30 March 2009

Newport Fiddle and Folk CLub @ Williamstown Festival

The Folk CLub has always been a supporter of the WIlliamstown Festival and this weekend they enjoyed lovely weather and had a very successful event. Gerry Nelson's band started off the music on Saturday on the Rotunda and later in the day the Newport Gypsy Djangos played a set. They were joined by Georgina Stewart (pictured) and also by Jules Hutcheson. The folk club was also a contributor to the last event of the festival - a concert at the Uniting Church. The Bush Orchestra, organised and managed by Kathryn Tomkins, played a couple of sets of tunes and even got the audience singing along to Waltzing Matilda - I suspect a first for such a solemn environment. Well done Kathryn!

March Folk CLub NIght

About 35 music lovers came to play at the Community Hall this month. An eclectic selection of entertainment as always - poetry by Dave, original (Gravity) by Simon, a Lament for the Drowned Sailor (Jackie), Swedish Tunes (Simon and Bruce), the Newport Girls (Rob) and old favourite (Witchita Linesman - Greg) and well known songs(10 pound Hammer, Hard Times, Fever), lots of Bush Orchestra tunes where everyone joined in, and as always most stayed and enjoyed the fellowship of the Folk Club until after 11. It was a lovely night - even for those who were tired after the working week!

Two highlights of the night: Firstly Moira's voilin turned up! The significance of this can only be appreciated when you know that last week Moira's house was broken in to, and the violin was stolen. After trips to the police, Cash Converters and other places, it eventually turned up in a violin shop on the other side of town. So when Moira came in with the violin, it was no wonder that she had such a broad smile. We are all very pleased for her. The other highlight? It has been rumored that a Barshop Quartet was being developed in Newport. Well after the break Danny assembled his merry men (all six - Bruce, Danny, Rob, Rob, Alisdair and Greg, pictured right) who launched into 'Sweet Adeline'. It was a moment where everyone was both stunned and delighted at the beauty of the music - quite a moment indeed. Bravo! Watch out when they get fitted with waistcoats, boaters and bow ties. So a lovely uplifting night of community music - sign of a healthy Folk Club that is going from stregth to strength. See you next month - Friday the 24th of April.

17 March 2009

Music Really is Good for Us All

Here is an article which might be of some interest - for those of you who like reading what you already know. The article 'The Musical Pleasure Circuit' was pubished in the Melb. Uni Voice Magazine

[ The University of Melbourne Voice Vol. 4, No. 3 9 - 25 March 2009 ]

By Genevieve Costigan

Music is as fundamental to human wellbeing as sex, eating and drinking a recent symposium on Music and Wellbeing at the University of Melbourne was told.

At a recent symposium on Music and Wellbeing at the University of Melbourne, the former Director of Community Music Victoria, Jon Hawkes, said that we are moving closer to a scientific understanding of the effects of music on people.

“We know the benefits of music instinctively and recent research by neuroscientists is backing this up and revealing the physical and psychological effects of music,” he said. “Music is part of the brain’s reward system, part of the pleasure circuit stimulating dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins – in other words stimulating pleasure just like breastfeeding, eating, drinking and sex – all of which are essential for the survival of the species,” Mr Hawkes said.

Research has shown that music affects emotions, stimulates memory, facilitates motor co-ordination and sparks simultaneous activity in many areas of the brain.

“Neuroscience shows us that music activates vast areas of the brain and that musical activity can rebuild neural pathways,” he said.

Dr Katrina McFerran-Skewes from the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Music and the co-ordinator of the Symposium, said that music making among Australian communities has diminished hugely in the past 50 years at the same time as research has shown that it is an essential component of healthy communities both in contemporary society and in the evolutionary development of humankind.

Mr Hawkes believes that music has helped humans to evolve by teaching us how to be social and how to work together. He stressed that making music together has always been a means of self-expression but also group expression.

“A great example was the last part of Barack Obama’s Inauguration with Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen launching into Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land is Your Land’ which gave the crowd a way to joyously and jointly express their feelings.

“Music has been shown as a powerful health treatment. Music therapy has been used successfully for asthma suffers in getting their lungs working, Alzheimer’s sufferers often remember songs better than anything else and increasingly music has been shown to be effective in lessening the symptoms of autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD),” Mr Hawkes said. He believes collaborative music making is important in lessening stress and anxiety as the sense of connectedness which comes from being a part of something greater than yourself improves mental wellbeing.

Dr McFerran-Skewes said the Symposium was an opportunity to communicate with those interested in using the arts in health promotion, to further the awareness of music and its relationship to health and wellbeing and its ability to promote connectedness and to reduce isolation.

“There has never been a more important time to consider what function music and the arts play in our culture and to actively work towards greater community participation in musical experiences,” Dr McFerran-Skewes said.

“It is a crucial time to consider the impact of these changes, to actively work towards the public recognition of the social benefits of community-based music making and to promote the rediscovery of the joy of this most fundamental activity,” she said.

Breizoz - Crowded House!

The second Thursday of the month at Breizoz in March was
another great success for the venue and for Simon Leverton and Greg Hammond who have been developing the gig for the last 2 years. When I arrived after 7.30 I was asked if I had booked - all the tables were taken! The Black Forest Rogues (right) lead by Simon Leverton were playing at a cracking pace and the crowd was having a lovely social time with crepes, glasses of cider and plenty of chat. While there were some familiar faces from the folk club, most of the people had come to the gig via other connections to the musos or had seen the advertising - this is a great sign for the venue. After a short break the lads from Breamar stepped up on to the stage and let it rip. The men in kilts (Eddie Lewis and Marc de Rijk) are certainly not shy and their strong vocals immediately captured the audience and made for lovely evening of relaxing and enjoying beautiful folk music. Both men played guitar, and they were backed by the fine playing of Colin McDonald - understated throughout to complement the songs and singing. All in all, another great night of music at Breizoz - next month (April 9) is guitarist and singer Nick Charles - this will be his third visit to the venue and there is a very good reason why he has

become a regular. See you there.

09 March 2009

NBO @ Echuca Festival


The Newport Bush Orchestra had a very successful weekend of playing at the first Echuca Celtic Festival. Vern Beasley the organizer was more than pleased with the Orchestra's efforts at the
festival. He was present when we revved up in the High St outside Cocos when we did our rolliking ,devil may care, happy go lucky street performance. Ross , his sidekick, was just as happy with our efforts in the street at Moama and in the bar at the Caledonian. The Echuca Workers club was at best survived, but even there there was a small but very attentive group of listeners (particulary a star struck 10yo girl) who enjoyed every moment. This will not be the last Echuca sojourne as Vern is already talking about next year. Next year we will be looking for more street performances under the shade - a great way for us to play and share our music.
By now you must be aware that although there is no none really strong player in our group, our combined sound is very impressive.It can only get even better. I was pleased to see people taking on useful roles, Annette preparing maps and ringing to confirm times and places,
Chris running interference for me and chatting to organizers, Bruce gently organizing tune sets and repertoire on the fly, and others finding, food and locating venues and the motel, etc.
We also were able to put on a 2 hour performance, pretty good considering our limited rep and this without the full crew! Overall things worked out pretty well.
Next thing to think about is a CD to sell at gigs like this!

03 March 2009

The March Session - Newport and the Sound of Music!

People came in dribs and drabs after a very hot Friday afternoon. However it was soon evident that there was life in the Folk Club again for 2009. By 8.30 there was a good 30 or so folk with guitars, whistles, accordions, a bass and lots of feet for toe tapping. Alan led off with Coconut Woman, Dave recited The Intro from CJ Dennis' The Sentimental Bloke, Jackie sang of High Hopes , Ted picked some neat tunes on the guitar, Rob got everyone singing along with his banjo to This Land is Your Land and then played a lovely Dylan song that this writer had never heard before, Leonie and Christine paired up for a duet on Look what they've done to my song (or thong?) and Greg O sang The Man WHo Struck O'Hara, an Irish melody often sung by Simon McDonald from Creswick. Midway during the evening Steve and Mike came in from doing a Bush Dance down at Footscray PS, and joined in with an old favourites - Stephen Foster's Hard Times, and a local song Footscray written by Newport Local Gary Adams. At that point Dave interjected and asked how come there is no Newport song, to which Rob on uke quietly introduced Newport Girls, a take on what is commonly (though erroneously known as Buffalo Girls. (it is a minstrel song for which the name of the town was changed depending on where the minstrels were playing - Buffalo was just one of those many towns). After that, Jules hit her straps with her own composition Falling for You - this augurs well for a year where the sounds of Newport will be new as well as the tried and true. Bruce finished off the session with the Joseph Spence hymn Great Dream from Heaven which was a lovely way to bear witness to the people who have lost their lives in the recent fires.

It was lovely to see some new faces from as far away as St Kilda, Northcote and Caulfied and everyone used the break to socialise and make connections with fellow music lovers. We sang Happy Birthday for Isaac, listened to Mira play show tunes on the accordion with Greg, and then got back to the business of making music. The session finished early (10.45) as members of the Bush Orchestra were heading up to Echuca early the next day for the festival (the very first Echuca Moama Celtic Festival ) and so they needed to maintain some energy. Finished off the night with The Parting Glass, and Steve gave us the cello solo on his bass which was a delight (I suppose more accurately a bass solo). It was a great night - nothing stronger than a cup of tea or coffee was needed to provide fuel for the singers and players - just a lot of good clean fun. Let there be more of it this year!

Blog Archive