12.11.14 THE HIT LIST: The Lord Wolseley Hotel in Ultimo (265 Bulwara Rd) is a great neighbourhood pub especially on a Saturday night when pianist Bridie King holds court from around 8.30pm. Each week Bridie introduces great guest artists and this coming Saturday it’s Kiwi vocal duo Jason & Judy Klever. It’s free to get in and there’s always a friendly music-loving crowd on hand. lordwolseleyhotel.com.au
This was in The City Hub this week. Always good to get some press! Our Wolsely gigs deserve a mention, we've had some bumper nights this year!
4.10.14 The Boogie Woogie Blowout with Mitch Woods and Ali Penney at Caloundra Music Festival and the Great Southern Blues Fest was successful with great crowds and feedback at the festivals. The fb photos really show the fun we had. Great Southern's Neil Mumme's idea of 3 pianos really worked.
2014 Lord Wolsely Hotel Saturday night gigs, Rozelle Markets, with vocalists Pat Powell, Steve Garry, Dave Wray (also tenor saxophone) and the Klevers Jason and Judy. Also with Samila Sithole, master conga player and percussionist, and Katie Glendenning on kit drums.
2013 Lord Wolsely Hotel Saturday night gigs, Rozelle Markets, Glebe Street Fair, Mildura Food, Wine and Jazz festival and Thredbo Blues Festival with vocalists Pat Powell, Steve Garry, Big Blind Ray, Liza Ohlback, Dave Wray (also tenor saxophone)and the Klevers Jason and Judy. Also with Samila Sithole, master conga player and percussionist, and Katie Glendenning on kit drums.
1.12.13 We are playing for Mal Eastic's fundraiser for getting to Memphis to compete in next years Blues Challenge there. It will be a cast of Sydney's blues who's who. We are on around 4pm. Good luck to Mal and congrats to Mal for winning the chance to compete.
5.11.13. Our performance at Mildura Arts' Jazz, Food and Wine Festival was a highlight of 2013. Staying close to home at the Wolsely residence has been wonderful all this year. Getting away to nearly the centre of Australia was a big contrast. With Pat Powell deserving all the superlatives and recent success with The Melbourne Ska Orchestra and master South African percussionist Samila Sithole excelling as always, how could we not have a fabulous festival performance?
The audience were spell bound and seemed a little shy, so I made a wish for some kind of ice breaker and, on a wing and a prayer, half way through the first set I left Pat and Samila on stage, who were providing an unbelievable Afro-Carribean groove. When I got to the floor the idea of a conga line suddenly came to me and after a few joined in, most of the audience was into it! We took a break but the dancers complained that they were up now and ready for more! So in the second set we had another conga line and more dancing. Pat later told me it was the men who were getting their wives up to get into the conga line, amazing! They lost all their shyness, danced or clapped along during the swing numbers and the boogies of the second set and at the end of 3 hours, you could have heard a pin drop during the final encore, the very sensitive and beautiful Leon Russell piano solo 'Island in the Sun'.
The night finished on a sweet note, photos with happy punters were taken, CDs sold and signed, CDs even sold out and cash orders taken. Mission accomplished.
17.11.13 The rain bucketed down on Glebe Street Fair but it didn't deter
28.12. 2013. There will be two debuts for our residency @ The Lord Wolsely Hotel. Jason & Judy on 5.12.13 and Lauren Dawes on 21.12.13.
Jason & Judy sing, live and love in harmony. We are lucky to have this perfect match to sing for us along with the swinging talent of Miss Katie Glendenning on drums. The occasion is a Xmas party on Thursday night 5th of December, 8pm to 10.30pm. We will be playing some golden oldies from the fifties by Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, the Everlies et al but also by Wynona Carr, whose gritty rock'n'roll blues was some of the toughest of that time.
Lauren Dawes is a 'Voice' contestant and Eva Cassidy specialist, who will be dusting off her Blues for us on the 21st of December, 8.30pm to 10.30pm.
Also there will be repeat performances due to public and the Publican's demand of the wonderful Liza Ohlback @ The Wolseley. Liza's warm hearted interpretation of blues and soul is stunning and it is with great pleasure that we invite her back to play with Samila and I on the 7th and 14th of December.
As well, we are playing at Rozelle Markets on 21.12.13, 10.30am till 2.00pm.
23.1.12 The new album Blue Ivories is about to be pressed. The live to two track recording sounds very alive, fresh and acoustic, thanks to engineer Phil Punch, also Chris and David at Megaphon. The photos by North Sullivan from thephotostudio in Glebe and graphics by Toby at Lilypad in Byron Bay have come up a treat.
18.8.11 I have a new piano trio in the making! Toby Hall, jazz and blues drummer par excellence on drums, and the prolific, eclectic scholar and a gentleman on bass, Mike Rix. There are also to be guests vocalists including Pat Powell, Karana Nepe and Narelle Evans. We have put in our first rehearsal for an imminent new recording. This will take place on October 6th. Again, the recording will be engineered by Phil Punch, using his fabulous historic analogue gear and microphones which attracted such praise from John Shand (SMH 09 see homepage). Live to 2-track again! Check the gig guide for our first upcoming forays into the public arena!
17.2.11 ORIGINAL HIPPOS LINEUP REUNION!!!! including Bridie, an original Hippo 1985 - 1989 The original Hippos play a reunion gig at the Petersham BC on the 26th February!The lineup is Lez Karski (guitar and vocals), John Power (bass and vocals), Ace Follington (drums) and Bridie King (piano and organ). The original Hippos lineup was a force in Sydney Blues scene from 1985-1989, with 2 CDs recorded for Warner Bros, national touring, a dozen or so appearances on TV and a Top 20 hit single 'Dark Age' written by Lez Karski which reached no 13.
The gig starts at 8pm with Bridie King piano trio, the Hippos are on at 9pm. Doors open at 7.30. Be early for a good spot! $15 entry.
HIPPOS reunion coming up! Lez, John and Ace (vale Ian) have been flown into town for a 50th birthday gig. Austin Harrison of 2MBS Stormy Monday fame is also putting the band on at the Petersham Bowling Club, 77 Brighton St., Petersham. It's on 26.2.11 8 - 11pm. Doors open 7.30, bistro open at 6. My piano trio with Mike Rix on bass and Rosscoe Clark will do a support set. Then it's rock out time with HIPPOS! I hope all the old fans find out, and can come and relive the good old days.
Bridie King with the Boogie Kings and Harmony Queens will play on the Sydney Blues Society Harbour Cruise 10.4.11, 12 - 4pm. See their website www.sydneybluessociety.org for details and bookings.
11.8.08 THANKYOU WYCLIFF GORDONMr Wycliffe (trombone master) Gordon did us the huge honour of playing with my piano trio last night. The master trombonist to Wynton Marsalis, is in town and recently starred in the Manly Jazz Festival and Melbourne International Brass Festival. Mr. Gordon was attending a party where we were booked to play. The luminary seemed quite attentive as we played our first set and to my relief I didn’t feel too daunted in his presence.
During our break while watching the cricket with Sg. Bella Figura and the vinyl-producing Mr Cook, the large handsome Southerner strolled passed on his way to the kitchen. Smilingly, he complimented our music and said if it was alright he would sit in and that he had his horn in the car. It was feather- knocking-over time.
We played a few numbers ( inc. Bill Doggett’s Hony Tonk and Willie Mitchell’s The Crawl ) then began Big Chief. In a moment I’ll never forget, in came the head on trombone like it sounds in New Orleans. How joyous it was to hear those sounds coming so loud and clear - and so near!
Thank you Mr Gordon for the subsequent sublime improvisations, empathetic communications and perfect manners. In true masterly style, a la J.S.Bach or Ray Beadle, his solos began modestly in keeping with our playing and then naturally, due to the oncoming force of his improvisational powers, went into stratospheric regions where only true virtuosi reside. Exquisite high notes, staccato hits, deep rasberries (the term for this?), total ease in semi- and demi- passages, simplicity of melodic beauty…. are some attempts to describe his abilities. All of this prowess was achieved within Southern blues and traditional jazz playing without reverting to modern jazz clichés, mannerisms or
20.9.08 TEACHING NEWS
My students’ concert in pub gig style at the Baldfaced Stag Hotel, Leichhadt was deemed a success by the appreciative parents who spoke to me. Being in the eye of the storm it’s hard for me to judge. However, from my position as helper on stage the students it was clear that most of the students enjoyed the opportunity to express themselves through their playing and performing. Well done and thank you to all my young players, your playing sounded wonderful to me. And everybody dressed up for the occasion, thanks for that, too.
One thing that stood out overall was that it was very much a clap-along concert. After the second number I was wondering how it was going down with the audience, and then the clap-along started. I was blown away then and all throughout the concert. What a great audience, including 45 extra people. That’s such good support for my students. Thanks for coming everyone!
Thank you also to Vito Portolesi (bass) and Jacob Cook (drums), who not only backed up the young musicians in a most caring manner but also provided musical and stagecraft examples to the students on the day and in rehearsal. Thank yous go to Brian Wakefield whose perfectionism in audio engineering once again aided class to the whole proceedings; and to the mothers and fathers who gave me support and help on the day, as well.
Some students put extra efforts for the concert and were also asked to honour a professional agreement. I felt this would help motivate them to make the extra effort and also make a gesture of appreciation on my part and on behalf of the students whose work to which they contributed. These were: vocalists Sebastien Bot and Ruby Adams; students who not only played piano but also sang for many of the numbers and gave the concert flourishes of excitement and stylishness, our star-quality guests: guitarist Luciano Beccher from Leicchardt High and Sebastien’s band partner, and Vito’s daughter bassist and violist Kate Stevenson, were both sensational. I also asked a number of students to form a small choir of backup singers and learn Everyday People. These were:Lotte Beckett, Olivia Capelin, Scarlett Armstrong, Geordie McCormack, Audrey and Stella Bennett who worked really well with Sebastien and Ruby and delivered their parts with excellence and grooviness. Thankyous to all these students and guests.
I’m now looking forward to our musical endeavours and the preparations for the Yuletide Party-Concert in Term IV on the 20th December at the Circle Café, Balmain.
1.9.08 RECORDING NEWS
My new CD Way Back Home has been recorded and mastered!
All on analogue and valve equipment with vintages microphones as well. The mastered recording sounds great - thanks to Phil Punch at Electric Avenue recording studio and Don Bartley at Benchmark mastering. The photos were shot by Tony Peri at The Abbey, Annandale, which has special significance for me. I love its place in the Inner West’s history and in Sydney’s architectural heritage, but it also holds childhood memories of cracker nights and jazz parties for me. Dr Geoff Davis of The Abbey’s and his uncle Professor Clive Davis were very good friends of my father’s. Geoff and I believe Dad’s always there with us, especially when I’m playing piano there. Tony Peri used vintage cameras for the shoot and we hope to use his special bromoil technique photos in the booklet art as well. As on My Blues Toby Andrews’ Lilypad Graphics will be in charge of the artwork. The CD launch will be at the Basement on November 9, from 3 – 7pm. Cost is $25 entry and $25 a CD. Pre-selling tickets starts now. The Harmony Queens (Stephie Marchant, Karana Nepe and Narelle Evans) with Vito Portolesi (bass) and Jacob Cook (drums) and myself on a Steinway grand piano will prove that the music we all make together is something special! We’ll also have guests including Sally King (vox), Michelle Vander Meer (vox), Alison Penny (Hammond), Jack Evans (gtr), Drew Wimhurst (Groove Kings)( Harp) and Dave Shaw (gtr). A rocking good evening should be had by all, I’m so looking forward to it! So get your tickets and come and a have wonderful evening with us.
26.5.08 RECORDING DATE AND MORE'S CAFE GLEBE GIGS
| A recording date for the new album ‘My Soul’ has been set for 20 July 2008. I’m glad to say that again I will collaborate with my colleagues from the first album ‘My Blues’. The album will be put out on Trailblazer. It will be distributed by Trailblazer’s Richard Fields. We will record at Phil Punch’s Electric Avenue live to 2 track, as before, with Phil as engineer. Toby Andrews will do the graphics and design. Newcomer to the team, Tony Peri will be photographer. Tony has also proven to be a musical aid and supporter. Not only plugging my work on his stints at 2MBS FM ‘Stormy Monday’ show, Tony also made me a collection of tunes and songs he thought I might like. Thanks to Tony, ‘Piano Players Blues’ by Dorothy Donegan and ‘Groovy Chick Blues’ by Camille Howard have been two important repertoire inclusions for many years.
The Harmony Queens and I will be performing at More’s Café Glebe Pt. Rd., Glebe on the 12 and 19 June, 7.30 - 9.00 pm. More’s Cafe serves great Lebanese food. It also has a piano there and a really good atmosphere to play in.
15.5.08 BLUES IMPROVISATION SPEECH TO CON HIGH SCHOOL
I was asked to speak at the Conservatorium High School by the principal Robert Curry about pursuing a non-Classical music career. As I was an old girl of the school and had experienced this myself, and was old mates with Robert ( we were in Year 11 and 12 together 1969/70) it seemed like a good idea. After a lunch meeting with Robert and some nights of midnight speech writing, the day of speech making finally came around. After I told my story of how I crossed over form Classical to Blues and stressed the importance of improvisation, I invited some kids up to improvise. This brought the house down. I played a bit of Nat Dee Special boogie with the enthusiastic hand clap accompaniment, there were loud cheers and applause for the improvisors and me and I was very glad it went so well. Thanks to Robert and the kids of the Con High.
Update 10.5.08 MAYHEM PARTY FANTASTIC
Many compliments have been received for the The Mayhem Supper Club of 3.5.08 at Rozelle Hospital. It was agreed by all who put in their two bob’s worth, that it was heaps of fun and when will the next one be. One punter on booking her ticket declared that she’d been too serious too long and too often. It seemed that everyone there had the same beef and fun was surely had in spades. Next time (end of November) we want to enhance the chillout room with a screen showing the action in the dance room (and more lounges) for punters who would like that as a background to their chatting and socializing. The big room will be just for dancing … we’ll keep tweeking it. Thanks so much for giving us good reason to put it on.
18.4.08 – FIRST SUPPER CLUB A HIT, LIBRARY GIG BEAUTIFUL AND NEW NAME FOR THE SINGERS
A new name for the singers - The Harmony Queens.Stephy Marchant, Narelle Evans and Karana Nepe long ago proved that their vocal gifts are of royal quality so let's give them their due. They and the Boogie Kings excelled themselves at our two recent gigs at the Circle Café (8.3.08) and the Glebe Library (5.4.08).
Both gigs were very successful. Bridie's Supper Supper Club went off like a cracker! That house was rocking. People danced on the bench-thing and squished between tables, they barely let us stop, Stephy's voice had given up and my arms had nearly dropped off - but it was so worth it. Audience participation was awesome from the first song.
The Glebe Library gig was a repeat of last year's Jazz at the Library program except we were the one and only band and this time we doubled the numbers of the audience. 400 people gathered under the trees and in the sun, it was a perfect autumn day with a beautiful light breeze and gentle sunshine.
Also newsworthy is a recent feature article in April's Fine Music, the 2MBS magazine and listening guide. Chris Rhule chronicled my musical life and presented my philosophy about my playing and teaching in a way that many have commented on as being true to life, very readable and most supportive. Tony Peri contributed two emotive photos taken at the 2MBS Christmas Party last year, which reflected the text perfectly. Both these individuals not only excel as radio presenters but also respectively in writing and photography. I really appreciate this article and the pictures and feel honoured to be included in the magazine and in this manner.
Final student performance for Daniel Neurath at Sydney Opera House.
Daniel played his version of Henry Butler's 'Blue Moments' at the Supper Club in preparation for the Opera House Encore performance 2 nights later. The audience was blown away as usual. I accepted many accolades on his behalf later that night. The Encore performance was outstanding! Daniel appeared to be the most relaxed of the Year 12 performers and most at ease with his instrument. The deep bow, the sauntering on and off with a smile and a wave added charisma to a performance of expressive musicianship, sonorous playing and absolute clarity. As Robert his dad said 'He couldn't have played it better'. Congratulations on a fitting completion of his school age piano studies. NB See 2007 Teaching news updates for more info on Daniel Neurath,
Students'concert at the Circle Cafe
Nearly 30 of my students played their first term pieces at this little concert.
It was mostly a works in progress affair. Nevertheless it was really valuable as
A preparation for the next concert which will be more involved. It was also important for all the new kids to get up and start performing. Congratulations to everyone who made it a great night that was enjoyed by everyone, especially the new parents.
Happy New Year to everyone! Irish blessings to all for 2008.
This year's gigs will kick off on March the 8 th . This will be the inaugural Bridie's Supper Club . It will be held at the Circle Café at 344 Darling Street in Balmain (see 14.12.07). For the entry price of $35 patrons will be treated to 2 sets of music and refreshments.
The musical format will include Piano trio, BK on piano, two Boogie Kings:Vito Portolesi on bass and Jacob Cook on Drums. Stephanie Marchant will provide lead vocals and she will be backed by two new Harmonaires. This promises some beautiful sounds I assure you.
Refreshments will include Blacket's (http://www.blackets.com.au/)fine boutique wines (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, beer, soft drinks and antipasto platters.
So come and soak up the New Orleanean -type atmosphere we are going to create through music, food and the groovy venue of the Circle Café in Balmain, Sydney.
The year ended very well with our Students' Xmas Concert. It was held at the Circle Café in Balmain. Our hosts Martin and The Uniting Church whose building it is, supplied us with a good little baby grand, lots of seating for our 90 or so audience members, our BYO party fare, and lovely Xmas deckers, when placed either side of the piano under the stage lights looked beautiful. Thank you to Jeff for the sound and lights. A big thankyou goes to the students for such great performances, almost every piece was perfectly played. Several students told me they liked their little presents, especially the koalas.The parents were enthusiastic about the concert musically and also they liked the students' profiles. I felt it was my best ever Xmas concert. I also graduated at Sydney Uni's Great Hall that morning, officially attaining my Master's Degree in Music and Music Education. What a wonderful day. Looking forward to more great stuff next year.
The 2MBS-FM Stormy Monday Xmas Party was a great gig. The Baldfaced Stag again provided us with a good big stage on which to present the show. Thank you Austin, Chris and Tony for putting us on and giving us the headline spot. I was really happy with the performance and enjoyed playing the tunes and songs. In general a very happy gig for one and all. Thanks go to Clayt and Light for filmimg it, too, despite difficulties, some songs came out really well, Brickyard Blues, Hello Sunshine and Merry Xmas Baby especially. Thanks to the Boogie Kings and the Harmonaires:
Stephie Marchant Lead Vocals
Maryanne Griffin Bvs
Karana Nepe Bvs
Steve Husband Bvs
Vito Portolesi Bass
Jacob Cook Drums
Adam Pringle Guitar
David Stabback Hammond organ
David Learmonth Rhythm guitar and percussion.
The official launch (literally) of the Bridie King, the Boogie Kings and the Harmonaires' new show on the Sydney Blues Society Harbour Cruise went off beautifully. I feel so good to my soul about how it all went. It is wonderful to have worked so hard for months rehearsing with everyone in order to feel this good. We played three sets, two full-tilt blues and boogie pub sets with Stephie and the Kings and then the hour long festival set with the Harmonaires. The marrying of the Maori harmonies and Steph's leads in those first strong songs of the third set drew the audience in closer and sent a charge of excitement through the room. The Zydeco accordion numbers added a new flavour and power to sound, Funky Bars (Allen Toussaint) deepened the groove and then the first Leon Russell number Say You Will began the final climb towards the climax that I had been hoping for for so long. Say You Will is a perfection of musical and poetic beauty and the audience stayed closely by us, hardly moving except for a few dancers and I heard no-one speak. The rising tide of feeling and commitment to the music from both performers and listeners kept us locked together in anticipation. And then it came in in waves of more and more musical, spiritual and poetic beauty and power, in the form of Russell's Island in the Sun. The five parts of this magnificent work lead us all towards a conclusion of human connection through music and allowed us to complete the rituals of a day marked by lovely sunshine, our glorious Sydney Harbour, food, wine and music-lovers. Bravo to all!!!!
I'd like to thank the Sydney Blues Society, especially Di and Dave and some supporters who not only brought themselves but also lots of people, Rose Peel, Joan Troy, Roo and Barb and Wagga Blues Club.Also staunch are Dr. Geoff Davis and my cousin Alice, Elizabeth Barry and friends, Jackie Lawes, Clarrie and girlfriend, auntie Katie Dunbar and Di Faith.
Thanks go to newlyweds Patrick and Dawn, who hired us to play for their wedding reception the day before the launch, giving us two gigs in the one weekend. Not only that, but Say You Will formed part of the wedding vows, was the music of choice for the bridal waltz and those three words were inscribed inside the wedding rings. The reception was made beautiful by the harbourside venue, the creativity present in the guests, who provided abundant musicality to the wedding ceremony, and which was almost palpable in the atmosphere; the attire of the guests and everyone's demeanour; and the inspiration afforded to us by the couple. I know you will inhabit Island in the Sun forever! Congratulations, Dawn and Patrick.
Our next performance will be on the
9 th December
Baldfaced Stag Hotel
Parramatta Rd., Leicchardt
4.00pm - 10.00pm (time tba)
Star Student makes Top 40 in the State's musical performances! Daniel Neurath has made me so proud. Dan (aka Dazza) put in countless hours of playing, working out solos by ear, improvising, being inspired, motivated and whatever else it took to accomplish this extremely high achievement. It was a privilege to help Dan along his path to be one of the best players of his age, indeed of any age. Dan's parents also were explorary in their support of their child's music learning. His performance in the exam was benefited by the monthly rehearsals and diligence of his accompanying musicians Christian Young on bass and Zac Milner-Cretney on drums. This performance was near 100% and Dan recounted that he mostly played with his eyes closed, and did not drop a note in the virtuoso solo Blue Moments (Henry Butler) and spared me a thought when he finished it, knowing that I would have been pleased. Dan's recounting of this moment of remembering of his teacher, in my mind somehow acknowledged my input and not only reflected his good character but also reflected the teaching satisfaction I have experienced with this student.
Having achieved such a high result meant that Dan was nominated for the Encore performance at Sydney Opera House in March 2008. This nomination required one further effort from me as his teacher. A DVD of his performance pieces was now required to be submitted to a committee who decides which 15 students of the top 40 will play at the Encore concert. So it seemed to me that to record Dan while playing live to air on the 2MBS radio show Stormy Monday was the solution for a few reasons. Dan is an accomplished 'live' player, able to really perform and communicate to an audience, having done so in many student concerts and twice in sit-ins with the Boogie Kings; 2MBS has a beautiful concert Steinweg grand, and a good studio with enough room to bring in a small audience and to achieve filming it. The filming was by Simon Clayton, whose camera work reflected sensitive creativity to match the music and is characterised by close-ups and shots from interesting angles that do justice to the performance.Dan, Christian and Zac put on a great performance, which was awesome live and looked excellent on film.
Good luck to Daniel for getting onto the Opera House stage. I hope he does for all the obvious reasons, but also if he is chosen, he may be the first Blues improviser to be chosen in this major event in school music education. Blues and improvisation are undervalued in most music education and Dan's achievement may help other music educators to realize its value.
My students' concert in the form of a Blues Gig at the Baldfaced Stag, went really well, according to great feedback from parents. Thankyou.. We started with a Boogie Kings set, which was a delight for me since it was the first chance for me to present myself as a musician to my students and their parents. It was probably a good idea too, in terms of modeling beahaviour. This set also included my star student, Daniel Neurath. Daniel must have played in at least a dozen students' concerts over the seven years he learnt with me. This was his final concert, so he sat in with the Boogie Kings and played about 6 blues and boogies with us.
The second set presented all sorts of blues, calypso, reggae, soul latin, and boogie tunes. The students played in ones, twos, threes and a few large configurations. The room was packed with enthusiastic parents and kids ready give their go their best shot. The atmosphere was warm and the music was lovely. The were lots of really good performances, to name a few: Caitie Denahy and Fuzzy Lefurniss : Money ; Mina Dudley-Smith Albert Ammons Boogie ; Aurora Sice and Rebecca Lacey Perfect Day ; Ruby Adams* Hallelujah ; Issy Roomey * Ruler of my Heart and all the littlies in Roll Muddy River. (* including vocals as well as piano). Well done students!
The last set was actually a rehearsal for the big band songs, which went pretty well.I really enjoyed putting on the concert, all the concentration in lessons and the extra efforts put in by the students. It actually was quite empty without students concerts in 2006 when I was too busy for concerts (that was a first!) when I was completing my Masters. I look forward to more students'concerts next year.
Rehearsals for the debut of the new festival line-up(see Gig page) are increasingly satisfying, thanks to the great efforts of all involved. Welcome to Steve Husband (lead /backup vocals), who joined us last week. Welcome also to Maryanne Griffin, sister of Steve, who started rehearsing in July. Karana Nepe and Christine Verrichio make up the quartet of backup singers since May. Welcome back to Stephie Marchant. These five voices sound magnificent. Vito Portolessi (bass) and my cousin David Learmonth (guitar) are proving to be staunch and most helpful. Jacob Cook will coming in on drums soon. Roll on September, when we start incorporating the saxophones, whose lineup may also include Steve as a sax player.
Thankyou to the inimitable Patti Qua, whose Italian villa otherwise known as the Hot Club of Ashfield, was the venue for our first vocals + rhythm section rehearsal 3 weeks ago. Patti even blessed us with a delicate yet funky Boogie! I was honoured to be her duet partner in this impromptu musical offering which concluded the day’s endeavours. For most of the time Patti sculpted a figurine in clay, as she is commonly happily preoccupied sculpting something, while she bestowed a tender nurturing eye on David’s daughter my cousin Kara. Ah, precious Patti Qua. We had some inspirational moments that day, a sign which augers well for the big gig on 12.10.07. Don’t miss out, tickets are selling well. Email or call me to order/obtain tickets. (See gigs page)
The Conservatorium Blues course continues this term, with four of the original students still standing as we approach the end of the year. Welcome to the newcomers. I’m also proud to say that the teaching of this course was unanimously agreed to be “assisting of progress and development, stimulating and exciting, fulfilled expectations, maximized learning, balanced individual and group needs etc” when students gave their evaluations. Thank you so much for this vote of confidence, I really appreciate it. I’m looking forward to the end of term session with bass and drums, as well as the end of year concert.
Home teaching cruises along, we ware also preparing for a students’ gig-type concert with rhythm section (at the Bald-faced Stag Hotel Leichhardt, Sydney end of term III) as well as a classical and Christmas end of year concert. Dates for both are yet to be announced. Good luck to my students who are about to face their HSC moments of truth, Dan, Emily and Ella, come September. So many of the students are making good music right now. Good on you all.
Thanks go to the piano technicians from Ron Overs (02-97362332) who have provided great services recently. Thank you Curtis for tuning the Richard Lipp and the Helpinstill pianos, and for identifying the need and organizing the big job that was undertaken, by Leo, on the action of the Lipp. Thank you to Leo for that work. I appreciate how well the Lipp is sounding and playing since you’ve both been looking after my lovely old piano.
Till next update,Bridie
After reeling for some time after completing my Master’s degree (4 years of study including a research project and a 35,000 word thesis) I’ve finally put together the news of late and some reminiscences of not so recent times….
2007The year kicked off with some nice little gigs that gave me small doses of what most musicians know to be their pride and joy, playing to appreciative audiences. Included in them are two at the end of 06 as well. There were two BBQs where I played Zydeco on my newly-acquired piano accordion and a backyard birthday party with me on piano (solo) at Joan’s. The first at my student Steve Moir’s in Balmain and the second was on Australia Day at Elizabeth’s in Hurlstone Park.
Another little gig was on May 18th ‘A night for Carol’. Singer and friend of the late Carol Ellicott, Diana Faith, and I (a cousins’ cousin of Carol) decided to have a memorial night for her, a night of baudy blues which she would have loved. It was at the Bald-faced Stag Hotel in Leicchardt. My cousin (Carol’s blood cousin) David ‘Fred’ Learmonth sang, then David and I played amongst other things some Lyle Lovett songs with me on accordion. Then we played with Steve Ley on drums and Trevor on bass, a short set of my favourite Boogie Kings’ grooves. Then Diana Faith and Katie Dunbar sang songs from Bessie Smith’s and Dinah Washington’s, amongst others’, repertoire. Thankyou to Diana for putting that gig together and singing beautifully, thanks also to Kate who at 83 is a phenomenon of good health, looks, spirit and lifelong commitment to traditional jazz and blues roots music. This commitment was rewarded with an Order of Australia, so it was an incredible honour to play with her for that reason but also because I’ve known her all my life as my Auntie (by marriage)and it was lovely to look across at her singing. I enjoyed feeling aware of our family connection and knowing someone for so long, in combination with being amazed at her venerable state. It was a night of family connections and it was further graced by Carol’s son Tristram and her cousin and my cousin Wendy.
In March a more public event, (in fact it was totally public since it was sponsored by the Sydney City Council), saw us in Boogie King mode play at the Glebe Library ‘10th year at the new building’ celebration. It was a really hot day, so I insisted we played under the trees. That was heaven with a breeze gently blowing and we played sweetly, my opinion anyway. We had about 200 in the audience, including lots of my students and their parents. It was fun to be playing straight at the Wigram Rd. bus-stop and see the surprised and mostly increasingly happy faces of the bus-riders as they alighted, heard the music and saw the band. Members of the public also were there and everyone seemed to be having a lovely time day listening to beautiful music as they picnicked. It was all written up in the local paper and they reported that the children were dancing, and they were. Those kids were my students Livvy Capelin, Lotte Beckett and Phoebe Sayle and their little sisters. All my students who came that day had been asked to play a tune between the band sets. They were so keen, I have never seen students so enthused to play quite like that before and I’ve seen a lot of students prior to playing their concerts. We are going to repeat that performance with a new band and more students later in the year.
Talking of later in the year… At the moment a new band is forming. Our first gig will be on the harbour cruise organized by the Sydney Blues Society in October, date to be confirmed . Watch this space and my My Space for details and I will be pre-selling tickets come September.
The Master’s was one of the best things I’ve ever done (I’m awaiting results at the moment). I was very pleased to be able to research my students’ learning and my teaching of improvisation. It was mammoth effort, especially the thesis, but by my second year I was asked to contribute some of my ideas in a teaching capacity there. Susan James at the Conservatorium asked me to give workshops and a lecture to piano teachers at Teachers’ Festivals in 2003 and 2004. Spreading the word about improvisation is vital, I believe. It takes me out my comfort zone, though. I’m also teaching a class in Blues improvisation this year, for the third time. The students are producing some great leaps in learning and their grooves are coming along.
My teaching at home has never been stronger as improvisation is more and more what we do. In some cases it’s learning tunes by ear and improvisation 100%, and in many it’s learning to read for about 10 – 20% with the rest ear and improvisation. With some people classical studies follow improvising and playing by ear. Some learn classical favourites by ear and some come to me for classical and do 50% ear and improvisation at my suggestion. That’s roughly how it pans out, but I try with everyone to prioritise attention to detail no matter whether the music is improvised or not or Blues or Classical. This, I am pleased to say, has resulted in as much clarity in students’ playing as any teacher could wish for.
One student deserves special mention. This year Daniel ‘Dazza’ Neurath is completeing his high school studies and will perform in piano trio format for his HSC in September. Rehearsals have started in earnest, and we now have an excellent rhythm section in bassist Christian Young (professional) and drummer Zack Milner-Cretney (FSHS). Daniel has been producing outstanding form for at a least a year now. Always an excellent student (since he was in Year 6), I’m proud to say Dan has now surpassed me in many areas of improvisation abilities through his own exploration, although I think I still have experience on my side. It’s good to hear that he wants to have a ‘gap’ year next year and do some gigs. I wish him good luck every step of the way to his HSC and beyond.
I’m looking forward to organizing students’ concerts for my private students later in the year and also preparing for the end of year students’ concert at the Con. The Blues course students have just finished a second term at the Con, which culminated in a workshop where Christian Young and Steve Ley (drums) provided backup rhythm for their improvisation. It helped lift everyone’s game. We now want to include this workshop at the end of each term. The final year concert should be an even bigger goal and bound to be a hoot.
More updates and pictures soon,
2006 – The end of an eraDue to the time and energy constraints of my Master’s thesis the Boogie Kings Saturday afternoon gigs were put on hold late October, just before our 9th birthday.
When I think back to the first Boogie Kings gig in the beer garden with a handful of old aquaintances in the audience, and having since finished our residency at the Bridge, I realize the progress that was made over the 8 years from then, which culminated with the Boogie Ball.
Fact not brag:
It was a very productive time and I appreciate immeasurably the Bridge Hotel publican Richard Keough for his staunch support throughout all those years. Also I would like to thank the much venerated Mary Keough for the post gig parties during the Saturday afternoon years and mention that prior to playing for the publican and fans of the Hippos at the Bridge Hotel 1986 – 1989, we played at the Keough’s previous pub The Sir William Wallace in 1985.
Interview with Dave Gunter, taken from the Blues Times Sept issue.
How long have you been teaching the Blues?
I have been teaching the Blues since 1978. Until that time I was classically trained and had been teaching classical piano I had always wanted to play the Blues, but didn't know how. Until one day, I taught myself to improvise a boogie from an Albert Ammon's transcript. I then went on a mission to help people to play by ear and improvise.
How do you teach the Blues?
I teach the Blues by listening and copying. This is a traditional method where someone else shows you how to play, or you listen to a record and copy by ear.
Recently, I interviewed some Black American musicians. They unanimously responded to the question "Would you describe your learning as listening and copying?"
"Yeah definitely" For years I have taught this method within a piano lesson one to one. I show students bass lines, chords, riffs, licks, and how to improvise with them. I've also been basically doing the same thing but with groups of students.
These workshops are for either piano teachers who are learning to teach improvisations, or students who are keen to learn the Blues. The Blues workshops are the result of a course called "Southern R 'n' B Piano" which I designed for the Conservatorium Access Centre's Outreach Programme. In the Blues workshops, the keyboard lab comes in handy because the class can be split into groups of bass-line, chord-riffs and improvisation groups. The class kind of turns into an all keyboard band.
In May, my private school age students took part in a workshop where each student individually was backed up by the Boogie Kings. It went so well I am keen to repeat it with my students from the Con, and my private adult students. In fact I want to open it to the public, so I will be advertising in The Blues Times and Drum Media.
What gave you the idea of workshops using a whole band for backing students?
The idea was based on one technical aspect, which is that playing solo piano involves a high degree of independence between the hands, whereas in a band situation the playing is simpler. So I figured workshops where the student is backed up by experienced blues musicians, would create a supportive learning environment for jamming and combining band style. Often this outcome is, sadly, a long way down the track for students. Jamming with a band can be achieved quickly in this way.
The idea of the backing band in a workshop is unique as far as I know. In this case who better than Adam Pringle (guitar), Jacob Cook (drums) and Par Savina (bass). As the adage goes "you learn more by playing with people who are better than you"
I know you've been working on your masters degree fro several years now, tell me how your masters I teaching improvisations is related to Blues improvisation.
I am researching how to teach improvisation by trial ling and developing my teaching model with other piano teachers. This topic is related directly to my background in Blues improvisation. It is a natural progression for me because of my life long association with African-American music. I've become interested in how these musicians learn and want piano students to benefit from these great learning traditions.
Tell us what you wish to pass onto your students?
I want my students to play by ear and improvise. Also I really want to help my students to understand ho important it is for the people around them to hear them pay. Music is something to share.
To sum up, what is your philosophy on music and teaching?
I feel music is a right not a privilege. And there should be more music in community life. And that means piano lessons should be more than just some half-baked classical teaching. Learning piano can mean playing music by ear, without reading music; it can be fun, relevant to you and the people around you and a life long pleasure.
Blues workshop (any instrument) 5th November 2005, Bridge Hotel Rozelle. Enquiries Bridie King 9660 3256
The highlight gigs of 2005 were the fundraiser at the Basement for New Orleans victims of Hurricane Katrina and the Boogie Ball. The Basement benefit night was on the 9th of October, a year to the day from when I had played in a tiny little bar on Frenchman’s St in New Orleans in 2004 (I hope to print on my website the short story of my trip to New Orleans which became a short story published by my cousin, author Rosaleen Love who accompanied me there). I managed to namedrop this into my speech in support of the city of my dreams, which was warmly received I’m glad to say. We played a set of all our New Orleans songs, including Big Chief of course and all the Toussaint songs. We also played My Darlin New Orleans, Ron Cuchi’s love poem to the city which was recorded by Little Queenie in 1981.
The inaugural Boogie Ball was held on the 26th of November at the Bridge Hotel and was a celebration of the Boogie Kings’ 8 years residency there. We started our long stay there on 27th November.
The Boogie Ball was a great success. 250 tickets were presold, a ton of Southern food was brought in, the stage was bedecked with a dozen watermelons, the room enhanced by potted palms, balloons and authentic Mardi Gras decorations from New Orleans. I hired a grand piano, ten Boogie Kings played and we raised $US 1000 for Little Queenie, who had been displaced during Hurricane Katrina from New Orleans.
There are many people to thank. Thanks go to Joan for the truckload of excellent cornbread and New Orleans deccas; Rose, Alice, Matt, my son Art and his mates Tim, Pauli and Frank and Drew for kitchen wizardry,serving, drinking and dancing (see pics); Jo-Bo for piano removalling, Cajun sausage and watermelon delivery; Ojars Greste for photography; choir members for enthusing and
The latter thankyous remind me of the extraordinary vibe of that afternoon, the place was electric and that set was supposed to be a chilled Latin-inspired warmup for main set, but it turned into a much hotter affair. I couldn’t help respond to the crowded and excited room and kind of went bezerk. I got Stephie up and we improvised a raunchier blues set with Jonsey going off as well.The last set was a cracker. The grand piano and most of the tables and chairs were packed away, and the uptempo grooves and dancers took off. The choir, a bunch of 15 or so enthusiasts, who had practiced ‘My Darlin New Orleans’, ‘Creole 2-step’ and ‘Big Chief’ gave it their all (see pictures to be posted soon)and basically we cranked it up as high as we all could. When the audience had drifted off, about 20 of us had an afterhours treat in the form of Donny Hopkins piano wizardry - playing and singing his New Orleans favourites. What an unforgettable day/night in my time as piano-player and band-leader.
News Update - September 2004
Well the last couple of months have been so exciting, and it seems we've done so much in such a short space of time!
The big news is of course that after a record seven year Sunday night residency at the Bridge Hotel, we have moved timeslot to Saturday afternoons from 4pm to 7pm and the response has been overwhelming. Now everyone can enjoy our show without worrying about work the next morning.
We also performed a live to air acoustic show and interview with Sydney blues radio legend Austin Harrisson on his radio show "Stormy Monday." We played five songs live to air and it was a truly magical night. A very big thankyou to Austin for having us on his show, we'd love to do it again - soon!
Also coming up Bridie & the Boogie Kings are performing at the Manly International Jazz Festival and Jazz in the Garden at Vaucluse House. These are both wonderful gigs and a great chance to see our festival shows in addition to some other first class Australian performers.
I'd love to see you at the Bridge or at the festival performances - or both.
I'll write again soon,
Press Release from Manager, Dave Gunter.