Brisbane Steel Guitar Festival - 2017
June is the time of year that I head North to Brisbane to attend the annual Brisbane Steel Guitar festival. A long two day trip by car and I'm there. Don't trust the airlines with my gear.
Saturday is the festival day with Sunday being the normal monthly meeting. Two days of playing amongst the most welcoming people I've found.
This year was a bit different for me. The last few years I've been playing bass in the house band. Still doing that this year, but I have additional duties. I have been allocated the opening slot playing a De Gruchy resonator. Pretty pleased about that.
The festival is held in the function room of the Geebung-Zilmere R.S.L. We kicked off at 1:00 p.m. and finished up at 9:00 p.m. The day is split in half with a half section, a break, finishing off with the second section.
Artists in the first section were:
My set went well with lots of audience applause.
Artists in the second section were:
Bob Alloway graciously handed over half of his set so Bill Jobes could perform.
We normally end up with a jam, but ran out of time.
As usual, everyone pitched in to help remove a performers pedal steel from the stage and help install the next pedal steel on the stage. Pedal steel guitars are set up exclusively for a performer and usually perform with his guitar. In Bill Jobes case, he had to borrow one. He joked that some of the knee levers worked the opposite way to what he expected them to.
Good to catchup with all of these friendly people.
Being involved with the band doesn't give you much time to order and eat dinner during the break. I suspect the break was a bit shorter than planned this year as I just managed to get one bite out of my dinner before being summoned to play. Walked back to the stage and everyone was waiting for me. It was Michel Roses' set.
Had some dinner after the show.
For the band it's a 'trial by fire' sort of event. There is no actual rehearsal. In the weeks before the festival, chord charts start showing up via email and in one case I got MP3 files. Sometimes the charts just magically appear on the day. Gets tricky when your interpretation of a song doesn't quite match what the performers expectations are. Things like tempo and rhythm are difficult to interpret from a sheet of paper.
The band members are:
Drums - Bill Turgeon.
Guitar - Ken Myers
Guitar - Danny Widdlcombe
Fiddle - Hugh Curtis
Bass - John Mazur.
Piano - Milton Quackenbush.
I don't get to play bass with every artist as sometimes they prefer to have their own bass player. Same as Milton, sometimes he plays, sometimes he doesn't
Sunday is a fun day of basically playing A Round-Robin of steel players with a BBQ.
This year was memorable, as we had Bryan Williams able to sing in the songs.
The first half was just fantastic as the rhythm section were people instead of backing tracks. Two acoustic guitars and me on bass.
Lots of tom foolery and light hearted fun.
Re-Enacted a historic event with Garry Brown. A long time ago I was busking at the Canberra Folk Festival when Garry walked up to me and asked if he could play along with me. Sure. I was playing my round neck Dobro and the De Gruchy resonator was in it's case just waiting for someone to play it. I had a MIDI player, so I kept on playing songs and Garry joined in as best he could. This went on for several hours until Garry remembered he had to play a gig and yes, he missed it. Oops. Sometimes you can have too much fun.
On Sunday I asked to borrow Bryan Williams guitar and play a few songs on guitar for a change. Garry very quickly asked if he could join in. Sure. We both had a laugh.
Paddy Long showed up with an eBow and demonstrated it's use. In a few minutes Michel had one and before you know it, the two of them are playing a melody in harmony. Wonderful stuff.
Garry Brown and Bryan Williams
Kenny Kitching and Emma Hannah