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 cafĂ© 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.”