About a hundred years ago Henry Lawson’s poems appeared regularly in the popular Bulletin magazine. His down-home writing style resonated with the people he wrote about, whose real lives with all their joys and hardships shine through in his poems, unadorned and authentic. People in regional Australia still identify strongly with Lawson’s poems, his stories of rural hardship, his wry sense of humour and a well-honed sense of fairness, as well as his honest and often painful self-reflection.
So why a musical performance? Many of Lawson’s poems are inherently lyrical and invite a musical setting. From a country waltz penned by Slim Dusty to an upbeat anthem by John Schumann, music chosen for the show has been selected to feature diverse composers but the arrangements are uniquely appealing. Folk instruments including bouzouki, mandolin, fiddle, flute and guitar with pure, unadorned voices are the medium for this collection of songs interspersed with storytelling about Lawson’s life and times.
Christine Wheeler with versatile musicians Leigh Birkett and Lindsay Martin offer ‘Rain in the Mountains’ as a musical celebration of Henry Lawson’s enduring legacy.
‘Wonderful music, excellent songs providing a sense of subtle familiarity’
‘Christine’s voice, music ability and presence are a delight’
- Venue Format
- Theatre, Hall, Black Box Venue
- Technical Rating
- Touring Party
No adult content, beyond references in the commentary to alcohol dependence. No critical technical requirements - see tech notes above - subject to provision by arTour of a crew member to do sound and light production travelling with the show.
Christine’s involvement with folk music goes back some 30 years, most recently before the current project to her role in managing and fronting the multi-award winning Australian Celtic band Wheelers and Dealers for a decade. Her singing style evokes comparisons to Judy Collins, Sandy Denny and Joan Baez. Christine plays Irish flute, whistle, recorder and guitar. The other musicians in her company are also multi-instrumentalists; they include Leigh Birkett on guitar and bouzouki, and Lindsay Martin on fiddle and mandolin. Leigh’s exceptional musical imagination overlays jazz sensibilities onto a Celtic sound. Lindsay is one of the best loved musicians in the folk circuit around Australia, for the warmth and versatility of his performances.
The current project ‘Rain in the Mountains’ celebrates some of the timeless and universal poetry of Henry Lawson. The music is varied in pace and style, and includes settings by some famous Australians such as Slim Dusty and John Schumann, as well as original compositions. Another appealing feature of the show is a relaxed and illuminating commentary on the brilliant but troubled man himself, Henry Lawson, managed by the 3 band members.
- Company Website
Unique Selling Point
1) The combination of easy listening music with stories from Lawson's life and times has been a feature of appreciative audience comments: ‘great to get some Australian history in such a stunning musical package’ ‘You brought Henry Lawson’s poems and his personal story to life’ ‘Meaningful cultural history. Delightful soul-filling folk music. Engages hope in the heart and spirit’
2) People love the folk music! ‘Love the sound you three make together’ ‘Sensational performance, thank you for coming to Croydon’ ‘Great musicianship, a great show, different from the usual’. ‘Beautiful singing, informative commentary, wonderful variety of instruments’
Merchandise - CD of the show, featuring 13 excellent musicians including famous names such as Jim Moginie (Midnight Oil). Also a comprehensive and user friendly songbook entitled 'The Songs of Henry Lawson', offering melody lines and guitar chords to 400 hundred settings of about 130 of Lawson's poems. Perfect for poetry lovers, teachers and back porch guitarists and singers!
Marketing - band member Leigh's expertise in poster and ad production has been invaluable. Promotion - the biggest drawcard has been the name of Henry Lawson. Mention of Slim Dusty's name (see show description) is also a drawcard. Contact with ABC regional radio is invaluable.
1) A workshop on harmony singing. Chris directs an adult community choir as well as a children’s community choir, and is passionate about encouraging community participation in music making. The aim of the workshop would be to give participants an opportunity to sing in a safe and supportive environment, and to experience the joy of singing in harmony with others. The workshop would offer some new short songs to take away and enjoy long after the workshop is over. It may even help to make connections with other singers from the local area.
2) A workshop on setting poetry to music. Community members may be interested in setting their own poetry to music. The band would be more than happy to work with participants with poetry they bring to the session, and also to talk more generally about the principles involved.
3) We are also able to offer workshops in recorder ensemble (renaissance music or world/folk music) and violin/fiddle. Please ask for details if there is local interest.