Archive for banjo

Free download of our second single now!

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2011 by Weary Hobo

As you may know our second album will be released next month at The Red Rattler.

The Album launch is on Saturday 17th September and tickets available now on the Sydney Fringe Festival site. To build momentum, last month we released the title track from the album ‘Who’s Got a Padlock and Chain?’ 

To our suprise, a song about locking-on to coal trains stayed in the top ten on the triple j unearthed Roots Charts for weeks and even went to #1!

Today we have released the second single from the album called ‘Passivist‘. This is a new song inspired by Generation X-box. It was partially written in Pirate Studios on the last day of recording and turned out to be one of our favourites from the album. 

Listen for the first time now !

And if you like it, download it now for free at triple j unearthed! It will have more luck in the charts if you give it a review too.

Tell you mates because it is a certainty that this is more Lurkers #1 gold!

W.H.

Australia visited by bluegrass royalty cont.

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2011 by Weary Hobo

Peter Rowan is most recognised as a singer, guitarist who played with Bill Monroe in the 1960’s, and at 68 years old he still plays a great show! On this night at the Cat and Fiddle, he and his band rocked the house.

Before I write about the show, let me rant about the venue. The Cat and Fiddle is rare in Sydney because it provides good music for a low price – this show was thirty dollars and about two hundred people came. However, there are some major problems

  1. It is embarrassing when the performers can not be heard over the cooking in the kitchen. Surely some kind of sound proofing can be put in.
  2. It is shameful that the musicians were not given drinking water and something to dry their hands with. Midway through the show Peter asked for a face towel and was given a wet bar towel. Full credit – they didn’t complain.
  3. The stage is not a stage at all but a carpeted area. Cat and Fiddle could have organised a red curtain and moved the rubbish from the backstage area.
With all this in mind, the band was very strong. Highlights were Panama Red which drifted into mocking the Tea Party ‘movement’. Jody Stecher on mandolin got the crowd heaving with his song Catfish blues (below).
The overwhelming highlight of this set was the harmonies and movement on stage. The had a simple microphone setup rarely seen anymore – three instrument mics that were used interchangeably by the banjo, guitar and mandolin and one condenser mic for the vox. This allowed for a lot of movement mid song and the singers could sing to eachother opening up the expression. So much of music is physical stage presence and these guys had the mojo dripping off them.
Peter Rowan, left ... one of the great bluegrass musicians.
These guys don’t do showy bluegrass playing unless it fits with the musicality of the song. Songs like Family Demon and Jailer, jailer highlight their strong songwriting with meaningful lyrics and the strong soloing matches the emotionality of the songs.
Peter Rowan and his Bluegrass Boys, having played at Byron Bay Blues Fest, are on their way back to USA.
Yours lurkfully,
Weary H.

Australia visited by bluegrass royalty

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2011 by Weary Hobo

In the last month Australia has been visited by very amazing bluegrass players Tim O’Brien and Peter Rowan and his Bluegrass Boys (next post). I was lucky enough to see these performances at the Cat and Fiddle in Balmain and Notes Live in Enmore.

Tim O’Brien is a highly recognised performer and songwriter having won a Grammy Award as well as a couple of IBMA awards. He plays many string instruments and at Notes Live he played mandolin, banjo and fiddle with the Ocean’s Trio. The crowd was a full house of older adults who appreciated the music placidly. My friends scoffed at the idea of paying $50 cover charge. This crowd did not applause mid song for the great solos or sing along to the well-known songs. In fact, it was well past the bedtime of much of the audience by the second half of the show.

The highlight for me was ‘Old Joe’ (above) because it was a new song for me and shows off his songwriting skill. Overall the band worked well together with good variation and strong presence.

The support at Notes was Crooked Still. What you might call a ‘Nu-grass Supergroup’ as the fiddle, banjo and cello players are recognised as powerful solo musicians. Dr. Greg Liszt on Banjo plays very unsual and complex lead breaks and seems to be in a world of his own in more ways than one. Tristan Clarridge on cello has won national awards as a violinist but proves that he has mastered the cello. Holding it all together is fiddler Brittany Haas who’s solos are phenomenal in difficulty and execution. Aoife O’Donovan sings warm and gentle vocals and occasionally played guitar.

On this night, the pensioners were not receptive to Crooked Still. It may have been they were looking for a more traditional sound than the band provided. It was also the first gig in Australia and Tristan’s cello had been damaged in the Qantas flight with three serious cracks needing repair. Lucy Wise told me later that she had been asked to give the name of a luthier for his cello and the work was finished on the day of this show!

Friends saw this band in Melbourne and at the Blue Mountains and loved them. They have a confident and relaxed stage presence and perform with phenomenal musical skill. Check out this video for an idea of how this young folk take on trad songs.

To be cont. with Peter Rowan and his Bluegrass Boys

Yours,

Weary H.

NB: videos might not work on email. Check out the blog online

Pirate Studios

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2011 by Weary Hobo

Hi Lurkers,

After a brief two-hour stop over in Syderlee, The Lurkers continued the wonderful adventure south to Tathra and Pirate Studios with Dave Sparks. In 2010, guitarist Daniel Champagne suggested that we get in touch with Dave because of his great studio. We booked in for five nights and four days with Dave doing the audio engineering.

The attentive Mr Sparks

Working with Dave was a pleasure. His style is carefully attentive and not too gentle – he’ll always go for one more take it he thinks we can get the best take. Dave’s background is in punk and because of this his recording style gets a genuine sound that we are really happy with.

The way we’ve been recording is pretty straight musically where we set up a room mic plus mics on each of the three instruments and just go for it. Some songs take longer than others – there was a memorably epic 28 takes for one song. Normally one f the first few takes are the best.

After recording the backing music the lead vocalist will go and do their take.

After the main vocals are done, then the harmonies and any instruments to put over the top like mandolin or solos.

Occasionally, there are some sound effects to our tracks. The little touches make all the difference.

We didn’t want to waste Dave’s time so we’d practice after he’d gone off to bed. Our working day was nine till ten or eleven with breaks for lunch and dinner. Still by then end of the four days our ears were pretty worn out from concentration and our egos shattered from hearing our own selves back over and over again. Tempers were frayed by the end of each day because recording takes a specific musician – perfectionistic attention to detail. Not The Lurkers, but we work hard to get there.

As expensive, difficult and unrewarding it can be recording is unavoidable for a small independent artist. You’ve got to have something to take on the road and give people. Also, getting played on the radio is a massive help if you’re playing in towns you’ve never been. Community radio will often play your songs and promote your shows getting punters who might buy your cd.

In the end of the four days we had recorded eleven songs and mixed six. We’re going back in March with Mim Jones to help out on fiddle for a few tracks and to record a couple more. We’re aiming now to have the album out in June/July under the working title ‘Padlock and Chain’. Joel Tarling is doing design and art for the package and you can check out his art here.

Yours lurkfully,

Weary H.