Australian Steel Guitar Festival
It all started out from accepting a Facebook request message from a gentleman named Jeff Spencer. Jeff became prominent in my musical life with his support of the original songs I post to YouTube. As soon as I would post a new song Jeff would be quick to respond with some positive comment. I appreciated the support.
When Jeff posted details of the Australian Steel Guitar Festival hosted by the Brisbane Steel Guitar Club II didn't have too much hesitation in attending. I was free for the weekend but I had a gig Friday night. Oh well, time to fly again. I went on the web and booked everything I needed, aeroplane, car parking, car renting and accommodation. I managed to get a few hours sleep very early Saturday morning and then left at 4:00 am to catch to Brisbane flight from Tullamarine.
For someone my size/height, cattle class is a bit of a challenge being crammed in like sardines. On the flight to Brisbane I had a window seat which I thought was good, at least I had a view. However in time the claustrophobic conditions took all the fun out of it. Blocked in from five sides and not be able to stretch was a test. I solved this by trying to sleep. I had to lean forward and put my forehead on the seat in front of me to find a stable position. The trip passed quickly.
Finding the hire car was another test. I did book through Brisbane Airport site but somehow ended up with a company (Ace) that wasn't at the airport. I had to catch a shuttle to get the car. I ring up Ace as they don't have an office at the airport and they describe where I have to go to catch the shuttle. I did eventually get to the shuttle site, but being the first time there was a bit of back tracking involved.
The shuttle appears driven by a chirpy young lady and off we go to the Ace site. She was telling me of how some people have trouble parking cars when bang, she hits a car! Not to sure about the extended insurance provisions but signed away anyway.
I had originally requested a Mercedes Benz but ended up with a Hyundai Getz.
Fitted my GPS to the car and off to the motel.
Next stop was catching up with Graham Dean who lived close by the motel. Graham asked me if Kenny Kitching was on the bill I replied yes, indeed he was. Graham did some fast planning and traveled with me to the festival. No need for the GPS as Graham knew where the Geebung RSL was located. Graham had to get away around 5:00 pm for a dinner engagement and was most pleased that Kenny's spot was at 3:00 pm. Took the obligatory photo of the them and the chatted away catching up as they hadn't seen each other for over a decade.
The afternoon and evening where set up with half hour sets M.C.'d by non other than Jeff who did a wonderful job introducing acts and making everyone feel welcome. There was a dinner break where solo artists filled the musical vacuum.
It was a long day and around 8:00 the eye lids were fluttering so I put my head down on the table from a quick 'Power Nap'. I heard comments of "Had too many drinks John?" All in good fun. The reason I persisted was that I wanted to hear Garry Brown perform at 8:30. I lasted until 8:45 and decided it was time for bed.
The festival was held in one of the side rooms of the RSL. In the main eating area a band "Wally and the ?" were performing and they were pumping to the point that their sound was bleeding into the Festival making it all rather uncomfortable.
Drove to the motel and crashed.
Up at 10:00 and headed back to Graham's place as he wanted to catch up with Kenny again, but, alas, he had domestic duties to perform. Set off for a hall in the Our Lady of the Angels Primary School for the afternoons entertainment.
Wall to wall pedal steel guitars.
Jeff immediately started introducing me to all and sundry. Lots of very good playing. I managed to borrow a Dobro from Garry Brown and played six songs during an intermission. Had good conversations with just about every one and to my amazement, no ego's. Nope, none. What a breath of fresh air. Everyone was supporting everyone. Mind you, Jeff kept us all organised so that everyone got a pick. Met a lot of wonderful people.
Up at 5:45 am Monday morning and took the rental care back. Not as easy as it seems as Ace don't open until 9:00 am, so I had to go to a third party company to park the car and get a shuttle to the airport.
The flight home was similar to the flight up except this time I had a aisle seat, much more comfortable. Same sleeping position.
Arrived at Tullamarine to a temperature of five degrees. Walking off the plane in those tunnels had a heavy mist coming from my mouth. Picked up the car and drove home. Adventure completed.
I would summarise the weekend as one of mutual respect. Everyone was tolerant and willing to fit in to whatever was required. It was all positive. Lot's of sharing of knowledge, skills, parts, etc.
Big thanks to Jeff who made me feel most welcome. For a newbie, Jeff did the following for me:
All up fantastic. I'll be back.
While I was performing my little set on Dobro I noticed a gentleman stand a few metres away from me just looking. As I finished a song he asked "Can you play any Blues?". I said sure and played "Walkin' Blues" for him. After I finished he said thanks and walked away. Several hours later we happened to meet again and he told me that I hade 'made' his weekend and he was a happy man. Seems he was a little 'pedal steeled out' and wanted a bit of contrast which I provided. As is true of most clubs, the 100% full on nature of the music wears some listeners out. They like a little bit to maybe a lot of the music, but gee it's good to have a bit of contrast.