Don Spencer singing with the Illawarra Grammar School Choir at the launch of the Australian Children's Music Foundation.
DON SPENCER has been entertaining children since...well, since I was a child! He sang the TV theme tune for Fireball XL5, the predecessor of Thunderbirds. Later he hosted the TV show Play School simultaneously in Australia and England for 17 years and recorded dozens of gold and platinum children's albums and videos, several in collaboration with ALLAN CASWELL. Don's latest, and possibly grandest venture is the Australian Children's Music Foundation. The ACMF Mission Statement explains: "The ACMF uses the power of music to inspire and empower Australian children. The Foundation is based on the knowledge that music has the power to transcend boundaries, unlock the imagination and motivate children to achieve their full potential." Don and fellow ACMF patron, his son-in-law RUSSELL CROWE, launched the foundation in July and their new Web site will provide you with current and future initiatives.
Danielle Spencer and Russell Crowe
at the launch of the ACMF
photo: ©2003 Bob Howe
Of particular interest is their National Children's Songwriting Competition that has been launched in primary and special needs schools. The competition will introduce children to the pleasure of creating, participating and engaging in music. It will be an annual ACMF event and this year the winning entries will receive a voucher for musical equipment to the cost of $2000 for the music department of their school as well as a $200 personal voucher and other prizes, including their winning song being recorded on a compilation CD. Closing dates for entries is 15th September 2003 and entry forms can be downloaded from the Web site or write to ACMF National Children's Songwriting Competition, PO Box 296, Potts Point NSW 2011.
Speaking of television personalities, singer/songwriter AMITY DRY and her husband Phil appear in the 9 Network TV show The Block, where "Renovation meets Reality". There are all sorts of downloads and videos at the show's Web site including Amity's weekly diaries. Meanwhile, at Amity's own site you can sample her new album The Lighthouse that has just been released and which debuted at #1 on the Australian Country Chart and #8 on the mainstream chart!
Other new sites spotted recently include multi-award winning band BUCKSHOT, Tamworth's own songstress CLELIA ADAMS and newest country-rock group SONS OF THE SOIL, singing horse-breaker TOM CURTAIN, balladeer NEVILLE ANDERSON, another KU fan site, Urban-Love.net and finally THE GREENCARDS, the US-based band that includes our own Carol Young and Kym Warner.
If you want to share the location of an interesting site you've seen or request a topic for discussion in future columns, why not E-mail me.
July 2003: For yours truly, first it was a plane from Australia to London and then teaming up with Nashville singer/songwriter STEVE HAGGARD and Rockabilly songstress GAIL LLOYD (of Gail & The Tricksters) plus some old English musical compadres Cozy, Bugs, Chris and Duff, and into the bus! Bound for the town of Réalmont near Toulouse in the south of France for the RE'AL CROCHE Festival de Musique Nord-Américaine (Americana Festival). Also featured were the cream of French country bands including the folk-harmonies of MATIS, the hilarious bluegrass antics of Zip Code 2025 and the irrepressible ARNOLD BAKER.
Above: The Steve Haggard Band.
(L to R:) GAIL LLOYD, STEVE HAGGARD,
'BUGS' MALONEY, CHRIS SENNA,
cyberBOB HOWE, COZY DIXON at Réalmont.
Photo by Mr Duff of Duff International Travel
More photos here...
Back in London, it was a social visit to the The PizzaExpress Jazz Club to hear the amazing MOSE ALLISON TRIO - Mose Allison (piano/vocals) Roy Babbington (bass) and Paul Clarvis (drums/percussion). At 75 years of age, Mose Allison sounds like a youngster just hitting his stride. Every year he takes up residence at this club for up to three weeks and each performance is a romp through his extensive repertoire. Born in Mississippi, his cool blend of jazz and country blues has been a huge influence on artists such as Van Morrison and Georgie Fame. Listen to his versions of You Are My Sunshine and If You've Got the Money (I've Got the Time) if you want to hear country gone jazz.
Above: MOSE ALLISON in London, 2003
photo: by Bob Howe
© 2003 Bob Howe Productions - ShowNet