Quaint ramblings and occasional reflections of a journeying Aussie musician...

27 August 2008

The Arts Centre

...a nice pub by the river, Putney, South London, Friday afternoon...

The need for a pint after a play is, well, it's like ---, and of course it being the end of the week (even though weekdays don't mean anything to me anymore), the urge is just too difficult to resist, so after a rewarding session on organ with guitarist D in his tiny but cosy apartment, we wandered down to the Thames and met up with his loverly yogic guru partner the Mudgee Girl for a little tour of the establishments in the area.
It was two pints, maybe three, with no lunch or dinner and it went straight to my head and I'm off on a tangent about the most recent trip back home to rural New South Wales. And it's a full tangent, complete with descriptive passages leading to (hopefully) some sort of glowing fact about the place that I can relate to my counterparts, also originally from a similar place, that they won't find too boring in place of the football on the telly behind them.

"...he describes everything...it's okay, he always talks like this!" says D to Mudgee Girl and I'm broken from my reverie.

I don't know why it was, maybe it's because no-one ever actually said those words to me before, but it just hit me in a huge way that yes, that's how I talk. That's how I attempt to communicate to people, by trying to describe as much as possible of my subject in the hope that they will come to as complete an understanding as myself.
In general conversation, over a pint!
The son of teachers!
With little or no view to assumed knowledge, to suggestion, to the idea that the listeners might like to draw their own conclusions or make up their own minds about something, or that they simply may not be as interested in what I'm talking about as I am.

...and then, in the days and weeks afterward, subsequent conclusions about how I'd always had an immediate distrust of people who withheld information or gave no thought to inconsistency and fabrication, and how this was obviously at odds with my occupation as a musician, with the particular element of hanging out and talking with people in bars....but then conversely it also occurred to me how patronising I might sound in general conversation if I'm trying to explain too much to people.

And I'm suddenly working all this out within a year of my thirtieth birthday?...

The subject I was talking of at the time was a source of great excitement to myself and a host of people in my hometown, that is, the ongoing evolution of the Cootamundra Arts Centre. Before my three year sojourn in the UK, the idea of transforming a disused woolskin factory into a community-owned complex for the promotion and production of multiple artistic disciplines originating locally and beyond was mere talk, and anyone who lives or grew up in a small country town knows that there's no shortage of that.
Via an immigration scandal involving a false international company (a whole other story) and the intervention of a committed group of local citizens, on my eponymous return in December 07 I was amazed and delighted to find that it was up and running, a work in progress no doubt but already a functioning venue for visual and performing arts, complete with white grand piano. Consequently, before my return to the UK I held two concerts there with different groups of musicians imported from Canberra and Sydney to excellent turn-outs and crowd responses.

Now, in this fifth week (of hopefully no more than nine) of my return to Australia and subsequent bureaucratic incarceration, I was lucky enough to be bribed into performing solo at the Arts Centre this very afternoon for a group of sculptors, here in Cootamundra today for the official opening of the Bradman Walk, a series of bronze busts of all the various Australian cricket captains, complete with a full-size of the Don himself who would have turned 100 today.
After the official unveiling the sculptors were invited down to the Arts Centre for a reception/afternoon tea, for which yours truly was the monkey organ grinder installation. After they all trailed off there were talk amongst the locals that the sculptors, all from out of town, were all impressed with the establishment, complete with plans on display for the 120-seat theatre to be built in the largest of the sheds of the complex.
It just thrills me so much that one of the potential drawcards of the town is artistic in nature. In this region of New South Wales there are a collection of towns of a similar size to Cootamundra, all of which can propser or fail with the potential, realised or un-realised, for visitors and passing trade. In previous years, here in Coota it was things like the rail freight centre and public offices that pulled people through and into town. With these things now gone, the town needs to constantly keep it's eye on other attractions. If this Arts Centre can become a fully recognised venue for visiting performing and creative artists, still within easy travelling distance between the nation's capital and it's largest city, it could be very promising times for the Wattle Town indeed.

I must send a link of this entry to D and Mudgee Girl, in the hope that they'll finally know what I was on about!...

28 April 2008

Workin' Day And Night...

I got in quite late, about half three…the previous times I’ve stormed the stairs of her house she’s been kind of awake, but this particular night I knew as soon as I touched her that I was waking her from an unmemorably deep sleep…exhausted from a week’s touring I curled up beside her and watched as she sank back into the realm…

My walk to the tube later in the morning was marked by the growing realisation that the English summer is definitely on its way. It gets in under your clothes, stays with your every thought like an old joke you can’t quite remember. For after the English lion of a nine-month winter, one's memories of the warmer times almost vanish into the drizzle until sure enough the thaw comes around. A concept such as drawing heat AND warmth from the sun simultaneously (usually mutually exclusive in this country) becomes a frightening possibility.

My second day ‘off’ from touring was spent at the Pineapple studios on Langley Street in Covent Garden, a day of auditions and recalls for JM’s other show for which I attended as faithful organ grinder monkey piano player for willing contestants. Last week we were at the top, today in the basement, under absurd conditions. Intimate bedroom scenes played out before us were accompanied from the room to our left by rehearsals for the new production of ‘Chess’, then at times from the rehearsal above of the new production of ‘A Chorus Line’. Then of course the Chess people wanted air conditioning, which in a typically absurd English building kind of way set off the air conditioning in our room as well, noisy and cold. What were we to have next, burst Victorian water mains from the floor as well?!

So I didn’t play much but got to watch some stellar acting and great singing…
In the afternoon I called a good friend of mine who was at a bit of a loose end with hemispheres and freelance music career and relationships and stuff. Having had some experience with these matters, a stir-fry led to a bottle of wine led to another excursion into Henry VIII's old hunting fields of Soho to meet up with PR for another night on the lash (is that the expression?) at Gerry’s. This was meant to be my off night, nice takeaway curry with Medusa at her house, quiet movie, but no, it’s back into the den of iniquity on Dean Street….
We flew to Amsterdam today for Thriller’s Dutch leg…it’s so nice to be back in the continent, little things like people being happy and stuff working and looking nice…I didn’t hit the nightlife of the northern town of Zwolle like most of the rest of the guys, instead sitting in at the hotel bar with the band boys and some solid scotch…