Thursday, October 16, 2014

Down at the old Mussel Inn

Just when I was getting used to sleeping at home again, it's time to leave town for a few days... About this time last year we played The Explorers Club: Antarctica show at the Mussel Inn for the Nelson Festival, and we liked playing there so much we said hey let's come back next time you guys have a free date, and they said yeah sure because I guess they liked having us there too and we didn't break anything.  But the Mussel Inn is such a key part of everybody's circuit that they book bands about a year in advance, so the soonest we could go back there was this Saturday.

So that's what we're doing - I'm going to do some new Bond St songs all by my ownsome lonesome, and the the fun will start when me and Millicent Crow do our Mermaid and Mariner thing with rock'n'roll sea shanties, field holler lullabies, old-time fight songs and a new song about and actual mermaid and an actual mariner.

On the way south we're going to play at the Museum of Wellington City & Sea as part of this thing, a bunch of songwriters sharing new songs in a beautiful environment, which should be a hoot and a holler - we played there this time last year as well, come to think of it, and they are lovely people at that museum.  Time to go to the airport again....

I know that's not how you spell muscle.

Museum of Wellington City & Sea Songwriter Circle - 7pm 16/10/2014 at the Museum, Jervois Quay, Wellington
Mussel Inn: 8pm 18/10/14 at the Mussel Inn, you know where it is.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fringing in the Lucky Country

After a couple of weeks in China, wandering around in a haze of incomprehension, awe, and dumplings, Sydney at least made sense on all the superficial levels.  I could read the road signs, for instance.  My phone worked properly, so if I got lost I could at least go online and look at pictures of people's cats. And because we were now back on the Explorers Club: Antarctica touring roadshow, I was suddenly tour manager again so I had to know what was going on and make decisions and stuff.

Thunder in Sydney

In China I didn't have to make any decisions at all, not even about such basic functions as feeding myself - I just ate everything that appeared in front of me and grinned as broadly as circumstances permitted. We spent the entire tour being picked up and dropped off in various locations in a succession of late-model SUVs and sedans, being gently guided from hotels to venues to restaurants to points of scenic interest to restaurants to markets to restaurants to enormous statues of Chairman Mao and then, usually, to a restaurant.  About the only real input I had into any aspect of my routine for two weeks was to insist that somewhere along the way we find me coffee at least once a day, in order to prevent unpleasentness. This kind of lifestyle is a lot of fun, but it's no good for a person's hustle - it doesn't take long to get soft.  Also, at some point I ate or drank or otherwise ingested some aspect of China that made me really quite ill, so by the time Sydney rolled around I was operating on a much reduced strategic reserve and generally being a bit whiny.

Fortunately, Sydney turned out to be pretty straightforward, even supportive.  The accom was clean, the taxis were cheap, the venue was great - another human-sized DIY joint run by someone who loves putting on shows for her neighbours - and I discovered that in Sydney, you can leave your camera on the train and it doesn't matter at all because it will be waiting for you at the lost property office in the next station that same afternoon.  You can also buy proper cold medication at the pharmacy if you show them your passport and sign the right forms, so I was able to medicate myself into something close to performance standard. This was lucky, since we were there to play three shows in the Sydney Fringe, and after we picked up a nice review on the second night, we had a full house for our final show and all was right in the world.  Like, apart from my digestive system, which was still trying to figure out what I had done to it in China, but that is not a story everyone will want to hear about.

Full house at The Newsagency on the last night of the Sydney Fringe 

So now it's a week of show in the Melbourne Fringe, and so far that has meant good turnouts and dead-silent theatre audiences, which is always a good time. Staying in one place for a week is a new thing for The Explorers Club, so we are filling our days with punting in the Botanic Gardens, looking at art in the NGV, and trying to find the exact spot where Paul Kelly wrote 'Leaps and Bounds,' because that is how we rock and roll.  Then it's back to the old country for some Mermaid & Mariner shows - Golden Dawn on the 15th, Museum of Wellington City And Sea on the 16th and Mussel Inn on the 18th of Oct.  Shanties ahoy!

High on the hill, looking over the bridge to the MCG... Tim Guy reckons it was actually a bit further up the river.

So much art, so little wall space