Monday, 28 January 2019

2019 Tamworth Country Music festival

Toyota Park Stage (Bicentennial Park)

Slim Dusty, me & Joy McKean
As first timers at the Tamworth Country Music Festival it's difficult to get your head around Australia's biggest music festival. At most festivals we have attended, you purchase a festival ticket and then you are free to roam between the venues. Most performances, regardless of the venue, are about forty minutes long and therefore your festival planning is quite simple. At Tamworth there is no festival ticket. Instead there are some fifty venues. Some are free, some you have to pay to see an artist, and some venues are free for some gigs and you have to pay for others. The cost of a gig ranges from a gold coin donation to $50. Artists may be on stage from anywhere between ten minutes and three hours; at Tamworth your festival planning is much more difficult.

8 Ball Aitken

I called Steve and I drifters at this year’s festival. We drifted from one venue to another and discovered some great music along the way. Of course some acts were too loud, some played for too long and others didn't play for long enough. We particularly enjoyed swamp blues guy, 8 Ball Aitken. 8 Ball has great songs and his between song patter is some of the best I have ever heard; it seemed to me that 8 Ball Aitken is on his way to the big time.

Dana Hassall, Hayley Marsten & Roger Corbett
Writers In The Round was on most mornings at the Tamworth Services Club. This was a very enjoyable session where three songwriters sang their original songs and spoke of their inspiration. The songs the teenagers and young adults were writing certainly gave an insight into the personal struggles of this generation.

Me at the Atrium Festival Stage

Timing is everything and I happened to be in conversation with Bob Kirchner, station manager at Capital Country Radio, when String Loaded cancelled their Sunday gig on the Atrium Festival Stage and I scored the gig. After eight weeks travelling on my motorcycle without my guitar, I had a bit of work to do to prepare a few tunes, but all’s well that ends well, and I get to say I sang at Tamworth.

John was promoting his 52nd album, Butcherbird

By day six of the festival we bought tickets to see John Williamson in the Tamworth Town Hall, principally to get away from the number of break-up songs we were listening to. John pleased the audience by playing his old favourites including True Blue. At the end of the two hour gig, John asked the audience to stand and sing Waltzing Matilda; this was a memorable festival moment.

Toni & The Rhythm Cats 

Busking in the street is a big part of the festival but surely buskers should be restricted on the power of their amplification. The allocated busking locations were so close together, and some had the capability to be so loud, at times we had to move on for fear that our brains could not process the combined mashed sound.

Just about to start the cavalcade

On Australia Day, Steve and I were very grateful for the opportunity to join the Tamworth Ulysses Branch in the cavalcade. Riding through the streets of Tamworth in 40 degrees, at walking pace, was a challenge on a heavy bike, but well worth it for the memory bank.

The festival was excellent but it was a tough ten days living in a tent, with very little shade. The relentless extreme heat by day, and sleeping under a wet T shirt by night, nearly sent me troppo and I noticed myself sighing a lot and “for f… sake” was never far from my breath.

It was with a smile that at 7am on the 27th January, with the sun just lifting above the horizon and with the thermometer already reading a warm 29 degrees Celsius, we shot through. It felt good to leave behind the festival of awards and allegedly charting songs. We stayed for the whole ten days because after all, we were in the home town of Australian Country Music and we weren't sure we would ever pass this way again.

Toyota Fan Zone

Sunday, 12 August 2018

The Ghost of Wild Oats XI - Music Video

The 2017 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race saw Wild Oats XI stripped of her record breaking line honours victory because of an infringement, with LDV Comanche, shortly after race start. To me it seemed important for folks to know how the yacht, Wild Oats XI, felt about the race result. The ghost will hang around until the race record is broken again; I wonder how many years that will be?

The Ghost of Wild Oats XI

From Sydney to Hobart Town
There's a race that's going down.
It should be mine to keep
Can't sleep.

Every race we ride,
the wind, the waves and the tide.
In hope that we might find
The fastest ride of all time.

We couldn't have known,
If the rules are broken.
We were first across the line
Not enough time.

The jury decide.
They haven't conspired.
If we'd crossed the line, in time
All mine.

From Sydney to Hobart Town
There's a race that's going down.
It should be mine to keep
Can't sleep.
I must make my peace.
This war will never cease.
The only trouble is, this ghost could live for one hundred years.

ã Copyright Jane Laws 2018
Unauthorised copying, public performance, broadcasting, hiring or rental of this song prohibited. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Songs in the Key of Sea

I am very pleased to announce the release of Songs in the Key of Sea, a collection of the maritime songs I have written through the years.

I have been sailing all my life and this most enjoyable pastime has given me a deep love of all kinds of boats, old and new, of maritime adventurers, and the sea.

I wrote my first maritime song in 1996. David Dicks' adventure to become the youngest person to sail alone around the world aboard his Sparkman and Stephens 34' sloop (S&S34), Seaflight, was my inspiration. Para Olympic sailing gold medalist, Jamie Dunross' adventures in a sister ship to Seaflight, Spirit of Rockingham, were the story behind Wings to Fly. At the time, my husband and I also owned an S&S34, Roma II. There is no doubt that my love of S&S34s were part of the reason I was inspired to write these two songs.

I love to read nonfiction stories about the sea and maritime adventurers. Koolama (a Western Australian state ship, sunk by the Japanese during World War II), Adventuring with Shackleton (Antarctic explorer), and Sailing to the Moon (about Rolly Tasker ~ sail maker, boat builder and adventurer) were all inspired after a thought provoking good read.

The Sydney to Hobart yacht race is big in the minds of those of us who sail in Australia. The record breaking 2017 race saw Wild Oats XI stripped of her line honours victory because of an infringement just after the race had started. The Ghost of Wild Oats XI is written from the point of view of the boat, and how she will be haunted by the 2017 race result until the race record is broken again.

The romantic songs on the album are The Spell of Acrospire IV, written for the beautifully restored 1929 Acrospire IV, and Sandy Bay Shore. Sandy Bay Shore is a whaler's tale, set in Old Hobart Town in the mid 19th century. A true historical novel in a four minute song. Based on The Maid of Erin, a whaling ship that was wrecked in Port Davey, the tale encompasses a whaler, his love affair with a prostitute and his final demise.

For variety and inspiration it was a pleasure to work with my new Korg Havian 30 Digital Ensemble Piano on the arrangements for Sandy Bay Shore, The Ghost of Wild Oats XI and Sailing to the Moon.

I hope you enjoy listening to Songs in the Key of Sea as much as I have enjoyed writing these songs.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Does It Rhyme? Music Video

I knew as soon as “Does It Rhyme?” became the title track for my new album that I would make a music video for this song.

Does It Rhyme? began life while I was idly doodling with my guitar and I started to sing “Does it snow in Tokyo? Does it rhyme on Disney time?” For the love of rhyming, these two phrases seemed like so much fun to me, and over the next few weeks I continued to enjoy playing with the lyrics. I watched the song grow into a collection of my life questions, some nonsense, some full of love and hope for this wonderful world we live in, and some full of fear of where we are going and what might happen next.

I discussed at length with my friend and award winning film maker, Howard Moses, the story I wished to tell with this music video. Over many a beer we bounced around ideas on the footage and images that would tell the tale. Then began the long task of searching for stock footage and photographs to satisfy the songs list of whimsical and thought provoking life questions.

I used my home studio to shoot six versions of me singing the song ~ some with my guitar, some with "the hat" and some up close and personal. I used Windows Movie Maker to create the video and I found this app easy and intuitive to work with.

Thanks a million to Howard for mentoring me during the creation of my Does It Rhyme? music video. Howard’s creative suggestions regarding the content for this song, and for his tips and techniques on film making, have been invaluable.

I would love to know what you think of “Does It Rhyme?”

Does it Rhyme?

Does it snow in Tokyo?
Does it rhyme on Disney time?
Does it rain when you fall in love on the desert train?

Do you hope for inner peace?
Do you pray all wars will cease?
Do you hide from the struggles of a starving child?

Do they queue in Timbuktu?
Do you glow when you start to show?
Do you smile when your spirit comes alive?

Do you feel the world might end?
Do you try our love defend?
Do you cry when you hear a child’s lullaby?

Is it time to close your eyes?
Is it mine to fantasise?
Can you feel the difference between make believe and real?

Does it snow in Tokyo?
Does it rhyme on Disney time?
Does it? Do you? Can you? Is it? Does it rhyme?
Does it? Do you? Can you? Is it? Does it rhyme?
Does it? Do you? Can you? Is it? Does it rhyme?

Copyright   Jane Laws 2017
Unauthorised copying, public performance, broadcasting, hiring or rental of this song prohibited.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Fairbridge Festival 2017

Three and a half days of full on music and song means you need to pace yourself if you want to still be rockin' come Monday night. No panic to see all your favourite musos on the first day, it's a festival where you can just kick back, relax, and let the music wash over you.

Just some of the many market stalls

My top four Fairbridge Festival favourites were:

Jarlath Henderson
Jack Harris, contemporary singer/songwriter from the UK, took my attention early in the festival and I was lucky to attend Jack's song writing workshop on Sunday night. On guitar tunings, Jack said "I use DADGAD a lot." My guitar now sits patiently in this tuning, waiting for me to learn how to use the wonderful colour and texture of this sound in my next song.

Jarlath Henderson (UK) took my breath away. I could honestly say that I have never seen anyone deliver a folk song with more stage presence and meaning; truly memorable.

Bluegrass band, Flats and Sharps, rocked up some bluegrass tunes beyond what I ever thought possible. Although bluegrass isn't high on my list of favourite genres, Flats and Sharps could be just what's needed to convert folks to the bluegrass twang.

Miss Eileen & King Lear

I completely fell in love with Australian duo, Miss Eileen & King Lear. Although they were noted in the program as "contemporary folk," their sound was "country" to me. I couldn't get enough of their harmonies, like only a brother and sister can; these guys are going a long way.

One of the food areas

I noticed on the last day, while I was relaxing in The Manja venue, enjoying a few tunes from Harry Hookey, I said to myself "I'm safe here." This is how it feels at Fairbridge Festival. It is as if, for a moment in time, you have transcended into a world of music and art, where all generations co-exist, in harmony, and it is a pleasure and a privilege to attend this festival.

Lots of camping

Monday, 31 October 2016

2016 Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues

Rock solid ensemble
Festival organisers can be forgiven for opening the festival with a Blues Brothers tribute band as this bunch of musos are locals. After an hour we left the Hume Bank Blues Stage in search of something a little more sophisticated to please our ears. Steve and I are not jazz aficionados, we like our music light and easy. The Ronan Guilfoyle Trio were too fundamental for our ears so we sneaked out between numbers and took up residence in the Pinsent Hotel where Monique diMattina was on stage playing some accomplished piano and entertaining the crowd with her witty lyrics. We stood at the back until our legs were ready to sit down again and then we headed to the beautiful theatre at the performing arts centre (WPAC) to catch Melissa Aldana.  By now it was 10pm and I closed my eyes  and rested while Melissa played four tunes. When the one hour set was over Steve proclaimed  “tomorrow we need to find some acts with vocalists.”
Lovely room at Tony & Sue's B&B

We retired to our B&B and were sound asleep by midnight. Unfortunately we’d had to leave our tent strapped to the bike for the festival as our pre-booked camp site at Painters Island Caravan Park was cancelled due to flooding of the Ovens River.

Hetty Kate
We started our Saturday at the festival with the enchanting Clancye Milne in the WPAC hall followed by the wonderful Hetty Kate in the St Pats Hall. As we walked away from the venue we both agreed “this is more like it.” Early in the evening, Kimba Griffith’s powerful performance of The Songs That Saved Your Life made an impact on us, original, organic, and outside the box. We were back in the blues venue for the energetic JJ Thames and we were assured that the future of blues is in good hands.

Kimba Griffith
No doubt this year’s floods have presented some unexpected challenges for festival organisers. It seemed like there were two festivals going on; Blues at the outdoor Blues Stage, jazz in the concert venues and never the two shall meet. It would have been nice to see some acoustic blues in the concert venues and some easy listening jazz at the outdoor venue to create a more together atmosphere.

Fiona Boyes
Hetty Kate lured us back to The Pinsent Hotel on Sunday for a bottle of local wine and a light lunch as she was playing a three hour session. We were pleased we had caught Hetty in a concert venue the day before as the sound system in the hotel didn’t do her sweet voice any justice at all. It was great to catch Fiona Boyes late on Sunday afternoon at the Blues stage. Wow that babe has surely grown into an international artist that Australians can be proud of. We saved the best until last and ended our festival with a set from James Morrison in the WPAC theatre; and no one makes it look easier than James.

The man himself, James Morrison
2016 was our first visit to the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues, and thanks to the festival organisers and the army of volunteers for making it happen.  Fifteen minute tunes, with each band member taking their turn at a solo, seemed the norm amongst the jazz bands and it would be nice to see some festival artists presenting in a more popular format.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Six Hundred Outback Miles

While travelling on my motorcycle (The Red Devil, a BMW F650GS twin) I often get ideas for new songs.

The inspiration for “Six Hundred Outback Miles” came to me when riding between Barkley Station and Daly Waters in the Northern Territory, Australia. By the time I arrived at the camp site, the tune and the first verse were set in stone. Over the next few weeks I had the pleasure of musing with the lyrics while I enjoyed riding the roads of the Northern Territory and listening and learning about Aboriginal Culture and Country.

I have just finished recording this song, which is on my latest album, “Does it Rhyme?”.

The Photographs:
Charles Knife Canyon, Pilbara, Western Australia
Lake Argyle, Kimberley, Western Australia
Cape Range National Park, Western Australia
Great Northern Highway, Pilbara, Western Australia
Great Western Tiers, Tasmania
A Jump-Up, Channel Country, Western Queensland
Overlander Roadhouse, Western Australia
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), Northern Territory
Daly Waters, Northern Territory
Pemberton, South West Western Australia
Aboriginal Art, Wyndham, Western Australia
Mt Roland, Tasmania
Playing Music Sticks @ the Katherine Markets, Northern Territory
Campsite Porongurup National Park, South West Western Australia
Porongurup National Park, South West Western Australia
Gig @ Kalangadoo Crafts, Narrikup, South West Western Australia
Uluru (Ayers Rock), Northern Territory
Aboriginal Rock Art, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
Kimberley, Western Australia
Kings Canyon, Northern Territory
Kings Canyon, Northern Territory
Mabel Downs, Kimberley, Western Australia
Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
Litchfield, Northern Territory
Kimberley, Western Australia
Porongurup National Park, South West Western Australia