Beechworth 2011
13th Annual Kelly Country Pick

Beechworth 2011

I missed out on going to Beechworth last year because of other commitments, this year I made the trip and had a most pleasant weekend.

Great catching up with other attendees.

I really wanted to have taken my De Gruchy resonator, but that's still in surgery. Instead I took my metal bodied Dobro. In a sense it was a good decision, as at times it is very hard to make yourself heard above the other players. The Dobro has some 'Punch' that gives me an volume advantage. I can play soft until I am asked to do a solo and then lash out, play the solo and then drop back again. My fingers don't have the strength I used to have, so the Dobro is certainly the way to go.


I decided to not try and travel over Mount Hotham as I thought it still might be snowy/icy and opted to travel via Pakenham, Healesville, Mansfield and Whitfield. Longer, but gee the scenery's great and hardly any traffic.

Arrived around 6:00 and checked into my accommodation: A cabin in the Lake Sambell Caravan Park. The cabin is great just missing linen.
Drove down to the Priory and checked in and had a wrist band fitted. Then off for dinner at Tanswell's. Garlic Bread, Soup and Steak. Very nice. $41.

Next stop was the Hibernian. Found a seat two seats back from the P.A. speakers. The seat in front of me remained un used. Enjoyed sets by the Stetson Family and Kristy Cox.

Last stop of the night was at the Priory. Found a group in Room 1 of senior people playing slow Old-Time, Bluegrass, and others styles. Played softly which always goes down well with me. Later I moved into another group in the Breakfast Room and played on until about 3:30 am and figured it was time to go home.
It was in the Breakfast Room that I spotted Leonard Cohen playing Dobro style. Most impressed! He played in an aggressive old-time sort of way and really made a statement. He's the only Dobro player I know with that sort of hard hitting attitude. Played along with the group and eventually asked Leonard if I could play a few songs on his very old Dobro. He said sure and handed me his guitar and slide and I played him a few songs. I could see he was wanted to leave, so after a about four songs I handed his guitar back.
Wonderful, definitely a high point for the weekend.
Lights off at 4:00 am.


Up bright and early at 8:00 and had breakfast in the cabin and then off the the guitar workshops at the Priory. There were three of them and opted to stay for all of them.

  1. Dobro
    Taken by Leonard Cohen and Mark Ballesi. Quite a laid back session with lots of questions and answers with everyone partcipating. Quite valuable. Again Leonard really got stuck into that old Dobro.

  2. Guitar
    Taken by Daniel Watkins. Daniel is a 'Young Gun' and really pushed us when he tried to teach us a song that he recently become attached to. We nearly learnt the 'A part'. Lots of tips and tricks to obtain that authentic sound.

  3. Swing Guitar
    Taken by Kevin Parsell and was the most structured. This was intense and set at a high level. There was a lot of theory in what Kevin was teaching and he didn't explain the theory, but encouraged us to do further research. That's pretty standards for high level tuition. Kevin is quite a dominant player and really gets stuck into it. I felt a little sorry for his guitar as he really was pushing it at times. I could just imagine his guitar exploding under his onslaught.
    Kevin had an agenda and was caught for time as he had a lot to work through. Bit like he said: "It's all here!" and he is right. Lots of evenings later on to go over all of this material.

Headed into town and had a gourmet pizza at the Bridge Road Brewers. Popular place.

Spent the afternoon jamming on the lawn behind the Priory. Very pleasant.

Headed into town and had a Garlic Bread and Lasagna for dinner back at the Cabin. That microwave sure came in handy for reheating, not to forget the reverse cycle air conditioning. Luxury I tell you.

Back to the Hibernian and stood through some of the performance of 'Faux Grass'. The place was booked out, standing room only. The band started out as a duo and has become somewhat larger at five players with Jim Golding as the elderly mentor. Still early days for the guys as could be seen from their difficulty coping with the single microphone. They haven't worked out their dancing steps yet. The matching shirts looked good though. Onward and upward! I'm sure they will slick up with more experience.

Back to the Priory and had a most enjoyable session with Kevin Parsell, Graeme ?and Peter ? in Room 1. Very high quality. They decided to see the Davidson Brothers so we broke up at 10:00. Pity, I was really enjoying myself.

Back to the Hibernian and caught a few songs by the Davidson Brothers. I have caught their last three CD launches and their performance wasn't quite up to scratch as Daniel Watkins was playing guitar. Don't get me wrong, he's a fantastic guitarist, but he doesn't sing! The new CD has three voices and the top voice was missing so there was a lack of sparkle in the vocal area

Back to the Priory and another session with the gentleman. Moved into the Breakfast Room later on and just didn't fit in. The fiddle players showed up and it just didn't work for me so I gave up at 2:00 am.


I had planned to attend the Gospel Singing held in the front gardens of the Priory at 9:00 am, but it was just too early so I slept in.

Up around 11:30 and had breakfast in the Cabin.

Off to the Priory and had a burger on bread for lunch.

I wanted very much to see 'Old South' perform with Leonard Cohen and as luck would have it they were on in a few minutes after lunch. Again Leonard threw himself into the task with gusto and looked very flash in his stage outfit.
Maybe I'm getting old and my ears are failing me, but I had difficulty with this set, the sound was just not to what I was expecting. Namely:

I took a chance and told one of the young work experience people that I couldn't hear the Dobro and left it at that. It really makes me uncomfortable when the sound isn't right. A few minutes later the owner of the sound system came up to me and told me to stop harassing the sound guy! That really wasn't my intention. I'll bite my tongue the next time.

A bit more playing/talking in the back garden.

Attended a photo shoot held at the main round-a-bout, with the Post Office in the background.

Another garlic bread and pizza for dinner at the cabin.

Back to the Hibernian where again it was packed out. The session was advertised as the "Kelly Corpse Club" for the die hard fans who are staying the night. The main area was full and I was fortunate enough to be asked to sit with Mark Ballesi and friends at a table beyond the main area. Most enjoyable.
After dinner had been served as many muso's as could be fitted on the stage took part in about an hour of songs for what was left of the diners and the rest of the muso's and families. Wendy instructed me not to 'Play too loud"! You really have to feel sorry for the guitarists and Dobroist doing a solo, as they just don't have the power to cut through.

Back to the Priory for the final sessions. Headed off around 1:00.


Drove home and decided not to take the Calder Highway home and instead headed for Mansfield via Whitfield. (White-Field as the GPS pronounces it) I had intended to head for Alexandria, but on an adventurous whim decided to head home via Woods Point. I had traveled the road some ten years ago and sort of hoped it would be better, which wasn't the case.

I was going rather well until I reached the road past Matlock. The road is rock with some dirt. Very rough. I was down to first gear for the thirty or so kilometres. At one point there was a tree across the road which had been trimmed, but the log trucks had cut into the dirt and left huge slots in the road. I took a chance and tried to stay between the slots. If I slipped I'd be trapped. I lined it up as I crept across and lived to tell the story. Scary stuff, the adrenalin was pumping, highpoint of the weekend in terms of taking a chance.

I didn't use much petrol, the trip was shorter, but oh so rough and slow. I won't take this route again, four wheel drive territory.

Great weekend.