Category Archives: Mullumbimby Music Festival
Sexuality, as the openly gay Michael Stipe has said “is a really slippery thing”. He says he’s not homosexual or heterosexual, he’s just sexual. I call that covering all your bases! With November 27th being Australia’s National Day of Action for Marriage Equality and December 1 being World Aids Day, it was a time for a show on HOMOSEXUALITY. I also wanted to pay tribute to a community who are still fighting for basic human rights. India held its very first gay pride march on the weekend after repealing laws against homosexuality only last year. In the US, only California allows same-sex marriages and in countries where these marriages are legal they don’t necessarily come with the right to adopt children. And in Australia our Prime Minister, Julia Guillard, shocked her (until now, anyway) supporters with her stand against gay marriage. So there’s obviously still a long way to go.
For the record I identify myself as straight so, just to give me some credibility, I invited two beautiful and brazen gay friends into the studio to help present the show: fellow BayFM announcers Tommy T-Jet from ‘All Things Camp’ and the lovely Lou from the Tuesday morning breakfast show, ‘Cock a Doodle Doo’.
We opened with a song for Tommy: Elton Motello’s JET BOY JET GIRL is a risque little number about a 15-year-old boy’s sexual relationship with an older man, who then rejects him for a girl. With its chorus of “ooh ooh ooh ooh, he gives me head,” it has been embraced as something of a punk gay anthem. Talking of punk, one of the best bands to emerge from the Queercore movement that started in the 80’s is Pansy Division. They have a huge repertoire of funny and pertinent punk songs about the gay experience and I played one of my faves, FEM IN A BLACK LEATHER JACKET. Part silly, part raucous, part earnest, you cannot ignore them, that’s for sure!
As far as I know Ben Harper is straight. And he’s a good example of your typical New Age Sensitive Guy with an evolved attitude about sexuality. He does a great acoustic number about a woman who leaves her abusive husband for a relationship with a woman. It’s called MAMA’S GOT A GIRLFRIEND NOW.
Marc Almond (ex-Soft Cell) takes Charles Aznavour’s WHAT MAKES A MAN and gives it a whole new meaning. Here he is appearing at the Royal Albert Hall:
I caught up with Melia and Nerida from Scarlett Affection at the Mullum Music Fest and among other things we discussed gay marriage from a straight girl’s point of view. As they quite rightly state, it’s all about love. We followed it with another sister act, the openly gay duo Tegan and Sara with I WAS MARRIED. This video clip was shot at their show at the Pumphouse Theatre in Calgary. Love, love, love Tegan and Sara.
Gay icon k.d. lang is a girl with an appetite and she blames it all on CONSTANT CRAVING. This video looks amazing as does k.d.
The Gossip’s lead singer Beth Ditto wrote STANDING IN THE WAY OF CONTROL as a response to the US government’s opposition to same sex marriage. Check this vid of them performing live and then try and tell me that Beth D. doesn’t absolutely rock! So good to see a young rock band with political attitude and a young woman not starving herself to death to fit the media’s idea of what’s sexy.
Jens Lekman is fed up with being a pretend boyfriend for his lesbian mate on A POSTCARD TO NINA. In this videoclip, shot when he performed live in Melbourne in 2006, his guitar died so he played the song on his ukelele while his band mates tried to sort out technical difficulties. Is he as cute as a button, or what?
Franz Ferdinand are, (I think) heterosexual but that didn’t stop them from playing the homoeroticism game on the track MICHAEL. Look, if its good enough for Bowie, then why not? Pete Shelley, on the other hand, isn’t shy about his sexual preference. The post-Buzzcocks pop single HOMOSAPIEN was banned by the BBC for its “explicit reference to gay sex”. Dear oh dear, when is the BBC going to get with the program?
Lou thought the list was getting a little male-dominated, so we couldn’t have that! She had a great suggestion – Ani DiFranco with BOTH HANDS. Following that I proved that Katie Perry is just another copycat. A cute copycat, but a copycat nonetheless. Jill Sobule’s I KISSED A GIRL was a hit way back in 1995. Check this out:
While I was at the Mullum Music Festival I spoke to volunteer David about his thoughts on AIDS and HIV awareness. His opinion is that there is a growing complacency within the gay community about safe sex and my guest presenter Tommy agreed with this. Yes, there is medication these days that can prolong your life but who wants to be on medication for the rest of their life? As with all diseases, prevention is always the best option.
A reminder that December 1 is WORLD AIDS DAY. The theme this year is TAKE ACTION. NO DISCRIMINATION. The aim is to encourage all Australians to be aware of the prevalence of HIV/AIDS; to take action to reduce the transmission of HIV by promoting safe sex practices; and to accept individuals living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.
Bruce Springsteen’s STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA was written for the first mainstream film to confront HIV/AIDS, homosexuality and homophobia. Philadelphia was released in 1993. It was inspired by the story of Geoffrey Bowers, an lawyer who in 1987 sued the law firm Baker & McKenzie for unfair dismissal in one of the first AIDS discrimination cases. Here’s Bruce baby with the official clip for the song which went on to win an Academy award:
I was feeling the need for an anthem and you can’t go past Gloria Gaynor’s I AM WHAT I AM. The song originally featured on the Tony award winning Broadway musical La Cage Aux Folles. Here’s Gloria in 1984:
Next up it was the always briliant Scissor Sisters with TAKE YOUR MAMA. Apparently, the band took their name from a sexual position between two women. Lou refused to elaborate! Here are they are performing at the 2010 Brit Awards. So wish I had been in that audience!
Our Gig Guide was ushered out with the very silly, but quite infectious, GAY BAR from Electric Six. It seems that we don’t have any lesbian or gay bars up here in the Byron shire. According to my panel of experts its all a bit underground. Oooh.
Time to get a bit more serious with my favourite socialist, Billy Bragg singing TENDER COMRADE and then a request from one of our listeners, Ryan, was granted with The Lemonheads singing BIG GAY HEART.
I absolutely adore the Joan Armatrading song THE WEAKNESS IN ME. Hard finding a decent videoclip of her performing it, but here’s one where she’s accompanied by keboards only. It’s not a great quality video but had to include it. What a voice.
Before I knew it the two hours was up and it was time to close the show and it had to be with the polymorphously perverse David Bowie and QUEEN BITCH. The year was 1972. Not sure what I think of the introduction of Bowie as a ‘self-constructed freak’. I have the feeling that he might have enjoyed that!
Huge thank you to Lou and Tommy for their help this week and allowing me to be a gay for a day.
For more information on community based gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender health issues contact ACON via their website at: http://www.acon.org.au/ or use their Free Call number 1800 063 060.
Thanks to Tommy T-Jet for editing the opinion sections of the show. You can listen to us having a bit of a chat between songs at: http://soundcloud.com/tommytjet/theme-park-30th-november-2010-homosexuality
Next week I’ll be ushering in the Summer season with a show on the SUN. Please leave me a message here if you would like to request a track. Until next week, remember to love one another (anyway you like!).
Here’s the playlist:
Jet Boy Jet Girl – Jet Boy Jet Girl, Elton Motello
Fem in a Black Leather Jacket – The Essential Pansy Division, Pansy Division
Mama’s Got a Girlfriend Now – Pleasure and Pain, Ben Harper and Tom Freund
What Makes A Man – 12 Years Of Tears – Live At The Royal Albert Hall, Marc Almond
I Was Married – The Con, Tegan and Sara
Constant Craving – Live By Request, k.d. lang
Standing In The Way Of Control – Standing In The Way Of Control, The Gossip
Do You Come Here Often – Telstar The Tornados
A Postcard To Nina – Night Falls Over Kortedala, Jens Lekman
Michael – Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand
Homosapien – Just Can’t Get Enough: New Wave Hits Of The 80’s, Pete Shelley
Both Hands – Ani DiFranco, Ani DiFranco
I Kissed A Girl – Hottest 100 Vol 03 [Disc 1], Jill Sobule
Streets of Philadelphia – Philadelphia Sountrack, Bruce Springsteen
I Am What I AM – I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor
Take Your Mama – Scissor Sisters, Scissor Sisters
It’s Alright – Shaming of the Sun, Indigo Girls
Secret Love – All Blues, Chet Baker
Gay Bar – Triple J Hottest 100, Vol. 11 [Disc 1], Electric Six
Tender Comrade – Workers Playtime, Billy Bragg
Big Gay Heart – Come On Feel The Lemonheads, The Lemonheads
The Weakness In Me – The L Word Full Soundtrack [Disc 2], Joan Armatrading
Queen Bitch – Hunky Dory, David Bowie
Next week: SONGS ABOUT THE SUN
Drive to Mullumbimby on any given day and you will find buskers on sitar, buskers on guitar and kids out-busking them all. There’ll be a shirtless bloke in a kilt on his mobile, a nice neat Nana off to the doctor and a seedpod of single mums outside Santos health food store sharing tips on crystal deodorant. There’s pie eating workmen, emo teenagers skipping school and eating chips on the pavement, a hot pink mariachi man hitching a ride home and some disheveled rock star buying his groceries. In ‘Mullum’ the whitened teeth brigade hold court with the toothless, and everywhere people are talking, laughing, hugging, complaining, gathered in groups, dotted in shops, drinking coffee, playing drums: it’s a small town symphony of noise. This is a vibrant, flawed gloriously messed up cacophony of community. Mullumbimby needs to be heritage listed. They just don’t do small towns like this anywhere else in Australia!
Once a year the town of Mullumbimby opens her arms to the world and invites them to experience one of the most unique music events in the country: The Mullum Music Festival. This year, from Thursday to Sunday 25 – 28 November, venues throughout the town host over 100 performances, with festival goers able to amble from gig to gig through the streets of Mullumbimby. It’s a festival for everybody with men, women, children and clowns, able to participate in this demographically and stylistically inclusive event.
One of the big drawcards of this year’s festival is Washington. Megan Washington was unearthed by Triple J only a year ago and since then she and her band have been on a non-stop round of performances culminating in the recent Aria Awards where she scored six nominations and won two awards in the categories of Best Female Artist and Breakthrough Artist. The festival’s program promises an all singing, all dancing affair with costumes and cupcakes and plenty of suprises. I think she’s going to be huge and this may be one of the last chances we have to see her in such an intimate environment. Here she is talking about the inspiration for her album I Believe You Liar.
I had hoped to have the director of the festival, Glenn Wright, into the studio for a chat but with only two days to go before lift-off, Glenn didn’t make it. But he very generously donated a day pass to the festival for one of the BayFM subscribers and that was one by Jay. Congrats and thanks to Glenn for your generosity.
If you’re a fan of reggae, rock steady and ska then Sydney group King Tide are for you. They’ll perform at the festival on Saturday night. I particiularly like the track ROCKERS STYLE. Just to prove the diversity of the festival’s line-up we followed with Nashville singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier with MARCH 11, 1962 from her latest album, Foundling. Produced by Michael Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies, it’s an amazingly honest album that draws inspiration from her own life. Achingly beautiful. Here’s an amateur video taken at a performance in London June 2010:
We followed with Heath Cullen & The 45s with BREAK MY HEART, which might just have a back-story of its own. Heath is a highly regarded guitarist having graced all of Lucie Thorne’s most recent recordings, amongst others. In this video clip he’s performing with the 45’s: Jay McMahon, drums; David Hibbert, guitar; Robyn Martin, bass; Jason Coman, guitar; and Pete Wild, keyboards.
Tijuana Cartel are amazing. They’re the band to see if you want to get up and dance. It’s a wild combo of funk, hip-hop, reggae, flamenco with a Middle Eastern flavour. We played an oldie but a goodie of theirs: RISE UP from their debut album Frequent Flyers Redeemed.
A late addition to the festival is UK singer Gemma Ray. Here’s a brilliant video clip of the track 100MPH (IN 2ND GEAR). Directed by Miranda Bowen and edited by Leo Scott its got an almost Lynchian sensibility. Love the song, love the video.
One of my favourites is the gorgeous sister act, Scarlett Affection. Nerida and Melia will be performing at the festival in their own right and will also be supporting students from their new contemporary music school. A little birdy told me that there is some amazing talent coming out of the Scarlett School, so I’m really looking forward to that performance on Saturday in the Civic Hall. One of my favourite songs of theirs is ROMANTIC from their album Our Sweet Ambush.
Sunshine Coast based Oka are a genre defying group who know how to get a room up and moving. MUSIC MAKES ME HAPPY showcases the throbbing, earthy beats of tribal music for the digital age.
Pieta Brown comes straight from the American heartland. Her father is renowned folk singer Greg Brown whose songs have been covered by Willie Nelson among others. Described as a cross between Loretta Lyn, P.J. Harvey and Cat Power, she’s one of the highlights of the festival. Here she sings HEY RUN from the Remember The Sun album.
Jazz fans won’t be disappointed as the much admired Vince Jones returns to Mullum. We played his very smooth rendition of AUTO FREAKS and followed with another brilliant local artist, Gyan, with a track from her latest album Superfragiistically, WWW.
It was great to be able to speak to two of the artists appearing at the festival, live in the studio. First up, comedian, acrobat, juggler extraordaire Joel Salom had me in stitches as we talked about his gig as MC of the opening night on Thursday and his solo slot on Friday night. Here he is performing with Circus Oz and he did suggest that there may be some ‘accidental’ stripping at Mullum as well.
The opening night of the festival not only features Joel as MC but it features an amazing line-up of talent: Pieta Brown, The Rhythm Hunters, Nano Stern, Flap!, Dick & Christa Hughes and Mama Kin. Quickly gaining a reputation for an act not to be missed, Mama Kin’s music is powerful stuff. We featured I’M GONNA DO IT, from her album Beat and Holler.
Local musician and producer, Christian Pyle, also paid us a visit and it was a pleasure speaking to such a down to earth artist who is clearly very talented. We played two of the songs from his solo album, Nothing Left to Burn – RAY OF YOUR SUNSHINE and TREES & STONE. Christian will be peforming on Saturday and, as well, he’ll front up with the band Ghost Mountain on Sunday. Christian told me that with Ghost Mountain they’re a very seasoned band who all bring their own influences to the music. We played EVERYTHING’S OK from the album Art Without Audience.
Christian also produces an array of artists out of his studio in Goonengerry. One of them happens to be one of my favourites of the moment. M. Jack Bee is a storyteller par excellence and his latest album, In Loops is a beauty. I particularly like the track MOTH. This video clip was filmed by Christian in his studio when they were recording the song. Watch to the end when Christian makes his own appearance. Let’s call it a Hitchcock moment!
Also returning to the festival, and all the way from Darwin, is Leah Flanagan. I saw her perform last year and she was brilliant. She plays a mean ukelele, so for me that just makes her show compulsory. Another group returning to Mullum are the equally talented Tinpan Orange. Their latest album THE BOTTOM OF THE LAKE is a great indication of the breadth of their talent.
How good is Jordie Lane? His song FELL INTO ME from his album Sleeping Patterns, is on constantly at my house at the moment. He’s performing on Saturday and Sunday at the festival and also on Sunday with Jen Cloher, which should make a hot double-bill. Here he is talking about how he recorded his previous album, Lovers Ride, for under $A150! Incredible.
We finished the show on a suitably alternative note with Mojo Juju & The Snake Oil Merchants. What can you say about these all-round performers who meld jazz, rock and punk into a vaudevillian show that is pure entertainment. Here they are performing CATCH A FIRE at another of the great festivals that we host up here in the Northern Rivers, The Byron Blues Fest:
Thanks so much to everyone at the Mullum Music Festival, in particular my guests Joel Salom and Christian Pyle.
Next week, I’m rec0gnising World Aids Day (December 1) with SONGS ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY. Now before you all start leaving me messages about HIV and AIDS not being a gay disease. I know that! But let’s recognise that its the gay community that have been at the forefront of political activism, not only fighting discrimination but also promoting understanding and support for ALL people suffering from this dreadful malady. So let’s celebrate the gays! Any suggestions? Let’s concentrate on the song, rather than the singer. Just because Dusty Springfield was gay doesn’t make The Look of Love a gay song, now does it? Hmmmm.
So, while you’re pondering that list, check out this week’s:
I Believe You Liar – I Believe You Liar, Washington
Rockers Style – RoOTS POP Reggae, King Tide
March 11, 1962 – The Foundling, Mary Gauthier
Break My Heart – Heath Cullen
Rise Up – Frequent Flyers Redeemed, Tijuana Cartel
100 mph (in 2nd Gear) – Lights Out Zoltar!, Gemma Ray
Romantic – Our Sweet Ambush, Scarlett Affection
Music Makes Me Happy – Music Makes Me Happy, OKA
Hey Run – Remember the Sun, Pieta Brown
Auto Freaks – Moving Through Taboos, Vince Jones
WWW. – Superfragilistically, Gyan
Ray of Your Sunshine – Nothing Left to Burn, Christain Pyle
I’m Gonna Do It – Beat And Holler, Mama Kin
Trees & Stone – Nothing Left to Burn, Christian Pyle
Everything’s OK – Art Without Audience, Ghost Mountain
Moth – In Loops, M. Jack Bee
Tipsy Tango – Making Waves, Leah Flannigan
The Bottom Of The Lake – The Bottom Of The Lake, TinPan Orange
Fell Into Me – Sleeping Patterns, Jordie Lane
Catch a Fire – Sellin’ You Salvation, Mojo Juju and The Snake Oil Merchants
Next week: SONGS ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY