Tag Archives: Lipstick & Spurs

The End of Singing Season

Well, ‘Singing Season’  is officially over for me for this year.

Unfortunately for all those who had put in an enormous effort, the City of Darebin’s ‘Carols in All Nations’ was washed out, so I only got to do two of the three big gigs we were working on on.

I must say, though, that it came as a perverse relief not to have to go anywhere yesterday.  After the effort and long hours associated with the preparation and performances for the two events I did get to, it was lovely to just stop. I even had a ‘nana nap’ yesterday afternoon, and feel much better for it!

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The photos I’ve included are from the rehearsal and sound check at BMW Edge, prior to the first public performance of the Women’s Anthem. This was written by Kavisha Mazella, in consultation with Mary Crooks of the Victorian Women’s Trust, to celebrate the centenary of women getting  the vote in Victoria. I wrote more about this here.

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The day before the performance, the ABC TVshow Stateline featured a six minute piece about the anthem. This can be seen here, until March 2009. (For those of you who know me, you’ll see me three or four times throughout the clip – don’t quite know how I managed it with more than 300 other women there…)

This really was an amazing thing to be part of – I’m still on a high whenever I think about it!  You can get an idea of how big the choir was from the  pictures – we almost out-numbered the audience! And, we did two performances (each time singing the anthem twice) to different audiences, and got standing ovations each time.

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So – the singing is done for the year – now to the Christmas cooking! The first batch of cakes and puddings have been made, and now I’m off to do the second lot.

Enjoy your day!

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Singing season

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I’ve renamed the period from the end of October to the middle of December this year as ‘singing season’, rather than ‘silly season’ as it is usually dubbed. Though maybe some would say I’m silly to be doing what I’m doing, at the busiest (crafting, studying and social) time of the year.

You see, a couple of special projects mean that I am involved in three choirs at the moment, and am taking part in a couple of really special performances. From my point of view, this is heaven.

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One project culminates on November 29th with a performance by a 472 voice choir (at last count!) at the BMW Edge theatre in Federation Square, here in Melbourne. This performance celebrates the 100th centenary of women getting the vote in Victoria, and the amazing work of the women who tirelessly strove to get us this right.

The Women’s Anthem was commissioned by the VWT and written by Kavisha Mazzella, and is really wonderful. It is reminiscent of folk songs from the turn of the (19th) century, and will be a fitting end to the year of celebration marking this momentous anniversary. And – what an amazing experience to be in a room with so many wonderful voices! The full choir hasn’t even been together yet, with many women rehearsing in regional choirs and joining us on the actual day, but even with 300 voices it is incredible. Gives me goose bumps just to think of it.

 

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The second special gig is a Roy Orbison tribute gig to mark the 20th anniversary of his death, and to raise funds for the “Close the Gap” project being run by Oxfam. This one is a Lipstick & Spurs gig, and we will have the great pleasure of singing backing vocals for Kutcha Edwards and Dave Arden, and not only will be raising funds for a very worthy cause, but will also be fabulous fun! Might have to borrow M’s tuxedo for this one!

The final event – the Carols in All Nations – will be on December 13th. This is the City of Darebin Christmas Carols event that takes place at All Nations park each year. Lipstick & Spurs will sing a couple of our own Christmas songs, and we’ll also sing with the Massed Choir for the main part of the festivities. The Rusty Springs will also be playing with Lipstick & Spurs on one song!

So – all in all, the next few weeks will be a blur of singing and happy exhaustion. Must find time in there somewhere to make the Christmas cakes and puddings, and finish all of the present making…

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Saturday night at Don’t Tell Tom’s

Before I get started, I have to warn you that today’s post is going to be a long one, and confess that the photos it contains weren’t taken on my camera phone. After the Michael Buble’ concert photo debacle, I decided that getting the images was more important than what I took them on. I hope you’ll forgive me…
 
 

 
Now I have to tell you about last Saturday night! Lipstick & Spurs – the choir I’m part of – hosted a gig at Don’t Tell Tom’s, in Brunswick. If you were there, I’d love to hear from you, so please leave me a comment.
 
Jenny Taylor, our illustrious leader, had it so well organised that there wasn’t a hitch, and the staff at the venue – especially Ray, the sound engineer – were fabulous.
 
Jenny Taylor with guitar, singing.

Our choir leader, the amazingly talented and dedicated Jenny Taylor.

Everyone worked really hard in the months leading up to the gig, to ensure that we acquitted ourselves well, and it seems to have paid off. The audience seemed very happy – clapping and singing along and generally being fabulously supportive (of course, many of them were related to choir members, but they didn’t have to be nice to us… ).

Laura McDonald, standing at the microphone about to sing.

Laura McDonald - a lovely girl, an incredibly talented musician and Lipstick & Spurs' accompanist

We had a ball, as we always do when Lipstick & Spurs performs. I mean, who would have thought that we – most of us in our 40s, and many of us relative beginners – would get a chance to sing our hearts out for a crowd of 400+, with two of our favourite artists (Sally Dastey and Trish Anderson)?

Lipstick & Spurs choir singing, with arms raised in the air.

'Daddy sang bass' reaches a climax.

I seriously cannot think of anything I’d rather do. Singing is such a positive thing to do at the best of times, but with 20 or so of your mates, and surrounded by family and friends, it is pure joy. I wish I could do it every day (although we’d need a bigger repertoire than we have at the moment)!

Sally Dastey with her guitar, singing with Lipstick & Spurs.

Sally Dastey leads the choir through her song "The race is on".

Looking exultant, Sally sings one of her new songs for the audience at 'Don't Tell Tom's'

Looking exultant, Sally sings one of her new songs for the audience at 'Don't Tell Tom's'

If you’ve been reading Blogday for a while, you might remember the gig we did with Sally Dastey at Young & Jackson’s, in December of last year, and how much fun it was.
If it is possible, this one was even more fun.
Trish Anderson treated us to a fantastic version of Dolly Parton's '9 to 5'

Trish Anderson treated us to a fantastic version of Dolly Parton's '9 to 5'

Both Sally and Trish Anderson were amazing – teaching us their songs, encouraging us and just generally having fun. On the night, each of them performed a couple of their own songs as well as singing with the choir.

Apart from the choir’s performances (alone and with both Trish and Sally), there were ensemble performances from our choir master, Jenny Taylor and accompanist, Laura McDonald; choir member Louise Taunt (below),

  

Louise Taunt standing at the microphone singing

Louise Taunt, one of the choir members, sings an original song

Louise, here accompanied by Trish Anderson on guitar.

Louise, here accompanied by Trish Anderson on guitar.

And the Rusty Springs  – a country-inspired ukulele quartet – debuted (that’s me in black at the front)!

One man and three women on a stage, playing ukulele and signing.

The Rusty Springs (l-r: Lachlan Garland, Karen Gough, Anne Joiner and Caron Cavalier)

The four of us met at MUK (the Melbourne Ukulele Kollective) almost three years ago, and all joined the choir together a year and a half, or so, ago.On one song – Ring of Fire – we were lucky enough to be accompanied by three of our friends from L&S on kazoo. Jenny (front), Ingrid (middle) and Linda (back) are now affectionately known as the Hornbags (below)!

The 'Hornbags' accompany Rusty Springs on kazoo

The Hornbags

What a fantastic experience! I could go on for hours about how supportive everyone was for our first performance as a quartet, but I don’t want to bang on any more here.  I think that is worthy of a post all on its own!

Don’t forget to let me know if you managed to catch the show on Saturday night.  I’d love to hear your comments.

Cheers,

K.

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Young & Jackson’s

Sally Dastey at Young & Jackson’s

An afternoon spent singing has got to be one of the best ways to pass the time. 

Today the choir I sing with – Lipstick & Spurs – was lucky enough to be invited to accompany the amazing Sally Dastey (folk singer/songwriter, formerly a member of Tiddas) at Young & Jackson’s hotel.

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We were part of four songs – three of Sally’s and Pearly Shells – which she brought to the choir when leading us for a while earlier this year. The most fun of all was the last song Someone on his side. Sally said she was going to sing it on her own, but then invited us to sing harmonies at the end from within the audience. She described it as making the audience feel like they were part of the music rather than being separated from it, and she was right – the last song brought smiles and laughter to a lot of faces.

It’s just over a year since I joined the choir, and here I am getting amazing opportunities like this! The talent of the people around me, and the joy they get from their singing, are gifts in their own right, but being able to join in is more fun than I could have imagined. Although it sounds corny, singing like this feels like the realisation of a dream I didn’t know I had. And now that I’ve found it, I’m going to treasure it.

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Ukuleles and other quirky pastimes

Ukes

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am a member of the Melbourne Ukulele Kollective, and play in the Ukulele Big Band.

I first fell in love with the ukulele two years ago, when I saw MUK perform as part of the Darebin Music Feast.  I’d never played one before – or even entertained the thought that I would – but by the end of that gig, three audience members including myself were converted.  I went out the next day and bought my first uke.

We now have three ukuleles as a family – well, I’m the only one who plays them, but the baritone is officially Michael’s.  Meg had one, too – in baby pink – but I was really kidding myself when I bought it for her.  It had been untouched for almost a year when my ten-year-old niece, Jacqui, over from Adelaide for a visit, picked it up and started playing. 

Unbeknown to us, Jacqui had been learning classical guitar for a year. It only took her about three seconds to work out where the notes were and she started picking a blues number.  Needless to say, I sent it home with her.  If Meg ever wants one again, I’ll happily buy her another.

The other musical activity I’m involved in is singing in a country & western choir called Lipstick and Spurs.  I’d no more been a fan of country music than I had of ukuleles when I was asked to add my voice for a recording session that the choir was doing, but again I fell completely in love and have been part of it for a year now.  It is the best fun, and the choir members are a fantastic bunch.

I’m a latecomer to music performance, having only realised that I had a ‘voice’ when I was in my twenties. Singing only became really important to me after I lost my voice for eight months, about four years ago. More than anything, I missed singing with Meg and singing along with the radio, though if you’d asked me before I lost my voice, I would have said that I didn’t sing much at all. A persistent weakness has meant that the first thing affected by any stress or illness is my voice, so I have to be really careful with it.

Fortunately for me, singing has also been the best exercise I can give my vocal chords.  I bet there aren’t many people who can say that they sing on doctor’s orders (or, at least, on speech pathologist’s orders)!

I may have been a late bloomer in this area, but it has become a really important part of who I am, and it is all so much fun!  And life is serious enough – ukuleles, twangy country songs and lots of laughter are a good remedy for it.

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