…With a little help from my friends …

With a little help from my friends: Edition 1

For the first twelve months following the dream that had inspired the development of my novel and CD The Tramp, I’d shared the concept with few people. I may have made passing comments, or played a song here and there, but mostly, the story of Robert Aitken and his music remained between me, my wife and a few close friends.

As the musical compositions relating to the novel started to take their first unsteady steps, I decided to invite a few guest musicians. I didn’t want the entire CD to be only my guitar, my voice and my backing music. No, I preferred to relinquish some control and leave bits, here and there, for the interpretation of others.

I mean, letting go couldn’t be that terrifying … could it? In the end, no. I was glad I shared the project with some very talented and generous people.

Of course, I would explain, they could not just take the reins and run wherever they wanted. They needed to ‘become’ a part of Robert’s band, be sensitive to the established compositions, genre and story behind the song.

In the end, eighteen musicians and vocalists joined me on the recording of The Tramp: The Music of Robert Aitken, had some fun and ultimately were happy to share their talents. Some were friends, some were like family, some real family, and others I’d never met before the day of recording.

While most lived in close proximity, some were from other states, even one overseas. However, because of today’s technology they were still able to participate. The concept was boggling but in the end it worked famously.

Over the next few days / weeks I’ll show my appreciation by writing a little about each of my guests.

OK, let’s kick this off with the first to raise an eager hand:

Julie Swain

Piano on When I First Saw You, Awkward Shadow and Sing the Night Away.

The Tramp_Julie

Before we get into Julie’s story I have a confession to make: Despite my best intentions to ensure all the details on the CD sleeve were correct, it was brought to my attention I had overlooked crediting Julie for playing piano on Sing the Night Away. Julie had done a fantastic job, so I must blame the graphic designer for the oversight.

What? Oh, yes, I am the graphic designer.

I had time to pull the artwork from the amazon.com packaging and upload a corrected file before it went to print, but too late for the Australian special edition livery. I have apologised a number of times to Julie, whose response has been to ‘get over it’. So, therapy is going well Julie, and I am, honestly, getting over it.

I met Julie in 2014, when she volunteered to play keyboards at the launch of my previous CD titled Invisible. Julie inspired me with her energy and desire to perform exactly as I wanted her to. In reality I loved Julie’s interpretations right from the start, without any need to tinker. Because of her generosity, Julie was able to play the brand new baby grand at the Burnie Regional Art Gallery, so a win-win!

A self-confessed backyard muso, Julie learned the organ from twelve and piano in her early twenties, and has played keyboards at her church regularly since her mid-teens. Julie has been involved with the Burnie Carols by Candlelight since 2004, and Music Director since 2007.

Cannon1000 launch 004

Julie jumped at the chance to perform at the launch of The Tramp and was, as usual, tireless in her need to ‘get it right’ for me and the rest of the band on the day. And she got to play that baby grand again.

The Tramp 2

Julie also plays the flute and saxophone.

Footnote: Julie’s husband Chris was behind the camera at the launch. I know I’ve dragged my heels, but I promise to edit some of his work and upload a few live renditions of both music and excerpts from the novel at some stage in the future.