After a couple weeks in Hobart, Tasmania, The Exchange has returned to the United States for a short time for a single show on home soil before jet setting once again off to Germany. After such an amazing time in Australia, everybody in the group is feeling recharged, rejuvenated, and indeed ready to take the next step in the music business. So to take a minute to reflect on the time we had at the Festival of Voices, here’s a quick recap.
We spent the first few days hidden away from wifi and a regular sleep schedule up in the cottages near Salamanca. The Tasmanian Music Conservatory keeps the cottages for visiting artists and here we hibernated, practiced, planned, and danced around to some of Chris’s new music. It was one of our more productive few days as we rehearsed, polished, and group arranged through a few songs. More importantly we had one of those long group talks that can never really be forced and was long overdue. The Backstreet Boys tour had worn us all rather thin and in some way or another, a real burn-out had taken place. But that’s what it’s all about, right? Work extremely hard. Sleep and recharge. Do it again. That is the human condition, in a way.
We did countless interviews with national TV and radio and a few local spots as well, garnering some recognition around town. As we visited Mt. Wellington and MONA, we were even spotted a few times–something hard to imagine in a place as far from home as we have yet been. Our guides/friends Carmen and Brian got to know us well and we, them. Over drinks and chats, we made a real connection with them and came to know two interesting and good-hearted people.
Speaking of which, our workshops started about a week into our stay in Tasmania. We walked in to an auditorium of 100 people, our largest workshop to date. In the past we’d worked with classes of 10-30 people on multiple sessions; groups and choirs, classes and organizations bigger than this often times had only one session with us. But this ambitions venture was to be nearly a week of teaching, rehearsing, and performing. We laughed and cried. We jumped and walked and clapped and sat. Somehow the 105 of us pulled off a miracle. In some unexplainable way, we seemed to connect 1 on 1 with everybody in the room, due in large part to Christopher’s direction through the workshop. Our style of teaching lends itself to that, but the sheer numbers involved seemed improbable at the start. But the people who came to the workshop, the amazing Australians who committed themselves to the process long before we arrived, made sure that the entire week was fully experienced.
Come show day, we wrestled with some mandatory show changes imposed by the venue. Most notable was the requirement that the choir open the show. This and a few other requirements caused the polish of the show to get readjusted, resulting in a more candid performance…something that really connected down in Tassie. Something we’d seen with the inimitable Ben Lee early in our visit. Something that Meow Meow in her brilliant/saucy/irreverent cabaret captured with precision. Something that our whole message is about…when all else fails, if you are doing something with heart, it will connect. This is part of the cross borne by musicians wherein every show, you must experience the heartbreak in the songs. But there are 2 ways around depression. 1) you can sing only happy songs. 2) you can trick your heart into believing that heartbreak and trouble and pain and all the things in music are good for you, and in that begin to see that the best songs are a balance of that heavy emotion and the lighter one on the other side. “Hey Jude….take a sad song and make it better” “Once upon a time you dressed so fine….How does it feel to be on your own with no direction home like a complete unknown like a rolling stone?” “Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world….Don’t stop believing” Sorry for the Journey ear worm, but it proves the point.
If you are reading this out there and you are from our beatbox group, Calypso….please look forward to the edition of Jacques Cousteau I’m working on—I could use your help in a couple weeks!
Now we are back in the states. Back in the summer. Back to a land averse to isolation and consistency. Back to lower prices and chain restaurants. Back to big radio and fast business. Back home.
Tassie will be always in the corner of our minds, down in it’s far corner of the globe.