posted Sunday 24th April 2011
Happy Easter from New Zealand everyone! Arrived in Auckland on Thursday and flew to Napier on Friday, for t
he Hastings Branch 60th Anniversary Ball. It was a great night - lovely people and wonderful energy on the dance floor. And Duncan was happy, with an in-tune grand piano to play. We stayed with Val and Charlie on their beautiful 50 acre property, and couldn't have been better looked after - thanks so much!
Today we head to Upper Hutt, for the 8th Southern Hemisphere International School of Scottish Fiddle - SHISSF! Looking forward to hanging out with Sarah-Jane Summers and Douglas Lawrence, and a full week of fiddling and general madness!
posted 1st April 2011
Arrived in Seattle to be greeted by frosty air and misty fog. After taking the light rail (which, incidentally, needs a light rail to get you to the light rail!!) we met our host Jeff who took us to lunch at a fabulous Italian restaurant, where the food was super FRESH. Then a half hour ferry ride across to Bainbridge Island, and we arrived at the venue for our house concert - beautiful room and great piano. AND...an Australian Red Heeler to meet me at the door - awesome dog, what more could I want?!
The concert crowd were extremely enthusiastic and we were looked after so well by everyone. Thanks so much!
posted 31st March 2011
Flew out of Albuquerque airport, after safely returning our little hire car, heading for Sacramento. We were met by the wonderful Bruce Robinson who has been so amazing at helping us out with contacts and gigs. On the way to our host house,we stopped by his piano workshop, where three Steinway grands were in the process of being rebuilt - fascinating stuff. Duncan was in heaven! On to Cheryl and Jimmy's place, and a beautiful Chinese meal with some of the local fiddlers, before we settled in for an informal masterclass type workshop, which was heaps of fun. I love how passionate these fiddlers are about Scottish music - there is nothing more rewarding than teaching people who REALLY want to know :-)
Thursday was spent rehearsing and then giving a small talk and concert at the local elementary school. I managed to turn a perfectly well behaved hall full of children into a chaotic crowd of bouncing kangaroos and waddling wombats! It was great fun and the kids were awesome!
In the meantime the wonderful Dale was working magic on the Yamaha grand for Duncan for the evening - what an incredible difference he made to the sound!
After a brief but refreshing walk along the American River we were all set for the concert. I don't think I have ever been better looked after at a gig. Our green room was full of flowers, grapes, chocolate, coffee, drinks, fruit etc etc. Marie, you are incredible!! Thank you to everyone who helped make this part of our trip so enjoyable :-)
Tomorrow - Seattle!
posted 30th March 2011
The days are flying past on this tour. After the Black Rose we flew from Denver to Albuquerque and picked up our hire car for the next three days. We met up with an old friend of Duncan's who took us out to lunch before dropping me off at the Apple Mountain Music store for a workshop. About 10 people attended and we spent two hours working on rhythm ideas and discussing what makes Scottish music Scottish.
We then went on to our hosts' place - John and Faye, who looked after us brilliantly -for a quick bite before heading back to Apple Mountain Music for the concert. It was a fun gig with an enthusiastic crowd in a VERY intimate setting :-). Thanks so much to Debra for inviting us to play and for the last minute piano tuning. The after concert frivolity continued back at John and Faye's, where we were able to chill out with good wine and good company. I learnt, amonst other interesting facts, that Americans have a camp for EVERYTHING, and in return was able to teach my new friends some VERY important things about Australian humour, paying out, and utes.
The next morning we were sent on our way with good coffee and snacks for the car, after an amazing breakfast - thanks Faye! The drive to Durango was fascinating (well, at least the bits where I wasn't sleeping) and we made good time, despite completely missing an early turn-off and driving half way to Santa Fe! On arriving in Durango we were met by Maria who had done a brilliant job organising a workshop and concert for us. Our hosts for the night made us feel so welcome and I really enjoyed getting to know them and finding out a bit about life in this part of the world. We were up early the next day for a local breakfast before heading back down to Santa Fe via Pagosa Springs.
posted 26th March 2011
I love the Black Rose Acoustic Society, Colorado :-). Last night we played to a fabulous crowd who once again made us feel so welcome. Many thanks to Moira and Joel for hosting us and to all who turned out at the Black Rose and supported our concert. It was lovely to catch up with friends made from last year - just a pity we couldn't stay longer.
posted 25th March 2011
After a 30 hour door to door trip from home to Denver, I rolled into my first workshop feeling a little bleary eyed and droopy tailed. BUT, I soon brightened up when I saw the AMAZING venue for the workshop and concert. Hosted by Eron Johnson Antiques, and held in his massive warehouse, this would have to be the most unique place I have ever played. Everyone needs to check this place out. Great venue, great people, and we even managed to stay awake until the very end.Thanks so much Eron, and happy birthday!
posted 5th Jan 2011
HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! Many thanks for your amazing support during 2010, and I look forward to catching up with many of you again in 2011. Lots of gigs coming up, so check out the schedule page :-)
posted 23rd September 2010
My last concert and workshop went well and were met with much enthusiasm from audience members and participants. It felt a bit strange to have a long drive back to San Francisco with no gigs along the way, but all good things must end I guesss! We took the scenic route back down the Oregon coast and then through the Californian Redwoods - beautiful and uplifting in many ways.
Now back in Australia I have been reflecting on the past two and a half months and am feeling very full of music and positive spirit. The end of this trip feels somehow different - more a beginning than an end, with more tours and concerts already flooding in for next year. I am looking forward to a quieter couple of months where I can start to focus on developing new material, writing a couple of commisioned pieces, and practising, with a few more local gigs thrown in along the way. Am very happy to be back in the land of EXCEPTIONAL coffee, and am happy for any excuse to go and have one. SO all my Adelaide friends - give me a call....it's my shout!!
posted 11th September 2010
September 11th, America 9 years on....it feels strangely eerie being in the USA on this date, and a little un-nerving in some ways to be playing a concert tonight. Although we are far from New York - in Portland, Oregon - the news, the talk and the vibe are all focussed on the day that horrified us world-wide. I still remember exactly what I was doing when the news hit, and how it impacted all those around me in Australia. I'm not sure that the shock and disbelief ever really fade. It is certainly an anniversary that must be used for reflection personally, socially and politically, and I can only hope that humanity as a whole can strive to work together in peace and acceptance of diversity for common good.
We are nearing the end of our two and a half month tour and have our last concert and workshop this weekend. We have just driven across the 45th parallel, known as the half way point between the North Pole and the Equator (even though this is not exactly true), on our road trip from Santa Rosa CA to Portland OR, having stopped at the beautiful town of Ashland (incidentally in the throes of the Shakespeare Festival) along the way.
It is striking me once again how diverse a country USA is, both geographically and socially.
AND.....it is nearly impossible to buy healthy food when you are on the road - or actually, even unhealthy food that tastes good! Am hanging out for a Farmers Union Ice Coffee and some spinach!! (Not necessarily together, although right now, I wouldn't be fussy.)
This life as a touring musician is an odd but strangely liberating one. It's definitely tiring being on the move all the time, but I have seen so many wonderful things and have made such great friends with people I would never have met without music. And to be able to communicate emotion through music seems a very positive thing to have in the world, especially on a day like today.
posted 5th September 2010
Amoeba Records, San Francisco. All I'm gonna say is - go!!
sted 26th August 2010
So far so good with several concerts and the Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddle School now over. We all had a brilliant week on Thompson Island - great weather, people, music, camaraderie and general madness. Next concert is TONIGHT at Blue - Portland, Maine. Come and get out of the rain and join us for a fun night of traditional music - first a concert and then a session. Hope to see you there!
posted 5th August 2010
Back on the plane after an awesome week at Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, where I taught Scottish fiddle to a whole bunch of enthusiastic campers. Big thanks to Mark, Chris and Cosima for making me feel so welcome, and to all the great students who were such a blast in class! Look forward to seeing you all again soon :-)
So, I'm now flying Southwest Airlines (the FIDDLE FRIENDLY airline - go Southwest!) from Albuquerque to Boston, which involves stops in Dallas and St Louis. Can't wait to get to Boston - my fav US town - and to catch up with old friends and hopefully meet new ones.....and hit the shops!! Oh, and I guess play some concerts and teach some workshops :-) Check out the schedule page and come and say hi if you're in the area....
posted 25th July
At 3.10am on Thursday I was woken by my alarm after what seemed to be only an hour in bed....time to put the last things in the suitcase and head to the airport. An hour's drive, then a hour and twenty minute flight saw me in Melbourne international airport, sneaking past check-in, security, and immigration officials, trying to look casually blasé and carrying my fiddle cleverly disguised under a folded jacket - success! Then followed a 14 and a half hour flight to L.A., a 4 hour layover, and a 2 and a half hour flight to Denver. Then an hour's drive to our hosts' place and food and bed!
Our first concert was last night at the Black Rose Acoustic Music Society. What a fabulous night! A full venue of wonderfully enthusiastic people made us feel so welcome and were hugely supportive of our music. It was an absolute treat to play there and I feel the tour is off to a great start. This morning I taught a workshop to 11 local fiddlers , who also seemed to have a good time. Tomorrow I head off to the first fiddle camp and am looking forward to spending a week in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.
posted 16th May
I have been in Canberra all weekend working on material for the new Catherine Fraser Quartet with the amazing guitarist Bill Grose. Am now looking forward to putting the full quartet together with cello and piano for the National Celtic Festival in June. Can't wait!
posted 5th May
It's been a busy couple of months, firstly finishing off the UK tour with a great dance gig in England (see review here)
and then heading to New Zealand for the 7th annual Southern Hemisphere International School of Scottish Fiddle. We had a great week at camp this year - one of the best yet - and the concert at the end of the week was another sellout show. (www.shissf.com)
I am now looking forward to a couple of gigs closer to home, with a concert in SA's Strathalbyn on Sat 8th May and then one in the wonderful wine region of McLaren Vale, at the Singing Gallery on the 5th June.
posted 19th March
Leith Folk Club concert went well on Tuesday - great venue, great people, and great Chinese food around the corner! We stayed in a fabulous apartment overlooking the water, and I got very excited to find a washer and dryer so I could have clean clothes for the rest of the trip! From Leith we headed to Aberdeen for a radio interview and then concert at the Blue Lamp. Another great night, wonderful people who made us so welcome, and a great crowd. So good also to catch up with old friends here...can't wait to come back!
posted 17th March
Scotland - feels great to be back here. Played our first concert in Larbert last night to a small but welcoming audience, followed up by a session with members of the Falkirk Fiddle Workshop. It's been fun wandering around Edinburgh yesterday and today revisiting old haunts. Even bumped into another familiar fiddle player for a drink at the Balmoral - nice to see you GregOR! Looking forward to playing at Leith Folk Club tonight. :-)
posted 15th March
What a great weekend in Hude - fantastic people and wonderful dancers! It was such a pleasure to play for so many young and talented dancers who appreciated the music. Thank you to everyone who made us so welcome, and especially to Martin and Gisela for your superb hospitality. Can't wait to come back!
posted 11th March 2010
Arrived in Germany today. Flew into Bremen, and arrived without mishap, despite our slight trepidation about Ryanair. We were collected from the airport by two lovely local characters and drove to Oldenburg, where after checking into the hotel, we were taken to experience a traditional home-cooked meal, complete with spoon drinking. My first schnapps experience! The concert was great - wonderful venue and an in-tune grand piano, which made Duncan very happy. There was more food (!) and our hosts were exceptional. The only thing that didn't quite go to plan was receiving a second encore and having nothing prepared - a totally spontaneous number ensued! Many thanks to the Olden-Folk for making us so welcome.
posted 10th March 2010
Dinner with Milton and Darwin....what more to be said?!
posted 8th March 2010
Arrived in England on Thursday, after a very long flight and the disappointment of discovering that the entertainment system for my seat was broken - no movies to distract me!! Since arriving though I have been having a great time visiting some wonderful towns, including Bath and Oxford. It was really brought home to me how young white Australia is when I came across a building that had been renovated in 1703!
Duncan and I played our first gig yesterday at the Somerset Day School - taught a musicians' class all day and then played for the evening dance, which was a long day but good fun. Am now hanging out with friends in Cambridge before heading to Germany on Wednesday. The weather is, shall we say, brisk!
posted 23rd January 2010
I am now on the long drive back home after the Tamworth Festival. Had a great couple of days, caught up with some old friends and made some wonderful new ones. The Golden Fiddle Awards concert was a fantastic event - great venue, great sound, great audience. And I was awarded Best Fiddler as Soloist, Australasia,which I feel honoured to receive. Thanks to everyone for their support of my music and for buying all those CDs :-)
posted 19th January 2010
Happy New Year everyone! After a wonderful Christmas and New Year's with family and friends I am starting to get excited about 2010. It's beginning to look quite busy already. Right now I am being a true Aussie, sitting in my Landcruiser driving 1600kms to Tamworth to perform at the annual Golden Fiddle Awards Concert. This year I'm up for four awards - Best fiddler as Soloist, Best CD featuring a Fiddler (Rhymes & Reasons), Best Composition (The Hills of Kaitoke) and Best Fiddle Teacher. It's a great chance to go and play at a festival that's not usually on my schedule....and the countryside on the way is amazing!
posted 21st November
Things are now winding down towards the end of the year. I am just back from giving a day workshop at Melbourne Girls' Grammar school, plus a concert at the Melbourne Folk Club and then a workshop for the Melbourne Scottish Fiddlers. All went well, at least from my perspective! Was great to get back into a school and get the girls fired up about fiddle music - they did a great job!
Next up is a couple of gigs with the Adelaide Scottish Fiddle Club - their annual concert on the 29th November, and the Celtica Festival at Port Adelaide, on the 5th and 6th December.
Am then looking forward to a long summer break with NOTHING scheduled - the first holiday period I've had in ages with no gigs booked. And then it will be full steam ahead for 2010, which is hotting up to be a super busy year!
posted 1st October
Duncan Smith and I will be playing three concerts in Victoria this following week. The first is at the Penny School Gallery in Maldon, where the food and the ambience are both fantastic! Next is Burrinja Cafe in the Dandenongs, and the following weekend we're at the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival. Can't wait!
posted 7th September 2009
The Hills of Kaitoke from Rhymes & Reasons is one of 25 shortlisted compositions in the instrumental section of the ASA songwriting competition.
posted 22nd August 2009
Rhymes & Reasons has been getting great radio play here in Australia, on both ABC Classic FM and ABC Radio National. Thanks to everyone who has purchased our CD based on this airplay!
posted 30th July 2009
Rhymes & Reasons is now available on itunes!
posted 17th July 2009
After a highly successful AUSTA conference in Fremantle, WA, I've just had my first free days in ages with NOTHING to do! Bliss :-) Leaving the beautiful Margaret River today to head to Kojonup for our next concert, and then back up to Fremantle tomorrow for our final gig before home.
posted 11th June 2009
Had a great weekend at the National Celtic Festival. Thanks to everyone who came and supported my gigs and bought CDs! Am now looking forward to getting the new CD on itunes...stayed posted!
posted 1st June 2009
This coming weekend is the Australian National Celtic Festival in Port Arlington, Victoria. I'll be playing with Duncan Smith, the Scots Gaelic band Eilean Mor, and Celtic guitarist Pete Hawkes. It's going to be a busy weekend! Check out the website for al the details. www.nationalcelticfestival.com
posted 24th May 2009
Duncan and I are looking forward to being guest artists in Last Night at the Proms, this Friday and Saturday nights at the Adelaide Town Hall. As well as a solo performance, we will join in a rendition of Hector the Hero, along with military and pipe bands and a choir!
posted 23rd May 2009
The new CD Rhymes & Reasons is now out and selling fast! It's available here from the recordings page. I'm also really excited about my new look website - it was DEFINITELY time for an update!