Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fear and Loving in Wangaratta

Last Saturday night, the second night in March, I played my first house concert of "The West Brunswick Suburban Dream" Tour in the Wangaratta Lounge Room of Luke R Davies and his partner, writer and photographer, Cassie. Luke is a notable blues musician, leader and instrument maker for The Recycled String Band and my mate.

Luke and Cassie are amazing hosts. They fed and watered me. They put me up for the night. Luke fixed my crap banjo and made it sound as good as it's gonna get. They even organised Shannon Noll (you know, he came second in the first Australian Idol) as a support. As Shannon insisted on bringing his band, who were so loud, Luke and Cassie had to get them to play down at the local footy ground. So, at the half time mark of the Essendon versus Richmond footy match, Shannon's music was at the perfect wafting level for Luke and Cassie's backyard, where 25 of the best of Victoria's North East (and a couple of South east NSWailer's) gathered for a beer and some spectacular vegan treats lovingly prepared by Cassie, before the show.

At the end of Shannon's set, everyone drifted into the perfectly sized lounge room to take their seats.

And there they were. And there I was. Scared! I wonder if they were scared as well. I always have this moment just before a show. It's the moment I must make a decision. The decision is a choice between running screaming from the room, never to be seen or heard of again, or, to walk onto the stage, or, in this case, stand in front of the mantle piece, and play the songs that I have to offer to people I have never met before and who might not like what I do and might not like me and well, I could go on and list the rest of the fears, like:

They might not like what I look like they definitely won't like what I'm wearing, they'll hate my voice
and what about my unruly hair , not to mention the ordinary stories I was going to tell but have forgotten, and I'm not really a very good musician and I bet there's some really good guitarist in the room who'll be pulling my technique to shreds, do I have a technique?And I'm not that special because I was born in the Melbourne suburbs and not even the tough western suburbs of the 70's or the outer suburbs but not in the inner suburbs either just in the ordinary suburbs and I'm not working class and I'm a not a poor little rich girl and I'm notnotnotnotnot.............................

While I'm being distracted by these fears, I get introduced by Luke, and the next thing I'm thanking him and singing the first song and some woman starts crying in the second row, and I let her cry. Everyone seems to be listening and they look pretty friendly. So I try another song on them and they let me sing again. Then I start talking to them as if we're well, sitting in someone's lounge room and they talk back and, then I sing them some more songs and Luke gets up and plays harmonica and I pick up the tin can banjo and pick away at The Boilermaker's Wife (song from The Bride album) then the fireworks get let off (Really! Luke and Cass had everything covered) and before you know it, an hour has passed and the first set is over.

But will they stick around for the second set? I excuse myself to save my voice for set number two and when I return, they all come back too and take their seats. Bloody hell, I think, and launch into the West Brunswick set.

By now, we're getting pretty close, so I tell them about my birthing story and about Adrian and Allie's wedding in Yarrabin Street and my long distance relationship with James and what it's like to have had Betty as a neighbour and I sing them the songs that go with the stories. Then, Rohan gets up and plays a valve tuba with me and then I tell about how I've enjoyed hanging out with Luke and Cassie so much I might move in.

And, then I give them some CD's to take home in the hope they might remember that Saturday night we spent in Luke and Cassie's lounge room in Wangaratta where I sang them some songs and told them some stories and ended up loving the time spent with these friends, initially disguised as fearsome strangers.

Here's a love song for those lovely Wangaratta folk from the "West Brunswick" Album:

"When Love Came to Yarrabin Street"
(Lead Vocals, Uke and Guitar: Helen Begley, Backing Vocals: Emily Hayes and Ella Sidal, Double Bass: Greg Craske)

Sunset in West Brunswick by Adrian Wood

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