Tasmania at Last!

Finally we are returning to Tasmania!

It’s been too long!

My great-grandmother lived there, so I always feel a special connection. Evidently she was heavily pregnant whilst emigrating, so was put off the ship to NZ at Launceston, as it was felt she wouldn’t make it before the birth. And there she stayed in Tassie for a couple of years on her own with 2 toddlers and a new baby. Who knows how she survived and got together the money to ultimately get to the South Island of NZ.

Fast forward to 2019 and we are comfortably flying in to Hobart in time to drive over to the other side and play at the Wharf at Ulverstone on Sunday afternoon, Oct  13th.

We’re then playing a special concert for the Launceston Jazz/Blues Club at the Boathouse on Tuesday Oct 15th, before heading back to Hobart again.  I desperately want to visit MONA, everyone says it’s totally awesome and I’ve never been there.

We have 3 shows on Friday 18th believe it or not, between Margate and Lindisfarne (details below) and our final show is back at Margate on Sat Oct 19th.

We finish the month in Victoria at the Bena Hall on Friday Oct 25th and the gorgeous Paynesville Wine Bar on Saturday Oct 26th.

I’m also letting any Sydneysiders know we are playing at the Cheltenham Recreation Club this Friday Oct 11th. It’s a dinner/show and is pretty well sold out, but there may be a seat or 2 left, so if you’re super keen please contact Anita on cheltenhamrc@outlook.com

Meanwhile I’m packing my puffer jacket in Sydney’s sun. I guess Tassie is like NZ, you never know even at this time of year…….

In boogie and blues,

Jan

Films, boats, cars and another piano….

Hello boogie friends,

Having apparently driven to the stage in a 1909 Riley Sportsman at the Halswell Estate in Chrisctchurch, and added a painted piano to our show in Hanmer, we finished our current series of NZ concerts to a packed house in my beloved hometown of Greymouth this afternoon.

We now return to Australia for our next show with the extraordinary piano player and singer, Don Hopkins, at the music lounge of the Wollongong Town Hall next Friday May 31st.
Don and I played together at the Australian Blues Music festival in February this year and produced such an exciting pianistic sound and groove we wanted to perform together again. I’ll be “live in concert” on the lovely Nick Rheinberger’s show on ABC Radio Wollongong on Friday morning as well. He’s not only adored by his listeners, but is a fine musician who has recently, believe it or not, made a slide guitar out of a cricket bat!

June has a mix of concerts; first up on Wednesday June 5th at the Art Gallery of NSW performing my original score to the Australian Silent Classic “The Cheaters” for the Sydney Film Festival, a film made in Sydney in 1929 by the iconic early pioneers of Australian film, the 3 McDonagh sisters. The grand piano being moved into the Art Gallery theatre for the performance is provided by Australian piano maker and designer, Ron Overs, and will be given a workout. Not boogie this time! For this music score I even play the inside of the piano with a mallet, and Mike has a range of orchestral percussion.

We finish June with another performance of “The Cheaters” at the NFSA’s Arc Cinema in Canberra as part of their “Australian Women Directors” Series on Friday June 28th, and a unique collaboration with the exceptionally talented guitarist Shane Pacey (Bondi Cigars) and singer extraordinaire Sally King, for the Sydney Blues Society’s Harbour Cruise on June 30th.

And somewhere, somehow, I will have celebrated another birthday with all other Geminis such as Charlie Watts who shares the same day!

Yours in boogie,
Jan

South Island, Borders and a Damehood

Hello Boogie friends,

Thanks so much to everyone who came out to our show at the Frankston Arts Centre and also the Lomond Hotel in Melbourne. Both concerts were fabulous. I’m still on a high from the special musical moments with Nick Charles, he’s amazing to play with!

We go to NZ tomorrow for 2 concerts in Christchurch; this Sat May 18th at a private concert in Greendale, and Sunday May 19th at the amazing Halswell Estate.

We then move on to Hanmer for “88 Pianos I Have Known” on Friday May 24, before ending in my beloved home town of Greymouth on Sunday May 26th.

Our last concert for May is in NSW with the extraordinary rhythm and blues piano player Don Hopkins on Friday May 31st in Wollongong. This will be a blast!

Recently I wrote the music for a documentary called “Border Politics”, presented by Julian Burnside, about refugees around the world. It’s a brilliant, entertaining and informative film that has had great success in cinemas throughout Australia. The filmmakers have just released “The Burnside Interviews”, a series of 16 fascinating interviews with a fabulous range of people, prominent public figures and ordinary people. I would urge you to view these online at    Rymerchilds.com .

They are simply inspirational.

On a personal note, I’m so excited to be attending my sister Gaylene’s investiture at Government House in Auckland on Wednesday. To see my sister being made a Dame for her services to NZ film will be a once in a lifetime moment. She really deserves this and I cannot tell you how proud we are of her. Her 7 attendees have been encouraged by Gaylene to wear any of our own medalss and my friend Janice Wood has decorated this Maori kete especially for me to take. Isn’t it brill?

In blues and boogie,

Jan

Winnie, and Wine in Victoria

Hello boogie friends,

Are you finding it as impossible as I am to stop consuming chocolate this Easter? Honestly I’ve had so much my jeans are bursting!

Here’s a short reminder of next Sunday’s show at the Frankston Arts Centre, Wonderful Winnie Atwell in which I recount her fascinating life’s story and perform her boogie and ragtime piano hits.

After many tours back and forth from the UK through the 1950’s, Winifred Atwell and her husband emigrated to Australia. The show’s accompanying images, many from the Australian National Library, are fascinating from a personal and also a social history point of view and, of course, the music is thrilling. I’ve been practicing hard!

Here’s a short excerpt on Youtube ;  Click here

You can book through the Arts Centre here ;   and tickets are selling now……

And the wine? Ah, that’s available together with wonderful food at the glorious Amulet Winery in Beechworth, Victoria.

We’ll be playing our show 88 Pianos I Have Known there on the following Sunday May 5th @ 3pm.

For the rest of May we go back to my beloved South Island of NZ  (hopefully in less dramatic circumstances than last month) for a few concerts in Christchurch, Greymouth and Hanmer; all details will be on my website.

In boogie and blues,

Jan

 

Thank You NZ, now for Queensland and Melbourne

Hello Boogie Friends,

We have emerged from our NZ tour tired, ecstatic and slightly crazy as you can see in the selfie of the band on our last night. About 1000 people overall turned up to our concerts throughout the North and South Islands, and my heartfelt thanks to the wonderful audiences who have supported us, some for many years.

Mike and I go back to Sydney, and from there to Queensland and onto Melbourne, a special event being one performance of Wonderful Winnie Atwell at the Frankston Arts Centre on Sunday afternoon April 28th. This is my show about West Indian born honky tonk piano great, Winifred Atwell, who emigrated to Australia in 1966. The Australian National Library projected images from the 1950’s 60’s and early 70’s are totally fascinating, together with Winnie’s amazing life story and, of course, her vibrant boogie and ragtime piano music. The Frankston Arts Centre’s Cube 37 is an intimate 200 seat theatre, has a grand piano and great acoustics as well.

But before that we are excited to be returning over Easter to the funky PopUp Bar at the Palace heritage Hotel in Queensland’s Warwick. This room is an experience you can’t have anywhere else, believe me! Lyndall and her brilliant team decorate in mid century style what is a charmingly untouched environment, only open to the public on rare occasions. 

Lastly, for the people who came to 88 Pianos I Have Known in NZ, were you not blown away by the sudden appearance of talented double bassist Nigel Masters at the piano? Playing 4 handed boogie woogie with Nigel had audiences screaming, the same reaction at every concert – it was extraordinary!

Yours in Autumnal boogie and blues,

Jan

Australian Festival and an NZ Tour

Hello Boogie Friends and welcome to this Year of the Pig!

I hope you had a welcome break over the Christmas hols, alas all too soon forgotten as we charge into 2019, during which Mike and I will test out our fast disappearing Kiwi accents on an extensive tour of NZ.

We’ll be there for the whole month of March and I’m greatly looking forward to it, in particular touring places in the South Island we’ve never played such as, believe it or not, Queenstown.

Here are the shows; all on-line bookings are available either through Eventfinda or the venue website, except Napier, Wellington and the Cambridge Autumn Festival, which will appear this week.
March 10th The PumpHouse             Auckland
March 14th Mussel Inn                      Takaka
March 16th Playhouse Theatre          Nelson
March 17th Live @ Orange                Christchurch
March 20th Memorial Centre              Queenstown
March 21st 50 Dundas                        Dunedin
March 23rd Century Theatre               Napier
March 24th Meow                               Wellington
March 27th Autumn Festival               Cambridge

The show I’m performing is called 88 PIANOS I have known with extraordinary images of pianos (yes 88 of them) and personal anecdotes, as well as new songs (Same Sky, Olds on the Loose) and a new killer version of a tune called Nutrocker, based on Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite played in fast boogie style. I’ve been practising this a lot and my left hand is threatening to seize…….well hopefully not until the end of the tour.

But before all that, this coming weekend my trio are playing at the Australian Blues Music Festival in Goulburn, a delightful small festival which is close to my heart. This was the first Australian festival I ever played (decades ago) and I’ve been playing there on and off ever since. The format is changing for 2020, so I’d advise you to come along and support Australian musicians next weekend, in the hope this lovely festival doesn’t disappear. Local tip is to “rock on down to the Paragon Café” (yes, it even sounds like a song) for breakfast where we all go. The Paragon is one of the few remaining old style cafes in Australia, still run independently, waitresses with small pads writing orders down at the tables, and the best home cooked breakfast you will ever eat amongst the surroundings of the spotlessly clean original décor. You won’t find a sun dried tomato or marble benchtop in the place.

So I hope you can come along to one of our 2019 concerts,

Yours in boogie,

Jan

The Expanding Boogie Circus…….

Hello Boogie Friends,

I have an exciting upcoming collaboration with the wonderful Sydney soul singer Sally King, and guitarist Shane Pacey from iconic blues band the Bondi Cigars.

Hope you can make it along to Petersham Bowling Club on Sunday Oct 21st, my special Boogie Circus show complete with saxophone and a short tribute to Aretha Franklin! Wonderful venue (community owned and operated), great sound system and food.

We then charge off down the coast to Tathra, Merimbula and Moruya, it’s been too long since playing down there, so looking forward to it.

Through storms and rain we play on!

Yours in boogie and blues,

Jan

Boogie from Hamburg to Sydney

Hello boogie friends,

Big news this month is the release of a tutoring book called SHE PLAYS Boogie-woogie and Blues Piano which I co-wrote with my German friend Ulrike Gaate.
This book is particularly helpful for women or girls with small hands, and takes the reader through many boogie left hand grooves from simple to more advanced, as well as how to improvise and incorporate licks in the right hand. We’ve included a history of Women boogie piano players, both past and present, with exciting candid photos from the vibrant boogie scene in Europe. (With an estimated 3000 boogie piano players in Germany, it’s often referred to as Boogieland.)

So if you’ve taken piano lessons in the past and want to get super excited and reinvigorated musically, this is the book for you! It’s published through German company Tredition and can be ordered through them, from Amazon, or from my website  http://www.janpreston.com/product/she-plays-boogie-and-blues-piano/ The book contains links to audio downloads for people who don’t read music well and find it easier to learn “by ear.”

Right now Mike and I are off to Jumpers and Jazz in July at Warwick in Queensland to play 2 shows. Check out this festival online, it has the most extraordinary art, mostly knitted or with a craft element, that I have ever seen.  The streets of Warwick are transformed during this 2 week festival, and some of the wearable art from passerbys is gobsmacking.

Next month is not just busy, but more what you would call frantic! Highlights are a performance of my original score for the Australian Silent movie The Cheaters at the Melbourne International Film Festival, concerts in Cootamundra and Canberra, and a weekend jazz festival at the Bay Of Many Coves in NZ’s beautiful Marlborough Sounds.

In the meantime my head is in composition mode; one hour and 20 minutes of original music for The Cheaters is no small job, just a tiny bit scary!

Yours from pianoland,

Jan


North to the Sun!

Hello Boogie Friends,

Winter has snuck up on us here in Sydney, and we are (wisely) touring north for 2 concerts in Northern NSW, before ending up at the fabulous “Blues on Broadbeach” festival on the Gold Coast.

Our concerts in NZ this month were brilliant. Tauranga Jazz Festival outdoor stage was magical, Waihi Beach divine, and the Dome Room at the Poverty Bay Club in Gisborne is one of the most interesting venues I’ve ever played. I felt like I was somewhere in Berlin or New York, and I would urge people to check it out. It has a unique funky vibe, also operating as an arthouse cinema.

Speaking of cinemas, I am very excited to begin composing for the Australian Silent Film “The Cheaters” for a performance at the Melbourne International Film Festival in August. More about that soon!

I’ve also recently completed music for a short film about the Suffragettes for the Auckland Museum; an inspirational film made by my sister Gaylene, using interviews from women recounting their achievement of getting the right to vote in NZ.

I had no idea what these women went through!

We hope you can come along to one of our concerts in Brisbane, Melbourne, Geelong, Canberra, Perisher, Cootamundra, Adelaide, Marlborough Sounds NZ, Sydney, the Gold Coast and more.

Yours in boogie and blues!

Jan

February, March and Easter happenings!

Hello boogie friends,
What a blast it was to attend the Australian Blues Festival in Goulburn this past weekend!
Not only playing our own concerts, but also to hear the wealth of fantastic blues musicians and songwriters from throughout Australia, many of whom I hadn’t heard before (Geoff Achison, Lloyd Spiegel, Bonnie Kay) as well as many friends who I have enormous respect for such as Ali Penney, Nick Charles, and the electric blues band Tomcat Playground. Their performances gave me so much inspiration.
On Friday night we had Nick Charles sit in with us to play tunes he recorded from my latest CD “Play It Again Jan” and that show was a real highlight – I only wish he didn’t live in Melbourne!

And so to the present; coming up in March are 2 performances of my show “Wonderful Winnie” (the life and music of Winifred Atwell) in Canberra and Lismore, then NZ concerts around Easter in April. All details are on my website.

I want to make a special mention of our show this Saturday night at a unique venue in Wollombi, near the picturesque Central Coast and Hunter Valley. I’ve been playing there for years (since back in the day of the Wollombi Music Festival). The venue has recently changed hands and is now called the Harp Of Erin.
It’s a dinner/show format, the ambience and food is great, and the place is run by people with big hearts and good vibes. It’s $55 for dinner and show, with some places still available, so I would urge you to consider booking an Air BnB in the area and joining us!

Meanwhile here in Sydney in the blistering heat I’ve finished composing for the extraordinary BBC Scotland feature documentary “Border Politics” and am about to start composing for another film.

Only now am I feeling cheated by the lack of a break over Christmas and New Year and in surfacing this week it is with shock I realise the holiday season has been and gone, everything’s open again, kids are back at school, and I missed that particular boat!

At least I can wish you all a not-too-late Happy Chinese New Year and hope to see you at one of our shows.

Yours in boogie and blues,
Jan