Mark Isaacs: Insights from the road
The Mark Isaacs Resurgence Band 2011 tour is proudly supported by ABC Jazz. Here are some updates Mark has sent us from the road....
"The most recent leg of the tour was quite eventful due to the volcanic ash situation threatening our air travel. We had a fantastic night playing for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival at Bennetts Lane, it seemed pretty much sold out. Fortunately we were flying on an airline whose flights weren't cancelled. Though we got to Perth ourselves our instruments didn’t get loaded onto our flight and were not scheduled to arrive until after the gig, quite an emergency! But the Perth Jazz Society and local musicians rallied around and in an hour sorted out substitutes, bless them. It was particularly challenging for saxophonist Matt Keegan, horn players almost never play instruments other than their own. It all went very well though. Then we played Adelaide at the Promethean and the crowd there was very enthusiastic as has been the case on every performance on the tour.
The grand finale is our two-night season at the Sound Lounge Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18 which ends the tour. What a treat to have a tour of 14 gigs all around Australia with this amazing band, not only great musicians but the loveliest guys."
"Well, just to wrap up the first leg of the tour. After Townsville we travelled to Innisfail, an hour from Cairns. The town was hit hard earlier in the year by Cyclone Yasi (as it was in 2006 with Cyclone Larry) so it was great to take our music to this resilient place. Innisfail also purchased a brand new Steinway concert grand a while back so I wanted to play it and show the town's naysayers that it could be put to good use. The Johnstone Shire Hall there is a wonderful sprawling old building and we enjoyed our show very much. The last show on the first leg was in Mackay and that also went well. I did a workshop too in Mackay for classical piano students (as I did in Brisbane for jazz students and Canberra for jazz and classical students) and the archetypal "girl with the flaxen hair" played Debussy's "Girl with the Flaxen Hair" for me! Now back in Sydney we look forward to the second leg of the tour June 12-18 taking in Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Perth, Adelaide and a closing two-night season in Sydney."
"Well, as suspected the Byron Bay show had a special atmosphere. A great space with a beautiful Steinway piano. On the following night in Brisbane opening the Valley Jazz Festival the very modest turnout was surely down to us being up against the State of Origin, but those that came were enthused and generous. Last night in Townsville was something of a highlight. A great new performance space, another amazing Steinway and a large, generous crowd at tables being served tapas beforehand. Townsville audiences have had the nation's biggest chamber music festival there for years, so they know how to listen.
Everyone is appreciating the tour schedule where we don't leave for the next town until later in the day, allowing for a relax the morning after the show. The flipside is that with the logistics of arrival, setup, soundcheck and ablutions there is rarely an adequate window for dining before the show and we end up seeking food afterwards which in most towns means that only pizza, kebab and hamburgers are available. It's seen us standing in the street scoffing and noisily arguing over the pronunciation of 'kebab'."
"So far we've done shows in Canberra, Wollongong, Darwin and Alice Springs. The response to the band is quite overwhelmingly positive, lots of CDs to sign etc. We had a day off in Alice Springs which was rather special. Made our way from Alice to Byron Bay yesterday and playing a show here tonight. Matt Keegan and I did a long beach walk this morning. All the travel and setting up - especially 4 nights in a row in 4 different towns - is no picnic but everyone is in good spirits and the communion with the enthusiastic audiences make it all worthwhile. Next, our 4 show Queensland leg beginning tomorrow (Wed 25) night for the Valley Jazz Festival at the Judith Wright Centre. I love this band...."
"In our last hotel I was up before my 7:30am alarm and got into the shower. I heard it go off from the shower and - worried that it would wake up the band in neighbouring rooms - ran out to turn it off, leaving the bathroom door open and shower running. The steam set off the smoke alarm, there were calls on speakers in every room for hotel evacuation, and the fire brigade were banging on my room door within minutes. I woke the band AND the whole hotel up!"
Here's the full list of tour dates.