Top 10 #looptheworld Shows So Far

This was a difficult list to compile. Almost every show I have played since the #looptheworld adventure began has been memorable for one reason or another. Special mention has to go to Choppers Bar, Koh Tao. Those hot, sweaty nights with the Koh Tao Pub Crawl made up a huge amount of the memories that the tour has brought me so far. Every night at Choppers was another crazy party. So too were all of my performances at Harmony, Ios. However, this here list is about those single shows that stood out. The shows that warmed my heart and kept me on a high for days after getting off stage. Those shows that reward me more than financial gain. The shows I’ll remember long after my career is over. The shows I’ll look back on and smile.

No. 10

Surfers Paradise Live Festival May 2015

A festival stage definitely helps to make the top 10 list. A big crowd, a great PA, a professional sound man, the whole kit and caboodle. This was also the last show before we took #looptheworld international. On a more personal note; Surfers Paradise Live Festival was special because my family was there. My mum, my little sister Megan and my adorable little nephew Malakai. It was also the first time my newborn nephew had left the house since his birth. I’m very proud of this fact. It will be a story I tell him when he’s older. I hope one day he takes up the musical adventure that has brought me so much satisfaction.

Show No.9 >

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Gig Profile: The Rails Byron Bay, Australia

This will be the third installment of the #looptheworld Gig Profiles. As I travel the world playing music for a living I will be writing up these Gig Profiles in an effort to help out those that dream of doing the same. I hope you find the information helpful. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I’ll do my best to help out as much as I can.

Although I’m sitting in Thailand right now, I thought I’d take it back to my home town for this next installment. The Rails holds a very special place in my heart. I used to go there as a child and watch my father play. When I came of age, it was the first place that ever paid me to play music. It’s where this career I’ve  chosen, and now managed for almost 13 years, first began. Since then I’ve played the Rails solo, duo, with my bands The Wright Brothers, The Eclective, The Groove Collective, The Simon Wright Band and more recently as a looper. I’ve played there weekdays, weekends, Christmas Eves, New Years Eves and just a few weeks ago, I played there for the Rails 34th Birthday.  I still love it as much as the first time I played there.rails

The Rails is owned by a long time local family the Mooneys. When my father was playing there it was run by Tom and his wife Kath. Since then they have passed it on to the trusted hands of their daughter Hannah. They have been playing live music there seven nights a week for 34 years now. Hundreds of successful local and international acts have been on that stage. It has a lot of history.

The crowd is always so supportive. They love their live music and will lend their ears to anyone that is willing to play for them. The best nights of the week are always the weekends. Friday night they have the members jackpot just before you start and it is always packed. That said; it’s very easy to get a vibe going on on any day of the week. Usually the weekends are reserved for the bigger bands and weekdays will have the solos and duos. The gig starts at 7pm and finishes at 10pm which is nice. You can finish, pack up and still have time to go check out the last set of whoever is playing down the Great Northern or the Beach Hotel. Because it’s an early gig, first set is usually quite relaxed. The punters are mostly seated with a good portion enjoying a meal (The Rails kitchen food is amazing). Second set the bar starts filling up and you can feel the buzz beginning to happen. They all want to dance so in this set I like to start picking up the energy and give them the space to let loose. Third set it’s on. Everyone has had a few drinks and the music has got under their skin. They all jump on the dance floor and shake it out Byron Bay hippy style. I love it, there is always a few characters on the D-floor and no matter where you look, there are so many smiles looking back at you. The stage is only about 6 inches high so you are right there with themrails 1

One thing frustrates me about the Rails though. They don’t have an in-house PA. Because I’m always travelling I don’t have one with me so I have to hire one. There are a lot of options in town to hire from and if you ask the Rails they will book a PA/soundman for you. Don’t bother about going too big. It’s an outdoor venue and they do get sound complaints so it’s best to go quality over quantity.

The gig is available all year round but I suggest booking about three to four months in advance as to not miss out. Hannah is very busy so if you don’t hear back from her after the first email, it may just mean it slipped through to the less important pile. Try again. There is a lot of competition for the gig so remember to sell yourself. Hannah will want to hear some of your music and also check out your website and social media. Include all relevant links in the email. The pay can vary a lot there but for an unknown out of town act I suggest you start at around $250 for a solo then an extra $100 per band member. Don’t go quoting $2000, you won’t even get a look in. Pay will get better as your relationship with Byron and the Rails grows.

Good luck and enjoy. It’s a special one.

Gig Contact: Hannah therails@bigpond.com
Location: Jonson St Byron Bay
Venue capacity: Approx 300

Amwell Garden Jam – Videos

Of all of the countries we have visited so far England was by far the most difficult. Arriving in London was a bit of a shock to the bank account and the gigs were less frequent and often for less money. This didn’t stop us from having a great time.

On our first night in London we visited the Spiritual Caipirinha Bar in Camden after it had been recommended by two of my musician friends, Grim Fawlkner and Tara Minton. It was an open mic night so I jumped up and played a few tracks. Straight after me there was a young guy named Daniel Greenwood that got up and sang a few beautiful pop folk songs. Afterwards we got chatting and he invited me down to play a showcase for a local musician collective called Amwell. I was flattered and graciously accepted.

I didn’t really know what to expect. Daniel gave me an address and told me to rock up mid afternoon.  When we got there we were greeted by the owner of the house and the co-founder of Amwell, Roy. He took us through the little London terrace and out into his cosy inner city backyard where Daniel was setting up a small stage beneath the kitchen window. We then spent the afternoon listening to a bunch of amazing local acts, drinking cider and eating Roy’s famous home made pizza. As the sun began setting Daniel invited me up to perform for everyone. It was a beautiful afternoon and a true pleasure to play for such an appreciative group. Paolo the  videographer was there to catch all the action.

A few weeks later Roy sent me a copy of what they filmed. I think it came up really well. Thanks Daniel, Roy, Paolo and all the gang at Amwell Collective. I look forward to doing it all again when I get back in March.

The Wonders of Childbirth and Childhood memories.

The first month of our #looptheworld adventure has been huge, so much so that I have spent hours, days. sitting at this computer typing and deleting, typing and deleting as my thoughts and memories all collide in on one another. I have decided to keep it simple and share just a couple of those moments with you.

Pottsville, NSW
Pottsville, NSW

Life.
Megan, Simon’s younger sister, and myself went for a casual stroll down to the beach at Pottsville. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon. She was very pregnant. We were chatting away catching up on each others news when Megan asked me if I would be a support person at her birth. I was speechless. My mouth moved up and down a few times but no words came out. What an honour to be trusted with such a momentous life event. Ever since I first met Megan she has been quite an inspiration for me. I have always admired her strength, sense of self, sense of adventure and her ability to always find and share the magic. She is a beautiful, magnetic human. This experience was no exception. As humans, we have all experienced childbirth yet of course none of us remember our own. As a female, I have always known and imagined that someday I will give birth to my own child and so I have tried to conceptualise what childbirth might be like. I imagine many girls and women have done the same. When the day came I was nervous and excited. I hoped that I would be able to offer the support that Megan might need but I must admit that I felt a little out of my depth. The only thing I was certain of was the love in my heart and that I would be there for whatever she needed.

Childbirth is an intensely personal experience and so I do not feel that it is my place to share all the details here on this public platform, all I will say is that I will forever remember the birth of Malakai Storm Wright. I witnessed the strength, power and primal understanding of the woman’s body and it is extraordinary. Megan, thank you for trusting me.

x x x Megan and Malakai x x x

A magical day.
When I was still a little Hannah I lived for a time on a community called Sphinx Rock; named as such because it is nestled at the bottom of a mountain that looks like a Sphinx, it is about 20kms north west of Nimbin in New South Wales. I have such beautiful memories of that time.

In the magic garden
In the magic garden

There were several families living on the community and so we created quite the hoard of children. We had such fun. We played statues at the bus stop, for those of you who don’t know this excellent game the rules are simple, if a car comes – freeze! I think I legitimately believed for a time that the passengers in the cars passing by actually thought we were statues. We’d ride on the bonnet of mums big old yellow station wagon, make cubby’s in the wild lantana, explore crystal clear creeks, play lego and tremble at terrifying stories about The Hairymen who lived up in the mountains (if you do ever have the bad luck of running into a Hairy Man then just bend over and look at it from between your legs, that way it will know that you are not scared of it and it will leave you alone – fact!). So as an adult it is nice to go back and revisit those memories, it’s like giving them a shot of coffee.

My granddad (aka Abba), Simon and I made a day trip of it, leaving at about 10am on a Tuesday. We had lunch in town with the infamous and wonderful

Abba, Michael and Hannah
Abba, Michael and Hannah

Michael Balderstone who is an old family friend of Abba’s and a central figure in Nimbin’s anti-prohibition movement, he was very busy in the wake of the annual Mardi Grass festival but we were lucky enough to steal a moment with him. After lunch, we took the reminiscent road out to Sphinx Rock. It is much the same as I remember it although due to the sub tropical environment everything grows so quickly. Where there was once a view of Wollumbin, which was known as Mt Warning when I was a child but has been returned to it’s traditional name in respect to the First Nation people, there is now a rainforest. We bumped into Burry who is still living on the community, he took us to a magical garden where there was a huge old satellite dish bursting with cherry tomatoes, an abundance of banana and mango trees, tamarillos and the sweetest passionfruit hanging from the sky and the ever present gentle chorus of the frogs chanting their life song.

“the sweetest passionfruit hanging from the sky “

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Simon enjoying a Tamarillo
Simon enjoying a Tamarillo

 
To finish off our magical adventurous day Abba drove us back to Byron Bay via the most exquisite route. My granddad is an adventurous grey nomad and always knows the best spots. We stopped for a quick photo opportunity off a dirt track on the crest of a hill and coasted over lush green hills soaking in the glory of magic hour. Driving back to Byron Bay I felt calm and happy, It’s good for the soul to take the time to remember these precious times in our lives. 

  Thank you so much for taking the time to read some of my words and also to those who have been in touch, it’s really lovely for me to hear your  feedback. If you do have any questions, comments or suggestions I’d love to hear from you and of course you can follow our every move via facebook and instagram.

Wollumbin. “off a dirt track on the crest of a hill”

Simon Wright – TV on the Radio

Live and Local BayFM and Byron Bay TV present:

On Sunday April 26th 2015 I had my first ever loop performance on live to air radio and Will Hayman from Byron Bay TV was there to catch it all. The performance took place during the Sunday midday show Live and Local with Al Stark on Bay FM 99.9 three weeks into my #looptheworld tour.

The playlist above has three videos:
She Told Me (BayFM Reloop)/Gather The Matter

This is actually two songs but ever since I started performing them and always grouped them together. Eventually I plan to have most of my set like that. The first track “She Told Me” I wrote while on stage once at the Birmingham Hotel on Smith st in Collingwood. I’d looped the start of the track and a woman approached me from the dance floor. I don’t think she quite understood the loop concept. She came up and started yelling “You need to sing!” The next words to come out of my mouth were the chorus “She told me that I need to sing, down here at the Birmingham”. I often appropriate this song to whatever venue I am playing at the time. This performance you’ll notice I sing  “She told me that I need to sing, on live and local BayFM”. It lends it’s self easily to those kinds of improvisations.
The second song is the bastard child of three songs I’ve written in the past. The guitar riff was originally the pre-chorus to a jazz/hip hop track I wrote last year named “Dream”. The chorus lyrics are from a song I played with the Eclective named “It’s On” and one of the verses is from a song I did with Direct Influence way back in the early days named “So Right”. I like the way they blend together. It changes key from Dm to Am but the “She Told Me” chorus lyrics still work and even though the beat is exactly the same, with all the syncopation in “Gather the Matter” it feels like there is a groove change.

Rockin’ Blues

I first wrote this song as a 1-4-5 upbeat swung rock n roll track but I was never really happy with where it sat so had never started performing it live. Then last year while I was on Koh Tao, Thailand with Andy V we began jamming a Ray Charles inspired groove at a bar called Fishbowl and the Lyrics found their home. You can hear the first time I ever played it here. It’s changed a little since then as I had to work on a way to play it with out the help of Andy V, but the general arrangement is still the same.

Music

This song has been with me a long time however I think this is the first loop performance recording of the track. I first wrote it in 2006 while playing with the Groove Collective in Byron Bay. It never made it to the studio until 2012 when I went in with The Simon Wright Band for “Live at 52”. That performance which you can see here, earned me a nomination for the Australian Independent Music Awards 2013, a position in the Victorian finals for the Telstra Road To Discovery and made the finals of the national Catapult Song Contest with names like Ash Grunwald and Dallas Frasca.
The basic idea of the song is a love song dedicated to the life long partner I’ve chosen in music. People often ask who is the girl I was writing about, but it’s no girl, it is music. Recently “Music” passed 10,000 views on youtube and is the first of my original songs to accomplish this milestone. You can purchase a copy along with the rest of “Live at 52” from http://www.simonwright.com.au

New Video – Rockin’ Blues Live at the Beach Hotel, Byron Bay. #looptheworld 2015

I first wrote the lyrics to this track to a 1 4 5 swing rock and roll style track but then appropriated them to a Ray Charles inspired rock n roll groove whilst jamming with my good mate Andy V during a gig in Thailand. The jam ended up making it to the “Live on Koh Tao” EP as the only entirely original tune. It’s very traditional stylistically. A simple groove, one chord the whole way through the track but I dig it. I think it’s my favourite loop track of mine so far.

I filmed this version at a gig in Byron Bay near the beginning of our #looptheworld tour on the 16th April 2015. It was a strange gig. After the week I’d just had leading up to the show I was expecting an impressive turn out. I’d just played the Bluesfest after winning a place in the Bluesfest Busking Comp. I then played a gig at the Rails, my first ever 3 hour solo loop show in Byron, to a large enthusiastic audience.  Unfortunately however, this gig was empty. Not empty but in a venue that holds over two thousand, forty or so feels empty. I guess with all the excitement of the Bluesfest the week before, another night of music was not a priority. That didn’t stop me from getting the most out of it. The PA is lovely to play through and Glen “Goobs” Ward the sound man does a great job at making me sound the best that I can. It was quite the contrast from back in the days of the Eclective where we had 8 people on stage and 2000 in the crowd but enjoyable none the less.

Rockin’ Blues
An original loop track by Simon Wright.
Recorded live at the Beach Hotel on the 16th April 2015.

My Baby likes it old school
Cos these days it ain’t the same
She needs that old school soul
and some rock n roll
Just to make it on through the day

She says she wants them Blues
That get me on my feet.
Some rockin blues,
that get me on my feet.

I said my pockets are all empty,
and my lunch box is much the same,
but you can bet when I get
a little rock in my roll
I save it up for a rainy day

I said I want them blues,
that get me on my feet,
Some rockin Blues,
that get me on my feet

Said there’s holes in my pockets
and there’s hole in my shoes
I ain’t got nothing but
singin’ them blues

An Introduction of Sorts – By Hannah Blake.

hannah

Where to start? At the beginning I suppose. Although, I am not entirely sure where that is, it feels as though the idea for this adventure crept into the consciousness slowly not wanting to alarm anyone and now here we are, in Byron Bay Australia on the first part of this musical adventure around the world that has only a few set destinations and no set end date. Our adventure, aptly named #looptheworld will take Simon and myself around the world on, what Simon likes to say, “a guitar string budget”. To prepare for this musical adventure into the world, first, I quit my job. I imagine we all dream of not working, I know I certainly had, but it was an interesting decision to make when it actually became a reality. Working provides security, a network of people, something to do with our time, it helps us to feel connected, useful and productive. In quitting my job I was surrendering to a way of life that I have not yet experienced. It is a little scary and also very exciting.Then, I gave away my possessions. Stuff! I love stuff! I have so many precious things, all with their own memory attached or perhaps it’s a precious thing purely because it’s pretty, either way, the precious things accumulate and become ‘stuff’. I have always enjoyed having beautiful, if sometimes a little odd, things in my home, I like that it fills me with memories and in a way it represents me. So I have taken this #looptheworld adventure as an opportunity do a bit of clearing out and it felt great! I have a few boxes which I claim as mine (thanks so much for all your help mum) but everything else I have let go of. If you’re thinking that I’ve had some kind of life changing epiphany you’d be wrong, I just figure I can get more stuff later. And lastly, we moved out of our beautiful Smith Street home.

Leaving the Smith St home. From left: Ellah Blake, Edan Chapman and Hannah Blake.
Leaving Smith St. From left: Ellah Blake, Edan Chapman and Hannah Blake.

Mostly I just glided through, once the decision to follow our wanderlust had been made, the excitement and promise of it all carried me. I must admit that I did cry twice, and by ‘cry’ I mean ‘bawled my eyes out’. The first time I cried I had just taken the last load of ‘stuff’ to the opp shop and I was sitting in my now very empty bedroom with my backpack in front of me on the floor. That one small backpack now represented everything that I owned. I think it was only at that point that I realised  “oh, this is actually happening”. The second time was when I left my mum. As I stepped out on to the tarmac my lip started quivering and then the flood gates opened. I had to laugh at myself, a 27 year old woman, sitting on the airplane bawling my eyes out, receiving sideways glances from nearby passengers, all because I’m going to miss my mum. Beautiful really.

Don’t let all this talk of crying lead you to believe that I am not ecstatic, I am. I feel light and happy and certainly very lucky! I am at the beginning of an adventure where the only plan is to follow the music. We will live off the money made through Simon’s music: gigs, busking and CD sales. I’ll be that chick selling CD’s next to the stage. The destinations will be chosen through gig offers and the people we meet. I’m excited for this next bit, this next adventure. I am excited for what I will learn, about myself, about the world. I am excited to meet new people and catch up with old friends.

I will be documenting the trip via our Instagram account #looptheworld (follow us here). I also hope to use this blog as a platform, if I may be so bold, to share some of my experiences, thoughts and stories with you. I’m not yet sure which direction this story will take but that is all part of the adventure and fun.

So here we are, the #looptheworld adventure has started and it is wonderful.

x Hannah

I’d love to hear your thoughts  so please email me any questions or suggestions or even just a hello! 🙂

Ps. I highly recommend you listen to this, I think it’s a pretty good soundtrack for this part of this story. Enjoy!

2013/14 NYE in Byron Bay with The Simon Wright Band and Marshal O’Kell

2013/14 NYE in Byron Bay with The Simon Wright Band and Marshal O'Kell

WE LOVE THE RAILS! If we were a football team this would be our home turf. I grew up in Byron and watched my dad play at the Rails when I was just a kid, I can remember watching him thinking “What the hell is he doing that makes them all dance so crazy”. Who’d have thought 20 years later I’d be doin the same thing. Still haven’t figured out what it is though. My dad will be joining me for this one which is even more special. As well as Shaneo on drums and Richard Rose on bass.
Also on the bill is local blues rocker Marshal O’Kell. This dude knows how to get a room sweaty, so I can promise you, between us, this New Years Eve at the Rails is going to be a sweaty, funky, groovy mess and I can’t wait!!
Tickets are only $25 and they are available from the venue from next week. You can not buy them online as they are hoping to keep it a local vibe. It will probably sell out, and it WILL be the place to be so if your not in town give the bar a call and they will reserve a ticket for you.
See you there.
Si

Hotel Brunswick Sunday Arvo Session Jan 5th 2014

Hotel Brunswick Sunday Arvo Session Jan 5th 2014

The “Bruns” Sunday aro session has turned into a bit of an icon in the local area. Every week they are pulling great acts like Bobby Alu, Oka, Tijuana Cartel and Donavon Frankenreiter. After a great gig up at the Bruns Almost a year ago Dave the booker down there has been trying to get us a Sunday spot, but bad luck has plagued us. Last time we were up, it rained out which was so disappointing. Lets hope for some beautiful north coast summer weather for this one. I can’t wait. The gig is 4 sets too, so you get to see the full show here (ie. extended outros on every track because we don’t have enough material to fill 4 hours, ha, but lets be honest they’re the best bits right?) My Old man will be on lead guitar, Shaneo on drums and our bass player from Melbourne is comin up this time too, Mr Richy Rose. It will be a great gig, don’t miss it.

Radio interview and Live on-air performance

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Click here to listen Radio interview and Live on-air performance

On the 17th Dec this year Shane, Richy and I went into the BayFm and recorded a live performance and interview with Alistare on Live and Local.

Alistare started Live and Local about 6 months ago and amazingly my dad and I were the first live act. It’s a great show, showcasing local Byron talent with the occasional touring act. It’s  worth checking out. It’s on every Sunday at 11am till 2pm and you can listen too it from anywhere on the net. Here is the link http://www.bayfm.org/