Adrian and I have been in Australia and have been playing a bit of music and doing a little road-tripping. We went to New South Wales, on our most recent road-trip. What fun we have had with our dulcimer-world friends!
This is a beautiful time of year to travel north from Daylesford, Victoria. We spent nearly three weeks visiting with dear friends and making new, genuine, friendships and real-life connections with people, as well as sight-seeing and enjoying Australia’s wildlife. I’m feeling very blessed by wonderful relationships and experiences.
We played music with Richard Troughear, strumming cardboard dulcimers that he made out of Ikea packing materials (cardboard!). Because he is an expert luthier, specialising in sound quality, these funny instruments sounded fantastic!
Richard’s wife, Delphine, offered familiarly-Southern but delightfully-Australian hospitality to us (including our little Miss Jelly Bean) at the beach and in a beautiful Brogo AirBnB cottage (it was dog friendly!). Wombats and wallabies were everywhere! Take a look at my video below:
Adrian and I also enjoyed visiting with our friend, Terry Hennessy, a luthier who built Richard Fariña’s dulcimer. Here’s a video of Richard Fariña playing the dulcimer built by Terry Hennessy:
Terry is a fascinating friend, an outstanding artist, a great storyteller, and a very nice person to know.
In the Blue Mountains, Adrian and I had a visit and played music with a facebook friend who we had not previously met: Anne Bowman. Anne is an extremely talented artist/illustrator, a great musician, and a wonderful tour guide. She is also an active participant in social media related to the dulcimer. She is definitely a dulcimer enthusiast, like my hubby and me! Here’s a little selfie-video of the three of us playing together during our jam.
We are all good friends who enjoy jamming, walking in the rain forest, and having high tea together now!
As soon as my hubby and I arrive in this historic downtown blues precinct (where we live), we feel like we are on a movie set. The city scenes are surreal , to me. The contrast between the decrepit and the dynamic in downtown Clarksdale is amazing. Decrepit is a harsh term, I know. But, honestly, that’s what I see very near me, when I wander around downtown. Often, I walk on broken glass that has fallen from disintegrating windows in the neighboring building. It makes my heart ache to think I can’t do anything to stop some things.
I try not to dwell on what I cannot change. Even when I notice the worst, I try to look for a positive change or beauty in the movie-like scenes, when I return to Clarksdale. I like to imagine the scenes could be cleaned-up for safety reasons, and then reinvented as real movie scenes for entertainment. People need safety AND entertainment!
I see that there is a whole lot of beauty in Clarksdale, though. I see wonderful changes that directly improve my mental attitude, as well as the view from my apartment window. There are new street signs, beautifully painted windows in revitalized retail shops, lovely new sidewalks with accessible ramps; old, new, and growing businesses are thriving, and people with positive energy are thrilling the community by their good works. I see circles/cliques changing, overlapping, combining, enjoying differences. Those are exciting changes! Good on ya, Clarksdale!
I’m always thankful when businesses I like (like Skimke’s BBQ) are still in business, when I return to Clarksdale.
There’s live blues music every night of the year in Clarksdale! I’m ALWAYS thankful for more music in my life! Besides the fact that it’s so close to my Memphis family, that’s the thing I like best about returning to my home in Clarksdale.
I love the city life that allows for walking to downtown music venues, radio shows, and restaurants. Last night I enjoyed going next door to the live taping for future airing on XRDS.fm radio with Charlie Musselwhite, The Dave Luning Band, Gary Vincent, Meghan Maike, Red Paden, Roger Stolle, and Robert Birdsong at The Clarksdale Sound Stage – just around the corner from The Holy Moly! WOW! Talk about entertainment! What an experience! It was fantastic!
AND, the food in Clarksdale is amazing! Sometimes even breakfast service (Shack Up Inn and Bluesberry Cafe) comes with music! I love it! There’s a local saying: “Clarksdale, it nice!” But if you don’t mind me saying so, Clarksdale is cool and it’s getting cooler all the time! I’m happy to be back!
Last weekend I had a blast, busking at the Port Fairy Market!
I was lucky enough to get to play along with my husband and my brother-in-law — two of the best musicians I know! It was fun to watch the crowd gather as we rocked “Shortening Bread,” across from our friend’s market stall where shortening bread was actually being sold out! Fun!!
Of course, it was great to see money being tossed in the guitar case, but my happiness didn’t come from the money earned busking. It came from being with people and making music with my husband and his brother!
I love watching people bounce to the rhythm as they walk by or as they stop to listen and dance. When babies begin to bounce, that’s when I know we’ve got the music right, for sure. Money that is tossed in to the case is nice and very much appreciated by us buskers, as people never have to do that — there’s no obligation for anyone to give buskers money. They do it because they want to, and I watch them in amazement and appreciation.
Of course, my smile might get a little brighter when the $5 and $10 bills get dropped in to the case. When that happens, I probably bounce a bit more, myself — enjoying the fact that other people are really enjoying the music we are making.
I had to take a break during one of the songs to rest my hand, but I had time and strength to snap iPhone photos of my hubby, Adrian, and his brother, Kevin, before getting back to playing.
After about an hour of busking, we happily spent our earnings on market food! Market food! Yum!! Thank you, Port Fairy Market friends! I hope to see you again someday. 🙂
Adrian and I have been taking a few road trips, since being back in the U.S.A. We have been in Arkansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, spreading our dulcimer love wherever we go. We’re hoping to get down in New Orleans, Louisiana, soon! I’ve never been to Louisiana. My fingers are crossed.
We have our Aussie friend and bandmate, Phil McNamara, visiting for three months, as the first guest Artist-in-Residence at The Holy Moly. So, we enjoyed having Phil join us on our trip to Mt. View, Arkansas, recently. While we were there, we visited The Dulcimer Shoppe, and we met the owners, Jim and Betty Woods, along with the Ozark Folk Center’s 2016 Southern Regional Mountain Dulcimer 1st Place winner, Irma Reeder, and her husband Scott Reeder. Phil got a good dose of dulcimer world. I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw some dulcimer playing in his future!
In May, Adrian and I spent Memorial Day weekend with my parents and other family members in Kentucky. It was great to reunite with relatives and friends I haven’t seen for a few years and to meet the newest members of my family. During a family picnic on a beautiful Kentucky farm, we shared our mix of Memphis-Melbourne-Mississippi Delta original/traditional music (which I cannot even clearly describe here……you have to see it and hear it, to believe it. Believe me!).
We are in Clarksdale now, reflecting on music past, making a bit of new music, and looking forward to all the music to be made. Holy moly! We’re excited about what’s coming up at The Holy Moly!
“It’s good to have fun on a road trip; but, oh, how you have to know how!”* And, I’m wondering where our next road trip will take us. I’m ready to strum on!
*Lyrics by Adrian Kosky, The High Side of the Low End (2006), Track #5″Road Trip.”
Adrian and I are in Australia, traveling, brainstorming, and searching for that thing we will do when we return to the U.S.A. next month.
We spent some time in Stanley, Tasmania, visiting a friend. While we were there, we played a few traditional American fiddle tunes on Australia Day!
It doesn’t seem to matter where we play dulcimers or Strumsticks, people are fascinated by these wonderful instruments.
Last night Table Hill played a few tunes (with our friend Phil) at the Leonards Hill Hall Country, Western, & Old Time Dance — an annual event that has continued for over 40 years.
It wasn’t easy for Adrian and me to play music and entertain people whenever we wanted, last year. We had built ourselves in to the restaurant business we were running. We focused all our physical and mental energy on moving forward with that part of The Holy Moly revitalisation project.
This year, we are still moving forward at The Holy Moly, but now that we have sold the restaurant and have good tenants in that corner of our building, we are focusing on adding more music in our lives. We are working out the specific details of presenting music in The Holy Moly Theatre. I’ll write more about that soon.
Moving forward, I’m excited to say that my friend and bandmate, Phil, is planning to visit Clarksdale in Spring 2016! Yay! Another Australian coming up to the Mississippi Delta for music!!
I can’t wait for Table Hill to play for you!
I’m about to re-enter music-workshop-world — not just Memphis dulcimer workshop world — but general music workshop world — at The Holy Moly, in the downtown historic blues precinct of Clarksdale, Mississippi! This is so exciting!
I chose to study the mountain dulcimer in my leisure time, through workshops and independent practice, when I attended the Memphis Dulcimer Festival and took a beginner dulcimer workshop, in 1990. The workshop method of relaxed, casual, hobby/leisure learning among other people with similar interests, without academic pressure, was perfect for me. I was able to learn to play a string instrument at my own pace and enjoy making music for the simple joy of making music. I enjoy the schedules and the organisation and group activities that an academic world provides, but I do not enjoy the stress of taking tests and receiving scores nor the guilt and shame that sometimes comes with all that.
I get inspired when I see and hear inspired musicians. I learned this about myself when I was a teenager, and I was reminded of it in 2000, when I attended my first week-long mountain dulcimer workshop in Swannanoa, North Carolina. That was the year I decided I wanted to host/facilitate educational, entertaining, music gatherings. During my return for a second week-long mountain dulcimer workshop at the Swannanoa Gathering during the summer of 2001, I began my plan to host mountain dulcimer events in a classroom that was available to me in Memphis, Tennessee. By the end of 2002, I had planned and hosted the first Memphis Dulcimer Gathering with Larry Conger and was scheduling a second annual event. My first mountain dulcimer event was a great success, as it was a lot of fun and, for me, confirmed that the world needed more music workshops for people like me who just wanted to make more music.
A lot of musical fun was launched in 2002 from the first event I hosted with Larry Conger and a couple of friends. The Memphis Area Mountain Dulcimer Club was started and commenced its monthly meetings. In 2004, I co-founded and became the first president of The Memphis Dulcimer Gathering, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organisation. The Memphis Dulcimer Gathering & Folk Festival, an annual September event, came to be just as beautiful and musically-nurturing as the old Memphis Dulcimer Festival that had inspired me. I felt blessed to be part of a world of positive musical movement.
Unfortunately, in 2007, I attended my last week-long mountain dulcimer workshop in North Carolina, the same year I resigned as president of the Memphis Dulcimer Gathering, Inc. My life’s circumstances were changing for the better, but my connection with Memphis dulcimer workshops and house concerts was fading.
Since 2007, I have had a continuing daydream, though. For years I have been imagining hosting events that would interest and entertain musicians…..all kinds of acoustic musicians….not just Memphis dulcimer players. I also dreamed I might be able to join in a jam as my Memphis dulcimer-playing-self and feel warm and included with acceptance, as well as confident with my playing skills, sharing the joy of community music-making. (That dream actually started in 2000 in Swannanoa, North Carolina, as I heard all the musicians come together to jam in the evenings, when the workshop hours were over. I don’t think I had ever before heard music so beautifully played and enjoyed.)
Although you won’t hear many mountain dulcimers, on any night of the week, live music can be found, here in Clarksdale. And, some Clarksdale musicians go on world tours, advancing with the musical momentum of the Mississippi Delta. But, the Mississippi Delta needs musicians to come here for mutual inspiration. I need musicians to want to come here for inspiration, whether to learn more about the blues or to be inspired by Americana music, in general.
So, here I am ready in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in the historic downtown blues precinct, to co-host the Juke Joint Jam Academy, a Clarksdale Juke Joint Festival related event, with my husband. I encourage other musicians to gather here to study instruments that interest them and become inspired to make more music, start a music club, lead a music workshop, host a house concert, or just enjoy the music of Mississippi.
To learn how to host music events, I recommend attending music events.
My husband and I have been working on revitalising an old masonic temple building in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The work is nearly finished, and we are moving forward with planning workshops and concerts to be held in The Holy Moly Theatre upstairs. Of course, my biggest interest is in hosting mountain and hammered dulcimer workshops with concerts. It has been a few years since the last time I hosted a house concert, but I am anxious to return to that fun!
There will be a bit of difference when I return to the facilitation of workshops and concerts, though, as I now have a real theatre and a real dining room and private apartments to offer as accommodation for instructors/performers and there is a local motel in walking distance for participants, right down the street. This is so exciting!
I videoed Adrian singing and playing in the theatre, a few months ago, as a sound check and for the fun of it. Everything looked and sounded good…..real…..ready.
I’m also happy to share this little video of Adrian singing his excitement about receiving his green card in 2014.
Happy New Year and happy green card to Adrian!!
As always, I am feeling blessed to be able to share this news via the WWW. I’m also very thankful that I have two wonderful countries to call “home.”
We enjoyed playing at the Radio Springs Hotel last Thursday and Friday evenings. We’ll be there again on the 7th and 13th of the 11th. Yay!
Adrian and I have returned to Daylesford, Victoria, Australia.
We are happy to be here enjoying a couple of months of spring before returning to enjoy autumn in Clarksdale, Mississippi (mid-November). We are also enjoying spending quality time with Miss Jelly Bean.
On the 7th of November we will return to the Radio Springs Hotel in Lyonville, VIC, AU, as the Table Hill duo and play during dinnertime. We’ll be missing our friend, Phil, who will still be on the road……bless his busking heart! Hopefully, we’ll all-three be in the same place and time to play-away the time, sometime in early 2015.