Australia journal - June 1999

Heron Island: the gig

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Matt played a short cocktail set in the bar before dinner.  He's a damn good picker, and his presentation took me right back to my steak-and-lobster days 25 years ago.  He did a couple of Jim Croce songs, Beatle songs, Simon and Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, Creedence. He played some Australian stuff I wasn't familiar with, but very little relative to the number of American singer-songwriter-type songs.  He knows he's playing for a mostly-American audience, and that's why he's here: because the kind of music he wants to play is the kind of music that goes over well at a resort like this.

He played a nice instrumental version of "Waltzing Matilda," in a medley with another piece.  He also impressed us with a song (I think it's called "Only 19") about Australian boys who went to Viet Nam.

We had dinner with Matt, getting to know each other and talking about our common musical interests.  He is mad for American music, particularly bluegrass - he played Tony Rice CDs on the PA between sets, and touted Tony to the various amateur musicians who hung out with him before the show and between sets.

We began the show at 8:30.  We did all the songs we ran through in the afternoon and quite a few we hadn't even talked about.  At one point during the first set Matt invited me to sing one of my own songs, regardless of whether he'd heard it before.  So I sang "Blue Roses," and he accompanied me with a rhythm egg.

We had a large and ethusiastic audience, and everyone had a great time both on stage and off.  Our vocal blend was good, our exchanging of solos well-managed, the flow of stuff from song to song smooth and personable.

Lots of people who work at Heron Island were very enthusiastic about my music.  Matt is obvously very popular here, after hanging out with everyone for a couple of weeks, and he had apparently put out a very good word about me so people were expecting something good and happy with what they heard.  Many people expressed a desire to have me come in and play a gig, which Rita also thinks is a great idea!   It would be a fine woodshedding experience, and a good time to write, too, I think.

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