day one

It’s one of those inevitable things, like elections or John Farnham coming back for one last tour. Falls Festival in Marion Bay is just what you do to welcome the new year in Tasmania.

Sun-browned hillside breaks into white sand coastline in the sprawling farmland of Marion Bay.

The first night of the festival – the aptly named ‘Boogie Nights’ – kicks off early in the 30 degree day on a small hillside facing away from the main stage at the local showcase Homebrew stage.

Frankie Andrews’ sweet soulful lyrics and gentle guitar paved the way for heavier acts such as rock outfit JAX, a band who is doing exceptionally well on the triple j Unearthed charts.

Over at the field stage with the sun in full, brutal, flamey force, drum guru Ben Walsh brought punters out from the shade. The world-renowned drummer and member of the Tom Tom crew (comprising other powerhouse artists such as beatboxer Tom Thum) uses self-built vocoders and samplers to be able to do electronic synth percussion with his mouth while playing a full drum kit.

“Did anyone else as a kid get completely tripped out by the sound of the Mr Whippy van?” Walsh asks as he launches into a futuristic detuned rendition of the Mr Whippy theme.

Besides the amen breaks the highlight of a Ben Walsh set are the gadgets and gizmos the inventor brings to a stage. “You’re the third people who have had this set up live, even though I’ve been doing it for twenty years,” he says as he introduces his drum wheel – an upcycled ring of drums and cylinders. Positioned vertically around him Walsh moves within them like a loosely hinged human pendulum.

Closers of the night Art Vs Science managed to win back the audience as the field filled to close to capacity. Bringing an energetic sound with live drums and live guitar, the band worked well to work the audience with great banter and easy to sing along lyrics. The crowd was also treated to covers of songs like Metallica’s Enter Sandman, and Cab Calloway’s Minnie The Moocher.



Tasmanian singer/songwriter Jacqui “Jax” Smialek (pictured) and her band JAX took out first place in the Global Battle of the Bands Hobart Final in October, and local audiences will have the chance to hear them do their thing at The Homestead in North Hobart tomorrow night.

Smialek’s powerhouse vocals are combined with funk-rock from instrumentalists Malcolm “Bat” Battersby, Patrick Neumayer, and Adrian Hayes.

JAX’s first release, Swallow in 2013, stole a place on the Triple J Unearthed charts, and the group released a mini album These Things the same year, followed the following year by the LP Elixir.

They performed at last year’s Falls Music and Arts Festival, and in March will represent Tasmania as part of the Global Battle of the Bands National Final.

“The feeling you get when you take what you’ve created in the studio and transform it into a massive, energetic, live show with three amazing musicians who are also your friends, you can’t beat it,” Smialek said. “It’s fun as hell.”

Battersby, an established music producer who has worked with Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour in London studios, said playing with Jax was about “no-nonsense, good hard rock played as it is meant to be- with freedom to express in writing and on my guitar.”

JAX are in the process of recording new music for release down the track, but first they will be part of the Remember, Remember the 6th November gig from 9pm tomorrow as support for Dan Vandermeer’s George Begbie & the Mystery Guests. You are encouraged to dress up in your “favourite vigilante costume” for a Guy Fawkes- themed evening.


We’ll be representing Tasmania in the Australian final in Sydney in March 2016!

Open Mic Night: Packed to the Rafters


Shush! Not everyone is aware of this (perhaps the best kept secret in the South East) but Copping has become a hot bed of musical talent, and at the heart of this musical hullabaloo is the innovative and dynamic ‘Vines and Designs’ that has at various intervals this year been literally packed to the rafters with appreciative local audiences enjoying an impressive line up of ‘local musos’ virtually bringing the ‘rafters’ down (the last musical extravaganza held on 2nd May no exception!).

So far Bat and Jax, Gary and Anita Burgess, Joel Kettleton and Pip Wherrett (aka The Copping String Band), Jane Shearer, Angela Panaretos and Amanda Fletcher (to name but a few) have rocked up a musical storm (almost tearing the ‘vines off the designs’) with soaring melodies, killer keyboard compositions, toe-tapping guitar, banjo and fiddle renditions, mesmerising A Capella and much more, with some expecting to do it all over again on the last Friday in June!

John and Rebekah Yaxley owners of Vines and Designs and the award-winning Yaxley Vineyard are the inspiration behind these musical interludes and with the help of Joel Kettleton have created a warm, convivial and relaxing space to showcase and share the community’s diverse and exciting musical talent with others. “Our local musos, for that’s what we know them as says Rebekah, have amazing musical talents that might not be headline acts in the industry (yet!), but still know how to entertain those of us who can only dream of one day being able to hold a crowd using our vocal or instrumental prowess”.

In appreciation for Rebekah and John’s support of the local arts community (they host regular Art Exhibitions and sell quality artefacts by local designers) Vines and Designs has been recently given a ‘design maker-over’ by a few of its fabulous artists.

Vines and Designs (Copping Museum) hold the ‘Open Mic’ evenings every couple of months or so. The next ‘with a twist’ will be held on Friday 27th June.

Bat & Jax and Gary & Anita Burgess will headline the evening supported by others filling open microphone slots.

There will be two set prices on the night – a table seating price and a standing/perching price, both prices include food and entertainment with drinks purchased separately. Bookings are essential on 6253 5373. Please book early to avoid disappointment!

If you’d like to perform contact Joel Kettleton on 0402 831 174.


A blog post about Pony Black Co. and their delicious threads. I had so much fun on this photoshoot! Check out more Pony Black Co. creations in my Lay Down video:

A very quick post about a very exciting thing!

My dear friend (and former student) has finally released her first recording. Entitled “These Things”, it’s available for preview and purchase here

I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of this incredibly talented young woman, who’s fought so hard to follow her dream.

Now, go check it out 😉

To begin with, irrespective of what you believe (or don’t believe) I wish you all a peaceful, relaxed holiday season. I’ve been having a great time, taking some time off with family and friends. But I’ve been pretty lax with keeping up with my blog – sorry!

Probably one of the best presents I’ve ever had was dumped in my lap recently. As a mentor and music teacher, you always wish the best for your charges but this is just outstanding 🙂

I’m very proud and pleased that JAX has made it to Number 6 on the Triple J Unearthed Pop charts.

For those of you outside of Australia, this is something to truly celebrate, I really can’t begin to describe how proud I am of this up and coming artist! The song she’s uploaded “Swallow” is a really excellent pop song with quite a mature, dark lyric. This young woman is an inspiration to us all, to stick at it and follow your dreams!

I encourage you all to go to the site and have a listen – “Swallow” is available for free download.

Meanwhile, play nicely, stay safe and have a great end to 2013!

Debra xx