Newstead Live! 2019

February 6th, 2019 | C. J. Dennis, Festivals, Music, Photos, Songs

Maggie Somerville and I attended Newstead Live! again this year. We set off after I had finished work on the Friday before Australia Day, which meant we were setting up the tent in the dark. To complicate matters a little further, the performers’ camping was not available, so we had to camp at the Racecourse, which I struggled to find. Eventually we stumbled into the Railway Hotel, where we were assisted by some helpful patrons.

I made it to the Poets’ Breakfast the following morning in time to act as MC and create a list of performers. (Jim Smith has always acted as MC at these events, but decided to call it a day last year.) We had only been allocated 45 minutes on the programme, but Troubadour Manager Andrew Pattison was happy for us to run through till 10 am, which meant we got a full hour, and everybody had a chance to perform twice.

It was good to see Campbell the Swaggie once again.

Maggie and I had the rest of the day free to check out other acts.

A highlight for me was the ‘Good Girl Song Project’ at the Uniting Church, telling the rather sorry story of early female migration to the colony of New South Wales, based on research by Liz Rushen, with songs by Helen Begley, and a script taken directly from documents of the day. Maggie enjoyed it, too. I bought the CD, which is also excellent.

Later in the afternoon we caught a couple of songs from ‘The Grubby Urchins’ at Lilliput. It was good to see Daniel Bornstein again. The last time I had seen him performing at Lilliput was several years ago, when he was with my son, Thomas, in ‘The Paper Street Soap Company.’

(Daniel is on the left.)

We also spent some time relaxing in the Courtyard, where we watched Geoffrey Graham (who was due to perform ‘Digger Smith’ with us the following day.)

Geoffrey was followed by fellow Victorian Folk Music Club members Don and Ken who also did an excellent job.

On Sunday morning I did a quick poem at the Poets’ Breakfast (this time with Geoffrey Graham acting as MC) before dashing off to do a show for children at Lilliput.

Maggie and I then watched Andrew Pattison interview Broderick Smith at the Troubadour for ‘Desert Island Discs.’ Broderick was a particularly eloquent interviewee, and Andrew was a superb interviewer, as always.

(Broderick and Andrew are away in the distance in this photo, I am afraid, and Andrew’s head has been completed blocked by a speaker!)

Finally it was time for Geoffrey, Maggie and I to perform ‘Digger Smith’ by C. J. Dennis at the Anglican Church. ‘Digger Smith’, first published in 1918, was the fourth of five books written by Dennis featuring Bill and Doreen, and is set at the end of the First World War. This was only the second time Maggie and I had performed it (the first being at Toolangi last year), and the first with Geoffrey. It went well, with a small but appreciative audience. We will be performing ‘Digger Smith’ next in the Trocadero at the National Folk Festival in Canberra at Easter.

It was very difficult for Maggie to perform following the unexpected and tragic death of her son Julian only twelve days earlier. I am extremely grateful to her for doing so, and for doing it so beautifully.

I will finish this report with a photo of the Men’s Shed, which caught my fancy with its ‘Receding Airlines.’

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