Life is soooo good, and people are wonderful, mostly…

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Life is soooo good, and people are wonderful, mostly….

Life is soooo good, and people are wonderful, mostly…

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Hard on the heels of my recent post (well harder on the heels than an 18 month hiatus), this is a reflection on just how life is like a mad mouse (a more rickety version of a roller coaster – and I like the idea of the metaphorical clichè without actually employing the clichè  proper).

Cliff Ellery (thanks to Cliff Ellery and Harmony Row) did a simply marvelous job of rallying people to come to our Albert Park show on April 4. One week proir and bookings were modest to say the least. Cliff expressed all the frustration we feel about how one might go about compelling people to support projects and performers outside a narrow range of recognised names and levels of celebrity.

And thanks to everybody for coming along and filling the place up, and for sharing with us an absolutely wonderful evening. Only small flaw were the frankfurts at supper – or rather not at supper. Cliff – chef extraordinaire for the night – had thought they’d do well in the steamer, but while they did emerge thoroughly cooked through, they were also unappetisingly and forlornly naked (more about nudity later). Colloquially known as ‘Little boys’, it was a bit hard to shake that imagery and they didn’t actually reach the supper table…

For me it was part of a wonderfully full musical week. The previous night I’d performed with an old old friend from UK for the first time. We’ve recorded together on a few occasions over the …ahem… decades, but this was the first time we’d played together and it was pretty jolly nice – apart from that bit where I couldn’t remember the words in my “cranky frustrated woman belting out her say” bit of the song. Reckon I just about kicked a hole in my shins over that.

Then my second act of unfriendment from my ‘addictive alternative to getting anything done’ social media platform – Facebook. Puleeeeze can someone explain to the small percentage of the male population who have such an infantile and grubby view of women, that it is just not OK to post images of nude or scantily clad women posing with musical instruments? What’s it about anyway? Isn’t it annoying enough that women frankly have a hard time getting a chance to play in public when fully skilled and fully dressed. Is it some misguided notion that this reassures women that the music scene is not really difficult to gain traction in unless you are a backing singer, have an unnatural vocal range coupled with a daunting cup size or are willing to adopt strange habits with a big rubber fist and indulge in mystifying acts of toe touching mid song. So I got glum – unfriended person who posted near naked nubile drummer – sulked and commented.

Later I went out and played a magic gig with Moira Tyers (UHAH founder and fellow Dixie Chook) and Nick Charles (golly he can play a bit he can) for a very nice man’s birthday and tripped about on cloud nine full of the joys of life and feeling wealthy with opportunity and very at one with the world.

Thursday I enjoyed a lovely evening developing someone’s new pieces with him and finding a way to make his lyrics ‘sing’, and a very pleasant day with a visiting new musician friend (not a new musician, not an old musician per se, more a new friend sort of person who was refreshing to talk with about music, playing, life, improving sort of new musician friend – and who wasn’t afraid of my fierce dog Alfred the Great), and a fantastic gig at the Chandelier Room, again with Moira – I love playing with Moira, in a nice way, although we are occasionally taken to be an ‘item’. Now follows the hilarious stumbling mess of ‘no of course we’re not, not that we have anything against LGBT persons, some of our best friends etc.’ Oh it is tricky trying to keep hoof from mouth, really it is.

Yesterday Moira, Bruce and I had a live to air session at the ABC – 774 which went very nicely – thanks Tess and Ric – and we had some great feedback, various people got in touch to say they’d tuned in or happened upon us by accident, and STOP PRESS! it lead to a CD sale on CD Baby! Wow. Famous now! Excoided.

But last night I undertook my third act of unfriendment from my ‘addictive alternative to getting anything done’ social media platform – Facebook. A lovely chap who has always posted very nice pictures of dogs and musical instruments, and generally OK thought provoking things, seemed to think it a good idea to post a photograph of a Hofner bass guitar, which in itself is all very edifying and a delight for the average Hofner bass enthusiast no doubt.

Just can’t get my head around why it had to be held by a naked young woman in the company of other naked young women looking very vulnerable and ‘arranged’ to appear as though they were playing in a band. Obviously by the very stillness of the poses, there wasn’t a lot of music making going on. It was like one of those awful dreams where you’ve turned up in the middle of the city or in the front of your whole school assembly in your pyjamas or worse still naked (I’m assuming other people do have those rooooolly uncomfortable dreams). I felt really uncomfortable and exposed and so protective of these girls in the pic. Gotta say, I’ve seen chirpier women.

Now I’m going to repeat myself here…I don’t know why some men think it is alright to represent women in this ridiculous way. It is so infuriating to see this hypocritical exploitation of female nudity juxtaposed against a setting that does not routinely welcome us.

There have been so many instances where Moy and I have stepped onto a stage and met the male sound person who has set us up with a patient/dismissive demeanor, listened to us play, and besieged us with incredulous and repetitive ‘You were good!’ as though it’s the biggest surprise in the world.

Women struggle to find space in the very male centric field of music, and it really is too, too bad to then pose them in artificial settings which suggest a welcome and a place that doesn’t genuinely exist.

Only today Diane Wolfe posted an excellent essay for https://www.facebook.com/AnneSummersReports  about the exclusion of women from music http://annesummers.com.au/pdf/asr7/ladyblues.pdf. Thank you Diane. Your timing was just spot on for this rather disappointed – well actually chilled and verrrrry annoyed woman.

This is not a blanket bloke bash. I love playing with men – in the same way I love playing with my friend Moira and I am lucky to have some very fine musician friends from both the concave and convex configuration (that’s a bit of an anatomical reference there).

I really regret the disconnect some men still have between exploitative sexual imagery and appropriate, respectful inclusion of women in this world they inhabit at least 50% of. I get a bit frightened when I see these images. An instinctive visceral response to a visceral representation of woman.

It’s been 2 years, 4 months and 30 days…

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…since we broke out the Anzac biscuits and ‘stylish’ logo embossed t-shirts for a Melbourne performance of Unsung Heroes.
Gives me cause to pause (you can see I am a gifted lyricist by this spontaneous outpouring of dubious rhyme).

We’ve been all over the place since November 5, 2011. On trains (to Perth) and planes (to Tasmania and soon to MacKay for Wintermoon) – no boats yet, (although we did see a ferry or two when we played in Sydney), which rather wrecks a nifty bit of plagiarism which is on the tip of my typing fingers (breath a sigh Burt, your song is safe for now…). Where ever we play the show we get terrific reactions, usually standing ovations which sure to warm the cockles of the lesser spotted performer’s heart, and we have conversations time and again which go something like “Tell us when you’re playing it in Melbourne again. We rooooolly roooooolly want to see it – we’ll definitely come.” “We promise we’ll let you know”, we say.

The people we’ve met – goodness the people we’ve met… A chappy approached the stage in Canberra, tears streaming down his face recalling the similarity between his father’s war experience (and silence) and Moira’s dad’s. This man, a Vietnam vet himself, had carried the burden of his days of service alone and now he was going home to talk to his kids!  The woman who was a descendent of one of the women on the Lady Juliana (Bruce boasts having two ancestors on that boat – Bruce is related to most of Tasmania too it seems). So many stories and always such interesting people!

The coincidences… A woman raced up after a Maldon Festival show asking where a particular photo had come from and it turned out she and I shared the same great grandmother! The MC in Mt Beauty who was undone by our tale about a Queensland jockey in the ’40s – they were cousins for goodness sake!

The critique on Moira’s to die for Anzac biscuits… always positive – even when they melted into the one massive lump that first flight to Tassy. They really are the yummiest things – and virtually our staple diet on tour. The dustings of icing sugar people wear after the enjoying Bruce’s discerningly purchased Turkish Delights during interval.

And of course the show itself. Tales of daring do, hardship, success, courage, loss, triumph. Uplifting, funny, sad as can be, surprising – often quite surprising. A variety of styles and arrangements to suit the tales they tell and I just love each and every one of them and I feel so blessed to be a part of this project.

Tomorrow, I’m going to get up early, walk the dog and put him through the usual embarrassment of being tethered to a woman who repeats herself over and over either speaking or singing (I call it practice). By early afternoon I’ll be gathering my ‘UHAH’ bits, props, script, instruments etc. I’ll lay out my stylish logo embossed t-shirt, attempt to remove the pet hair (does anyone know a washing machine that is tougher than cat hair – or why I tend to wear black most of the time for that matter…), do a good warm up and wait for Moira, Bruce and Jill to come by and take me with them to the Albert Park Yacht Club for the first Melbourne performance of Unsung Heroes for nearly two and a half years. http://albertparkportlounge.com/

So to anyone reading this who rooooolly rooooolly wanted to see it when it is in Melbourne again… it is in Melbourne again, tomorrow. Do come along. You do need to book (BOOKINGS taxman@bigpond.net.au – booking email – nothing to do with the ATO. Don’t be scared! – or 03 96901233) so that the venue can work out the catering, but don’t miss it.

See yerz.