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 ❤


Pleasure and Pride – 3-track Demo Release

Hey everyone,

I realised today I haven’t posted anything here for such a long time! My life is incredibly busy with study, teaching and creating, but today I really want to stop and share a moment to take a whole heap of pleasure – and a lot of pride – in Straddlepuss‘ latest achievement.

Sara (Drums) Kirsty (Guitar/Vocals) & me (Bass)

Sara (Drums) Kirsty (Guitar/Vocals) & me (Bass)

Today we lauched our three-track demo on SoundCloud and so far, people seem to like it 😀 We recorded it down at The Belfry Studio, with the amazing Malcolm Battersby and we’re so pleased with the results.

On a personal note, I have to share how proud I am of my fellow band members, Sara Stevens on drums and Kirsty Leaf on guitar and lead vocals. About a year ago, Kirsty came to me for some singing lessons and she was just about to give up. I don’t know if I’ve ever had anyone come to me who was so unsure of themselves. Then she played me this incredible song that she’d written and I was completely sold on her, her voice and above all, her songwriting. She is an truly unique talent in the making and I feel incredibly privileged to be on this mad ride with her and Sara ❤

Have a listen and see what you think, I’d love to hear your feedback!

Meanwhile, it’s back to study for me, stay well everyone!

Debra ❤

Back to University and Beautiful Friends

Well, today is momentous. I am now officially back at University! I’m a little scared still but very excited about getting back into scan reading mountains of papers and books for references, making coherent arguments in essays and referencing it all correctly – oh dear, what have I done??!!! No, seriously – it’ll be fun once I get back into the swing 😉

Thanks to my beautiful friends Lauren and Patsi, I’ve been able to log on and join in the discussion board and download extra material that Griffith University didn’t post to me. Yes, I still don’t have a dedicated internet connection at home and sadly, I haven’t been able to keep up with my NaBloPoMo committments, but I’m doing my best.

Over the weekend, I also had some great times with other beautiful friends, namely Jax and Malcolm Battersby. Mal and I played a really nice gig at the Richmond Festival. It was the inaugural Songwriters Concert at the festival and we got to work with some great local artists and the organiser – champion of original music, Roger Joseph.

The other truly beautiful thing is I heard a new song Jax’s written (as yet untitled) and it’s just gorgeous. I understand she’s going to debut it live at the ASA December 11th gig and I can’t wait to hear it again! I heard a rough from Belfry Studio but once the mix is finalised, it’ll be up on Jax’s Triple J Unearthed page. It’s so satisfying to see someone with so much raw talent start to blossom into a confident and accomplished writer and recording artist – it’s really inspirational!

All in all, a very satisfying time in my life – despite the lack of home internet.

Take care everyone and have a wonderful day too, wherever you are

Debra 🙂

Mal & Jax 24 Nov 2013

Upcoming Gigs for the End of the 2013

Now that I’ve finished recording The Lucky Six, it’s time to spend a little attention on two live shows I’ve got in the immediate future.

Firstly, this Sunday 24th November, my partner in mayhem and music – Malcolm Battersby – is joining me for The Richmond Festival. We’re performing as The Fringe Dwellers at the Songwriters’ Concert and we’re both looking forward to it immensely! There’s some great Tasmanian songwriters on the bill with us, Marc Smith, Peter Hicks and the wonderful Wolf Arrow Rain.

If you’re in southern Tasmania, it’s worth the trip out to Richmond. It’s a lovely little hamlet and I have it on good authority that the weather should be fine after a damp morning…….

In December, it will be ten years since the Australian Songwriters Association (Tasmania) reignited at The Telegraph Hotel. Apart from making me feel really old, it’s fabulous to see how many performers from those days are still playing in venues here in Tasmania as well as interstate and overseas. In honour of the occasion, a very special ASA night is planned for Wednesday 11th December at The Night Owl Cafe in Liverpool Street, Hobart. The best part for me is that students of mine, Cassie O’Keefe, Kirsty Leaf and the fabulous Jax will all be performing, along with myself and Mal.

I couldn’t be prouder!

ASA 11th Dec poster

And Now – Back to the Music!

After a little sojourn into urban farming and environmental concerns, today it’s back to the driving force in my life – music!

At the moment, I’m preparing to finish recording my next project, and it’s something completely foreign to me. After years of writing and playing my own songs, I’m recording an EP of other people’s songs. I started recording a couple of months ago and I now have five songs that I’m pretty pleased with as studio roughs. But I’d like to record one more and then start the mixing process.

Bertha & Blondie, ready for action!

Bertha & Blondie, ready for action

The concept is to record songs that have influenced my own songwriting and/or singing and believe me, the hardest thing has been narrowing it down to just six! In conversation with my musical partner-in-crime and studio whiz, Malcolm Battersby, “The Lucky Six” came up as a title. And I love it!

Also, it’s been my first opportunity to record in Mal’s new facility, The Belfry Studio, and what a delight that has been! The space is lovely and the equipment is excellent but I always love recording with Mal for a multitude of other reasons. We play together in The Fringe Dwellers so musically, we know each other very well. Everytime we get together, whether it’s for rehearsals, gigs or just a cuppa, we have a great time – we both have a similar mad sense of humour – but it’s his professionalism that shines through when I’m recording and he’s engineering.

We have a plan and generally, stick to it. He gives me space in the recording studio to get on with what I’m good at and doesn’t get in my way when I need time to consider my next move. He’ll make suggestions but not demands and knows exactly when to call a tea break. And his recording gear and microphones are good!

I anticipate “The Lucky Six” will be available as a digital download early in 2014. I’ll have links through this blog when we get it finished 😀

Some of the neighbours are a bit too cute but the view and the vibe is relaxed and lovely.

The Next Door Neighbour

The Next Door Neighbour

Personally, I think the Daleks in the control room are what really drives it and makes it perfection 😉

Cheers everyone,


Daleks keeping Jax in line in the control room

Daleks keeping an eye on Jax in the control room

Bushfire Benefits

On Sunday night The Fringe Dwellers did a trio show – their first gig since Mal’s enforced stay at Nubeena and the Tasmanian Bushfires. It was held at Brookfield Winery at Margate, just south of Hobart. Two stages, loads of acts and huge hearts all round. At last count these amazing folks raised $4500 for the local St Vincent de Paul Society – brilliant effort!

3/4 of The Fringe Dwellers 20th Jan 2013

3/4 of The Fringe Dwellers 20th Jan 2013

It was an emotional night for us, thanks so much to our dear friends who were there – we love you all! xxx

Next weekend, we go to full band mode down at the Dunalley Hotel for Regrowth: Bushfire Relief Concert for Tasman & Dunalley. This will be bringing it on home for Mal and many of our friends.

Dave Campbell the gig organiser (also a local) is a powerhouse and has managed to get everything from kid’s entertainers through to full bands. He’s also accessed shuttle buses so people don’t drink and drive – awesome work man!

If you’re in southern Tasmania please come down and join us, we really want to thank everyone who’s been so supportive over these difficult days.

Meanwhile, much love and best wishes to you all,



Friendship, Fire & Counting Our Blessings

My father used to say there are some things that happen in life you should never question. Just accept them, run with it and be quietly grateful.

This is a story about one of those times…..


Malcolm Battersby with remains of bush behind his house

Friday 4th January 2013 and I was at home in Hobart. My gorgeous new Seagull guitar arrived (subject for another post I think!) and I immediately rang my musical partner-in-crime and fellow Fringe Dweller, Mal Battersby.

We were gearing up to have a rehearsal down at Mal’s lovely house in Murdunna the next day and we had gigs to prepare for. For overseas readers, this map might make things clearer.

Tasman & Forestier Peninsula

Tasman & Forestier Peninsula

It was a very hot day – record high temperatures (41.8 C/107.2 F) A grass fire started at Forcett, on the way down to Mal’s. Throughout the day we sent texts, both a bit on edge but fairly confident. Early in the afternoon Dunalley bridge closed (the only road access to the peninsula) and I heard stories from friends that Dunalley township was evacuating.

About 3pm things started to get a bit more uncertain and just after 4pm, Mal sent this picture through on his phone….

"Mmm" (Mal's caption)

“Mmm” (Mal’s caption)

Mal had his car packed just in case and told me when he took this, he was having a cup of tea with a neighbour. The wind was pushing the fire front across the ridge (left to right across frame) and they were safe – but then the wind turned……

In the next few minutes all hell broke loose and all I can do here is relate my end of it – Mal’s story is his to tell.

There was another phone call, trying to find out from ABC Radio what the latest update was. It wasn’t good, I remember screaming at him over the mobile to leave and leave now, and him saying the local police had turned up urging everyone to evacuate south to Nubeena, where an evacuation center had been set up.

Another call from down the highway five minutes later that he was on his way, safe and had all his guitars with him. And then once he’d arrived at Nubeena, the text I’d been dreading – “house gone”.

The next 24 hours were simply awful, being stuck in Hobart and feeling so helpless. There were fires to the north of Hobart as well, and the city was covered in an acrid pall of smoke.

Mt Wellington, Hobart from my back door

Mt Wellington, Hobart from my back door

So many people started to contact me, trying to find out what was happening with Malcolm, his instruments, home and recording gear. I was a little overwhelmed by it all – but found a positive way I could help finally! – I started posting Facebook updates on Mal’s situation so that our many friends would know as much as I did.

There was no power down at Nubeena to recharge phones and limited mobile phone reception (I later found out that only one phone tower survived the fires!) so there was no contact from Mal for 10 hours. During this sleepless first night I have to acknowledge the support of WHUM Radio in Indiana US. They chatted to me over Facebook throughout the wee small hours and kept me sane – thank you!

The next few days were a rollercoaster – stories of miraculous escapes and utter devastation across the Tasman Peninsula – but also now at Bicheno on the east coast and the north and north west. With the fire north of Hobart as well it felt like our entire precious island was on fire and I was helpless. I played my guitar, tried to sleep whenever I could, kept my mobile phone permanently on and constantly listened to ABC Local radio for the fire updates – and kept adding to my Facebook page with any tiny bit of news I could glean.

One of the things about a small place like Tasmania is that I don’t think there was anyone who wasn’t impacted – we all had someone (or multiple people) who had been directly affected. I was devastated to find out an old friend and fellow musician Joff, lost all his guitars and amps in the fire up at Bicheno. I also spent time tracking down one friend especially who hadn’t been heard from since the Murdunna evacuation order had been given. I found him eventually thanks to diligent friends and Facebook!

Sunday 6th January 10:40am – a text from Malcolm I never thought I’d get “Great news, my place saved”

Not ashamed to say I wept like a baby – after 2 days of thinking he had nothing but what was in the car this was unbelievably good news. And of course, the outpouring of similar sentiment to my Facebook update was awesome – I think we all collectively cried for joy.

Tuesday 8th January 7:36pm – Then finally the message we’d all been waiting for, “Home and I can’t believe the devastation with my little house standing. Car port copped it and all garden flattened as well as neighbours’ places…… ”

Mal's house - safe!

Mal’s house – safe!

By Thursday I had my car boot crammed with LED lanterns, batteries, a gas tabletop cooker and butane gas bottles, little luxuries like good coffee & tea, top line tinned meals and soups an amazing array of chocolate, biscuits, cheese and crackers, bourbon and multiple car chargers for mobile phones (now distributed around the community). Thanks to Tasmania Police, I was able to drive down with two friends in the first civilian convoy and get to Mal’s.

The big thing for all of us was the random nature of the fire. One side of the road was fine – across the road was carnage. The damage is so indiscriminate.

Looking east from Arthur Hwy near Dunalley

Looking east from Arthur Hwy near Dunalley

As we approached Dunalley, we could see a fire still burning to the east. And on the approach from Dunalley into Murdunna, we drove down into the smoke and the silence. Not a bird to be heard anywhere……

For those of you who haven’t been through this kind of disaster (and I sincerely hope you never do!) it’s hard to describe what it does to you. The trivial things go out the window, the friendships you have are deeper and more meaningful. And “now” becomes critical because in the end it’s all we really have.

So, we won’t question – we will treasure every moment and be quietly grateful

Finally back on the verandah

Finally back on the verandah

Kudos to Tas Police, Tas Fire Service and ABC 936 Hobart. You are all wonderful. Over 20,000 hectares burnt and not a single life lost!

Here are links to media Malcolm’s done since he got back home:

The Australian (my favourite!) The Age, The Mercury & ABC Television

Finally, if you have the money spare please consider a donation to the Red Cross Fire Appeal. So many more people are much worse off than our Malcolm!

Next time something not so dramatic, so stay safe and don’t be afraid to tell people you love them.

Deb xxxxx