Jeanette Wormland: horizons and heartlands

This Easter at the National Folk Festival in Canberra, I was very fortunate to catch Jeanette Wormald’s performance when she premiered her production Horizons and Heartlands. Jeanette comes from the northern Mallee district of South Australia where she and her husband Dean are grain farmers. Horizons and Heartlands aims to acquaint us with this area through words, music and a changing backdrop of associated porno gratis images.
Jeanette on her Mallee propertyJeanette has a warm, confident and engaging stage presence. She took us with her on a delightful hour-long journey of discovery. It was soon apparent that we were in the company of someone to whom the Mallee area is significant and very special. “The more open your heart and mind to it,” she explained, “the more you understand.” This sentiment was also expressed in her song To The Mallee Born, when she sang about a country that “takes your heart and soul”. But, she informed us, it is also a country that comes with certain responsibilities. Through the original songs featured in Horizons and Heartlands, Jeanette shared her love for the Mallee and how this area must be carefully maintained.

The upbeat song If This Ain’t Country effectively served to establish Jeanette’s credentials. Her thoughtful and clearly articulated comments between each song were enlightening. I felt as if this is what it would be like to walk with her through her beloved Mallee. Walking across a landscape is, in my opinion, the best way to learn and understand more about the area you are traversing. Jeanette obviously subscribes to a similar belief. In her song Acres of Blue she is walking.

“As I walk these limestone ranges
Seeking out your history
I can hear in distant whispers
Your ancient spirit speaks to me.”
The imagery in this song and others demonstrates the close relationship she has with the landscape. Her acute observation and willingness to listen have led her to a greater awareness and understanding of, as well as a deep respect for, her environment.

Despite indigenous inhabitants of her area no longer being present, Jeanette acknowledged in Horizons and Heartlands the importance of their presence in the history of the area. The sensitivity expressed in the song Walk With Me comes from her work with neighbouring indigenous people. Just as an understanding of the land can start with a walk, Jeanette uses this same idea metaphorically when it comes to learning from and about people.

The represented history of Australia has been male dominated up until recent years. This is also true when discussing farming practices. What makes Horizons and Heartlands so relevant and refreshing was the opportunity we were afforded to hear first hand from the experiences of a woman farmer who is also working in sustainable farming practices. The consequences of a woman expressing an opinion in what was traditionally considered a male domain was explored by Jeanette in the song Tall Poppies.

The festival production included a selection of nine of Jeanette’s songs. They were used to celebrate the Mallee, which in Jeanette’s own words, “is a magnificent, ancient living landscape that can teach us so much about this whole nation.” These songs were beautifully presented by Jeanette, whose warm, expressive vocals were a delight to hear. Besides her own sensitive guitar playing, she was assisted by John Bridgland’s tasteful guitar and mandolin accompaniment.

The organisers of the National Folk Festival are to be commended for their inclusion of Horizons and Heartlands porno gratis in this year’s programme. Jeanette will be touring Horizons and Heartlands later in the year.

Way downunder with The Waybacks

The American band The Waybacks is a five piece group of exceptional musicians who are based in San Francisco. Chojo Jacques plays fiddle and, like guitarist James Nash, also plays mandolin. Joe Kyle Jr plays bass, Chuck Hamilton plays drums and percussion, and Stevie Coyle plays guitar. All members, except for Hamilton, share the vocals.
The Waybacks began their first Australian visit with performances at the National Folk Festival in Canberra this Easter. On the first of three CD’s they have released, there is an instruction to file under “Acoustic Mayhem”. They are a difficult band to categorize. Their music stampedes across many musical genres, including folk, western swing, bluegrass, blues and jazz. Original songs and instrumentals by band members Jacques, Nash and Coyle are supplemented by interpretations of compositions from writers as diverse as Blind Blake, Floyd Cramer, Archie Fisher, John Fahey, Woody Paul and Rev Gary Davis. The traditional music barrel is also raided to complete The Waybacks’ repertoire.

After seeing two of the band’s Canberra performances, I was reminded of the old cowboy song Don’t Fence Me In. It was not because there is evidence of cowboy music in the mix that is The Waybacks’ music, but because this band really seems to have no porno boundaries. They are proof that there are no limitations you can place on music. Indeed, their music clearly celebrates the necessity of risk taking when playing dynamic, innovative, and adventurous music. And the sum total of a Waybacks performance is entertainment.

The Waybacks at the National Folk Festival 2004A Waybacks performance is full-throttle all the way. This band had travelled far to play here and that was exactly what they intended doing. Except for the brief, delightfully engaging, quirky comments from Coyle between songs, it was music and song throughout.

The Waybacks are an extremely tight playing group of musicians. Listening to some of the instrumentals composed by Jacques easily demonstrated this quality. The frantic pace of JNPT in no way detracted from their flawless execution of this exciting piece of music. Gone Wayback was another example where the driving rhythm of the music helped accentuate the beautiful texture created by the lead playing of Jacques’ violin and Nash’s guitar playing.

The band’s cohesiveness seemed to come from their awareness of each other’s contribution to their total sound. This ability to listen to each other, as well as their amazing accuracy of playing, meant that their sound featured plenty of light and shade in its texture.

Some of the songs they interspersed in their Festival sets were most memorable. The James Nash original Been Around was one of the brightest, up-tempo “love lost” songs I’ve heard for a long time. The musical interplay between Jacques’ mandolin and Nash’s flat-picking guitar playing added to the magic of the song.

Another memorable performance piece was Compadres In The Old Sierra Madree, a song by Riders in the Sky’s Woody Paul. A wonderful song, The Waybacks’ arrangement just sparkled like the “jewels rare and old” that were referred to in the song. As Stevie Coyle sang the song, I was taken back to the old cowboy films I saw as a child at the Saturday matinees. The band’s interpretation of the traditional song The Blacksmith, with Coyle taking the lead vocals and the initial guitar melody, was a standout.

On Easter Sunday I met three of The Waybacks around teatime. That afternoon they had visited The Australian Museum. “It raised more questions than answers,” confided Stevie Coyle. I thought about that comment later. It could also in part be directed at The Waybacks. “How do you categorize their music?” “Why haven’t I heard of this porno before?” And more importantly: “When are they returning to Australia?”

The music of Gibb Todd

Scottish born singer, musician and songwriter Gibb Todd has been living in Australia for a year and a half. He and his wife Annie reside in sunny south-east Queensland. With a straight face but give-away glint in his eye, he reckons it is the closest place in the world with a similarity to Scotland’s climate. He and his wife had driven down to the National Folk Festival via Dubbo, keen to take the opportunity of seeing other parts of Australia.
This was Gibb Todd’s first performance at the festival in Canberra. He came with solid credentials. In the 1960’s he was a member of the Kerries folk group, which included his father. Gibb has toured with the Dubliners and the Furies, worked with Finbar Furey and Ronnie Drew and has travelled extensively. Each January, since its commencement in 1994, he has been a popular performer at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow. In 2000 he released his first CD, which was produced by John McCusker. At the insistence of American musicians Alison Brown and Gary West, owners of Compass Records, he travelled to Nashville and recorded his latest CD Goin’ Home. Goin’ Home, which was produced by West, was released this year. When you read the names of the backing musicians who played or sang on the CD (Danny Thompson, Alison Brown, Tim O’Brien. Andrea Zonn, etc) well, let’s just say that Gibb Todd could be excused for being a name-dropper.
I had the opportunity of attending at least three of Gibb’s performances during the National Festival. The little of his music I had heard prior to this had certainly whet my appetite to hear more.
He is one of those performers who seem effortlessly to engage their audience from the outset. The times I saw him, he performed seated, accompanying himself in fine style on both guitar and banjo. It was a listening pleasure hearing him sing in his deep, resonant voice. Memorable songs from his latest CD included The Last Trip Home, Strong Women Rule Us, Fair and Tender Ladies and his strong originals Canada andWhere The Bangelows Are. When a person is capable of carrying such images of Australian places in his mind and then expressing them so succinctly in song, as in Where The Bangelows Are, you become genuinely excited thinking about the possible songs Gibb will write now that he lives here.
At one of his performances he spoke of his musical debt to the late Scottish singer Alex Campbell. He finished with Campbell’s anti-war songI’ve Been On The Road So Long, which resounded with relevance despite having been written some sixty years ago.

The CD Goin’ Home contains four original songs, three traditional tunes with strong American ties and arrangements by Gibb, and four covers.
The country feel of The Belle of Byron Bay gets the CD off to a bright, rollicking start. A reel of the same name by John Doyle effectively augments the song. The unique, magical sounding Australian place names continue in Where The Bangelows Are. On hearing this beautiful song, you realise that you are discovering rich musical territory. The song is enhanced by the warmth of Gibb’s bass vocal and sets him apart as a wonderful songwriter.
A moving, understated interpretation of The Band Played Waltzing Matilda follows. The graceful adornment of Stuart Duncan’s fiddle playing adds significantly to the attraction of this version of Eric Bogle’s well-known song. Davy Steele’s wistful homage to the working plough horse, The Last Trip Home, set to a beautiful tune by John McCusker, continues the reflective mood. This is broken by the old-time rhythmic vitality of Don’t Put Taxes On The Women, with its serving of sly humour.
Canada further reveals Gibb’s writing strengths. This song relates, in a very discerning way, the plight of the dispossessed Scottish Highlanders during the land clearances. The cyclical nature revealed in the narrative leaves the listener reflecting on the whole concept of homeland. The sensitive arrangement of the haunting melody makes this a choice track.

The familiar Fair And Tender Ladies is raised well above the ordinary by the rawness of Gibb’s vocal delivery and his ornate banjo playing. The concepts of home and belonging are raised again in the catchy, country style original Going Home. The song is autobiographical with some wisdom thrown in for good measure. The obligatory travel of the troubadour’s life juxtaposes the desire to return to the familiar – home.
Just when you feel that more videos porno than enough musical gems have already been revealed, the CD throws up three more treasures: a memorable rendition of Brian McNeill’s intriguing Strong Women Rule Us All, the rousing traditional Cape Cod Girls, complete with some improvised lines, and Violet Jacob’s poem of exile Norlin’ Wind, to Danny Thompson’s innovative and eerie setting of Jim Reid’s tune.
While chatting with Gibb and Annie at the National Festival, he said that he was looking forward to the time when he becomes a naturalised Australian. In my opinion, just his song Where The Bangelows Are makes him more than eligible already. The National Folk Festival organisers showed discriminating taste in exposing us to the music of Gibb Todd this year.