alive enough to give a little more

One day I’ll look back and think ‘wowee!  I survived February 2015!  I can do anytheeeengzz!’  Right now however, feel akin to the shipwreck survivor awakening battered, sunburnt and bruised on a cannibal inhabited island with no hope of rescue, let alone access to decent late-night Lebanese takeaway.  Epic.

That’s enough bitching though – had mega-funtimes up at BAT ATTACK in the Leard State Forest a couple of weeks ago – compadre Nic Cassey took the following which I rather like –

oliver downes horizontal

On the back of Bat Attack, I was asked whether I was interested in performing at an upcoming fundraiser to help send two indigenous elders to the World Social Forum in Tunis to speak about Straya’s completely unproblematic and A-OK treatment of its indigenous people human rights fail.  There’s a very fun line-up, should be excellent – from the organisers:


THE LAST KINECTION
KWEEN G
FREEDOM RIDERS- Provocalz n Felon
DEEPSEA LIGHTS
OLIVER DOWNES

14th MARCH, 6pm- Midnight
Addison Road Community Centre
142 Addison Road, Marrickville
$20 waged, $15 unwaged o.n.o
 
There’ll be food, local homebrew, campaign connections and the beats! 
Aunty Hazel and Aunty Jenny Munro will travel to the World Social Forum in late March to expose the apartheid crimes of the Australian government to the world!! See details here: https://fsm2015.org/

Come along to this fundraiser to help raise the travel expenses for the Aunties so their voices can be heard in the international arena!

The World Social Forum will see hundreds of social movements from across the globe come together and strategise how to build international solidarity in the fight against the crimes of colonialism, neoliberalism and capitalism.

With growing grass-roots movements inside Australia like the Freedom Movement and the Grandmothers Against Removals, international solidarity and awareness will be crucial to intensifying pressure on the government to heed to the demands of grass-roots Aboriginal people.

Spread the word! Find the event on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/1547497758862618/
and send this email through your networks!

If you can’t come to the fundraiser, please make a donation into the account below and make sure to title it ‘WSF’. We need to raise around $5000 so every little bit helps!!

Account Name: GMAR NSW
BSB number: 633 000
Account number: 153 568 613

See the demands of the national movement against Stolen Generations here: http://stopstolengenerations.com.au/

See the demands of the national Freedom Movement here:
http://nationalunitygovernment.org/content/aboriginal-sovereign-manifesto-demands


Yeah – gonna be rad.  And now:
timeforbed

flying high

A new year and new projects in the works.  Creating the perfect jaffle for example… chilli and shiraz relish makes all the difference.  On the music front, I’m in the process of putting together a new band to appear at a few rather exciting upcoming gigs. In the meanwhile, have put together a live video of the song ‘blue skies’ from the launch of ‘at the end’ in August last year – James McKendry on guitar, Hollie Matthew on drums. Thanks to Vanessa Dang for filming and Pete Berthet for editing it together.

Anyhoo – gigs. I’ll be taking part over the weekend of the 13th-15th February at Bat Attack, organised in aid of the blockade of coal mining in the Leard State Forest near Tamworth. Read more about what it’s all about here – there’s a terrific line up organised and it should be an eye-opening experience with workshops, talks and other awareness raising activities as well as music.  I’ll also be playing at monthly Sydney gathering of all things creative, Art Party on February 20th and at Moonshine on February 22nd. Fun times!

Finally, anyone flying Qantas in the near future please keep your ears open – ‘at the end’ is available to hear on the inflight radio.  Amazing!

2014 so long!

Some exciting things have been afoot! Most importantly, summer’s struck, necessitating the opening of the household Adventure Time advent calendar enjoying a daily dose of semi-fossilised chocolate. Sides from that important matter, gigs have been played, songs have been started and SOME have even been FINISHED.

My final gig for the year will be in support of my good friends Nic Cassey and the fine folks of world-jazz quintet, Takadimi, for their joint album fundraiser / end of year party on Saturday 13th. Should be a great night, featuring some brand new songs from yours truly!

Chris Evans, host of ‘The Curve Ball‘ on UK Radio and an early champion of at the end, has included the EP on his ‘Best of 2014’ list – listen to the full show here, which includes some amazing music generally, as well as possibly the nicest compliment anyone’s ever given me, saying of ‘Keep Calm, Carry On’, “[this is] probably the best song I’ve ever heard and it’s named after an internet meme”. THANKS CHRIS!

I joined Paul Cosgrove of Blue Mountains FM 89.1 recently to chat about the EP and music making in the mountains. Paul most generously featured the EP on his show ‘Music From My Collection’ on Monday the 8th December, describing the music as being like “Leonard Cohen meets Philip Glass”.  Cheers Paul!

Finally – in a shameless bid to capitalise on the excesses of the silly season, I’ll be selling physical copies of ‘at the end’ postage free through Bandcamp until Christmas Day. For those who are more digitally inclined, ‘at the end’ is now available from itunes!  Woot!

 

 

solo tour – check!

Now that I’m safely ensconced in the heated comfort of my Katoomba haven, a few thoughts on the tribulations of solo touring emerge:

 

a) NOTHING is more important than having appropriate back support while driving long distance.  Failing that, knowing a basic yoga routine is a pretty decent fallback.

 

 

b) the best gigs are oft-times the ones least promoted in the most out of way spots… special thanks to Felicity and Lew at The Witches’ Garden near Mitta Mitta for being so welcoming, making such awesome wood-fired pizzas and pulling together the most agreeable bunch of dairy farmers this songwriter has had the fortune to perform for.  Oh, and for introducing me to these guys:

2014-08-21 16.07.52

c) man made lakes are troublingly beautiful – it’s difficult to decide whether the kind of scene below is straightforwardly breathtaking or whether one’s response should take into account the drowned trees, flooded sites of significance and so forth.

2014-08-20 17.11.07

d) any given rural second hand shop will have at least two, often more, copies of ‘Prey’ by Michael Crichton.

 

e) the local media in our nation’s capital are a lovely supportive bunch – special shout outs to the Canberra Times, BMA and local radio gurus at 2XX FM, particularly Laura of Local ‘n Live with whom I had a great chat while in town.

 

f) shredded tyres are the last thing you want when you’ve just finished playing a gig to a handful of people and have swollen glands and are about at the point where you would KILL for a pizza but nothing’s open because you’re in Albury.  Kudos to Renn Picard and Lars of Prussia for being such amiable professional sorts, awesome musicians and for knowing how to use a ratchet.

 2014-08-21 22.07.18

g) Bar 303 in Melbourne is ACE.

 10614332_267026460173007_7644564161523776984_n

i) I have the best most talented girlfriend ever:

10653751_273195546222288_4206221387465070228_n

And now… to write some new material!  And organise more gigs!  And finish reading Rob Young’s amazing overview of folk music in England ‘Electric Eden‘!  And do more back exercises!  Watch this space!

 

sound AND vision

My l’il sister has a band or something which has been occupying an awful amount of her time over the last five years or so.  She rarely calls and never comes to visit!  Probably for the best, for as long as she’s not around I still stand a chance of winning at Scrabble.

 

Anyhoo, a year or two ago she muttered that she and her merry crew had been asked by a mate of theirs, an American gent by the name of Mr Michael J Lutman, to concoct the soundtrack to a doco he’d made called Plasticized.  A man who knows how to walk the walk, Mr Lutman spent several weeks aboard a research vessel that crossed the Atlantic with the goal of measuring just how much plastic there is floating out there in the middle of the ocean.  The answer being: LOTS.  AND LOTS.  AND LOTS.

 

The resulting documentary is rather eye-opening and I’d urge anyone with an interest in, well, the planet, to check it out – on a side note, Vice have made a doco covering similar territory, as does Plastic Paradise… all solid alternatives to Maury Povich.

 

Anyway, being the artistic freeloader that I am, I got in touch with Michael with the thought of blatantly stealing his footage, quickly having it remodelled into something resembling a video clip by my team of IT-savvy sweat-shop monkeys and bunging it online.  For reasons that are quite beyond me, he thought it was a great idea (also, GO WATCH THE FILM!), and the results can be found below.  MANY MANY thanks also the wonderfully effervescent Vanessa Dang for bothering to learn how to use Avid (whatever that is) and piecing the damn thing together – love your work!

In the meantime, I’m launching at the end on Saturday – be there!  Or somewhere else.  It’s your life, make the decision that feels best knowing that you’ll be the one who’ll have to take responsibility for it.

on the road

Well, after several weeks of intensive communications with various folks round the traps, I’m really happy to announce that ‘at the end‘ will be launched on August 16 at 107 Projects in Sydney, followed by my first SOLO TOUR with dates in Canberra, Mitta Mitta, Wodonga, Newstead and Melbourne!  Such excitement!  Head over to the Gigs page for the precise details of each show.

In the meantime, ‘at the end‘ has begun to receive some attention amongst the media, partly thanks to its acceptance on AMRAP’s AirIT service.  Chris Evans of The Curveball, a program on 101.8 WCR FM in the UK describing my songs as “genuinely melodic … I want a full album and I want it NOW!” while Sydney blog Timber and Steel has given the EP launch a plug, which can be found here.

More to come soon!

Such busy!

Such busy!  But I’ll be brief: in between moving to Katoomba with my girlfriend (and the creator of the wonderful EP art), watching Star Trek, and hudgering down more Indian food than would be healthy for two let along one skinny singer-songwriter, I’ve somehow managed to finally receive the finished discs and lyric sheet for at the end.  I reckon they’ve all turned out pretty good:

20140704_141049

So shiny!  So spesh!  Head over to my bandcamp to order a copy and I’ll pop one in the post, most likely including a complimentary hand-crafted gift of no value whatsoever, just to say ‘thanks’ ‘n that.

Meanwhile, the details for the AT THE END LAUNCH TOUR are nearly all in place – what this space!

lift off!

Well, long story short – my debut EP at the end is totally done, dusted, lathered ‘n wiped, polished and sprayed with a fine misting of delicately scented essential oils! It can even be listened to here. Which is all somewhat exciting and has made me happier than I’ve ever been since eating that piece of celebratory baklava last night.

The final flurry of emails back and forth have demanded much patience from a few good sorts however and a couple of thank yous are in order – to my girlfriend and the artist behind the spectacular painting that adorns the front cover of the EP, Alita Graziano, endless gratitude both for gifting the music with such a unique and striking image as well as your love and support through this exciting period. And for making me sit down and watch an episode of the original Star Trek with you at least once every two days. You know what’s best. Here she is looking satisfied at a job well done:

2014-05-13 22.16.25

Also to Nic Cassey, better known as an ubiquitous singer-songwriter and performer (and very good friend), for using his rather handy graphic design skills to bring the cover art to a publishable form. Here he is being all concentraty and computery:

2014-05-21 14.14.50

They’re the main ones – now it’s kind of all on me to promote the damn thing… Anyone need someone to play at a thing? Cause I’m totes up for it. Yeah. Promotion can be a tricky beast, as m’esteemed colleague Wyatt Moss-Wellington has found in recent times with the release of his third album Sanitary Apocalypse. To help boost the reception of what is an amazing and extraordinarily ambitious recording, I wrote a profile of Wyatt and the record which was recently published in RealTime Arts – check it out!

Anyhoo, that’s it for the mo – hard copies of the EP will be available from Bandcamp just as soon as I receive the finished stock next week. Details about the launch and such will be forthcoming in the near future. In the meanwhile, time to go and eat more baklava. Noms.

one small step

First post!  After months of indecision, brief flurries of intense activity, numerous phonecalls, emails and sexual favours, a week or so ago I had the satisfaction of sending the finished tracks for my debut EP at the end off to be mixed by sound engineer / audio wizard Dax Liniere at Puzzle Factory Sound Studio.  Sweet relief! It felt kind of how I’d imagine a parent must feel on the occasion of their emotionally unstable borderline personality-afflicted teenager finally leaving home; not quite ready for the real world yet, but definitely no longer *their problem*.

There’s definitely some pride mixed in with the relief – and gratitude towards the fantastic work put in by my engineer friends Adrian Barr and Brian Campeau (a man of seemingly boundless patience, thoughtful suggestions and lewd innuendo) and old mate Wyatt Moss-Wellington, whose confidence, encouragement and ideas were instrumental in making the damn thing happen at all.

Anyhoo, now begins the process of finalising the mixes, artwork (being painted by the wonderfully talented Alita Graziano), as well as pathetically begging confidently suggesting that it be played on, like, the radio, and organising a bit of a hoo-ha to launch the whole shebang.  Exciting times.

On a related note, I had the pleasure of recording a few songs live to air alongside roots songstress Genevieve Chadwick on Art Lab, a radio show hosted by Jimmy Bond and curated by Jessie Ray of Art Party fame for Bondi Beach Radio. It aired already actually on Sunday gone, but will be re-broadcast this coming Sunday 20th April (Easter Sunday) at 9am online.

Sides from all that, the upcoming weeks will be spent playing cello alongside Barnaby Smith as Telegraph Tower for a few dates in Canberra and Melbourne – check out the ol’ facething for details – but will be back on the keys at Menagerie at the Welcome Hotel, Rozelle on Sunday May 4th, with other gigs in the works.  Watch this space!