Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Kris Kristofferson was on the Today show (the Australian version) yesterday morning, being interviewed about the DVD release of Heaven's Gate. The usually inane Richard Wilkins was extremely respectful, even calling him "Mr Kristofferson" and raving about what a legend he is. He has skyrocketed in my esteem, admittedly from a pretty low base.

Wilkins also gets points for asking the question I really wanted answered, are you coming you here any time soon? Kris gave the usual reply, he loves Australia and would love to come.

Chuggy, get on the phone!

I was surprised again when Tracey Grimshaw went on about how handsome he was and what a beautiful voice he has etc. Speaking voice that is, she might not have been talking about his singing voice although that is beautiful too. Anyway, you go girlfriend. Big win for my heart and mind to Today.

Nine and Seven are engaged in a Death Match for morning ratings, if Kochy and Mel want to win me back they know what they have to do.

Damn Right I'm A Cowboy screens tomorrow night, Wednesday 20th October at 11pm on the ABC.

Damn Right I'm a Cowboy reveals the far-reaching personal and societal spin-offs from a deceptively simple community singing event enacted in a crazy ritual at a South Australian public FM radio station every week.

It documents the Hillbilly Hoot Radio Show, a shambolic attempt to foster a loose community of people drawn together solely by the love of acoustic music and Western whimsy. On this chaotic event, broadcast from a small open porch in the inner suburbs of Adelaide, an hour of live performance is squeezed onto the airwaves through three constantly open microphones without audition, programmed structure, a sound mixer or even the usual seven-second delay.

There is no song list. Rehearsals are a luxury. Backup singers and musos often choose themselves as the broadcast develops. It's not uncommon for a fresh song to be started solo and unknown only to end with a rousing final chorus taken on by professionals, non-musicians and those from the audience who stepped up onto the porch simply to give their support. At nine the last song - Will the Circle Be Unbroken - is sung by. all present, audience and performers, but few go home. They stay on to play to each other and try out ideas for another time. They stay on until midnight, or until the cops respond to someone complaining about some god-awful trombone noise.

When this weekly public radio broadcast took on a life of its own the cameras kept rolling - into joyful rehearsals, studio recording sessions, off-porch live performances, and into the homes and artistic lives of this unique and ever-growing group. The Hillbilly Hooters travel to new locations, invade the South Australian Folk Festival and participate in studio sessions. They write their own lives and loves into song and send them onto the airwaves. CDs are cut. Groups form and reform, they stage their own concerts - all the while maintaining the Hoot `traditions' of fun and Western fantasy.

We observe the Hooters developing new voices, friendships and musical diversity out of the confidence gained and the talent they discover in each other on that porch every week. Lives are gradually changed. The end result is a documentary of personal journeys, each one the result of years of gently supported immersion into the world of making moonshine music.

Damn Right I'm a Cowboy was shot with available video equipment - Super8 to DigiBeta - over almost four years. Most participants in the doco were unpaid, and many others deferred payment for this project. It was edited in several sessions over more than two years - a span dictated as much as anything by occasional small donations to the project, the producers' personal financial investment and the kindness of various Adelaide editing houses. Recently its completion for the screen has been aided by direct editing financial assistance from, and the use of post production facilities at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Damn Right I'm a Cowboy was premiered to a standing ovation and near riot at the Adelaide International Film Festival, March 2003. The film festival audience sang Will The Circle be Unbroken together at the end of the screening: 'the most amazing thing I've ever seen at a film festival' according to Richard Moore, ABC-TV.

Thanks to Gil for the info.

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