Tormented by the major keys...

of children's music.

It's up there with realising that you're still watching Giggle and Hoot but the baby is asleep and the toddler is at day care.

I've always had a song stuck in my head. Usually it's a half written one that won't leave me alone until I finish it or at least write it down. Since I've had children it's a little bit different. Now it's either various Play School tunes or really catchy half written children's songs that won't leave me alone.

Today I am HOME ALONE.

I'll just let you ponder that for a moment.


I've been playing catch up with sewing, and have had the grand event of starting AND finishing a project in the same hour. Oh my goodness!

But there is a dark side to this joy that is Parental Alone Time.

It's the children's songs stuck in my freakin' head.

I happened to catch myself watching Giggle and Hoot's 'Gigglearium' this morning after everyone had gone out (oops) and now I can't stop singing 'Singing Solo'...

There's also usually a few varieties of Justine Clarke's greatest hits, including 'Dinosaur Roar' and 'Jelly Jelly Jelly'. It's a good thing I think she's ace.

I'd love to sing cool indie songs in my head, so I could seem cool and indie... but the truth is I'm just a country folk loving nerd who makes up songs about bicycles to make her gorgeous girls smile.

Enola Fall & Why You Should Support Their Kickstarter

As all indie musicians know, money can be scarce and it's hard to fund professional quality recordings upfront off your own bat. Enter Kickstarter.

Enola Fall are recording a new record, and really need your help. Head over here, and be as generous with your cash as you can afford to be. I cannot wait to see how the new record turns out, and I really hope they can make their target. It ends in approximately 22 hours, so you'll need to be speedy.

Hobart's a pretty small place, and the music industry in Hobart is even smaller. Over the course of playing shows in Hobart I met and got to know Joe Nuttall of Enola Fall and his fabulousness excellency of awesome partner, Lesley* quite well. I've played support spots for them, and Joe's played support spots for me and we've all played on the same bill more than once. One time, we both played at a corporate event where I sang in front a 30 metre QANTAS sign and Joe walked through the crowd playing his banjo. Strange.

Now, Joe has written what is quite possibly my favourite song in the whole world, 'We Become Wolves'. He's also written a LOT of very awesome songs since 'We Become Wolves', but it remains my absolute favourite.


When you get to see Enola Fall perform live, the room stops. And stares. And dances.

Go and have a listen to their back catalogue here.

Joe works supremely hard at his craft, and as he becomes steadily more successful I am unable to think of any musician I know that is more deserving of such success. He tours Enola Fall a lot and this entails spending both a lot of time away from home and a lot of hard earned cash.

So again, check out their Kickstarter and help support local (or perhaps not local) independent musicians.

Need more proof that they're ace?

Enola Fall website
Listen to 'I Don't Drive'
Listen to 'Capture the Flag'

You will excuse my lack of writing finesse here. I've been meaning to write this post for ages, and the Kickstarter ends tonight and the baby is sleeping and I'm half asleep too...

*Lesley and I work together and she is responsible for the Best Maternity Leave Card Ever.

Music and memory (The soundtrack to my life)

After a really long time, it happened again last week. I was sitting at my desk at work, listening to Mumford and Sons' 'Sigh No More' when BAM!

It was Friday, November 20, 2009. I was in the car in Huonville with Mr S and Tore, my bass player. Together we were Amy Kendall & The Kitchenhands, and we were about to start recording my second EP 'A Week of Saturdays'. We'd stopped to get petrol in Huonville and Tore whipped out Mumford and Sons and said 'You've got to hear this.'
We drove all the way to Cradoc to get pizza listening to the CD. The mood was celebratory and tinged with sadness all at once. Celebratory because Mr S and I had gotten engaged the evening before. Sadness because Tore had finally gotten his dream job... in WA.
The memory of that evening is tinged with sunlight, warm breezes and the emotions of being very happy and nostalgically sad. But I remember feeling so secure with the two men who were (are) my very best friends and excited at the adventure we were about to embark on. In December, Mr S and I (sans Tore, who'd moved to WA) played at the Taste Festival and the Falls Festival on the same day, and then the Cygnet Folk Festival. It was a halcyon summer, and it all started with that song.

Then last night in bed listening to AM radio I heard The Temper Trap's 'Sweet Disposition' and suddenly I was transported again. This time, to the Falls Festival at Marion Bay. Mr S dragged me to see this band he really liked, but it was the second day of the Festival, I'd been ill for two days (so much fun at a festival) and I was hungry. So I left him in the crowd and went to get a Vegan curry from the monks who ran a stall up the hill. Then I heard this voice. I've always regretted not being patient enough to stay and see their whole set, because what I did see was truly amazing.

I always smile when I hear 'Sometimes I Feel Like There Are Two of Me' by my favourite Tasmanians, Invisible Boy. I met these amazing men (and lady) when I first started gigging in Tasmania.. so I suppose it would be about six years ago now? We were always on the same bill at the same empty Irish bar, and Ben and Daniel would always stay around and listen, then get into their car and drive back to Launceston at 12am. They played at my first EP launch, and me theirs. They are the most generous, kind hearted individuals I've ever met. I asked them to play at my wedding, and they said yes. They learned a song that Mr S wrote for me for our first anniversary, so many years ago, and played it for 20 minutes on repeat whilst there was a debacle about my coming down the tree-lined aisle. It's only a two minute song. (Turns out it was late comers... then I was there but the man who was communicating to Mr S that I was there wasn't paying attention, and no one would let me just walk down the goddamned aisle.)
After the wedding they whizzed themselves to the reception venue, and played my song 'Grains of Sand' as Mr S and I walked in to the reception and then they burst into 'Sometimes I Feel Like There are Two of Me', at my request. It was amazingly brilliant.

When I hear Gypsy & The Cat's 'Time To Wander', it's December 2010 and Mr S and I are waking up at the Mercure Hotel in Christchurch, NZ. We are jetlagged and wondering how on earth we will find breakfast and get our hire car this morning. But we're OVERSEAS. So we are very excited. side note: Mr S spent a good few minutes surveying our 16th story room to find a safe place should there be another earthquake. I 'pffft' from the comfort of the king sized bed. In four months time the Mercure is declared the most unsafe building in Christchurch and will need to be demolished. Oh.

When Millie is tiny we would eat breakfast in bed every morning (it sounds luxurious... but with an infant... it's just easier.) and listen to the radio. Millie is a lady of music and Mr S would bounce her around to the same songs every morning that were on high rotation at the time whilst I wolfed down ate my cereal in a ladylike manner. Now, Architecture in Helsinki's 'Contact High' is still one of her favourite songs. Bless.

I could go on forever. But tell me, what are the songs that are the soundtrack to your life?

Let's kick it like it's 1995...

*** Update ***
I confess, I assumed something about Blogger. That if you commented on a post I'd be able to email you. Alas, unless I'm missing something. If you've left a comment below can you please shoot me an email to mrssmyth AT amykendall DOT com DOT au so we can get this mix tape party started. Yikes. Sorry folks!

In 1995 I was 12, I was in year 7 at school and I was given my first CD. It was No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom and it was the most amazing thing. My sister owned the only CD player in the house so I would sneak in to play it. She would keep a notepad by her CD player with the order of CDs in her 5 CD player so she would know if I'd been in there. She also didn't think that this meant I knew which order to put them back in... similar to the time she put a padlock on her door to keep us all out. She put the padlock on the outside of the door.

But I digress.

16 years on (sixteen years?! What?*) I still own that CD and it's the heaviest, clunkiest CD I've ever handled. Technology has evolved and changed so much since then, and unless you're like Mr S and obsessed with physical CDs and artwork (and as a musician I'm so glad there's still people like him about) CDs are a bit obsolete.

I love a good mix tape. And by tape, I mean CD. I don't have the patience to sit with my stereo and pause and play CDs whilst negotiating the tape deck. Can you still buy blank tapes at any rate? I know you could put some sticky tape over the copyright hole on an old one if someone's flicked the tab off... but CDs are a lot easier.

In 2009 I made a Mix Tape (CD) of my favourite songs from that year. Not songs that were necessarily released that year, but my favourite songs for the year. I burned a copy for a friend and he vowed to send me his... I'm still waiting. Sad face.

I sat down last night and went through my iTunes and found my favourite songs for 2011 and I've compiled a 2011 Mix Tape (CD). And I thought we might like to swap. What do you think?

If you think this is an ace idea, and I really hope you do, leave a comment here and I'll contact you for your postal address. Then we can swap our 2011 Mix Tapes (CD) and all enjoy some new music.

Before I leave you to get commenting and excited about new music I want you to know that the entire time I've been typing this I've been singing Prince's 1999 with the words 'Tonight we're going to party like it's 1995.'

I defy you not to sing it as you read it.

*I'm so tired that I typed twenty six years and had to have a looong hard think about how old I am and how surprised I was that I was that age. After a few minutes I worked out that twenty six years would make me 38. Which I'm not.

The soundtrack to our lives (a letter to Paul Kelly)

As a kid, music was the backdrop of my life. My parents often had the radio on, or we listened to the endless Queen, Beatles and Boney M cassettes or the records. We never owned any Paul Kelly records but I somehow know all the words to most of the songs.

Fast forward twenty-something years and I play 'Dumb Things' on the banjo in one particular lineup of my band and I love the simplicity of his songwriting.

October 2010 - My job at an independent bookshop in Hobart means I look after the bookshop branding, marketing and produce all our printed branded material. It's highly exciting because Paul Kelly is coming to promote his new book 'How To Make Gravy' and will be playing a few tunes. My music skills come into play as I book stages, organise sound engineers and gear. I plan to park my pregnant self somewhere comfortable and enjoy the show, knowing that along with many others, I helped to make this happen.

Then I realise it's three days before I'm getting married, and on that particular evening all of my family fly into town and we're having a dinner so I won't be able to attend. Bollocks.

I mention this in passing to my brother and wish out loud that we could attend at least of the A-Z concert tour that Paul Kelly is playing in February, but after the wedding, and the impending baby it's not really something we can afford. Then, it's wedding time and thoughts of Paul Kelly serenading me and only me 300 people in the bookshop are gone.

Hooray! Mr S and I are finally married! (only took us 10 years!)

My brother surprises us by sending Mr S and I to all four nights of the A-Z concert as our wedding present. We will be dead centre, five rows back from the stage. Oh my!

35 weeks
February 2011 - I am 35 weeks pregnant. Yet, night after night, Mr S walked and I waddled went to the Theatre Royal and listened to the beautiful songs of Paul Kelly, with accompaniment by Dan Kelly. Some songs we know, some songs we don't. But oh, the atmosphere. And oh, my massive belly barely fits in the row. To enter and exit the entire row had to stand up and shuffle out to let me past. I hit more than one person sitting in front of me in the head with The Bump. Lucky them.

Mr S and I waiting for the music to start!

I've waffled on here about the power of music and how I believe that babies take in sounds and songs in utero. I played my last gig at 32 weeks and Millie kicked along the entire time. Throughout all four nights of the A-Z concerts she rested in songs I didn't know and kicked up a storm in the ones I did. Notable songs: 'Before Too Long', 'How To Make Gravy', 'Down To My Soul', 'Foggy Highway', 'They Thought I Was Asleep' and 'Dumb Things'. She kicked so violently that I had Mr S pressing on the bump to try and calm her down. It didn't work, she was a stubborn bump (I had to press her around in utero to move her head from under the guitar body at one gig... she didn't, then switched seconds before I started playing.) and she is a stubborn baby. Apples, trees and all that.

The stage.

I remember being so tired by the fourth night of the concert, but forcing myself to push through because really, this was a once in a lifetime experience. I knew I'd be grateful later.

March 2011 - Fast forward again. Millie arrives and once Mr S goes back to work and my mother goes home it's errr, me, and a baby. What now? She cried a lot. She was learning to be a baby, and I was will always be learning to be a mother. (Never has my Aunty Carol said wiser words to me).

I would sing to her because I was not entirely sure what else to do. We bounced on the Swiss Ball in the mornings because she liked the movement. I sing. We walked around outside. I sing.

When Millie was 4 weeks old I tried her in the Hugabub wrap in an effort to ease my aching shoulders whilst still being able to hold her. 

By 5pm my overtired baby would be, well, overtired. And we all know what an overtired baby sounds like. No? Like this.
Until I would put on 'Before Too Long', max out the volume on my iMac and sway around the room. After 2mins 28 seconds, silence, snoring bubba. As time wore on, she'd be out by 31 seconds. Now, 9 months on, the opening jangle of guitar strings grabs her attention. This was a brilliant trick because it means I get to eat dinner a) with two hands and b) with Mr S, not one of us eating and the other baby-wrangling.

We listened to Paul Kelly in the car to put M to sleep. We listened to Paul Kelly in the lounge room to distract her and put her to sleep. I have the A-Z concerts on my iPhone and iPod and they get plugged into the speaker dock in the bedroom and we have a listen before a sleep.

If we're out walking in the pram I put it on my iPhone and we listen to it if she's feeling a bit fractious.

There is a Paul Kelly for all occasions. 

We listen to a lot of music again. I found that I was silent for a long time, and I think perhaps it never occurred to me to put music on because there was so much noise from suddenly having another person in the house. But now, oh, how we love the music.

Mr Kelly, thank you for the music. I don't know that you'll ever read this, and I'm sure my story about how you've spent the last few years with my family is not unique, but you need to know how special it's been to us so far.

Merry Christmas.