Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Gift of a Lifetime

When you're rushing around buying your Christmas gifts this season, spare a thought for those hard-working independent musicians you know.  They're the ones who:
  • you're not likely to hear their music on commercial radio because they have no 'marketing machine' behind them
  • fund their own recordings out of their own pocket, their own blood sweat and tears raise the money to get their recordings done professionally
  • put their heart and soul into their music so that they can make the world a better place, so that they can encourage, inspire, and give pleasure to their listeners
And give a thought to the people you're buying presents for.
  •  Maybe they're tired of the crass commercialism of Christmas.  
  • Maybe they need something more from you than the socks/undies/useless trinkets that come from the desperation of not knowing what to get.  
  • Maybe they need things that money can't buy - like fresh hope, new ideas, encouragement, laughter.
And THEN consider the perfect match .....MUSIC!.   It's the gift that lasts a lifetime:
  • try and forget a song you love!  It's with you forever
  • some songs become part of the fabric of our life - they lift us up, they give us hope, they stir memories of the people and the times in our life
  • you're never lonely if there's a song in your head or your heart
Wishing you a blessed and joyful Christmas .......and Taking Christmas orders now!
contact: to order
see Discography page and deal for multiple purchase

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Recently I had the pleasure of being invited to a friends House Concert and it reinforced the knowledge that this region has such an enormous wealth of unrecognised talent.   The quartet  - Bushfire - under the leadership of professional musician Kent Daniels produced an outstanding evening of entertainment to a houseful of friends and family. 
The music was some of the finest I've heard for a long time.  Contemporary Australiana mixed with some traditional airs, irish reels and jigs, original comedy and indies, and beautiful original ballads; delivered in a polished performance from experienced musicians and a trail of varied instruments that would make your head spin, and wrapped in an endless store of yarns and anecdotes.
People bought their own drinks, the hosts provided a yummy supper, the atmosphere was warm and friendly, and while the music played you could have heard a pin drop.  A nominal door charge paid the musicians fee for the evening.
For music lovers, a House Concert is the ultimate listening environment.  It demonstrates a mutual respect for musicians and audience that you just don't get in a commercial, licensed venue.  There's no ugly attention-seeking drunks vying for the limelight. You get to choose the audience you're surrounded by.  And you get the opportunity for personal interaction with the performers - to hear the stories behind the music.
There is significant growth in the rise of House Concerts - Australia has lagged behind Europe and the States of course - and whilst they've always been around in the Folk world, it's great to see other genre's getting on the bandwagon too.
WIN IN NOVEMBER:   *follow the blog  *become a member  or *join the mailing list  and you'll go in the draw to win a copy of the new album "UNDERCOVERED" ....drawn end of November.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Inspired, Creative, and Blessed

This stunningly beautiful weather as we move into Spring is certainly inspiring! And there's lots to get inspired about right now too. 
   I'm working on writing this year's Christmas show - check out the Projects page - getting the scripts finalised, the music sorted, and creating the set (some challenges there!)
   I've also agreed to become the new director for Novocastrian Players - a local theatre troupe with a 40+year history.  It means I'm writing a new show for them and doing the prep for its production in mid 2013. I'm looking forward to working with such an experienced troupe.
   With 2 shows to write, I've been heading off to the beach for inspiration - and this glorious weather is helping the process.
   At the same time, I'm working with a new backing singer - Kathy Clarke - who has a stunning voice although next to no performance experience.  But it's joyful to be able to share the skills and knowledge with her and watch her develop her skill set.  It's been some 12 years since I've had a singing partner (it took me a loooong time to get over the loss of Jules!...hint hint Jules - are you ready to get back into harness yet?)
   And on top of that, I loved working with Anousha Victoire on the Petticoat Pioneers project....she obviously enjoyed the work too because she's asked me to form a new duo with her.  We're also working on another project similar to Petticoat's.  So I'm excited to see what 2013 will bring.

Being immersed in the creative world of music is truly a blessing. I look around me at a world gone mad; where greed is the new god; where suicide is rising because people can't cope with life; where humanity and community are foreign words to those who hold power; and I know that the Grace of Creativity is where I find my centre. I'm thankful every day for the blessing of family, music, and creative inspirational friends.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Catching the Fever

Music is not an Olympic sport....thank goodness!  Yet some people turn it into a competition, falling into the trap of "compare, compete".

This week, I've watched young men and women telling themselves that they are failures because they didn't win "gold" at the Olympic Games.  Yet they've already proved they are 'winners' [whatever that means] by simply being good enough to be selected to participate in a world games.

How often do I see musicians telling themselves that they are 'hopeless' because they don't play or sing as well as another musician?!  How often do I hear musicians expressing destructive envy because someone else got the gig and they didn't?! (it goes something like this ...."oh listen to THAT, I could run rings around him/her, how come THEY're getting payed to play here, I should be playing not them, he/she is crap, I'm better than that). 

Perhaps its simply a human trait to measure ourselves against others....then again, maybe it's something we learn from a competitive society.  Either way, when it comes to music comparison with others is demeaning to ourself as well as diminishing them.  Engaging in competition with other musicians is purely useless - what does it prove?  Compare and Compete is fruitless exercise, it's highly negative, and it doesn't uplift either party. 

And isn't that what music is supposed to do?.......uplift us all?

Celebrate the uniqueness in each one of us I say! Admire the skill of other musicians, aspire to do better if you must, but recognise that you don't have to sound the same as anyone else. Enjoy and appreciate the skill that you have.  Because those who have the ability to play an instrument or to sing are blessed with a gift. Such a gift is compounded when it is shared with others.  The more you give it away, the more rewarded you feel.
So don't catch the disease of compare/compete.....but catch the fever of uplifting each other through music.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Music in the Community

I had the pleasure this week of addressing a local Rotary Club where I shared  some of my songs, along with some insight into the life of a working musician.

Just as there's a marked difference to working in a major corporation vs working in a small to micro-small business, so it is with Music and the Arts.   Some musicians are in there for fame, fortune, recognition ....and few of those will achieve their big dreams in a world where commercial interests take priority over the artform.  But - and leaving aside the hobbyist players - there is a substantial number of musicians, working at community level, with a whole different set of priorities.

Community musicians have a passion to engage with their community, to make a contribution to the betterment of their community, and to foster a passion for their art within the community.  Some of them do this by actively working with  individuals and groups - teaching, sharing, encouraging others to get involved in music.  {A great example locally is Mark Jackson who instigated the Newcastle Ukestra which now numbers hundreds of individual members.  Many of those had never known the joy of making music.  The movement has community members helping other community members in small groups and encouraging friendship and connection amongst people of all ages}.

Others make a difference in the daily life of individuals by busking - uplifting someone with a smile makes a difference. A thread of music from another human being may just distract and uplift someone carrying a particularly  heavy burden at that moment.  Whilst others take the stories of individuals in the community and write them in songs, creating a melodic record of the day to day life in our community, our society.

It's an important role that these artists fill in the world around us.  Yet they are - for the most part - terribly undervalued,  underrated and unrecognised for the contribution they make.

Mega concerts and huge arts events may be a commercial drawcard which benefits Councils and governments through tourism dollars.  But it is the smaller, intimate, community-focused, Arts & Music-based functions and events which enriches the individuals who live in the community and which builds a community spirit.  And it's community musicians and artists that make those things come alive.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New Flavours add new zest to life

I’d like to tell you a story about a musical friend…who’s been to literally scores of music festivals over many many years and in all that time, and all of those festivals, she has avoided the traditional Sunday morning Gospel service like the plague.  As if she might catch something contagious simply by association. Quite funny really. 

Even more so was the look on her face the day at one festival when she arrived for the next concert in the program and caught the last 10 minutes of gospel because that concert was running overtime.  “I never knew it was like THIS …all those beautiful harmonies…I can’t believe it!” And of course the traditional Sunday gospel service is ALL about the music – there’s no ‘service’ really, it’s always old-timey gospel songs which are harmony based. She didn’t realise what she was missing all those years because her mind was simply closed due to her pre-conceived notions.

Now this story got me to thinking about how resistant some people are to any music beyond what they've always listened to.  Very common as people get older – but also somewhat common in young people with limited experience and exposure.  And why is this so?  Why are some people so resistant to anything new, different? 
  •    Is it because ‘we’ve acquired so much knowledge that we can’t fit any more in’ ? 
  •  tastes so set in cement that ‘we can’t try any new flavours’? 
  •   views and beliefs so dogmatic that ‘we can’t open our minds to new thoughts and ideas’? 
  •   convinced that ‘our way is the only way and nothing else counts’?
…or is it simply ‘fear of change’ that keeps some people locked in a prison of familiarity?

Challenging our attitudes, beliefs, tastes on an ongoing basis is what stops the rust from setting in.  Just like our wardrobes get clogged with junk if we don’t have a periodic clean out, so too does our thinking need a shake up now and then. 
Since I started writing music, I’ve tended to blur boundaries and challenge the pigeonholes of genre.  Young artists today are doing exactly that as a matter of course. So if you’re only listening to the music that fits into the tired old boxes, you’re missing out on a whole lot of wonderful new flavours, new tastes, and a whole lot of new views, thinking, ideas.
Think about it ....explore some of the contemporary music that's being created today.....explore a music genre that you've previously dismissed...who knows, it might give you a whole new perspective on life itself.  Music tends to do that!

Friday, May 18, 2012

New Arrival Duly Christened

Made it!  After 12 months and 1 week, album No. 6 -  UnderCovered - is finally uncovered, christened, and welcomed into the family.  And typically, being the youngest of the brood,  there was no big flashy 'do' for this baby.  Rather, it was celebrated by a private gathering of close rellies and friends who  duly and appropriately 'wet the baby's head'.

A fitting welcome for this album because it has an authenticity about it - almost, a sense of homecoming, being back where the music belongs.  As I shared the journey with our guests at last night's function, UnderCovered is like listening to the songs in an intimate acoustic setting with some great muso's jamming along.  Here's roughly how the trail has wound its way 'home':

Album No. 1 ~ Breaking the Habit ~ an 'achievement' album with my Acappella group "Glass Slipper"
Album No. 2 ~ Many Shades of Blue ~ my first solo 'creation' exploring my taste for Blues
Album No. 3 ~ Luminous ~ my 'Art' album {every artist must do at least one!} exploring the flavours of orchestral sounds in my songs...big sounds...big ambitions....big dollars!
Album No. 4 ~ Borderless  ~ a 'project' album and discovering Robbie Long's studio - this album was where I learned that you could achieve a perfectly respectable recording without breaking the bank
Album No. 5 ~ Ebb & Flow ~ ...a 'breaking new ground' sound heavily influenced by the music of the 3 wonderful young musicians from Brisbane - a young, edgy sound.  {it was also the rebound album - 'get stuft, I can do this myself and I don't need you!  yeh, friends and live gig audiences will know the story}
Album No. 6 ~ UnderCovered~ this is the one where I'm totally comfortable in my skin of songwriter - no other influences, no other styles/sounds to explore, just letting the songs tell the stories and stand tall in their own right. 

So the songs and the sounds are back 'home', to my roots.  The songs have nothing to prove.  They -and I - are quietly confident and at peace.  This is a good place, and a good space to be.  This is an album you will want in your collection.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Uncovering "UnderCovered"

It's been a long hard slog but FINALLY the new album has gone to the Cut wizard - it's in the pipeline and with any luck should be completed and available late April.

This one will be a collectors item!  I'm having only a very small run cut and it will be a case of 'first in gets a copy'  ....once the run is sold, that'll be it.   I'm not planning a launch event for this one and you'll need to be on my mailing list to get notified when UnderCovered is available.

So to tantalise your musical taste buds, here is a wordy preview:

  • Title  UnderCovered ..... because my music IS under-covered, it's one of those hidden gems that when unexpectedly found is likely to surprise and delight you, and the title is a wordplay on one of the tracks "Cover Your Load"
  • Recording:  the album has been fully recorded, edited, mastered at the studio of Rob Long here in Newcastle where the exceptional studio skills of Rob are another of those 'hidden gems'.   Rob has also done a lot of the instrumentation on the album including: Bass, Drums, Dobro, and a little of the guitar work.  Russ Redford played harmonica and did some backing vocals.  Di Lenham played clarinet on track No. 4 "Carrying Burdens"  for me.  Katriona Hamilton sang lead vocals on the track "Wanna Be".  I am most grateful and very blessed to have such generous musicians contributing to the project.
  • Tracks:  there is a  track listing on the January blog post ...Tracks 5, 7, and 11 were 3 songs written especially for the show "Between the Lines"  which was performed here in 2010.  Gemma's Song was written for the character - a 16 year old troubled teen.  It needed a young voice - and a new title - which is how come Kate was invited and accepted to sing on the album - she is an emerging young artist in her own right.  
  • Behind a few of the songs: The track "Wise Woman" was written specifically for this project in celebration of all the amazing women in my life - recognising that each one of us is uniquely different and must travel her own path. The track "Carrying Burdens" was written a few years ago for a dear male friend of mine who shall remain nameless - I endeavored to have that track included on the "Luminous" album but it didn't make the did for this album.  "Grey Day in Melbourne" is not a poke at Melbourne itself!  I LOVE visiting Melbourne.  This song was inspired by the city because even at it's greyest - it has a rare beauty.  The grey reference reflects the nature of cities around the globe - how each wears its public face yet is comprised of individuals ...all different yet interconnected through the Divinity of Humanity but divided by the contradictions of humanity.
Typically - like all of my albums - it's going to be hard to place this one into just one specific genre/category.  There's a mixture of ballads, blues, pop, a distinct contemporary folk track, and a short bite of Mozart - go figure! Guess my albums are just like me - multi-faceted, hard to define, impossible to pigeonhole.

Don't miss out on your copy of UnderCovered  - it's quite a journey.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Articulation - who cares?

In a recent coaching class, someone [no names now] made the comment that for a singer, articulation can't be that important because nobody listens to the lyrics anymore!  I was too dumbfounded to make a comment at the time.

If this were really the case, we'd all be tuning to the classical music station...we'd all be listening to opera ....and nobody would be singing along in the car! [er, unless you sing opera that is]

Music is integral to the human spirit.  It uplifts us.  It soothes us.  It motivates us. It inspires us. Many of our memories are linked to music.  We use it to mark the important milestones in our life ....birthdays, weddings, celebrations of all types.  We treasure it as a solo experience and we share it with other human beings.  When the music has lyrics, it is called a song!

Songs are the fabric of, and the witness to, our lives.  Lyrics can become a mantra for many people [dare I stick my neck out and say 'most people'?].  Here are a few of my own examples:
  • upon achievement - the lyrics of Queen's "we are the champions of the world"  
  • successfully tackling a challenging task - Annie Lennox singing "sisters, are doing it for themselves"
  • currently, when I'm struggling with something, the lyrics of a Whitney Houston song - "step by step, bit by bit, stone by stone, brick by brick"
As a songwriter, the challenge is always in finding a way to get the message across in fewer words. For me, some songs are just for fun - so if the listener can't hear the lyrics, they'll miss the joke (or worse, the punchline).  Most of my songs, though, have a message - and often multiple messages.  I often structure my lyrics to be interpreted in different ways - in order that individual listeners will find meaning to fit their need.

When audience members come up to me after a gig and tell me that "that song really touched me because ..."  or "you played a song last year that changed my life ..." then proceed to share their own story,  well, for a songwriter it lifts me to a new high and I know I've done my job well.

So I'm putting out a new challenge on Facebook each day this week .....share the lyrics that make a difference in YOUR life.  I'd love to hear from YOU leave a comment below or jump on to Facebook and join the challenge.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Cruisin' into the new year

Well, a new year...a fresh start....wondering what 2012 is going to bring to me and where it's going to take me musically.  With some major projects now off my agenda I'm praying for patience to let new things unfold [not an easy task for me] so it's a relatively laid back start to the new year for me.
I've locked in some dates at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Newcastle {I LOVE that space!} for 3 shows/5 performances between March and July.  Check the "Projects" page of this blog to see what's coming up{well, in a few days - I haven't got to that page yet!}.  And of course, I'm expecting to release the new album UnderCovered in the next couple of months - I know, I know, I promised to have the artwork at least to show you this month...but believe it or not, I'm still waiting for my buddy to finalise the design into the template!! 

So in the absence of a piccie - can I tantalise you with the track titles?
  1. Day is Done
  2. Granny Hell RETITLED "PLAY"
  3. Wise Woman
  4. Carrying Burdens
  5. Fancy That
  6. Grey Day in Melbourne
  7. Gemma's Song Retitled "WANNA BE"
  8. All Dressed UP
  9. That's How it Goes
  10. Cover your Load
  11. Sheri's Song Retitled "ENIGMA"
  12. Dona Nobis Pacem
 More about the tracks in upcoming blogs.
In the meantime ....what do you think of the new design?  Any feedback is welcome.

Have a great 2012 yourself - more music to you