Letter To An Absent Friend
So I went to Tamworth (stop laughing) I know you know it’s not my favourite event, but I wanted to promote our tribute album so I took one for the team. Di came too, and rode shotgun in the passenger seat (hello Luke O’Shea) and we actually had a great time. Here’s what happened….
We went to The Pub for the first show on 21st, Craig Power kindly agreed to provide the venue, prodded by the indefatigable Cheryl Burns, and ridiculously multi-talented Glen Hannah made a lovely poster to promote the night. I didn’t know exactly who would be able to find time, Tamworth is so demanding on everyone’s time, but the night ended up being such a beautiful thing, we even had 7 Golden Guitar 2017 nominees perform by the end, so it turned out well. Who fronted up? Would you believe – Luke O’Shea, Kevin Bennett, Lyn Bowtell, Fanny Lumsden and Dan Freeman, Gregory Page, John Krsulja, Richo Richardson, Brendan Nawrocki, Beck Fielding, Jasmine Beth, Benjy Pocock, Jeff Gibbo Gibson, Matt Thomson and Rachel Webster – and the one and only Archie Petrie. We sang your songs and talked about you, Johnny K had even learned See You When I Get There, and did a fine job, and he joined Luke O’Shea to do Old Man’s Shed, a song you predicted would win a Golden Guitar (more of that later). Rachel and Matt sounded great and did a song you wrote with Rach, Turpentine, a real gem. The freshly married Lumsden’s came (acoustic bass and all) and brightened everyone’s night, and the sweetheart of the rodeo, Richo Richardson belted out his wonderful Karl co-write Love Is A Vandal, and Jasmine Beth made a surprising and welcome appearance to support the night. Beck Fielding did a couple of tunes accompanied by Arch, who joined me and Katie for Hope Is a Thief. Katie Brianna got Greg Page up where they promptly stole the show with a killer duet of Greg’s Greatest Love of All. Luke O’Shea treated us to his version of Fishing Rod Song, helped by the tasty Benjy Pocock, and Brendan Nawrocki graced us with his earthy goodness. The endlessly talented Kev Bennett (joined by Lyn Bowtell and a choir of grievous angels) took us home with It Lasts, simultaneously having us singing along, smiling, crying and still wondering what went on behind the door of Franklin 216!?
The next event was helmed and stitched together by our old friend Den Hanrahan, and was at The Loft, a funky art-space off Peel Street on 27th. We’d enjoyed hanging at your old haunt, The Tamworth, during the afternoon, seeing the lovely Caitlin Harnett perform with her band, and catching up with her equally lovely parents Greg and Kim, who (you’ll be pleased to know) came down to the show later. Den and I kicked off with a few tunes and then handed the mike over to several great talents like Kate Rose, who played More Than Meet’s The Eye, the song you helped her write at the Academy and Gibbo, who played his beautiful song, started after his brother died, and finished after you did! It’s a stunner, you’d love it. Nick Payne gave us a sweet trio of acoustic stories and a story or two about your influence on him and his fine album he finished last year. Cloudbird (Justine Whalin and Pete Fenwick) got up to do some of their wonderfully offbeat folk, and rocked out in a joyous, rambling fashion, before I accompanied Justine on Paperback Book, and she did it as well as she always does. Ilona Brooks, fresh from a great set on Peel Street, (I realise that is a contradiction in terms) did her lovely version of your song, Something True, and Rachel did a ukulele turn on a great song of yours,We Can Change That, supported by Lou Bradley and Phil Chaffer, which was very warmly received. Katie Brianna again stole the show with a song she knew you’d like, Lucinda William’s Right In Time, before she did your rootsy classic, Drink The Whole Bottle Down – she’s getting really good at it now! Den and I were left to finish with Black Crow Callin’, he does it so well but still struggles with the structure (20 bucks!). A fine night after which we trekked back to The Tamworth to hear The Flood’s last blistering set – you’ll be thrilled that KB has been doing It Lasts as part of their sets now, and the fact that he finished with Bobby Z’s Like A Rolling Stone was a magical thing that would have had you grinning as hard as Harry Hookey was! Hannah blitzed it on guitar and Kev sang the shit out of it, just like he did when you and I heard him do it some 10 years back.
Saturday night we spent at The Tamworth, listening to Caitlin again and watching a live stream of the circus that is the Golden Guitars, but jumping for joy at the sight of our friends walking away with the chocolates! KB, Lyn Bowtell, Felicity Urquhart and Glen Hannah cleaned up twice for BBU, Fanny and Dan won best newlyweds (I think) and the highlight was your good buddies Luke O’Shea and John Krsulja winning for Best Heritage Song for Old Man’s Shed, off the album you produced for John! How cool is that? John thanked you from the stage (you predicted it after all) and later they put up your photo on a roll of honour, people applauded. Good people all and well deserved, and we all know Katie Brianna is the best so there’s time for her to be crowned somewhere down the track.
Now to Sunday morning, coming down at The Dag…. We stayed there courtesy of the GG winning legend who is John Krsulja and his lovely wife Belinda, and we staged a final night there surrounded by friends and love and good music. We were set to play in the main room, but the power went out due to bad weather, so the night was acoustic, candlelit and perfect. The set was another procession of love and affection, Cloudbird reappeared, as did Mr Nawrocki and his Brendan in crime, Mr Smoother. Brendan N didn’t have Luke stealing his Fishing Rod and he led us in a rousing version of that. Johnny K dusted off his See You When I Get There, and his Karl Bro-D song (which should be a killer reggae/country hybrid if I may suggest) and Brendan Smoother hit the right tone with his songs and story about Karl helping him in his musical endeavours. Jason Kearney proved his worth with some gritty, fine songs, as did the inimitable Richo, who did Vandal and was joined by the wonderful Kelly Cork, a true songwriting craftsman I know you’d love. Lyn Taylor and Nick Payne played their hearts out and included another fine rendition of your song, It’s You. Gibbo dusted off his Hole In My Heart (if that’s what he ends up calling it), there wasn’t a dry eye in the house and did a couple of beautiful songs with Rachel, his own Good To Know and one they co-wrote called Dressed So Well. She’s really blossoming as a writer and performer, I know you’d be proud. Speaking of proud, the last record you worked on was Hayley Wilson’s, and sadly you never got to finish it, well our friend Glen Hannah did, and it’s a cracker. Hayley came and played some great songs and told a sweet story about a ghostly visit, on the spooky and memorable Somnus, and did a heart-stopping version of her lovely Karl co-write Further Than Forever. Brother Den and I got up to finish the night, and guess what? the lights came on…. power to The Dag. Den and I chose to stay acoustic, he has taken to singing Oh Jade now, and damn well too, and afterwards a young lad in the crowd got up to say how wonderful the night was and by speaking publicly that he was overcoming a crippling anxiety he was battling. Love, magic and healing (and roast lamb!), it was that kind of night.
So mate, what a great series of tributes to you, done with love and respect and by people who care deeply about your legacy. Everyone I mentioned pitched in brilliantly, and others, like Simone, who helped with poster art, and Justine Moyle, Greg and Kim Harnett who simply showed up just to support and cheer us on. I hope I haven’t missed anyone or anything, but I thought you’d like to know. It’s surreal to be writing this to you care of a destination none of us can know… though some people have you sitting on a cloud somewhere, sipping wine, or if you’ve been naughty maybe locked in a room with Tanya Kernaghan’s latest single on endless repeat, which is heaven, which is hell? You decide! Maybe you’re talking songwriting with Leonard Cohen, waiting for Zimmy, who knows? I had you tailing a passing comet a while ago. I know on these nights you might not have been there, but you were there. You were there in our thoughts, you were there in the songs, you were there in our voices, you were there in our hearts, you were there in our smiles and our tears. It might be a poor substitute for the real thing, but we’re hanging on to you where we can. You’ve gone, but you ain’t going nowhere.
Micky Blue Eyes
“There’s always a light to where you’re going, and there’s always a light, from where you been” – Karl Broadie.