Tuesday, March 17, 2009

David Francey in Australia - a word from down under

David in front of Melbourne Court House - photo by Craig Werth

Its been just over a week and I am fully in the thrall of the place. The people, the architecture the weather and the pace of life have one me over yet again. It helps to be among friends. It helps to have the welcome we received at Port Fairy Folk Festival. It's been three years since my last visit yet we had people come out to see us based on those performances. And many more besides them. Such a warm welcome on our return.

We arrived after 29 hours of travel, a good 21 of those hours in the air. It was worth every minute of waiting, every hour spent buffeting across the vast Pacific.
Met by my close friend Annabel Hawkins at the airport in Melbourne, our arrival was as warm as the weather. It was such a joy to be back in this vibrant land. Memories flooded back, building on the anticipation I already felt. All the memories were good.

A quick visit with our quintessentially Australian friend and we flew on to Adelaide and did a couple of gigs in the area, the first in Noralunga at the South Coast FC and then at the Trinity Sessions in Adelaide proper. As expected, they were utterly enjoyable, from the performances to the people, and we look forward to meeting up with our hosts again at the National Folk Festival in Canberra at Easter.

Of all the benefits that this wonderful life brings you, it is the people you meet that are always the highlight. Our welcome could not have been more appreciated.
Port Fairy saw us meeting up with old friends Kieran Kane, Kevin Welsh, Fats Kaplin and Lucas Kane. They were brilliant in show, adored by audiences and other musos alike. Rightly so. Their sets were nothing short of thrilling.

Old Man Leudke and the April Verch band were representing Canada as well, and we all met up at some point in the festival. Canadian bands are greatly appreciated here, our commonality shining through. Does you good to see it. Our own crowds were large and friendly and the after shows, signings stretched past an hour each time, with friends old and new. It inspires your performances, it is like playing for friends each time out. It is such a joy to be invited to Port Fairy, to get to experience such a large festival with such an intimate atmosphere.

Our time since has been split between Melbourne and Terip Terip, a country town to the north. Melbourne is a dazzling city, vibrant, vivacious and alive. A myriad number of districts define it, and each offers an array of beauty for the eye and the spirit. Our Concerts here have ranged from the Victoria FC, celebrating its 50th anniversary, an outdoor festival on the beach at Mordialloc, to a special appearance at the old Court House, in the very courtroom and cells where Ned Kelly, Australia's most infamous outlaw was tried and sentenced to hang. We walked in his footsteps, stood in the same cell and dock. His courtroom was our stage, and his presence is still felt within its walls. Annabel Hawkins knew of my interest in Ned's exploits and organized this most unique event, the likes of which will likely never be seen again. Only in Australia.

Our trip up country to Terip Terip was magical, replete with kangaroos, emus, koalas, bush tailed possums, echidnas, eagles and a fantastical landscape. Otherworldly would describe it best. This area came very close to being consumed by the brush fires which ran rampant in Victoria, claiming many lives and thousands of acres of forests.

The evidence of the devastation was rife, but the resilience of these people outweighed the effects of the tragedy. They are born survivors, determined and united in the face of it all. We did a benefit in Ruffy for the fire relief and were glad to help out. I watched the fires from Canada, and had such a feeling that I was watching my brothers and sisters in peril. That feeling remained as we met the people of the area and heard their stories.

We have many days ahead of us on this tour. I will miss home and family, that is certain, but I will not feel alone or lost in this country. I will feel that, but for my father and mother choosing Canada as our promised land, I could just as easily have been adopted by this splendid country. It truly is a blessed land.

I'll write you from down the road,