I'm writing you from tiny Tantawangalo, just outside Candelo, New South Wales. Candelo's my favourite Aussie village, and the place Corin Raymond and I have been calling home for the week. Our friends Heath and Laura are away, so we've had their charming farmhouse to ourselves. Well, us and the mice who moved in lately, and the poisonous black snake who recently took up residence under the ramp outside.
I'll let you in on a secret right here, dear readers. All the stories we tell about dangerous Australian wildlife aren't true. They're just stories we tell to scare away the faint of heart, to keep these bountiful pastures to ourselves.
Speaking of bountiful pastures, we've got some great country ahead of us in the month to come! We'll be tearing ourselves away from Candelo today, and heading up to join the throng at the National Folk Festival in Canberra. We weren't booked to play, but we've managed to persuade our way in, and will be singing as much as we can. I can already tell you that I'll be playing the Bohemia Bar at 6:30 or so this (Saturday) evening, then in the lovely Flute and Fiddle venue at 10:30 tonight with Liz Frencham on bass, preceding fellow Canadians the Good Lovelies. On Sunday, Corin and I are both singing a song each in the Broadway Folkie workshop at 5:10pm on the Majestic stage, and Corin will be playing the Flute and Fiddle at 11:15pm with Liz Frencham. I'm really looking forward to introducing Corin to the Nash family. After the festival we'll be making our way up north and back again, with the following stops along the way:
Thu April 5 - Mudgeeraba, QLD - "Oh Canada" house Concert
Fri April 6 - Tintenbar, NSW - Tintenbar Up Front
Sat April 7 - Duranbah, NSW - house concert
Sun April 8 - Nambour, QLD - Sunday Folk
Tue April 10 - Brisbane, QLD - Brisbane Unplugged
Wed April 11 - Mooloolaba, QLD - house concert
Thu April 12 - Armidale, NSW - The Studio
Fri April 13 - Nana Glen, NSW - verandah concert
Sat April 14 - Kempsey, NSW - Oddfellows Hall
Sun April 15 - Sydney, NSW - house concert
Wed April 18 - Ararat, VIC - Ararat Live
Thu April 19 - Benalla, VIC - North East Artisans
Fri April 20 - Wollongong, NSW - Illawarra Folk Club
Sat April 21 - Woy Woy, NSW - Troubadour Folk Club
Sun April 22 - Kangaroo Valley, VIC - Upper Kangaroo River Hall
Wed April 25 - Canberra, ACT - Smith's Alternative
Thu April 26 - Melbourne, VIC - The Spotted Mallard with Lucie Thorne and Liz Frencham
Fri April 27 - Eaglemont, VIC - house concert
Sat April 28 - Ocean Grove, VIC - house concert
Sun April 29 - Glenlyon, VIC - house concert
It's been a many-storied month since I wrote you last, faithful readers. Corin and I had a great run around Taiwan in the aforementioned baby blue Austin Mini, Maximus, and many a Taiwanese person's day was made by the sight of us two big fellas folding out of it. We bounced that little go-cart around pretty much the whole island, making stops along the way to sing for lovely crowds at Paul Lawrence's house in Hualien, Lei Gallery in Taichung, and my favourite bar on the island, Bobwundaye in Taipei. Corin already had some fans in Taiwan, as I've been singing his songs there for almost a decade, but it was such a joy to see him blowing minds in person. And Taiwan blew his mind in return. It was his first visit to Asia, and he really fell for the island's food, scenery, and famously sweet people. He took to the Mandarin too, and was making up sentences by the end of the week, much to my (and our audiences') delight. I have no doubt he'll be back.
We had a sweet trip down the east coast, ate a lot of fruit, backed down from a standoff with a big monkey, stayed with Tennessee Pete the fiddling Taitung pizza man, and happened on a han dan (寒單爺) ceremony, where bare-chested, tattooed gangster types playing the role of a god are carried around on a palanquin while people shower them with wads of lit firecrackers. In Taitung we also went to see The Black Panther, or rather Hei Bao (黑豹), which Corin wanted to watch for a third time, in Taiwan. And while it's certainly a groundbreaking movie for lots of reasons, it's also just a great superhero movie. Both Corin and I have spent plenty of time inside comic books, and it occurred to us yesterday that these travelogues we're both working on are actually crossover issues in themselves, like the Marvel Team-Ups of yore!
I posted a few photos of the trip on Facebook, if you wanna have a look: Taiwan 2018
A couple days after arrival we were back into the touring, and I must admit it was a bit of a challenging re-entry, coming off such a sweet time in Taiwan, and playing for tiny audiences on our first few nights here. I did all the bookings for this tour, and brought Corin over here on the premise that it'd be great, so it was a bit worrying, to say the least, for both of us. But things gradually picked up, and he got to meet some of the people who've played very important parts in my journey over here, people like my original visa sponsor and legendary impresario Andrew Pattison, and killer songwriters like Mandy Connell, Michael Waugh, Kerryn Fields, John Flanagan, and Liz Frencham, who's also downright godlike on the double bass. She joined us for shows in Bendigo and Yackandandah, and will be joining us again at the National, and on our finale show in Melbourne April 26th. She brightens my day every time.
We met up with her one night at her favourite pub, the Radio Springs Hotel in Lyonville, where unbeknownst to Corin (the biggest cinephile I know), there's a tiny little movie theatre hidden in the back garden, complete with velvet curtains that scroll open, an antique cash register, a popcorn machine, and an old celluloid projector. The owner's a former projectionist from Melbourne who spends a lot of time tracking down rare films, and he found a doozy for Corin that night, an Aussie/Kiwi co-production called The Navigator, about a group of medieval Cumbrians who dig through the earth to save their village from the Black Plague and end up down under in the 1980s. Corin was tickled.
I don't normally watch movies on tour, but I've enjoyed it with Corin. In Albury we saw a heavy one called Sweet Country, by an indigenous Australian director named Warwick Thornton, set in the outback of the Northern Territory in 1929. It's a brutal but beautiful film, and I really hope my Aussie friends'll make a point of seeing it.
About a week into the tour, on our way to play a house concert in Healesville, Skippy's clutch died, on a hill in a traffic jam. We had to wait for folks to get by before we rolled back down the hill bit by bit. We pulled onto the shoulder the first place we could, and waited there for roadside assistance while our host Jonni drove out to get us. When he got there he couldn't believe it--the driveway we'd pulled into was his old place, that he'd moved away from in 1980 or so.
Within five minutes of being welcomed at Jonni and his partner Cecilia's place, the Duck Pond, we had been offered a loaner car by their neighbour Mitzi. Busby's his name, a red Honda Civic who needed a run to stretch his legs. The road never stops throwing the twists, but it continues to provide all the same. We played for a refreshingly small-town country crowd in Cudgewa, then made our way west along the winding, muddy Murray River for lovely backyard concerts in Echuca and Mildura, and a songwriter showcase in Adelaide, before racing back for Michael Waugh's CD release in Melbourne after a few hours' sleep in a Bordertown motel. It was so worth it to be there, to hear those Aussie-as-it-gets, practical, healing songs sung to a full house that included his parents.
A few hours' sleep and a thousand dollars later, we were back on the road in Skippy for another worthwhile early-morning run, out to Yackandandah Folk Festival this time. We only had Saturday and Sunday there, but Yack's one of my favourite festivals in this country or anywhere, and it was such a pleasure to go back with Corin, who'd played it about a decade ago with his duo The Undesirables. One of the groups had dropped out, so I ended up having a couple sets after all, which makes four years in a row at that fest. Lots of old friends were there, including my Michigan pals Lindsay Lou and Joshua Rilko, and a great jam came together out back of the pub on Sunday night with host Pete Denahy, the unofficial mayor of Yackandandah, who's already got a song-burr on the cuffs of Corin Raymond. I had dreamful creekside sleeps in Skippy both nights, and god, it felt good to be back.
From Yack we drove over the Snowy Mountains to this beautiful valley, where our pals Dave and Rae hosted us and the Good Lovelies for a magnificent breakfast feast, my friend Sue Andrew set up a well-attended production of Corin's one-man play Bookworm in Bega, and Mike Martin and the ever-lovin' Candelo Arts Society put on a show for us in the lovely Candelo Cafe. We feel pretty well taken care of, let me tell you.
So hey, we've gotta get on the road to the National Folk Fest, so I'm gonna have to wrap up this Marvel Team-Up here. I don't think Corin's crossover issue's gonna make it out quite yet, but that's only because he's taking the time to craft a more imaginative recap than this one. Trust me, the art's better in that series. The colours are brighter. The writing's tighter. This humble Hobo Travelogue's mostly just serving practical purposes, to be honest. But I reckon the best use this one could have would be to convince you folks to subscribe to his mailing list. Take my word for it, go on over to www.corinraymond.com and put your email address in the box on the top right. His emails don't come out quite as regularly as mine, but they're always a treat to read, and of course you can get off the train anytime if you don't enjoy the ride. But I imagine you will.
There's one last bit of news, dear readers, one that I've had to keep under my hat for a while: I'm pleased to announce that I'll be playing two of Alberta's major folk festivals for the first time this year: Bear Creek Folk Music Festival in Grande Prairie August 17-19 (solo), and Canmore Folk Music Festival August 4-6 with the Second Chances! I've also got a couple more amazing bits of news up my sleeve, but I've gotta wait a little longer to tell you about those :)
Alright, we've got a festival to get to. With all our love, from Tantawangalo to wherever you are,