Saturday June 8th
Something extraordinary took place last night in the Woy Woy Opera House. Mathew Fagan played and amazed us all with his virtuosity, his technical facility on a wide variety of plucked string instruments, and the warmth of his performance. This was jaw dropping, spine tingling, ecstacy inducingly delightful. It is hard to imagine a better night of music anywhere on the planet.
From classical show off pieces such as Bach’s famous toccata for organ (the toccata and fugue, without the fugue) through to the Beatles’ blackbird, passing through the encyclopedic compendium of famous spanish guitar pieces, the guitar challenge, celtic masterpices, blues and a ukulele solo to die for, his show ‘Lord of the Strings’ had it all. I’m no royalist, but long live the lord! He truly deserves our admiration.
Mathew was well supported by a handful of very talented and capable local musicians – Hugh Worral, George May, myself and the wonderful David Martucci.
For the first twenty minutes of the program Mathew Fagan played a magnificent ten string guitar – the first I have ever seen at the Troubadour. David Martucci played the second- one, and he literally made it himself. The guitar, with a beatiful spuce top, was truly impressive, as was David’s performance on it after interval. He is an accompluished and versatile classical guitarist from the central coast – a player of the higest order, and someone who I hope we will see much more of in the future.
Something extraordinary happened last night in Woy Woy. It’s enough to make you believe in miracles.
Matthew Fagan’s Ukulele workshop Saturday 8 July
24 people learned how right hand flamenco strumming and picking techniques for the ukulele yesterday. Hard to believe, but Mathew taught us well and we all had an amazing time. We not only learned the lost art of ukulele yoga, but practised our right hand flamenco strums, learnt finger picking, played well and would you believe it, even sounded good together.
Nice to see so many new faces – from Newcastle, the Entrance, Hornsby, Berowra BUGS and other central coast. We’d love to see you again.
But make sure you don’t miss the next performance of the Troubalukers.
Many thanks, Mathew!!
Chris Cady and Kent Daniel
Lime and Steel – Saturday 27 May Review
We knew they were going to be good, but they took our breath away. Wonderful original folk songs and a few exquisite tradional numbers all done impecably. A fantastic sense of musical space and careful, respecful musical arrangements kept it fresh and sent numerous tingles dow my spine. Paddy writes a great song, and Skye must be the best bass player and all round harmony singer going round. But it would be hard to beat Masy-Jane’s plaintiff, but strong and tuneful singing. She had us all on the edge of our seats.
A great night for floor spots too. Linda Campbell was great as was, George May, Peter Paul and Trish and Hugh Worral before the break. The Troubalukers were at their satirical best, followed by Trish and Tom Flood after interval. It was a night to remember and treasure. We’re lucky to have the snippets and excerpts to remnd us. If you missed the night, make sure you check out the videos below. And make sure you don’t miss anyhing in the coming months!
The Spirit Still Alive in Woy Woy
Last night’s Troubadour Theme Concert – Protest, Politics and Parody, was full to overflowing with talent, enthusiam and generosity. What a great night. Over $500 raised for Mary Macs (we’re still counting) and we left full of inspiration.
Some great performances from all the Troubadour performers, it’s hard to know where to start. Two amazing debuts: Jill Adamson sang a great parody – Are you Going to Erina Fair? and read a powerfula anti-war poem she wrote – Desert Skies. And Ian Smith’s new ‘home made’ guitar was simply beautiful – one of the best sounding instruments I’ve ever heard.
We also saw Peter, Paul and Trish for the first time, heard the Trubalukers present a world premier of their parody – ‘We’d Love to Have Drink with Malcolm’, and enjoyed many other highlights – including the outstanding Fiddlers Four! Look at the snippets below to relive some great moments – or to see what you missed,
A great welcome back to Slightly Off’s’ Carl and Leila, and to Al Robinson. And what can I possibly say that would do justice to the great songs of the Blues Angels, George May, Sue and Blue, Linda Cambell, Peter on the ukulele, Hugh, Trish, Michael and all the others who contributed to such a great night?
To those who missed out on the evening, enjoy the snippets and keep up the rage! We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Congratulations to all the raffle winners. And all our best wishes to those at Mary Macs. Lets do it again, soon.
Long may the spirit of protest and parody live on! And as we all know, politics has never gone away.
March 25 2017
Penny Davies and Roger Ilott
Penny Davies and Roger Illot, Saturday 25 March 2017 Review
Two of Australia’s finest. No wonder they are held in such esteem. Penny and Roger delivered a truly enchanting performance to an enthusiastic audience. Beautifully chosen songs, delivered with impeccible harmonies and supported with strong instrumental backing. They performed many numbers from their recent CD Timeless Land, as well as a number of old favourites and hidden gems. It would be hard to go past their version of John Dengate’s ‘Bare Legged Kate’, which for my mind is without peer. And to finish off, a most astounding version of what the Dave McDougal, the MC, referred to as Pete Seeger’s driving instructor’s song – Turn Turn Turn.
Some great supporting acts – Sue Robinson, as ever, was sublime. Similarly Linda Cambell, the Troubalukers and MIchael Fine performed with great aplomb. Trish and her sideman, Ken, were a revelation and they surely have a masterpiece in Trish’s new song – Laudinam. Night’s like these are precious and stay in the memory. Sorry if you missed it.
Saturday February 4, 2017
Michael Fix and Christine Connister
A short review. Christine Collister and Michael Fix, 4 Feb 2017
Its a few days ago already, but I can’t get that beautiful music from Saturday night out of my head. I kept thinking ‘This is as good as it gets’.
Christine Collister’s singing was powerful and emotional, shifting effortlessly from soft and angelic to knock you out Janice Joplin style. Michael Fix’s guitar was equally superb. He provided tasteful support in the most charming way and would then then explode into amazing virtuoso runs across the finger board, all impeccably tasteful and clean. And he can sing too. Together, great harmonies, wonderful moving performances bringing out the nuances of their fantastic repertoire. So many great songs, it’s hard to list them all. But it would be wrong not to mention the one that brought the house down. We all know how beautifully Roberta Flack could sing Ewen McColl’s classic love song ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. When Collister and Fix played it on Saturday night, it was like the first time ever we’d heard that song- our hearts melted and tears welled in our eyes.
Great support on the night from Sue Robinson, George May, Peter Mace and Michael Fine! (yes that one). It doesn’t get any better than a night like this in the Troubadour. If you missed it – I’m sorry. Look them up on Youtube or watch the video below, and hope that one day they’ll come back to Woy Woy.
Don’t forget to keep Saturday 25 February free – Sancha and the Blue Gypsies are coming to the Troubadour.
February 25 2017
Sancha and the Blue Gypsies
Sancha and the Blue Gypsies 25 February 2017 Review
The performance of Sancha and the Blue Gypsies last night was a sell out – the Troubadour was packed to overflowing by a well informed audience with good reason to be there. This has got to be one of the top jazz/folk/gypsy groups in Australia and it won’t be long before they are equally well known around the world.
The superbly friendly, warm singing of Sancha Powles was the perfect foil for the joyful, virtuosic and seamlessly effortless playing of Marcus Holden (Violin, Mandolin, Guitar and Vocals) Garry Daly (Accordion – doing a fantastic job filling in for Garry Steel) & Stan Valacos (Double Bass). From their opening number – a great version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Dance Me to the End of Love’ that would have warmed the hearts of anyone who loves the Madeline Peroux version of that song – through audience favourites, such as Que Sera that had everyone singing, to the final numbers, each songs was a perfect gem. For my money, Marcus playing the Russian gypsy classic ‘Dark Eyes’ stole the night. Stefan Grapelli, Nigel Kennedy and Issac Pearlman, eat your heart out!
The concert was also very well supported by superb local artists. Dave Lee, a surprisingly young looking performer for such an experienced well established performer, made a great Troubadour premier on banjo and vocals, announcing that he will be a presence to be reckoned with on the Central Coast Folk scene for years to come. Make sure you catch him in the coming months. Ken Grose, the Troubalukers and Trish Peart also chipped in with some memorable performances, while yours truly also contributed as best as I could.
What a night. Sincere apologies for those who were unable to attend. If you missed the Blue Gypsies, try and catch them at an upcoming gig – or better still at the St Albans Folk Festival over the Anzac weekend, where they are performing.
Review by Michael Fine.
Young Folkies Night
November 26, 2016
Congratulations Young Folkies!! Molly Millington opened the Young Folkies night at the Troubadour on 26 November.
All of us who heard her knew she was good! Read on to hear more about her amazing achievements. Michael Fine
SONG CONTEST WINNER ANNOUNCED
The 3rd annual Regional Song Contest has been WON by 16yo Molly Millington from NSW Central Coast (pictured).
Molly will perform on stage at the Tamworth Country Music Festival on Friday 27th January, in recognition of her win. She will also receive a Music Mentorship Package from fRETfEST.
Contest convenor, Al Buchan, said, “The Regional Song Contest gives young people from regional Australian communities the chance to be discovered. It’s all about nurturing authenticity and guiding their growth.” Contest runner up, 14yo Luke Furbank (from Bathurst) is excited to have won the acoustic guitar prize and can’t wait to share his songs live on stage.
16yo Millington recorded her debut EP with country music artist, Shane Nicholson, this year. She and Furbank will be joined on stage by the 2015 Regional Song Contest winner, 17yo Tyler Shoobert from Binnaway and 2015 runner up, 15yo Georgie Taylor from Redland Bay, (Qld).
The fRETfEST young stars showcase concerts commence on Australia Day at 10am on the Peel Street Stage, and a complete list of gig times and venues are online at www.fretfest.com/gigs.
Gleny-Rae and her Playboys set new standard for excellence on the Woy Woy waterfront!
Review by Michael Fine
Gleny-Rae Virus and her Playboys were simply amazing at the Troubdaour last night and the near full house audience loved it. Although it was hard to get in to start with, after the ‘Cast-Off’ festival which had been held in the Woy Woy waterside area overday, no one left the hall all evening. When the band finally played their last number, the place erupted with foot stomping and cheering till we got yet another encore. Music of this standard seems to make wild beasts from the most polite and refined of us! The night was a great night, celebrating, amongst other things, St Patrick’s Day and the Gay Mardi Gras. The music, as the famous song says, was simply grand.
Gleny-Rae and her band showed us how to mix virtuosity with joy, and converted us all to lovers of her brand of music, which she sometimes calls hillbilly swing. it was all of that, but in truth much more. As well as some great classics, they played a number of incredible compositions by Gleny-Rae that knocked our socks off. She doesn’t just sing and play amazingly well, she writes stunningly good original compositions. Like other truly great composers, she knows how to approach profound emotions such as grief and loss by mixing them together with warmth and lightheartedness.
Gleny-Rae’s band is truly virtuoso, a great mix of the tried, true and new. Gleny-Rae, herself an incredible fiddle player, singer, accordianist is also a mean-hand on the guitar. She has played with the brilliant Doug Bull on double bass for yonks – and their polished collaboration is inspiring. Now she and Doug have commandeered two fantastic newcomers to what is a becoming a true family band. Billie Bull, Doug’s daughter, sang with real sass, played great electric bass, and laid down terrific rhythm on the snare drums. And this was the first time any of us had heard the amazing Leo Larrat on guitar. He knows all the chords and the changes for every song, and seems to play inventive, bright, joyful solos at the drop of a hat. This is seriously good guitar talent, someone to keep an eye on for now and in the future. Billie seems to have her on him already, so the stars look like they are lining up for the future.
There was a great set of support acts on the night, too. Kyla made her Troubadour debut, but seems headed for big success with a powerful voice and great song writing. The deafening applause was well deserved and an open invitation for some repeat appearances in the near future. (Old) Joe McCallum, from Scotland via Auckland, stunned us all with great verse from Robbie Burns. Plucky (Sue Robinson, Cally, Suzie and Ken) were beautifully in harmony, George May, both as accompanist for Kyla and with a solo song about ‘Xmas on the Front’ played on a century old guitar, was great as usual. The Trubalukers, too, seem to be more and more ambitious. They played and sung Blue Skies last night, in an inspiring presentation, followed by Sue Gates, who from their midst, has sprung as a bright new songsmith, this time beguiling us with her song about Nyngan and the Bogan. Inspired by St Patrick, I contributed what I hoped was a moving rendition of Mountains of Mourne, as well as another song we know from Willie Nelson, a tribute to the long hidden history of gay cowboys. This incited Arch Bishop to contribute a very funny and very un-PC verse about gay cattle hands on an Australian cattle station that had us all in stitches.
This was a great night of great performances. What a privilege it was to be there. I’m sorry for those who missed out.
Saturday 27 February, 2016
By Michael Fine
The Troubadour program on Saturday night 27 February was a truly memorable night. Let me (re)count the ways:
1. Scott Cook – a true troubadour from Edmonton, Canada, gave us one the most amazing and unforgettable performances ever. There are few if any artists these days who are compared to the young Bob Dylan, or Neil Young – Leonard Cohen at his best, but last night that’s what a lot of people were saying. This guy is good and we felt blessed to be there.
He sings with a beautiful, clear bass-baritone voice in a charming and authentic Alberta accent. Ever word was clear to hear -those he sang forcefully and dramatically, as well as those he almost whispered intimately as if I was the only one he was singing to. And what words. Almost all the songs he sings are mostly his own, with just a couple of others great songs from his ‘friends’ to show his respect for others.
Scott is a poet, a historian and a great documentor of contemporary life. He sings about the little things as well as the big issues in life – he sings passionately about the injustices in the world without ever lecturing or hectoring his audience. And he sings too about the people he knows and cares about, and the experiences he has had on the road.
And what songs these are. They are fresh and yet timeless – such as the one he sang that he wrote about Woody Guthrie that would fit seamlessly alongside the best of Woody’s own compositions or those of Pete Seeger or that other great tribute to him, by Andy Irvine. Another, a new song with its world premier in Woy Woy last night – ‘Fella’s get out the way’ that somehow had us all both cheering for feminism and laughing our heads off in recognition. Look out for samples from some of Scott’s repertoire on these pages in the coming week. And check YouTube for Scott Cook if you’d like to catch a full recording of that cheeky but very strong song.
Scott Cook is also a very impressive guitar player and part-time banjo picker. Clean, delicate finger work, seemingly effortless and always tasteful, never show off.
He’s still touring Australia for a while, so if you missed last night at the Troubadour and get a chance somewhere else, do yourself a favour and go and see him perform. You won’t regret it.
2. A sad but very heartfelt and warm farewell to Marilyn and Frank Russell. Having founded the Troubadour club with Cec Bucello over 16 years ago, Marilyn and Frank are leaving for Queensland for family reasons.
They gave us one of their great performances last night. It included two excellent yodelling songs. Frank also revealed himself as one of the great romantics, as he played the song he wrote for Marilyn, ‘Two Hearts’, when they first married. There were few dry eyes left in the house, and we nearly ran out of kleenex at that spot – but things brightened up with the presentation of our farewell gifts, cards and tributes to these founders.
Their farewell was brought to a fitting conclusion with Frank and Marilyn leading the Troubadour hall in a hearty rendition of Michael O’Rourke’s ‘Sing Us a Song Boys’.
3. Some great floor spots – including a special launch performance by George May of his song -‘Do we really belong’ that remained to be performed from the Troubadour Tracks CD Launch.
Following George’s great opening of the night, we had an excellent performance by Linda Campbell, John Muir and the ‘re-treads’ gave us a memorable and cleverly updated rendition of ‘There is a tavern in the town’, Arch Bishop told us a naughty and very funny rhyming story, Michael Fine played a new composition – ‘The Ridiculous Walz’. Sue gates sang her new offering – a work song, entitled ‘Work, Work, Work’, Ian Smith moved us all again with Randy Newman’s I think it’s going to rain today’, while Trish Pearrt sang a delicious new love song about her passion for the pie.
The highlight of the floor spots for me was the tribute from the Troubalukers for Marilyn and Frank. What a performance. They sang it like they really meant it, too.
27 September 2016
Kavisha’s concert and workshop this weekend were not just good. They were superb. I’m suffering withdrawal symptoms as I write.
Kavisha is world class, an artist at the top of her form. And wow, didn’t we enjoy this intimate, enthusiastic, beautifully delivered performance she crafted for us at the Woy Woy Opera House on Saturday? The perfect fare to follow up a unique, engaging and wonderful singing workshop the night before.
Kavisha has been writing and performing across Australia and with occasional international visits for over two decades now. She has an impressive catalogue of great songs she has written, from her much loved Aria awarded hit ‘Invisible, Indivisible’ through to new songs such as ‘Sing for No one, Sing for Everyone’ that show her to be in the front rank of singer-songwriters. She can also make claims as a musicologist, especially in the way she uncovers, researches and then has introduced some of the most beautiful traditional Italian folk music and traditional tunes to Australian folk audiences. With her latest and perhaps most accomplished album, ‘Riturnella’, she demonstrates her prowess as an instumentalist, too with a sensitive and accomplished accompaniment on guitar that leaves us guitarists in wonder.
On Saturday night she she showed us too how she can put it all together in a great live show with wonderful, very personal stories, inspirational comments and high class character acting in which she draws on impressions of some of those she has encountered in her travels over the years. Her performance to a full hall on Saturday night was one to bottle and cherish for years to come. It also reminds us all, if we ever needed reminding, why live music can never be replaced by recordings.
Kavisha’s performance was well supported by some great floor spots by Hugh Worrall with to two great new songs, Shirley Hotchkiss who lead some the hall in community part singing, Marilyn (at her yodelling best) and Frank Russell – who were joined for their final two numbers by Cec as he made up the ‘Usual Suspects’. I did my best, too, with a rendition of Dance Me to the End of Love, in tribute to Leonard Cohen and as a brief celebration of his 80th birthday earlier in the week.
What a night. What a Troubadour weekend.
23 August 2016
When Mountain Music moved Woy Woy
The performance by Vincent Cross last night, Saturday 23 August, won him many followers. He reached out and touched our hearts with his original self-penned classics presented in a traditional, bluegrass influenced mountain music style with clean clear guitar lines underpinning strong, elegant yet folksy vocals. This was the final performance of a great artist on first Australian tour. He left a hall full of converts in Woy Woy hanging out for his return.
Vincent seems to embody opposites. His music and his presentation last night was at once intense and yet relaxed and laid back. It was refined and raw, contemporary and traditional. Grounded in the traditions of Appalachian and mountain music he has carved out new tunes and created a fresh and original repertoire that is creative and fresh, but respectful of the old.
Vincent Cross is first and foremost a poet of these times, his lyrics reflecting on his own experience and the fate we all share in today’s world – trying to find a sense of home, of stability, of belonging. He is also a fine musician, playing an original 1955 Martin steel stringed guitar with precision and warmth, a five string banjo he borrowed over here, and harmonica. He sang as well with tunefullness and expression, every word clear to hear. And he talks and tell stories like the best, so that the each person in the audience felt as if he was talking to them. As well as playing his two most recent albums he also shared two songs he had written while in Australia. One was a beautifully simple love song. The most recent drew on a Mississippi John Hurt’s tune to lament the killing of Michael Brown, shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri.
Vincent was well supported by some great contributions from our local artists with floor spots. George May was, as usual, outstanding, while Chris Dillon sang two crowd great pleasers from Neil Diamond. Nick Lock, Peter Mace and The Blues Angels were also outstanding. The Russells were great, with Marilyn showing why she is getting known as the best yodeller on the Central Coast. Michael Fine also did his best (if I say so myself!), contributing two songs.
A great Troubadour night and a fitting farewell concert for Vincent Cross. Lets hope it won’t be too long before we see him on these shores, and in these halls, again.
Chloe and Jason
26 July 2016
Full Hall for the Troubadour’s 15th Birthday Saturday 26 July ’16
There were no seats available last night for the Troubadour’s 15th Birthday celebration – the CWA hall was completely full as members and other guests crammed in for a memorable concert from Chloe and Jason Roweth. No use complaining that they sang songs about shearers – that’s what they do better than anyone else. And they sang rebel rousing choruses by John Dengate and others from the Australian tradition. There were also many great performances by local performers – the great George May, Slightly Off, Hugh Worral, Trish, Ian Smith, The Troubalukers dressed in comic bear hats, and Linda Campbell. Sadly there were others in attendance we would have liked to have on stage last night. But the program, like the seats, was full to bursting – so we’ll need to continue the celebrations in the coming months.
Peter Mace spiced it up by adding poetry to the mix and Jason countered with more, and even longer poems. How do they remember all the words?
It’s invidious to single out any single song – but the one that most stayed with me was the Shearers Jamboree, sung and yodelled by Chloe in a duet with Marilyn. There were also great performances from two of the youngest contributors on the night – Megan Roweth and Skye Campbell! Their enjoyment was infectious, and we tried to capture it in the accompanying photo – what do you think of it?
One of the most unforgettable appearances of the evening was the amazing birthday cake baked and iced by the eclectic and multi-talented Leila Desborough. If you missed your slice, you can still admire her superb artwork on icing in the photo where the cake is held aloft by club founders Marilyn and Frank Russell and Cec Bucello. Yours truly, Michael Fine, managed to get caught up in the action as current President of the club and MC for the night.
The Troubadour is a wonderful enhancement to the cultural and social life of the Central Coast. It is such an honour to be associated with it. May the club and all its members continue to blossom. May the first 15 years lead to many many more to come!
Gleny Rae Virus and her Playboys
28 June 2014
What a night!
From the very first number (Hickory Holler’s Tramp by Bill Bekrick) to the final encore with its stomping/standing/cheering ovation, this was a special concert.
Ken Grose set up the CWA Hall with ambient lighting, and his efforts gave the place a homey feel – as if we were all at a party. And party we did – as the table lamp on the piano demonstrated – rocking along with the rest of us.
Gleny Rae Virus and her Playboys (with guest playboy Robbie Long filling in for Roy Payne – and doing extremely well) blew our collective socks off, with songs about everyday things, performed with panache and verve. You have to hear Dougie Bull’s bass to believe it. After all, who needs a drummer, when the bass player can play a drum solo on his instrument while he also plays the full swinging bass line as well? And Gleny Rae is a revelation. Her publicity reports that she is a down to earth Aussie country girl with a wicked sense of humour and a world class act – all true. But the media often fails to note her lovely velvety voice and the clever, subtle and musically beautiful things she does with it. The first half of the show featured Gleny Rae on violin, stylish, witty and undeniably expert – a perfect foil for Robbie’s western swing guitar solos. In the second half she took up guitar, with Robbie on Dobro, and finally she unleashed the accordion – despite the disrespectful jokes from her colleagues, and showed us how dance music should be played. If music were food, this performance would be strawberries and cream with champagne, and a strong cup of billy tea to keep it real.
Out floor performers were in fine shape too. Starting with Bill Bekrick, Chris Dillon followed, making a change from the best of the American Songbook with a monologue about a lion and a tasty small boy. Trish Peartt sang one of her own compositions, My Darling Street, about Balmain at its best, Ian Smith hit us with a couple of short country pieces, George May and Kerry got the table lamp rocking with Frankie and Johnny. After the break the Troubalukers appeared, complete with Hawaiian shirts and leis to lead us in a singalong (Blue Hawaii and Pearly Shells). Two members of the Richmond three piece combo, The Bellbird Belles (Kim and Jan), made a very welcome debut performance and the Russells gave us a favourite – Evangeline. Then Plucky (Ken Grose, Susie Lochhead and Sue Robinson), played two country waltzes before Glenye Rae and the boys returned to the lamplit arena to show us all how much there is for us still to learn.
Our regular photographer (Ina Fine) was away for this concert, but videos will follow, along with any photos we can find. – Sue Robinson
Azo Bell 24 May 2014
The word “Ukulele” allegedly means “jumping flea”. and the joint was certainly jumping at tonight’s ukulele concert following uke-whiz, Azo Bell’s workshop and featuring an evening of ukes. We featured charming ukes, impressively fast ukes, good, solidly strumming ukes for singing along, and, courtesy of Mr Bell – a jumping uke.
In honour of the instrument, a number of our floor performers featured the uke in their spots, starting with Susie Lochhead and Sue Robinson, who augmented their group, Plucky, with Ken Gross, wrangling the washtub bass, Hugh Worrall on tin whistle and guests Martyn Robinson and Lynne McNairn from the Pennant Hills uke club, playing rhythm and banjolele. Slightly Off sang of the Devil and happiness with the help of Leila Desborough’s splendid resonator uke, the Troubalukers led us in two meaningful songs: Purple People Eater and La Cucuracha, complete with lightning costume changes, and of course, ukes. The Kookie Ukies, gave us a bit of country flavour and Trish treated us to a burst of uke noir with Moody river as well as her own composition “Get up little darling”. Non-uke players included Ian Smith, with a moving rendition of John Doe No 24, and a country song the way many prefer them – fast. the Blues Angels sang of toast and trombones, Michael Fine had us all singing lustily about why we hate the carbon tax and Bill Beckrik showed us all how it was done with a moving and memorable performance of Go Down Easy, and The Cruel War.
But the star of the evening was Azo Bell – a man whose tiny uke could be eclipsed by his own hand – but he made it sing. delicate, moody, bluesy, jazzy, classic, whatever the genre, Azo Bell showed us how the uke could play it. And seeing him play and juggle the instrument at the same time – well, let’s just say, he also made it dance. A great night. photos and videos to come.
Environment Night with Paul Robert Burton. 12 April 2014
Who would have thought that there were so many songs about the natural environment? Tonight’s concert sampled all the greats from Linda Campbell’s “it’s not easy being green”, through Chris Dillon’s “Wonderful world”, George May’s “Pollution” song and Paul Robert Burton’s “16 tons” and Hugh Worrall’s haunting “Cows with Guns” right up to Michael Fine’s rendition of “Big yellow taxi”. There were also a rich and varied selection of singer-songwriters performing including Slightly Off, Karen and Friends, Marilyn Russell and Paul Robert Burton. Robert and Mary rose sang about the Springhill mining disaster and the Troubalukers led us in a singalong.
Paul Robert’s set was spectacular, as he wove his songs together on the spot, drew fantastic sounds from his ukulele, breathed new life into well loved standards and his own songs, and gave a practical demonstration of just how sophisticated modern folk music can be.
Leon and Toni. 22 March 2014
Back to Greenwich Village sometime round 1967
I woke this morning with the beautiful harmonies of Leon and Toni still in my mind. On Saturday night they were singing the great songs from the 60s folk revival and beyond, with Arne Green adding superb accompaniment on lead guitar. Leon shared with us some of the experiences he had in NY at the time, in some of the legendary folk hangouts and performance spaces such as Gerdes Bar and the Gaslight Cafe, bringing an exciting and inspiring era back to life – if it ever went away.
Leon and Toni gave a superb performance. Beautiful vocal harmonies, excellent instrumental support and a real sensitivity for the words and the music. Their choice of music was excellent – folk classics, songs of some of the great singer-songwriters of the 60s, and a number of more recent classics and personal favourites. A particularly memorable version of Dylan’s ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright’, and a beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece – ‘Anthem’, and the great coal mining classic ‘Coal Tatoo’ with which they finished the night, stood out for me. But it unfair to single out particular numbers as the entire show was inspiring, joyful, thought provoking and memorable in every sense.
As we have come to expect, the support acts from amongst the Troubadour members and audience set a high standard. Hugh Worral alone and later with Gabriel, George May, Frank Russell, Sue Robinson, Michel Fine, The Trubalukers, Chris Dillon and the ever popular smiling Bill Bekric, in great form, did more than set the mood and lift the spirits with song. And there was a wonderful poem from Peter Mace that helped us all reflect on the disadvantage of the homeless.
If you missed it – what a pity. But keep an eye out for a few videos from the night we’ll be posting in the next few days! And make sure you don’t miss the Theme Night coming up on 12 April!
The Hollands. 22 February 2014
Harmony, sweet harmony, pervaded at the Troubadour concert on Saturday 22nd. Where the singers didn’t provide it, the audience did, and the result was a lovely evening, musically rich and varied and satisfyingly harmonious. Ian Smith started the evening with a warning to his daughter not to marry a folk singer, and the audience agreed in harmony. Melissa and Anita made a welcome second appearance with two of their own compositions, and Anita followed with Hallalujah, acapella with the audience joining her rich, clear soprano in the chorus. Susie Lochhead, Sue Robinson and Arte Cifuentes sang, and Arte’s following solo was one of the standouts of the night. There were stories from Peter Mace, a rousing singalong and a touching love song from Chris Dillon, Garland Fine sang two traditional songs with audience harmonies, Nick Lock showed us that ukulele playing wasn’t his only talent, and we sang along again with his acapella offerings. Hugh Worrall led us in a song about pelicans, Geoff and Monica made whoopee and musical comedy veteran Adrian Hill’s debut performance had us all singing about his little whippet.
Then the Hollands took the floor and showed us what harmony was all about. Their songs were gentle and happy, their musicianship superb, their harmonies breathtaking with the blend between mother and daughter producing some simply magical musical textures, We in the audience listened spellbound and joined in whenever we could.
What a great evening!
George Mann, NY. House Concert 16 February 2014
What a lovely time we had at the George Mann concert on Sunday afternoon! The original venue may have been washed out, but there was nothing washed up about the performances. We were treated to a series of varied and excellent floor spots, featuring some favourites, such as Peter Mace with three funny and thoughtful poems. “a Couple of Celts”, (featuring George May) who get better every time they play, Michael Fine, with witty and pertinent pieces from Pete Seeger and John Dengate, and Sue Robinson with a sing song along the Erie Canal. But the surprises of the evening were the new performers. The Boat Shed Band, from Dangar Island, for example, gave us a hauntingly beautiful flute solo and had us all singing along with Wild Mountain Thyme, Melissa and Anita, a couple of opera singers, displayed their folk chops by singing three original pieces, and there was John Broomhall from Illawarra whose playing and singing were simply good – very good. There was huge variety and the audience sang and clapped along with gusto and three-part harmony.
George Mann himself brought it all home for us. Many of his songs were familiar favourites, with added depth because George shared the stories about their birth and history. His own compositions were rich and human, about vivid personalities, brave companions and dear friends. And they had great singalong choruses. The hot supper was excellent, complete with hot curry, gooey cakes and lots of lively conversation. The audience wanted it to keep going, but sadly, we couldn’t stay in the hall all night so the proposed jam session had to be postponed – come back soon George.
Vale Yuri, a one of a kind.
For Many years Yuri was a Troubadour regular at Woy Woy for years in the early days, and a regular featured performer. I hadn’t seen him in years until I saw him at St Albans this year. He was as good as always and had a guaranteed return booking this year. – FR
Pete Seeger: 94 amazing years
Sadly, we learned last night that Pete Seeger’s life has ended. He’s one of the few people we can say that has helped create the field we know today as Folk Music. The simple, folksy, inclusive style of music, the recognition of tradition linked with an awareness of our responsibility for creating the future, are just part of his legacy. He wrote some of the great songs – songs like Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’ and ‘Turn Turn Turn’, and he made popular so many other great songs of protest and social comment, like ‘Little Boxes’, ‘Guantanamera’, and ‘If I had a Hammer’. His love of other languages introduced us to songs from over the world, including that wonderful S. African tune Wimowee, which he first sang thinking it was a traditional folk song, but ended up in court as Solomon Linda, the impoverished and forgotten writer, was able to claim author’s rights and royalties.
From his earliest days as a musician in the late 1930s, alone and through his work with groups like the Almanac Singers and especially the Weavers, he helped put the politics and a concern for a fairer world into folk music. It’s no coincidence that Bob Dylan first came to attention singing with Pete Seeger on a civil rights singing tour of the USA’s south against segregation in 1962. So many other great musicians also speak of how Pete Seeger helped or inspired them that it’s true to say that he fostered generations of the greatest.
Like many other Australians, we have a direct link through the Troubadour CC to Pete Seeger. One degree of separation. You’ll remember Rik Palieri and George Mann from the USA in the sell-out house concert we held on 3 February 2012. What a concert! Rik and George not only went on from there to do the renenactment of the Alamanc Toour of 1939 and 1940 that Pete Seeger first did with Woody Guthrie, Fred Hays & Mill Lampell, but Rik told us stories of some of the time he spent with Pete learning his craft as folk singer, performer, and community activist. Check out the web sites
and listen to the CD.
Maurie Mulheron, who performed at the Troubadour in 2013 with Jeannie Lewis, also got to know Pete and did much to educate Australian audiences with his superb show about Pete Seeger and his musical legacy: ‘One Word: We’.
If you don’t own the Almanac Trail CD yet (it’s superb and will make you sing for months), make sure you buy it (or coax a friend into buying it) when George Mann returns to Woy Woy -4.00 pm, Sunday 16 February, for a house concert. Call 4342 6716 to book, while there are still places. You might like to go an and check out some of the links from Rik Palieri’s facebook page working from the link below.
Pete Seeger – a life well lived! Gone but his music and his spirit lives on.
Michael Fine – Troubadour President, 29 January 2014
Check out this great video of Rik with Pete Seeger, jamming at the age of 93! The video also telly you about the Almanac Trail tour in 2013
Troubadour on facebook: