Campaign for rural equality

Yesterday around 100 people filled the auditorium at Yanco Club for the public forum about services at Leeton Hospital.

It's been remarkable to see what happens when a post on social media in January gains traction. People recognised their own experiences weren't isolated.

In response we've seen a campaign promise for capital investment in the Hospital and, this week, Murrumbidgee Local Health District have created a role called a Career Medical Officer.

There's still a long way to go to restore the decade-long decline in services but it's been really incredible to see what a small group of people can achieve in a relatively short amount of time.

Big guitar

This week I've been recording Australia's largest playable guitar in Narrandera

It's been a goal of mine for a few years now to work with this unique instrument.

Last year I got the support of Narrandera Shire Council to develop a grant application to see the guitar tuned, possibly for the first time in decades.

Tuning was completed by Chris Kschenka of Custom Music, who suggested we tune it up to G to improve audibility.

Working with Wasabi Jones of Highpoint Studios, who grew up in nearby Matong, the recordings will be made available as a multi-sampled instrument to realise music that would otherwise be challenging to perform on the big guitar.

We've used a variety of microphones, including my Barcus-Berry contact mic, an AKG PZM and Jones' Earthworks condensers.

You can see the PZM was placed inside the body of the big guitar.

The instrument is in need of some repairs but I used tape that wouldn't leave residue to hold down the warped frets.

Jones will likely re-pitch some notes to fill gaps -- although we are considering keeping some bum notes for character.

We ran the monitor out on the contact mic into a guitar amp to aid audibility of the lower notes.

The big playable guitar was made from plywood by Robert Palmer in 1988 to promote the Country Music Club of Narrandera.

The guitar took more than 300 hours to complete.

Due to its size, two musicians are necessary and the instrument is tuned down about two octaves below a regular guitar.

With a length of 5.82 metres, width of 2.02 metres and strings humming over 3.98 metres, the big guitar was recognised as the World’s Largest Playable Guitar and included in the 1991 edition of the Guinness Book of Records.

This record stood until 2000, when a team at the Academy of Science and Technology in Conroe, Texas, constructed a guitar 13.3 metres long and 5 metres wide.

Narrandera’s Big Playable Guitar remains the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

Thanks to Wasabi Jones and support from Narrandera Shire Council, Western Riverina Arts and Regional Arts NSW.

This project is supported by Create NSW’s Country Arts Support Program, a devolved funding program administered by Regional Arts NSW and Western Riverina Arts on behalf of the NSW Government.

Men's rights

One more provocation from Grayson Perry's The Descent of Man

Burn it all away

If I were Elton John, then Alicia Boyd might be my Bernie Taupin

I adore her writing, particularly the imagery and vulnerability.

When I was considering lyrics for a chord progression I'd found on my ukulele, I turned to her blog.

The piece that grabbed my interest described smudging, which is an activity my beloved has been indulging a lot lately.

Then I recorded myself singing Alicia's words:

The next day, I listened back and thought how unlikely those words sounded coming from my mouth.

So I decided to write lyrics that incorporated Alicia's writing, as well as my own experiences -- particularly the role of Burns, which is where I met Alicia.
Light the fire and fan the flame
I sense the heat to feel the pain
draw the smoke that fills the air
smudge the image that I wear
To hit the bare self underneath
cough while trying not the breathe
the sacred fire blurs our world
allows my spirit to unfurl 
Watch our world burn away
from ash we will grow again
in the embers in the coals
we know the spark that’s burning in our souls 
Our bodies mask how we appear
look beyond the flesh veneer
know that I am your own kind
in my heart I do not mind 
In the dark we’re free to dream
black charcoal makes us clean
naked branches without leaves
makes the space to grow new trees
(Chorus, first verse, chorus, end)

Then I recorded a quick demo to hear how they sound:

This week I used this video for the Disquiet Junto project, which involved glitching.

One for women

“Men commit 90 per cent of violent crime… What if female taxpayers decided they were fed up of paying for this? It the government can repeal the so-called ‘Tampon tax’, surely they could ask men to pay for the consequences of the violent chaos — chaos that they almost exclusively cause.” 
Grayson Perry, The Descent of Man

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