Hello and Welcome!
Please kick the fire into a blaze, pour yourself a glass of your favourite beverage, pull up a comfy chair and have a look at what's going on in the world of singer songwriter, guitarist and fiddle player Patrick Evans. You'll find the latest gigs, news on new songs and recordings and links to events of interest as well as to my musical friends. Please visit my blog where I'll be posting thoughts on song writing, guitar playing and fiddle playing as well as tips on how I go about it. I'll also be passing on info on artists and recordings I think may be of interest.
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Patrick's Blog

Something about Folk Music or revisiting The Lakes Of Pontchartrain 

Having just returned from a fabulous weekend of music at the Cygnet Folk Festival, (and having played more tunes on the fiddle than I have for years) has put me in a reflective mood on the music I love and seem to return to again and again. The previous weekend I spent a day (and a night) at The Lake School in Koroit, playing and singing my heart out with so many friends I've made along the way. Leading up to all this was several weeks of pretty intense fiddle practice as I tried to make sure I'd be able to keep up with the amazing Ewen Baker as his "support" fiddler. Yes, the song writing has taken a break for a few weeks as I've become immersed in the treasure trove that is traditional music.

Traditional folk music has always spoken to me. I recall quite clearly being given one of those thin records (probably by a grandparent who picked it up for free as a promotion with the Herald or something) that came in magazines and books in the 60s and 70s. It must have been about 1974 and I would have been 11 (same age as my daughter Sofia is right now). In those days our parents were still able to protect us from much of popular culture (we didn't have TV and the radio was pretty much rusted on to 3LO or 3AR. I'm not sure if ABC FM had entered our lives yet at that stage. Dad had an enormous record collection but it was mostly Bach, Handel, Mozart or audio play versions of Shakespeare. I do remember listening to Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood over and over as well. of course there were hymns at church and Christmas music as well as the music on "Sentimental Journey" on Saturday nights on 3LO (which is where I learnt a bunch of jazz standards that would come in useful much later in my musical life) but I had almost no knowledge of the pop music my friends talked about at school.... Anyway, this thin record I mentioned turned up in a Shell Petroleum sleeve and was some kind of promotional thing, designed (I assume) to help identify Shell as dinky di Aussies. The record was basically the story of first European settlement in Australia and included versions of songs like Bound for Botany Bay, Moreton Bay and others. This record was so thin you had to sit it on another record to play it, and play it I did, over and over and over. I remember our parents went out one night and the poor lady babysitting us had to put up with me playing it about 6 times. In the end she said "enough, enough" and I had to go to bed (I went to bed later than the others, the benefits of being the eldest). Those were the first songs to speak to me that I can recall. I know them still, word for word.

Which brings me to the present... I've started recording my first solo album at Audrey Studios with the wonderful Craig Pilkington looking after all things technical. Most of the songs are down in their basic form (this is a folk record so I want to keep it simple) but there is still a lot of work to do between here and finished, so next weekend I will be launching a pledge campaign to help fund the record so I can get it finished and finally have something of my own out there. Part of the promotion for this will be weekly posts of videos I have made in the front room of our house with the help of the multi talented Gordon Tresider (where would I be without Gordon?). The first video will be of one of the songs on the album, but I'm starting this off with a bit of a preview. This song is The Lakes Of Pontchartrain and it's one of my all time favourite traditional songs. I first heard it sung at a folk festival in Horsham while I was playing in Tam'O'Shanter which would put in in 1983 I would think. All I could remember of it at the time was the timeless melody and the line "if it weren't for the alligators I'd sleep out in the woods". And that's one of the great things about traditional music. Some of the lines are unforgettable. Another of my faves is "give corn unto my horse mother, meat to my man John" from The Drowned Lovers (Nic Jones, Penguin Eggs) or "Ye see yon Birkie called a Lord, wha struts and stares and a' that"  (Robert Burns) just to name a few. Anyway, some years later I discovered the Paul Brady version of "Lakes" and it's been right at the top of my list of traditional songs ever since, even though I had absolutely no clue what it was about. Knowing I was going to post my version of this song I thought I'd better do a bit of research. In the halcyon days of the folk singer I would have taken the train to Cecil House or one of the better libraries and lost the best part of a week buried in dusty old books looking for the origins of this obscure song, and I would have found seventeen versions collected from different counties in the UK and written a paper for publishing in the folk club monthly on my findings, then downed a porter and bread and cheese sandwich at the local pub, but that was then. I'm a 21st century folk singer so I brewed a cup of herbal tea, grabbed the iPad and consulted Wikipedia. It seems that "Lakes" is likely a bit of a combination of a song from the wars of 1812 when many Irishmen went to fight for the British or French armies in America and from the period of the American Civil War when there were confederate and union currencies, only one of worth depending on where you were "I cursed all foreign money, no credit could I gain". The last mystery is the origins of the Creole girl in the song. Creole could mean many things (from blonde born of European parents in America to dark of mixed parentage) but in my mind she's a dark haired  beauty. Not that it matters, she's promised to another "and he is far at sea" in any case. As with many traditional songs "Lakes" has probably evolved from several songs which only adds to its mystery and appeal in my book.

So, here it is "The Lakes Of Pontchartrain". I hope you enjoy it.


The Deni Uke Muster 

Yes, it's been a while. I didn't realise how long it's been since I last posted a blog but life's like that I suppose.. It keeps getting in the way of the things you tell yourself are important and we end up dealing with the things that actually are important. Nonetheless it's time to update things.

Item 1 - I'm heading off to Deniliquin tomorrow morning with my good friend Gordon Tresider on another Folk Bloke adventure, and this time it involves ukuleles. Yes, although I've attended many ukulele festivals as an instrument maker and supporter this time I'll be playing a set of my songs on the prototype Maton Concert uke accompanied by Gordon on a very recently acquired bass ukulele at the Deni Uke Muster tomorrow night. What could possibly go wrong? It's been an interesting exercise bringing the songs over to uke. First there's the transposition exercise and the lack of bass strings. Not too taxing for someone used to transposing on the fly but it gets interesting once the chords become a bit complex. I've realised I almost never play a straight triad anymore. There are always added 2nds, 4ths and 7ths and I didn't even know I was doing it. I guess that happens as you learn more James Taylor songs.... But, even more challenging, many of the songs are inn DADGAD so in my head I'm going from DADGAD to conventional tuning then up a 4th to ukuele tuning. Like I said, what could possibly go wrong? Nonethe less I'm really looking forward to tomorrow night. It's going to be great fun and who knows, it might even turn out great!

Back on more familiar ground I'll be presenting a workshop on Sunday covering the background to the design and production of the Maton Ukulele range as well as an in depth look at the manufacturing methods we use to make these wonderful little instruments. 

Item 2 - There are a few gigs coming up including a fundraiser with the Kathryn Clements and Andrew Cooper for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre on Saturday, November 25 at the Footscray Arts Centre, 2-3pm. I will also be doing a spot at the Darebin Songwriter's Guild (Bar 303 High St Northcote) starting at 3pm, Sunday December 3. I'm really chuffed to have been asked by Claymore to join then at their New Years Eve show at Ariette's Concert Lounge (Croydon). It's always brilliant to share the satge with the lads and I know this will be a ripper. They'll do the best Auld Lang Syne ever!

What else is happening? Oh yes, I'm heading down to the Cygnet Folk Festival in January with Ewen Baker and his fine band of minstrels to play at my first Cygnet festival. This is going to be a musical highlight for me and Ewen's given me about 38 tunes to learn on the fiddle at breakneck speed. Once again, what could possibly go wrong?

Lastly, I've been in the studio working on my first solo album under the care of the brilliant Craig Pilkington at Audrey Studios. It's coming along nicely but there is plenty of work still to do. More on this as it goes along....

I think that'll do. It's been a great year for collaborations. I've made lots of new musical friends including Tom Bolton, Leigh Sloggett, Cyril Moran, Kathryn Clements, Andrew Cooper, Ronnie Talbot, Billy Dettmer and Keith Rae as well continuing to make music with Suzette Herft, Gordon Tresider and many others. I wonder what next year will bring? More of the same I hope! In the meantime....My Dog Has Fleas........

Farewell Danny Spooner  

It’s taken me a while to think this through but I wanted to farewell one of the great mentors in my life properly. 

Danny Spooner was a constant in my life. He never really changed and I guess, like many, I thought he would go on forever. So it came as a shock when I heard he was ill. I don’t recall him ever being sick. The man was indestructible! That was part of his legend, he was always there, always chirpy and always “up for it”. I am really pleased I was able to see him a week or two before he died. It was important to touch base, even if only for a few minutes. 

I played fiddle for Danny on and off for nearly 30 years and I am honoured to have done so. There were large gaps in our playing together when I was really busy with bands or he was doing something different but, just when I started thinking it was finished the phone would ring “Hello Pat, it’s Danny. Ow are ya mate? I’ve got a luvly little gig at (fill in the gap) and I thought it would be great if maybe you and I could do it togever. What do ya reckon? And by the way, ave you got any of those strings you gave me last time?” And so we’d do “a little practice” somewhere, do a couple of shows, agree to do more and then life would get in the way again. That’s how it would go. 

Danny was timeless. Thinking about it now I can remember minute details of gigs we did together but they all roll into the same gig and I couldn’t tell you when they happened. It could be two years ago or twenty. One of the reasons it’s hard to pin down is he paid absolutely no attention to trends or directions in folk music so there are no “this era or that era” chronological guides to go by. That’s not to say he didn’t develop or change. He certainly did, in fact his repertoire was constantly evolving, it was hard to keep up with and I decided at some point that he lived in a parallel universe where there was an entirely different repertoire that everyone knows and he would spend most of his time there, occasionally visiting ours with a new swag of songs. I’m pretty sure the lads in the shanty group from Port Fairy would say the same thing. Where on earth did he get his songs from? He never wrote one as far as I know. He used to say “why bother when there are so many great songs out there”? Why bother indeed if you’re tapped into this limitless resource of songs? 

I don’t remember when I first saw Danny perform. I suppose it would have been at the Geelong Folk Club in the late 70s or early 80s bit I do remember out first practice session. He had been coming to the Tuesday night session at the Golden Age Hotel in Geelong where I was a regular at the time. It must have been in the mid 80s. I was devouring the Martin Carthy / Dave Swarbrick records at the time and learning the tunes off them which fitted into what Danny was doing. Somehow he plucked me out of the crowd of players there and asked me to come around to his house in Newtown, Geelong. I turned up with my fiddle and we started playing. I remember he asked me not to sit on the arms of the couch as “Gayle would do ‘er lolly” if she saw me sitting on them. We started doing gigs soon afterwards. 

To say I learnt a lot from Danny doesn’t do his influence on me justice. To quote Isaac Newton “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Danny is one of my giants. To put it another way, every time I play or perform carry a few people with me and Danny Spooner is probably top amongst them. He showed me how internal rhythms work. Not the written stuff, the organic rhythms that make a song or tune live. That all important swing. He was an absolute master at this. You’d have to be if so much of your performances are acapella or backed by the simple drones of a concertina. He would intuitively strip a song to its bare essence and then sing it as if that was the only way it could be sung. As a fiddle player I would love getting into those little patterns and twisting them and falling off the pitches and rhythms the way he did with his voice. As a guitar player I couldn’t do it at all. None of my approaches would work with Danny. Pete Daffy could and so, in the earlier days, could Gordon McIntyre. I think I could probably do it now; sadly I will never get the chance. 

Danny also taught me the power of storytelling. I used to watch in awe as he spun the magical web with his stories about the people behind the songs and the historical context of the music, often bringing it home with reference to situations today. Having said that, I’m not sure how political Danny was. He obviously identified with his working class roots and loved the songs of people like Alastair Hewlett and Ewen MacColl. They formed a large part of his repertoire (the obscure ones of course) but in our conversations I thought he was more of a pragmatist than one would imagine of a well known folk singer. I suppose the historian in him was more interested in the general spread of human kind than a straight out folk singer would be. I take great pride that people are now calling me a story teller / singer songwriter. That’s Danny’s legacy right there. 

One of the things I loved about Danny was his complete lack of interest in what my brother Richard calls “the Celebrity Cult”. Fame and reputation meant nothing to Danny. He liked you, or he didn’t. The same went for music. He would wax lyrical about some unknown player he had seen who really impressed him and be oblivious to the “big names” around the folk world, unless he liked their music. Similarly every gig was the same to Danny. I played with him to six people standing under a gum tree and to over a thousand people in concert halls. To him they were all the same and he treated each one the same way. This meant, for me, that I could find myself playing a song I’d never heard before, onstage, in front of hundreds of people. He was fearless and would launch into something he hadn’t done in years, confident he’d get through to the end. He never, ever apologized for getting something wrong or for slipping up. He’d just flash his cheeky grin (as if he’d meant to do it) and push on regardless. 

You could tell when Danny was “on” and he usually was. I would watch his feet. Once they started to move you knew it was going to be a good show. Anthony O’Neill talks about the music coming up from the ground through your feet and I think Danny (consciously or otherwise) tapped into this. Those driving rhythms would start in his feet and come through his whole body, the concertina would sway and everything he had would be committed to the song. It was grand to watch, especially from beside him on the stage. 

I’ve just realized I haven’t mentioned his voice. He was a bloody great singer with a huge range and immense power. He often refused to use a microphone, he just didn’t need it. I learnt to enjoy acoustic performances with him. I was brought up playing through PA gear so it was a big learning curve for me. Now I prefer to play acoustically if I possibly can. 

So there you go. Danny was my friend, but, probably because of our age difference he was more of a mentor, maybe even a father figure to me. I respected him enormously and I will never forget the huge positive impact he has had on my life and music. Above all I’ll miss him. I’ll miss those phone calls out of the blue and the random coming together of gigs with him and lately Peter Daffy. I’ll miss those dancing feet and the little giggles when something either comes unstuck or comes brilliantly together. I’ll miss those Port Fairy breakfasts with him and Gayle. The last time I saw him was at his wonderful tribute concert at the Daylesford Town Hall. When we parted we agreed to get together soon to “have a play”. I think both of us knew it would never happen but we were both content to pretend it might. If there is an afterlife I hope he’s having the time of his afterlife catching up and having a play with some of his old mates, and I hope, when the time comes, I’ll be there too, with my fiddle… ‘aving a play…

From Gilgandra Down to Bathhurst Town 

Every now and then you have one of those moments when your imaginary world becomes real, where fiction becomes fact. It's not always great. I can remember the first few times I discovered life behind the scenes of the music biz, when I realized my heroes were maybe not the perfect people I'd envisaged in my day dreams at school, but that's for another time.
My recent adventures in Tamworth and travels there and back with my good friend Gordon Tresider brought a lot of stories I'd read and wondered  about over the years very much alive. I got to meet and play with some great people at Tamworth as well as helping out Scott Smoothy with our Maton duties. It was a blast and I'm definitely heading back next year, but the biggest thrill was getting to perform my song "The Coo-ee March' on the Maton Showcase on Australia Day. There were a bunch of terrific Maton artists on the bill and I was truly honoured to be able to perform alongside such an array of talent. I guess I knew I was in a different part of the world when i asked the crowd (about 800 strong) if they knew about the Coo-ee March. It was as if I'd gone to Edinburgh and asked the locals if they'd heard of one Robbie Burns. Yep, they knew about the Coo-ee March alright... So, Id better do a good job of this one.
Thankfully I did ok and in the words of the great Shane Howard "got away with it again" (not that Shane ever "get's away with it". He's a true pro).
So that was that. I'd done what I'd set out to do and survived without being run out of town and in fact, I think a few people might have even liked the song.
The next part of the adventure was the drive back to Melbourne (in one day if you don't mind, which is a bit of a push). On the way back we passed through Gilgandra, home of the Coo-ee March and that's where the first of my imaginary world meets reality experiences happened. Once we parked the car and headed down the street I swear I could feel the boy's legacy. The town oozes its history, you can fell it coming up through the scorching pavement (did I mention it was hot?).
We stopped at the statue erected in honour of the Coo-ee Marchers and I posed for the obligatory photograph. I kind of like the fact you can see an IGA over my left shoulder. The town is like that. you get the feeling it stands on its own two feet.
We then drove on a bit to the Coo-ee March display in the Information Centre. It was brilliant! Such a story and presented really well. It was fascinating to read the fortunes of the original Coo-ees. A few of them died of illnesses before they got to the front and many more did not survive the war. Very few made it to old age. 
As I was absorbing their stories the waste and futility of it all really struck home. What was the point? Why the sacrifice? We all know what happened over the war years and the echoes of trauma that still ring today. So what did the boys achieve? Why did they go and what of those who came back?
As we were leaving I picked up a book as a memento and told the lovely lady behind the counter that I'd written a song about the march and sung it at a concert at Tamworth the previous day. It may have been a slow day and she might just have wanted a chat but she was genuinely interested and took down my details to pass on to the other locals who has organised the 100th anniversary reenactment march that took place late in 2015. And then she said the words that made it all fall into place for me. "It's been wonderful for the town" she said. "Oh yes, it's done great things for us". And there it was. The spur of the moment decision of those men and boys one hundred years ago to grab their packs and join the march has given this small country town an identity, a source of tourism income and a cause to celebrate. And isn't that worth a holler.. Coo-ee!



After The Democracy Sausage Has Gone Down...  

This has not been a good week in our town and a pretty tough year everywhere so I thought I'd share one of my highlights from last year to maybe sooth the savage breast a little.
July last year saw us back to the polls to decide who would lead us for the next three years (or six months, or 12 months, depending on the internal machinations of party politics) so we took the short walk to the Holy Name Primary School hall to cast our votes. On the way we bumped into neighbors, friends and teachers from the school. Needless to say we bought a sausage from the school fundraiser stall as well as some weak tea and a scone or two. Having scoffed the sausage and scone and washed them down with tea I took my place in the queue and politely took every one of the how to vote cards on offer. I always do this. Mainly because I spent much of my childhood (along with my siblings) standing outside polling booths in hail, rain or shine, handing out cards for whatever hopelessly unpopular cause my Dad was pushing at the time. Dad was a political being all his life, mostly on the outer but did has his moment in the sun later in his life (but that's another story...).
There was always and election of some sort brewing at our place when we were kids and the old hand made silk screen poster press was never idle. I can still remember having a bath in our old bathroom at North Carlton some time in the late 60s. The bathroom was on the back of the house and the walls were lined with silver paper insulation and dozens of "Vote 1 Sam Benson for Batman"  posters in deep blue ink. 
So yes, I can identify with all those brave souls handing out papers and cards at polling booths.
Anyway, what struck me was the strong community spirit at the booth and the general feeling of good will, regardless of politics. It made me realize that really we're all together in this, regardless of our differences and despite what ever categories the media and marketing organisations may try to lump us in.
So I wrote a song about it..
First it started as a silly "democracy sausage" type of song, then became a bit preachy. In the end I opted for a possible romance between the shy daughter of a conservative shopkeeper and a young, red ALP T-shirt wearing intellectual progressive handing out papers at a local polling booth.Sort of Romeo & Juliet but with cups of tea and tennis courts... You get the idea.
Then, I was lucky enough to be asked to perform at the Cluney Tunes festival in Clunes, Victoria in late September last year. It was an awesome festival and I hope to go back and do it again. We had a small session on the Friday night with, amongst others, Rachael Johnston (an incredible cello player) and Hugh Gordon (equally amazing on violin). I trotted out my Election Day song and they played with me. It sounded fantastic and Andrew Pattison (who was running the session) suggested I should ask them to play it with me at my concert spot at The Bluestone at Wesley the next day. So I did. It was completely unrehearsed but sounded great and it was an honour for me to have such gifted musicians join me on stage to play this song.
Even better, I had Pete Daffy hook up my recorder to the desk and I got the whole show live. Pete got such a good sound (through one mic I might add) that it didn't take much to extract a few good versions from the recordings, especially this one, Election Day.
So here it is, live form Clunes, Patrick Evans with Rachael Johnston on Cello and Hugh Gordon on violin performing "Election Day".
I hope you enjoy it.
PS: I'll be at Tamworth doing a couple of songs at the Maton Showcase on January 26 if anyone's around. Come up and say g'day.

Upcoming Shows

Previous events

Alex Legg Memorial Foundation

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The Skylark Room, 951 Glenfern Road, Upwey

The Alex Legg Memorial Foundation (ALMF) is excited to present the inaugural ALMF Stage & Songwriting Sessions at The Skylark Room on Thursday March 29 from 7pm to 10pm. A monthly event offering opportunities for performance, showcasing new songs, and industry mentoring over three hours.

The first hour showcases six songwriters/performers in a shared round robin style, performing two songs each. To book a place in this showcase in the coming months please contact ALMF via the FaceBook link


The second hour features a guest songwriter/performer. For the month of March ALMF is excited to host prolific songwriter, Patrick Evans as our guest.


The final hour will offer a music industry specialist talking about their area of expertise. This month features entrepreneur and venue owner Kathleen Snowball talking about 'How to get the Gig'

ALMF encourages anyone who enjoys live music in a listening environment to come along and support a night that offers something for most everyone including great food, a stocked bar, excellent coffee and wonderful company.

This special Skylark Room evening will be the first coming together of three great acts to deliver a shared feast of their music. Story-telling folk singer Patrick Evans, blues-roots and contemporary folk act The Leigh Sloggett Duo, and the organic folk-pop of The Boltons. As well as their individual sets, they will be combining their talents for some unique collaborations, complemented by Les Oldman (drums), Peter Anderson (accordion) and Paul Tehovnik (acoustic guitar). Dinner from 6:00PM Music from 7:45PM Book online now at www.theskylarkroom.com

"This Old Guitar" 1983 Maton CW80