Tour Report – Australia, July 2013

Last month, I temporarily returned to Australia for a brief and low-key, but wide-reaching tour. I played four shows in four cities: Perth, Brisbane, Hobart and Melbourne before heading back over to Bali to continue the song-writing mission. I’ve written a little something about the shows and posted some photos/video.

Monday July 1, 2013 | Mojo’s – North Freemantle, Western Australia

It was my first live performance in 2013 and my first ever in WA so I eased into it by playing a short 20min set at an open mic night in North Freemantle. It was at a small indie bar called Mojo’s, which features friendly clutter and memorabilia on the walls – a nice change from Perth in general. While very pretty indeed and extremely clean, Perth is also quite sparse and can feel kind of empty while your wallet is drained for overpriced parking and beer (further exacerbated, no doubt, by contrast to the previous 5 months I’d spent in the Balinese economy). It therefore becomes important to find bars like Mojos to remind oneself that Perth is more than just it’s perfectly manicured and expansive exterior. And what a vibe we found there on a cool Monday night; I played early but still to a healthy crowd and they thankfully received me warmly. After an uncharacteristically shaky start with ‘Filling the Hole’ (usually one of my most consistent live staples) I debuted a new song with equal uncertainty. Still, I managed to find my way through it without incident though the performance wasn’t very confident. I was more settled with the new one out of the way though and rounded out my set with more solid versions of Anne, On My Back and The Mountain, the Road and the Night. It was great to be up playing again but the night was still young and had plenty to offer me, now as a member of the audience.

The crowd only grew as the acts cycled through with a surprising level of diversity and talent. From karaoke-style pop covers to a 20-something year old man named George performing stirring, essentially spoken-word, versions of Johnny Cash songs – stretching himself to the limits that his acquired brain injury would allow.  Also, there was Robert Hinton who’s incredible clear, high and powerful voice could just as easily soar over 80s glam-metal as it did over his own acoustic-pop songs. We saw a quirky, jazz-guitarist with a deliberately terrible sense of humour and then my favourite, Mattress. This was a three-piece with an acoustic-garage-pop sound combined with fantastic, over-the-top 80s keyboard who played astoundingly simple songs that were as catchy as anything and man, could all three of them sing! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to track them down online yet – so, Mattress, if you’re out there I’d like to hear you again! Thanks Perth, it was swell and I’ll be back.

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On stage at Mojo’s, North Freemantle

The bar at Mojo’s

Thursday July 4, 2013 | Sofar Sounds – Fortitude Valley, Queensland

This was a secret gig. Secret in the sense that most of the Audience didn’t know who was playing until they arrived at the venue – which happened to be a private residence. They didn’t even know where it was going to be until a few days prior, having RSVP’d a couple of weeks before that and secured one of the limited audience member places. I was lucky enough to play to this receptive audience in a nice big backyard, on a pleasant winter’s evening in Brisbane.

Sofar Sounds began in London some years ago and while these kind of concerts aren’t a new idea, Sofar has carved out their own format and spawned a community that exists both physically and digitally across the globe. The shows are unique and intimate but also filmed and recorded then streamed live or shared online. It’s a great way for music-lovers to discover new artists and for performers to reach new audiences.

Like most house shows, the audience was excellent – they were all there to enjoy the music. Picnic rugs and second-hand couches were arranged on the grass toward the stage, which was essentially a patch of earth positioned under the back corner of this typical Brisbane weatherboard house on stilts. Some draped sheets and fairy lights and the whole thing had a starry, festive atmosphere. I played a short set again, the new song felt better this time, which is just as well as it was caught on camera (watch the video on youtube)! Sofar was a more challenging live performance as it was completely unplugged but from audience accounts, the sound carried. I also had the pleasure of enjoying Good Oak’s set later on – the double bass, acoustic guitar onslaught and big harmonies of this lively country-folk outfit had everyone tapping their feet.

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Performing under the house at Sofar Sounds, Brisbane

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Some of the lovely audience members at Sofar Sounds, Brisbane

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Good Oak at Sofar Sounds, Brisbane

Saturday July 6, 2013 | The Casbah – Hobart, Tasmania

Finally, back home and back with the band. It was so good to play with the full arrangements again – we had an excellent rehearsal where we played through all the material and a really good, solid sound-check. Something went amiss during our set though as we didn’t seem to be able to get the sound right again or overcome some recurring technical issues but still, we enjoyed ourselves. There were moments when it all came together and the audience, albeit small, were patient and appreciative. I appreciate them coming out on a cold Tasmanian winter night. Thanks to Brad Harbeck (Monte Cassino) for having us play.

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Performing with the band again in Hobart 

Tuesday July 9, 2013 | The Workers Club – Fitzroy, Victoria

The last show for the tour; solo again. The band room at the Workers is great sounding and great looking, especially with 50 plus audience members. I was truly humbled by all my friends who came out to see me on a random Tuesday in July and I can safely say I managed the best performance of the tour that night. I played a long set surrounded by six (yes, six!) foldback speakers and lost myself in the great sound our sound engineer (also called James) had made for me on stage.

The vibe was great and Lyra Will and Timothy John who played before me were excellent. Three solo acts plus DJ Trapdoor Style (Sam J Nicholson) spinning classic pop tunes in-between sets (kicking the night off with Chris Isaak, no less) made for a really nice intimate night of music mid-week. I was finally in the swing of things just as it was time to head back to Bali – those songs aren’t going to write themselves.

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Timothy John on stage at the Workers Club in Melbourne

 

Anne

Last weekend, coinciding with World Environment Day, a simple stainless-steel chair was unveiled in a park in Sisters Beach, Tasmania so people can sit and enjoy the natural surroundings. It was in honour of my Grandmother, Anne Vincent. My cousin, 2-year old Henry Vincent, was there too – he planted a tree. Anne never got to meet him but she would have been proud, just as she was when any of us came along to help her with the various conservation projects she organised.

My grandmother lived at Sisters Beach and she created a beautiful garden there, consisting entirely of vegetation native to the area. This passion extended beyond her own garden – she co-founded the Sisters Beach Environment team, which continues to undertake conservation projects today, and she co-authored a botany guide to help keep Sisters Beach free of foreign flora invaders.

She also fussed a lot about what we were doing and what we were eating. She left warning and worrisome notes everywhere in her trademark, messy handwriting. She loved us and made us play games as a family, despite our protests. We inevitably enjoyed ourselves, of course. She told me on the telephone that she was happy with the life she had lived just after she found out she had brain cancer. I wrote this song about her and about Sisters Beach shortly after she died, aged 66. The two of them, person and place, will forever be intertwined and that thought leaves me with a great feeling of peace. The same feeling I had watching my uncle Peter lead her hearse down Irby Boulevard on that clear Autumn morning in 2008.

Progress Report

I want to let you know what I’ve been up to and what my music plans are for 2013.

I’m currently in Bali, Indonesia. I’m working on songs for a new album which I plan to record either towards the end of this year or early next year.

Due to a supportive girlfriend, the flexibility of my employer and some self-discipline on my part, I am fortunate to have this opportunity to come here for the year and be a full-time songwriter. This is new territory for me, apart from the geographical change obviously, as never before have I found myself being able to make songwriting the activity I do more than any other. It’s sometimes a challenge to stay on task but so far things have been going quite well and productively on a day to day basis.

Dedicating more time I assume, more than anything else, will simply speed up the task of writing a new album (it took me about 4 years, around work and other commitments, to write ‘Almost at the Ivory’). Obviously, I also hope my songwriting and performance will improve and mature.

I’m currently working on about 30 songs, some of these are ones I’ve had ‘in the bank’ for many years which I am now dusting off and rebuilding, while others are shiny and new. As things progress, bits and pieces of them will mix and match with each other and with new ideas too. Eventually, a number of ideas will be culled until I’m left with somewhere near the average of 12.54 songs you expect to find on a album!

There is one more thing I want to tell you about. In the past, I’ve written songs as and when they have occurred to me then slowly pieced them together using whatever production ideas and styles happen to jump out at me at the time. This time, I’m planning on creating something more coherent across the entire group of songs that will feature on the album. Recurring themes and narrative ideas running through the lyrics and a more defined, overall sound achieved through ‘bigger picture’ decisions about the instrumentation, structure and arrangement of each song. I’m working on these songs simultaneously and hope they will grow together to form more than just an unplanned collection.

I don’t know for sure if all of this will yield a better result or not but it certainly feels like it will and it’s very exciting to work towards something so ‘complete.’

Apart from a brief trip back home in July where I’ll play a show or two and perhaps the odd performance or two here abroad, this is what I’ll be doing for the rest of the year. I look forward to sharing more with you as it develops. Wish me luck!

JP

Hobart show in July

I’ll be back down under in July for a couple of weeks. I’ll be visiting a few cities across the country including Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne and planning for shows is already underway for these cities. Of course, Hobart is on the list too and I already have a show booked, complete with band, on Saturday July 6.

Details of other shows to come.

On My Back Music Video

Featuring Andrea Dighton as a tiny, translucent dancer projected on my upper body, the music video for On My Back is the creation of Brisbane filmmaker Maddie Wallis. The dance sequence was filmed in Brisbane and my performance was filmed at The Studio here in Hobart using gear hired from Wide Angle Tasmania. Both organisations were very supportive of this independent production. This was pretty much a Wallis Family production with Brenton Wallis as first grip and Tegan Wallis providing general support as well as documenting the filming process. Thankyou to all involved!