Categories: Gig guide

Picture of Margaret Clement of Tullaree wading through the swamp with her dog, Dingo.

Waaaaay back in May 2012, after listening to a fascinating and creepy story from a friend with a house at Venus Bay, I wrote a post called Gippsland Gothic, about two eccentric women who lived Misses-Havisham style in a crumbling homestead in marshland. One died, the other disappeared, and the mystery continues.

I’m not really fussed about blog stats – this isn’t a commercial blog after all – but I noticed something interesting after that: Not a day has gone by without someone hitting that post or using search strings on Tullaree, Margaret Clement and other keywords relating to the story. There really is a lot of interest out there about that story.

Commenter Jane-Louise Hobson has written a play called Tale of Tullaree about Margaret Clement. There’s a reading on at the Wonthaggi Theatre Group next weekend, with matinees both days and one evening show. Details are here.

I’m going with the friend who first told me the story, and we’ll stay the night down at Venus Bay, where Margaret’s bones were found.

Or the bones, that is, which might have been hers, and which have also disappeared.

12 Apr 2013, Comments (3)

Friday Earworm and gig guide

Author: Helen

Throwing this post up late, but Tess and the Shapiros are playing at the Union Hotel in Brunswick, this Saturday night (13th), 9-11.

Tess hasn’t advertised this one, perhaps because it will feature a lot of new material from the Bob sessions at Pure Pop, where, you will recall, <>Tess recreated the Times they Are a’Changin album as part of the Summer of Classic Albums series.

This is one of the songs we’ll be doing.

Tess’s version sounds nothing like this.

This has song has haunted me especially in the days since Thatcher died. Seems downsizing and outsourcing wasn’t invented by the neoliberal 80s but they certainly took that ball and ran with it.

They say in the East that they’re payin too high
They say that your ore ain’t worth diggin
That it’s much cheaper down in South American towns
Where the miners work almost for nothin

Substitute “China” or “Special Economic zones” for “South American towns” (except it wouldn’t scan) and change the miners to people who make things, and nothing’s changed.

3 Feb 2013, Comments (0)

Gig Guide: Tess does Dylan

Author: Helen

Last month, as part of the Pure Pop Summer of classic albums series, Tess performed Bob Dylan’s 1964 album The Times They are a-Changin‘ in it’s entirety. (I didn’t get an outing due to one person who is trying to keep Pure Pop out of the live music business, so no drummers allowed there at present.)

Alt Text here

Text: Tess McKenna performs Bob Dylan’s classic album The times they are a-Changin’ – Featuring the Shapiros, Helen Smart, Karen Rush, Drew Hancock (Native Plants).
Sunday 10 February 5 pm
You know how it is, you go to all that trouble to learn all that material, might as well give it another run. I like the way Tess and Bob are giving each other the side-eye in that poster.

Come along, it’ll be a blast.

Tess McKenna, Helen Smart, Karen Rush and Drew Hancock. Union Hotel, Brunswick Sat May 26, June 9, June 16, 9 pm with Blackeyed Susans

Tess McKenna and the Shapiros (me, Karen Rush and Drew Hancock) are thrilled to be playing at the Union this Saturday, and Saturday 9th and 16th of June.

I’m really looking forward to playing, especially because we’re doing a double bill with the Blackeyed Susans, who are all kinds of wonderful.

We’ll be playing 9-11, instead of the earlier sessions we usually do. It’ll be a bit louder!

Tess McKenna and the Shapiros featuring Helen Smart, Karen Rush, Drew Hancock. Union Hotel Saturday 7 April
From The Union Hotel web page

She’s back! Tess McKenna and the magnificent Shapiros return for an afternoon of stellar electric folk/rock & blues with pitch-perfect harmonies.

If you’re in town over Easter, come along!

(Poster transcript):

Tess McKenna and the Shapiros
Featuring Helen Smart, Karen Rush, Drew Hancock
Union Hotel 109 Union st Brunswick, 93882235

Daniel Flitton’s “analysis” of the Leadership Thing in the AGE today was disgusting. In the last few days there’s been a lot of denial of the sexist cliches which follow Julia Gillard around; lots of “nothing to see here, move along!” But Flitton, writing for the front page of a national newspaper – one of the few remaining places in the media where we might expect people to write intelligently about these political stoushes – chooses to present the narrative of the Labor leadership spill exclusively in terms of sex, romance and relationships.

How a fine romance ended in a messy divorce. In Flitton’s narrative, there was an “awkward” “first date“, when Kevin met Julia (a reference to a romantic comedy, for the few people who might not be aware of that), a courtship rather than a romance, a proposition and a get-away (with a creepy suggestion of a threesome). and that’s just in the first paragraph! It goes on… and on. Rudd saw Gillard as a potential partner for life but it was a marriage of convenience ending in divorce and breakup which, in the manner of so many heterosexual breakups, was forcing people to take sides. (Oh, great FSM, how will they plan the dinner parties?)

This gendered trivialisation of Australia’s first female PM hurts all women. I often find Twisty Faster’s concept of women as “the sex class” useful to parse weird statements like this, and it’s spot on here. Flitton can only explain a prominent woman in terms of her membership of the sex class, with Mills and Boon and chick-flicks as essential props for her irredeemably female character. Also, a female person working with a male person must be subject to Unresolved Sexual Tension, by virtue of her female sexual force-field of which Bettina Arndt has so kindly reminded us. If that means that women can be excluded from positions of power or authority because they must distract the blokes, well, that’s just too bad; it’s just the way things are.

And bugger me, here’s Tony Wright channelling Angela Carter on another page (same day), comparing Kevin Rudd to St Kevin of the Wicklow Mountains. More light-hearted tosh than an attempt at analysis, it nevertheless manages to heap more gendered insults on a thinly-veiled version of Gillard:

St Kevin’s greatest distraction, legend has it, was a woman who was determined to relieve him of the leadership his virtue. St Kevin threw himself into a bed of nettles to avoid being seduced and set fire to a handful of burning weeds to fend off his pursuer.
…St Kevin ”Hurl(ed) the maiden from the rock into the black lake shrieking”. But that, surely, was merely ghastly myth.

Maiden? Shrieking? Greatest distraction? Of course, this article has complete plausible deniability. That doesn’t mean Gillard. AT ALL.

It’s just a ghastly myth.

Nothing to see here, of course. Just robust debate. Of course Flitton and Wright would use precisely the same language and imagery for any incumbent PM. Wouldn’t they?

13 Apr 2011, Comments (0)

Gig Guide: Back to the Union

Author: Helen

Tess McKenna and the Shapiros play the Union Hotel, Union st., Brunswick, Saturday April 16 from 5 to 7.

Review of Tess's latest CD, The New Everything, Martin Jones, Rhythms magazine, Jan 2011

Review of Tess's latest CD, The New Everything, Martin Jones, Rhythms magazine, Jan 2011


Tess Mckenna, The new Everything. CD release at the Northcote Social Club, Sunday Feb 20

Hey! The New Everything has a four-star review in the AGE / EG. I don’t know how many stars one can potentially earn but none of the other offerings this week have more.

It’s not published on line, so what the hell, that touch typing I learned at school has got to be good for something. Right?

With a vocal comfort zone that in past performances has seemed to swing with ease from melodic balladry to twangy country, what’s new about everything on Tess McKenna’s stylish and thoroughly satisfying fourth LP is that it’s all fallen into place. Recorded in Melbourne with Barry Stockley joining her at the controls, she’s got the mix just right between acoustic singer-songwriter and plugged-in band material. Gentle strummers such as the title track, Pancho Style [should be Poncho style] and Down By the Sea serve to perfectly set up the electric guitar crescendos of numbers such as Fill me Up. Love is Gone, a sinewy blues number, could have come from a hot’n’sweaty Mississippi juke joint, smouldering for nearly eight minutes without ever quite igniting. Better still is energetic rocker Hummingbird, with strategically placed harmonica lines. Rumbling bass and driving drums give Tidy Town a heavier, ominous feel, then it’s back to the blues on nine-minute closer Still our House, which is also the closest she comes to Tamworth on this set of songs. McKenna launches The New Everything at the Northcote Social Club on Sunday at 2 PM.
Jeff Glorfeld
The AGE, EG 18.2.2011

Tess McKenna at the Northcote Social Club, 20 February 2011 - Poster

Tess will officially launch her latest CD, The New Everything, at the Northcote Social Club on Sundee week (Sunday 20th Feb). It’s been out in the wild for a few weeks, and you can buy it here.

Tess McKenna’s fourth album, The New Everything, was recorded over a year in the low-fi setting of Fatsound Studio, with Barry Stockley & an ensemble of long time playing pals including Ash Davies on drums. The New Everything eases in between barefaced folk and dirty bang bang blues to sonic rock overdrive. This is singer-songwriter McKenna at her best – authentic, soulful & intimate.
Tess has toured her music extensively, supporting artists such as Nick Cave & Lucinda Williams; has played her music from as far as the Woodford Folk Festival to the East Coast Roots & Blues Festival in Byron Bay, from the Melbourne Concert Hall to Austin’s SXSW Music Festival in Texas, USA. Tess McKenna & her longtime band The Shapiros will be joined by special guests for an afternoon of pitch-perfect harmonies and shimmering guitars to launch The New Everything at the Northcote Social Club 20th February 2011. [Doors open at 2 PM – $12.]

The New Everything is out now on HEAD RECORDS & is distributed through MGM.

Ashley Davies, who plays drums on the CD, is off touring with The Dingoes. So I’m occupying the drum seat for the launch, and thereafter. Which is a huge honour, and an exciting day to look forward to.

Come and celebrate with us.

Poster for Tess McKenna, Union Hotel, Saturday December 4 8:30

Tess McKenna and the SHAPIROS play two sets for your listening pleasure at the Union Hotel, Union street, Brunswick, at 8:30 on Saturday December 4.


Tess’s latest CD The New Everything is available now from Head Records or superior music purveyors.

In stunning vocal form Tess McKenna steps up as producer-singer-songwriter of her enticing album #4, The New Everything.

Barefaced folk and dirty bang bang blues to sonic rock overdrive McKenna’s sultry voice pulls you into a thrilling musical journey. Listen to her incredible sweetly styled vocals on the title track, through to hints of country pop on Photograph and new folk twists in Poncho Style; this style is pure Tess. Authentic, soulful and intimate.

Just in time for your Xmas shoppingz!

Sadly (for me), I’m not playing on this one, because I rejoined after it was recorded.

The CD launch is delayed until February – watch this space.