The Folk Centre

Our CD (self titled) was launched on October 9th 2010, at the Folk Centre, which is on George Street in Thebarton.

You know that funny old-looking place on the corner of South Road and George St, just north of the Henley Beach Road junction, that you always drive past and wonder what it is? Well, that’s not the Folk Centre. That’s actually some church building. The Folk Centre is the building next door that looks like  an old RSL hall.

Basically playing there goes like this:

You arrive at sunset, and park in the spot reserved for the Rector, and then you go in the hall and the sound guy is already there setting up, and you say hello to him and he seems nice.

Then you muck around for a while with hard plastic chairs and old style trestle tables and you try to estimate how many people are going to show up, and you notice how big the place actually is, and you try not to imagine it full of line dancers.

Then you talk to the lady on the door who has one of those old fashioned cash register boxes with numbers on dials, and a grey plastic “ka ching” handle, and a float of two shillings sixpence in case a lot of people come.

Then you stand around for a bit looking at all the names of the past presidents of the SA Folk Federation, random banners from lots of community organizations, posters of famous people from Ireland who have also played here, etc, and those little pennants that tell you who came third in the local darts tournament in 1967.

Then, a couple of old people show up and ask you when the Bingo game starts and you have to tell them that it isn’t a Bingo night, it’s a folk concert. They seem not to mind.

Then more people show up, and you play. The stage is large and the sound is good and people sit quietly drinking wine and listening to you.

Then, they all leave, and you are left to pack up all the trestle tables again.

That’s how it goes.

(OK some of that isn’t true. Especially the part about packing up the trestle tables. The staff did that.)

We sold some CDs but there’s a few left. Check out the CD sample page.


The Bodhran

I got myself a Walton’s bodharn a while back and Emma recently pained it. It’s going to form the basis of our new album cover.

Here’s some shots, gallery style.

In other news – giggled last night, went well.

The Wine Incident

Wheatsheaf Hotel, August 27, and our first major gig. We were pretty good, I think. I love the Wheatty too. All fireplaces and tasty beer and polished floors and they know how to look after you right.

So, we’re in the middle of a slow number with me supporting Em with quiet plinking on the banjo and there’s this weird “splash” noise in front of us, and we both think that somehow the ceiling has sprung a leak and water is gushing down onto the floor.

The noise stopped so we kept playing, and wondered what the hell just happened (because we couldn’t really see).

Later, friends told us the following account:

One of the families that were there to see the other band (The Heggarties) were sitting right up front and talking, which can be a little rude, but isn’t out of keeping with what happens at that venue pretty often. They were approached by a couple of women who wanted them to shut up because they liked our playing, and the family said no, because they weren’t the only ones talking.

The next think anyone knows one of the women has grabbed the family’s bottle of wine, poured it all over the floor in a giant cascade and then stormed out, leaving the family, also, wondering what the hell just happened.

This is the kind of passion we inspire in people. 😉

The recording process

Recording for the debut CD occurred between about December 2009 and June 2010. We had about six sessions all up, all of them at my house. The standard day went something like this:

Emma gets to my house at about 10 after driving all the way from Salisbury and we immediately nip out the back to smoke her rolling tobbacco, drink tea, gossip, and talk about all the things we aren’t doing yet. Then we set up and select tunes to work on. Arrangement conversations go like this: “What about we do the whole thing twice and then stop?” “No, how about we do that twiddly bit twice and them come straight into the loud bit?” “You mean the A-part?” “I don’t know, why don’t you just nod at me?” “OK.”

The song thus arranged, we write song charts down on bits of paper that look like this: A A B CH & !! and we nod wisely.

I have subsequently found these sheets of paper in my bedroom studio, and now have no idea what they mean.

Then, we do several version, and either the first or the last will be the the best. We smoke more tobacco, repeat the process on another tune, and Emma leaves for the day.

Mixing occurred mostly in June and that session basically went like this. “I like it all, except that bit I don’t like,” “I think that vocal harmony would sound better if you couldn’t actually hear it”, “That sounds good turn it up louder,” etc.

After this rigorous process was complete, I spent about a day normalizing and standardizing the EQ profiles, and we were away.

Check out the CD page for more information:

It’s Pronounced “Moron”

So one sunny day in April sees me walking down Jetty Road carrying an Irish drum made by Waltons for which I paid $7o. Since then it has been introduced into our sound and look.

My knowledge of Gaelic orthographic rules tells me that Bodhran is actually pronounced “I Don’t Know”, but a funny old Irish man with a beard and a severe head cold recently told me that it is pronounced “moron.” (Actually I’m not sure exactly what he said but he definitely used that word several times.)

Anyway its sound has been variously described as “cool”, “annoying”,” like someone playing a water tank”,” a big boomy droning sound” etc. In recording we use it as a bass note by tuning it electronically to the pitch of the song. Live, we use it advisedly, or not at all. In Ireland where the air is always moist, this type of drum apparently makes a slack wet bopping sound unless heated by the fire, but here the reverse is true and when it is dry, you have to get water on the skin otherwise it sounds like a tin can.

The before shot is what mine looked like before Emma painted it. The after shot is, well, you guessed it.

Bangy the Shoot Man vs the Pixies

The weird internet malaise that has been over me nearly all year continues. My blogs are withering and places I used to post go unattended. Every time I sit down to do anything computer-wise, the overwhelming feeling of “why bother?” rears up and grabs me.

I have been very active at the gym and at work and work is going well but increasingly I am finding my connection with computers to be tedious. I find most of the people on the internet tedious too. I got run off a message board recently for this exact reason.

I have lately had the option of either going to see The Pixies (about $60, playing tomorrow) or spending almost the same amount of money firing 50 shots with a .22 at Flinders St Firing Range, and I chose the latter. Yesterday I blasted the shit out of the target for about twenty minutes and got a pretty decent score. The Pixies show would have lasted hours. But I thought about schlepping all the way over there, queuing, queuing for drinks, standing around on the beer-stained floor, jostling for a good view, and thought: fuck it.

Also I went out in Sydney on my own and saw four different bands last week while on a research trip for the rail project and the “serious rock band” was the lamest. Rock music holds less and less appeal to me.  Every time I hear distorted guitar or earnest male vocals I just think, “oh, just shut the hell up you big wuss.”

So I took the shooting option. For twenty minutes, I was Bangy the Shoot man, who is a good person and not to be underrated. If you have never fired a gun I suggest you try it at least once. I have now fired a .22, an AK-47 (in Vietnam), and an air rifle. The .22 was probably the best fun. The AK47 would have been more fun if it wasn’t bar mounted.

In other news – I got myself a tattoo back in January (pictured below) and have gotten money together to buy another one from my friend J.

My band played a market show on the weekend, and it went all right.

And, ah, that’s all.


No, an Irish Banjo!

Me and Em did a gig at the Adelaide Central Market this weekend.

It was one of those morning shows where families of shoppers drift past and smile at you and then some of them give you two dollars.

Proceeds were immediately spent on coffee and buns.

A very drunk, angry-looking chap walked up to us at one point, and said “do you know blah blah blah (insert name of song)?”

No, we don’t.

“Well do you know blah blah blah (inset name of other song).”

No, we don’t.

“What’s fucking wrong with you then?”

(Storms off scowling as though we have totally ruined his day.)

Then, another chap from the UK was trying to talk to me about banjos.

Says he: “I’m thinking of getting an Irish banjo” (p.s. I have no social skills).

Oh, that’s interesting. Is that a five-string? (Here I am, showing my ignorance of Irish banjos).

“No, an Irish banjo” (p.s. I am borderline Asperger’s).

Oh. You mean a tenor banjo, then? (Once again with the ignorance).

“No, an Irish banjo.”

I later found that while nominally, there is such a thing as an Irish banjo, it is really more a style of tuning than a type of instrument. Basically any 4 string banjo could be an Irish banjo. So I suspect this is a little like saying you want a Russian piano to help you play Rachmaninov.

For the record, my own banjo is a bastardized affair, a 5-string with the drone taken off and the 4 remaining strings tuned like the first 4 strings of a guitar, with a capo on the second fret to keep the tension OK. It isn’t ideal but it sounds decent in most conditions. I am also learning 4 string tenor banjo, properly.

But I hope this guy got his “Irish” banjo, really.

Probably Ireland would be a good place to look.


A young man enters abruptly from the street.

Young man: “Excuse me, do you have an Irish banjo.”

Attendant: “I’ll check, sir.”

The attendant looks at the back label of his only tenor banjo, which says “Made in Indonesia.” He looks again at the young man and quickly reaches a decision.

Attendant: “Why, yes sir, we do! This one is as Irish as a fat old cow! And a top of the morning to ye!”

Young Man: “Finally! A proper Irish banjo! I’ll take it!”

Attendant: “That will be nine hundred pounds sir.”