Down the Garden Path

I've been doing a lot of living offline recently because of gigs and festivals. Every time I come home, I have a few days before I have to leave again. (This has actually been my life all of January) 

The craziness started Thursday evening with a gig at the Gaelic Club. Button Collective opened for the East Pointers (who are a crazy good Folk/Celtic Trio from Canada) From there, we proceeded to spend the rest of the weekend at Bulli for the Illawarra Folk Festival. 

Shirt: Thrifted, Belt: Home Made, Skorts: Home Made, Tights: Ebay, Boots: Dr Martens 

Shirt: Thrifted, Belt: Home Made, Skorts: Home Made, Tights: Ebay, Boots: Dr Martens 

I adore Folk Festivals. There's such a special vibe surrounding them, probably because most people who attend also play music. Unlike commercial festivals, there's virtually no separation between artists and patrons, which makes everything feel super intimate and community oriented.

Illawarra was such a great festival. I met so many cool people, saw so much brilliant music, had so many great Jams, played some great gigs with Button Collective, and played some unexpected gigs with Rebecca Bastoli (Who is not only a lovely person, but a great songwriter. I had so much fun playing with her and her band) and Scarlete's Revenge (They had unexpected lineup troubles, so I had a jam with them to cover some parts they were missing). 

Usually after a festival I spend the next few days recovering and feeling sad that I'm not still there playing all the gigs and jamming all the time. I had none of that as Monday and Tuesday I was occupied with Flutation, which is an Annual Flute Summer School run by Rosalie Bourne and Vanessa Ropa. 

I was lucky enough to be put in a smallish ensemble of great Flutists lead by Rosamund Plummer. She picked out some great repertoire (We played a Flute Quartet arrangement of a Bach Piano invention (I don't remember which one) and a Piece by Gary Schocker called Pop) I pretty much spent the whole time taking my Bass flute for a spin in this ensemble. I also participated in Shawn Barlow's Beatboxing workshop, and Luke Gallen's improv workshop, which were brilliantly run and quite educational. 

Shapes is also back in action as of this week! We had a jam to write some fresh music, and will probably start gigging again in March, which will be lovely.

This is my last night at home before I'm off yet again (this time for a wedding!) So it may be more than a few days between posts.

Bringing in the New Year!

Merry 2016 (for 9 days ago!). It's been a whirlwind fortnight since I last posted. My blog broke (TLDR I failed at running my server correctly, and would have had to spend more cash than I would have liked to keep it self hosted, so I jumped ship to squarespace. I still have a few things to do to clean my new blog home up, but it won't be crashing anymore!), then The Button Collective (a band what I play flute in) performed at Falls Festival, and had an EP launch in Lismore (You can stream the EP here. There will be a digital release next month, which I'll link to in the future)

Because Button Collective have been away for so long, I had to pack (what I like to call) a "tour pack" which is basically light weight comfy dresses ( usually 5 or 6 which can be worn multiple times), safety tights (i.e tights which some may wear as pants) a jacket, and a performance outfit. Mostly my outfits over the fortnight were utilitarian, the exception being when we had a gig. I only managed to get one photograph of my performance gear (thanks to Brodie <3) as we were busy when I was dressed well, and felt too daggy when we were free.

Outfit.jpg

There are 3 Falls Festival locations in Australia - Somewhere in Victoria, somewhere in Tasmania, and Byron Bay (which is the one we played) The festival was open for four days, from the 30th of December, to the 2nd of January (although, the main stages were only active for 3). We played 2 gigs a day for all 4 days, which was equal parts awesome and exhausting (we also managed to picked up an incredibly lovely and supportive group of young men who came to all of the main gigs)

Although I spent most of my time in the camp grounds, and the village area (which was the place we were gigging in) I did manage to catch a few of the main stage acts I was interested in seeing: Weird Al Yankovic (Who performed fabulously, but was drenched in nostalgia and gimmicks) Hiatus Kaiyote (These guys were interesting. I really appreciated there musicality, but they're not my cup of tea) and Birds of Tokyo ( I was really into them when I was 15/16, before they released March Fires. There performance at Falls was stiff and overly rehearsed, and all of their newer material was pretty boring.)

The musical highlights for me were all contained in the village area. There was Vardos, a trio of strong brilliant women performing eastern European virtuosic folk music,  Merryn Jeann
a wistful songwriter and beautiful guitar player (I was lucky enough to jam with her at one of her gigs.) and a female DJ (who I didn't get the name of). I came across her on the last evening, just before the last band of the festival finished up. She started her set with an empty dance floor, but completely owned the emptiness, dancing to the music she was playing and altering. Lastly there was Liam Power, who isn't actually a musician (but was a highlight none the less). He's magician, and performed small, but wickedly clever tricks.

This was the only decent photo I took at falls (I felt a bit self conscious with my camera, and my lenses weren't suitable for the situations I would have been shooting in anyway).

After falls we retreated to Brodie's parents house, where we pretty much remained until the Lismore EP launch.

The rooftop in the daylight before all the people came.

The rooftop in the daylight before all the people came.

We had the gig on a friends rooftop, which fitted a large number of people for such a tiny space. The gig commenced at 7, which at the moment is just before sunset, making for a spectacular backdrop to the opening musicians. 

This is Ben Wilson and Jake Pembar, who make up part of Ben Wilson and the Job Seekers (these fabulous people also play Bass and Banjo in the Button Collective). They opened the night with Ben's awesome music (which is kind of folky, kind of Americana. IDK, I suck at describing music, and my descriptions definitely don't do Ben's music justice).

Two of Four Scrimshaw boys music-ing it up

Two of Four Scrimshaw boys music-ing it up

Scrimshaw Four were the Jazzy/ Jugband-y middle to the folk sandwich. They're a 5ish piece Melbourne based band. I thoroughly enjoyed their set. All of there originals were well composed and flawless, and all of their covers were brilliantly arranged (particularly their jazz standards).

Buttons finished the evening. The boys were a tad tipsy, and the set was quite loose, but we had a bunch of fun, and an absolutely brilliant crowd. For anyone who's in sydney over the coming months, and enjoys our music, I suggest you take a peek at our facebook as we've got quite a few gigs in the area.

I also have a ton of other photo's from the EP launch, which you can find on my own facebook page (if you're interested!)

Kangaroo Valley 2015

ShoesI attended my first official folk festival (The 10th Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival) last weekend as part of The Button Collective (which is why I haven't posted in a number of days).  Kangaroo Valley was such a lovely introduction to the folk festival community, and I can honestly say, as a musician, it's one of the few places I've truly felt musically at home. looking down

We played as a 6 piece over the festival (with the button's usual festival musicians), which was a completely new experience for me.  There were two button's I'd never met -  Bobby (fiddle) and Ben (Banjo/harmonica) (they're the lovely chap's you hear on all the button's recordings). It was an absolute pleasure performing/hanging with the full band. Performing with them (as a 6 piece) felt natural (especially with Bobby. We had our own little melody party section going up on stage - twas fun yo)

headshot

Apart from performing with the Button's, I joined in as many sessions as I could. For those of you who've not heard this term before, a session is basically when a bunch of musicians get together and play a bunch of music (often from memory). I love playing folk music, but have not memorised many tunes, meaning if I wanted to play the melody I had to work it out either by listening, watching how/where the other musicians fingers moved, or a combination of both.

I'm not used to learning that quickly by using my ear, but by the end of the festival, I found my fingers co-operating to the pitches played by other musicians (which, for someone who is used to learning music visually, completely bizarre in the best possible way)

quinton and jen 2

I fell deeply in love with an instrument. There was one instrument maker selling transverse flutes. I tried all of his flutes, and connected with one (which I brought home - I'm currently mapping out the fingering so I can eventually play it properly as a part of Vanishing Shapes) It's made of Osage Orange, has a base tuning scale of E Phrygian Dominant, and speaks unlike any flute I've ever played (It's got a very round mellow tone, but doesn't cross into fuzzy sounding)

hand through hair

One of my favourite things about the festival was that pretty much everyone played an instrument, and that everyone who could play was peachy keen to play with everyone else. The music was the most important thing at the event, and it showed.

Quinton and Jen 1

Hopefully Kangaroo Valley will be the first of many folk festivals to come for me, as both part of the Button Collective and as Vanishing Shapes. (The Dream would be to play a festival as part of both bands!)

Finally, I'd love to say a big thankyou to all of the organisers of the event. Because of people like you I get to play the music I love with the people that I love, and that's the best thing ever. <3