Thursday, November 15, 2018

Memories from the flat in East Malvern - Fractured Moments from Childhood

Some of you may or may not know that I ran away from an abusive home at the age of 16. As I have been getting older, especially over the past years since I have been with my wonderful partner (and guitarist) Lukas and seeing his loving family dynamic, I am realizing just how devastatingly traumatizing my childhood has been in parts and trying to come to terms with it by talking about it with him, writing music and now trying to put it into words. When the mood takes me, I will post some snippets of raw, flowing written memories of parts of my life back then. Please be kind with me. I am not writer in this sense and I am not doing this to get sympathy. I just feel like it's time to deal with a lot of this stuff and I know there are a few of you out there who also suffered some kind of childhood abuse…and probably so many that I didn't know about. You're not alone and guess what? We survived it!…and somehow still surviving. Hugs x

MEMORIES from the flat in EAST MALVERN

Metal gates with barbed wire and padlocks. That's what you would see if you looked up the long concrete backyard behind the flat, behind the shop we lived when I was 12 - 16 years old. Along the right side on the long concrete path that was cracked and crumbling were old sheds storing my fathers electronic equipment and bulk goods that he bought with get-rich-quick dreams that never amounted to anything. I have memories of a small patch of grass but a panel van was parked over it. I don't even think it was driveable and anyway all the concrete space was filled with cars or stuff. There wasn't much space left for anything else.

There were 4 of us plus 2 small children living in that two bedroom flat near the end of my time there and god how much I hated the tiny space I was expected to grow up in without any privacy. I remember filthy stains that years of living like this had produced in the carpet that had once been white or cream…and cheap, worn out furniture that was supposed to hold us upright after working sometimes 18 hours a day in one of Dad's several businesses where the work never seemed to be done.

We had an outside laundry room halfway between the flat and the back gate where the washing machine was kept. I would often sing while filling or emptying the machine, using those precious moments in a way to comfort myself and to bring relief from the life I was living. It was the one place I remember being able to express myself creatively without the fear of being ridiculed and I would sing over the old rickety machine, using it's rocking and shaking booms as a kind of drum to create melodies to sing over.


Over all of our windows were bars. He told us it was to keep criminals out but years later I understand the real reason they were there. He had also pinned a sign to the back door of the flat facing onto the concrete path that read: "This property is guarded by shotgun 3 days per week, you guess which 3"…a perfect example of my fathers paranoia, violence and humour summed up in one line.

But underneath my fathers humour was a darkness just waiting to strike out at anyone who dared to undermine his authority or didn't follow the rules, doing things as perfectly as his neurosis demanded of us. I remember writing lists. Lists, lists, lists….sometimes 50 or more things to do daily. Lists that needed to be completed and shown to him to be checked off. Lists that if weren't completed on time meant you were beaten and screamed at. If you failed to complete a list to a satisfactory level then according to him you were a piece of s**t, scum that didn't deserve to live, an embarrassment and no longer part of the family. This might last a few hours or a few days until you were back in his good books again and at some point it all became a blur to me, this life, this apparent living and I learned to breathe and tread quietly. Sometime around my 14th birthday I began to shut my mouth, keep my head down and started to plan my great escape.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

A Very Happy International Women's Day to you all!


This is the day we celebrate the movement for Women's Rights and how far we've come. As Maya Angelou said "Each time a Woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all Women".

 So I will take this opportunity to share with you five Women who have inspired, challenged and healed me over the years and I would love to know who has inspired you too!

 1. Maya Angelou - Thank you for giving me the strength to pick myself up all those years ago during a breakdown after reading your book 'I know why the caged bird sings'. You're such an inspiration.

 2. Ani Difranco - You inspired me to become a musician with a strong DIY ethic, to create my own music and my own shows, and to accept myself and my sexuality and sing about it in songs without fear.

 3. Nina Simone - Fierce, amazingly talented and so brave. I am in awe of the music you created especially during the civil rights movement. Thank you for some perspective.

 4. Tori Amos - You've given me comfort during some of the darkest times of my life, challenged me to write more honestly and kicked me up the ass when I needed it.
You'll always be my goddess.

  5. Kate Bush - As a little girl you frightened and confused me but that confusion soon morphed into a mystical, magical mad world I could escape too when the normal people got me down.



Monday, December 18, 2017

RIP Ralph Carney

I found out today that my friend and great musician Ralph Carney has left these plains and still can't believe it. Ralph and I become cyber music pals via myspace in 2006 and didn't meet in person until 2010 when he helped me organize a show at Amnesia in San Francisco. I have very fond, groggy memories (and silly videos!) from that evening when Ralph introduced himself and I literally threw him on the stage (watch him shake my hand on stage) without him knowing the song and asked him to jam along which he did in true Ralph style. I had no idea that this guy was a legend until I mentioned 'my friend Ralph Carney' to an Italian horn player here in Berlin and he was well impressed. If you don't know his work, google him and check out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Carney
Over the years, we kept up our long distance cyber friendship through Facebook, sharing what was going on in our lives now and again, at times giving advice and offers to visit both Berlin and Portland to share shows and most recently some recording. I'm going to miss his hilarious Facebook posts, random late night crazy messages and animated gifs on his way home from gigs. Ralph, you were a true artistic nutter and I will miss you. It was a pleasure and honour knowing you. Rest in peace pal. x
My condolences to Ralph's family and friends….

Live video from our first meeting & Ralph improvising, in Amnesia San Francisco, Sept 2010.



Sunday, October 01, 2017

AUSTRALIA Part One: Gosford, Alive: Plant Based Festival & Canberra Living Green Festival


I had the pleasure of performing at two vegan festivals in Australia recently with perfect weather on both days. On Friday night I took the train up the coast for my very first visit to Gosford which I had heard was a bit of a hippy place and I was not disappointed. The Alive: Plant Based Festival is a sweet little festival set in a park in the centre of town and boy they packed a lot into the tiny area including various performers and talks, local animal welfare organizations, products as well as loads of yummy food. The hosts were lovely and after the show I stocked up on raw chocolate, churros and a yummy buddha bowl for my journey to Canberra. That weekend I had a lot of luck including connecting with Gosford based musician Sandy Bigara aka Starviking: www.sandybigara.com who let me stay on her couch on Fri and sorted me out for a keyboard for the show as well as vegan rapper Elizabeth Usher aka MC Pony: https://veganthused.com who gave me a ride from Gosford to Canberra as she was also performing at both festivals. So a big shout out to Sandy and Elizabeth for their kindness. You are both amazing!

And the kindness that weekend continued in a big way. I was dropped off directly at the home of Antonia from The Canberra Magic Kitchen after my Gosford show. Antonia connected me to the Living Green Festival and helped me get a slot to perform there. She also kindly offered me a bed for the night and plied me with delicious homemade food when I arrived and the next afternoon after my performance so thanks again Antonia and family for your generosity. 

I absolutely loved the Living Green Festival in Canberra. It's definitely one of the nicest vegan events I have ever attended and they had so many wonderful stalls of food, shelters and products that snaked their way around the park and thoughout the buildings. I sampled the most amazing homemade from scratch vegan pasta and raw vegan cheese cake ever! as well as delicious and wholesome pancakes from the Canberra Magic Kitchen. That weekend I ate well, believe me! The audience were great, I sold a stack of CD's and also got the chance to enjoy sets by MC Pony and Hope Street: https://www.hopestreet.net who lent me their keyboard for my performance so cheers for that! 

To top off a perfect weekend, the last act of kindness was from Aanand from Navyaz who distributes V-Dog throughout Australia: www.navyaz.com.au 
He was selling vegan dog food at the Living Green Festival and as he was driving back to Melbourne that evening he offered to give me a ride all the way to Benalla where my mum picked me up. We enjoyed a pleasant 5 hour journey through beautiful rustic rural landscapes discussing all sorts of things from veganism, the state of the world and travel experiences. Aanand is a lovely family man who I wish all the very best to in the future and I hope to one day meet again.

I have to admit to having some negative ideas/thoughts about my own country but all these lovely folk have definitely opened my mind and heart and I feel very grateful for these experiences. :)



MC Pony & I


Churros and Buddha Bowl in Gosford


The Living Green Festival in Canberra


Exactly/Genau


Yummy food at The Living Green Festival



From Bellambi to Gosford to Canberra and Benalla







Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Nihao, Zàijiàn and Xièxiè China!

Nihao, Zàijiàn and Xièxiè China!  / Hello, Goodbye and thank you China!

It was a pretty crazy 3 days. I will admit to swearing many times as I muddled my way around Beijing and my journey to the Great Wall of China in the stinking heat on the local buses and trains using terrible Chinese and lots of pointing. I will also admit to freaking out when I realized
your government blocks facebook, google, gmail and whatsapp which is basically all the means of communication I have to the outside world except my 15 year old phone which for some reason stopped sending sms once we left Russia. It wasn't always easy but I am glad I got to spend a little time having my stereotypes challenged, meeting many kind Chinese people and learning some Chinese which apparently I was told wasn't too bad!

HIGHLIGHTS

The gentle elderly people in Beijing who would smile and say hello back when I greeted them in Chinese in the Hutong alley ways where I was staying

People playing ping pong every day near the hostel

Eating vegan Chinese food!

Sitting and listening to a man and woman playing the Chinese violin and singing Chinese opera under the bridge

Feeling safe in Beijing as so many guards everywhere but also a little strange

The kind transport guide at the station who gave me 2 yuan as a gift on the last day when I ran out of Chinese money and couldn't find a currency exhange near by

Vegan food on China Southern Airlines. Best ever with real vegetables and braised tofu.

The Great Wall of China

Meeting nice Chinese people on the buses and planes

LOWLIGHTS

The constant car horns and trying to get across the road without getting run over by a motorbike, car or bicycle

Getting lost a million times and thinking, oh wait it's near that temple and realizing there is a damn temple on nearly every corner

The Chinese government blocking facebook and gmail :)

Having to bring your own toilet paper in the toilets where you have to squat over a hole. I guess I missed that memo!

Not having enough time to go into the countryside to explore.

Thanks to everyone who supported my indiegogo campaign which has enabled me to go on this trip back to Australia to do a solo tour with a visit to China on the way. The campaign is still open for the duration of my trip until mid October and includes lots of treats in return for your support including exclusive acoustic CD's, poetry postcards, house concerts and more. You can find out more here: https://igg.me/at/songsfromtheroad 













Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summer Foraging For Mulberries in Berlin


Summer in Berlin is a wonderful time to go foraging so today I headed out to the Wilds of Wedding with another forager to pick mulberries in several colours which I grew up with in Australia and haven't seen since my youth. Mulberries are an excellent source of Vitamin C and Iron as well as loads of other beneficial vitamins such as Vitamin K1 and Vitamin E. We went foraging primarily for the berries but also picked up some young dandelion leaves, lambs quarters and mustard greens which I will cook tonight with garlic as a side for dinner.

With the mulberries I made some mulberry syrup for pancakes next week, popped a handful in the dehydrator to sprinkle over cereal and with the rest I just made a delicious vegan milk shake with banana, raw homemade cashew milk (so creamy!), freshly ground/cut cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla bean. Yum! People often ask me how I manage to survive being vegan and what I can eat? It's so easy and has definitely opened me up to trying new foods and tastes as well as expanded my interest in foraging. Have you foraged anything in your area lately?


#foraging #mulberries #wildweeds #edibleweeds #berlin #vegan #foodforfree #DIY #raw

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

April England Spring Tour

During April Lukas and I went over to England to do a little Spring tour from South to North and we were very lucky with the weather as it was hot most of the time so we got to spend a lot of time outdoors between concerts. Here is a little run down of the tour. Thank you so much to everyone who came out to our shows and to the hosts for having us in their cafes, restaurants, theatres, yoga rooms and homes. It was a pleasure and we hope to see you again in the future.

Thrive Cafe, Winchester

Our first show was really wonderful. A beautiful space to perform in, delicious food and wonderful people. This was the cafes first event as it has only been open for 3 months and it was a smash hit. The vegan lavender latte was divine!

House Concert, Birmingham

Technically my first house concert as part of an already running house concert series in the UK and it was really fun. We shared the night with Dutch singer songwriter Gitta de Ridder and Marcus took really good care of us making a delicious (but hot for me) curry. * Not to self, do not eat curry before performing. I was a bit afraid that people were falling asleep during the show but turns out they were just intensely listening and afterwards we all had a good chat. Took some of that curry home and on the 3rd try I was able to master it. :)

Eden Cafe, Witney

Sweet little cafe not far from Oxford.
Met some really nice people here and hopefully there will be a house concert organized by someone who attended in the future so that was a nice connection to make.

Twisted Ale Barrel, Coventry

Lovely hosts and amazing brewery with all sorts of vegan beers.
This show was on easter sunday with lots of rain so we didn't have a huge turn out but the people who came were very nice. There was one odd part though: the woman throwing up into a bucket during the show who for some reason didn't get up and leave with her friends during our two sets. Lucky she was pointing the right way and didn't share that with the audience members. I just remember thinking, we're definitely not in Germany now, no offence England. :)

Thyme to Eat, Chesterfield

We had a fun time here. I got to sing and play piano for the first time on live radio before the show on the local radio too. Haven't heard it yet. Hope it was ok! At Thyme to Eat we played to some very nice people. I liked the restaurant as it's lovely and big and really enjoyed the curry afterwards. Shame about the loudmouthed woman who seemed to make it competition to be the loudest person in the room without any disregard to the other people who had paid to see a concert and eat a meal. Ironically I heard her mention how some people can be such twats and simply do not know it…I was so tempted let me tell you but I held my tongue. Oh and the crooked tower. Loved it. Made me think of Harry Potter.

Zen Lounge, Bury

Very friendly audience and played a living room type show in a small but very sweet space. Sadly we didn't get to see much of the town as spent 2 hours battling with traffic and closures to get back home. Maybe next time, as it would be nice to visit again.

Florence Arts Centre, Egremont

Always a pleasure to visit this quirky and special venue and it's people. Sadly we had some goblins screwing up the technical stuff and the sound was very difficult during the concert but we made it through and met some very nice people afterwards. I'd love to see more of the Lake District, it's such a beautiful place. Thanks to the Arts Centre who put us up in a lovely house for the evening and we awoke to sun streaming through the room. Finished our visit with a little walk on the beach and a leisurely drive and lunch on the way home.

HIGHLIGHTS

Vegan lavender latte in Winchester
Marcus's curry & picking wild garlic on way to gig
Wild ponies and horses in the New Forest
Sharing Birmingham concert with Gitta De Ridder
Driving in the countryside
Sunny weather most of the time
Lovely audiences and hosts
Radio performance in Chesterfield
Delicious food at all the gigs
Sunset walks in the New Forest

LOWLIGHTS

Never enough time to spend time in places or with new friends
Woman talking rudely through concert in Chesterfield
Traffic problems between Bury/Manchester and Leeds at midnight
Exhaustion the next dayLeaving the New Forest (always makes me terribly sad)