Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My coming three weeks in Victoria 17 Nov - 4 Dec

I'm gearing up to spend 3 weeks in Victoria from November 17 on where I'll not only be running vocal workshops in Ballarat, Melbourne and Queenscliff, but also enjoying a few other events: joining with the great Ballarat choir Sweet Monas for their 10th Anniversary, singing some solos with the massive MSG at the Spiegeltent, and running two arranging workshops - contact details below:

November 20th Evening Workshop, Mornington, 7 - 10pm.
(Mon evg) Contact: Sue Kirkpatrick. ph. 03 8707 0031

November 23 Vocal arranging workshop, Melbourne, 7-10 pm
(Thurs) Contact: Nerida: nerida_kirov@bigblue.net.au

November 25-27 Weekend Workshop Melbourne
Contact: Babette: babetteo@telstra.com

November 29 Vocal arranging workshop, Melbourne, 7-10 pm
(Wed) Contact: Nerida: nerida_kirov@bigblue.net.au

December 1-3 Weekend Workshop Queenscliff, Vic.
Contact: Virginia: 03 5258 5444

December 3 Guest soloist with Melbourne Singers of Gospel,
7 pm Spiegeltent, Melbourne

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cafe of the Gate of Salvation appearances in November

Tuesday November 8, about 9 am -
you can see the choir do a couple of songs on MORNINGS with KERRI-ANNE, Channel 9

Sunday November 12, 4 pm -
the Café of the Gate of Salvation runs its own concert for the family at the High Tide Room, Bondi Pavilion, Bondi - our final big gig for the year.

Saturday November 25, 12 pm -
Sydney Festival for Peace, Pioneer Park, Norton st Leichhardt, Sydney
promoting peace and anti-racism and helping raise money for victims of war in the Middle-East.

Sunday November 26, 3 pm -
St Phillips Anglican Church, York St, Sydney CBD with Timbre Flaws, Honeybees, Sorelle (Benefit for Capetown School Feeding Schemes)

what I'm listening to -

Prison Songs - Historical performances from Parchman Farm 1847-48. Volume 1: Murderous Home. (The Alan Lomax Collection Rounder CD 1714).
Mandatory. Good liner notes, wonderful voices and haunting performances. Recorded in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman Farm in 1947, these are highly rhythmic worksongs sung in loose unisons and improvised harmonies, songs to synchronise the work and to just get through the day.
“It is a sobering thought, but I know of no other class of song, anywhere on earth, that was recorded at the point of a gun. Society needs to control it's errant members, but does it have to use such barbaric means? How many skifflers happily sang Leadbelly's song about Black Betty without realising that it was a four foot long one inch wide leather strap, used to flog the rebelliousness out of prisoners?” (Fred McCormick: http://www.mustrad.org.uk/reviews/prison.htm)

The Lord Will Make A Way - The Sensational Nightingales/ The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi - The Early Recordings 1947-1951 (P-Vine PCD-5837).
Two of gospel’s most electrifying quartets are represented here, culled from 78s of varying quality, mostly pretty good. (Some distortion from the screams.) Screams? If you haven't heard the Blind Boys with Archie Brownlee, do yourself a favour - what a singer, an awe-inspiring mix of white-hot intensity (When God Dips His Pen of Love) and delicacy (Lord, I've Tried). Excellent screams. Rev. Percell Perkins who shares the leads has a more unusual voice, but also delivers with great intensity. A repertoire typical of the era: every quartet had a crack at Safety Zone, John Saw The Holy Number, Working on the Building, Dig A Little Deeper and so on.
(In other words, all the songs the Heavenly Lights love.)
The Sensational Nightingales’ earliest four sides feature the late Paul Owens, a singer I've always enjoyed, a mellifluous tenor who can still whip it out. Check out Guide My Mind, long a favourite song of mine. (Owens later sang with the Swan Silvertones and the Dixie Hummingbirds, and also appeared on one of Aretha's first secular recordings, duetting with the Queen of Soul on Love Is The Only Thing - they were an item at the time.) While Owens brought a lighter jazzy style to quartet, the Nightingales’ were to become better known as a hard gospel quartet with their more famous lead Rev. Julius Cheeks, a rasping and squalling baritone who joined the quartet in the early ’50s. He sings lead on only two songs here: There’s A Vacant Room in Heaven and Live So God Can Use You.

and let's not forget my favourite on-line RADIO PROGRAM:

Give The Drummer Some (http://wfmu.org/Playlists/Doug/), : old gospel, early klezmer, Mingus, Hawaiian music, funk, Brazilian psychedelia, gutbucket soul, teenage love potions and grown-up music – Little Wing on tuba, auctioneer's calls, school bands, the Jones Girls, Duke Ellington, Anthony Braxton, the Blue Jay Gospel Singers – plus genres you didn't even know existed.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Heavenly Lights at Mittagong Winery this week

The Heavenly Lights (http://www.tonybackhouse.com.au/groups_hlights.htm) are playing at Howards Lane Winery Mittagong, Sunday 29:

there will be (free) wine tasting from 2pm, then we'll perform from
3pm. The ticket price includes a glass or two of wine and some
finger food. Hopefully some of youwill be interested in buying from the cellar door. The vineyard has an excellent reputation, some prize-winning wine.

The vineyard is only 70 min's from the East, 90 min's from the North
Shore. Views from the vineyard range over the undulating hills of
the Southern Highlands, and at dusk yellow-tailed wallabies emerge
from the bush to graze close to the Cellar Door.

Please book through Stuart Davis in advance by email or phone 9665
8054. Places are limited.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Café of the Gate of Salvation performing at their 20th Anniversary Concert, Newtown RSL, Sydney.
TB solos, Linda Calgaro conducts.
Photo by Alex Craig.



It's been a busy few months, I've been on road constantly since the beginning of July (workshops, festivals, gigs) and inbetween I was writing arrangements for various projects and preparing for and promoting the COTGOS 20th anniversary. (Notably, about 20 members sang on the ABC Music Show Sat September 9, and while it seemed a pretty good performance at the time, it was also notable for both soloists - me and Lisa Spence - forgetting words to songs we'd been singing for decades.) And it was all a blessing and a privilege: great workshop groups, great singing and great spirit in Toowoomba, the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Camden and Newscastle.

As well, The Heavenly Lights are currently working on an album, predictably focussing on quartet numbers from the ’40s and ’50s.

The Café of the Gate of Salvation's 2oth Anniversary bash seemed to go off brilliantly. I only say ‘seemed’ because I was so involved doing stuff on the night - performing, guest-wrangling etc - that the night was a blur. But the feedback I got indicated that it was a varied, funky and joyous night. For a start, I was impressed at how many exmembers showed up to sing or watch.
The band was tight and thrilling in its responsiveness: Peter Dasent (keys), Hamish Stuart (drums), and Tim Curnick (bass) - and I got to whip out the Strat for a few rhythm noodlings - in which I fondly imagined I was channelling Pops Staples - on most of the numbers, thanks to Dynes taking over as conductor on those songs.
The highlights were most likely to have been the choir’s opening ‘Walls of Zion’; the Heavenly Light Quartet’s ‘Shall I Meet You Over Yonder’ (the Heavenly Lights reuniting for the evening with William Selwyn (which felt great - Willy slotted beautifully straight back into the tenor part with just one run-through); and the great array of guests: Jenny Morris sounding glorious (another reunion: Jenny, Peter Dasent and I were last on stage together in 1980, playing in the Crocodiles); Doug Williams was ALL over that bass, wringing new and wonderful variations out the old favourite ‘I Woke Up This Morning’ and singing like a god; Jackie Orszaczky was similarly dazzling and eccentric on piccolo bass and aching vocals on ‘Lift Me Up’; and what was apparently the standout of the evening, Tina Harrod blazed through ‘Spirit in the Dark’ with divine authority.
After that, the reunion choir: with 20 or so-ex-members joining us, it was all exuberance and joy on ‘How I Got Over’ (the first song the choir ever learned), ‘The Storm Is Passing Over’, ‘In The Spirit’, ‘Jesus and Me’ and ‘Be Thankful’, the last two with the band.
Thanks to all our fabulous guests, to the band, to the ex-members who showed up (Thanks, especially to Geri, for flying in from Paris) to the hardworking choir team (Alice, Nicolle, Steve, Sue, Mike and all) who did so much work putting it all together, to our old soundman, Josh James who did front-of-house for us on the night, Tim Mieville for great work as our MC - and thanks to all of you who turned up to support us on the night.
But it’s not over yet:
The concert was filmed and some of that footage will turn up on ABC2’s AustraliaWide (http://www.abc.net.au/tv/australiawide/about/default.htm).
Highlights from the gig were broadcast on Music Deli (ABC radio) 8pm Friday Sept 29, repeated 4pm Sunday Oct 1. You can hear it until the end of October on-line at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/musicdeli/ for a month - it's 'audio-on-demand', you can stream it but not download it.
Photos by Bridget Elliot of a rehearsal (with the choir, band and guests) for the gig will appear in the November ’06 issue of 2MBS -FM’s Fine Music magazine (http://www.2mbs.com/Magazine/tabid/167/Default.aspx)

2007 promises to be a year of travel: after the ever-stimulating and evolving Summersong in January, it’s New Zealand again to work with Babette Oshry's music and cultural tour (March), and in July it’s Western Samoa with Messepa Edwards (ex-Manuhiri), where we're teaching at a singing retreat at some impossibly beautiful location. (Details of those events below.)
Plus the Café of the Gate of Salvation will tour New Zealand in April.
Later in the year, I'll be going back to the USA with Rosie Johnson’s WA choir Band of Angels, then on to Canada, the UK and France to run workshops.