Introducing Callum!

Hi everyone,

I’ve got some fabulous news! I’m proud to announce that one of my students is going to make his debut performance with me at Meraki Management‘s UNLOCKED gig Thursday 25th August at The Waratah Hotel in Hobart.

Callum is a really great guy who is working towards a Duke of Edinburgh award through OAK Tasmania. For those who aren’t familiar, the DofE is open to young people under 25 and comprises four areas the participant has to complete – service, physical recreation, skills and an adventurous journey. We identified that learning to play the guitar is a skill and performing in front of an audience in a public place would certainly be an adventurous journey. It takes a lot to get up in front of a group of strangers for the first time but this man loves music and is determined to do well. And it’s that level of passion and commitment that makes it all worthwhile from my perspective as a teacher.

Both Callum and I are indebted to the wonderful Amy Fogarty from Meraki Management who has been so supportive, everyone at OAK but especially Teena who has guided both of us through the process.

It’s been a lot of really hard work but Callum is a great student and a natural performer. I’m really looking forward to it 🙂 If you’re in Hobart Thursday 25th please come down and support us. We’re on at 7pm ❤

Rock star in the making!

Rock star in the making!

PS: The Superstars have been making a video! More about that next post 🙂


Celebrating – Achievement Unlocked!

Hi everyone,

I know I’ve been a bit lax posting lately but I’ve been busy with all manner of things. Despite it being winter, a time when a lot of folks think there’s nothing to do, I’ve been flat out!

I’ve planted dwarf apple trees in wicking barrels, made sauerkraut, started shooting a music video with The Superstars, preparing for a debut gig this month with my student Callum, also from OAK Tasmania – all of which I’ll write about in the coming weeks.

But last month I reached a milestone – I’m officially halfway through my online Bachelor of Communications with Griffith University and Open Universities Australia. I won’t pretend – it hasn’t been easy! And there have been times when I’ve thought (however briefly) about giving up.

So to celebrate my achievement, tenacity and sheer bloody-minded stubbornness I bought myself a little present. Below is a fresh Tasmanian black truffle that arrived Friday via courier from Perigord Truffles. There were two in the pack, which are now nestled in tissue paper in a glass jar in my refrigerator. While I’m working out what to cook with them, they require daily airing which makes the whole house smell utterly divine…….


With the chickens laying again, I’m definitely having scrambled eggs with shaved truffle in the coming days and I’m planning to make ravioli with some herbs and vegetables from the garden too. Don’t worry, I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

Meanwhile, I have to get back to researching another assignment. Take care one and all, and don’t forget to be nice to yourselves occasionally as well as others ❤

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.


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 ❤

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 ❤


The Green Album – Where All Things are ‘Pozible’

Hi everyone,

It’s been way too long since I posted anything, but life habitually gets in the way of blogging!

Meanwhile, a quick post to hopefully make you all think about supporting something really worthwhile…….

A musician friend and fellow singing teacher, Rachel Taylor has put up a Pozible crowd funing campaign for her project, The Green Album 

The incredibly talented Rachel Taylor

The incredibly talented Rachel Taylor

In itself, this is a pretty big deal, as Rachel is a performer and writer I’ve known and admired for many years and this is her first solo recording. But I think the really big deal here is that she wants to make a sustainable album. I’ve known Rachel since she was a young girl, I actually met her through her parents. Her father Alan is also a fabulous musician and gifted poet – in fact her whole family are pretty wonderful!

Rachel performing with her father Alan

Rachel performing with her father Alan

Wherever you are on the planet have a look at her proposal and if you like the idea as much as I do, please get behind it. There’s a Facebook event page ‘Make “The Green” Album Pozible‘ with news and updates.  Also, I highly recommend having a listen to her previous work on SoundCloud. She is a very talented performer worthy of notice – Tasmania has so many – and I’m so pleased she’s doing this!

Meanwhile, take care and I’ll be back soon!!


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