Wallhalla - Easter 2007
I've decided to go back to busking!
Bands just seem to be too much work for not a lot of return/pleasure.
Finding the 'right' lineup almost seems impossible. To find a group of people, all with the same aspiration and ability just seems to be a dream. Maybe it's my 'not so young' age or something? I don't know, it just seems way too hard to form a band these days.
I tried, time to move on.
Norm and Rhonda Aquilina from the General Store at Walhalla had invited me back several times over the last few years, so I decided to take up their offer.
Picture courtesy of Rhonda Aquilina
In fact, it was almost funny. I rode up on the motorcycle the weekend before to check with Norm and Rhonda. I had parked where the public toilets are located ( you know, old bikers and their bladders) and happened to meet Darryl and his wife from the Strezlecki Stringbusters, they had a gig that night in the wonderful hall where Norm and Rhonda had their wedding reception. We had a good chat and I set off for the General Store. I had to walk past a group of four shops and found a group of people on the footpath admiring a new born baby. They were quite oblivious to me and covered the footpath from left to right, so I had to get their attention to move between them. They appologised for blocking my way and moved out of the way so I could pass. A few steps later the man holding the baby calls out "Hey!, Aren't you the guy that plays guitar?" I turned around and replied "Yes!" He continued "You can perform outside my shop anytime you like, I'll even make power available for you!" Friendly or what?
From my point of view, I'd rather be welcomed by the locals rather than be rejected by them. I'm not trying to take money away from them, just trying to provide a little bit of old fashioned musical hospitality. A lot of retailers seem to have lost this view. I remember sinking a lot of years into Yarragon and to find out at the end that the retailers loath you just didn't sit well with me. Glad I'm accepted here.
I had planned to be there by 12:00 pm, but what can I say? I slept in. Arrived around 12:30 pm and set up near the phone box. A good spot: Off the footpath so I'm not in anyone's way, sealed surface so no dust and lots of places for people to sit a listen to my humble offerings.
I started off on lap steel resonator and ended up on metal bodied resonator. Fielded quite a few questions on the lap steel like "What do you call that thing?" I took them through the naming of the instrument and some of its history. I used the Fender amplifier I bought in the U.S.A., sounds great. Using an iPAQ certainly makes it so easy to play the backing music yet keep all of of the equipment compact enough to get a great sound from not so many pieces of equipment.
I really enjoyed playing the Dobro, it sounded so clear, full and comfortable to play. Ah!
The hardest part was getting the voice to work. I started out rusty, but that improved as the afternoon progressed.
Best of all my performance wasn't loud, I don't even use a microphone to sing through.
The cutest event of the afternoon occurred when a family of three: Dad, Mum and young daughter sit down at a table close to me. At the end of one song the young girl comes up to me and shows me her book (Snow White) and takes me through a few pages. Later on I look around to find Mum and Daughter dancing to my music. Doesn't get much better does it? Mind you seeing Rhonda and a customer clapping hands and moving to the music came a close second.
I'd forgotten how cool it gets once the sun dips behind the hills, I'll bring a jacket tomorrow.
Same plan as yesterday and succeeded.
Today was quite a different day to yesterday. The business next to the General Store is the Post Office and today was obviously working bee day. There was probaly ten or so people next door being very industrious. Chain saws, angle grinders, line trimmers, shredders and more were all fired up. To cap it all off, they were burning off what they couldn't take away. I probably wouldn't have noticed the fire except for a wind change which blew the smoke directly at me and admired the lovely ash drifting down all over the place. A few months ago his sort of scene would have seen a panic in the township.
Had another relaxing day and ended up doing quite a bit of chatting to a lady who's husband worked at the SECV and knew my father quite well. We chatted about all sorts of things. I learnt that she was a big fan of Mark Knopfler so I was requested to sing all I knew. She was unaware of some of the other projects Mr Knoplfler had done, so I told her all I knew.
The voice worked just fine today. I must have blown all of those cobwebs out yesterday.
Another great day.
I walked into the Administration area of Sage Technology during the week and found one of the ladies had been at Walhalla last weekend and had heard me during her travels, but didn't actually see me until she was leaving. Nice to be recognised.
I'm a great believer in paying people what they are due. No I don't down download pirated software or music, I pay for it. Maybe that makes me a mug, but professional people rely on this conduct for an income. Download something for free and you are denying an artist an income. This is regardless of how you feel about big business. By not paying you are stealing. There's no other word for it.
Of course the shoe would be on the other foot if one of these so called 'Free Spirits' were to develop a commercial product and have it ripped off by someone else. They'd cry Blue Murder! How dare they, etc ... Come on, get real.
Today one person video'd my performance and quite a few people just took my picture. Sure it's an innocent enough event except for the fact that I was robbed of my Intellectual Property rights. I'm not free! I didn't just happen to develop these skills overnight. I've spent a life time getting to this point, so why shouldn't other people recognise the fact.
This modern generation sure needs to wake to itself! There is absolutely nothing that costs nothing. There is a cost for everything and freeloaders or so called 'Naïve People' should understand that.
Simply put: If you don't feed us we will die! Then you will have one thing less to photograph/video.
The Rule: Pay as you go.