31 May 2010

A Week in Newport: What happened to Days 5 and 6?

Time travels so quickly some times that the end of the week whizzed by. Thursday in Newport is the night for the Newport Barbershop Chorus. The hearty, lusty sound of 8 mature lads testing learning new songs, new harmonies to old songs, and telling stories from life at land and sea is always a source of great pleasure and entertainment (that was day 5). Day 6 started with council workers erecting flags at the Melbourne Rd end of the Westgate Bridge, and at the west end of North Rd, advertising the Newport Folk Festival (July 2 3 4). The last 2 years many people said after the festival "We didn't know it was on'. This year it won't be the case for anyone who crosses the bridge in the next month. Waiting at the lights there is nothing better to do than look at the billowing flags proudly announcing the folk festival (we will see).
Anyway Friday night (day 6) was down at the community hall -must have been about 40 people all ready with songs and instruments at hand to play and sing together. Some solo artists, a young fiddler (Jack) of note who lead the session, some stories and jokes, tea and a couple of biscuits were all the ingredients needed to entertain one and all. Gone are the days when each person got to sing 4 songs - with the growing crowd there is time for one tune each, and then it is a case of take any opportunity to join in the spontaneous outpourings of the spirit through music. Good for the soul. By 11 pm all had had their fill and time for the caravan to move on to ..................

30 May 2010

A Week in Newport - Day 7 Saturday at the Scout Hall

Fast forward to Saturday - morning committee meeting, midday Newport Choir singing in Paine Res as part of the Thankgiving celebration with the Baptist Church, and then on to the Scout Hall for the Gypsy Workshop lead by Sarah Busuttil. There were 30 enthusiastic players from all over Melbourne and within 10 minutes Sarah had taught the group some tunes and they were playing. It is highly likely that the scout hall has never had an orchestra of this kind play there before (probably no orchestra at all) and so it wasn't surprising that during the afternoon people wandered in off the street to find out what was going on. Sarah taught the group the Miserlou, The Basso, Masl Tov, the Romanian Train Song and Khusidlekh (all pronunciations accepted). Having mastered the tunes, the players were then sent off to form smaller groups to prepare a performance of one of the tunes - with their own arrangements. Have a look at pics of these groups as they perform (Steve will get the video of the whole group playing on youtube one day - it was a hoot). Sarah is running a workshop at the festival (Saturday July 3) so you will get a chance to join in the fun - either playing, dancing or just smiling to see such wonderful music being played live in the Scout Hall. See you there..

26 May 2010

A Week in Newport - Day 4: Wednesday at the Community Centre

Wednesday nights are at the Newport Community Centre where the Newport Choir, under the direction of Alan Davies, are alway hard at work enjoying themselves. The choir is busy practicising for their gig on Saturday in Paine Reserve (11am, Sat May 27) and also preparing for their contribution to the Great West Choir Fest at the Substation on Sunday July 4, 1-4pm, as part of the Newport Folk Festival. Lots of do, so little time.

25 May 2010

A week in Newport - Day 3: Tuesday at Newport North (Y'ville)

Tuesdays is Newport Gypsy Djangos at Yarraville. The group formed after meeting at the folk club 3 years ago, and includes Brendan, Greg, Rob, Michael, Steve, and Greg. Apart from the practice sessions the group were the resident band at the lovely NOSH cafe in Newport (until someone complained about the 'noise'!!) have played at festivals around the west, and of course at our own Newport Folk Festival. Here (above) we can see Brendan providing a bit of thoughtful musical advice to Greg and Rob. The Newport Gypsy Djangos will be performing (with friends) at the Newport Folk Festival from 6 - 8 pm at the Newport Bowling Club. As always it will be a very entertaining session - good swing music played well.

24 May 2010

A Week in Newport Day 2: Monday Night at the Community Centre

The caravan moves on and tonight the action and the music is at the Newport Community Centre with the Newport Bush Orchestra. Can't see anyone playing but its a very convivial atmosphere. Every picture tells a story ........

23 May 2010

A week in Newport - Day 1: Sunday @ Newport East (far east!)

Dear Blog

Unfortunately no pictures taken this afternoon (we were all too busy playing), but a very good turn out at "East Newport" (i.e. Selby).

Marilla's sister, Anna - a member of the 'Hills Angels' harp group - brought her harp along & played some fantastic airs.

Bruce, Pam, Anette, Alistair, Christine and Chris from the bush orchestra were there. Also half a dozen locals from Maggie Duncan's monthly Upwey session who are planning to come to the Newport Folk festival & play with the NBO for the bush dance.

Bush orchestra favourites such as the jigs, Black Cat, Old Schoolmaster, Jack and Lil, Brown Jug, Gallopede, Railway Hotel, and Cock of the North got a good work out. A few of the less commonly played tunes such as Frank Collins Polka and God Bless YOu and Bugger Me got a dust off too. Also some of the old timey tunes like Over the Waterfall and Bonepart's Retreat.

Young Jack's fiddling is progressing and he joined us on fiddle for harmonies before starting us off into a version of 'Shortening Bread.'

Late in the afternoon. Tiya and Adrian arrived and we went over a few songs which may appear at a future folk club meeting.

Looking forward to a big weekend of music in July - will be there with bells on.

Hillbilly Michael

21 May 2010

Banjo Workshop Pics

It took a while for the developing process but here they are - the photos of the Banjo workshop. All of the team standing behind Peter and full of their new found knowledge of frailing.

20 May 2010

Newport Community Choir at the Big Sing

A group of Newport Community Choir singers turned up to the Big Sing at Footscray Community Arts Centre last night. We joined about 70 others from western suburbs choirs including Footscay Multicultural Choir, Brimbank Multicultural Choir, Kensington Choir, Willin Wimmin, Footscray Primary School Choir and SingWest. It's an informal event where the choirs just get together and sing!

With such a big group we really raised the roof with Down in the River to Pray, the Samoan 10-step (a tricky body-percussion sequence that really challenged us), Song From Tennyson and a few other songs taught to us 'on the fly' by the choir leaders. If you've ever seen the Mysterious Ticking Noise video on YouTube...you should hear it performed by an 80-voice choir!
After we were all sung out we feasted on a delicious supper spread (80 'bring-a-plates' is a lot of food!) and left already looking forward to the next one. Thanks to John Howard, Amelia Barden and Jennie Swain for organising the event.

17 May 2010

Banjos galore

I went along to the first of the workshops for the year on Saturday afternoon to find out something about banjos. Never owned one, probably never will.. but it seems a lot of people like them, and it turned out a lot of fun to try one out and receive a bit of advice, some practical help, and some beginners music charts to get started with.

Rick Sidgwick welcomed us to the scout hall, and pointed out the three banjos Peter had kindly supplied for a few of us who were coming along banjo-less. I picked up a 'New Windsor' model which was at least 60 years old. I chose it because I thought it was the quietest of the bunch and would be less embarrassing than the other two. Once a whole crowd of banjo players had gathered we got started with Peter Somerville explaining clawhammer banjo. Then the noise filled the hall as we all tried to get the technique right. With a bit of patience and one-on-one guidance the noise started to sound more musical as Peter worked his way around the circle.

Then we broke out into the beginners and not-so-beginners groups and spread out around the scout hall area to do some serious practice on the tab Peter supplied for 'Cripple Creek'. Our beginners group in the front yard even got some applause from passers-by. This was real 'immersion' for me and I was amazed to hear something vaguely musical starting to come haltingly from the instrument that I had never attempted to play before.

After a cuppa and biscuits we spent a while learning about choosing, care and feeding of banjos. Peter fielded plenty of questions, including a request to play a couple of pieces for us which he did. Then we all got to participate again with a different tuning for "I'll fly away". I was sorry to have to leave before the session finished, I hope we can get a summing up from Rick to finish out the blog entry (and a couple of pics). I thought it was great value for $25 to get 4 hours of fun and education. Hmmm maybe I could sign up for another session and become a yodelling banjo player...


01 May 2010

Club Night 30 April

Lots of new faces and great music filled the hall for our April get-together. Alan started things off with Pat Works on the Railway, a song about the thousands of Irish labourers who built the American railway system. Jackie told her Ned Kelly story, a fascinating story about a little-known incident in Ned's early years. Greg H gave us a new take on a couple of old favourites, Rita Baker's Polka and Railway Hotel, played in an open G tuning on the guitar. Bernadette, accompanied by Greg J, sang Fields of Gold. Coincidentally Jane and her partner had also planned to sing this song, so we heard it twice, and both performances were very enjoyable!

There was a strong contingent of fiddlers present, and it wasn't long before Moira and Nicola, along with Richard on cello and Rick on guitar, took the stage and gave us Da Slockit Light and The Dark Island. Rob D sang Woody Guthrie's classic song Deportee, with many of us singing along in the chorus.

Then it was time for poetry and Dave rose to the challenge as usual, with a spirited rendition of Henry Lawson's poem The Lights of Cobb & Co. Raymond usually gives us an original song and tonight was no exception with What Are You Looking For?

Greg O has a vast repertoire of songs stored away in his memory, and he pulled out a true gem for us tonight, Woodbine Hill, an old song performed in the traditional way - Greg sang the song while doubling the melody on fiddle. There's a story behind the song, but you had to be there...

After the break, the fiddlers once again took centre stage with a lovely performance of Pachelbel's Canon, followed by Christina with FΓΌr Elise on ukulele. Adapting classical pieces to the uke has become Chris's specialty!

Lyn often comes up with quirky and entertaining songs; tonight it was These Foolish Things, with the lyrics changed to give a satyrical look at 1970s "hippies".

There were lots more songs, including Country Roads from Chris and Ted's "politically incorrect" song full of the names of old cigarette brands, before winding up with the traditional Parting Glass at about 11pm. A big thanks to everyone who came, everyone who sang and played, and we'll see you all again next month.

Photos coming soon...

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