"After spending most of my life on the east coast and enjoying a
temperate to sub-tropical climate for much of that time, the need to experience
something quite different began gnawing away at me and finally resulted
in a decision – I wanted to take our family to the Red Centre and
feel a totally contrasting geographical reality. This would be a chance
to perform our music to a whole new audience and allow our children to
see life from another perspective – ON THE ROAD! From the 5 star
luxury of Yulara Resort at Uluru to our campsite at Granite Downs on the
Oodnadatta Track we experienced extremes in location and emotion but the
overwhelming feeling was, "Wow, what a fabulous adventure!"
Leigh, myself and our three children Jasmine, Ryleigh and Lara was Andrew
Clermont, his adorable partner Pauline and the girls, Sunshine, Natasha
and Elisma. A musical gypsy, Andrew brings passion and life to the stage
with his amazing dexterity on fiddle, mandolin and guitar, not forgetting
didgeridoo and castanets!!! Also a singer, the three of us enjoyed the
harmonic blend of our voices as we performed our repertoire of everything
from classic country to Irish ballads and jigs to our originals, some
of which were completed on the journey.
did we share some magical musical moments on our trip: the gastronomic
delights would have put many restaurants to shame- home made bread, banana
fritters with maple syrup, delicious casseroles and probably the best
apple pie I’ve ever had! We were all good cooks and armed with our
trusty gas burner we would cook up a storm wherever we went.
kicked off with a Midday Show launch, live from Seaworld on the Gold Coast.
Port Macquarie was our first destination and turned out to be one of those
ill-fated gigs- booked the same night as the "State of Origin":
Whoops! To make matters worse, I copped a hefty fine and points off my
license for neglecting to put my seat-belt back on after a fuel stop,
just 800 metres from the gig! On the upside, Trish Davis, a wonderful
friend who looks after Graeme Connors fan club, arrived with a table full
of friends and brightened the evening. We camped the following night west
of Wauchope at a place called Swan’s Crossing in the Kerewong State
Forest – the adventure had begun!
north of Tamworth was our next stop – staying with Andrew, rehearsing
the repertoire, sitting by the fire, and talking about the journey ahead
of us. We headed off to Tamworth next day and spent some time with Clelia
Adams, a wonderful woman who sings like a bird and makes a damn fine vegetable
soup! There was also time to catch up with Graeme Connors who was in town
– Graeme has always been a supportive friend in the business. (Honest
and down-to-earth, a great songwriter too) – I remember reflecting
on the last ‘big trip’ we did in October 97, when our car
broke down 70 km north of Mackay at a place called Yalbaroo. Graeme drove
the distance picked the kids and I up and deposited us safely on a southbound
bus for a memorable 22-hour ride. Leigh remained behind to fix the car
and arrived home 3 days later! Yes, it’s the same car on this trip
– a 78 Peugeot 504 diesel sedan, this time towing a trailer!
we headed to the coast for a gig at Forster Bowling Club. This is my dad’s
home town and he had organised most of the audience in attendance. We
adjusted our repertoire to suit the age group (this was dad’s suggestion!)
" They like to hear something they know...", so we obliged.
At the end of the night however, the general consensus on their favourite
song was ‘Ryleigh’s Last Run’ an original we’d
recently penned about an XPT train driver enjoying his final journey and
reflecting on life on the rails.
drove, to Queanbeyan, close to my old stomping ground of Canberra. Bill
Stephens runs a School of Arts Cafe in the town and still has photographs
of me on the wall from my musical theatre days – talk about memory
lane! We also met Dave Peters, a local FM Country presenter...quite a
town of Mildura where we stayed at Chris and Ineke Rogers place. Chris
has been taking care of sound production on tour with Graeme Connors.
Caught up with Max Thorburn and the gang at Hot FM – they’ve
been very supportive of our album, "Share" and Andrew's "The
Longing", and it was great to see people in the audience at The Sandbar
that night singing along to the words of our original songs. Thanks to
Loretta (manager of The Sandbar) for her ‘Olives in pastry’
been looking forward to Adelaide, as we had been invited to stay with
songwriting friend and Radio National presenter, Richard Porteous. Richard
came to both our gigs in Adelaide and we even managed to get him up to
sing on one of his songs at the "Governor Hindmarsh". I’ve
recently recorded two songs that will be coming out on September 4 on
the ABC CD ‘Open Road’ vol. 2 and one of these was penned
by Richard called ‘Sometimes Saying Ain’t Enough’. At
our gig at the Adelaide Festival Theatre, as part of their Sunday Salon
shows, we had around 700 people in the audience. It reminded me how nice
it is not to have to compete with poker machines and loud chatter. As
a performer you can really tell the story and take the people on a musical
journey. Congratulations to my old friend, Christopher Naylor, who puts
these concerts together.
day journey to Alice was broken by two stops – the first at Pimba
Roadhouse where we bartered a one-hour set of music for a night's accommodation
for the ten of us. The crowd was full of big-hearted rough diamonds –
a couple of the guys came over to us after the gig and told us how moved
they were by some of our songs. The second night was spent camping on
the Oodnadatta Track near Granite Downs in the Pitjantjatjara country
– our east coast mentality began to slip away waking up to a brilliant
sunrise out there in the wide open spaces. What an amazing sense of peace
I had being so far away from civilization as I knew it. This ancient land
of ours was seeping into my veins and appealed to my quest to connect
with my Aboriginal brothers and sisters, the oldest known human culture...
saw us arrive at Heavitree Gap Resort where a gig and a night’s
accommodation turned into 5 night’s work and a friendship I feel
will stand the test of time. Scott Dawson, a singer/songwriter lives in
the Alice and works at ‘Heavitree’. His is the classic story
of someone that arrived out there on a holiday and forgot to leave! He
and his brother Darren are big John Williamson fans and perform a repertoire
of great songs from ballads that really tug on the heartstrings, to the
hilariously funny, when they’re not doing damper demos! (My son
attended the reptile show every night!)
and its surrounding countryside, is some of the most beautiful I’ve
seen anywhere: Trephina Gorge Nature Reserve, West MacDonnell Ranges including
Ormiston Gorge, the colours of the ochres, these images will live in my
heart and mind for a long time. Thanks to the friendly folk at Heavitree
we ended up with a booking at the Yulara resident’s club, which
gave us the opportunity to witness the intense beauty of Uluru (Ayer’s
Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) – true wonders of the world. The
Anangu people, traditional Aboriginal owners of Uluru , ask visitors not
to climb the rock so we chose to walk around it and respect it for the
great spiritual monument that it is.
Alice for some busking in the mall with the kids and our grand finale
performance at the Alice Springs Show just ahead of the spectacular fireworks.
We said goodbye to Alice Springs with an evening campfire and songs into
the wee small hours. One woman at a nearby campsite enjoyed the music
so much she kept bringing over another log for the fire just so we wouldn’t
home included Tennant Creek, Cloncurry, and Barcaldine, but the destination
was Carnarvon Gorge National Park near Emerald.
The Family Tour crew with Andrew (glasses), Pauline,
Elizabeth Lord, Leigh James and the touring families.
Photo taken at Carnarvon Gorge.
campground was booked out (being NSW school hols) we camped for 2 nights
on the outskirts – absolutely gorgeous. Leigh and Andrew walked
the entire length of the gorge – in a natural amphitheatre at the
end of the gorge, Leigh sang ‘Nature Boy’ and was blown away
by the acoustics – he swears he will return with a DAT walkman to
capture the experience!
moment was a performance at the Redland Bay Bluegrass Convention, near
Brisbane. Andrew played a well loved set and was joined by Rod McCormack,
Donna Reynolds, Leigh and yours truly. The whole thing was captured on
video – what a night ! Those McCormack brothers are something else;
the highlight would have to have been Mick Albeck, Jeff and Rod McCormack
in the headlining performance with Andrew jamming along – sensational!
was more than I ever could hope for: We sold out of "Share"
CDs, covered over 10,000 kms in the mighty Peugeot, experienced temperatures
ranging from - 8*C, with snow, to 38*C above, and best of all, met some
truly wonderful people. I have a yearning to return to the centre that
is almost tangible. Plans are underway for our next collaborative trip
to who knows where? My thanks to all the people along the way who made
the trip both possible and enjoyable. The whole thing was an act of faith
and reminded me that we are all capable of bringing this wonderful gift
of music "to the people". Travel far and wide but wherever you
are, sing and play from the heart and you will inspire the same in others.
Pat Drummond and I make our way down from Gympie Country Music Muster
(just north of Brisbane) to connect with Karen Lynn (congrats on her marriage
to Banjo & other attributes generally nice guy, Martin Louis) directly
in from London. We converged at Moree airport (NW NSW) to spend the day
at the notorious Bullarah Bush Expo - featuring us naturally, dog high-jump
(8ft 'n more!), plus of course, Dog Lotto, where punters bet on the tyre
of many, laid out around the edge of the yard. The dog, released in the
centre, will always seek to christen such an offering. Good ol' country
fun to fundraise for the local school. The tug-o-war between the adults
and mass kids was pretty hilarious. For songs of such lives see Pat's 'Laughter
like a Shield' CD. The next morning saw two school sessions, the drive back
to Tamworth for me and then the Blue Mountains for my companions , 500km
2a) - The
spring leg brings Pauline & girls to Grafton Arts Festival. A week's
intensive workshop - 'Trouble Shooting for Musicians' (for me to run) and
painting for the girls to absorb them. 6 days later the group of 8, ages
12 to 55, presented their piece-deresistance complete with behind the head,
mandolin solo from the youngest, followed by the not to be out done team,
altogether, behind the backs of their heads finale! A good laugh and with
such an out-tro, we whisked into the night. A mad dash to Tamworth, final
OS air ticket details over the mobile to Adelaide and organise mail pick
up at home town, Moonbi (round 11pm!) as we zip passed. The postie Mum is
a darling, mmm, better send a postcard.
2b) - So
I's re-packed by 12.55am and Alkina, bemused, drops me at the Bus. I'm into
Sydney by 7am Friday - fit in some emails at the depot; buzz Canberra coincidentally
and realise I can drop a swag of CD product off with friends to arrive at
Ballarat a month later for the last touring leg; Adelaide by 7.30am next
morning; picked up by Dad; Brekky with Mum; lift 70km to Victor Harbour
Folk Festival; start workshop round 11am (but they can't find the key- eventually
we break in!)
2c) - A smorgasbord
of all kinds of music - Judging the song writing with other partners in
music crime; a happiness re-union with Marcia Howard & Rose Bygraves
(Goanna) - thanks girls, the queens of vibe! Indian Ragas and a divine trio
with John Francis (master interpreter of song) and Margy (the fastest harmony-finding
singer in the west, and great friend & safety house to the wandering
minstrels). Last gig starts at midnight Monday morning (after a day of much
mingling with local friends - happy house-warming Peter & Liz). Brent
Miller, another tourer extraordinaire, grants a ride back to Adelaide as
our gigs finished close together; Mandolin is secured by another peer for
collection that month latter in Ballarat - great coincidence of location.
I'm now 30 kilos lighter for the plane - that's the luggage, not me, ahem!
Arrive 3am at the folks place (funny how they've always been there where
& when I've needed them - 'Love' is not a big enough word for their
part in my lives), pack & re-pack and it's 5am, just in time for Brekky
before the 7am flight! I'm hoping this will guarantee sleep on the plane.
(Y'all better take a refreshment break).
2d) - Here
begins the saga of the little black bag ($1,200 in goodies for stage performance,
5kg and just holding together). It gets left at Mum & Dad's even before
the first flight, Dad delivers it just prior to flight lift off. Close but
safely on board. We are USA bound with Dya Singh (Indian) World Music Group.
Great movies on the plane tease one from sleep obligations but the flight
seems short so no doubt there was some sleep. Arrival in LA to an ear to
ear grinning Sikh, Simaron - her smile & goodwill stays as a companion
still, with but a moments recall.
A night off to adjust - Ah! But there is no need to rest I declare, as the
finger randomly picks a music shop in the phone book. "Hi - blah, blah,
blah" "Well you should go to 'The Gig'!" (A songwriter's
haven). So I chase it up by phone and Shane Soloski puts my name on the
door, "Yeah, I'd love some fiddle on a few songs, come on over".
The night is shared with Stephen Stills's daughter, Jenny, plus ex-Mavericks
guitar/steel man, Ben Peeler. I don't get home and the pace is set for the
zig-zags across the land and oceans of October.
flights; Grand Canyon to Big Ben, Empire State Building to Shakespeare's
House in Stratford upon Avon. Home via Singapore completed my first continuous
lap of the globe. Strange, I got pretty tired! The body definitely has problems
with shorter days as you fly west to east. We all get used to drawn out
days, but shorter is confounding.
The company was great. Dya Singh himself, on soaring vocals & Harmonium
(a hand bellows driven keyboard) and a constant source of new scales to
taunt me each gig; Deeraj, master of the Tabla (the very melodic Indian
drums), Parvan, the young starlet, a beautiful voice and spirit with a gratefully
small ego, (er, that's a compliment Parv!). Dya's eldest daughter, Jamel
& new son-in-law Harven, kept the tour smooth and balanced, well fed
and financial when needed - a touch of class for sure. Missing daughter
Harsell studied for exams at home and got tons of pressies instead.
Can't forget Simon, our (go out of his way) guide to the 4 corner states
- Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado & Utah. He provided our Ying & Yang,
between the hands to the wheel, the laughs and the very few tensions. 'Twas
a tour to be blessed with sights in blue skies and friendships.
- The Days of Extreme Travel - Part 1. LA to Pittsburgh for a 20min show
and back to Espanol in New Mexico. That's like Perth to Adelaide & back
to Albany via Kalgoolie!
The Days of Extreme Travel - Part 2. Morning at Ouray, hot springs in the
snow, nestled high in the Rockies of Colorado after Crested Butte (pronounced
Beaut) at 14,000ft, mountain passes at 11,000ft ; touch the four states;
cannonball through astounding Monument Valley in the Navaho Lands till Phoenix
midway down Arizona 14hrs later. Phew!
2f) - Finally
to New York for sights, sound and traffic. We do the Mega Show for the gathered
fans on Long Island. Two concerts were televised to the World Wide Web shortly
after arriving in US (on a wing & a prayer). We hit NY 2 weeks later
like the waters of the flooding rain from up river - we did what we set
out to do, and possibly more.
However after hopping on the Jet, I was feeling too light; sure enough,
the little black bag had been left in the terminal. The stewards ring and
declare the Port Authority has it. Should the bag not make the flight in
time it will certainly be on the very next. And so it was, that six weeks
later, while coincidental in Adelaide, I manage to locate the bag in the
never, never inner linings of the baggage claims in Sydney with a confused
area-coded-mobile phone number. All did arrive intact (though, having opened
the bag to check contents, they were unable to fit Humpty together again).
3) - Travel
Berserk. Dear friend Nayia, source of my daughter's name, visits from France
with her complete family of 5. Over ten years have passed since eyeballing.
Despite two passing visits to Adelaide near their expected arrival time,
the connection still misses. Finally I find a spare 24hrs and it's time
to look at those gathered frequent flyer points (kept poised for family
& friends). The bullet is bit and we rendezvous at Adelaide airport,
south for lunch, talk, mingle, music, jam, laugh, babble, jam, wine, more
wine, dine, blah - blah, sleep at the folks (coincidentally conveniently
just up the road); walk back for a string ensemble gathering for brunch.
We laughed & near cried as we brushed the leaves off the connecting
paths of friendship between us; getting to good 1st base with the growing
family with commitment to the longer road of good friends. Arrive back in
Tamworth about 30hrs after departure.
We did manage some short but blissful jams and of course a more refined
palate from being near wine-making greatness as their awarded product prove.
A Beaujolais for all occasions: Julienas - Hautecombe.
This paragraph came recently in an email. Every so often we receive reminders
of where we've been, both good & bad (may they be few!) here's one from
the good basket:
playing and getting joy out of it. I have many areas of creativity myself,
but I have to say that I don't need to personally explore music because
as an audience, as it were, music takes me to places in my soul that I
cannot find on my own. That is the point of it and hopefully in the middle
of some of the music, tough times that you (as all musicians) go through,
remember that you do fill people with magic and hope just by pulling that
bow across that fiddle. The hearing of it makes for better people, even
if just for a moment, but that is worth so much."
So then it finally
comes down to the creme de la creme for we of the collector's habit; used
to the screams of horror (from the unconverted) when we spot the potential
golden offerings from the hallowed Garage Sales. What does your mind conjure
up as the last thing you'd find - let alone buy, at a Garage sale? Well…..?
How about a…
is actually a story from dear mate & performer, Pat Drummond. We've
spent a fair distance on the road uncovering the Universe, as can happen,
and so I re-tell as I recall….
His neighbours, just up the street had decided on a clearing of gear, for
all & sundry and, try as family & friends might, he still spotted
it gleefully. So with a sparkle in his eye and drool at the potential finds,
he slipped silently away to the awaiting Saturday morning home stall. Before
long, with an even more gleeful look and far more secretive steps, he makes
for his safety-house, the Shed. With only seconds of manoeuvring to go,
a scream & wail falls upon him from the balcony. "What in heavens
name is that?" (possibly less graceful terms were used!) Pat, in his
caught out, one foot to the other kind of way, calls back with as much enthusiasm
and 'Aren't you impressed with this find!' kind of tone, "It's a .
. . . Pie Warmer!" The chorus return was instantaneous. "What?
A PIE-WARMER? Don't even think of bringing that junk inside! How could we
possibly need a pie warmer!?"
Well they & you might ask. However, despite being forbidden in the house
and banished to the shed, the unassuming Pie Warmer lay calm & indifferent.
The ribbing and jokes to follow this acquisition (and at $10, how could
any sane person pass it up?!) would test Pat's metal for quite a while.
We collectors do know however, that our day does come.
The memory of the Warmer had barely subsided when the Illawarra Folk Festival
calls Pat with a curious inquiry. "Pat, is it possible that what we
hear is true, that you in fact possess a . . . pie warmer? . . . We were
wondering at what cost we could procure it for the next festival?"
As you can
imagine, lights and bells were going off around Pat's head. "About
$2.50" he said with a smile. "Because that's about how much a
phone call to home will be, while I'm away this week, and ask Carol for
Ah! Revenge would be sweet! But not only did the pie warmer then become
an icon of the festival, it is now a veritable platform for the United Collectors
Front! Believe it or not, the saga grew ever onwards, for there came the
day, where on return from another tour of duty (and potential collection
of course), where should the Pie Warmer be, but in the kitchen. The kitchen
from whence it was once banished, no less. In fact their newly installed
walloven unit had broken down, and Carol's only immediate course of action
could be, to call upon . . . that unwanted, banished pie thing. Yep, saving
the day yet again. So now as you might guess, that humble pie warmer, who
never had to say a word in defence or aggression, was now an integral part
of the Drummond household. A heater when cold, an extra warm hand when needed,
a source of solace, in the wee hours, and of course, . . . the keeper of
the last laugh, Amen. Mind you, I do know where there's a cute Bay Marie.
Only needs a little work, Pat.!
On a more
sobreing thought: I travel quite far through the years, see those sights
& delights, but I can always assure you, each time I return I know we
are most definitely in a lucky country. The problems we do encounter, tend
to stem mainly from forgetting that truthful fact. Lucky. May you all attract
the life you seek, to enjoy both the trip there, the arrival and finale.
Love & the Magic in Music to All,
yours ever here & there, Andrew.