Old Granny Chair

I have a blister. 

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Now, ordinarily this wouldn't be a big deal. I'd ignore the pain and get on with my day, feeling a little grouchy that walking hurts, but, this blister isn't in the usual spot (the back of my heal). It,s on my left hand index finger, right at the very tip.  

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You're probably (not) wondering how one gets a blister in such an unusual place (unless you play a string instrument, then you'll know instantly). 

I may have played too much ukulele. I definately played too much ukulele. 

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You would never think that ukulele's would be blister causing houses of pain, but they are. My fingertip is proof. 

It came as a surprise that one could receive such an injury. Sure, my string friends have complained of blisters, but they play "proper" instruments with steel strings. This was just a tiny cute innocent ukulele. 

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Don't get me wrong, you can injure yourself playing flute too (I have some first hand experience there) but I can't think of a single instance a flautist has played themselves into a blister. (Thinking of it, if you know someone who has, let me know! I'm genuinely interested to know how that would happen!) 

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Anyway, lets use that as a semi awkward segway: I recorded a new video today. A sweet little ditty called Avalon. I did some singing, and some tute-ing on all three of my bohem system flutes, as well as some sub par (but fun for me) ukulele. 

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To sound like  a bit of an artistic wanker for a small moment, I've really been enjoying diversifying my skill set. When I did the recording/video editing process today I understood a little bit more about the process/software off the bat AND I learned a bunch of new things! I'm in no way brilliant, but I'm getting better yo! 

 

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It's really not winter anymore Feat: Jazz fusion you should probably listen to because it's amazing.

So it's really not winter anymore. Like one and a half months, we're back on daylight savings sort of not winter. I barely posted over winter, and although I missed this little online space a whole bunch, I'm very glad I took a break. In fact, my sporadic posting may even continue past this post depending on if I can get some of my offline stuff sorted and return so some semblance of a "regular" routine. 

This is going to sound all sorts of silly, but there's been a little part of me that's 1) been terrified of writing on/getting back into the swing of this blog and 2) terrified of tackling this blog post (there are a lot of photos, and if you've been reading for a while, I like to alternate between photos and paragraph of words. Lots of photos means lots of words). Neither of these things make sense, but it's how I've been feeling (maybe it's got something to do with the fact I've let my social media slip. It's kind of like starting again in a way) 

So many things have happened since I took these photos back in August. I can remember several occasions where I thought "I'll have to blog about that" but every "really important" blog post Idea I've had has gone by the wayside. I've also stopped keeping up with the fashionblogosphere and my personal public social media. It's been a really interesting priority shift. I'm not sure if I'm completely on board with it, but it's happened, and whilst more important music things are happening I suppose I'll let this shift continue.   

This suspender skirt is a "newish" piece of mine. The day I took these photos was the day after I sewed it. It's definitely my most beautifully sewn piece, despite my sewing practice being almost non existent. 

Something I have done a lot of whilst not blogging is listening to/watching live music, specifically Jazz fusion type stuff (It's also something positive I can share/write about, and totally not about blog/feeling related meta garbage like the rest of this post).

I'll start by talking about a band which I have talked about before . They're called Quantum Milkshake. After playing a gig with them two years ago, listening to their only recording approximately a zillion times, and frothing over the single they released, they FINALLY completed their album, and released it to the world ( I actually briefly mentioned this release back in June when I had yet to properly listen to it/purchase it. I have now done both of those things, and golly gosh it's everything I thought it would be and more ). 

There is so much going on in this meticulously constructed album. There are grooves, there are throw backs to other composition era's, there's jazz, there are cross rhythms and time signature changes, there are complexly composed and intricate layering, there's flow from track to track, and brilliant performances from musicians across the board. I simply do not have the words to describe just how great this release is. You'll just have to give it a listen. 

Now the reason I started this small list of jazz fusion type music you should probably listen to with Quantum Milkshake is because there's this other equally brilliant band that shares musicians with Quantum Milkshake (Namely their flautist (who founded the band with their drummer) and trumpeter). 

Bella Wolf takes influences from all over the place (but more specifically Latin, Pop, Rock and Groove Based Jazz). I was absolutely stoked when Erica contacted me with a copy of the album. Flute, specifically flute played by flautists is not the most represented in Jazz, and Erica plays some of the best Jazz flute I've ever heard. Again, this album is meticulously crafted with intricate rhythms, grooves, and layers. I particularly love the (what I presume to be) improvised solos throughout the album. (in conclusion, this album IS SO GOOD. Unfortunately I don't think it's been released on bandcamp (You can get it on itunes tho.), BUT here's a teaser for the album, and their youtube page

The last band I have to mention this evening is a band called Mr Ott. I saw them at 505 last month and have basically been vamping their album ever since. They're just about the funkiest band ever, and manage to sit right on a fine line I like to call "completely serious music that completely takes the piss at the same time". The bass lines are funky, the performance is tight, the mix is lush, and the compositions are tight, and intricate with crazy solos interspersed. Seriously, JUST GO LISTEN TO IT YO!

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.

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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!)

That time I wore purple at the jazz festival.

shoes Yesterday was a very long, but very fun day. The Jazz orchestra I play with (The New Empire Ballroom Ragtime Dance Orchestra) played 2 sets at Newcastle Jazz Festival. The performances were really good. (The crowd was great, and we were really tight/ in tune/ mistake free)

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This is what I wore to travel to and from the jazz festival. I wanted to wear something comfy and floofy, which is how I ended up with this outfit (which is both hella comfy and hella floofy)

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I wasn't able to stay in this all day. Part of the orchestra's "thing" is that we play 20's music as it would have been played in the 20's, which includes period accurate clothes, makeup (and sometimes instruments like the weird and wacky stroh violin )

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I managed to convince some of the orchestra to come out into the sunlight and take some photo's with me in costume which was fun. So yeah, this is half of the New Empire.

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Our costumes were put together by Ashley, who is a thrifting and seamstress extraordinaire. Half of our dresses were thrifted as is, and the other half started out their life as very ugly garments, which were altered into submission.

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One last thing I want to talk about is posture. I was playing a gig with Vanishing Shapes the other evening when an old man came up to me and said "I'm only telling you this because you're pretty. You need to hold your shoulders high and keep you're back straight so that you can be beautiful". Now, posture is something I've been working on a lot this year (so that my flute and singing gets better). Due to me not really caring when I was quite young, my "default" posture is quite slumped over.

Practicing good posture for extended lengths of time at the moment causes my back to ache. When I'm performing and my back starts to ache, I do whatever I can to quell the pain, which in some cases means having awful posture for a while (it way be hard to play properly with bad posture, but it's worse trying to play with pain). This particular night I had been carrying heavy stuff all day, and I was sore and tired, so I let my posture slip so I could be comfortable.

I'm not really sure what my point is, but that man's comment really got on my nerves  this week (especially in the second half of the New Empire's second set yesterday. I had to let my posture go a bit so I could finish the set). I don't understand why people think it's their place to comment on what you "should" and "shouldn't" be doing with your body. Yes, my posture isn't great, and yes, it's terrible for my health, but I'm working on correcting it. No, I don't expect you to know, but it's none of your business in the first place.

Blue Coats and Button Collections

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I've just had 3 full days of music. I listened to some of it, and some of it  I created with other people. Between it all I started painting a series of tiny planets (Which you can see on my instagram) I feel well and truly creatively filled. (and it also seems I've lost the ability to type properly. I keep typing all the wrong words (not just misspellings) none of which you'll get to see, because I'll do all of the editing)

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My music filled weekend started as it always does, with a Vanishing Shapes rehearsal. We're still in writing mode, which is fabulous. So far we've written a new song, re written a song, and jammed out a couple of new ones which is hella fun! This rehearsal also continued Saturday morning (basically I had about 6 hours making shapely music across 2 days) for those of you who are interested, our next gig is on the 30th of May  at Church of Groove with Bud Petal! It's going to be a super fun evening (and we'll be playing our new songs :D)

Friday evening we went on a band outing to the Lass for the Main Guy and The Other Guys ep launch. Man, it was so packed. I don't think I've ever seen it so packed, it was great. The new EP is fabulous. It's well written, well performed, and completely hilarious in only a way The Main Guy and the Other Guys are. If you're curious about what they sound like, you can listen to them here

I also kind of completely fell in love with the band that opened for them. They're a quartet called the Squeezbox trio, and are gypsy jazz at it's best. All 4 members are brilliant musicians, and great performers as well. You can listen to them here.

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So as I mentioned earlier, Saturday started out with a V Shapes rehearsal. Once we'd finished, I made the trek out to Morpeth for their annual Chapel Jazz concert. It was so much fun. We played 3 sets of 1920's Jazz to a great crowd in a beautiful church (which had exquisite acoustics) This was our first concert of the year, and man, I've missed doing Jazz performances. We've got a few more coming up soon though, which is fun.

Zappo (which is one of my favourite Newcastle Bands) released their first ever song on Saturday too! I don't have enough words to describe exactly how much I love their music, so I'll just link you, and you can partake it their awesomeness.

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And now to today. I travelled to Sydney today to rehearse with The Button Collective, because I've kind of sort of joined the ranks of their sometimes musicians. These guys are just brilliant, and playing their music is so much fun. I feel like I've had way more than one proper rehearsal with them (which is great considering my first gig with them is tomorrow night at Corridor)

I kind of also stole their backyard to take my photos in today...

So yeah, I've had a little bit of a creative weekend.