Been a long time since I checked in last… August was only a few short months ago but it seems like another lifetime.
Speaking of lifetimes, a big tribute to a musical brother and fellow fighter in the Shoogle trenches for 12 years, Angus R. Grant.
Possessing what I sometimes refer to as a sober man’s memory, I have a huge amount of adventures with Angus seared into my brain, right from him sweeping past me at Launceston airport to get his post flight cigarette to a farewell-end-of-tour-hug at the Bluesfest earlier this year. There are stories enough to fill countless books but they will wait for another time.
Thanks for it ALL Angi.
On the work front things have been rather frantic. Last I wrote, Andy Irvine was about to travel down south to record with me in Melbourne. He did and we converted a house made available to us by our good friend Corinn into a makeshift studio. 7 long days tracking and I had hours of unedited Irvine - a complete album somewhere in there… He’s a tireless worker putting down 14 tracks of bouzouki, mandola, harmonica and vocal takes.
I said later that his parts could have easily formed an entire album of unadulterated Andy, but as producer that would have been both a wasted opportunity and a cop out. I fired the finished takes over to the trusty Big Macs - Mike McGoldrick and John McCusker, our backing vocalists extraordinaire - Ruth Hazleton and Kate Burke and I began work on how to complement Andy’s playing with my own.
A few trips out to Inverloch in Victoria gave me the time and quiet space to record my own parts, we had a lovely day of vocals with Kate and Ruth and slowly the album took shape. Fairly early on it became clear it was a special record with a lot of first class material. I had a wee trip planned to come over to Scotland and got the parts from John and Mike plus some icing on the cake in terms of percussion from James MacKintosh - the final member of my Big Mac trinity.
Two days with Calum Malcolm for mixing and there’s the album. It’s been mastered now and awaiting pressing for an Australian release at the Woodford Folk Festival. I’m very proud of the album we made particularly given the “all eggs in one basket” pressure we had from Andy’s initial trip over. He played a blinder and that has set the tone and backbone of the whole album.
One week after Andy left I was back in to record an album with two strangers that have become firm friends. Bernie Griffin and Kirsten Warner from New Zealand got sent my way with an album of songs to record as a way of completing their unplanned period of convalescence in Australia. We did the bulk of the tracking in Greg Macmillan’s beautiful Echidna Studios up in the Christmas Hills with their friends Rob and Judy on Dbl Bass and Piano respectively and one of my go to rhythm guys Ben McAtamney.
It’s a grower of an album. Good songs, good arrangements and a lovely old quality that feels immediately very familiar. They are on tour frequently in New Zealand and no doubt will be back to Australia in the not too distant future so keep and eye out…
Also wrapped is the Drowsy Maggies debut album. Stellar stuff. It’s been a great journey with these gals and the end result is really a great achievement. Huge thanks to Mattie foulds for mixing and mastering par excellence. They’ll no doubt be hitting the festivals soon so again, keep an eye out!
On the horizon is completing the album by Christella Demetriou. Gorgeous music. Also Judy Turner’s album to accompany her book of original tunes and a new release by Kathryn Clements which have both been tracked at Rolling Stock Recording Rooms in Collingwood. Thanks for the use of the space Myles and Tom - its a wonderful facility.
Lurking in the background is my own solo album as well. That’s so close now. Some extra backing vocals and second trumpet parts and we’re ready for me to compile it all and then mixing. Further updates as they arise!
On the performance front things have been a little quiet given how busy things have been. That said, myself and Peter have been out and about at the Cluneytunes Festival and the Blackwood Festival of Music - rare gems in the world of festivals, and we’re also getting out and about to play the odd local-ish gigs. Keep an eye out for us at the Dancing dog through December!
That’s all for now folks.