Decided not to rush this years convention and travelled to Harrietville on the Thursday and travelled back on the Monday.
Several weeks before.
Booked rooms at the Riverside Motel in Bright for Thursday to Monday.
Left late (4:00 pm) because of the fitting of the rear mudguard to the motorcycle. I really did need to take the car jack holding up the rear of the motorbike.
It rained twice, locally and going up Mt Hotham. Glad I took the car. The base of the rain clouds were below the summit of Mt Hotham, so I ended up going slow in the fog in the remaining daylight.
I rang up the Motel to say I would be there about 9:30. They responded by telling me the room number and the key would be in the door. I opted to be even later, like in the morning.
Parked near the entrance to the convention and had my name found on the pre-paid list and then had a wrist band fitted.
Attended the evening concert enjoying the remaining acts. The show had started at 7:00, so I had missed quite a few.
After the concert I went up to the Pub and tried to find a jam. I found one outside and joined in. The biggest problem with these jams is that one of the participants needs to be able to sing songs and that doesn't always happen. As I only know a few true Bluegrass tunes I offered them them and we were still stuck for songs, so I offered to sing "Looking Out My Backdoor" only to have one of the Bluegrass Police inform me that "That's not Bluegrass!" and refused to play. Fine by me. I packed up and moved inside and joined another jam. The Pub rang closing time at 1:30 am, so we shut down for the night.
Drove to Bright, found the Motel and parked the car. Sure enough, I found the key in the door. Let myself in and had a good sleep.
Up around 9:00 and found a restaurant names Sacha's that does a breakfast. I ordered tea and raisin bread. It brings back memories of when I first had a car and went traveling far and wide. In those days it was a hot chocolate, but that's too sweet for me now.
Drove to Harrietville and had a good look around.
One of the people at the gate decided it would be a good idea to have some live music at the gate to greet attendees. I ended up in a tiny group with Nick Deer and a mandolin player. We played for about half an hour before the other players wandered off.
Was invited to play slide with some convention friends at the Snowline Motel. It was supposed to start at 5:00, just when the afternoon concert finishes. The concert finished late and we were playing to basicall no one outside the Motel as there were only two people inside and four outside. After awhile more people and an audio engineer showed up and we performed the opening set. The foldback speakers weren't working so I had a hard time hearing what was going on. I couldn't ask the engineer to do anything as he had joined in and was playing double bass.
Which reminds me. John Werner was quite a sight riding a pushbike with one hand and holding onto his double bass with th other.
Had dinner at the Centro Pizza Shop in Bright. Very nice.
Attended the evening concert.
Not much happening after the concert so back to Bright and sleep.
Had breakfast and then set off for the Resonator workshop run by Garry Brown. In the past, it would have been called a Dobro workshop, but those bad people at Gibson, who have bought the Dobro name, will not let you to refer to it as a Dobro, even in casual conversation, in case a Gibson lawyer challenges you.
A very well organised workshop with a backing band of Bruce Packard (Bass), Doug Wallace (Guitar), Quentin Fraser (Guitar) and Nigel Lever (Mandolin). Performers were Garry on six and eight string Dobro, Peter Fiddler and Doug Smith from the Corn Drinkers band.
Peter is just streets ahead of anyone on Dobro with his technical abilities, but Doug won the most valuable player for me as he performed several Hawaiian songs which a strong, standout melody. Melody wins every time for me.
The audio engineer seems to have somewhat distracted as several times through the workshop the P.A. fed back. Just not professional.
Sat in on the Mandolin and Guitar workshop held in a tent near the entrance. Mike Wilhoyt held the guitar workshop. His Australian minder had his eye on the watch and called 'time'. Mike wanted to continue as he was the last workshop and they had started late. The minder relented.
Mike had a speech impediment where he had difficulty saying words that start with the letters 'ST'. The 'S' would work and then he'd just stop. He'd try again and again with the same result. Sometimes he would try and find another word and the audience would sigh with releif as they didn't want to offer help be embarrasing him. After awhile one brave soul helped Mike out and things moved along quite well. Interestingly, once the word was said by someone else, he had no problem saying it. Mike noted that where he works he has a whiteboard mounted close to him that has key words he has trouble with written on it. When he's stuck he would point to the word. That's practical.
Had a mini workshop of my own with Tony Eyers who is a harmonica wiz. Tony wanted some advice on playing 'The Blues'. I borrowed a guitar from a gentleman who happened to be there and we went though about five songs were I gave Tony my opinion on how to play the style less 'White'. Good to be able help. Tony and I had a session at the Canberra Folk Festival some years ago and he must have put that away in his little black book for future reference.
Decided to change the strings on the De Gruchy and set about the task. Decided to give the strings a good play in and practiced the songs I was going to perform. As I was playing two other players set up at the other end of the tent and started rehearsing and it turned into a bit of conflict, but we both kept going.
as they were leaving they said "Thanks for the jam". "My pleasure" I replied.
Had a lady come up to me and asked to jam so I did. She's just getting into Bluegrass and boy had she put the work in, great guitar playing. Another friendly face.
Back to Centro for dinner. They were busy tonight so I sat at a high table next to the front window. Not so comfortable and the sun was really hot. First and last time.
Back to Harrietville for the evening concert.
Not much happening after the concert, so back to Bright and sleep.
Up early for me and skipped breakfast and drove to the BP shop and filled up with petrol. Unfortunately the VISA card announced "Insufficient funds" as I tried to pay. Things could be worse. The person serving me used to run the pizza shop and wasn't bothered at all when I announced that I would have to transfer some money. You really do build up some relationships in the community over time.
Drove to Harrietville and approached Mike Kear about winning a spot on the morning Gospel session. I only wanted to sing one song: "A Living Prayer". I could see the current list and it looked full, but Mike said you can play after me. Great.
Waited for my spot and noticed that the act after me had a music stand. Wonderful, I asked if I could use it and they agreed.
Since it was only one song I opted to try and play standing up, but that proved too difficult, so I went for Plan B and grabbed a chair to play sitting down. I don't know how those other Dobro players perform standing up. The audio engineer had to rush down from the mixing desk to adjust the height of the microphone. I joked that I'd probably take as long to play three songs in my allotted time.
The song went smoothly and I clearly surprised quite a few people at my performance. Mike announced that he didn't know I could sing. Later an audience member told me how the hairs on the back of his neck stood up as I went for the high notes. I'm pretty sure I made an impression with a whole group of people.
Had a bit of a play at Laurie Grundy's banjo display.
Had dinner at Centro. The owner said "See you next year!". I replied "Yes", but didn't mention the change in towns.
Sat through the evening concert which finished at 10:00. I checked out the pub but nothing was happening, so I drove back to Bright and slept.
Up at 9:00, showered and packed up and handed my key into reception and met for the first time the owners of the motel.
Had my last breakfast at Sacha's. Yet again he was late opening.
Set off for Beechworth and found the Latrobe University. Most confusing as it wasn't signposted well and I had to go to information. As you drive into Beechworth from the Great Alpine Road you reach a T-Intersection in Beechworth. Right says Stanley, Left says Town Centre. Whoever set up the signs made a faux pas as there's no visible university sign. What you can't see is that there is a very large sign that is visible at the intersection if you are travelling from the town centre but invisible from the way I came.
I had a look around and it's quite some site. Lots of gardens and very large old buildings. Next year will be interesting.
Travelled home via Bright, Falls Creek, Omeo and Bairnsdale.
This convention has a few weird aspects to it: