Announcing an exciting collaboration between Steve and Australia’s most respected environmentalist, Bob Brown as part of the Bob Brown Foundation campaign to “Save The Tarkine”. Bob has very generously used Steve's piano piece 'Tarkine Sunset' behind a montage of his photos of the Tarkine as his Christmas message for 2017 from the Bob Brown Foundation.
Steve’s melody is intended to express the fragile and transient beauty of a sunset - something nearly everyone has experienced. In this case, the sunset in Steve’s mind was one from the Tarkine (takayna) coast south of Arthur’s River, on a beach almost buried in huge flotsam logs twisted and tumbled into sculptural forms only Nature could imagine and achieve.
Steve first visited this area in 1978, the second stop on his first trip to Tasmania, when access was rough and ready, but mostly impossible, drawn by the magic that seemed to even inhabit maps of the NW of this special island. There’s now a lookout near Arthurs River called “The Edge of the World” - exactly what it feels like when the Roaring Forties wind strafes your face with sand and foam from the relentless waves travelling from the African coast; you feel there’s nothing else tangible except yourself and ageless Time.
The Tarkinaraa were here for tens of thousands of years and their artefacts, spirit and descendants still shape how one reacts to this country and speak of resilience and formidable courage. Yet all this is now threatened with destruction so the music melody is not only intended to express the beauty of that sunset, but also the danger the sun will set on the Tarkine / takayna as we (and the flora and fauna for which it is home) know it, if the bulldozers and chainsaws move in.
Bob Brown’s photos speak to the same ephemeral and transient beauty, though powerfully portraying renewal and hope through how Earth owns us all and how we should own our responsibility to care for it. It is a huge honour and privilege to collaborate with Bob on this small contribution to saving the Tarkine / takayna and Steve is humbled by Bob’s generous spirit and lifetime of trying to set things right while many of us find it hard to look beyond our daily struggles.
New album on the horizon...
Steve's been working on his follow-up album in NSW, once again with producer Heath Cullen at the helm. We'll keep this website updated and give you more details further down the line. If you'd like to stay in the loop via email, join Steve's mailing list at the bottom of this page and we'll send you a message with the album due date and how/ where to purchase it.
In the meantime, here's a couple of photos taken in and around the studio.
Music, Life and the Hereafter....
Rumour has it that one of my relatives was the black sheep in Horatio (Lord) Nelson’s family, the Vice-Admiral who lost an arm, an eye and then his life in the final sea battle of the Napoleonic Wars, famously painted by Turner. It’s a little more than “rumour” but I prefer to let sleeping sheep lie because what’s newsworthy for me is that, sent away to the Colonies or not, Andrew St Clare Nelson (1864-1904) was an accomplished musician, buried at his request with his clarinet. I can relate to that.
Andrew Nelson became the first government school teacher at South Grafton, a beautiful town on the North NSW coast, where he also led the German Band. His obituary observed “he was very popular with both parents and children” having taught across generations of families, how he taught music outside schools hours and “frequently figured as an instrumentalist in local bands and orchestras”. The Grafton Amateur Band performed once a month on the Cricket Ground, mostly on Thursdays and, as The Clarence and Richmond Examiner reports, “... in the presence of a large gathering, principally ladies”.
Even more newsworthy for me is that he composed a number of pieces, including “Grafton Waltz”, “Neapolitan Mazurka” and his “Galatea Polka Mazurka”, the latter featuring high in the program welcoming Prince Alfred (on his ship Galatea) to Australia. Some of his compositions are documented in Graeme Skinner’s resource on Australian musicians in the colonial and early Federation era, see: http://sydney.edu.au/paradisec/australharmony
His illustrious relative is reported to have signalled “England expects that every man will do his duty”, an order that cost his own life, his last words thankful for such as death. I think Andrew Nelson likewise ‘did his duty’ as a professional teacher, an amateur musician, and a constructive member of his community, a hero in my eyes as much as anyone else.
I can’t get the image of him being buried with his clarinet out of my mind. It seems so contemporary. I think of him affectionately, proudly, as having some style, knowing what’s important in life, and taking a bit of that with him into the “here-after”.... .
Horatio Nelson’s body was preserved in a barrel of brandy for the trip from Gibraltar back to England, receiving a hero's funeral. Andrew Nelson left the world much more quietly, leaving a widow, three sons and four daughters, with the Grafton City Band playing “The Dead March” at his funeral as acknowledgement of a life well-lived from a grateful town.
My thanks to Sister Joseph (Aunt Joan) for telling me about the clarinet.
“Midnight Rain” across Australia!
Last week AMRAP sent out 60 copies of “Midnight Rain” to radio stations across Australia. This mail-out is co-ordinated with CBAA and helps independent music artists get airplay and build a fan base, as well as create interest when touring in the area and so on. Already played on radio in Victoria and Queensland through the “AirIt” service, including on the influential inner Melbourne 3RRR “The Australian Mood” program hosted by Neil Rogers, this mail out should boost the exposure of Steve’s music to a broader audience through placing all 14 tracks in the hands of DJs rather than just the 3 tracks arranged through “AirIt”. As Neil Rogers said, this is “Just a beautiful album" (see the Reviews webpage), and Steve is thrilled AMRAP supported his CD so strongly. So listen in at 2RRR, or Braidwood (2BRW) or CoastFM (06.3) or Great Ocean Radio (3WAY FM) or Cairns FM (4CCR) or Radio Adelaide (SUV) or Katherine (8KTR) or KCR FM (6KCR) or even out on beautiful Lord Howe Island, or any one of the other 50+ stations hopefully in your area.
About the cover art for Midnight Rain...
MIC REES FLOOD SERIES - CATARACT GORGE 2014
This painting was produced as part of a series whilst on a residency at Kings Bridge Cottage, Cataract Gorge, Launceston. The series involved painting on site at night in Cataract Gorge in the Winter, a deliberate Juxtapose to a previous series (Summer at night on the Mid North Coast of NSW). This painting was produced using an ipad and a painting app on site. The ipad allowed Mic to paint at night as the screen is illuminated. This also allowed Mic to introduce a whole new process with his work. The series explored the dark, wild & moody sights and sounds at night during a large downpour that flooded the Gorge. Mic then watched the Gorge transition over the weeks back to the gentle calm, as the waters subsided, and
the Dolomite Cliffs towered and quietly reflected back on the water.