29 December 2012

An Open Letter from Dave Isom

Open Letter to Newport Fiddle and Folk Club plus Newport Bush Orchestra Members

Dear Fellow Members,

Before I head off I just wish to sincerely thank you all for the friendship, support and encouragement you have given me during my time in NFFC and NBO.

It has been a very pleasant, happy and rewarding time and given me an opportunity to develop skills and knowledge of Australian tunes which would otherwise have gone undiscovered. I hope that I can pass on some of this music to others where and whenever I may be playing. Although the fiddle has been relegated to the backburner for the time being while other matters have been moved to the front right it will keep simmering and re-cook further down the track… or should I say voyage?

You are all very fortunate to live in this part of the world and be surrounded by enthusiastic folks with similar interests. I keep telling friends who don’t come from the enlightened side of town how wonderful it is down here. The musical energy in Newport and surrounds is palpable and the Folk Festival is going from strength to strength. This is due to all of you who participate and especially to the dedicated committee members and organisers . While on this point I would like to give special thanks to Michael Stewart. The Folk Club is extremely lucky to have Michael as President. His enthusiasm, dedication, organizational skills, people handling ability, not to mention musical skills means that the folk club and festival has a rosy future.( Even if his repertoire is stuck on one track…Foot-is-gray)

And Michael is lucky to have such a great team around him too. On this point I would also like to thank all those people who assist in so many ways in running the club. Alan for the sound ( and lately Simon as well), Sue with the finances, door and CD sales, Christine with publicity and parties, Simon L. with programming and the Celtic sessions, Greg and Helen with the Bush Orchestra, Neil and Mary- Anne  for their performances and gigs, Don with the PA at the festivals and his great double bass playing plus all the rest of you enthusiastic members.

Finally, thanks must go to the Newport Bowls Club for providing such a great, friendly venue and drinks at sensible prices (plus free veggies on a Friday night).

I trust that in my time here I have contributed something worthwhile  to the richness and depth of the music through performance, experience, ideas and bringing along other ‘seasoned’ professional folk musicians to the musical life of the area.

I will have fond reflections of my time here at Williamstown and Newport and hope to return with more enthusiasm and ideas and look forward to lots more music with the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club and The Newport Bush Orchestra.

Farewell for now

Dave Isom.

18 December 2012

Carols at the Substation

The Carols at the Substation was a wonderful night for our community to come together and welcome in the Christmas season.  The Newport Community Choir led the singing of the carols as well as performing their own pieces including the lovely Australian 'Carol of the Birds'.  Simon Leverton performed 2 English carols that drew on his enthusiasm for Morris Dancing (hence the costume) and got the evening off to a fine start with Somerset Wassail and Sans Day Carol and then The First Noel.  The Newport Carols Orchestra, an all ages ensemble, lead by Simon Harvey, provided the accompaniment to each of the carols.  Newport Lakes PS, lead by Kathy Hirsche, came along in 2 groups and entertained one and all with a set of 4 Christmas songs, and also lead the community singing for Away in a Manger and Joy to the World.  Proceedings were most ably lead by Nola Wilson who provided an insight into the joy of Christmas and of the often surprising impact that music can have on people.  The night was then rounded off by young Hayley Edwards who sang Mozart's 'L'ho perduta, me meschina', from the Marriage of Figaro and then O Holy Night - absolutely beautiful!.  Hayley stayed to join the choir and the community in a beautiful rendition of Silent Night, and then a most rousing version of We Wish You A Merry Christmas.   What a lovely night.                                                

16 December 2012

When the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club hosts a book launch!

As one of the Club storytellers, I have tried and tested many ideas on club nights - better to fall flat on my face amongst friends than out on the job! One of my stories about a Lyrebird, was polished in this way and went on to become a short film and then later a 32 page picture book for children. The book illustrated by Peter Goulthorpe and published by Museum Victoria was going to creep onto the market quietly, just in time for Xmas. However our Club president Michael Stewart suggested the NFFC host a launch. I'm still recovering.

I feel so honoured to have celebrated with friends who prepared musical items - all with a reference to birds or flight.

My friend Christine sang with style in front of a montage of photographs of displaying lyrebirds, the choir (pitch perfect) presented The Carol of the Birds, my mate Greg sang a Hoagy Carmichael song and then he and Michael played the music which they had recorded and arranged for the short film, Zoe and Alan contributed two items and then there was the Bush Orchestra and of course Gerry warming the room as folk arrived and Gred who did a grand job as MC .... so many people the thank ... I'll let the photos do the rest of the talking.

Thanks Everyone. And Thanks Gerry for the photos.

Jackie Kerin
Lyrebird! A true story (available on line, Museum Victoria and selected bookstores)

09 December 2012

Young Musos on Mason

Saturday morning in Newport was swinging with the Young Djangos from Rob Broatch's guitar school.  The boys started with a rock classic (All along the Watchtower) before heading in to some standards from the Django repertoire - Autumn Leaves and Minor Swing.  They played with plenty of confidence and a nice strong rhythm - Great stuff!

 Then followed the singers from Newport Lakes PS Junior Choir under the careful eye of Kathy Hirshe.  Lots of Christmas songs, color and plenty of movement and all watched by their greatest fans - mum and dad!  A most musical morning up at Sammy's. 

04 December 2012

Dave Isom CD Launch and Bon Voyage

As the year winds up, there are still a couple of events on the NFFC Calander.  On Friday Dec 21st the Folk Club is launching Dave Isom's new CD 'In Possum Land'.  Dave has been working on the CD over the last 6 months and he is pleased that it is ready not only for the Christmas market but also because he is heading off in his boat 'Eliana', for a trip round the world.  With a firm sailing date of January 7th, the Folk Club is going to help Dave launch the CD, but just as importantly provide Dave with a send off to wish him safe travels for his journey. 

This will be a great event to finish of the Newport Musical Year - all invited, free entry, FOLKUS to kick off the night, Dave will talk about his trip and then his band will launch the CD, and then the night will conclude with a very Newport session lead by Greg O'Leary and the Newport Bush Orchestra Session - BYO Instrument.  See you there. 

A 3 String Cigar Box Guitar

THis is the instrument that Danny brought along to the last folk club night.  Some might think that it is a uke but in fact it's a 3 string cigar box guitar.  It's forefather was the 1 string diddley bow.  Here are Danny's instructions for those with the inclination ......

'The general consensus when making one is to use whatever you have to hand.

So....it's fret less but I've inlaid fret markers using bbq skewers.The side markers on the neck are nuts.The sound hole is an old sive from the kitchen sink and the bridge is a bit of brass rod.The nut is a piece of threaded rod.'      
We'll have to see what it sounds like powered by the folk club PA .......

02 December 2012

Final Club Night for 2012

Last Friday's club night was a lovely end to the year - some oldies (songs) some newies (people) and that wonderful soulful vibe that is created when 40 people get together with the single intention of having a good time.  Still nothing stronger than choc teddy bears and tea/coffee to fuel the occasion that included:
  • Show and Tell:  Danny brought along his brand new, home made, 3 string, electrified uke that was made from a cigar case.  It wasn't just for show, as he played a rock n roll number (with slide) and had everyone playing along. 
  • Sing-along:  We don't hear many songs from the musicals but we had a trio (Mark, Anneliese and Jayne) who were dressed up a la My Fair Lady and got everyone singing 'Wouldn't It Be Lovely'.  It was! Everyone knew the words and the room was filled with music.
  • Impromptu Collaborations:  Sarah, Bernard and Gail (and everyone who knew the words or music) welcomed the new season in with their version of Summertime - sultry and classy, and another one from the musicals. 
  • Spiritual: Alan led the gathering in a moving rendition of We Shall Overcome and reminded us why the song was so important for the Civil Rights Movement in the USA in the late 50's and early 60's. 
This and much more (Alcohol and Pills and The Man from Ironbark give a sense of the diversity) kept the session well and truly alive till we closed with the anthem to the western suburbs, Footscray, at 11pm.  It was a good way to spend the evening.

29 November 2012

Carols Warm Up .......

November's hottest day didn't deter Simon Harvey and 13 players from rehearsing for the "Carols at the Substation". After a few jubes and snakes to keep up the sugar, the orchestra got straight in practice, having worked through all 12 carols to finish before 9pm.  All sounding good - the next and final rehearsal next Thursday will include the soloists Simon Leverton and Hayley Edwards and then the program will be right to go.  Thanks Kathryn for the pics. 

28 November 2012

Carols at the Substation Program


Sunday December 9, 2012

MC (Nola Wilson) to Welcome and Encourage All to Sing

All Sing                                   Deck the Halls   1

                                                We Three Kings 2

Newport Lakes Senior Choir  Celebrate the World

                                                Jingle Bell Rock

                                                Away in a Manager 3
Simon Leverton                      Somerset Wassail

                                                Sans Day Carol

                                                The First Noel  4

Newport Lakes Vocal  Group Good Time

                                                Amazing Grace

            All Join In                   Joy to The World (Separate Sheets – 3 verses)  5

Newport Community Choir    In Dulci Jubilo

                                                Carols of the Birds

            All Join In                   God Rest Ye Merry Men    6

                                                Good King Wenceslas  7

AJ and Zymone Abatayo        3rd Movement, Bach Double Violin Concerto

            All Join In                   Once in Royal David’s City -             G            8

Hayley Edwards                      L'ho perduta, me meschina', Mozart from Marriage of Figaro

            All Join In                   Silent Night 9

MC (Nola Wilson) Seasons Greetings and a Word of Thanks

To Conclude                           We Wish You a Merry Christmas    10

Carols Music and Rehearsal

All of the Carols music is now available at this link - select by instrument.

27 November 2012


The Festival Committee will shortly be looking for applications to perform at the next Newport Folk Festival.  One of the key requirements on application (apart from being able to perform) is to have a great pic and bio for use in publicity.  Here is an example from Gail and Rick's band  Mysterious Mose (50 words is about spot on).  They are performing Live @Newport early next year. 

A colourful, quirky band drawn from all over Victoria, playing the toe-tapping, good-time music of the 1920's and 30's. 

Jug, blues, jazz, hokum and swing numbers feature classic jug band instrumentation of strings, washboard, kazoo, jug and singing saw with multiple vocals, harmonies and cheeky repartie, all wrapped up in dapper, flapper costumerie. 

So why not dust off your dancing shoes and Mosy on over?!

Carols at the Substation (2)

 Preparations for the Carols at the Substation are well underway.  This year the program will include a  Mozart aria "l'ho perduta, me meschina"  from the 'Marriage of Figaro' sung by Hayley Edwards (pictured).  Hayley is a young local singer who took the role of Jane in the recent Melbourne production of Mary Poppins.  It will be lovely to hear her perform at the Substation as part of the Carols Program.     

25 November 2012

Photos from Farm Day: NBO at Sunbury

Here is the Newport Bush Orchestra in full swing on assigment in Sunbury.  This is the second year they have been invited to play for the fun day for Families of children with disabilities.  It was a lovely sunny day, the NBO was well fed, and they played for a good 2 hours to entertain the children and their families.  Just out of shot is a group of kids who got up to dance to the music.  It was a lovely day - and perfect setting for the Bush Orchestra to strut their stuff.  Well done Greg and the gang.

Carols at the Substation - Music Available

Rehearsals for the Carols at the Substation will be on this Thursday (29th Nov) at the Newport Bowls Club - ready to start playing at 7.30pm.  All are welcome - it is a great opportunity to play the old favourites with an orchestra.  All of the music is now available at this link if you would like to practice beforehand.
Merry Christmas

17 November 2012

Newport Community Choir hits the recording studio

Last Wednesday the Newport Community Choir made the most of an opportunity to record some of their songs.  One of our members, Kerry Saxby, as well as being a reliable tenor, is the Technical Manager for the Melbourne Theatre Company.

Kerry kindly arranged for the choir to visit the Theatre Company’s rehearsal and construction space where there is a large recording studio fitted with state-of-the art equipment.

Of course we all turned up with bells on. No one was going to miss out on this wonderful choir opportunity. 

Our leader, Alan Davies, led us through three of our songs while Kerry arranged microphones and played with the levels as well as taking his spot beside his fellow choristers.

And guess what? The result wasn’t half bad. Our confidence grew as the session wore on. And most importantly we learned a lot about our sound and ways we can improve.

Following the recording, Kerry took us for a tour of the building, the props store, costume and millinery room, set building and design. Fabulous!
Big thank you to Alan for all his work and patience through out the year.

And a hearty applause, a bouquet and cheers for Kerry for arranging a very special choir experience. And lastly … happy birthday Kerry!

Melbourne Theatre Company is the oldest professional theatre company in Australia (founded in 1953) and one of the largest theatre companies in the English-speaking world. It is also the model for all the State theatre companies that followed. 

The Newport Community Choir grew out of a workshop that Alan Davies ran as part of the inaugural Newport Folk Festival.

Requiring no audition to join, just a willingness to learn, we have grown from a small group of a dozen to the point where we could now field and Australian Rules football team with reserves.

Under the guidance of our director, Alan Davies, we gather in Newport every Wednesday evening (during school terms) and over the past couple of years we have built a strong repertoire.

In a perfect world, we would all turn up for rehearsals every time and learn at the same rate but Alan recognises this is not the case and so uploads our songs onto the NFFC website so we can practice at home. You can check out our repertoire and resources.

Through out the year, Alan invites guest musicians and teachers to help us advance out skills and at the close of every term we celebrate either at the local pub or in one of our houses.

New members always welcome.

JK (soprano)

15 November 2012

Our Jackie!

Congratulations to Jackie Kerin on the publication of her new children's book, Lyrebird! A True Story.   This has been a labour of love for a number of years which has produced a video (with music by fellow NCCF'ers Greg O'Leary and Michael Stewart), Read all about it in today's Age and watch out for the official launch of the book coming to Newport soon. 
Great work Jackie - we are very proud of your achievements.

Jackie Kerin with her new book, <i>Lyrebird! A True Story</i>.

12 November 2012

A great night with Mike Compton and Fat Chance

About 100 people filled the Newport Bowls Club on Melbourne Cup Day for a wonderful night of music with Mike Compton. Support act Fat Chance got the night off to a great start with a set of lively songs. These guys' enjoyment of their music is infectious and the audience loved it. Fat Chance is Andrew Barcham (banjo), Don Gula (guitar) and Michael de Valle (double bass).

Then after a short break Mike Compton took the stage and showed why he's in demand as a performer right across the USA and worldwide. He can play up a storm on that mandolin, but he can also be meditative and lyrical. The music ranged from bluegrass to slow blues and folk songs, with Mike's simple, authentic singing style complementing the mandolin on some numbers. Much of the time however he just let the mandolin take centre stage, and in his hands that small instrument is plenty. Actually he swapped around between two mandolins and a mandola (a slightly bigger version, as the viola is to the violin). All the instruments were made by Australian luthier Paul Duff. Mike brought Bruce Williams and Don Gula up for a couple of numbers too, including Bruce's classic song Too Much Fun.

The audience didn't want it to end but Mike has a busy touring schedule so after an encore the night was over. The buzz continued late into the night however; this concert will be remembered for a long time!

Michael deValle, Andrew Barcham, Mike Compton and Don Gula
prepare for the big night with a few laughs and a couple of tunes.

26 October 2012

Still Fiddlin' and Folkin'

The October Session was a hoot - lots of fiddles (none last month) lots of spoken word, plenty of songs and a bit more beside. 
Started off with 'Feel Like Goin' Back Home' from Bran New Day - sounds great with a couple of guitars using capos in different positions - if you are coming along next month feel free to join in. 
Then we had Blas, who is on a year's holiday in Aus (more specifically Newport) singing a Portugese song accompanied by his beautiful uke.  Jackie presented Phar Lap the Wonder Horse in what is now a pre-cup Tradition at the folk club.  Wonderful story, beautifully told, and making use of animate and inanimate props.  Dave Davies also had a horse story - tho wondered that he might be accused of 'flogging a dead horse' so he avoided his own Phar Lap poem. 
What else?  Alan lead everyone in a rousing version of Day Oh, Thomas recited an historical poem about the early days of Williamstown from the perspective of those poor souls stuck in the hulks, the string group played a Brandenburg and a smaltzy favourite (to some) The Rose.  Rick and Nicola followed up their Live@ Newport performance with a couple of Irish slides and tunes, and Bernard and Sarah played 'Jealousy' with reference to a cat (long story). 
Before the break Maurie presented a lovely rendition of a piece he heard performed just after the second world war, about the meaning of a pack of cards and its reference to the bible.  The folk club continues to live on in a most eclectic fashion.
Lots of tea, coffee and biscuits followed by more music - songs by Toni and her uke, a jam session lead by Blas, the New Gypsy Djangos playing Swing Gitan and lots more.
Apart from Blas who hails from Spain, we also had Bruce who hails from NSW - he came to the festival, loved it, and last night was his first session at the club.  He played harmonics and really enjoyed the night. 
Good simple pleasure of people playing music and performing for enjoyment. 
See what happends next month

21 October 2012

Festival Footage from Ireland

Newport's most welcome visitor for our festival from Ireland, Laura Plummer, has posted a lovely and quite long video here of the choirs festival at the festival.
Many thanks Laura - it was lovely to have you for our festival and even lovelier that you have recorded and posted a sizeable part of the Choirs Festival. 

14 October 2012

Mike Compton Australian Tour

Mike Compton is doing a whistle stop tour of Australia starting this month - 3 states, 6 gigs and one radio interview.  We are pretty chuffed that one of the 6 gigs is for the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club at the Newport Bowls Club on Cup Day (actually Cup Night - starts 7.30pm). 

Mike is doing an interview on PBS at 1.30pm on Cup Day so we reckon most people in town who are keen on bluegrass and roots music will know about the gig - and may just head on over to Newport in the evening.  The Folk Club has been fielding calls from all over Melbourne so the word is out already.  Put it in your diary. 

Here are the tour dates

  • 10/22 - AUSTRALIA TOUR 10/24 - 11/12/2012
  • 11/02 - ALBANY TOWN HALL, Western Australia SOLO CONCERT 7:30pm
                      WORKSHOP (2-4pm) AND CONCERT (7-10pm)
  • 09 October 2012

    Mike Compton in Newport - A Must See Concert for Cup Day

    Just a quick note to everyone regarding the upcoming appearance of Mike Compton at the Newport Bowls Club on Cup Day and why I'm excited about it.  Mike is widely regarded as THE premier roots music mandolin player in the world today. Over a span of 35 years, Compton has made a career playing on recordings of others adding his signature sound.  Mike has made music with such diverse notables as the iconic mountain music man Ralph Stanley, British rock legend Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes, guitar virtuoso David Grier, and producer T-Bone Burnett (O Brother, Where Art Thou and Down From The Mountain tours). In 1994, Mike became a sideman for John Hartford (American musical legend and writer of one of the most recorded songs of all time - 'Gentle on My Mind').  Mike remained a key member of the band until Hartford's death in 2001. To date, Mike has performed on over 100 CDs in a variety of genres, with some of the most beloved artists of our day.


    Mike has been a hero of mine since I saw the movie 'O Brother Where Art Thou' and heard his wonderful 'melodic' rhythm playing. I was lucky enough to do a four day workshop with him at the 2011 National Folk Festival. He was an inspirational teacher and I consequently started having online mandolin lessons with him through Skype. I am still having those lessons and thoroughly enjoying the experience.


    Hope to see a bunch of folk club members at the gig - Cup Night - Tuesday Nov 4, 7.30pm at Newport Bowls Club. I know it will be a show to be remembered!


    Bruce Williams

    30 September 2012

    Three Shades of Grey?

    Here's one pic from Friday night's session - 'Three Shades of Grey' taken by Gerry Nelson.
    It was a great night - very diverse, about 40 punters all came along to share and enjoy and recreate the Newport Musical Community. 
    Gerry's pic gives rise to the thought that we could have a photographic exhibition at next year's festival - lovely pics of NFFC'ers and friends learning, making and enjoying music. Any takers??

    16 September 2012

    Landsbourough 150th - the NBO were there!

     The Newport Bush Orchestra were dispatched off to Landsborough to provide musical accompaniment for the Town's 150th Celebration.  Here are Maryanne, Wendy, Anette, Alastair, Neil and Bruce at the unvieling of the statue of William Landsborough, after who the town is named.  The NBO provded music at the pub on the Friday night, up for the unveiling at 10.30am before playing down the street, at the school, and then to open and close the concert on Saturday night.  A great success as always with songs and tunes and plenty of laughs to make for an entertaining weekend.  More photos to come.  Great for the folk club to be an exporter of culture - the NBO's next gig is up at Digger's Rest in November for the Family Fun Day at Animal Land Children’s Farm, Diggers Rest on Saturday 10th November so a few more musical miles for the NBO before the end of the year.  Well done!

    05 September 2012

    8 Years and Still Going Strong

    Last Friday night was the 8th birthday of the folk club and we had a lovely night of music, poetry, some jokes and the traditional chocolate birthday cake with our cup of tea.  There was about 40 people all up - some first timers playing and singing (Adrian), telling jokes (Morrie), promoting their wares (Joe) and a few just keen to see what all the fuss is about.  One bloke who was there has just taken up the guitar (at 80 years old) - reckons he has plenty of time, and a good teacher in Brendan, so we look forward to hearing him play soon enough.  Lots of regulars - Dave with a couple of poems, Christine with a couple of musos backing her, Eamon playing some tunes solo and then gettting together with Bill and Gordon and  Alison to form a recorder consort, and Alison and Nola, fresh from yet another Ukulule Dolls gig, entertaining with some good time singalong songs.  No photos - will aim to get a couple next month - but the spirit of the night is hard to catch in a pic or in words - but its the thing - fresh, alive and unpretentious.  Let the adventure continue.

    03 September 2012

    Newport Bush Orchestra - from Spain to Newport to Landsborough

    The Newport Bush Orhestra was playing last night (Monday) with a very international cast - Greg and Wendy and Kerri being the 3 Aussies - Mira from Central Europe, Alastair from Scotand, Bruce from Canada , Anette from Sweden and then the two other players (centre) are from Spain.  They have taken a year off work and looked at the globe to find a place where there would be lots of people who love playing music together - and their search lead them to Newport - and then to the Newport Bush Orchestra.  Walked right in, sat right down and began playing - Black Cat ...... Blas Garcia(in the green tshirt) plays and teaches the uke (his own youtube channel) but speaks no English.  His partner Vaesquez (Elisa) speaks English but doesn't play - yet.  What a great time was had by all - Australian Bush Tunes, the Girl from Ipanema and lots of sign language!  

    Meanwhile all preparations are almost complete for the NBO's venture up to Landsborough for their 150th celebrations.  Rob and Wendy Durbridge (NFFC members) are residents and they reckoned it was the perfect NBO gig - in costume of course.  So far the team is Neil Maryanne Anette Wendy Alastair Alison Simon and family - they will be playing at the opening ceremony (10.30am Sat the 15th ) and then leading the big bush dance to finish up Saturday's celebrations.  Should be a hoot and we hope to see lots of pics and stories on this site.   This month Landsborough - next year Spain??

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