Wes’s Backyard Gig

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Wes Carr has perfect teeth. I know this because I saw them from the front row last Saturday night. Teeth were very much on my mind that day; it had begun in a dentist’s chair at 8.30am.

Wes’s makeshift stage was in my friends’ garage in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville (they call it a ‘shed’). Calico covered the walls and fairy lights winked from underneath the fabric. This smallish, affable guy with his guitar and harmonica was the winner of the 6th series of Australian Idol, in 2008. We lucky invited guests were treated to a night of mighty fine singing interspersed with anecdotes and reflections from this very erudite thirty two year old.

Now Wes is his own manager, having relinquished his association with Australian Idol and the Sony Music Australia juggernaut in November 2011. He performs low key backyard concerts when not performing at advertised gigs. When Wes commenced his ‘no frills’ style of entertainment he was soon inundated with requests. He told me six thousand at last count. He calls them ‘Tea light Tales’. See below from his website:

Tea light Tales for me as an artist is such an incredible experience. To be able to share my music with fans directly without the constraints and barriers that traditional venues can sometimes have. It’s breaking down the wall between the audience and artist that is what makes the house concerts so special. The bonus for me is that I get to meet so many incredible people along the way across the globe. The theme for the nights is that you provide tea lights and I’ll provide the tales!”

My friends and hosts last weekend first saw Wes perform at Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland. http://www.woodfordfolkfestival.com/

Since 2012 Wes has been recording under the moniker Buffalo Tales. Wes’s musical style is described thus on his website:

“The incarnation of Buffalo Tales sees him return to his organic singer/songwriter roots and is an intimate and natural fit with folk and alt (sic) country overtones that lets his music speak for itself.”

He lists Michael Jackson and George Harrison (his favourite Beatle) amongst his inspirations. He has taught his son Willow (2) to moonwalk already.

It was a perfect night for a back yard gig. The cool spring air carried a scent of jasmine with it. The streetlight behind the shed stood in as a halo for our solitary performer. Planes passed randomly way above our heads, a reminder that the airport and its industry were not far away. And fruit bats cast their devilish black silhouettes over the darkening sky.

I kept Wes’s mug of green tea full during his performance. It couldn’t get any lower key than that! He was pleased to be performing so close to home that night – he lives in Bondi – and the previous night he literally walked down the street for another pre- booked backyard gig.

Wes invited our host Brian to jam with him towards the end of his routine. A fitting birthday present for our generous friend! Hostess Charlie was performing her own style of dance on the concrete floor, trance like and completely immersed in the moment. A western whirling dervish.

Wes interspersed his acoustic numbers with more anecdotes, mostly to do with how each song on his current album Roadtrip Confessions came about. He shared with our small crowd one of his career highlights: playing in front of four thousand indigenous Australians on Groote Eylandt, fifty kilometres off the coast from the Northern Territory. He performed for three and a half hours and ran out of songs. It took him three planes to get there and as life’s serendipity would have it, he encountered three ex-girlfriends during the trip. This little snippet of information caused an eruption from the audience.

Wes has a (very patient?) wife at home in Bondi, Australian actress Charlotte Gregg who is mum to his son Willow. He comes from humble beginnings, the sleepy town of Gawler in South Australia. There is definitely something of the country boy about him. He is very disarming. And charming. He pecked me on the cheek on his way out after the gig as if I was a familiar friend. I didn’t mind!

Wes’s Idol experience was the elephant in the room. Most of the guests asked about it. He graciously proffered a response to each question, never seeming to tire of the subject that brought him local instant fame six years ago. On Saturday, clipped hair and beard and an arm’s length away from where I sat, his commanding cheeky presence moon walking across the stage in the mega production that was Australian Idol seemed light years away.

Wes was nominated for the Nickelodeon Australian Kids Choice Awards and the ARIA Music Award (for his single ‘You’), both in 2009. He has played with the likes of Missy Higgins, Don Walker (Cold Chisel), Paul Mac, Lior, Andrew Farriss (INXS), Ben Gillies (Silverchair). He is also well travelled, his latest album referring to his experiences in Amsterdam, Tennessee, Los Angeles.

Recently he joined the local cast of the concert drama ‘Rolling Thunder Vietnam’ for their Australian tour. He is certainly keeping himself busy. One of the guests last Saturday night offered to help him set up a database. This came after his admission that keeping up with his fan base and his self-styled marketing campaign can be a bit overwhelming. His Facebook page currently has thirty five thousand ‘likes’.

Thanks cheeky Wes for a memorable night! To find out more, here is the link to his website:

http://www.wescarr.com.au/

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Happy Halloween

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My 6 year old niece flew to the USA with her parents last week, to start a new life. As one of her parting gifts I gave her a witch’s hat to wear for Halloween.

At the time I didn’t know it was the third hat of this kind in her wardrobe (though I like to think it was the nicest, covered in black lace!) She was quick to tell me this fact. Such is the candour and transparency of children. Her pragmatic mother, my sister in law, quickly added that she could wear a different one at breakfast, lunch and dinner. She seemed happy with the idea.

In hindsight giving a 6 year old a witch’s hat to take to the northern hemisphere, where Halloween is celebrated with great enthusiasm, was a bit superfluous (on top of the fact that that she already had 2 to choose from!)

Halloween is celebrated in my corner of the globe but not to the same extent as other locations in the western world. It has its origins in Christianity and goes by other names too: All Hallows, Hallowe’en, Allhalloween or All Saints Eve. This yearly festival traditionally takes place on 31st October, on the eve of the Christian feast of All Hallows Day. It also marks the start of the Day of the Dead, a 3 day festival to commemorate friends and family who have gone before us, largely acknowledged in regions with Hispanic heritage.

American journalist Conor Higgins writes:

“Halloween is on the surface about the death of summer, it is the funeral party for the end of the long, warm months.

But beneath the surface, Halloween, All Hallows Eve, and Samhain (see below) offers all of us a chance to lift a toast to those who we lost in the last year, and to light their way home”.

Irish blogger Zack Gallagher has this to say:

“This was the night that the souls of the dead were thought to walk the earth and many people believed it a setting for supernatural encounters. I remember how Holy Water was sprinkled on the outhouses, sheds and farm animals to keep them safe during the night and mirrors in our house were covered with sheets so that the poor souls could not enter the living world.

The traditional bread served on the night was the Halloween Barmbrack, meaning speckled cake, which is a sweet fruit bread. The word Barm comes from an old English word, beorma, meaning yeasty fermented liquor and Brack comes from the Irish word brac, meaning speckled – which it is with the dried fruit and candied peel”.

The Office Holidays website tells us:

“Some believe that Ireland is the birthplace of Halloween. The Irish tradition dates back to the eighteenth century.

Halloween takes its roots from the old Celtic festival Samhain Eve (which means ‘summers end’ in Gaelic), when it was believed that the link between the worlds of living and dead was at its strongest. Some scholars believe that Samhain was the Celtic New Year”.

(to see the full article click below. You will also find  a concise explanation for ‘trick or treating’ and the Jack O Lantern)

http://www.officeholidays.com/countries/ireland/halloween.php

Nowadays you can enter your pooch in a Halloween fashion contest if you are living in New York (click on the link for some hilarious snapshots)

http://gothamist.com/2014/10/26/photos_the_best_costumes_from_tompk.php#photo-27

Or you may want to join a Halloween Cruise on Sydney Harbour

http://www.aroundyou.com.au/whats-on/events/halloween-party-cruise

If you happen to be in Paris you can go bowling on Halloween

http://www.soonnight.com/paris/duplex/vendredi-31-octobre-halloween-3-salles-open-bowling,1,840131.html

And the London Eye is hosting a spooky view of London and a ‘Halloween Storytelling Experience’.

http://www.londoneye.com/Halloween/?gclid=CNHv142408ECFdgjvQodBogAKw

This Halloween I picture my niece all tired out from trick or treating, sleeping soundly in her unfamiliar bed on the other side of the world. And still wearing her witch’s hat which she refused to take off. Is it the black lace one?

Happy Halloween.