Bendigo Blues And Roots

12009717_1102206499807362_8107545009976256329_nTwo years ago we passed through Bendigo for the first time. The historical city and the kinfolk we met then made such an impression that we couldn’t wait to get back to visit! And so, when we found out that we were booked for the Bendigo Blues and Roots festival we were ecstatic!

The festival attracts thousands of music lovers and top-notch performers from across the country and beyond. And, with over 30 venues scatters throughout the city and 40 plus sponsors, the Bendigo Blues and Roots festival has a real cohesive community vibe. As their website states, the family friendly festival is the brainchild of renowned Bendigo musician and promoter Colin Thompson. It’s inaugural kickoff was in 2011 and it’s been rolling along successfully ever since. We had a chance to meet Colin, who volunteers as a labour of love to run the festival, and we were very impressed by his kind and humble demeanor. We found his dedication to promoting local and region music inspiring and were humbled to be included in this truly global/local festival, administered by the people for the people.

IMG_6732We performed throughout the weekend at The Golden Vine, Goldmines Hotel, Handle Bar, and the Bendigo Art Gallery. All of our sets were about 45 min and the sound and hosts in each venue was fantastic. Each show had its own unique flow depending on the vibe of the venue, which made each performance distinct and engaging. We enjoyed every single performance but especially enjoyed the jolly atmosphere of the newly opened Handle Bar.

To top it off many of our fellow muso kinfolk were also playing the festival. And, we also found remnants of one of Craig’s mates, artist Juan Ford, when we walked into the Art Gallery for our show and saw his painting hanging front and center!

IMG_6832During our off time, we visited most of the venues, heard fantastic music, and explored the city and its historical gold rush roots. We spent a bit of time rummaging through Bendigo’s best in Op Shops (Thrift stores) and enjoyed dining in many of Bendigo’s local restaurants. We especially enjoyed breakfast at Percy & Percy Cafe where we met and sat across from the Thomas family from South Australia and learned of their life on a sheep farm. We also stopped in to the Dispensary Enoteca to savor an afternoon drink before crossing the little laneway to Royal Jim’s Barber shop so our son could get a much-needed haircut. We shared a cuppa with Campbell the swagman, lounged on the green grass and watched bands, we, well Graciana, stayed out late with all the cool kids, including Sal Kimber, Hailey Calvart and Miss Eileen and King Lear, we danced heartily to Cisco Caesar, and sang “I’m Traveling” with kinfolk, Sisken River.

IMG_6790The weekend finally was sharing a home cooked meal at the Vincent abode, swapping stories and reminiscing about all of the amazing music, community and connecting that was had over the weekend.

If a festival could feel like home, it would be The Bendigo Blues and Roots festival. And for us, that’s a rare treat, one we’ll look forward to savoring again down the line.

Thank you BB&RF2015 for Such Rich memories and a fantastic way to end our two month tour in Australia!

 

 

 

 

 

Beaches, The NFL, and Art Museums

Mornington BeachesWe can’t get enough of the beach life here in Australia. After a whirlwind first couple of weeks, performing and catching up with kinfolk, we took a week of core family time to explore and rest.

Auntie Val and Uncle Michael have a beach house on the Mornington Peninsula and they graciously allow us to use it every time we visit the country. Our week there included back beaches near PortSea but mostly we stayed local, walking to the beach nearest their property and walking into the little town. Wifi is limited for us and so we would walk to town and sit at a little coffee shop to work on music stuff, as well as, catch up with friends in the US. On a side note, from our observation, there is a distinct lack of cell phone use here. Virtually no one has a device out when in general public settings. It was refreshing to see people really engaging in conversations. We noted how much we have detoxed from our typical routine of constantly looking at our phones (don’t get me wrong, we look for Wifi when ever we can get to it, but it’s been nice to not have it available at our whim).

20140206-144249.jpgBesides beaches and coffee shops, we did make our way into the city for the NFL Superbowl. Craig is a huge sports fan and had organized a whole day around the event. It’s a funny thing to watch an American sport in another country.

ESPN hosted a party at Federation Square, set with a large screen TV, dancers, a small pep band and a hot dog eating contest. Of course, there was a fella in the crowd who was picked for the contest, boasting he could out eat the other contestants because he was American. Good grief, that got the crowd riled up. Of course, he failed miserable as the hot dogs were raw and he could barely keep them down. It was all pretty gross. We missed the commercials but other than that, there were plenty of jersey’s and well versed football fans in the stands. We saw lots of Green Bay Packer gear, and the icing on the cake was a Bears fan working in a food cart. Made us feel right at home.

20140206-144209.jpgOnce the game turned into a blow out, we decided to branch out from Fed Square and  explore the city. Melbourne proper is a pretty fantastic city to visit. Architecturally, it reminds us a little bit of New Orleans mixed with Seattle.

We visited St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral. We love the Anglican’s and although it was a beautiful constructed church, it had a bit of a spooky vibe.

Later we explored the National Gallery of Victoria to check out one of Craig’s friends work. Juan Ford, aka Jane Fonda, was in a punk band called Pet Earwig with Craig back in the 90’s. He has blossomed into a fantastic, world renouned artist! One of his installations at the museum was You, me and the flock, a special commission for kids which invites viewers to add birds to a growing flock set against a panoramic sky-scape.  We love birds! If you are an art collector, his work is worth your time.

Although it was a week of rest, we found plenty to explore. We are refreshed and ready to get back to work. Tour starts Feb 8 and rounds out March 4. For details on where we’ll be visit www.thehollands.org