Winter Wilson in WA
By Al R
Just what is a muse and how do you get one? It seems everyone else but me knows. But the one thing I think I do know is how to tell when somebody has one. Passion and an unrelenting itch to create seem to give it away. I reckon Winter Wilson must have several muses on a continuing consulting basis.
Last month Winter Wilson made it to WA on their “Ashes and Dust” Australian tour. The muses and Kip and Dave were working hard, east coast then west coast Australia (Okay, some time in Kiwi land too). Lots of Great Southern Land adventures reported on their blog and a huge list of admirers gained. In Western Australia they played in Lesmurdie, Bindoon, Joondalup, Warwick, and Freemantle. They did a radio show and played a few songs on air. But those are only the facts. The reality was that their muses were doing over-time. What we got here in WA were great gigs featuring songs about us, cutting right to the core of us, delivered with a good-humour and kindness. By “us” I am referring to our human condition. A state Winter Wilson expresses with often startling insight.
I got to travel a bit here in the northern suburbs with Kip Winter and Dave Wilson and learn about them. Kip and Dave have been creating as musicians since their twenties or before. They got together as a couple through song about 25 years ago, which tells you something profound about them. They stick to accomplishing things, together. Dave says he writes the songs, but Kip completes them. The songs Dave writes are stories about sometimes very hard-hitting aspects of human life. Kip then sings those stories alive. Together they turn these living stories into drama or comedy or slightly off-kilter observations carved out of emotion using guitar, accordion, flute and their harmonies. Take for example the fact that Dave and Kip both lost jobs and then changed their lives completely to be full-time folk musicians when other grandparents just gave-up and retired. They expressed that very human experience in the lyrics of their anthem to not growing old, ever:
Still Life in the Old Dog Yet
Thirty years I'd given them when I was shown the door.
The boss never got to say goodbye;
They gave him the push just a fortnight before.
And I can't deny it crippled me; it all came as such a shock.
No matter how I tried, I couldn't help but cry,
The last time that I punched the clock.
Ten thousand pounds redundancy; they said I could re-train.
I blew the whole lot on a college course,
I was trying to get back to work again.
50 grand a year they said, but it all came down to naught.
“It's a young man's game and you're past your prime”
No-one said it, but I know what they thought.
CHORUS But there's still life in the old dog yet.
The wiser you are the older you get.
Shout out every day when you get out of bed,
There's still life in the old dog yet. (copyright David J Wilson 2011)
I was fortunate enough to hear Dave and Kip in Bindoon and Joondalup. At Bindoon there was quite a group that assembled (see the photo of Kip and Dave surrounded by Bindoon ‘groupies’). Bindoon is a sweet old place and the people who came out were a lovely group of true-blues. First there was a curry supper put on by the country women’s association. Kip and Dave then preformed a large part of the new “Ashes and Dust” CD with the audience demanding at least one encore. Having listened to them on YouTube, I was sort of ‘pre-disposed’ to like their music live. I must admit that I am one of those people that when I hear unfamiliar songs, I don’t usually get into them on first listen. But Winter Wilson songs are crisp and poignant, delivered with such good spirit and joy, I found they fit my ear like the proverbial old shoe (Ha! Mixed mangled metaphor! Got one in!). We had maybe 80 folks at Bindoon then a few nights later in Joondalup close to 30 (thanks to Mags and new-scooter guitar Bill, blessed good as those two are). Each listen to their songs, the songs got better, dearer, closer. Three days later I was still having them playing in my mind. Kip and Dave got on the plane back to the UK on a Saturday. I listened finally on the Monday to their CD, then wished we could do Joondalup and Bindoon all over again. I’ve heard variations of the same story from people who saw them at the Hills Folk Club (Lemurdie) and Wanneroo Folk Club (Warwick). Kip and Dave plan to come back to Australia in 2019 and I think everyone who saw them will be bringing their friends along on the next tour they do.
So... Winter Wilson and their consulting muses, whom I hope all got good seats on the plane back home. Songs that are cracking-good stories about us humans. Songs of the spiritual in the broadest sense. Songs of the human heart. Struggles and victories. Tears and joys. Glories and failures. Pregnancy tests, job retraining, motherhood, relationships, heroic yarn-spinners, camper vans.... Ashes and Dust.