Vandemonian Lags in Adelaide!!
I’ve been rehearsing at Bakehouse studios all week with the cast of Vandemonian Lags. It’s a pretty incredible line-up, really. Mick Thomas, Van Walker, Ben Salter, Tim Rogers, Brian Nankervis, Sal Kimber, Michael Barclay, Squeezebox Wally, Jeff Lang, Andy Reid, Shelley Short and Darren Hanlon. I have such a musical/artistic crush on everyone in the cast it’s been an absolute joy.
A while back Mick asked a few of us to adapt some sourced convict histories to song. To cut a long story short, a few years later, due to Mick and his brother Steve’s hard work, we were performing the stage show that incorporated all of these stories and songs three times as part of Dark Mofo, a festival put on by MONA (Museum of old and new art), once in Launceston and twice in Hobart. Needless to say it was a powerful experience. It’s a very moving piece of work. I’ve been reduced to shivers and tears several times, playing the banjo, guitar or keys while one these extraordinary artists sings their song.
I’m thrilled to be doing it again next Wednesday at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. We’re all hoping that we get to bring the show to other cities in the future too. I could quite happily work with this mob for months at a stretch. But we’ll see what happens.
If you’re in Adelaide come along. You won’t regret a single minute.
June 13, 2014
I need good YouTube content. As a member of the age group that has one foot planted firmly on the pre-internet side of the fence and the other on the ‘if I want to listen to something I go straight to Youtube’ side, I’ve finally decided to bite the bullet. I’ve come to terms with the fact that, although I feel inherently uncomfortable about being on camera, it’ll be useful for people to be able to go to a site and see me doing ‘my thing’. And therefor, hopefully, useful for me.
So next Tuesday night I will be attempting something I’ve never tried before… Standing in front of cameras for a whole gig. We’re going to film and record a solo show with the view to release a live solo album/DVD later in the year. And release a few clips to YouTube. I decided I wanted to do it at the Yarra in Abbotsford, Melbourne. I’ve played a couple of gigs in that room and hung out there a bunch and I feel comfortable within its old high walls. It’s a cool looking bar too. Lots to look at. I’ve got very talented friends, led by Tim McCormack, who have put together a film crew and Nigel Swifte, me old mate, will be looking after the sound.
There are a few tickets left (see the gig section of the website). It’s on Tuesday night next week. I’ve got this weekend to become even more nervous about it. (Not as nervous as I am about Hawks versus Port Adelaide on Saturday night.) And ultimately, we’re just trying to capture a completely normal gig. I reckon I’ll be able to forget about the cameras and the lights and just play and sing. That’s the plan anyway…
May 22, 2014
Cairns show cancelled due to Cyclone Ita.
Unfortunately we won’t be playing in Cairns tonight due to the effects of Cyclone Ita. We’re all thinking of everything in the affected areas in FNQ tonight and over the next few days.
We hope to come back to Cairns soon. x
April 11, 2014
Heading out with the DSC crew…
Mia, Jen, Tim, Danny, Jason and I are off to Cairns tomorrow! It’s SO MUCH FUN to be playing with these guys again, with Jase behind the mixing desk making us sound good. Gumball Festival on Saturday is one I’ve been looking forward to for a while. What a wicked little festival. Still contained enough, punter numbers wise, to feel like it’s an awesome secret, with a line-up, and a crew, that any major festival would be jealous of! Can’t wait!
Then we’re off to Blues Fest. I’ve heard a lot about this festival. Never been myself… I’ve heard we get ferried to and from the stages on some kind of buggy-type vehicles. That better not just be a rumour…
D, S and C have already started making plans for some stuff happening later in the year. All will be revealed sometime soon. We’ll see you over the next two weeks if you’re somewhere we’ll be playing!
April 10, 2014
FAI KANSAS CITY DIARY. PART 2- The showcases
My plans to write another diary entry while I was still in the States didn’t come to fruition. Not surprising really. That was a hectic, eventful ten days. It’s now exactly a month since Cat and I set off on our Folk Alliance trip. I believe I left proceedings just before the showcases of the conference were about to start…
I was suddenly struck with an attack of unfamiliar nerves. I’d never participated in something like this music conference before and, although the idea of playing ‘showcases’ was never something I was particularly comfortable with, being imminently faced with them I began to experience mild panic. The foyer of the hotel was filling with literally thousands of musicians and ‘industry people’, everyone from operators of tiny festivals to label bosses and North American booking agents. I made a half hearted attempt to mingle with the arriving guests but quickly piked, not even the allure of free alcohol preventing me from ‘chucking a ghosty’ and alighting the stairs to our room to play guitar. The musicians appeared to be predominantly from Canada or the USA, with the odd European/British band and a small but robust Australian/NZ contingent including Jordie Lane and Clare Reynolds, Henry Wagons, Daniel Champagne, Wes Carr, The Mae Trio and kiwis Mel Parsons and guitarist Andy Moore.
All in all I played ten showcases, none of them lasting longer than 25 minutes. All of the Folk Alliance registered musicians were given one ‘official showcase’, the rest were all conducted in private rooms from floors 5 to 7 of the hotel.
The official showcases took place in the conference rooms of the hotel on the first and mezzanine floors. Mine was in ‘Union Hill’, a strange, rectangular room the width of two trams next to each other and about as long. The lighting could be best described as dull neon (think 7 Eleven with all but two of the fluoro tubes blown) and the PA was modest but enough for the mostly solo and duo acts. I played for about 25 minutes. Four songs (there’s nothing like very short sets to drive home to me – again – just how long my songs are…). It went well. I think. There’s not much to gauge it on. I’ve gathered that, at events like these, there tends to be buzz artists that people flock to see. Their showcases are all rammed full and the audience goes wild at the end of each song. For the other thousands of musos, me included, the affair is a little more subdued. People clapped and seemed to like it. I didn’t break a string or, to bring to fruition my worst fear of being on stage, spew, so I considered the affair a success.
The private showcase floors are a throbbing maze of corridors choked with instruments and musicians. (I”ve never seen so many double basses in one place.) It’s a highly energetic scene. All of the showcases are unplugged but, miraculously, it was still easy to hear people play even while the din of half cut musicians was crashing like choppy surf out in the halls. Some people register to host a private showcase room to make contacts that benefit their own musical career, some do it to find new acts for their publishing house/festival/venue. Rooms were often decorated with lights, swathes of material and platters of sweets and snacks, the beds (usually) pushed to the corner of the room and chairs brought in for the (modestly sized) audience. Running a room like this is not for the faint hearted. The hosts sleep in the rooms too, usually not getting to bed (or at least having any peace) until four or five in the morning. So in every room on those three floors (I’m guessing here but I’d say at least 150 in total) a parade of musicians showcased for around 15 minutes each from 10:30 pm until 2 or 3 in the morning.
My favourite were the In The Round sets. Three to four musicians going song for song. I got to do four of those, including one with Jordie in which we worked out that it’s almost ten years since our very first gig together. It was a strange and touching moment jamming on songs with him in a hotel room in Kansas City that we played so often in the Brunswick Hotel years and years ago.
I met some great people. I bonded straight away with the Canadian people I met, almost without exception. And I got around to see some fantastic music. The highlight for me, an unexpected one, was Dan Bern, a songwriter from Ohio. Whether a misprint in the program or an error on Cats’ and my part, we thought we were in this particularly conference room to see someone else play. Dan started and I wasn’t hugely impressed but by the end of the second song I was transfixed; laughing, weeping and completely swept up by his songs. A delightful discovery.
The conference ended and we packed up and flew to LA where we spent two days. The trip was a brief and full one. It was so great to be in America for the first time and I look forward to getting back there, whenever that might happen.
March 17, 2014
Liz Stringer – FAI Schedule
11:40pm – 12:00am – Lost Hollow Room #756
10:30pm – 11:00pm – Access Film Music ITR #655
11:30pm – 11:50pm – Access Film Music #655
1:00am – 1:20am – Auscan Music Spotlight #535
1:30am – 2:15am – House Of Romanoff ITR #720
9:30pm – 10:00pm – OFFICIAL SHOWCASE – UNION HALL
11:20pm – 11:40pm – Auscan Music Spotlight #535
1:00am – 1:30am – Canada Gold #540
3:00pm – 4pm – Auscan Songwriters ITR #535
10:30pm – 11:00pm – La La Land Showcase #554
12:50am – 1:10am – Yukon Roots Room #541
February 20, 2014
FAI Kansas City Diary. Part 1- First impressions of America…
Kansas City is cold. I’ve been having visceral flashbacks to the winters I spent in the west of Germany. The snapping, crisp air. I love it. When Cat, my booker and manager, and I flew into Kansas from LAX a couple of days ago we were greeted with scenes of yellowed paddocks laced with snow drifts and the slate grey roofs of rambling double storey farmhouses. This is my first time in America. When we landed at LAX the gruff young Customs Officer asked me, after the other obligatory questions, where I was going to spend the ten days that I have here. I told him Kansas City, mostly, with two days in LA. He paused and without looking at me said, ‘Not much to do in Kansas City’. ‘I’ve heard that,’ I replied, ‘First time in the US and I’m going there?!’ We both laughed, him reservedly, me like a person that hasn’t slept or showered for an inordinate number of hours. ‘I’m in the USA’, I thought to myself. WTF.
We’ve been at the hotel Westin here in Kansas City for three nights. Not that I have anything to judge it against but Kansas City ain’t bad! Jetlag, however, is a strange beast. I was up at 5am this morning, went to the gym, had some breakfast, read for a while and was knackered again by 10. Many a nap has been indulged in. The Folk Alliance International Conference is held annually in different cities around the US and Canada but this is the first of a five year run that the Westin in KC will host the event. The staff here, like all of the other service and hospitality industry workers I’ve come across in America so far, are extremely friendly. And, whether it’s purely a tip generating exercise on their behalf or not, I find that it feels sincere. And people seem genuinely interested in the fact that we’re from Australia. There is one hotel receptionist, however, who has difficulty understanding my accent and has taken to recoiling (politely) in fear when I approach the desk. I’m trying to speak more slowly.
We’ve already had some crazy food. The first night we were here we went to a 50s style diner and ate hamburgers and fries that were delivered by a little toy train that made its way on tracks from the kitchen around the top of the restaurant to our booth, being lowered down on a shelf when it reached us. And yesterday I fulfilled a lifelong (well, adulthood long) ambition of drinking American coffee for breakfast and having it refilled for FREE! I would have gone for the third and fourth cups if I wasn’t already quietly bouncing, involuntarily, on my chair. Cat and I ordered breakfast and both only managed half. They do like a big portion here, it’s true. And a lot of food and drink comes in some kind of disposable packaging. Kansas City is considered a ‘world capital of barbecue’. It is our duty to seek out this barbecue and eat it, a mission we have both accepted.
It’s a surreal experience, being in the USA. Like every Australian my age I’ve grown up surrounded by American culture and now I’m here where it all comes from. I’m not used to anything yet. Things are still sinking in. The conference starts tonight and already the first of 3000 registered musicians have started descending on the hotel. And so it begins…
A new website! And Kansas City!
Check out the brand spankin’ new website! February is an exciting month. Two festivals and my first ever trip to the US! I’ll only be there for a few days, just enough time to play a bunch of showcases at the Folk Alliance International conference and maybe try pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. Or is that more a Canadian thing?… See, so much to discover!
I’ll be writing a blog about my experiences there (if I have any time to write…) which you can read on the new website!
Thursday night I’ve got a special trio show at the Yarra Hotel in Abbotsford. Tickets are only $15 and all the money raised will contribute to recouping some of the costs of going to America. Tim Keegan will be joining me on bass and John Bedggood will be on the fiddle and mando. Can’t wait.
Sunday it’s off to Riverboats Festival in Echuca and the day after I get back to Australia I fly over to Perth to play at Nannup Festival.
I’m looking forward to getting some gigs under the belt after a few lovely weeks off.
February 11, 2014
Dyson, Stringer and Cloher 2013 national tour dates announced.
Dates have been announced for the rest of our national tour later in the year following our first leg up in the Northern Territory. What an amazing trip that was! It’s already sounding great and we can’t wait to get on the road again and get a few more under our belts. All the dates are on the gig page of my website and you can already pre-order a copy of our Tour EP which includes an original and never before recorded song from each of us. Go to the Dyson Stringer Cloher Facebook page to find links for the pre-order and a bunch of photos from our Territory trip.
September 3, 2013
Dates changed slightly in The Netherlands…
Hello! We are playing Café t’ Monumentje this Thursday night instead of Wednesday night and, unfortunately, won’t be playing in The Hague this time…
July 24, 2013