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 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 before?” And more importantly: “When are they returning to Australia?”