BC: Live opened the main stage at the Port Fairy Folk Festival on Friday night, in a set dedicated to Auriel Andrew after her passing in January, and we all had a ball and felt it was a good showing – and one that Auriel would have approved of! We hope Barry enjoyed any bits he’s seen. Teangi Knox stepped up to sing his nan’s song for her, ‘Ghost Gums’, and he showed he’s got a voice of his own that’s strong, and the set closed with the whole cast on another of Auriel’s specialities, ‘Arnhem Land Lullaby’. The setlist was quite significantly re-shuffled around. On the night it went as planned:
1. Western Wind - WARREN 2. Raining on the Rock - WARREN 3. Ghost Gums - TEANGI 4. Run, Dingo, Run - BUDDY 5. Brown Skin Baby - LEAH 6. September Song - LEAH 7. Ticket to Nowhere – JAMES 8. Yorta Yorta Man - JAMES 9. Pretty Bird Tree - LJ 10. 18th Day of May - LJ 11. Shadow of the Boomerang - FRAN 12. Blacktracker - FRAN 13. Brisbane Blacks - LUKE 14. Get Back in the Shadows – LUKE 15. Wayward Dreams - ROGER 16. Blue Gums Calling Me Back Home - ROGER 17. Arnhem Land Lullaby ROGER, TEANGI + CAST
A long session in the Elvis(-actually-Alistair Crowley) Room at the fab Bakehouse rehearsal studios in Melbourne the day before was spent working in some of the differences. New songs: Luke Peacock swapped ‘Ticket to Nowhere’ with James Henry and took on Vic Simms’ ‘Get Back in the Shadows’, and ‘Brisbane Blacks’, dedicated to Mop and the Dro-Outs’ late Angus Rabbit. With two generations of the Little family now on stage together, James Henry, in addition to doing ‘Ticket to Nowhere’, retained ‘Yorta Yorta Man’, and Franny Peters-Little added a stunning almost-acapella rendition of ‘Shadow of the Boomerang’.
It feels so good to be able to say that so much about the set just feels like smooth sailing. Often in situations like this credit is given to the professionalism of a cast, but that’s not quite the right word in this case I don't think. Not that the show doesn’t run as efficiently as the whole concept of ‘professionalism’ might imply – I guess I’m just trying to say it has that bit of special something beyond just a professional level. I like the show because it’s deep and it’s a bit gnarly at times but overall has this great sense of good humour and strong commitment. So I continue to be just blown away, and I think the whole team shares this confidence - and I’m also pretty sure everyone’s having a great time doing it! And I think that’s important, you wouldn’t have as good a show, or it would be harder to mask or overcome, if you didn’t have that wonderful shared sense of purpose and camaraderie that we do. It gets a bit crazy at times but that’s how this black country-rock roadshow revue rolls. I hope I’m not drawing too long a bow to say it, but when, as a music lover, I contemplate and listen to legendary gigs like, say, the first Stax tour of the UK and Europe in 1967, or one-nighters like The Last Waltz, where a once-in-a-lifetime bill comes together and just makes some magic, some history, well, I sometimes like to indulge myself with the thought that Buried Country is a tiny bit like that too: Giving audiences the opportunity to see this amazing cast of stars, to catch up on a whole world of vital Australian music, to join in on a celebration that might not pass this way again... I went away after the show as I’ve tended to do and had to catch my breath. What a great show – a lot of us think our best to date – and so we can't wait to do more… Unfortunately we only had the rest of Friday night to try and catch some of the weekend’s other fine attractions. Backtracker Band MD Brendan Gallagher has to be a contender for the festival’s busiest picker, staying on after the rest of us returned to Melbourne to play with two other acts, his own Karma County plus blues supergroup the Pinks, as well as sitting in with Kutcha Edwards. I myself caught quick bits of Melody Pool (good) and Don Walker (good too), at least up until the power blew out on Don! Not that that was typical of the festival generally; in fact it was all very convivial and well organised, and so congratulations to the team of Fairies for keeping up the game for more than forty years now. I was flattered when the aforesaid great don of Australian songwriters, Don Walker, gave me some lovely words of praise on Buried Country; I couldn’t resist responding by photo-bombing him into the picture here:
The Walker brothers? Jason, me and Don, in the green room
All the rest of us went back to Melbourne and on the Saturday night most stayed on there for some sideshows, Luke Peacock and his band at the Thornbury Theatre, Jason Walker solo at the Retreat and, at the Grandview Hotel, maybe echoing so many nights that happened there so many years ago when Harry and Wilga Williams and the Country Outcasts called the Fairfield pub their own, there was a show by Roger, Buddy and Teangi Knox and Warren H. Willams. All reports say all went well, and I understand the rock’n’roll flowed on until late into the night. I flew home mid-evening with Jim Elliott, L.J. Hill and Leah Flannagan, who, I should add, has all our best wishes as she digs into her final tri-mester – you go girl! L.J. stayed over at my place and slept with the dogs, or rather they slept with him, since my absent son’s bed was where he dossed down and where the dogs usually sleep too, and I think everyone was pretty happy with that arrangement; and then I got L.J. to the airport with early Sunday morning coming down and, with him and Franny in mind, I thought of Kris Kristofferson: I'd smoked my mind the night before/With cigarettes and songs that I'd been pickin'…
Since Buried Country: Live in Concert lost Auriel Andrew earlier this year, when she passed away, aged 69, in Newcastle in January, our set at the forthcoming Port Fairy Folk Festival will be dedicated to her memory. BC will be opening the whole shebang with the first set on the main stage on Friday evening (March 10) starting at 7pm, so if you’ve got a ticket – and you'll need one, because the event is already sold-out – don’t miss it. We will be performing some special songs by way of a tribute to her, and there will be some other extra features as well. Auriel typically brushed aside health problems to be part of the first few Buried Country shows late last year – there’s no show without Punch! and she wouldn’t have missed it for quids – and she set a standard and a tone, as she did generally in life and her career, that the entire BC cast and crew is proud to just try and live up to: and we’ll be giving it our best at Port Fairy, be assured!