High Tea and Pirates

A High Tea Adventure

One of the little things Flea has been missing since she moved to Australia is a good “high tea”. A friend of hers in the “Old Country” had done a bit of research and bought us some vouchers to “Maddison Cottage“; a little venue in Perth where such a thing can be enjoyed… one gets the feeling they might be few and far between. We enjoyed getting a bit dressy & had a lovely drive out to Guildford on a lovely rainy day; the first genuinely wet day of the year. We enjoyed a few different teas, made more lovely by a ‘free pot refill’. I’ll admit I did arrive hoping to find a good steak burger on the menu (I was a little misguided as to what was on offer at a High Tea) – but none the less, we were fairly impressed with the morsels.

The setting was lovely, although it felt a little cramped. The tables were clean and well set; and everything was well presented. Sadly though, it was all let down by awful restroom facilities (and after two full pots of tea, you can be sure you’ll need them before you depart). I’m not talking “Trainspotting” awful – it wasn’t filthy. “Functioning” is, however,  about the only positive thing I can say about it. No more than a household loo, it is directly adjacent to their kitchen & one can clearly hear every dish and sniffle coming from the pantry. Which means; they can hear you. I enjoyed listening to staff talking about customers for a few moments before we left. I didn’t use the hand towel provided (on the restroom floor) and left, hand dripping, through a maze of kitchen supply boxes and various other flotsam.

A pleasant enough venue, just don’t look behind the scenes. A real shame! However, Flea looking absolutely stunning and we enjoyed the adventure:)

Piracy & eternal damnation

We’ve been enjoying  a smorgasbord of television programming; Season 4 of Game of Thrones having been the most anticipated. But wow, how good is Fargo (Billy Bob Thornton / Martin Freeman) so far?! We’re loving it:) What else?

  • The Killing (loving it!)
  • Boss
  • Not Going Out
  • Fargo (loving it!)

I’m a bookworm who’s read all off George R R Martin’s books before seeing the show; Flea is watching it first. We’re both enjoying season 4 thus far; Arya & The Hound being my favourite story line. it was sad to not see them this week! No spoilers on this page (because you never know, Flea just might read my blog) – but I want at least 10 minutes of them in every episode this season…

Oh – Sansa and Petyr Baelish – at last! This is one story line I’m excited about:) Obviously they’re going to skip Petyr’s homeland for the TV series which is a bit of a shame, but it should still be great!

"...the only thing he wanted was what I'd given him the night before."

“…the only thing he wanted was what I’d given him the night before.”

Featuring: The photography of Trillian Petrova

Google+ has been a wonderful platform for artists, particularly visual artists (photography, fine art, illustration etc). It is a clean, social, and largely organic way to share a portfolio and develop connections and conversations. The more I talk to artists sharing work here, I find I’m not alone in realising how important Google+ is for independent artists like myself. +scribblegraph wouldn’t exist without Google Plus or the quite humbling and often overwhelming support & encouragement I’ve personally experienced. A lot of those people are sharing their own content & creativity here as well, and this week (and maybe next!) I’d like to personally introduce you to a few of them. These are people who actively engage and/or share content prolifically on Google+ and will be great additions to your ‘Art’ circles, whatever you choose to name them. Today I’d like you to meet Trillian.

+Trillian Petrova

Trillian Petrova is a non-commercial photographer with an amazing eye for the world around her. Her high level of skill with colour, light and composition is quite evident in her portfolio, but what I find most incredible is her complete lack of constraint. She cannot be identified primarily as a skilled landscape, macro, city or portrait photographer. It is clear she experiences a moment and knows instinctively how to tell that story & capture her feeling with her camera; no element or trade-craft is unexplored. She experiments with a very broad range of ratios, colour & tone, angles and lighting, and this makes her a very exciting photographer to follow.

trillianpetrova-drumming-girl

“Drumming Girl” · Trillian Petrova · © All rights reserved

If she were to take a route many photographers choose & supply commercial ‘stock’ imagery, she would sell massive volumes I’m sure – her work adds vibrancy and life in spades. That would be complete disservice to her art and her passion for it. Trillian is expressing her life and love for it; and one day I hope she emails me to say she has been asked to exhibit in a gallery:)

The included image is a collection of ‘minicards’ featuring her photography (I was lucky enough to receive them in the mail recently). You can explore her portfolio on Flickr.

Album review: Cherish the Broken

Heather Fay’s album Cherish the Broken released last month, and I’ve received my copy in the post. I did have pre-mastered copies of some of the album to work with when I was developing the artwork, and Autumn’s Chill (the working title for the album) was high on my playlist while I illustrated for Heather. It’s a gorgeously buoyant track, full of light and life; invoking memories of my own childhood. Heather’s style is like that; delicate, openly emotional, and quite evocative. She has quite a poetic lyrical approach, using imagery that really encourages a personal connection to her music; a real talent, one not found often enough in indie music today.

The album is a rich folksy bluegrass offering with a healthy cut of country root stock left in (“I Would For You“). Lyrically and vocally you will hear a mix of Jewel (“Scrape Knee’d Girl“) & The Indigo Girls (“Stay” & “Where We’ll Meet Again”). Heather had support from a number of musicians making this record; the sparse yet very effective use of use cello/violin, mandolin, steel pedal and organ show a lot of consideration and knowledge in the mastering. Over-all, it is an exceptionally well balanced record, and that displays a lot of experience, knowledge and heart.

If my heart should break would you kick it around?
Sweep it under the rug never to be found?
Or would you put it together again?
And cherish the broken parts of who I am? – from “I Would For You”.

The record title comes straight out of the heart of Heather’s lyrics, and nothing is more honest than that. I was pretty thrilled to be a part of that process; it was during a somewhat intense period of the development when Heather was feeling the weight of the album; mastering was very nearly completed, and she still needed a name. She was so close to every part of her work, she was struggling to see it in entirety, and this lyric was re-discovered in a new light. It stuck, and I feel it really captures quite beautifully who Heather is as a person, and also those parts of herself and her experiences she gives voice to on this record.

It’s a record Jasmine and I both enjoy, and if there is any criticism more brutal than that of an 8 year old, I’m not aware of it. Thanks, Heather – you did it, and it’s wonderful!

Purchase Cherish the Broken:

· Google Play · iTunes · cdbaby · Amazon · Heather Fay ·

Artwork:

· The scribblegraph cover: Developing the artwork · scribblegraph on Google+ ·

Ash Nathens Thanks:

· JOBY · Artline ·

Related Images:

81 Westone Rainbow I · a little piece of guitar history

Once upon a time in high school, I had long hair. I didn’t have a lot of ambition, no real goals to speak of or dreams worth sharing; I was a pretty average, simple kinda kid. All I really wanted was to be a guitar-wielding demi-god in a band. Nothing major. Jimmy Page, Kurt Cobain, Syd Barrett, David Gilmour, Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, Nick Cave, Ed Kuepper… I wanted to be that. Or pretty much anyone from Radiohead, REM, Guns’n’Roses, Metallica, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, The Cure, Toad The Wet Sprocket… you get the idea. My tastes were a mess varied in a very pre-cultured way. So for a kid with no real ambition, I had a lot of ambition. Problem was: I didn’t know a single thing about playing guitar. I just hung out with musicians and thought “that’s what I want”. I recall a Sunday afternoon way back in early 1990-something listening to Richard Kingsmill (Triple J) play Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy in its entirety – and that was a life changing moment. I couldn’t rest until I learned No Quarter and Over The Hills & Far Away. So I had to find a guitar.

I’ll jump forward a few years here, during which I befriended people based on their guitar collection rather than the quality of their soul. In fact , if any of their relatives owned a guitar, that was adequate. One such friend had an older brother (Hi Susan! Hi Andrew!) who owned a lovely guitar, but had moved onto bass. Or drums. Or glockenspiel… I really don’t recall details, other than that he had this beautiful guitar in the corner that looked just like a 1959 Gibson ES-335. I had to have it. I knew nothing about it (and little more than that about playing it) but I was completely smitten. If my memory serves, he wasn’t all that interested in anything with 6 strings at this stage and had picked up the French Horn. He sold that guitar to me for about $100 and thus was born my passion for guitar.

“Being a musician is akin to a fool’s game. It involves utter faith in yourself; and it’s a game of exploring, documenting and ultimately exposing every personal weakness & vulnerability, every mistake and heartache – and trying to look wonderful while doing it.”

I’ll jump forward a few more years here. For years I played in a band that saw little success in any definable financial sense (other than beer and travel expenses) and certainly no lasting commercial identity. This guitar lived its life largely in an open C6 tuning, used purely to play Led Zeppelin‘s Bron-Yr-Aur to open our set each night. That’s it – that was the extent to which I used this beautiful instrument, and I can only redeem that by saying I think I did the song proud. At least I hope I did! I take my hat off to people like Jack Carty, Simon & Melinda from The Falls, Heather Fay, Ryan Van Sickle – being a musician is akin to a fool’s game. It involves utter faith in yourself; and it’s a game of exploring, documenting and ultimately exposing every personal weakness & vulnerability, every mistake and heartache – and trying to look wonderful while doing it. The road to success is long, painful and lonely. I couldn’t walk it with the band I was in, and only now years later do I find the heart and desire to even think about trying it again. And it’s all thanks to this guitar:)

Matsumoku '81 Westone Rainbow I · Canadian Ash

The actual ’81 ‘Rainbow I’ seen in the Westone catalog. Varnished Canadian Ash top. Serial: 104842

So: the guitar Andrew sold me is a little piece of history. Matsumoku Industries made exceptionally fine ‘affordable’ guitars in Japan before their parent company, “Singer” (famous for sewing machines), encountered hardship. The name Westone is famous among guitar enthusiasts for the very finest craftsmanship at a price musicians could afford. To this day, their earlier instruments are highly prized and eagerly sought after by those that know their quality. They are a very passionate bunch – and their forum members have been very helpful in my recent efforts to learn more about this lovely instrument .

The Rainbow has quite a complex genealogy. There are three Rainbows (Rainbow I, II & III) and the first has three ‘versions’, each with unique identifying characteristics. I discovered not only was mine one of the first (being the earliest of forebears, the Rainbow I) – but that it was identifiable as the “version 1” due to the shape of the F-holes, the brass nut and… wait. Here I was, pawing over the original 1981 Westone catalog (pictured below). The beautiful grain of that Canadian Ash top. More importantly, the very unique grain. It was eerily familiar. I examined it with excruciating care; each minute detail and nuance – and I began to get excited. Utterly disbelieving, but excited. The catalog instrument was the one sitting in the case beside me; there was no doubt in my mind. The actual very same instrument they photographed for the catalog. And after a few ‘expert’ eyes from the Westone Guitars forums had wandered over both images, there was little to no doubt remaining. It had to be that instrument used to photograph the catalog! How it came to be in a bedroom in Sydney, Australia is anyone’s guess. I have been in touch with Andrew and he recalls buying it from Turramurra music – beyond that, there’s no trail.

1981 Westone Catalog

1981 Westone Catalog

I had left it stored it in Sydney for over 8 years, and it had travelled wonderfully considering the inherent risks. Having discovered the historical value of my guitar, I decided to use a professional to help me restore it properly. Apart from the missing scratch plate (which I recall removing in about 2002 – I still maintain it looks better without!) it was in exceptionally good condition, with all original parts. The wiring is still solid, the pots and jack still great. The neck is without doubt the most beautiful I have ever played; the action quite simply made for me. A huge thanks to Rob at Guitar World in Rockingham – you did a wonderful job! That dicky switch hasn’t missed a tick since I left the shop mate; fingers crossed!

Rob, Guitar World Rockingham

Rob, Guitar World Rockingham

Two questions I have been asked repeatedly: what is this guitar worth, and is it for sale? Well, it’s value is really an unknown. They were never “top end” guitars, and the price of the day back in 1981 was about £197 (source: 1981 catalog). I bought it for about AUD$150 in 1994 (Andrew – I know you paid about that for  it, but surely Turramurra had their pricing all wrong – unless it was second hand?). I’ve been offered AUD$1,000 for it, and I’m not even slightly interested. It could be worth $500, it could be worth $2000 – it all depends what someone is willing to pay. So, question the second: is it for sale? Absolutely not. I own an electric/acoustic Maton EM325 (c1998) and a c’95 Gibson Les Paul Standard. They are both exceptionally fine instruments, and arguably I am not worthy of either of them. What I do know is: this Westone Rainbow I is the match of either of them, with some to spare. It is a breath-taking instrument to play, and I wouldn’t part with it for any money.

Now I’m off to learn Bron-Yr-Aur again, and hopefully do this fine instrument a good turn. Enjoy the photographs; please leave comments/questions. But first, here’s some answers from the FAQ files:

  • I don’t know any more about Matsumoku than you can find here on wikipedia.
  • The best resource for information about Westone Guitars is westoneguitars.net – maintained by Barry Eames.
  • The value of your Westone is what you are willing to part with it for. I can’t advise you any further!

Enjoy the photos! The Catalog 1981 Westone Rainbow I (version 1). Name: “Spades”

Links:

http://www.westoneguitars.net/

Guitar World (Rockingham) – Facebook page

Jack Carty · The Falls · Heather Fay · Ryan Van Sickle