Merri Creek Tavern
Melbourne, Australia. March 2019
My friend Gina sends an email with the subject line ‘Resident Rogues’, inviting me to see a swing/country/gypsy music band from the US in a little bar called the Merri Creek Tavern.
She tells me a story as we wait to see the band.
Her friend Penny is dancing in a bar in Asheville, North Carolina. Alone. While travelling across Virginia and North Carolina, Penny senses that dancing alone in these parts is unusual, is different. At the bar in Asheville, people are dancing in pairs. A woman asks if she can dance with her.
They get talking afterwards. Penny is from Australia. The woman is from North Carolina. Her name is Sparrow. She is a musician. Her band is touring Australia soon.
“Need somewhere to stay in Melbourne?” Penny offers. As you do.
Gina, when telling the story, wonders if Penny felt she was being judged for dancing alone. A woman. On her own. On the dancefloor. Stories can have different angles and prisms, like – perhaps – a song being played in a different key. Variations on a theme.
The four members of The Resonant Rogues park themselves at Penny’s home. They play an unplugged house concert in Penny’s driveway. Double-bass, fiddle, guitar, banjo, accordion, vocals. Lovely, lively music. They play at the Port Fairy Folk Festival. People dance. Lots of people, probably, given the size of the Port Fairy Folk Festival. Then onto Beechworth, Ballarat, Bendigo, Balnarring, Phillip Island…more dancing undoubtedly.
The band room at the Merri Creek Tavern is tiny. The stage too. But it’s cosy. About 20 of us, mostly standing. A couple at the back of the room dance a little, trying not to bump into anyone.
Then, as the show nears its end, Sparrow – the lead singer/accordion player/banjo player – teaches the audience a simple dance. About 15 or 16 people join in.
I seek the solace of a seat. I don’t dance. No chance. Never have. I don’t want to embarrass myself. Or others.
I feel ever so slightly, ever so briefly jealous but I enjoy the enjoyment of others and, of course, the gorgeous music of The Resonant Rogues.