Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Big Night

Let's start with the end.....

We stood on the wide stage in the grand old museum, with nine other musicians, in front of more than 200 of our friends, fans and family, and we knew we’d done it! With the help of all our Brisbane friends, we raised the extra money we needed to take us to America. We all sang “Thousands or More” together, and that’s what we achieved. 

The night began with a big set-up effort, aligning chairs, bumping in sound gear, stocking the bar, preparing the box office, and laying out a picnic dinner for all the musicians.

We stuck to our tightly organised soundcheck schedule, and suddenly the lights were low, the audience was seated, and Sandy McCutcheon was welcoming everyone and bringing on the first act of our mini folk festival – The Goodwills. 

Bob and Laurel Wilson (The Goodwills) now live in Maleny, but years of Brisbane life yielded a rich harvest of Brisbane songs, and as many people were reminiscing about last coming to this building when it really was a museum, Bob and Laurel painted the picture of a Brisbane of old: 

I used to like the city better, thirty, forty years ago; We'd sit outside on the veranda, drinking rum and talking slow, When the purple jacarandas, drop their petals on the ground, That's the time that I remember, in that big country town.”

The Goodwills very generously donated the sales from their earliest album to our cause – thanks, Bob and Laurel.

When Sandy introduced the next act, he didn’t let them forget that at their Maldon Folk Festival performance, the audience called for an encore with the words, “Bring back the sexy boys!”  Davydd McDonald and George Jackson wowed us and wooed us with brilliant fiddle and guitar playing, and knocked us out with that so-hot-right-now percussive dancing. Here are the boys in action

- and don’t forget to watch Davydd competing on “Australia’s Got Talent” on Feb 25!

There was a huge warm-fuzzy feeling all around as the Pirate Brides took the stage and filled the enormous hall with their luscious four-part vocals. The Brides looked fabulous, with Marcus’s double bass and Rose’s fiery red accordion particulary eye-catching, even on a stage which included a pipe organ, a grand piano and the QYO’s timpanis and tubular bells. Their songs of angels and lovers and trains and broken hearts; their beautiful, relaxed performance – no wonder the Pirate Brides have become so well-known and loved in Brissie.

Rose, Ryk, Markus and John sang us into the interval, whereupon everyone rushed Andrea’s bar, which was raising money for the Brisbane Folk History Project. We asked Andrea to run the bar and take the money for this good cause, because it wouldn’t have been much fun in the foyer without her libations!

And then it was our turn. At the very last minute, Nicole wanted to change the set list around, and we started with “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, which seemed like a good choice in that echoing space. It was amazing (and distracting) to see SOOO many people we knew, smiling up from the audience, and as we sang our favourite songs, we saw people from every part of our lives: our families beaming in the front row, friends from our home in Maleny, from school, from Woodford Folk Festival, from Sauna Club, from places we’ve worked and sessions we’ve played in, from Brisbane Celtic Fiddle Club, and even the nice man who gave Nicole a lift when she was lost in Moorooka last week! Thank you all for coming and supporting us.

We drew the raffle, with a prize of one of Nicole’s paintings of Morris dancers, and it was won by Helen Sonnenberg. Congratulations!

At the end of our set, we had some collaborating planned, and invited our friend and fiddle-player Emma Nixon on stage, along with all the musicians who had entertained all night, for a rousing and fiddle-filled version of the capstan shanty “Rock ‘n’ Roll Me Over” , combined with Scottish 4-part jig “The Seagull”, (and thanks to our students from Music Under the Southern Cross summer school for enthusiastically joining in from the audience), and finally our farewell song, “Thousands or More”.

It was a massive night, and a round of thanks is due, to all our great friends:

Sandy McCutcheon (MC), Matthew Moline (sound), Bob Hartley (stage manager), Don Jarmey (FOH manager), Fiona Hartley and Samantha Page (box office), Andrea Baldwin (bar manager) and her team, Helena Bond, Keith Urqhart, Carrie Hauxwell, Shaz and Deanna, and Jeff and Ann (CD sales). Thanks also to Alex and Alana, the Old Museum staff, who did a great job, especially Alex for being principal sound engineer.

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