14 August 2016

Have We Met? The Buckleys :: Musicians

Musical talent runs deep in the Buckley family. Mick, Sharon and their four youngest children have recently returned from the USA, where their family band, The Buckleys, played shows in Nashville, wrote songs with Grammy-nominated country music songwriters, and met with record labels.

They played at the famous Bluebird Café, on the same stage where Bob Dylan and Taylor Swift have trodden. “For them to get invited to play there, that was cool, man,” says Mick.

Sisters Sarah and Molly are out in front on guitar, mandolin, ganjo and vocals, while brother, Lachlan, plays bass and dad, Mick, keeps time on the kit.

“We’ve been around instruments our whole life,” says Molly. “We’ve always been writing songs,” ads Sarah. The US trip was a dream come true for the girls, who love country music. 

“When I was 12 years old, I was going to get to Nashville by the time I was 16," says Sarah. "So everything in the last 4 years has been leading up to that.”   

Lachlan prefers ‘70s and ‘80s rock and roll over country, but he “does what we tell him to”, jokes Sarah. Mick starts singing a Deep Purple riff in solidarity and Lachlan just laughs.

The kids’ orientation towards country music wasn’t accidental. Mick wanted them to have a broad knowledge of the different types of music out there. “I don’t like doof parties and all that sort of stuff and drugs that go along with them,” he says. “So I thought, the furthest away from that you can get is busking on the street at Tamworth.”

The band went to the Tamworth Country Music Festival to busk, and ended up in the grand final of the busking competition, playing on the main stage to thousands of people. Since then they’ve gone from strength to strength, appearing on the bill at festivals up and down the east coast, and winning song-writing accolades in the USA.

Mick was brought up in the traditions of jump swing and 1940s boogie woogie. “I had six sisters, and my dad and my uncle played boogie woogie New Orleans piano. Apparently I used to sit on their knee and all my sisters used to sing in the lounge room in north Sydney,” he says. He got taught a few chords on the piano and the rest is history.
Mick has had a successful and varied musical career. He’s played in bands since high school, and has been a professional musician ever since. He spent several years as the drummer for the legendary pub rock band, The Radiators, touring constantly. “Playing 6 nights a week, full houses everywhere. 1980s A Grade rock and roll, really crazy stuff,” he says.

Apart from those rock and roll days, most of the music Mick plays is grounded in jump swing. “You go out and play all sorts of stuff, but it’s always based on that,” he says. “It’s all about entertaining. Smiles on dials,” he grins. It’s how he turned himself from a drummer into a solo pianist playing in clubs around Sydney. 

“I knew how to play rockabilly piano. There was a job going at Penrith Panthers Leagues Club for $350 a night playing a grand piano. So I got that job, wearing a suit and tie. I had an hour’s worth of material, and I needed 4,” he chuckles.

That led to Mick joining the Yee Haa Boys, a country swing band who had several hits and top ten country singles with songs he had written. These days Mick has a number of ensembles that keep him busy: a big band, two duos, a jump swing/rockabilly band and solo work, as well as the family band.

“I like to keep local, because as soon as you start playing on a bigger level you’re touring, and I’ve done that all my life,” says Mick. “All that glitters isn’t gold. I’d prefer to be doing what I’m doing.”

For Mick, that means playing shows up and down the North Coast and in Queensland, and coming home to Clunes in between, where he’s now lived for 18 months. Sharon is a midwife by day and band manager by night, or maybe that’s the other way around. “That’s the big achievement, keeping everyone happy,” says Mick. “We came to Clunes, and everyone is happy.”

At the moment The Buckleys are busy working on some more songs for an album (they’ve got an EP already), as well as co-writing songs with songwriters in the USA. 

They are also looking forward to playing at the Mullum Music Festival in November this year. It’s shaping up to be a good year, and Mick is enthusiastic about what’s coming up. “I can’t help but bloody get excited about it!”

2 August 2016

Have We Met? Thomas Rehbach :: Educator, carer, hitchhiker

Thomas Rehbach has been a preschool educator, an administrator, a respite carer, a teacher, a courier, a soccer coach and referee. He’s lived in the area long enough to see kids he’s taught now becoming parents and teachers themselves.

Tom was born in Australia to German parents and grew up in Rosehill. At age 9, Tom and his brother went to live at Dunmore House, a boys’ home in Pendle Hill. 

“We got into enough trouble that we had a choice to go to one of two boys homes,” Tom says. It’s a time he remembers favourably, being part of a large family unit with children of all ages. “I think that was the best thing that ever happened to us. I don’t hold any animosity towards my mum for making that choice.”  

17 July 2016

Everybody needs good neighbours

Neighbours. You can’t really choose them, but you can choose your neighbourhood. You can try to surround yourself with like-minded people, with those who share your same values or mowing habits, but in the end it’s still a bit of a lottery.

Where we live can affect so many things besides which corner store we frequent, or where our kids go to school.  It can determine our level of community interaction, who our children play with and how many lemons we don’t need to buy. It can even shape our notions of hospitality and how we welcome others into our world.

Sometimes I don’t want to be a good neighbour. It’s not that I want to be a bad one, I just can’t be bothered being a good one.

28 June 2016

Have We Met? Jim Richardson :: Teacher, Librarian, Environmentalist, Volunteer

The son of a dairy farmer from McKees Hill, Jim Richardson started his education at a one-teacher school at Clovass. Since those early years, he has been fortunate enough to take advantage of the educational opportunities that came his way. They eventually led him out of rural New South Wales, to the city, and the wide world.  

Fast forward to the 1970s, and Jim was a scholarship student at university in Armidale. Originally aiming to become a marine biologist, Jim realised he wanted to be involved with education, so decided to become a science teacher instead. 

10 May 2016

Have We Met? Nikky Morgan-Smith :: Artist

Nikky Morgan-Smith lives in Eureka in a house tucked away on the side of an overgrown gully. It’s the house she grew up in, where her parents still lived, until Nikky and her then six-month old daughter, Morgan, moved back from Melbourne about 9 years ago. “We moved in and when it was apparent that we weren’t going to move back out, they moved out”, Nikky says, smiling.  Her parents now live in another house on the family’s 50-acre property, while Nikky and Morgan share the old house with their menagerie of dogs, cats and birds.

25 April 2016

Girl Vs Internet Logins

In the battle between saving the forests and saving my sanity, there can only be one winner.

At last count I have about 25 online accounts of varying kinds. Each has their own web address, client number, username, password, secret question, mother’s shoe size, wizard’s spell to be chanted at midnight under a full moon.

In an effort to save trees and, while they’re at it, shift responsibility, companies are constantly pushing us to access everything online. Sounds good in theory, everything at your fingertips. In reality, you’re in password hell. 

10 April 2016

Have We Met? Lauren Campbell :: Potter

Photo: Bethany Ryles
In a weathered, open-sided shed behind an old house in the middle of Clunes, Lauren Campbell is in her favourite place. A mud-strewn pottery wheel sits at one end, at the other are shelves laden with vessels in various states of undress. Finished mugs, bowls and platters glisten in the afternoon light, brightly coloured glazes dripping sea blues, lilacs and speckled creams over their earthy bodies. 

“Getting my hands dirty, sitting on the wheel, it’s just a place of calm,” says Lauren.

Lauren discovered pottery about 5 years ago after being captivated by some beautiful ceramics while on a work experience placement with furniture designer, Mark Tuckey, in Sydney. 

23 February 2016

The Axis of Awesome - Interview for Aphra Magazine

So, I got to interview my first comedy act last week, The Axis of Awesome. Luckily, they were awesome, so they're not liars. And, even more luckily, they are playing soon at a comedy festival near you! Which would be true if you live near Adelaide or Melbourne.

Get along to see them if you can, and if you can't just google them or hit them up on YouTube. You'll thank me later.

Read the funny stuff they had to say over at Aphra Magazine here.

17 February 2016

Dave Rawlings Machine : East Coast Tour February 2016 - Bangalow A & I Hall

Dave Rawlings sings sweet and country. His hat’s not as high as some but it’s perfectly clean and cream. He plays that 80-year-old guitar like it’s gonna take him away to another planet.  At once caressing it, then tugging and working it round a solo to within an inch of its life.

Gillian Welch sings, her straight, wide mouth hiding the smooth and effortless sound that escapes it. There’s no confusing whose voice that is. She smiles frequently, at us, at Dave, enjoying herself and the music they’re making.

It’s Dave’s name on the bill, but on stage the two are equals. One wouldn’t be without the other.

Gillian jokes that it’s going to get hot and sweaty, which is just as well because that’s how they like it. For sure, the night is still and the old hall is an oven full of bodies.

The guitars are pretty high, the jeans straight and not-too-narrow, and the denim double. Americana for the clothes as well as the tunes. Long dresses brush ankles, all checks and laces up the front. Gillian hitches hers up to hoe-down along with us.

Sweet harmonies blend like honey and golden syrup warmed up on the stove. Country, folksy, bluegrass, twang. I’ve no idea what it’s called but I don’t really care. I feel like I’m in a movie, watching myself in the audience of the old hall. Their accents (they all live in Nashville these days) upset my sense of place, so I imagine that instead of surfer vans and nice hatchbacks, outside there are pickup trucks and red tractors.

 Willie Watson is a character. Short, with a scrunched up face and raised eyebrows when he sings. Sounds wonderful. Even though the two stars don’t seem to need him, he makes himself indispensable by tying them together and keeping them riding high. When left on his own, he commands the audience like he’s done it since he was 5.

The fresh-faced, rosy-cheeked American boy (of 29) on the double bass is Paul Kowert. He takes a song and a low baritone emerges from his body behind the big, shiny instrument. He twists and lifts his wooden partner around behind the others, finding the sweet spots where he can listen to the lead vocal and follow a string solo.

Brittany Haas is the girl on the fiddle. For a lass who’s not even 30, she’s got the thing by the balls and steals the show time after time. Who needs a voice when you can make strings sing and skip like she can.

Beside me Tim floats off to heaven. He’s seen the Promised Land, or rather heard it with his own ears, and he can hardly believe it.

4 February 2016

Have We Met? Kylie Bridges :: Artist and Collaborator

“We were all set up in Sydney,” says Kylie Bridges, shaking her head in slight disbelief at what she’s about to say. 

“I really didn’t think he’d walk away from it all, but he did and we’re here and we love it”, she says, referring to her husband, Mark, a self-employed bathroom renovator and musician, and their decision to move to Clunes 13 years ago. “I still actually go ‘wow, we really did it’, because we were in a really nice situation, in a little house, great friends, great street”, Kylie explains. 

A chance encounter between their son Josh, a toddler at the time, and a stranger’s playful dog on a Byron Bay beach changed their lives. The dog’s owner told them how he’d lived all over the world but had now settled in Clunes. “‘It was God’s country’, he said, and he told us to ‘do yourselves a favour and just go out into the hinterland while you’re up here’”, Kylie recounts. She never did learn his name.
Now primarily a self-employed graphic designer, artist, and mother, Kylie draws on the skills picked up throughout a varied career which has encompassed administration, retail management, call centre work, customer service and hospitality. 

Completing a visual arts degree straight after school, her artistic side has been a constant anchor. “I’ve always done something creative, just whatever I could find”, Kylie says. This year Kylie’s daughter, Elke, the youngest of her four children, is starting school at Clunes Primary, following in the footsteps of her three older brothers, Josh, Toby and Ethan. 

“It will be bittersweet”, Kylie says, of her child-minding days ending and her own pursuits coming to the fore. “This is my year to bring it all together and see what it can be,” she says. “Now I need to work out for me and my career, I’m all grown up. Far out!”  

The past two years have been challenging and enlightening, as Kylie has ventured into the world of hospitality together with her business partner and friend, Emma Nichols. Looking for a way to combine their shared love of art, exhibiting, food and coffee, they took over the Eltham Valley Pantry in 2013 after it was marked for closure. Emma, being a talented cook, and Kylie, being passionate about collaborating and exhibiting with fellow artists, desired to create an art workshop, gallery and coffee house.

“We knew it would be hard but it was so much more than we thought”, Kylie confides.  The pair discovered it wasn’t easy to put their own mark on a space with such a solid, existing reputation, and make it their own. But by the time they decided to move on, Kylie and Emma were able to pinpoint the direction in which their partnership should go next. “Through that process we realised it’s not what we wanted. That’s how Found came to be”, Kylie says.

Found Coffee and Creative was the pair’s second foray into hospitality. A café and a place to exhibit, produce and talk about creative projects in the centre of Lismore, it was a wonderful, if short-lived, venture. While the timing and the building weren’t meant to be, Kylie is proud of what they started there, and the connections they made have continued to bear fruit.

Energised by the idea of connecting with and encouraging fellow creatives, Kylie and Emma have now begun to focus on curating pop-up artisan markets, such as the one held in Bexhill last November. It’s an ideal way to foster a community of talented people and give them access to the public in an encouraging environment.

Collaboration is an essential part of Kylie’s work, both in business and in art. “I really get inspired seeing other people’s talents and creativity. With the portraits that we do, obviously it’s going to have my influence, my style, but I like to know what their scenario is, what their surroundings are”, she explains. Recently, a client was so moved he burst into tears when Kylie unveiled a portrait she’d done of his two sons. “It’s trying to find those stories to put in there, that’s what I really love to do. It’s the challenging thing but the most rewarding part of it.”


19 January 2016

Soundtrack to a road trip

Since I've moved towns, my summer road trips have become down right familiar. They take me back to where I grew up, along a road I've travelled a hundred times before. Each year we optimistically pile our kids, Christmas presents, pet, beach gear, party outfits and active wear into the car and set off for our little 3-hour journey down the Pacific Highway.  

I'm not getting to many festivals these days, or going off on spontaneous camping weekends with my mates, so this annual drive is one of my only chances to feel the carefree vibes of taking to the road, air-con in my hair and porta-cot jammed in behind my seat.

This time, we had so much gear we decided to take two cars, and on the return trip I get the kids while Tim has the dog. Luckily, I also get the CD stacker.

Since we're constantly trying to educate our 4.5 year old how to appreciate modern rock music, and since kids are such good learners, he now complains whenever we play anything that "doesn't have enough guitar in it". Ergo, the stacker is a constant rotation of albums which have good "dir-nir" bits in them, loud bits, riffs that you can strum along to on your air guitar while strapped in a 5-point harness.