Items filtered by date: May 2013
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 14:12

Ernie Watts: All That Jazz

It’s not every day you get the chance to chat with a legendary jazz player who’s on the other side of the planet.

Who am I talking about? The one and only Ernie Watts – a saxophonist continuing the legacy of pioneers like John Coltrane who has been touring the world for over 50 years.

“I started playing in grade seven,” Ernie explains. “I was 13 years old and I had no idea I wanted to play the saxophone. I was with a friend of mine and we went to the school music department, and my friend wanted a saxophone and I thought I'd try trombone.

“The school was all out of trombones, so the school teacher gave me a baritone saxophone – the big saxophone – mainly because I was tall for my age and the school teacher figured I would be able to carry it in marching bands.”

Six months later Ernie traded in his baritone instrument for an alto saxophone and his fate was sealed. To date Ernie has now appeared on over 500 recordings, ranging from Frank Zappa to Aretha Franklin.

“I love playing to everything and I love listening to everything, and when you have the opportunity to play with different people, you really see that there's similarity between the things.

“When you play with Frank Zappa, his music is technically difficult because he was a classical composer, but the music he wrote was very jazz-oriented … Music is always connected in a jazz way or a blues way.”

Now Ernie distances himself from pop music and plays with his own jazz ensemble, The Ernie Watts Quartet, that’s based in Germany.

“Pop music is very, very formulated. It's put together in a particular way and that's what makes it pop music … If you travel with a pop group, you play the music the same way every night at a pop show. When you play with a jazz group it's different every night.

“The tunes may be the same, but the performances are different and it evolves [because] you allow it to evolve and try different things … The only big sort of pop group that I've played with where it was encouraged to play differently and to improvise was with The Rolling Stones.”

The Ernie Watts Quartet play the Powerhouse as part of the Brisbane International Jazz Festival Saturday June 1.

Published in Jazz/ Fusion
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 14:02

Martha Wainwright: Leaving Home

It might be cooling down in Brisbane, but on the other side of the world Martha Wainwright is enjoying a little piece of New York spring.

“We’re having a beautiful spring and I have a garden, so I’ve been trying to put stuff in just in time to leave,” Wainwright says down the phone line from her Brooklyn home. “I always think of myself as a spring person, because I was born in May. And I like to see things not too hot or too cold, so I’m always happy in spring.”

It’s nice to find Wainwright in good spirits. 2012 saw the release of ‘Come Home To Mama’, her third studio LP and one that told of abject pain and reckoning. Through song, Wainwright covered the troubled, premature birth of her son, Arcangelo, and the 2010 death of her mother, iconic Canadian folk singer-songwriter, Kate McGarrigle.

The album wasn’t a hit, but found plenty of traction with critics and fans who fell for Wainwright’s gentle and often gently humorous take on her struggles. Now, she’s preparing to take the record on the road, flying to Australia at the end of the month for a series of shows around the country.

“We’ve had a month off and I love being home, but I do crave a hotel room,” Wainwright says, laughing at herself. “And room service and knowing exactly where I have to be at what time and what is expected of me, and putting my all into the performance and meeting the audience and signing autographs. I like that.”

With ‘Come Home To Mama’ being such a personal record, you might think it makes it difficult to take these songs on the road. But Wainwright explains that each cut has to a certain extent outgrown the album and take on a life of its own.

“They’re different to when you first write them,” she says. “That said, when I write them I try to create a song that stands alone as a work of art and a powerful piece of music. When you play music live with musicians or solo, it’s like a physical job. You can get into it. You do the best that you can with your instrument and it requires a lot of brain function. And that’s really what you’re riding on – you’re riding on the music, closing your eyes and doing a good version of it.

“People have sung the same songs over and over again millions of times. That doesn’t detract from their power, hopefully, and I think that’s an indication of whether the song is well crafted. Some songs I’ve been doing for a long time now and some songs I still do, and that’s probably a testament to the song.”

For the shows, Wainwright will be playing with her husband Brad Albetta on bass, as well as a drummer and keyboardist. The intention is to flesh out ‘Come Home To Mama’ in the live setting but also dip into some standards and her popular Edith Piaf covers. But as much as she loves it, touring isn’t going to be as easy as it used to be for Wainwright, now that she has a son to consider.

“It’s going to be the real challenge for me in the future – being able to ‘have it all’ where women are not allowed to have a career and a family. I’m sure I won’t be able to play as much as I would have, and I’ll miss days of Arc’s school. But I have to be able to do both, there’s no question. And I have to be able to dedicate myself to both, and I know there’s a way.”

After Australia it’s more touring as Wainwright tackles the northern festival season. But even that comes with its challenges these days. Playing live is where musicians make their money in 2013 – as opposed to album sales – but Wainwright says she’s beginning to see signs of cracks in the new model.

“A lot of people are on the road. There’s a glut – that’s what I’ve heard. In fact, I would say people’s guarantees are down and attendances are low in a lot of places in Europe. Also, there are so many shows.

“It’s actually created an interesting situation, but I don’t have any other skill sets,” she laughs. “I sort of have to go out there and hope for the best and grab the guitar and fight for dinner money.”

And has she started writing again just yet?

“It’s harder now,” Wainwright says. “Because any time of mine that is free I obviously like to spend with my child or with home stuff: gardening, painting, cleaning, all that kind of stuff … But I think the songs, as they always have, will reflect that change.”

Martha Wainwright kicks off her Australian Tour at The Tivoli on May 31.

Published in Rock
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 13:57

Honey Bird: A Golden Thread

Honey Bird’s debut album could have been plucked straight out of the ‘70s.

Local rock band Honey Bird have just released their debut LP titled ‘A Golden Thread’. With strong ‘70s influences, the band combines bluesy vintage rock with flashes of Pink Floyd and The Beatles, and the raw soaring vocals of female singer Ilsa Wynne-Hoelscher.

“It's our first recorded work; we've been working on these ten original songs since 2011 … ‘A Golden Thread’ is the title of a track on the record and we just decided to run with that as the title of the LP because there are bits and pieces of our lives and little chapters of different stories throughout the tracks. So ‘A Golden Thread’ is just kind of tying it all together and it's almost our metaphor of life – it's kind of topsy-turvy and you get all these things thrown at you at once, and sound-wise the album is quite eclectic in that way.”

The band is set to tour south-east Queensland towards the end of May to promote the new record. Starting out as a cover band on the Sunshine Coast, their vintage sound has been instrumental in maintaining some originality on stage.

“Because we started out as a cover band, as most bands do, we definitely steered clear of those typical pub rock tunes because there's so much of that already out there, so we just played what we wanted to play and luckily we had that common thread. We loved that vintage sound, those bluesy rock guitar licks and soaring vocals that have that rawness to them.”

Each track on the album is a collaborative effort, with the whole band working together to create a unique sound in every song.

“I guess, in terms of our style and inspiration, I just write lyrics based on a feeling or an experience I'm going through, and the band creates a sound that matches the mood I'm after. Or they do the opposite because some lyrics I write can be a bit dark; I go down that Nick Cave sort of vein, and then the boys kind of flip it and create this really rocky, upbeat kind of music behind the melody which creates a whole other meaning to the song and adds a bit of richness to it.”

Honey Bird play the Spotted Cow, T’mba, May 25, Eatons Hill Hotel May 30 and Woombye Pub June 1.

Published in Rock
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 13:47

Earlwolf: New Beginnings

Earl Sweatshirt returned from two years at a Samoan reform school with a new song called ‘Chum’ in 2012, but instead of a howl of triumph celebrating his freedom we heard him sounding unusually vulnerable.

“I’m indecisive, I’m scatter-brained and I’m frightened,” he admitted, ending the final verse with: “Been back a week and I already feel like calling it quits.”

It wasn’t the Earl Sweatshirt we were used to. His first album, ‘Earl’, was a parade of monsters: “This is my zombie circus, you better get a fuckin’ ticket.” That line was delivered by frequent guest, collaborator, co-pilot and big-brother figure Tyler, the Creator; together they pretended to be vampires and devils as well as serial killers and rapists, not seeming to realise or care that there was any difference between fantasising about being John Wayne Gacy or Count Dracula.

Earlwolf was another of those monsters, one they formed when combined together, a two-headed angry teenage misfit who hated the world because it was full of homework and parents who were either absent or overbearing. The skit where Earl’s mother tries to wake him up for school by saying she won’t make him breakfast if he doesn’t get out of bed, to which he replies “I can fix myself breakfast, I’m 16!”, might be the most perfectly self-aware satire of teenage rebellion ever recorded.

But Tyler’s last album, ‘Wolf’, wasn’t about annoying old people, taking the piss out of himself or playing Halloween dress-up as Satanists and rapists. Reviews called it ‘deeper’ and were surprised to hear him sounding ‘remorseful’. Tyler found more mature things to rap about, just like Earl, who told the New York Times that after working in a crisis support center in Samoa as part of his counselling and talking to victims of sexual abuse it wasn’t possible to write songs about the subject any more, “if you have any ounce of humanity”.

“I think I speak for me and him both when I say it happened naturally ’cause it was just like outgrowing it,” he says of the change in his and Tyler’s music. “Like, enough shit had happened to the point where we didn’t have to rely on that or have to go there, because there was other subject matter. There’s other very pertinent, very personal subject matter for us to touch on.”

While he was in Samoa Earl had to talk to therapists every day and take educational courses, but he also found time to read Richard Fariña’s novel ‘Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me’ (“I fucking love that book, like I read that book like 10 or 11 times”) and learn the basics of playing piano (“I just try and find chords that I think are cool”). Those experiences are part of what’s going into his next two albums, ‘Doris’ and ‘Gnossos’, the second of which is named after the main character of Fariña’s book. He’s eager to have the releases ready and a little frustrated by performing with Tyler on his current Wolf tour and getting bigger reactions when he pulls out the old stuff.

“I’m having a lot more fun performing now,” he says, “but I just really want this album to come out so the crowds can be familiar with it when I play new stuff. I’m not sick of the old stuff, it’s just that at this point I’m transitioning out of wanting to play it all the time.”

The Earlwolf shows, which they’re currently touring around the US before they come to Australia, feature Earl and Tyler performing a joint set, with fellow members of Odd Future, Jasper Dolphin and Taco, as their hypemen.

“There’s like a tentative setlist but me and him have a bunch of songs that we’ve done together. Like, I have solo shit, he has solo shit, so it’s just a mixed bag of all that stuff.”

If it’s anything like the footage on YouTube of them performing together it’s likely to be chaotic, featuring them changing their mind about which songs they want to do halfway through and Earl having to talk Tyler into doing ‘Tamale’, the goofiest, bounciest and least mature song on ‘Wolf’. “Yeah, that’s the most fun song in the entire world,” Earl says. “We played that two times last night.”

Watching footage of the two of them on stage, clowning and goofing off, Earl and Tyler seem so closely connected that it’s weird to hear they weren’t always so tight. But when they first met, Tyler having tracked down Earl after hearing him rap on MySpace, it was underwhelming. “We didn’t really like each other at first,” Earl says. “I don’t know, we both thought we were annoying.”

Plenty would agree with that first impression, but somehow they got past their mutual abrasiveness and Earl became an essential part of Tyler’s posse of skate kids and rap brats.

“There was no, like, joining processes,” Earl says of becoming part of Odd Future. “We did songs and then that’s how that happened. We just started doing music together. We did ‘Couch’ and ‘Asthma’ first out of anything and then it just happened naturally. It wasn’t like, ‘All right, man. Fucking jump through this hoop and beat this wizard and you can be down with me and my homies.’”

Earlwolf perform at Eatons Hill Hotel Saturday June 8.

Published in Urban
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 04:08

Saideira: Brazil Meets Brisbane

Bringing the music, food, and party spirit of Brazil to Brisbane is independent producer Anje West’s pleasure and pain.

“It is my baby now,” laughs Anje. “I'm pulling my hair out, but that's the way of it. When you're an independent producer of anything, there is that little bit of stress going 'are people going to come, are people going to buy tickets?' But people are buying tickets and people have always come.”

If past events are anything to go by, Anje and her team of bandmates should have no trouble attracting huge crowds to Saideira, Brisbane's own Brazilian cultural festival.
“We did a few of them at The Joynt at West End, we put together a show for the Woodford Folk Festival, and we did a massive Saideira up in the Coolum Civic Centre in 2011, which we sold out. We haven't done one for a year; we decided to have a little breather and see what we could come up with.”

Now, says Anje, they are ready with an even bigger festival that encompasses not only the music of Brazil, but its food, dance, and martial arts.

“We've decided to do it again, just a little bit bigger, different venue, with some different things on the programme, and make it more of a big Brazilian cultural experience rather than just be about the music: there's food, there's dancers, percussion groups, and [Brazilian martial arts] capoeira. It's going to be fantastic.”

Saideira is the brainchild of Owen Newcomb — the bass player in Anje's Brazilian music project, The View From Madeleine's Couch — following a trip to the country.
“He was really keen for people of Australia to experience some of what he experienced when he was in Brazil. [It's] that vibe of celebrating with your family and your friends, and listening to great music, and just really enjoying life, the way that Brazilians do.”

Festival highlights will include West's own band, musicians Coisa Linda and Zambabem dance troupe Sambaliscious, plus the all-important traditional Brazilian barbeque from Brazilyum.

“We'd love to see it as part of the regular festival scene in Brisbane. This is something we really believe in and we love the music and lifestyle and the culture so much, and it's just really important for us to share that, and expose other people to it, because it's just great.”

Saideira takes place at Greenslopes Bowls Club Saturday June 1.
Published in Reggae/ Roots
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 04:00

Chris Poulsen Trio: David and Goliath

The latest album from The Chris Poulsen Trio draws inspiration from vintage instruments, Christian scripture and the legendary Herbie Hancock.

'David And Goliath' features songs that were recorded the old-fashioned way on analogue equipment, and Chris says the band fell in love with the sound as well as the intimate recording process.

“We've mucked around with vintage stuff before and I've always been into that Herbie sound from that era. Jeremy [O’Connor, bass] was so inspired by the instruments and the really authentic sound. The process isn't so clinical like it is with digital. It brings everyone together into one room and there's a great vibe. You don't worry about it being rough around the edges.”

The callback to ‘60s post-pop and jazz fusion can be heard throughout the record and Chris believes younger musicians will be drawn to the genre through the carefree attitude of the music.

“There's one track in particular that's really captures the Herbie Hancock sound called 'Not Shy To Reply'. It's sort of a tribute almost. I think there is an element of young musicians looking up to the older generation of jazz artists. People see the energy and the obvious interaction between the band members and it really catches on.”
Religion and the story of David and Goliath in particular had a major impact on the album, but Chris says the themes are relatable to non-religious people as well.
“The stories mean a lot to me, I think even on their own they are quite powerful narratives. It conveys a message that anyone can relate to as far as being an underdog and having faith. Having the David and Goliath story throughout the album gives the listener something else to hook onto. Because there's no lyrics the narrative helps people understand the album better.”

The chemistry they have — both on stage and in the studio — is vital to the trio's success, and Chris hopes it comes across in 'David And Goliath’.
“In jazz there's a big emphasis on rapport and interaction. The ability to relate with each other and our musical styles is really important. It's been an intense process making this album and I think people who listen to it will be able to see that.”

The Chris Poulsen Trio launch ‘David And Goliath’ at Metro Arts June 1. A ticket includes a copy of the album.
Published in Jazz/ Fusion
Monday, 20 May 2013 20:36

Time Capsule - Part 10

Scene Magazine celebrates 20 years on the streets in 2013. Each week this year, in this column, we're looking back at what we, and you, were doing.

We opened 1998 with Kylie on the cover and sans-editor! Late in 1997, Neil Richards had moved up the road and in cahoots with founding client, Nick Black to launch Euphoria, an RnB club at 383 Adelaide Street (your parents would remember the room as Rumours or Sybils).

In setting one of the themes for this week’s Capsule, I can report that building was bulldozed a decade later in 2008.

The big chair remained vacant until late March when Pat Whyte, a Café Scene man with a journalism degree, presented. He stayed for a decade and probably played a more significant role than any other staffer in shaping the company’s flagship offering — more on Pat in future Capsules.

Our first Arts Editor was by Brinsley Marlay. He sculpted the role, then owned it, leaving a legacy for those that followed. Scene Magazine's arts credentials are unquestionably unrivalled by any music street press title in the country.

Whigfield (Sexy Eyes), Savage Garden and Van Halen all landed at Brisbane Airport in the first six months of the year. In addition to Kylie, covers included Roni Size, John Digweed, Natalie Imbruglia, Portishead, Public Enemy, and may the Lord have mercy on our souls — Peter André. And if that wasn't enough, we were giving away tickets to The Spice Girls!

The Chelsea (next to The Healer (previous Capsule)) in Warner Street, in partnership with Slingshot Entertainment (also celebrating 20 years in 2013), copresented Metabass 'n Breath (US) with local top-shelf supports Katch and Sheep.

Regular columns: Clem's 'New Gen' (Britpop) and Flavours Radio Show 'Tha Broadcast' (Urban). Advertisers included Jamesons (475 Adelaide Street), Stones Corner’s Replay Records, Hipnotic and The Broadway Hotel.

Of special note, the Classic Cinema (977 Stanley St, East Brisbane) was the third advertiser of its type to succumb to ‘progress’. It was to close a mere two years later (mid-2000) and was soon followed by New Farm Village Twin (2003) and later The Valley Twin.

Custard-Live  resin-dogs-story 
 Black-Stallion Jebediah-Poster 
Published in Time Capsule
Thursday, 16 May 2013 16:44

At Last: The Etta James Story tickets

Vika Bull, one of Australia’s most respected, powerful soul singers, is set to tell the story of one of the most influential soul singers of all time: Etta James.

Written by critically acclaimed UK author John Livings, At Last: The Etta James Story bolts down at the Brisbane Powerhouse June 5-9.

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Terms and Conditions:
1. Winners will be drawn at random at 2:01pm Tuesday 21st May at Level 2, 192-210 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley.
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Published in Competition
Wednesday, 15 May 2013 18:15

Monet: Fine Art

Brisbane duo Monet boast an eclectic sound, heartfelt lyrics and a style all of their own.

Guitarist Ross Quick and vocalist Lisa Jones have been performing together since 2009 when they met through a cover band they were both performing in. Lisa says their recently released self-titled album is an eclectic collection of original songs which chart the rise and fall of a relationship.

“The theme through most of the songs is relationships and a different take or perspective on relationships and what happens during them. We sort of planned the album to start off with a lie and then to disconnection and then to depression after being in a relationship, and then it finishes with happiness.

“Usually I'm inspired by a tune that Ross writes and sends to me and where that piece of music takes me is the theme of the song. Some of the lyrics I've written years ago and some of them I've come up with from one word and built the song around that.”

With a prestigious slot at last year's Falls Festival under their belt, Lisa says Monet always tries to create an inclusive, memorable experience for punters who attend their shows.

“We always hope to create an intimate live show. We want the audience to connect and relate to the stories that we're telling through our music. We play off the audience, if the audience gives us their time then we pay them back with a good show and we really feed off them and how they're interacting with us. Usually I talk too much during the songs and I think I need to stop doing that, but it's part of the show as well, expressing my personality as someone telling stories and I always hope the audience likes them.”

Lisa and Ross are currently in the process of writing another batch of songs, with Lisa declaring that listeners can expect a different musical direction.

“We're taking a little bit of a break so we can concentrate on writing some more songs. The theme for the next album is old style blues, the way that it's sung by Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf, so I think it's going to contain some heartwrenching storytelling”.

‘Monet’ is out now.

Published in Rock

If a boy is dumped in the forest with no remorse, does anybody care? Apparently so, in Steve Pirie’s unique play about love lost in ‘Escape from the Breakup Forest’.

It’s a difficult experience, and one that people from all corners of the earth can relate to on one level or another. It’s the breakup: stressful and miserable, bundled fabulously together with feelings of rejection and uncertainty, with an all-dominant sense of loneliness to put the cherry on top. It couldn’t sound inviting if the world depended on it, so it’s no wonder that people have a hard time discussing the matter — until now. Toowoomba-based theatre company Mixtape Collective have given the flick to any sense of a standard play, in a production that is humble, comical and all too real for audiences to delve into. Writer Steve Pirie reveals that his story on set might have come from a place closer to his own heart rather than his head.

“I didn't know what to do the first time I was dumped. I didn't know if I was supposed to talk about it or do that thing where you go 'whatever, she was crazy', and move on. There are no rules, and I think it's by trial and error that you pick that up.”

The story follows Josh, a young man dumped by his female counterpart for no specific reason, as he attempts to learn more about himself and rise above his horrible experience. However, it’s a piece of theatre work that focuses on seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as opposed to being all dark and gloomy, Pirie says.

“What I really wanted to do when I wrote this was tell a story about celebrating the idea behind heartbreak, because it's something that happens to everyone and that’s a universal experience. But nobody really talks about the fallout from it and how you deal with that, and it's something that this really explores.”

Mixtape Collective have managed to make many positives out of a negative, but with no real set demographic for such a broad subject, the plan is to just keep the momentum pushing forward.

“After the Gold Coast, we'd like to just show our work to as many people as we can. I think it's really resonated with a lot of younger people, like high school-aged kids and it's great to see them come along and to share that story. I'd love for it to have a life much beyond this one.”

It’s also evident that the arts are in full swing in somewhat sleepy Toowoomba, an experience unlike any other according to Pirie.

“There's a real sort of renaissance happening up here on the mountain. There's a great visual arts scene that’s happening and a lot of independent outfits coming out of that so for us to be regional, that's a huge thing, and we're proud to do that. And to have our work shown in metropolitan areas like Brisbane and to have the work sell out, it's really humbling.”

It seems like big things are in order for a production that confronts the feeling of being left for dead amongst young lovers. Pirie envisions his work flourishing in other mediums and sums up the notion of such a production like only a writer can.

“I've kicked around the idea of turning it into a TV series, graphic novels and all that stuff, because I think it's important for people to celebrate the worst things that come in life, because what else can you do?”

'Escape From The Breakup Forest' is at The Space at The Arts Centre Gold Coast May 23 - June 1.

Published in Theatre
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