The Black Chooks
Black Chook Chutney
| Stirk Park Dec 2008 | Hills
Folk Club July
| 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | Video
The band that grew
out of the Zig Zag Community Arts Music
Sessions is called Black Chook Chutney, and they're rather unusual:
there's a lot of them for one thing and the music they play is from all
over the globe.
That's 21 musicians on stage at the 2015 Fairbridge Festival
2013 Fairbridge Folkworld Festival (Busking outside the Chapel on Saturday avo)
What do you call a band that grows out from what was a jam session?
What if someone brought a nice drop of red that had been left too long after opening and had gone a bit off; and instead of pouring it away, the concertina player took it to add to the chutney that was simmering at home on the metters wood stove?
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Then after learning a few tunes together, we were asked if we'd fill a gap in the schedule on the acoustic stage at the 2008 Zig Zag Festival. And we said yes, but...
What are we going to play?
What were the tunes we liked?
Were we good enough at them?
We had all collected earworms, those tunes that stay in your head and won't go away, even when you play something else to drown them out. All the best folk music traditions have their earworms. We compared notes (please excuse the unintended pun there) and found we had many shared earworms.
The next question was: did we like the tunes? surprisingly we did.
So that left us with: are we good enough to play them in public? And we realised we better practise!
But wait: what do we call ourselves?
And that was when the Chutney came back ...
By the time we got to the Festival we had played all the tunes enough to lose the fear, so this was it. We set up with a few props, explained the history, and the purpose of the group, and we made a good go at it.
2008 Black Chooks in the Rotary Checkerboard Stage
We were happy with the performance, in spite of the nerves. (No-one threw fruit) and we got applause. People came and talked with us afterwards, and asked about the Music Sessions.
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Then in December 2008, we were asked to come to the Hills Folk Club, that's the Folk Club that meets on the First Friday of the month at Falls Farm, Cagney Way, Lesmurdie.
This was getting serious. Did we need more repertoire? Did we know any of the people who would be there? Can we practise that number again, and if the theme goes round and round, how do we know when to stop?
first Hills Folk Club performance December 2008
saw the chooks support the Numguts for a Bush Dance in Stirk Park, then at the start of July the Chooks did an American themed performance (to celebrate their Independence Day) at the Hills Folk Club.
Playing at the Hills Folk Club on 3rd July 2009
Repertoire was entirely comprised of American tunes - in recognition of their independance day. So inevitably we had to dress the part!
Among the Chook chunes we scratched out were Turkey in the Straw, with lots of verses, and great participation from the packed audience.
Photo by Peter Goodall (C) 2009
Many thanks to the Hills Folk Club, and to Peter Goodall for the photos.
Early in 2010 we played a set of French numbers at the Hills Folk Club, then saw us invited to the Kalamunda Agricultural Show for the first time, and once more perform support at the BushDance with Numguts. October and we performed again at the Zig Zag Festival.
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March 2011 the Chooks played at the Centenary of Falls Farm, then in April, at the Zig Zag Bush Dance, with the Numguts, followed by the Agricultural Show and Hills Folk Club early in the year.
Sadly, we lost an important member that winter: Nathan Hatchett, our specialist percussionist, sadly passed away, and we were fortunate to be invited to play at the celebration of his remarkable life held at Falls Farm in July.
October 2011 was busy, we performed for the first time at Walk the Zig Zag (and supported the pirate theme) followed by busking at the Farmers' Markets and again at the Pirate-themed Zig Zag Festival at the end of October there were lots of Chooks in Pirate costumes. in December we returned to the Hills Folk Club and played Tangos to everyone's delight.
Link to You Tube Video of the Four Irish Polkas.
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the year opened with the Numguts Bush Dance followed by the Kalamunda Agricultural Show.
Walk the zig Zag at the beginning of October was a challenge: the rain saw our tent invaded by the audience!
Muddy rain water run-off threatened to overwhelm our instrument cases, The Cello had to move to higher ground, and when the showers didn't really stop the chooks had to improvise shelter under a blue tarp to get their instruments down the hill without becoming wet.
the 2012 Festival had a Medieval theme, and every band on the Rotary Checkerboard Stage was asked to play Greensleeves, we played it as part of a set, in a French Jig version.
Photo credit (c) 2012 Gillian Berry
A few weeks after the Festival we performed at the Lesmurdie Primary School Family Fun Day. We had shade, but there was no-where for an audience to watch us without melting in the heat!
To top it off at the end of the Year we played a 40 minute set at the Farmers' Markets.
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2013 was a BIG year for Chook Performances: opening with the Numguts Bush Dance in April followed by the Kalamunda Agricultural Show.
Fairbridge Folkworld Festival: this was the big one! We were excited.
Then in July we collaborated with Choirs A Kappella Munda and Voicemale to perform in Up-Hill and Down-Dale, two concerts in Lesmurdie (Up-Hill) and Hilton (Down Dale).
Walk the Zig Zag in early October was dry this year! and we played almost non-stop for 3 hours (because we could!) Small children and Nannas danced
The Zig Zag Festival at the end of October was good fun. Eighteen Chooks on the Rotary Checkerboard Stage! and more dancers!
After the Festival we played a gentle gig at the Holy Family Church Fete,
and then In November, at the Kalamunda Performing Arts Centre we collaborated with the Perth Scottish Fiddlers for
a Concert for Kanyana
The finale saw the Chooks and the Fiddlers play a set of Shetland Reels and a set of Scottish Jigs together. We did Athol Highlanders as an encore and the crowd clapped along.
December 31 we were celebrating New Year's Eve in a Bush Dance with Numguts and the Pioneers in Stirk Park, and counting down to Midnight in Tuvalu...
This bush dance saw the largest crowd we had ever gathered in Stirk Park, more than 300 adults and probably as many children. Big sound, large groups of dancers, lots of fun and the count-down at 8pm was topped off with Tom, a Piper from the Hills Pipe Band playing Auld Lang Syne.
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After the excitement of 2013 we thought we would have a quiet year - but then things never go to plan...
In March a small flock of Chooks played at the Farmers' Markets in Kalamunda
Small flock at the March Farmers Market
Bibbulmun Airs Photos by Margaret Rutherford
April saw us playing at the Kalamunda Agricultural Show
In May the Black Chooks collaborated with A Kapella Munda and Denmark's Eklektica to perform at a special concert Bibbulmun Airs in the Denmark Steiner School. the concert was sold out and the atmsphere was brilliant - the audience was attentive and appreciative.
In July there was a Bush dance indoors at the Kalamunda Agricultural Hall led by the Pioneers and supported by the Black Chooks. in early October theere was the Shire's Walk the Zig Zag
The 2014 Festival had a Latin flavour, so the Chooks took the challenge and performed a large set of Latin numbers
and they dressed up too!
Photo Dragancaor Creative Gillian Berry
Another New Year's Bush Dance rounded out a fine year
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After the terrible fires in Parkerville we were asked to play at the commemoration day festival in January.
At the end of March we performed at the Kalamunda Agricultural Show
April we performed at Fairbridge again and it was so much fun! 23 musicians, first act on Sunday Morning on the Main stage.
View of the audience from the rear of the stage
May was another Concert for Kanyana with Perth Scottish Fiddlers and Twisted Herring
July saw a variable flock of Chooks play a medley of French tunes in the hour before a play at KADS, for a three week season of Picasso at the Lapin Agile.
For that series we won a special Judges Award by the Independent Theatre Association (for creation of Atmosphere)
in August we played World War 1 tunes for the Guildford Anzac Poppy Plaques presentations.
Walk the Zig Zag was wet (again) but we played on
The 2015 Festival in October had the chooks on stage twice - on the Rotary Checkerboard Stage and again on the Soundshell stage for the History of Kalamunda "Tracks Trees & Trains" Finale.
The Chooks were playing original numbers composed by David Rivett and traditional italian numbers to represent the Italian migrants.
November we performed at Hainalt Winery for spring in the valley.
December and the Black Chooks were named as leading the Bush Dance in Stirk Park for New Year's Eve. And it was the biggest Bush Dance yet.
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January: Another concert for KADS to dedicate their new Verandah and open their own Awards Night. We received an award from KADS for the Lapin Agile.
February: we took a very small flock of Chooks to Guildford for the AGM of the Guildford Association.
March: the Kalamunda Agricultural Show went well, with fine weather.
June: saw the Chooks playing WW1 tunes in Guildford again, this time for the launch of the Anzac Poppy Trail Website.
July we thought we would get school holidays off but then we were asked to play for Beck's engagement party and she's one of us, so we had to be there and play!
Two minutes with the Chooks
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July 2016 MC