Tap-dancing, Charlie Chaplin and lots more Dust.
Once again it's been a little too long between updates. Yikes! 2014 has been a wild ride and the first six months seem to have passed in the blink of an eye!
My last chunk of news coincided with the return home from a bumper Tassie trip. Since then my path took me to the Port Fairy Festival where I unveiled some brand news songs with the help of Damien Neil and tap danced for the very first time onstage with none other than legendary vaudevillian Mic Conway (no- you did NOT read that wrong. I can tap dance! I'm not very good but I'm slowly getting better and loving the hell out of it!)
I then blissed out in beautiful surrounds at Yackandah Folk Festival with the divine Miriam Lieberman (soon to release her incredible new album- check out the details at her beautiful new website) before Fred Smith called in the troops. It was now time for a tight little Victoria-based team of Carl Pannuzzo (drums/piano/vocal), Liz Frencham (bass/vocal) and my lovely Steve Vella on sound to embark upon Fred's newly refined 'Dust of Uruzgan' theatre tour. Starting at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre on the Anzac weekend in April we travelled up to North Queensland (Cairns & Townsville), all over rural Victoria (Bendigo, Heathcote, Elmore, Castlemaine, Tallarook, Horsham, Ballarat, Portland, Casterton and Stawell,) and even over to Tassie (Burnie, Launceston and Hobart). I threw up a few tour snaps here if you want to get in the picture :).
This week the Dust show will be at the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta before playing shows in Sydney and Canberra and heading to West Aussie for an extensive 4 week stint in August. All the show links will be listed here as they unfold. If you haven't seen the new show I HIGHLY recommend it. The trio format is awesome. There are two new songs, lots of new stories and new images. Believe me, I would not give so much of my playing time to one repertoire if it wasn't of the utmost quality. Life is far too short! There's a link to clip of us opening the Burrinja Arts Centre show with the gorgeous song "A Thousand Splendid Suns" on the video page here.
As if this wasn't enough to occupy me, I have found time in the gaps to finally finish recording the second volume of live duets "You & Me Vol.2". Over the last three months I've recorded duets with Nick Charles, Sarah Humphreys, Andrew Clermont, Mal Webb, Damian Neil, Miriam Lieberman and Ruth Hazleton. All that remains now is to listen back through numerous takes with fresh ears and decide upon the definitive versions of each song to go on the album, then hand them over for mixing and mastering while I organise artwork for Volume 2 and a reprint and repackaging of Volume 1 in time for a spring/summer 2014 release! AT LAST!!!
Added to this have been some other special little highlights:
In May a brilliant local guitarist, Robbie Melville organised an awesome ensemble to improvise accompaniment to three short Charlie Chaplin films. It was the first time I've ever played for a silent film, and though challenge was heightened by the improvisation factor it was incredibly exhilarating. Plans are afoot to reprise the concept later in the year...
I was also asked to be part of an incredible rhythm section for a new Sarah Humphreys album recorded completely live at Nash Chambers' studio with none other than Kasey Chambers in the producers chair. I have never been prouder of myself in a studio situation and more excited about someone else's album coming out. This is a truly beautiful album, folks. Absolutely jam-packed with the most exquisite songs. Sarah is a one of a kind. See for yourself here.
Offstage I have quietly been working on my skills as a soloist with Skype help from my awesome mentor Steve Lawson. He is introducing me to the world of sound manipulation so later on in the year you may hear some of the results of those experiments.
Sydney-siders NOTE: if you are keen to hear me play a proper concert-style solo set I'll be at the Petersham Bowlo as part of Leroy Lee's Porchlight Sessions on this thursday July the 10th. I don't have a lot of time outside of the shows I am doing with Fred Smith this year to organise many of my own shows, so this currently a RARE outing outside of the Central Highlands of Victoria.
I've also embarked upon a slightly more specific 100 day arco(bowing the double bass) video challenge after abandoning my first one after 60 days because it was getting boring and repetitive filming bowing exercises. This time I am going to learn my very first classical piece which promises a more melodic experience eventually :). This is a huge step for me to take as I am truly woeful with the bow! I have no classical training or knowledge at all but a huge desire to finally gain some facility. Thanks to some help from the lovely Mikey Floyd I have chosen the second part of a Bach Cello Minuet. You are welcome to follow my progress here but I recommend waiting a few weeks until I stop sounding like a creature being slowly tortured.
I'm launching the last month of winter with a performance at Ballarat Uni in front of the film students as a part of their Live on Lydiard concert series on Friday 1st August. The tickets are cheap, seats comfy and your applause and warm energy will help Robbie Melville and I to put in a good performance of some brand new songs in front of the cameras. Check out all the details here. Then it's one more local farewell shindig on Sun 3rd August at The Pizza and Wine Club before Steve, Fred, Carl and I disappear to WA for a month.
Lastly, I recently arranged a cover of a beautiful Clare Bowditch song for her Winter Secrets competition. The song, alas!, didn't really lend itself to solo bass treatment but I enjoyed the challenge. It wasn't a winner, but Clare forwarded a note through her management to me anyhow, praising my performance and inviting me to join her on a song at one of her victorian shows. So if all goes to plan I might realise one of my dreams and sing with one of my heros at her Belgrave show on thursday 17th July. You can have a peek at my almost-winning version here on the video page.
So that's the thick and thin of it from Liz Frencham HQ. Hope to connect in some way soon.... :)