Isn’t it always the case – when you set off the end seems ages away and then all of a sudden you’re waiting for the flight home. The past four days have gone especially fast with many hours spent on the road driving between gigs.
On Thursday we drove from Brisbane to Tintenbar NSW, where we played at the community hall (just after the Tai Kwando class). They have a very impressive notice board.
Friday was an interesting four-hour drive over to Bringalily Community Hall. At least 20 kilometres of the last stretch of the journey was on bumpy gravel and dirt roads (loads of kangaroos), which was particularly stressful, as one of the front lights on the car was still being held in place by gaffer tape and the hire agreement stated that the car must not be taken onto unsealed roads.
Our hosts Nikki and Bill are farmers; they have three kids but we didn’t get to meet them as, like most kids in these areas, they go to boarding school due to the remote location of their farm.
The gig at Bringalily was a rare event on the local social calendar. The community hall appears to be miles away from any signs of a community. It’s at the end of long, narrow, straight stretch of dusty road. Nikki drove us and our gear (PA courtesy of Sadie & Jay) to the hall (which included a screech of brakes to admire a turtle). When we arrived there were several gazebos erected outside and food was being prepared. As we set up the PA more cars arrived and then a bus. I spoke to several people who’d driven over a couple of hours to get there.
After our first set a lady came to us and thanked us for going to do the gig there. She was crying as she explained that they are having a really tough time of it the moment and how good it was to see everyone getting together and forgetting their woes for a short time. She told us that her father-in-law has a farm up north and he’s lost all of his breeding stock in the floods up there. In contrast she and her husband have had to sell off half of their stock due to the drought in Queensland – they are having to buy in water and feed as they’ve only had a fraction of the usual rainfall.
Following a damn fine breakfast cooked by Nikki we were on the road for Brisbane bright and early on the Saturday morning. All was going well until the car started making a strange noise. I pulled over and discovered that the plastic undercarriage (that is the correct technical term, look it up if you don’t believe me) that sits below the engine was flapping about a bit (another technical term). We still had half a roll of gaffer tape in the glove compartment which we (Kip) put to good use and we were soon back on the road.
That evening we were playing a house concert hosted by Sadie & Jay. There was a great turnout and Sadie & Jay opened up with a fine set, followed by a few songs from Jay’s sister Chris Penman. Chris was over from New Zealand along with Thea her mum. They share a joint birthday (Thea’s 80th no less) and were heading off on a celebratory cruise the following day. Among the attendees was Australian guitar legend Michael Fix and his wife Sue. We’d seen Michael perform with the wonderful Christine Collister at Illawarra festival in 2017. He’s a stunning player and has a fine reputation as a record producer, but best of all he and Sue were very nice people. After the concert a session broke out and we drank just enough to have fuzzy heads the next morning.
After thanks and hugs all round, we bade farewell to Sadie and Jay. They’re touring in the UK in 2020 – it’ll be great to catch up with them again.
We took Sadie’s advice and drove the scenic route to Murwillumbah, stopping off for a quick look at the Natural Bridge on the way. It’s a gorgeous spot and has a waterfall that can be viewed from inside a cave-like feature in the rocks. The waterfall looks stunning and I can see why everyone there was looking at it, but I was fascinated by the hundreds of small bats flitting around in the shadows that no one else seemed to notice.
I don’t think we’ve ever had our name listed with the latest films, but this was the sight that greeted us when we arrived at The Regent Cinema in Murwillumbah for the final gig of the tour.We wandered in and reported for duty. We received a very warm welcome from Mia who told us that there was a film on at the moment and so they would be setting up for the concert in about half an hour. She then made us coffee, gave us a bottle of chilled water and told us to get some food. They were serving Thai green curry and all the trimmings. It certainly beats a tub of cardboard-tasting popcorn and a bucket of coke! Ken (Mia’s partner) came over for a chat whilst we were filling our faces. Neither of us had the nerve to ask him if they’d sold any tickets, but as he didn’t mention sales we took it as a good sign.
We ate as much as humanly possible, by which time the film had finished and there were a couple of chaps setting up the lighting. We introduced ourselves to Bruce (I kid you not!) our sound engineer for the evening. I soon discovered that Bruce was a big fan of Joni Mitchell which made him okay by me. We did a quick sound check and then went back into the foyer to see if anyone had turned up. There were a few folks milling around, so we did our best to try and not look surprised. The gig was due to start at 4pm (very civilised for a Sunday) and finish by 6pm as there was a film showing at 7pm. By 3:45 there was a decent crowd and we were grinning like Cheshire cats. We both find it amazing that people turn up to see us play on the other side of the planet in a town we’ve never been to. Much of this is thanks to YouTube. Many folks have told us that they saw a poster or something on Facebook and then went onto YouTube to check us out. That said there’s probably as many who didn’t come for the same reason. The gig went well and we sold out of Far Off on the Horizon (the latest CD) and had just a handful of Ashes & Dust left to take back to Blighty. We then tanked it up the motorway back to Brisbane (no scenic route this time) to spend the night at Sam and Georgie’s. Sam is one of Kip’s old work colleagues whom she hasn’t seen in almost 10 years. He and Georgie have four daughters who were a delight to be with (they think we’re famous and insisted on having our autographs!).
Up early the next morning, take the car back, fill in the accident form again as they’d lost the previous one, get the shuttle to the airport, check in, get breakfast and relax. Even the accordion went through security without a hitch.