The Australian National Busking Championships

On the 31st of October, Brodie, Quinton and I drove down to Cooma, where Brodie spent most of his childhood, to participate in the Australian National Busking Championships, a competition run by Allan Spencer, a Cooma local and mover-and-shaker. We played a gig at one of the pubs that night, and the following day got down to busking around town. We played to a very receptive and appreciative audience outside of a few of the cafes in town, on the street. We had a fantastic, very busy day, and got to spend time with some really great people, and that evening walked away with third place in the championships, and second place in the people’s choice award!

Following a couple of great days in Cooma, we headed on up the road a ways to Canberra, where some lovely friends of ours had helped us line up a couple of gigs. The first was a house concert put on by the Canberra Musicians Club, with a lovely atmosphere and vibe – we played music late into the night with our fantastic hosts and new found friends.

The night after that we spent playing at The Phoenix, a bar in Civic that I had wanted to go to for a long time, but had been closed when I had visited Canberra earlier this year due to a fire. But the Phoenix has since risen from the ashes, and while only half of the full pub is now re-opened, it is such an amazing venue, and all of us can’t wait to play there again in the near future!

Festival Season

In the coming month, The Button Collective will be playing at a few festivals. We’ll be at Kiama Folk by the Sea (September 26-28), Ballina Coastal Country Music Festival (October 3-5), and Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival (October 17-19).

Really looking forward to these, as we’ll be able to play with the classic 6-piece line-up at Ballina (so rarely does this happen these days!), and with Christina for all three festivals.

The Lonesome Sea

The Button Collective have spent the past weekend on a macadamia farm in Whian Whian recording an EP. This EP will be a bridge between the first and second Button Collective albums (with the second being recorded at the end of this year).

There’s a nautical theme to the four tracks on the EP, two of which are traditional songs (Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy and Paddy’s Lamentation), and two are originals. There’s still a little bit of recording that needs to be done, but we’re hoping to release these tracks very soon.

This recording session was also the first time I got to use my new double bass! It sounded great, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Steve Law, our wonderful engineer.

Music videos and Splendour in the Grass

This past week, The Button Collective have been around Coffs Harbour, Lismore, and Byron Bay. Our mission? To film several shots of a music video in the foggy riverside farmland of Brushgrove, and to be involved with the Amish barn at Splendour in the Grass.

The festival was a lot of fun – we got to hang out and play music with some good friends from all over the place – Lismore, Sydney, and the Blue Mountains. The barn was a reactionary retreat from the modern festival landscape, with acoustic music and simple lifestyles.

In the days either side of the festival, we were up at a ridiculous hour to make sure we could catch the pre-dawn fog along the river at Brushgrove, a tiny farm town just north of Grafton. Here’s a few sneaky behind-the-scenes shots:


Telemetry

Telemetry HeadsetsMy good friend Nathan and I jetted down to sunny Adelaide this past weekend to spruike our wares and participate in the fantastic arts development residency that is Adhocracy. Held at (and run by) the Vitalstatistix Theatre Company, Adhocracy is a ‘national artist hothouse’, which supports the creative development of new experimental and interdisciplinary arts projects.

Telemetry, put together by Nathan and I conceptually in the months leading up to Adhocracy, was one such project.

Those fancy-looking headsets on the right are one half of the Telemetry hardware. The other half is a front-facing, chest-mounted camera, streaming live video to screens in the visors. The catch is that you can only see from the other participant’s viewpoint, meaning that accurate and efficient communication is required between the two of you to achieve even the simplest of tasks.

Over the course of the weekend residency, Nathan and I explored a few different ways of making Telemetry performable – we were looking at using it as the basis of a long-term installation, and as a short, 30-minute show involving the two of us working to achieve a particular goal. Where we found the device to really shine, though, was as an interactive piece, with participants using it in pairs and going through the initial moment of realisation of how it works. It is very different to have the devices explained to you, and wearing them for the first time is the most interesting moment in the discovery and process of using them.

Apart from working on our own stuff, we spent the weekend seeing a bunch of other works-in-progress – all of which were forward-thinking and brilliant – and meeting and talking with some of the awesome people involved with each of the projects.

10/10. I’d go to Adelaide again.

Prime Suspect

My good friend and collaborator Nathan Harrison (with whom I created and performed The Mayfly Project) invited me to be a part of a new project as a one-off performance.

Entitled ‘Prime Suspect’, the installation performance takes place over a few hours (in this case, to the side of the stage at Performance Space’s ‘Nighttime: Talent Quest’) and sees professional mathletes Nathan and Jake try to achieve the impossible: finding the next highest prime number!

Finding the next prime number, by hand, on a whiteboard, is, of course, a completely preposterous idea, as the current record-holding prime number was discovered by a computer program, and is no less than 17.4 million digits long.

Despite the completely futile goal, we both impressed ourselves with how far we actually got: we detailed all of the prime numbers between 2 and 2179 – that’s 327 prime numbers, and a ruling-out of 1800+ non-primes.

Prime Suspect

Sailing

Early this morning, I drove up to Careel Bay and found myself once again on the Woronora (not the river, the Dutch Schooner that I sail on from time to time). We went for a sail up the bay and out into the ocean for a while. The highlight, apart from the whole damn time, was when a pod of about a dozen dolphins swam across the bow of the ship! They came within a metre of us, and looked like they were pretty amused.

Dolphin