Music, like drawing, has always been with me, is my creative passion and companion for life. It is a thirst in me, impossible to slake. It also helps strengthen my brain and bring balance to my wayward mind.
Considering that I never have time to work as a “career musician” (ie doing regular gigs, selling CDs, networking etc), I’m pretty amazed at how much original music I’ve generated in amongst the other (usually emotional & family / relationship focused) demands of my life.
This page scratches the surface of my invisible music “career” of the last decade, though it actually spans three. You can find extra recordings, artwork and more detailed information about each body of work in the following series of blogs:
MY INVISIBLE MUSIC CAREER:
OVERVIEW BELOW: SOLO UKULELE | with ROSS SERMONS | SPONDOOLI BROTHERS | OTHER PROJECTS (solo, Porchmonkeez, Stromatilites) | DRUMMING
I play ukulele, guitar, mandolin, balalaika, and occasionally my daughter’s cello for bass, as well as various percussion instruments. My percussion collection includes djembes, dunduns, kpanlogo, balafon, talking drum & cajon. I am entirely self-taught and play by sound & feel. I’ve always had eclectic tastes & I just adore music and sound. I’m particularly drawn to interesting rhythms & melodies, and prefer to play my own compositions. Mostly I just make music to satisfy my own creative curiosity. I’ve been home-recording for years & like getting sounds out of unusual places, taking an instrument I know nothing about & using it outside of its stereotype, or creating primitive instruments. For instance, here’s a recent recording that uses a friend’s Turkish saz, cello for bass, gourd shaker, cajon, and for the electric slide parts, an instrument my daughter made one afternoon (using a piece of plank, 3 machine heads and old guitar strings), which I ran through an old amp:
Transmogrification Blues – Bradfield Dumpleton 2015 (saz, cello, shaker, dundun, cajon, electric plank)
SOLO UKULELE (2005 – )
The Elevator – Bradfield Dumpleton 2015 (Cordoba tenor & Bruko soprano ukulele, cello)
Following 25 years exploring guitar & percussion, my primary instrument of the last decade has been, and will remain, ukulele. Beyond all the pop fads & historical derision, the ukulele is a versatile & deeply expressive instrument in it’s own right, simple yet complex, delicate yet certain in its melancholy humour, humble & eloquent in a world of noise. I like it.
Go to the bottom of the page for some 2016 ukulele action with my metal-bodied resonator uke aka PIGBOX!
There Was A Light On – Bradfield Dumpleton 2014 (Nashville metal resonator ukulele, cello, banging things)
The Article – Bradfield Dumpleton 2015 (Cordoba tenor ukulele, cello, balafon, cajon)
Bowler Hat – Bradfield Dumpleton 2013 (Mya Moe resonator ukulele)
Skedaddle – Bradfield Dumpleton 2013 (Mya Moe resonator ukulele)
with ROSS SERMONS (2012 – ? )
In 2012 I met Ross Sermons, a consummate bass-player & Southern gentlemen from North Carolina, and a sought-after session musician in the Nashville scene for several decades. He generously agreed to try collaborating on some of my uke tunes, and a musical friendship quickly ensued. In early 2013 we released a small cross-section of our repertoire, entitled Limited Emission CD. It includes a few wry songs about personality disorders, Tasmanian weather & suchlike, plus many instrumentals, spanning such styles as tango, jazz, bossa nova & rembetika. You can listen to the whole album here.
The tonal complement of doublebass & fingerstyle ukulele is a particularly sweet one, and Ross’ technical mastery adds extra finesse and colour to my various noodlings. Watch us performing in 2013 here.
Tasmanian Summer (Bradfield Dumpleton 2005) – BD – soprano ukulele / vocals, Ross Sermons – doublebass, from the album Limited Emission CD.
Swingaling Thing (Bradfield Dumpleton 2006) – BD – soprano ukulele / vocals, Ross Sermons – doublebass, from the album Limited Emission CD.
SPONDOOLI BROTHERS ( 2003 – 2006)
Madame Octopus (Dumpleton / Yates 2004) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar, vocals / Luke Yates – acoustic guitar, from the album An Anthology Of Revised Ambiguities.
The Spondooli Brothers were an acoustic neo-gypsy guitar duo I formed with Luke Yates in 2003. We played all-original acoustic songs & instrumentals, a quirky mash-up of references to Eastern Europe, the Near East, South American & Latin, Balkan, Rom, cabaret & circus music….respecting the traditional roots but giving them our own creative (and deeply irreverent) twist. In late 2005 we recorded & released our album An Anthology Of Revised Ambiguities, which received much appreciative commentary. You can listen to the whole album here.
Turkish Delights (Dumpleton / Yates 2004) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar, vocals / Luke Yates – acoustic guitar, from the album An Anthology Of Revised Ambiguities.
You can also have a look at all the Spondoolies poster & CD art here.
A farewell concert of all-new material, featuring cellist Andrew Morrisby, was recorded at the old Moonah Arts Centre (Tasmania) in 2006. I edited the recording into the album A Month Of Moonbeams. It grunts & sparkles with promise, careering from delicate to shambolic, and there are many signposts to the new directions we would have pursued had we continued. You can listen to the whole album here, or taste a sample below. Many of these new arrangements, with cello in mind, came to me while I was separating from my two young children and unknowingly experiencing a nervous breakdown. We had only three opportunities to rehearse music that was a complete unknown. I’m still amazed and fascinated at how creativity can thrive in an environment of trauma.
Madame Ictapod (Bradfield Dumpleton 2006) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar, vocals / Luke Yates – acoustic guitar / Andrew Morrisby – cello, from the album A Month Of Moonbeams.
OTHER PROJECTS: SOLO – THE SPONDOOLI OTHER (2005 – 06)
She Sweats Velvet (Bradfield Dumpleton 2005) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar, from the album Camel Lips.
The limited edition mini-album Camel Lips, under the moniker of the Spondooli Other, was a collection of lo-fi solo recordings I made during the time of the Spondooli Brothers. The music was similar territory but not suitable for our repertoire, so I released it as field recordings of folk music styles from across the mythical homeland of Spondoolistan.
Fools! Cannibals! (Bradfield Dumpleton 2005) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitars, vocals, ukulele, from the album Camel Lips.
Camel Lips (Bradfield Dumpleton 2005) – Bradfield Dumpleton – banjo, acoustic guitar, banjo percussion, from the album Camel Lips.
OTHER PROJECTS: SOLO – MARZIPAN (2007)
Scimitar (Bradfield Dumpleton 2007) – Bradfield Dumpleton – octave mandola, mandolin, from the album Marzipan.
The music that forms this album helped me plumb my deepest grief & navigate the abyss. I still consider this my most accomplished and substantial music to date. Eighteen instrumental tracks, mostly featuring octave mandola & mandolin, with a few acoustic guitar pieces, and a smattering of percussion. The mandolin felt lute-like, and I found myself drawing on sounds and moods from Moorish, Balkan, Baroque, Medieval, Greek rembetika, Celtic folk…..stately sounds, and dark fires, deep passions, proud & fierce, alongside more reflective guitar, reaching for grace. You can listen to the whole album here.
Waltz Of The 3 Leg (Bradfield Dumpleton 2007) – Bradfield Dumpleton – octave mandola, mandolin, from the album Marzipan.
Conversation Of Opposites (Bradfield Dumpleton 2007) – Bradfield Dumpleton – octave mandola, from the album Marzipan.
OTHER PROJECTS: SOLO (2016) – PIGBOX & Co. / VOL 1 & 2
Two albums, 29 tracks in total, devoted to music inspired by my cranky Nashville metal-bodied resonator ukulele! This recording has been brewing since I bought this cantankerous resonator uke (aka PIGBOX) in 2011. Both albums are mostly instrumental plus a few songs & vocal ideas, and have me playing / attacking / re-imagining a variety of other instruments and sonic objects. PIGBOX the Uke is out front of all the pieces, some of which are structurally complete, some are ideas that became improvisations. Stylistically there’s a lot more electric & jagged sounds, a lot more gritty gutterblues & rootsy references to the rough old days of recording, with a few more lyrical jazzy moments in amongst it. Deliberately LOOSE!
I documented this music in one intense, isolated fortnight, wanting an intentional aesthetic of immediacy, looseness, clunky & unapologetic. It was an opportunity for me to be spontaneous, to let things fall apart, to discover & experiment. But don’t worry, it’s still MUSICAL! You can read more about the creative process HERE, and you can listen to both albums here.
Gimme Dat – Bradfield Dumpleton 2016. Resonator ukulele (acoustic & amplified), cello bass, jungle kit (kids kick drum, brushes, lid gong) from the album PIGBOX & Co. Vol 1
The Tangled Truth – Bradfield Dumpleton 2012. Resonator ukulele, cello bass, tremolo electric guitar, jungle kit (kids kick drum, brushes, snare), balafon from the album PIGBOX & Co. Vol 1
Wonderwing – Bradfield Dumpleton 2015. Resonator ukulele, cello bass, tremolo electric guitar, jungle kit (dundun, brushes, snare), talking drum from the album PIGBOX & Co. Vol 2
OTHER PROJECTS: SOLO – RAMSHACKLE ALCHEMY (2005 – )
Ramshackle Alchemy is a forthcoming retrospective series of instrumental music I’ve recorded at various times over the past decade. Many of these compositions are impromptu ideas developed and recorded on the fly, crowbarred into fleeting windows of opportunity between babies, breakdowns and all the other business. Spanning too many genres to list, in the end it’s all just music I like to listen to & explore. Currently the tracks are being remastered whenever I get time, and will eventually be released as Vol 1 & 2. Meanwhile, here’s a few samples:
And Buddha Drove A Cadillac (Bradfield Dumpleton 2005) – BD – acoustic guitars, jungle kit percussion
The Sun Is My Orange Juice (Bradfield Dumpleton 2009) – BD – strumstick, balafon, shaker
Dubbo Surf Western (Bradfield Dumpleton 2009) – BD – electric guitars, strumstick, jungle kit percussion, shaker
Meanwhile… (Bradfield Dumpleton 2009) – BD – acoustic & electric guitars, cajon, shaker
Redemption (Bradfield Dumpleton 2007) – BD – octave mandola
40-Fied (Bradfield Dumpleton 2005) – BD – acoustic guitars, vocals
6-String Strangleros (Bradfield Dumpleton 2005) – BD – acoustic & slide guitars, jungle kit percussion
Song For Sleepy Things (Bradfield Dumpleton 2005) – BD – ukulele, guitar
OTHER PROJECTS: PORCHMONKEEZ (2012 – 14)
Porchmonkeez is a collaboration that evolved between myself and one of my ukulele students, Gordeaux Unknown. Gordeaux used the techniques and exercises from our lessons as springboards for a string of original tunes, with him on baritone banjo uke and me on my Nashville metal-bodied resonator uke, aka PIGBOX. The songs have been recorded and compiled into the album Southern Channel Clunkgrass, to be released when we get around to it.
Hammertime (Porhmonkeez 2012) – Gordeaux Unknown – banjo uke, BD – resonator ukuleles, from the album Southern Channel Clunkgrass
Keep My Baby (Porhmonkeez 2012) – Gordeaux Unknown – banjo uke, vocals, kazoogle / BD – resonator ukulele, vocals / Lili – vocals, tambourine, from the album Southern Channel Clunkgrass
Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash) – Gordeaux Unknown – banjo uke, vocals / BD – resonator ukulele, vocals, cajon, harmonica, from the album Southern Channel Clunkgrass