19 April 2022

Bec Fest

The final NAFF session was a Bec Taylor feature, maybe not meant that way, but it's how it turned out.  She's a prolific and talented thing, singing and songwriting and playing piano and guitar and mandolin and drums for a solo set and with three other bands.  And with a cute 5-month old in tow.  I have felt that tug of parenthood and I could understand her response in her songs and her patter.  So her songwriting rang true to me.  Not just that, but her other instruments were perfectly capable and with piano as a real strength.  The change was visceral when she moved from mostly strummed guitar to piano, as she spelt out chords and internal movements and bass embellishments and the rest.  And she only confirmed it on piano with Hashemoto, belting out rhythms and apt solos and even a dissonant breakdown at one spot.  Loved it.  And her voice, too of course.  Nice and capable but a star as a high voice amongst the guys, a sweet sharp soprano octave.  And she's a character on stage, a real powerhouse.  Then the bands.  First up, Hashemoto, perhaps my favourite set on the day.  I found it both musically sophisticated, with odd times and solid beats and three part harmonies and interesting themes and that double bass and a lovely strong tenor voice.  I say tenor because of the care and presentation as much as the pitch.  Has he studied voice?  Dunno, but it worked a treat.  Getting back to Bec, though, I should highlight her emotionally intriguing lyrics.  Not just for her new life as a mother, but for any number of personally-based stories.  She spoke of such lyrics as displaying a kernel of truth with the imagination allowed to run wild, so songs are not too biographical and exposing.  Wise.  Then a comment on the role of a producer, to tell it as it is.  Again, wise.  But always with a cover of good will and humour.   And I noticed how her lyrics had rhyme but it wasn't intrusive, rather serving.  Again, clever.  Back to Hashemoto.  I once made a connection to The Beatles.  I still see the complexity of song, think Paul or followers Crowded House and the like, where lyrics define musical structure for lyrics should define a song as purpose should define politics (sorry, I digress but given the times we are in...).   Then Bec on drums behind Jason Recliner.  Well this is one I have never heard.  Front man Jeff Thompson seemed to run it, perhaps write it, with a country background and simpler rocky structures and again impressive, humourous but substantial lyrics with 3/4 part harmonies.  Clever, informed, amusing in words and presence: "Your confidence will get you nowhere / because I have been there", "I could be your pocket fox / using origami on me".  Then to end with more lyrics.  The final band was a mix of students and seniors called Gwen and singing the poetry of Gwen Harwood, Tasmanian poet.  Interestingly, complete with an associated Gwen zine with QR code handouts.  Cool.  And an interesting musical outing with Bec and Jeff and presumably Jeff's daughter Maia and Deb and Sango and those perceptive words of Gwen.  Not that I caught them all.  So, a wonderful afternoon of varied entertainment with that Bec theme and ever worthy lyrics.  Quality stuff.

Bec Taylor performed solo (voice, guitar, piano) and with the three bands.  Hashemoto were Damo Flanagan (guitar, vocals), Bec Taylor (piano, vocals), Potsy Webber (bass, vocals).  Jason Recliner were Jeff Thomson (guitar, vocals), Brad Moore (guitar, vocals, pipe), Pete Lyons (bass, vocals), Bec Taylor (drums, mandolin, vocals).  Gwen were Maia Thompson (mandolin, vocals), Bec Taylor (mandolin, vocals), Jeff Thompson (guitar, vocals), Deb Cleland (bass, vocals) and Sango Mahanty (drums, vocals).

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