Concert for Karl – Number 3
The DAG – Nundle
I had the pleasure to be a small part of the third in a series of industry fundraisers for our dear, departed friend Karl Broadie. Organised and produced by Leyce Simmonds and John Krsulia, it was a fitting night of remembrance and love for a songwriter and musician who left an indelible mark of the fabric of the musical community of this country. A packed house at The Dag, John K’s wonderful and charmingly rustic old sheep station an hour from Tamworth, enjoyed something that transcended a mere musical concert, it was a communal reverie and reflection on the things that matter most in life – love in all its forms and the people we share it with.
The evening kicked off with a fittingly emotional set from Brendan Nawrocki and John Krsulja, playing songs that had been either mentored or produced by Karl. Richo Richardson came on for a rockin’ Karl co-write and Katie Brianna joined John to recreate a song from John’s lovely Karl produced album, Travellin’. The set absolutely lived up to the spirit Karl personified, of fearless personal examination, and of total commitment to performing and communicating in song.
Next up we had a stunning set from Allison Forbes and Hayley Wilson, alternating original songs, highlights being Allison’s rollickin’ Pirate Song and Hayley’s touching Karl co-write, Still Loving Her. The girls were funny, sad, sweet, tender and superb in the way they related to the full room that responded with wrapt attention, you could literally hear a pin drop. That’s exactly what Karl loved in these performers, they did him proud.
Leyce Simmonds, who graciously and tenaciously organised the artists for the evening, stepped up and shared the stage with another of Karl’s dearest friends, Katie Brianna. Both girls are as talented and beautiful as any songwriters we’ve produced, and I was fortunate enough to join them to noodle away in the background on some under rehearsed guitar licks. Leyte did a beautiful and personal take on a pivotal Karl song, the title track to his second album, Black Crow Callin’, and Katie responded with a killer version of the edgy Karl classic, Drink The Whole Bottle Down. Just as that song will grace a tribute album currently in production, Leyce chimed in with an impromptu rendition of Karl’s lovely song Only a Moment, and she sang it beautifully, Karl would have been chuffed. Can’t wait to hear it when she records it with Michael Carpenter for the tribute album.
I took the opportunity generously afforded by Leyce to indulge in a personal moment, by playing a song of Karl’s that means a lot to me and to his family. In the lead up to the 2nd fundraiser in April it was clear Karl was unexpectedly in the final stages of this relentless and brutal disease, I’d seen him 2 days before the concert and said goodbye, so I was in a daze of confusion and mixed emotions knowing I’d be hosting a big concert with many of his friends and not knowing if he’d still be alive. The day before the show I was thinking about loss, and of course I found the perfect song to help me through, it was a Karl song called Hope Is a Thief. It’s a perfectly crafted piece of songwriting, the type of elegant simplicity that we all strive for but it seems that only the masters like Townes Van Zant or Bob Dylan can achieve. I decided at the last minute that it needed to be in the show and realised if that was going to happen at such a late stage then I’d have to have a crack at it. I played it many times on the Saturday and didn’t once get through it without crying, and barely held it together on the Sunday, but I got through. And so it happened again, there were tears, but Katie and Leyce backed me up and I was Karl’s voice for a song that needs to be shared to a community dealing with loss, his loss, a significant and resonating loss that is still so deeply felt.
Thankfully the professionals took over again and we were privileged to witness a gorgeous and intimate set from Shane Nicholson. Shane had known Karl over the years and shared some lovely memories between a stunning run of his originals, highlighted by a duet with Katie Brianna of the title track to his great album Hell Breaks Loose, and by a version of a song Karl wrote with Kim Richey called Once In Your Life. Shane did the song justice and then some, and I know Karl would be thrilled to know that it will be Shane’s contribution to the tribute album. Shane is a songwriter cut from the same cloth as Karl, a first class troubadour who can fashion mini soliloquies and pocket philosophies in four minute, four chord finger picked symphonies. Songwriting as revealed humanity doesn’t get any better that when performed at this level and it was a joy to experience it in the context of such a powerful and beautiful event.
The night was then topped off by a winning set from Graeme Connors, the elder statesman of the singer songwriting community, who wears his years as lightly as he sweetly picks his guitar. It felt like the wider community was giving Karl his imprimatur when Graeme admitted he’d not known Karl, but after hearing everybody prior he knew he was someone he would have loved to have known. Graeme, helped by a killer Leyce duet and another song featuring not one but two Simmonds girls on stage in Carly (and Michael Cole as a bonus) left the crowd smiling broadly with his easy way and warm presence, and joined in for a final song, a full stage of all the artists (and some friends Matt Thomson and Taryn Jane La Fauci) singing Karl’s rambling sing-a-long The Fishing Rod Song, led wonderfully by the inimitable Brendan Nawrocki.
What a night! It is not often that a musical event becomes something more, but when it happens it’s magical and memorable, and each of the Karl fundraisers reached this mark. Karl was totally committed to his art form and believed in the power of song to communicate, to transform, to heal, so it’s only fitting that these events achieved a depth and power that reflected that belief. It felt like a joining of hearts, and even the people in the room who didn’t know Karl could reflect on the loss of significant people in their lives. I said on the night that if we live right then eventually we get to be a significant loss to someone, somewhere down the line, that’s the human journey. Karl reached his destination much too soon, but his loss is significant and that’s a tribute to a full life, well lived. He leaves behind two lovely sons, Travis Jenkin-Broadie and Oskar Jenkin-Broadie, who made a sweet video message for the room given they couldn’t attend, and a wealth of family and friends who feel his spark of life in them every day and miss him with every grain of weeping sand.
I know the outpouring of love and respect for Karl makes it a wee bit easier for his family to deal with his loss. To his partner Rachel, his mother Margaret Ingrassia, to brothers Simon Ingrassia, Ollie Broad and sister/cousin (don’t ask!) Katharine Gunn and her family, to the boys and their Mum Marni Jenkin, they know he’s widely cherished still – he’s nowhere, but he’s now here.
Micky Blue Eyes