These Machines Cut Razor Wire

Well, not really.

Actually you need bolt cutters for that. Or heavy duty Welding irons. And stuff.

But some days when you are gathered with a bunch of humanists like I was on Sunday afternoon, you begin to think that talk and attitude can free people. And actually it can. Check out the history on Nelson Mandela. Or there’s a book called ‘A Radical Melbourne’ which is a little lighter reading and will make the same point.

I think soft protest and positive living (if you can’t say anything nice, find a suggestion) actually do change a lot of things. And I have humbly needed to consider lately that violent action actually has its place and perhaps is necessary to many things, but I still….. well, I like this concerts thing.

Unpaved Presents recently (Sunday 14th April 2013) put on another fundraiser for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, a concert with Jeff Lang, Ruth Lindsey, Alison Ferrier, Susannah Espie, Charle Jenkins, Jed Rowe….. And yours truly. what an honour, but more importantly, how inspiring.

I have many young friends involving themselves in the issues of the present time- Thomas Whiteside from Paper Street Soap Company is off protesting funding cuts to Uni’s,at the Menzies building, as I  write. Rory Knight is part of the sustainable living movement and a proponent of anarchist theory, Ryan Tews documents and participates in the Occupy movements. Andy Reid constantly works for the environment and the indigenous community and updates us on the gas hubs, fracking, and coal mining issues. Les Thomas talks to detained Asylum Seekers.

I don’t do much of that stuff- I have too little faith I guess…. except…. like everyone I’m a bit of a sheep and I like to follow the fashion and in all honesty the more my friends do to improve the world around us the more inspired I am to take little steps to help out. Or start something.  So the concerts thing works. Small shifts in attitude, barely noticeable. Its hard to be a racist thug if your friends aren’t that into it.

I don’t feel comfortable standing on stage and delivering a monologue haranguing our nations leaders- I’m not well enough researched, not well enough involved, not thought enough about it. But each day I talk to Les Thomas, or a fan of the late Alistair Hulett, or a member of a Union Choir, I’m a step closer to getting off my arse-

You can download Les’ “Song for Selva” recorded with Jeff Lang, for $5. Proceeds to the ASRC.

Maybe that proves the success of these smaller events?

Maybe guitars do kill fascists.

Hope So.


April 13, A new band lineup and some good stories….


Just back from the National Folk Festival, as I am most years, with a cold. So now I am snuggly and sleepy and domestic watching TV with housemates YAY. Also, I discovered driving into home that its hard rubbish week! I got a new lamp, some great rugs and cushions, three boxes of books, and a dining room set. He he. My Housemate approved the dining room set before it came in.

I managed to cook a stew (chicken and vegetable) and used a GF cake mix packet to make 4 small puddings, fed my housemate and watched a movie. Tomorrow will be all work bt today, I am very happy domestic hen.

Oh yes! the new lineup. It appears that Saffron Avenue is dead. However, from its ashes we have formed a group called the Stray Hens, a core trio of Sal Taylor, Mandy Connell and Rowena Wise. Rowena, as far as I am concerned, should be the next big indie star. I’m gonna make sure we get a video done of her incredible new song. although you can see the first one here.

We played the open stages at the National and got good feedback from festival organisers, and from other musicians.

My Judy Small performance went very well, and Judy and Charmaine gave me some great praise. They were very encouraging. I got to tell her that I am Leanne’s daughter (she knows my ma) and surprised her! But the best part, was getting on stage and hearing the incredible welcome from the audience. I felt very naked and very nervous and very humbled.

Had  a ball with Ruby and Marilla and a lot of the girls and saw Natalie Haas and Alistair Fraser and a lot of fabulous players. And I met a banjo that I want.

Lindsey Meldrum (formerly Saffron Avenue) met a guitar that she loves, so now I am going to try to raise funds to contribute to order her one.

I wore Marilla’s Corset and hat and danced.

I sang with the Fagans. and then, in the greenroom, Rob Moss, The Fagans, Jane Harding, Kavisha Mazzella and I had a session with PAUL BRADY.

I played a song for Mustered Courage (I think I’m a bit girly for them) and avoided spending much cash.

Overall I really enjoyed my time over easter.

Of course, I Haven’t mentioned anything about the Epic adventure to Yackandandah Folk Festival, where I stayed with Shayne Soall and Di Simpson, really fell in love with the town, and sold out of CD’s. Festival highight- watching David Ross McDonald’s set. and meeting Melissa Main.

Then on the way home to pick up the car (which broke down on the way up, in Euroa) I stopped at the Euroa pub and had a jam with a local and some columbians who ere on route to Sydney to open the gig for Manu Chao, a famous frenchman i never heard of.

Made mates out of the Cherry Tree Cafe and the Euroa hotel staff in Euroa, and this goes nothing to mention the guy from Penrith who gave me a lift from Euroa to Wangarratta, who everyone calls Henry Ford and who offered to help me find a Van. A great dude, looks after his 5 year old daughter and fixes engines. Another of those amazeballs people who can’t read but can fix any engine.

Tired but happy, broke but with big plans to spend on music, looking forward to a big crowd for the POH gig on Friday.


Ms Mandy Connell