There’s something about a double decker bus coming round the corner, emerging from the trees, in Mullumbimby that cannot help but bring a smile to your face. This biggest little town, hidden away in the foreground of Mount Warning in Northern New South Wales, a million miles from London town, where the red deckers roam free like flolloping cows in a maze of bitumen paddocks. No no, London, these buses have music blaring, and gorgeous conductors, dressed in stunningness, who practically force you to cheer at every passer by. Even the utmost, tightlipped, lemon suckers can’t help but stretch a smile from their innermost of places.
And so draws the end of another Mullumbimby Music Festival, the fifth I believe and I am exhausted. 7 and 3/4 months pregnant and 3am bedtimes don’t mix. But as I sank into to my body length prego pillow of delight and let my hips finally relax into squishy gravity, a smile still wove across my face.
Jo Jo Smith, you literally took my breath away. Hidden behind the cymbal for a second I could not see you, but I could hear you- like the voice of the blues angel I had come to hear, your voice sailed out as powerful as ever and then, I see you: I did not know you could play the drums! Dang. And not just “oh, she can play drums”, but play like all singers wish we could play the drums – with freaking attitude! No messin’ around. Whackin that shit. Jesus, heavenly lady woman above. You rocked my world.
I also beelined to hear what Mr Percival has been up to since tv fame whisked him into an omelette earlier this year, and was happy to see, he was still the egg we know and love. With his ten foot tall barrel of love and fully-retracted vocal folds of smiling tone, he sang the crap out of an extra long set and then just kept giving. He didn’t sing my facebook requested song, but, I guess he can be forgiven for that.
Vince Jones, as usual, lulled me with my yearly university course in Jazz in one hour. Covering Gil Scott Heron and other measures of delight with a bass player that looked distinctly like my Dad from 1974 and my favourite drummer (after Grant, Papu, Rex and… oh, ok. I have a lot of favourite drummers. There is no hierarchy) … I’ve never heard you sing Secret Love to me in person, but one day you’ll crack and give in. I’m ok with waiting.
We also floated around to catch excerpts from Tin Pan Orange, Band of Frequencies, King Tide, Loren Kate, Husky and Aya Larkin (I delightfully also met his brother, Del, and got a little starstuck gushy about Skunkhour. Sorry. *School girl moment* Had to shake the man’s hand and tell him he’s cool – I been singing his raps for over a decade now. Leg end.)
We were severely pissed that we missed Potato Potato, Georgia Potter, Nano Stern, Clairy Browne, Elona Harker and Karl Farren. I have no excuse. I am lame. You guys were awesome. Everyone I trust told me so.
And “Everyone” is what a good festival is about really isn’t it? I loved seeing so many of my friends, my community, out and about. Bumping into you and seeing where you were headed next. Getting the hot tips, on food, music, mango ice-cream and listening spots. I think I love that the most.
Which, then, thus, now, brings me on to our gig. Which sat proud on the hill of 11PM on Saturday night in the Courthouse Pub. Bedangled in red and gold; band looking mighty splendid; 8 and a half of us squished on to a mini stage riser, set to bring the house down with a set of solely original songs from yours truly. A dream. Arrived.
This project, Where The Owl Was, felt like it had invoked, grew, bled, sweated, birthed, created, matured and graduated.
The album, from conception, somewhere in middle America, to climax: in a packed pub in Mullumbimby, with a writhing dance floor of all ages, bringing grown men to tears (ahhh Tom…).
I am not a perfectionist. So it was not perfect. I make mistakes. I am human, but more to the point, I am me. But energetically, musically, vocally and harmonically, it was truly great, even if i do say so myself. Thank you very much… 🙂 I am glad have so many great laughs with my band in rehearsals, cause once your on stage it feels like a steam train of energy and volume. So I thank, from the bottom of my heart and soul these musicians who gave me their time, and the Mullum Music Fest for booking us this fun volcano of joy at this stunning time in my life.
It was like my own audio bath.
Dan Brown, you were the water. Rhodes is the thing you drown in. let it fill your ears and swallow you whole. Grant Gerathy, your drums are the facewasher, fresh and clean, draped over one’s forehead to close eyes and zone out the world. Kieran Allen, bass tones: rubber ducky, floating happy as can be in a sea of crazy. Tim Sladden, on guitar, you are the extra hot water you shoot in when the time is right. Stuart Currie, on trombone, you shall be the candle- calm, clear, mellow, tones of trombone like a long sweet moan. And Carla Versitano and Sonia Leeson, your harmonies, my ladies, are the bubbles, rosey, giggly, smiling and glowing in the heat. Nothing makes me feel better than singing harmonies with you in the street. Which leaves me. I shall be this audio bath’s toes. Wriggling all the way down their away from anybody part with a brain. Footloose and fancy free. Barefoot and pregnant.
But it’s my favourite work of art.