Liz Frencham

A girl and a double bass.

A girl and a double bass.

2015 Catch-up: Almost summer AGAIN????

I am really not sure why I am so evidently hopeless at keeping this news page updated. Maybe it’s because life flies by at an incredible pace, or maybe it’s because the people I meet and the experiences I encounter so regularly in this crazy musical merry-go-round are such profound connections I feel I need to document them properly. So naturally I am overwhelmed by the task. :/

But it is unforgivable to leave it any longer. So with an hour to kill here at Wellington International Airport I’m just going to reflect a bit on these crazy last few months of 2015.

Firstly ONE THOUSAND APOLOGIES to all generous pre-sales supporters of You & Me Vol.3. All intentions were to have it in your hands by now, but a few factors have combined to stall the process and it’s now looking more likely to be a mid to late November mail out. Whatever happens I will move heaven and earth to get it to you before Christmas!

2015 kicked off in style with some fab gigs at Woodford Folk Festival with Fred Smith and Jane Thompson, and the festival spirit just kept coming with a solo gigs at Daylesford Singers Festival and Mount Beauty Music Festival; gigs with Fred Smith at Illawarra Folk Festival, Newstead Live, Nannup Music Festival, Perisher Peak Festival; gigs with Miriam Lieberman at Denmark Festival and appearances with UK folk superstars Chris While and Julie Matthews at Port Fairy Music Festival.

I also had another successful February Album Writing Month with my first proper collaborations resulting in some treasured new songs. In particular one UK songwriter, Matt Blick, honoured me with his talents and I can’t wait until I can get back in the studio to put down some album worthy versions of those songs.

Winter was mostly spent recording You & Me Vol.3 which is so close to being finished I can almost smell the CDs burning. It is another snapshot of my musical community including duets with awesome musicians including Mike Nock, David Bridie, David Francey, Co-Cheól, David LaMotte, Mal Webb, Alanna & Alicia Egan, and so many more. 

Then it was off to travel the length and breadth of the east coast with John Flanagan playing music to as many people as we could find. Playing John’s music is one of the newest pleasures in my recent musical journey. He is an incredible songwriter and a generous and beautiful human.

Most recently I am just returning from a musical reunion with Fred Smith and our very first appearances in New Zealand, culminating in an incredible 3 days at the Wellington Folk Festival. So many new friends including the renegades from Albi & the Wolves and King Leo, also fellow girl troubadours Kirsty, Krissy Jackson, Kim, Jenine Abernel and Cindy Muggeridge. Great to catch up with old friends including, Mike Moroney, Bob McNeil, Gareth and Ruth.

Sigh… Whenever I leave it this long for an update it always turns into a shopping list of events, impossible to convey the ridiculous amounts of flow, love and life. I am stupidly spoilt by this incredibly rich life. When I start to recall the memories of just one 10 month period it feels like a whole life full of explosions of colour and magic.

I will stop to highlight one musical relationship in particular however.

My ongoing, slowly-evolving collaboration with Trentham guitarist Robbie Melville is a seemingly bottomless source of joy and adventure. We have tentatively emerged onto a couple of attentive stages this year but it still feels like an embryonic form of what we are capable of. Mostly I feel trusted. Trusted with chaos, trusted to be the foundation for some beautiful music in the moment. I also feel instantly forgiven for any mis-step, forgiven for over extending, forgiven for misplaced enthusiasm, forgiven for self indulgent flights of tasteless fancy and self obsessed, maudlin meandering. And appreciated. Really appreciated for being my full and honest musical self. Thanks Robbie. Let’s keep exploring, huh?

To all of you who have been supporters of my music, you probably don’t realise how often you help me walk the tightrope between being able to make ends meet by playing, and washing dishes at the local pizza joint. THANK YOU!! You are STARS!!

Lotsa love,

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.... :)