The Last Gig of 2015

Hi everyone, it’s been lovely to have a break from blogging but I’m itching to write again – there’s been so much going on!

It’s the busiest time of year for me in the garden – I’m planting out heat-hardy salad vegetables like mad to take advantage of our brief but often vicious summer. There’s been several kilos of fruit off the raspberry canes already and several more to come, basil is being cropped, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchinis and chillies are starting to ripen. On top of all this, I’m making some small wicking boxes this week for the front balcony, which gets all the morning sun and is great for tender salad greens.

A couple of weeks ago, local musician and friend George Begbie won the Rudy Brandsma Award at the ASA national awards in Sydney. Many of us who knew George when he first started performing were thrilled but not really surprised – he’s always been that good!

And my wonderful singing group at Oak Tasmania are playing at the in-house end of year BBQ this Friday. Rehearsals are getting tighter and more intense, we’re all getting excited about showing off some new skills. I hope there’ll be some photos I can share with you all from that too.

But tonight is my last public gig for 2015.

I’m playing a short set at The Homestead in support of my dear friend Matt Sertori. I’ve known Matt for many years and despite his seemingly irreverent lyrics, he is one of the most thoughtful, intense and inspiring performers around.

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There is a misconception that Matt playing solo is just a comedy act but I think it’s important to understand there are two distinct sides to this demanding performer. Listen to his (often scathing) lyrics and look behind the laughter, there are some deep and incredibly serious subjects being dealt with. Here, there is a depth to the writing and an intensity in performance that can be downright confronting.

I am honoured to be playing support tonight for many reasons. Matt is also the man who drew me into the ASA over a decade ago and instigated the supportive, mentoring attitude that prevailed until quite recently. If you’re in or around Hobart I urge you to come and listen to this most fascinating and complex songwriter. And say hello – I love catching up with you all.

Take care wherever you are ❤

Wild Weather and Gig News – Day 25 NaBloPoMo 2015

We had a reminder today that it’s spring, and really only one small step away from winter. Although it hasn’t been too cold, the temperature is dropping this evening and the wind has been very fierce. And of course, this is the only day this week I had time to go and buy a trailer load of sand and another of composted bark. I’m certain the universe knows these things!

The reason I needed these landscaping supplies is a problematic back corner of the garden. I think everyone with a reasonable sized yard has one of these. That area furthest away from the house that you don’t look at every day, where you’re not sure what to do, everything you plant dies yet weeds seem to thrive! I haven’t done anything with this area for ages, it must be two years since it’s been weeded.

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The Corner of Shame

This is what it looked like a few weekends ago – arrgghhh!!! We’d already ripped the Morning Glory (Ipomea sp.) off the fence but the roots are trailing and are difficult to remove. I personally think this is one of the worst weeds in southern Tasmania and if left unchecked it will completely smother vegetable beds, while stripping all nutrients from the soil.

In the middle of this bed is a very old fashioned prune plum, which is a prolific bearer of very sweet, yellow fleshed purple skinned fruit. The tree is old but in good health, despite the competition from blackberries, ivy, mallow and thick clumps of onion twitch. We’ve cleared about half of the area – from the fence up to the bole of the plum. It’s a slow, hard job but we plan to keep chipping away (literally) over the coming weeks, laying thick cardboard and old cotton rugs, covering it with coarse sand and top dressing with composted bark.

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Today’s landscaping supplies

Once the bed is finished, I’m putting up shade cloth around the fence to add some height and screen the corner and we’re considering putting a beehive here next year that will face in to the yard. It’s a big job, but like all these things, ultimately worth all the effort.

On another note, I’ve got a gig coming up at The Homestead next month on December 15th, doing a short set for the Australian Songwriters Association. The feature act will be my dear friend, Matt Sertori (of Butterscotch Pony fame) and I’m really looking forward to it. Matt is one of the most interesting performers I know, his lyrics are often insightful and scathing and although he doesn’t do it often, I love his solo shows.

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Meanwhile, I’m off to find a jumper, the temperature’s starting to drop. It was 21 C today (about 70 F) and tomorrow we’re expecting 12 C (about 54 F) and possible snow on Kunanyi/Mt Wellington. Typical Hobart spring weather!

Lemons, Life and Things That Matter – Day 18 NaBloPoMo 2015

Well, it’s been an interesting 24 hours. I had another couple of reminders from the universe about maintaining focus on the things that really matter in life.

Yesterday, I supported a dear friend through something of a personal crisis. She has decided to leave Hobart and move to Melbourne. Partly, (as she readily admits) this is running away from small town nonsense but sometimes it’s better to move on that to stick around for more pain. As much as I know I will miss her dearly, I fully support her decision. ❤

While she was here, we talked in the kitchen – the soul of any home – and I finished making Moroccan Preserved Lemons with the last of the fruit from my friend Sara.

IMG_20151117_135250This is one of those recipes that I’ve adapted from several different sources but it mostly resembles Hassan M’Souli’s recipe on the SBS site. I soaked them for a couple of days in lukewarm water to soften the skin. Then I split them lengthwise without cutting right through the end of the lemon. I find it best to do this over a bowl, to catch every drop of lemon juice. Some people recommend taking out all the seeds but I don’t bother unless they fall into the bowl.

Next, the lemons are packed with cooking salt and put in a sterilised pickle jar. I used about a cup of salt for six lemons and added a few cardamon pods, two dried chillies and two bay leaves.

The final pickle looks lovely in the jar but I’m going to have to wait until Christmas to open them up and use the luscious fruit in a chicken or lamb Tagine.

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Last night was the monthly ASA gig at The Homestead, this month featuring keyboard player, singer/songwriter and generally lovely person, George Begbie. It was great seeing him really take command of the stage and put out a fabulous performance. I was reminded of the quite nervous young man who first turned up about 10 years ago to the ASA and it was truly heartening to see how far he’s come in that time. It was also wonderful to see a new performer do her first ASA and a regular who is really starting to come into his own 😀

And on a sad note, I found out that well-known Tasmanian media identity Tim Franklin died suddenly. When I first arrived in Tasmania back in the 80’s, Tim was one of the first people I met. At that time, he was working as a DJ at a nightclub in Hobart and a local commercial radio station. Later, he went on to set up his own company, Radar Promotions and redefined marketing in this state.

While we didn’t always share the same taste in music, Tim was incredibly generous to me when I was new in town and supportive of the band I was in, Wild Pumpkins at Midnight. I will always remember him fondly for that, and my heart goes out to his family and many friends.

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Vale Tim

 

A Quick Gig Update – Day 17 NaBloPoMo

Hey everyone

A quick reminder for southern Tasmanian folks that tonight the monthly ASA show is on at The Homestead in Elizabeth Street, starting with the wonderful Cassie O’Keefe at 6:30 pm. I’ll be coming along to have dinner, catch up with friends and cheer everyone on, in particular the feature act, George Begbie.

And Thursday night, (19th November) I’m playing a show with Cassie, again at The Homestead from 7-9 pm. This should be a fabulous night with one of the best young up and coming talents around town 🙂

One of my beautiful Seagull guitars

Hopefully, I’ll get time to do a longer post later, but we’ll see – it’s going to be a busy day I think!

ASA Update

ASA July 2015 Poster

ASA July 2015 Poster

Hello friends,
I’m pleased to announce the Australian Songwriters Association Tasmania are returning at a new venue – The Homestead in Elizabeth Street on Tuesday July 21st.
I’m incredibly honored to be the feature artist that night – which also means I’ll be under examination by MC Matt Dean prior to my set. If you want to hear me rabbit on about my craft, performing and mentoring please come along. As with all ASA Wax Lyrical nights, this is a free show.
At the moment, I’m trying to find out if we can film the interview so those of you who are interested but don’t live here can get an opportunity to see and hear what I’m about.
Meanwhile, there’s more gigs to talk about soon!
Take care,
Debra ❤

ASA – A Farewell to Irish

Photo courtesy of Kevin Gleeson

Photo courtesy of Kevin Gleeson

Well, last night saw the Australian Songwriters Association – Tasmania‘s final gig at Irish Murphy’s in Salamanca Place. It was a raw night to be out and about – the weather here in Hobart has been typically Winter (with a capital W) since last month’s plunge into single digit temperatures. However, kudos to all the brave folks who came out on such a night to support and perform – you are all diamonds!

It bears noting that the opening act was emerging songwriter, Cassie O’Keefe, who has really improved as a performer – so much so that I let her use my Seagull guitar last night!

Cassie ASA 1 June 2015

Cassie has really come into her own in the last year or so, thanks in part to the amazing support of her wonderful family and friends – and shows like the ASA, which provide a wonderful avenue for new writer/performers to share the stage with proven hands like Tony Brennan, myself and the consummate professional, Ian Paulin.

I’m therefore very pleased to tell you all that I’m taking Cassie down to Belfry Studio next month, where she’ll be recording with my favourite engineer in all the planet, Malcolm Battersby. It’s an incredibly gratifying experience to see someone grow from an uncertain child into a powerful young woman, who can turn a pub crowd on a Monday night into a listening audience, and hold them in the palm of her hand. It’s every teacher/mentor’s dream and inspires me to keep doing what I do 😀

Also, I must mention the fine work by the ASA Tasmania coordinator, Matt Sertori. His job has been so difficult over the last few months, with people pulling out at the last minute or turning up late for their set. Seriously, organising musicians is like herding cats, and not for the faint hearted – we are a difficult mob! Matt has kept his temper and his outrageous sense of humour well intact and I thank him for all his support and unwavering friendship over more than ten years of ASA shows.

I’m not sure where the ASA will be heading next, there isn’t a venue lined up at the time of writing – but that in itself is kind of exciting and makes me wonder what we can do next!

Watch this space and stay safe and well, wherever you are on this beautiful planet ❤

 

Family-friendly Shows

Me as a junior performer....

Me as a junior performer….

Being a jobbing musician usually conjures up images of late nights in clubs and hotels, in seedy areas of cities – something straight out of film noir. In truth, there’s been probably too many late nights and the nature of the work has put me in some fantastic situations, often with really wonderful people, affording me many wonderful (and a few not so wonderful) experiences – and I wouldn’t change a minute of it!

However, one of the biggest issues I see is the lack of accessibility for younger people to live music. This became particularly noticeable with the Australian Songwriters Association gigs that I’ve supported here in Hobart for over a decade. Being a music teacher, I often have teenage students who are ready to go out and play but are under age, presenting problems for venue operators, parents and organisers alike.  We get around it with the ASA, having younger performers on earlier and ensuring there are parents/guardians with them.

So, it’s really refreshing to play two shows in quick succession that are really family-friendly. Last weekend I played a very fun unplugged gig for World Record Store Day at R & R Records in central Hobart. A friend from uni brought her two young daughters along and it was really novel for them to see someone making real music right in front of them.

This Friday evening I’m playing at Cafe 54, which is not only a family space but also out of the city, at Northgate Shopping Centre in Glenorchy. Every Friday night for the past few months the proprietor, John Robb, puts on a music night, featuring various players from all over, but mostly local talent. John is passionate about music and providing good food as well as a lovely space to play.

Music Night #14 at Cafe 54 features Ben Dunk (from Denmark), local duo Zac Henderson & Rueben Reeves as well as me. The show starts at 5:30pm and as well as being licensed for BYO, there are $10 mains and $5 desserts – and kids are welcome!

I’m really looking forward to it – and hopefully seeing some of my younger friends and their parents 🙂

Debra ❤

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