A Most Amazing Year!
With another enormous year behind us Carol and I are taking stock of the changes 1994 has brought, and looking forward to 1995 with a great deal of excitement.
Last year, our 16th in the business, was simultaneously our most successful and our most difficult. Starting with four final nominations in the Australasian Country Music Awards and a Street level tour of Melbourne we managed to lay the groundwork for the highly successful concert hall tour throughout Vic.. and S.A. in Aug. Sept. Oct.
March and April set the scene, finally, for widespread acceptance in the Folk scene with invitations to perform at both the Jamberoo and the National Folk festivals. It also set the tone for the rest of the year, with the first of a number of shared shows; starting with one at The Coniston Hotel in Wollongong with the award winning Australian bush band, Wongawilli. I'm now proudly an official 'extended family' member of the 'Wongas' and have played with them twice since.
April brought shows for Goulburn FM103 and The Bathurst Folk Club and in Sydney the 'hush hush' emergence of the All Fired Up project which is basically a Sydney based Pub Pseudonym which has allowed me to get together with my old mate Glen Barwick and play some Rock 'n' Roll. This was something Glen and I had promised ourselves since the tragic loss of our mutual childhood friend, ABC broadcaster and flautist, Peter Hunt two years ago. The lineup expanded to include my brother Steve on vocals and my second son Peter on drums for the mid year Harbour cruise; and has since seen Matthew, my eldest son on guitar at various times.
A small hiatus in June-July brought the Sydney concert shows with fiddle player, Marcus Holden. The concert at Narrabeen RSL was particularly successful. Marcus's co-arrangements with me on 'Laughter like a Shield' landed him arranging work for Jimmy Barnes, Johnny Diesel, and Darryl Braithwaite this year and has kept him extremely busy.
And Introducing....The biggest events of our personal year, however came in August with the arrival of our fourth much loved, albeit completely unexpected, new daughter, Josephine Eve. Born on August the third, some 13 years after our last daughter and nearly 22 years after our first son, she has been a delight and a blessing. As if to emphasise the lateness of her arrival, however, Matthew and Naomi announced their engagement. They will be married on my birthday, April 2nd next year.
August also began with the taping and filming of the 'Bridge Of Love' Project to raise money for Barnardos, The charity that works with homeless children. Lee Kernaghan, Graeme Connors, Big Red, Gina Jeffries, The Dead Ringer Band, myself and a host of others gathered at Darling harbour for two days of intensive recording and filming. The astonishing organisational achievements of Roger Corbett and Melanie Williamson have resulted in a CD which is now available at our gigs or through the mail for $10.00 plus $2.00 postage. The documentary will be released sometime in 1995. This is another example of people investing vast amounts of time and personal financial risk solely for the purpose of helping those less fortunate and Rog and Mel deserve a huge pat on the back for their gargantuan effort. The song, I should add is currently #3 on the National Country Music Charts is selling strongly.and has received 3 Final nominations in Tamworth this Year.
Speaking of the charts, 'Laughter' continued to rack up chart entries this year with Laughter Like a Shield, Geordie Johnson and the Old Time Country Show. In November, the latter track joined Laughter Like a Shield and The Sao Song by going top ten. Songs from the album have now been included on three other compilation albums including EMI's Gold winning compilation 'The Winners 2'.
The August-September Tour which included The Mildura Country Music Festival and The Victorian leg of the The Ralph McTell concert tour was a real highlight of the year. Walking on stage at The Dallas Brooks Hall in Melbourne to a house of over 1,000 people in a full concert situation was a great thrill; and even more so when, in a number of the concerts such as the sell out at the Southern Cross Club in Canberra, Ralph invited me back to perform with him at the end of the night.
Arriving back in Sydney, the concert tour was followed by one of the most special events of my career; the triumphant return to the Rest Hotel and the retrospective release of the double Live at Rest Hotel 1988 CD. Right from the beginning of the evening it was clear that the crowd were going to dominate this event; and they did!
As some of the industry folk noted later, it was as if the Rest Hotelers had come to perform their album. They knew every line and never missed a cue all night. Right down to the final moments when the makeshift stage collapsed and the last owners of the original Rest Hotel, Joan and Jeffrey fell through the backdrop, it was a vintage Rest Hotel event. Chaos, crowd participation, enormous energy and that special brand of Goodwill that always set the Rest Hotel apart as a venue, combined to produce all the old magic.
The staff of the New International Rest Hotel had never seen anything like it. They were still talking about it next morning when many of us were staggering down to breakfast. Many people have since said to me that they now felt they could finally let go of that part of their lives. I felt the same. It was in many ways a fitting Coda to a special part of my life. For those of you who wanted intact tickets as a memento we still have some available - please send a self - stamped addressed envelope with the number of tickets required on the back and we will post them back to you.
November brought a return to Dubbo for Dundullimall 2, the follow up to the concert Sth Dubbo Rotary ran last year at which I was the only performer. Last year 600 people rolled up for the event, raising much needed funds for the Flying Doctor Service. This year I was joined by Gina Jeffries and Lee Kernaghan and the response was phenomenal. Over 3,000 punters turned up with 2300 tickets presold, and we raised enough to buy a life support system for Dubbo Base Hospital's intensive care wing. Special congratulations go to Peter Scott and Andrew Graham and all the boys From Dubbo Sth. Rotary who have consistently shown the power of local networking and have used it constantly to better their community. The degree of community spirit that exists in Australia and which leads folks like these to put in enormous volunteer efforts like this belies the claim by 'knockers' that we are an apathetic and ineffectual nation.
The North Coast events organised by Glen and Liane Pleasance in Kendall and Craig and Karin Dawson in Scotts Head were also extremely enjoyable and very well run. Both Glen and Craig organised a number of Kids shows in local schools top tie in with the fund raisers and this gave me an opportunity to do a lot of the Kids songs. Special mention also should go to Sue Riley, Rob and Olya Willis and the House with No Steps in Forbes for the highly successful Fund raiser there in August. Several hundred people attended and it was another great example of community networking in action.
Special thanks also to Tony and Mary Summers and Dianne Keating at Great Lakes FM for their promotion in Forster. Attendances were a little thin at the Forster concerts but I enjoyed both shows and greatly appreciated Great Lakes support.
If you are associated with a preschool, school or Community group that is interested in fund raising please give Carol or I a call on 047 841950. About 20% of our year is now spent working with such groups and I find them to be both the most successful and rewarding way of getting to meet new people.
The Bush Music Festival in Glen Innes was quieter this year with the change of date from the October weekend Glen is a little remote from large population centres to reach and return on a two day weekend. Rob and Rijke are reviewing the date but the new venue the Glen Innes showground was an unqualified success.
We had no new recorded product to enter in the awards this year and likewise will not be entering the 1995 Tamworth Awards. However we will be performing in Tamworth at the festival. Allan Caswell and I will combine forces for a late night 11PM start show at The Tamworth RSL Club on Wed 25th and for the first time ever I will having my own unsupported 'sink or swim' concert at the Longyard Hotel on Friday the 27th at approx. 3.30PM. I would really appreciate your support at this one. Come along and impress the management.
Feb 1995 brings my first foray into Queensland with three performances at The Terranora Country and one at The famous Pioneer Village Country Music Club around Brisbane. John and Carolyn Hamilton and St Joseph's School Glen Innes have also invited us to return this year to follow up the highly successful sellout concert at The Chapel Theatre in Glen last February.
Back in Sydney we return to the West Ryde Hotel for the first time in six years, This is a great little pub with a great bistro. Many ex Eastwood West Ryde and Pennant hills fans will remember very fondly. Come along and impress the management.
All of us are well. Josie is smiling . She is 20 weeks old now. Peter's finished a huge first year as a professional musician with final Tamworth nominations as drummer for The Dead Ringer, Big Red, and The Bushwackers all of whom have won final places. The Bridge of Love has been nominated in another three categories. Having had no recorded product this year I did not enter the awards, but as regulars will know I have written a lot of new material this year and am hoping to record again sometime next year. Matthew's multi-media firm is doing well. He and Naomi are busy with their wedding plans.
My dad says "Hello" to all the wonderful people that made him so welcome at the festivals this year. Meghan has done well at school and won "Dancer of the Year" in The Blue Mountains Dance School. She is now 13. My phone bill is beginning to run hot and there are a lot of stammering young blokes that keep appearing at the front door. Well that's about all our news. If there is any one I have forgotten to thank, please put it down to too many late nights and a new baby. I hope to see you all in 1995.
A special Christmas greeting to you from all the Drummonds. " May the season bring you cheer and find you in good health; and most of all we wish you all... the things you wish yourself." - Ralph McTell.
All The Best