Friday, 14 November 2014

Bush Reich

In January 2006, before he was internationally renowned for his foot-pump controlled latex horn virtuosity and judaic origami moves, Joel Stern made a recording with me in Toohey Forest Park, a large bushland reserve in the heart of Brisbane. I was just back from a summer holiday in New Zealand, escaping the choking heat of another Queensland summer. What better way to spend a Sunday morning?

A sweltering day had been forecast, so we planned for Joel to arrive at my house in the suburbs not far from Toohey Forest at 7am.  While he's now familiar with the daylight hours before midday, in those heady days of Joel's West End bohemianism, this was a remarkably optimistic proposition. Accordingly, as 7am approached, I was still shuffling around in my garage tinkering with the lawn mower, far from ready for the scheduled expedition, when low and behold Joel's much loved and now-deceased Saab pulled into the drive way. We were on!

With back packs crammed full of instruments, we hit Toohey Forest, well off the beaten trail of sunday morning walkers and cyclists, setting up camp on a large sandstone outcrop that overlooked a gully of eucaplypt and scrub. We scattered an arsenal of battery powered gizmos across the rock, including a thumb piano, ektara, tibetan bowls, keyboard, violin and pocket trumpet. I was also sporting a tiny solar panel, recently gifted by Stefan Neville in NZ, which was put to good use powering a fan striking an egg slice. 

A morning of bush jams ensued as we communed with the cicadas and air lords (feathered and jet-powered) at an urban confluence of the natural and manufactured. Proceedings were captured for posterity onto two mini-discs, which were subsequently synced and edited at home by Joel. We finished proceedings with pancakes and coffee for breakfast at my place.

Long forgotten, the session is now available as a complimentary download from Joel's Cyprus Hillsong archive. I'm listening to this for the first time in eight years, sitting on the back deck on another scorching hot summer day, while the world's leaders assemble in Brisbane for the G20 summit, only 10kms from Toohey Forest.  I am in another time and another place, worlds away.  Come and join!


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