31 October 2011

October's Folk Club Session

Another lovely night of music -

Rob Durbridge down from the country obliged with old favourites 'I'd Rather Have Your Love' and 'Changi Banjo', Kathryn lead a set of bush orchestra tunes, a newly formed trio 'Powderroom Secrets' entertained with Patsy Cline a capella, Ted provided some fancy fingerpicking.

Being so close to the race, Jackie told her (now famous) story of Phar Lap, with props and the use of assorted assembled characters to bring Big Red's story to life. (Dave Davies also has a racehorse poem).

Bill Fields sang a Henry Lawson poem put to music by (Mr Redgum??) and there were a couple of originals - including one of Simon Kerr's that was a finalist in the Maldon Festival Songwriting Comp. Not sure how it ended up in the comp but it was a winner in Newport (a great song that left us wanting to know more about the angel in the Himalayas).

Chris got the hall singing to the old standard Blackbird and Rob and Greg Franklin swapped hot licks on a couple of tunes.

Eamon on the pipes (accompanied by Bill Fields on one tunes, and provided a haunting backing to a couple of the other songs, as did Richard on the cello. The resonation?? of the hall is often intruiging and it is hard to tell where the sounds are coming from (the hall, the instruments or the imagination).

Good tea coffee biscuits and fellowship completed the evening.

Always different and well worth the investment of time and a couple of gold coins.


30 October 2011

Maldon Folk Festival - The Instrument Maker's Exhibition.

Ah the un-sung heroes of the Folk Festival. The first link in the chain. Instrument makers.
And like good crafts-people everywhere, they have plenty of interesting stuff to share, and are usually up for a chat.

There were some beautiful instruments, and some really quirky stuff as well. My favourite stand was that of Bill Crocker's. Sitting amongst a table full of fiddles, bows, dulcimers etc, he muttered modestly, "oh I'm not really an instrument maker, I just make things for fun." 

This one is a fiddle. What type? Apparently it is an experimental fiddle. (My favourite type). It has the standard four strings, as well as four sympathetic strings on either side.

And what instrument collection is complete without a hurdy-gurdy?
 Bill had some tools you don't find in every bloke's shed.

A Dulcimer Clamp.

A Plate Thickness Tester. Yep, he invented this one. 
Another favourite stand was this one. Cigar Box Guitars!
A demo from the maker.
These are guitars made from cigar boxes. The work of Julian Whittaker. They were invented in the cotton fields of the Delta Region. Apparently the kids would hear the blues being played and make their own instruments. There were plenty of old cigar boxes lying about, so that's what they used. As the players of these fine gadgets moved on to Chicago, and perfected their craft, they became known as DeVille. (Meaning of the city).
As there are not so many empty cigar cases lying about these days, Julian makes his own. On display were some faithful replicas of the originals. And some with deviations and developments, where he has played around with the shape to produce different sounds. The final touches are some fabulous retro stickers from the cigar boxes of the time. Loads of fun.
Julian also makes some mighty fine guitars.
While I was researching the finer points of hurdy-gurdy construction, and tales from the cotton fields, Bruce was having some adventures too. He found a fret-less banjo. Made by Ray Black, you've gotta love his work. I couldn't find a website, but he makes superb banjos and mandolins.
Fret-less banjo.
He didn't want to put this one down. It is an Octave Mandolin, apparently very similar to a Mandola. Kind of a bass mando, as I understand it. Definitely the missing link in Bruce's instrument collection.
Octave Mandolin.
Ray Black with some of his work.
Some other instrument stands. I can't remember this maker's name, but his work was also quite superb. (Must do some further research). He made the Octave Mando, you can see it on the far right.
We found Ted testing the wares at the same table.
Watching a craftsman at work always makes me smile. Apparently he had an order that he had to have finished.
Its a bit like taking your knitting to work.

Stumbling out of the hall, with heads full of musical possibilities, who should we run in to? Tom Walsh, one of the gurus of our own Bush Orchestra.

25 October 2011

BO session 3 term 4 2011

Kathryn, Chris K, DaveI, Alasdair, Ian, Bruce S, Trevor, Kerry, Simon L, Nancy, Greg.
This session saw a number tune gone over:Uncle Affies, The Rodoni Set, The Chicken dance much to the chagrin of Dave I, Hilarity, The kerfunken Jig, The Trentham Jig.
Nancy, returning from a long absence valiantly chased the chords down, Trevor had done homework and it showed, Ian picked stuff up like lightning and we seemed to spend hours talking about violins.
Greg was pushing folks hard regarding chords, the results spoke for themselves as the rhythm section sounded clear and coherent, providing the strong base for the melody players. Well done all.
A reminder that the calendar says we are on for 31 October.

18 October 2011


Chris K, Alasdair, Simon D, Bruce S, Cathryn T, Kerry, Trevor, me.
At least we had a mixed gender group again.
After torturing the the rhythm section by running through the chords of a few tunes over and over, we went round the group one by one naming tunes to present. We managed about 24 of out tunes. This was excellent as a few had not been played for ages and needed a bit of tender coaxing to revive them. Chis Knoop showed us his $65 harp,mandolin ,guitar and picked out puff the magic dragon with bass. Sounded oddly good. we had the wrong key for our new hall but made do with the art room in Outlets. Small but enjoyable group. It goes to re-emphasise the flexibility of the BO when a subgroup can do so well.

15 October 2011

BO at Betty O'Leary's 100th Birthday

Sat Oct 15 saw a section of the Newport BO attend my mothers' 100th birthday.
Present Chris K,Chris H, Alasdair, Helen C, Llyn S, Maryanne C, Neil J, Bruce W, Don Gula, Steve M and Bruce S and me.
The ad hoc subgroup of the BO performed brilliantly, mixing songs and tunes effortlessly and providing a wonderful soundscape for the party as a whole. I expected the guests to be unreactive as they are mostly un-used to live music and generally don't know how to react but to my surprise we had a really positive response and even had spontaneous bush dancing going on. I stood back a bit and they happily continued on without my once indispensable leadership. The Orchestra has grown up and now looks after itself---a wonderful outcome. The guests loved it!
Thanks to all of them for being patient about the food and drink as it took ages to get sorted and thanks to them all on behalf of me, my brother and my 100yo mother for the contribution to the afternoon. It will be talked about for ages.
Greg O'L

13 October 2011

Bush Orchestra Session 1 Term 4 2011

The BO started the term in our new premises at Outlets CO-Op, a beautiful new hall at the front of Outlets. Thanks to Therese for making it available.
Attendees were Greg O'L, Dave I, Bruce S, Kerry D, Trevor H, Simon L, Chris K, Simon D. Alasdair Mc. Amazingly no females attended (first time ever).
We eased into the term by reviewing a few of the more recent tunes and a few of the oldies. Helen's Heart Waltz, Uncle Affie's Tap, The Rodoni Set, Joe Yate's Second Reel. Each person suggested a tune or set and we refreshed our knowledge of our repertoire in this fashion.
Thanks to Dave Isom and Helen Cahun for filling in while I was flat on my back.
I am looking forward to our summer season. Anyone having any ideas for public performance should contact me.
Thanks Greg

NBO Substation performance Oct 13 2011

The BO performed for the Hobson's Bay "Reinvent or Retire’ Community Forum and Information Expo" at the Substation on Thurs 13th. We were fantastic as usual.
personnel were.
Greg O'L, Dave I, Bruce S, Kerry D, Trevor H, Simon L, Chris K, Simon D. Maryanne C, Chris H. Alasdair Mc.
I am constantly amazed by the quality of the sound we make, and even more so as it was our first gig for ages. The sound in the reverberatory space of the substation was absolutely perfect for the occasion. The organizers looked after us and we easily managed 1 full hours worth of virtually non-stop playing. It is gratifying indeed to have people turn up time and time again for nix, and even more so in that the results are of such high quality. I think I am not telling tales to point out that the members possess varying degrees of skill and knowledge of the repertoire but the mix of players has always bee such that the combined sound is quite simply amazing. It was Simon Leverton's first public performance!. Well done Simon.

11 October 2011

Access All Areas

Some of the best music professionals in Melbourne’s western suburbs will combine for the Access All Areas workshop later this month.

The Newport Substation will resound to the voice of the massed choir on Sunday October 23, as they sing original music by local composer and Green Room award recipient Fiona Roake.

The floors will shake to the beat of local Stagecraft instructor Sara Grenfell, and local Breathworks practioner John Howard will breathe new life into the old brick building.

Tix $40/$35 available at www.accessallareasworkshop.eventbrite.com.au

10 October 2011

Newport Bush Orchestra Term 4 2011 - Let the Music Begin

The Newport Bush Orchestra fired up for term 4 last night at their new venue - the just completed Outlets Hall. Apart from being freshly painted, all shiny and new, the room has lovely bright acoustics and so the players really enjoyed the evening. To begin the new term Greg O'Leary is back (many thanks to Dave Isom for holding the reins last term) and it was an all men turnout so plenty of energy in the room. The NBO has its first gig this term on Thursday, providing music for the 'Retire or Reinvent' conference - apart from the music, the NBO will demonstrate the value of playing music as a post retirement occupation. Might even find a few takers to join the folk club and the NBO. The Bush Orchestra meets every Monday from 7.30pm. If you are interested in checking it out, just come along and say hello.

09 October 2011

Newport Strings go on tour

Newport Strings with guests Mark, Danny, Jennifer, Phillipa and Bernard put on a concert today to a full house at Millrose Gallery in Ballan. A big thank-you to everyone who participated, and to those who came up from Newport to join the locals in the audience. I thought it was a wonderful afternoon. Steve

[Click pic below to see picture album]

07 October 2011

The Newport Session @ Newport Bowls Club

A big thanks to all those who turned up for our first Celtic Session at the Newport Bowls Club last night. We had a solid 2 hours of tunes and songs, with stragglers lingering on until stumps (or whatever the bowling term is). Hope you can all come along again on 4th November. There’s a core list of tunes we’ll be drawing from to start things off (on this site), but come and play other ones too - the list will expand and change with time. Learning tip: youtube a tune and play along with the version that is at the right speed for you – over and over again! When these tunes start appearing in your dreams, you know you’re getting into the groove.

Simon Leverton

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