers of Intention

Out on the oval, a Maypole dance was being woven with a morris dance team and a crowd of willing participants.

Majors Creek Folk Festival

Bizerka’s energy and amazing rhtyms delighted the crowd, and the concentration of the fiddler was palpable as she played 7/8 and 5/8 rhythms. They ran a workshop on using phrases to make complex rhythms more comprehensible.

Majors Creek Folk Festival

The Fiddler’s Forum showcased great playing across a range of styles, from celtic to bluegrass and Eastern European.

But for me the sessions as always were the highlight. The pochette attracted attention – as did the hardanger fiddle (hardingfele). I met old friends and played music with new ones.

Majors Creek Folk Festival

Majors Creek Folk Festival

Tony and I had our by now traditional ‘dueling fiddlers’ playoff – someone thought we were from the same band! Let alone different cities. We are well matched.

Majors Creek Folk Festival

See you there next year :-)

Blogger Singaporean-in-London has photographed this busker playing a violin on a slack-rope! Amazing work – buskers like this work very hard for their living. I hope he gets good hats!

busker on tightrope

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