Liz Frencham

A girl and a double bass.

A girl and a double bass.

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! 

Performing at the Words With Music songwriters concert at Port Fairy Festival in March 2014.  Photo by Andrew Lorien

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 :).

Dust of Uruzgan in Tassie, photo by Neil Plain

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.... :)

I'm a FAWM winner!

Wow, 2014 has really put it's dancing shoes on and started to boogie right away! 

It was only a week into January when I drove my wagon onto the Spirit of Tasmania II bound for the Cygnet Folk Festival to play with the lovely Miriam Lieberman. I then spent another 3 weeks in the apple isle, visiting my sister for some tap dancing lessons (and a strange encounter with a Dalek (see below), and performing a  beautiful riverside house concert at Tin Dragon Trail Cottages in Branxton. It was the loveliest stage I have ever played, see for yourself in the gallery I created here.

My sister and brother-in-law have a pet Dalek- go figure!

Before I had even returned to the mainland I had the crazy notion of joining the crew at FAWM.org for my very first attempt at the February Album Writing Month Challenge. I had known about FAWM for about 6 months, but it really did seem to be a crazy thing to attempt so I filed it away in my internal 'Someday/Maybe' folder and didn't think about it again until a chance mention on Twitter. It then hit me that it didn't MATTER many how many songs I finished. It was far more important to be actively making time for writing. Writing is a hard thing to prioritise but I'm just a cover artist if I don't. Even if I'm covering all of my own old songs!

So... I launched in with enthusiasm and a private goal of 10 songs. The community on the website are fabulous, and as soon as I starting listening to other songs on the website and getting feedback on my own I realised where the real gold in FAWM lies. Great people to meet and share ideas with and even collaborate with if you are game. I HIGHLY recommend it if you want to improve your writing skills or to widen your creative community.

So... as February unfolded I launched in with great enthusiasm, only to get a little distracted midway by all the usual little things life throws at you. When the last week came around and I only had 6 up on the board I was prepared to concede. But one last push from my sick bed (I had a horrible cold/flu thing) and I nudged it over the line at the eleventh hour. I did it! I didn't get all 14 songs demo-ed due to lack of voice during the final couple of days but 10 of them are accessible in their very rough initial form here in my  sound cloud FAWM 2014 playlist. I may even get the remaining 4 demos done in the next week or so, so cruise by and visit then :) . I'm only leaving them up for the month of March so have a listen now if you are interested. A diverse bunch of songs and some I'm pretty sure are keepers! You will definitely start hearing them at shows too.

Enough of my self-indulgent songwriting adventures, interspersed with gardening and catching up on Orange is the New Black! I am a performer. It's definitely high time to get back onstage again. I will hit the boards this weekend at the Port Fairy Folk Festival where I have one 'Liz Frencham' set at 1pm on Saturday at the Surf Club and the absolute incredible privilege of being part of the Paul Petran Hosted "Words & Music " concert on Sunday at 2:30pm on Stage 4. Sharing the concert will be a bunch of awesome songwriters including Pieta Brown, Shane Nicholson, Blair Dunlop, Ben Salter, Jack Carty Melody Pool & Michael Waugh. I will also be attempting to fill the unfillable shoes of Cazzbo Johns in Mic Conway's National Junk Band who are launching a new album this weekend at the festival. So look out for that on the program to if you happen to be there.

This month also holds plenty of locals gigs and another chance to play with the beautiful Miriam Lieberman at Yackandandah Folk Festival. So I hope our paths will cross in one of these beautiful venues.

Til next time,

-liz  :)