Monday, May 17, 2010

Impromptu Interview with Corrin Strating from The Beanies Fri 14th May

Last Friday (14th May) Jess and I went to the recently refurbished Post Office Hotel to see Craig Woodward's Flying Engine String Band. (see post under Flying Engine on sidebar)Whilst drinking beer in the bustling courtyard out back, I got talking to Corinn Strating (on right) of Melbourne folk band The Beanies about a new Irish session in Brunswick, the folk music community, and her take on the difference between old-time and Irish music traditions ...

HT: Hello Corrin.

CS: Hello.

HT: You've just started up an Irish music session at a new venue that's opened up on Sydney Road in Brunswick. Can you please tell us the address and name of the venue?

CS: I'm not sure of the exact number but it's on Sydney Rd, just near the corner of Barkly Street -- there's an Optus shop on the corner and it's the next shop down. It's called The Roisin Dubh (pronounced Rochine Dove), which is an Irish name. Roisin Dubh means: Black Rose. (68 Sydney Rd, Brunswick)

HT: Beautiful.

CS: Yeah. It's a really nice little venue. It's really small and I'm not sure if they have music on the other nights just yet but at the moment they definitely have music Friday evenings and Saturday afternoon; they've got live Irish music in there.

HT: What's the decor like?

CS: Um, it's pretty tasteful. It's not, um ... they don't have a lot of that, you know, Guinness ads. or anything like that -- I mean they have a little bit of that but it's mainly just kind of -- they've got nice little leather couches and little tables and it is really, really small. There's some chairs out the front, just some little wrought iron chairs.

HT: All you smokers.

CS: Yep.

HT: Me included. (laughs)

CS: (laughs) Yep. They have a courtyard out the back as well which is really nice and a nice long bar and it's just a really nice place. Even if you're not going to listen to music it's a good place to go for a drink cause they've actually got -- the owner was just saying to me today -- they've got a whole new shipment of local wines and stuff like that so they have really nice wine in there. And they've also got some nice beers -- they don't have anything on tap but you can just go and have a drink there.

HT: Sounds perfect. So in regard to the Irish music how many musicians play?

CS: Ah, well it varies. Um, usually we have three people playing; we have accordion, fiddle and flute. But tonight we had an extra fiddle player and maybe tomorrow we might have some of the band from the Rhythm of the Dance which is the Irish show that's on, because I was talking to someone there the other day, so hopefully we'll have a few people from Ireland coming in every now and then to come and play some tunes.

HT: And is it open to general people to come and play along -- like the old-time sessions at the Lomond? Or is it a set band?

CS: Um, well it's kind of hard to say. None of us -- I don't mind people coming and playing but it is a really small place so the area that we play in can't really fit more than five or six people at the most. So people are welcome to come along but they just might not be able to sit down and play.

HT: You'll have to hang out the window.

CS: Yep. Definitely come and check it out because we love people to come and play with us and if there's no room then it's just a really nice place to come and chill out so ...

HT: Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and go and listen to some tunes.

CS: Yes.

HT: So is it Friday and Saturday nights you're playing? What are the times?

CS: Friday we start at 6.30pm and it goes to somewhere between 8.30 - 9.30pm. And then Saturday is sort of 4 - 7pm.

HT: And that's free?

CS: All free, yep.

HT: Great. Now, can you shed some light on the difference between Irish and old-time music?

CS: Yeah, so it's a really interesting thing because they're both -- well generally they're forms of music that are for dancing so some of the tunes that you find in Irish tradition are also found in the old-time tradition but I guess they were carried there by Irish immigrants to America who then moved to the mountains and started playing the tunes. But for whatever reason they have a different way of dancing and a different way of playing; so the Irish tunes that you find in the old-time tradition are played in a really different rhythm and different style because they have different dances to them than the one's you'd find in Ireland.

HT: And you mentioned before, the instrumentation is different ...

CS: Yeah and that's another really important point because in old-time music, and probably in most of America, the tradition is string-band music; so it's fiddles and banjos and guitar. Whereas the guitar is a really recent introduction to Irish music. So in Ireland -- a really traditional band in Ireland would be: accordion, flute, fiddle and Irish pipes. So it's a really different sound to the sound you get with just all strings cause they've got those wind instruments in there.

HT: Do you think that's been maintained in Australia -- that difference?

CS: Um, I think it has to a certain extent. If you go to see an Irish session or any kind of Irish music gig over here, generally there'll be lots of flutes and accordions and fiddles. Whereas you go to an old-time session or an old-time gig and that's mainly fiddles and a few banjos so you do kind of see that difference over here. I think the main difference here is that there are a lot of people who play both kinds of music and who appreciate both kinds of music whereas in Ireland it's a lot harder to find old-time music because everyone plays Irish. (laughs)

HT: There's quite a strong community here around this sort of music isn't there?

CS: Yeah, it's a really strong community and it's really nice. It does kind of -- it's a really nice -- um, I don't know what the right word is -- but it's sort of like this bed of music that people kind of spring out of and so people do end up crossing over a lot. So, you know, you go to parties and there'll be an old-time session out the back, and then people playing Irish music in the kitchen, and someone's playing jazz in the front room or something.

HT: (laughing) I think I've been to a party like that ... Not that I remember it.

CS: Yeah. I really like that about the scene and the culture over here; it's great.

HT: Excellent. And The Beanies are playing over in West Melbourne in June is that right?

CS: Yep. It's the 19th of June and it's with the Melbourne Folk Club at the Grandview Hotel (47 Pearson Street, Brunswick West) They have a web page (follow link above) and all the details will be up there.

HT: Okay great. And the Beanies music is ...?

CS: Well we started out playing a lot of Irish music and traditional Celtic stuff and over the years we sort of -- we always did a lot of vocal music but now, because that's what we all really love doing together, we sing lots of harmonies, and the three vocals is a really enjoyable thing for us to do. So now we're doing a lot more country songs and American roots music and things like that. I mean there'll still be a few tunes and a few of the old songs we used to do but ... Actually we do some traditional Australian songs as well which we all really like doing. Some songs we've written and also some old Aus. songs. And lots of country!

HT: Sounds like a great mix. We look forward to seeing you there. Thank you very much.

CS: No worries.

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