New Chapter

Well it’s been over a year since there’s been any genuine activity on the ol’ web page, and there wasn’t much to write about before then either.
But things have changed, and I’d like to bring you up to pace with what’s been going on, because it has been very exciting.

Last year I received a scholarship to study banjo at the Hobart Conservatorium.  So I moved to Tasmania.  Things had become very bleak on the Mainland, and I probably have a lot to say about it, but I leave that for another time.

What I will say is, however, that the culture and engagement in music and arts in Hobart and Tasmania is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered on the Mainland.  It’s good!  Really, really good!

The “Con” is challenging me and developing my skills exponentially.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself, especially as I walk to school with my banjo on my back to spend an entire working day playing, listening and studying music, and working with some pretty incredibly talented musicians.  I can’t believe how lucky I am.  It’s an honor.

Unlike on the Mainland and the “capital” of Aussie music, Melbourne, people here have hope and ambition.  They actually want to play, and want to experiment with new ideas.  As a result of this, the BLACK SWANS of TRESPASS has resurrected itself!   The idea of an electric banjo funk reggae band has been received  very enthusiastically, and we now have a committed, working band.  But things are moving much faster than I had anticipated!  Next week we’re looking at band pics, recording a demo and resurrecting the website.  Here in Tassie, bookers and festival organizers ACTUALLY LOOK AT YOUR WEBSITE AND PLAY YOUR DEMOS!!!

If you’re reading this outside of Tasmania – I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.  And what’s more, they think it’s normal, and they kind of think behavior that you would see in your average Melbourne venue kind of disgusting.

As a result, we’ve been doing some smashing gigs and had great crowds.   People have actually been looking us up and booking us.   The mythical and much prophesied 3rd BSoT Album may well become a reality.

There’s a few other projects on the boil at the moment too banjo-wise.  I’ll keep anyone who still reads this blog updated as best I can!

The ground is fertile.  Big things are happening.  It’s been a long, long wait and I almost lost hope.

I’ll finish this here, due to the TL:DR culture, and post more of my rants etc in days to come.

We’re back, baby.  We’re back!


Reposting some footage!

Apparently some links of me playing didn’t work!

Here’s a re post.  Hopefully these do, and if they don’t,  let me know.  thanks!!





Heheh, all the last three songs were all in E minor!  Weird…




WALTZING MATILDA (Not Trad, Funky Reggae Version)

KING GEORGE SOUND (Original by CC Thornley)




MY DETRACTORS (Original by CC Thornley

Ok, that’s it.  Enjoy!

Post Jambo/Pre Summer

Hello folks

Where was I?  I seem to get very distracted these days and neglect my blogging.   What a bad modern citizen I am.

So let’s do a quick recap:

Film Score gig for State Library.  What a hoot that was!   One of the best, nicest gigs I think I have ever played in Australia.  Over an hour of solid concentrated engagement with a listening audience who forgot I was there.  This makes a change form the usual Australian audiences, who are by definition a drinking, NON-listening audience who IGNORE that you are there.  But it was very challenging to get it right, especially with no accompaniment to hide behind!  At the end the staff at the library were so kind and many people in the audience took the time to thank me personally for, and I’m quoting one of my favorite quotes of the night here “creating the difference between seeing a film and having and experience!”  Yeah….good times, as Matt McKenzie from Stompdog would say!

Ok, next item in the minutes – The Guildford Banjo Jamboree – another great effort from Jan and the crew.  I don’t think I have ever been to a jambo so utterly sleep deprived as i was.  But now i know I can play a lot of songs without the need for consciousness.  I’m sure this is a skill I’ll need later on down the track.  my workshops were well appreciated…or so i was told.  It did seem a bit quieter than other years and I noticed a lot more contemporary folk players more so than trad ones this year.  And that’s both a good and a bad thing.  But I had a lot of fun!  Met some great crew from around the traps and as far away as Mornington Peninsula.  Oh, and I completely wussed out on the River challenge.  If I get any younger next year I’ll have another crack at it.

Then we went off on that holiday.  Was there any surf?  Well, yes.  But there was also a great big shark swimming around about ten feet from the shore.  I was going to hassle him for waves.  And that was on the only day we had with surfable waves!  Still, good fun and we had many, many encounters with possums, kangaroos and Lace Monitors.  (That’s what the Herpetologists call goannas.)

Ok, so that brings us to the great and fleeting NOW.

The Australian Musician did an interview on me!  Here’s the link….

Rex Hardware at Federation Uni Live, otherwise known as Live On Lydiard 53 has got some clips of me playing solo.  I can provide a comprehensive list of all mistakes i made upon request.  Just so you are prepared when watching the links.  Here they are:



So what’s coming up?  Zeptepi gigs are being locked down for next year.  Also, stay tuned, because the band that never existed – the BLACK SWANS OF TRESPASS has new phantom line up and will be debuting this Sunday at Cowrie Market!

I’ll be in touch.  Watch this space.  Keep on plucking.


Film scores and Workshops

Hello there,

Just a couple of things –

Tonight, being Thursday the 18th of September (that terrible anniversary of the death of Jimi,) I will be performing the live musical score, on 5 string banjo, to the film “Blind Justice (1916)” at the State Library in Melbourne.  Starts at 7pm.

here’s the film, including the score by Neil Brand that I will be working from loosely:

And here’s some info on the chap that wrote the music:

So that should be fun.

THEN on Saturday at 11am, at the Cricket Pavilion in Guildford I’ll be holding my patented workshops on Jazz chords for the 5 string banjo as part of the Guildford Banjo Jamboree.  This year will certainly be different from the previous years, with a more casual, conversational approach focused on the beginner player.

After that I am going surfing at a secret location for a week.  But I’ll be back with more banjo after the holidays.

Bye now!

Is there anything sadder than a dead blog?

Well, perhaps. Lost puppy? Fry’s dog in Futurama? Losing community TV?

Ok so dead blogs maybe aren’t the saddest thing humanity has to offer.

nevertheless, I am re-invigorating my blog with blah with the idea that it might become a regular thing.

It’s been a while and there’s been a massive shift in focus and energy for me personally. Lately I have been playing for Zeptepi (See here – ) and we’ve been very busy.
Also, I am now teaching, like, for a living, at A&B Music (See here – ) and I have been fairly sedentary in recent years.

So stay tuned for many bloggy adventures. I’ll try to make them brief, action packed and entertaining. Or failing that verbose and vitriolic.

Mmmm words….

Oh one last thing – September 19-21 2014 – BANJO JAMBOREE at GUILDFORD!! I’ll be doing a workshop on Jazz chords and theory on the 5 string banjo. this year it will be a bit more casual, conversational and much simpler with less content and more focus on chords.

See you there!!

STOMPDOG album Songs For the Dead out now!

Hello readers!  I’m pretty excited just now.  I’ve been listening to the new Stompdog album since last night.  I’m on it!  So forgive my indulgence just for now.  (Keep a vigilant eye on it though.)  But right now it’s totally appropriate, because it’s possibly one of the best albums I’ve been involved in.

Now, I really, really should put up Stompdog on my bio, but I have been in a retrogade eMercury period recently.  I needed to work on some actual bonafide roots into some nourishing soil for a bit.  And look!  I gots a fruit!  This album!  I’ll post up the Stompdog bio in a few days.  (I pormise Louise!)  but in the meantime, here’s a brief introduction.

Stompdog is the work of Matthew McKenizie and Lousie Nicholas.  Matt writes most of the stuff so far, and he and Louise (on bass) arrange really great harmonies.  Peter O’Shea is a veteran fiddler savant from around these parts, and then there was me for a while on Banjo.  Unfortunately I got too busy to keep up with their rapidly expanding schedule, and was over-committed with another band that also has a release out this year.  But that can wait for a another blog! 

Nevertheless, I made the Album with them and I’m so glad I did. 

The album is definitely hill billy, with a strong Australiana feel all through it.  Matt’s originals are incredibly well written, with local scenery of Victoria prosaically framing stories of intense drama.  And they’re extremely well crafted too, with full harmonies and intelligent, soulful changes. 

But there’s also some proper good Aussie trad arrangemenst too.  Songs like lachlan Tigers and Ryebuck Shearer – complete with kicking bluegrass solos on banjo and fiddle.  if you ever wanted to hear proper trad Aussie songs, by proper trad Aussies presented in a homogenous and contemporary bluegrass way, this album should be in your reference library.

I’ve been lsitening to the album all morning.  I had to steal one off a friend because it’s so fresh I haven’t even got mine yet!  And it has this crazy charm to it.  It rollicks, and you think it’s Saturday arvo and you’re on the farm and there’s dogs and chickens and rolled-up jeans and rolled-up grass and cabbage moths and cockies sqawking in the distance.  the sun is shining and the weeds and veggies are bolting for the sky.  Then, without warning, the album just turns it’s head for a moment, it’s smile flickers for a second and suddenly you’re a long way from home, and it’s dark, and there could be something out there.

The album is like a billy cart ride.  You hurtle down the Dead Grommet Hill, and it even hits bumps and bounces into the air, as though the album is trying to steer the thing without crashing.  but then it has these moments when you get out of the cart and drag it up the next incline in contemplation.

I’m repeating myself now.

Anyway, check it out.  you can buy it online, or in stores, or if you have trouble with that email me here and I’ll sort it out for you.