Nearly a year has passed since my return from the USA. An entire year since I was transported into the midst of of the Folk Alliance International Conference & Showcase in Kansas City, Missouri. 3000 musicians gathered downtown in the Crown Central Hotel, and each one with a similar aim in mind: to give that Conference & Showcase everything they had! Two upper floors of hotel rooms booked from 10 AM to 4AM every day - each one a performance venue. There were Aussie and Canadian rooms, promoter and record company rooms, rooms managed from roots and folk music organisations from just about everywhere in the English-speaking world. Performers turning over every 1/2 hour, non-stop. And in-between: headline shows in the ballrooms downstairs, and panel discussions on every aspect of the music business, and instrument and tech displays. And of course the endless hum of discussion, and instruments being tuned, and announcements being made, and currents of people heading in all directions, lit up and ready for anything.
Hindsight has shown me that the Kansas City experience was my baptism by fire into the music industry. More than once, I hovered on the edge of overwhelm. But then there were these characters who would suddenly be there on the radar, and we’d connect, and I’d come back to ground again. And what a cast they were! Truly unforgettable.
Coming home from Kansas City (and several other USA destinations) I found my producer, Heath Cullen, applying the final few brush strokes to the album we had recorded in Los Angeles in May of the previous year. The album now had a title - Not The Express - and artwork, and a great feel, and beautiful continuity. All of those things that you want for a piece of art that you're launching out into the great world.
So much seems lik history now. The wonderful launch shows, here at home in Tantawangalo and Candelo, as well as in Adelaide, Melbourne and Byron Bay. Interviews and performances on community radio stations in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and The Australian Capital Territory, capped by an appearance on ABC Radio National’s cutting-edge afternoon music show, The Inside Sleeve, hosted by our Aussie national treasure of a musicologist, Mr Paul Gough.
Unfortunately, our national public radio here in Australia - an independent and creative voice within our society - has for some time been under sustained attack. Most recently, under the guise of “streamlining” into all-digital format, a number of music shows - several in particular, including The Inside Sleeve, which specifically featured new music and emerging artists, Australian and otherwise - have been cut from programming. To read more about this situation, and (possibly) to sign a petition to help save these valuable shows, click here: https://www.change.org/p/michael-mason-hands-off-radio-national-music
These past several months have seen the height of the summer season here in Australia. And of course, for those in the music trade, the height of the performing season as well, with music festivals happening all over the country. I’ve been fortunate to have played a number of small venues and house concerts over the season, but I’ve got to say that it was my performances at our premier local music event, the Cobargo Folk Festival, that really set me flying. Great surroundings, great crowd, great weather, a congenial lineup of great performers - it just doesn’t get any better! Read all about it right here, and book your ticket for next year: http://www.begadistrictnews.com.au/story/4495888/every-year-it-keeps-getting-better-cobargo-folk-festival-goes-down-a-treat/?cs=509
On the Magpie Stage at the Cobargo Folk Festival for a full band show: L to R, Sam Martin (guitar), Dan Efraemson (violin) and Matt Nightingale (double bass)
So - while it’s been great to be in Australia for the whole year, and here on the farm for much of that time - it also feels like time to get going again. For awhile now, I’ve been contacting friends in various places around the globe, sounding out what interest there might be in hosting a troubadour such as myself. Slowly, dots on the map have been lighting up and an itinerary has taken shape.
So: I’ll be leaving Australia in late April, and so far it looks like I'll be travelling through San Francisco, Sonoma, Washington State, Montana, and Arizona. Look for more specifics on my website, www.michaelmenager.com, as the weeks roll on. And destinations can be added, of course, depending upon where there's interest (and gigs!) House concerts, cafes, restaurants, festivals, folk & roots music clubs - whatever’s going, let me know about it and I’ll see if I can get there.
It’s like I’ve nurtured a harvest over this past year, and now I’m feeling like getting out and and sharing it around. Like those baskets of extra produce I’ve been taking with me lately on visits to friends …
So I hope to be seeing some of you (or even many of you) very soon!
All the best to you, as always,