Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter 2011


Played at Horvat's wine bar recently with my band, "Shotgun Shack."

Shotgun Shack plays gritty Mississippi style hypnotic blues over tribal, raw drum beats that come from human hands, not beat boxes.  Phil's poetic spirals and surreal stories are at times punctuated by the bowed saw, or the cranked up blues harp.  I get to play loud and raunchy, without a safety net or a set list.

This results in a very in-the-moment performance that relies as much on the feedback of the audience as it does from my guitar.  The drum sounds resonate and inform the sound enveloping with the feeling of a cradle, both rocking me and coaxing me to rock harder.

There are lots of rules in the game of music, but Shotgun Shack is about hypnofying your mind and body to forget those rules and have fun.  Dance your happy dance like tomorrow isn't a reality!  Good time Saturday night music with occasional Sunday spirituals thrown in just because we know there will be no getting up Sunday morning for any spiritualizing.

Table Hill, an acoustic-based hillbilly outfit, plays old time and new time, last time and next time, with a heady mix of mountain dulcimer, strum stick, stomping, and story-telling.  We get to play regularly at the Radio Springs Hotel in Lyonville, the Centre of the Universe.  Table Hill also performs right at home on Table Hill, at Tasma House in Daylesford, where people who are staying at the guest house enjoy occasional music campfire performances or house concerts.

Performing locally has been high on the agenda over the last few years, partially because it makes sense, and partially because it's possible.  Not enough to make a living at it, but to keep the creative and playing skills honed, whilst maintaining a mixed farm of income streams that don't get in the way of music making.


Helped a family member with the process of putting a new exterior door into an existing building.  This door is to be installed in a double brick wall, close to the street and neighbours and needed building permission from council, drawn plans, a hefty "fee" from council for attending an inspection of the works, and the ordering of a custom double glazed door that will both ventilate and provide alternative entry and exit from the newly made internally-subdivided space.

The job is at the planning office and is to go ahead in a few weeks.  The property was my first owner built building, and twenty years later, it is having a new use modification.  The original window and door manufacturer, Paarhammer, has grown a nationwide business since, and it was great to be able to use their wonderful products again.

I am also planning and consulting with a plumber from Trentham, Barry Hourigan, whom I have a long history with.  Tasma House, my guest house, needs another bathroom around the barn, and it will have to be another access to the main sewer.  This is not at all frightening, as I have done this before.  What is frightening is the fact that after counting up the various jobs that Barry has been there for over the last 8 years around the region, I counted 26 toilets we have installed!  I can't seem to just settle on only one!  Must be my restless spirit.

Barry has been down to the main sewer, built me extensions to the main sewer, all the internal fitoffs, for water, gas, heating, bathrooms, etc., and done roof and gutter installs as well.  I don't know any more now about plumbing than when I started owner building, but I do know what to anticipate, who to trust, what I can do myself in preparation for the job, and who to hire to get the job done amongst the other trades all needing their own access to the same place.

The timing and architecture of building is very similar in my opinion, to the building of a recording and the developing of an act.  Bringing the whole show together is what the builder and the Band strive for.


Managing Tasma House and Gardens over the last year has seen a remarkable change.  I am writing my job description as I go along, because being in business for yourself demands it.

There are plenty of people out there telling you how to make your business successful, or that you must have a marketing plan or an advertising budget.  I don't disagree with any of this, but knowing what to have, how much and when to get it, I have always struggled with.

There is nothing like a hurdle or two to make you want to give up and pack it in, with the self-doubting troll coming for visits to laugh at your audacity in thinking that something you made might work!  So, I have found myself building a business, and over the last few months, I can safely say that it is working.  The idea started 25 years ago, parts collected and assembled 12 years ago, put to sleep, almost forgotten, then brought out to play again.  Many people have helped this idea into existence, physically and psychologically.

In the last year, the building of systems to make it viable, workable, and sustainable have been achieved, as much as any of us can predict what the future will bring.  So, like my work in tending the already established property, I now find myself looking to develop ways of maintaining the business that, now built, can best serve its customers.

I think of this sort of work as wet day building.  The creative challenge of the new project is always a thrill, but the slow cooking of long held dream finally bringing results has a different taste.  As they say, the proof is in the pudding; and, even though I don't have a pudding business, it still tastes good...


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