Friday afternoon was a bit …um… interesting – we were due to play at Tumut in the evening, so a nice gentle drive in the van had some appeal – until the grinding noises came from the starter motor bearings.

Sharon and I looked at each other and shrugged in unison. If the 20 year old van won’t make it, let’s take the 28 year old motorbike. A quick phone call to our bass player showed he hadn’t left yet, and could take the fiddle in his car. The bike was running brilliantly after its service, and the handling had improved markedly with new suspension and new tyres – in fact it was in the best condition it’s had for years. So we both decided that the ride would be a good idea.

The ride to Tumut was very pleasant – with perfect weather and good road (via Yass and Gundagai), and we arrived safely in late afternoon. After finding our room (the ‘band room’) at the Oriental Hotel, we had an excellent feed and tuned up for the show.

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There was a good responsive crowd and we had a great time – the sound system behaved well and it was fortunate we had also brought lights :-)

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We played the first hour and had a short break, then by the time we were thinking of another break, it was too near the end so we did the second two hours straight through – time flies when you’re having fun.

We were quite exhausted by the end, so after the last encore we packed away the sound gear and headed off to bed.

Early next morning the sun shone golden over the town, and I took a couple of photos on our way out for breakfast at a nearby coffee shop.

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After a photo under the Tumut town sign, we headed off to Gundagai for coffee.

Sharon wasn’t quite quick enough to avoid the camera this time!

gundagaisharon

We stopped at the famous Niagara Cafe – where Prime ministers from years past used to stop on their way to Canberra. There is a great old art deco counter there.

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And, no, we didn’t sing about the dog on the tuckerbox!

We had a smooth run home, with the bike running perfectly. But it was nice to be back in our own bed at the end of the day.

Cheers
Jerry

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

A couple of months ago I blogged about Rasputins – a folkie institution in Ottawa, Canada. It was a great session friendly and welcoming to a visiting musician from Downunder.

Rasputins cafe, Ottawa

It seems I was fortunate indeed to get to experience a celtic folk session there, as the folk restaurant suffered an arson attack and $300,000 damage on 6 July. And now it has closed its doors.

Owner Dean Verger opened the restaurant on 1 May 1981 after completing a business degree, and as a musician himself, it wasn’t long before there were regular music sessions and shows. The 40 seat restaurant has been an institution ever since. After initially stating that he would reopen the restaurant within a couple of months, it now appears that the final blow has been dealt for this business as Verger has since announced his retirement. This is indeed a sad end to a 25 year folk landmark.

Thanks to the Ottawa Citizen for the report.

The Full Circle show at Gunning went really well – we played at the Gunning Shire Hall for a show in honour of a family reunion. It seems the O’Neill’s and the O’Briens and the Heffernans once owned most of the land between Gunning ans Western Sydney back 150 years or so. And this weekend saw their descendants descend on Gunning Shire Hall. They came from London, Perth, Darwin and Brisbane to be there so we played a mix of traditional Irish and Australian tunes and songs.

Full Circle

The dark family secrets came out along with the red wine and champagne. There were quick back-of-the-envelope calculations to confirm the four months between wedding and birth of one set of ancestors and intrigue was in the air.

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It’s amazing what stories can be found in small outback towns

Cheers
Jerry

This band is amazing – hurdy-gurdies and fiddles with ATTITUDE! This band shows that folk need not be about gentle harmonies and fancy footwork – check them out!

The Switzerland-based band, formed in 2002 has been described as: “Celtic pagan folk metal with melodic death metal influences.”

Cheers
Jerry

Adelaide was bright and warm when we landed at the airport, and Bruce our bass player was there to greet us and take us to our accommodation, then to the venue. I was disappointed to see my fiddle arrive, not at the ‘fragile items’ section, but on the baggage conveyor with all the suitcases – not a good look for Virgin Blue Airlines. At least the small crack should be easily repaired. To their credit they allowed me to take the fiddle as a carry-on bag for the return journey – this should be the norm for hand-held musical instruments.

The RSL hall in Norfolk Street off Marion Road was well appointed and served the Royal Artillery Reserve well – and it was time for their Christmas dinner dance. We used a local sound engineer and sound system so we could just bring the essentials, and spent about an hour on a sound check – this being the first time my new pickup was being used in earnest. I quickly dispensed with the pedal as the sound was great going straight into the mixing desk. I highly recommend “The Band” made by Headway – really good acoustic sound from the fiddle and without the breathy bowing sounds. And Rob the sound engineer was excellent at pulling the sound together in just the right way.

Full Circle Band

The crowd had a great time and there were presentations from their unit commander. And we sang “Only nineteen” and “Band played Waltzing Matilda” and the audience really got into the mood for the evening

Full Circle Band

After the dinner was cleared away the audience really got into the music and we took it from mood to mood, building to a fast tempo at the end

Full Circle Band

And that was just the beginning… After the show we unwound with a session back at the unit commander”s house where we were staying, and then Saturday saw us head out to see the city. It had changed a lot since I was last there.

The following night at the Sergeant’s Mess at Keswick Barracks it was like the first night had just been a rehearsal by comparison. A much bigger crowd turned up and as soon as the dinner servery was cleared away they were ready to dance – we called several dances – and sang songs and we finished up about 1.00AM – we had a great time and the audience loved every minute.

A couple of people had video cameras and we’re hopeful that soon we’ll be able to bring you some of the footage – so watch this space!

Cheers
Jerry

This is amazing – Riverdance music on Chinese instruments – and beautifully staged too!

Cheers
Jerry

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