The Old Chestnuts... 

One of my first great mentors in instrument making, music and life in general, was (and still is) Pat Doole. Pat gave me insights into instrument making that I still use on a daily basis thirty plus years later. For those that don't know, Pat and his son Rob (one of my closest friends) ran a custom lutherie shop in Geelong from the late 70's until very recently and it was there I "served my time" in the wonderful world that is instrument making. It's all I've really done since and I'm never happier than when I have a fine chisel in hand, shaving away at a beautiful piece of spruce. I'm fortunate that in my current role at Maton Guitars I still get to roll up my sleeves and create sawdust on a regular basis. 
But Pat taught me a lot more than luthierie. He also introduced me to hundreds of "the old chestnuts", traditional songs or songs written so long ago that nobody could remember who wrote them. I played fiddle in his band Tam'O'Shanter along with Alastair Wilson and Bob Ballantyne and we played traditional music all around Victoria every weekend. I was the baby of the group at 19 years old. I think Alastair was the next youngest and he was about 20 years older so I was wide eyed and somewhat gullible (as I've since realized) so I was the butt of many a joke. Pat had a saying (he had many and they too rattle around my head on a daily basis) which went something like "you cant beat the old chestnuts, they've stood the test of time" and I've kept this philosophy throughout my musical career. Keep referring to the old songs, they're great for a reason, they have a timelessness that owes nothing to fashion and everything to the basic human condition. I love getting up with my musical mates and belting out 'The Wild Rover' or 'Whiskey In The Jar'. I've performed them maybe a thousand times and I don't tire of them. 
I don't tire of the old ballads either and this is one I recorded with The Wren Boys on our self titled album. 'Black Is The Colour' has a million variations and this is one I learnt way back in those early days. We were joined on this track by Anita Quayle on cello and Janette Geri on backing vocals. Both did a brilliant job on this and I consider Janette one of the finest musicians I've ever worked with (I played guitar in her band for a year or two in the mid 90's). Fred Abery really cut loose with percussion and looping and I got pretty creative with the electric guitar as well (I used my old strat and a prototype Maton MS500 before they were released on this track). Ross Ryan excelled at the console on this one as well.
I'm definitely going to sing this song at 'Celtic Capers' with the wonderful Emma Rodda on Sunday week. Check the gig listing for details.
So, I hope you enjoy this old chestnut, 'Black Is The Colour'..

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