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June 22, 2008

Fete de la Musique

What an amazing musical experience I had yesterday! It pretty much covered everything that is great and awful about life as a musician. If only everyone could share something like this ...

It started with the Brisbane Fete de la Musique. I payed on the Licorice Lane stage, which was about 30m up a laneway between the two main malls in Fortitude Valley. This gig was a bit of the downside of being a performer. The two main stages in the malls on either side were quite loud, so hearing was an issue and an acoustic soloist getting attention was ... difficult. There were a few people walking past, but most of them stopped for a bit and then kept walking when the song was finished. I guess it's good that I was able to keep their attention for the song, at least ... a couple of people stayed for most of the set and the woman who was selling massages at the end of the laneway (she heard every act that day) said I was great.

Before I played I was asked to lend my guitar to Yolande of Yolande and the Sea, who played first on the main stage in the Valley Mall and then repeated their set when the second band didn't turn up. Poor Yolande had broken her top E string in her first song and when Jo (the organiser) asked them to play again, she asked me if Yolande could use my guitar. Being a drummer and not at all precious about my guitars, I was very happy to help ...

I was supposed to play for 20 minutes and had rehearsed a 20-minute set but the act after me cancelled, so I was given the option to extend a bit and played an extra two songs. I thought about more but I haven't had the chance to rehearse much this year and didn't want to embarrass myself ...Finished just after 1pm ...

I then got to hang out with the crew (particularly Jo Bell and "Mustang" Sally Porteous), and watch some great performers. I only caught the very end of the very beautiful Eleanor Angel, with a voice to match, before she was drowned out by the Pop/funk stylings of Shuttle Wreckers. These cats were seriously tight and funky - despite having taken a month off before yesterday.

Also caught Alan Boyle, though I had to leave in the middle of Alan's set to give Yolande my guitar. I met Alan in Fetfest last year and he's a real songwriting talent with a great voice. I also caught a set from Benjamin Hooper, whose sense of humour and musicality were unsurpassed. Finally, I caught up with PJ Weston in Ric's Bar. This was the first time I'd caught PJ's band and I was really impressed - tight, crunchy and very well arranged. A great unit. I also had a good Chat to Chris Pickering, who's off to the Nashville to do some writing. Best wishes, Chris, I apologise for missing your set.

But the best part of the day was that there was just sooo much music of all kinds going on all over the place that you couldn't walk around without hearing something ear-catching. I apologise to the great acts that I heard but didn't pay enough attention to remember. This festival is a brilliant idea and should be expanded n Brisbane and surrounds in future - awesome for the local music scene.

Which brings me to the next bit of downside to laying music. Sort of. I had a paying gig with Bun' Ber E starting 6pm on the other side of the river ... so I had to leave the Fete. I drove across the river and found the venue much more easily than I expected ... so I had to sit around for half an hour waiting for the rest of my band to show up - and, for that matter, for the function organisers to show up.

This is an often-overlooked downside to being an entertainer: you get to spend a lot of time waiting for things to happen. Anyone who tells you life on the road is always exciting and fun has either never done it or is full of shit. It's boring in large part - and even if you don't travel so much, there's still a lot of sitting around waiting for other people to want you to do stuff. Patience, tact and tolerance are very much needed.

But then the final upside: we had one of those nights when everything was perfect. The crowd was beautiful and enthusiastic, the organisers were organised, we were the perfect band for the event and the crowd was very appreciative - joining in the fun. It was a gig to die for - the band was also cooking ...

So there we have it - a complete musical existence in one day: sharing, technical failure, inspiration, letdown, travel, boredom, friendship, appreciation, enjoyment ... all of it.

And I wanna do it again tomorrow ... what's wrong with me???

Posted by Hughie at June 22, 2008 8:02 AM

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