Chris Phillips, Rob Gador and Stephen Andrew. Photo courtesy of Gerry Nelson, Newport Folk Festival.2016.

 In 2013 I had an idea for a concert.

Story and song. Together. Twining like rope. Sort of. Spoken-word. Music.  Memoir. Together. Sort of. But I’m not a musician. I’ve hardly ever been on a stage.

So I went to an open mic session at the Newport Fiddle & Folk Club. Not that fiddle and folk music is quite my cup of tea. But I went along to the scout hall –- and said, “I’ve got this idea for a show. Story and song together, but I don’t know a key change from a chord change…”

In my back pocket I had a story from the website about a father, and the Hank Williams song Move It On Over.

Michael Stewart and Steph Payne pulled out their phones, found the song, pulled out their instruments. Figured out the keys and the chords. Just like that. I pulled out the story and said, “I’ll start reading but don’t start playing and singing until I give you a nod. And then stop when I give you another nod, so I can resume the story. And then come back at the end. When I step away from the microphone.”

And away we went. Rough. But something to work on, to build on, to develop. To fine-tune.

Twelve months later The Stereo Stories Band performed at the 2014 Newport Folk Festival, just weeks after our very first show down the road at the Williamstown Literary Festival.

From tips on microphone technique to recommendations about public liability, the NFFC has been a great supporter. A venue for a non-festival gig. A sound engineer. A stage manager for a big show in Williamstown. A testimonial for the website. A support letter for a grant application. A bass player for a house concert. A sounding board for this, that and the other.

Well before all of that was one of the catalysts for starting the website: hearing an alt-folkie busking at the 2012 Newport Folk Festival. I wrote a story about the busker and when I wanted to find the busker and ask him to be part of the Stereo Stories band, I contacted the NFFC.

Then in 2015, NFFC singer Chris Phillips  saw our show at that year’s Newport Folk Festival. She wrote a story for the website, about singing Into The Mystic to her new-born daughter. But Chris had a hidden agenda. A cunning plan. A devious strategy. She wanted to sing Into The Mystic with the band. She wanted to be part of the band. And that she certainly is, since her ‘audition’ at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival.

When I road-tested a writing workshop in 2019 most of the participants were from the NFFC.

Stereo Stories was due to play in The Substation at this year’s folk festival until Covid rearranged things.

Thank you Newport Fiddle & Folk Club. If not for you, and the Williamstown Literary Festival, the Stereo Stories concerts would have just been a vague idea for a gig. About story and song. Together. Music. Memoir. Together. Twining like rope. Sort of.

Thank you Michael, Steph, Alan, Sue, Clive, Chris, Christine, Christopher, Bea, Jenny, Molly, Megan, Fran, Jane, Peter, Andrea, Steve, Greg, Stu, Scott, and many more.

Post-gig smiles at the Newport Folk Festival. July 2014

Newport Fiddle & Folk Club

Newport Folk Festival, Melbourne

Stereo Stories at Newport, 2016

 

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Vin is founding editor of Stereo Stories and director/MC of Stereo Stories In Concert.