Monthly Archives: June 2015

8 – WEEK CREATIVE CARTOONING COURSES @ MAC / Terms 3 & 4

Print@ MOONAH ARTS CENTRE, 27 Albert St, Moonah

(Can you help spread the word?  You can print out the poster here for your local school or shop, or do the Facebook thing!)

It’s back!  I’m very pleased to be able to offer another after-school Creative Cartooning Course in Terms 3 & 4, this time at the fantastic new Moonah Arts Centre!  Last year’s Courses were very well-received, with the students really extending their skills & developing their own ideas into some amazing artwork.  All the students had their drawings published in issues 1 & 2 of the THUNK mini-comic, and you can see some of the excellent results here & here.

THUNK2.29

TERM 3 begins JULY 29

TERM 4 begins OCT 21

WEDNESDAYS | 4 – 6pm | Ages 9 – 14 | $200

Students can attend one Term or both, as the content varies depending on the needs of the group.

This course is for keen drawers who want to:
– develop greater confidence & line control
– explore some new ways of thinking about drawing
– learn professional techniques for developing their own ideas & creating original cartoon art

THUNK2.7Students will use cartooning to look at important foundations of drawing such as form, texture, energy, patterns, contrast, design, layers & use of space.  The thINK Drawing Process I’ve developed also reinforces sequential and creative thinking skills.

These techniques apply to all styles of drawing.

Bradfield’s School of Cartoon Artistry classes provide an inspiring, thought-provoking & relaxing creative learning experience.  Students are encouraged to think about their process as they draw, to learn from each other & extend beyond their usual drawing habits.  Observation, line control & technique, focusing & making new connections are just some of the skills developed.

Limited to 12 spaces only!

Please book early to ensure the course goes ahead:

bradfield@bradfielddumpleton.com | 0413 575 113

Bradfield is a professional arts educator & illustrator, and has been inspiring children of all ages for over 25 years.

 

JULY 2015 CARTOON WORKSHOPS – HOBART

 

 

totally random sharkTOTALLY RANDOM STUFF @ KINGSTON LINC

FRI JUL 17 | 10am – 12noon

Ages 9 – 14   |   $25

Cartoon mash-up using random ideas from the group – every workshop is different!  Who knows what we’ll draw next?  You decide!  LET’S DRAW!

In this workshop, students learn sophisticated cartoon drawing techniques by drawing with me step-by-step from the whiteboard, as I combine spontaneous ideas from the group to create bizarre characters & contraptions!

BOOKINGS:  BRADFIELD – 0413 575 113 | bradfield@bradfielddumpleton

JULY 2015 2-DAY CARTOON INTENSIVE – HOBART

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THERE ARE NO MORE BOOKINGS AVAILABLE FOR THIS WORKSHOP, but if you’d like to be added to my email list for updates on future workshops, contact me here.

You may also be interested in the 2-hr Totally Random Stuff cartooning workshop at Kingston LINC on Fri July 17, details here.


2-DAY WORKSHOP:  JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF YOUR MIND!!!

10am – 2pm | $100 | ages 9 – 14 only (why?)

A 2-Day Creative Cartooning intensive for keen drawers, using thINK drawing games to experiment with creative cartoon techniques, as we investigate the question:

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Day 1:  Students will be mentored through a professional illustration process – discussing the concept, sharing ideas & experimenting with their own, making visual notes & developing concept drawings, planning a design for their final image.

Day 2:  Students will make any final adjustments to their idea, then take their design to finished art stage,  a black & white ink drawing on quality art paper (suitable for framing later if they wish), which they can scan and have featured in issue #5 of THUNKCheck out previous issues of THUNK here!

As usual, I’ll provide drawing games & “experiments” to get the kids thinking in new ways about drawing technique, and to push them into new areas of their own creativity.  I’ll also be offering professional tips based on my years as a designer & illustrator.  The focus is on fun skills, new perspectives, and creative inspiration.

SOUNDS SERIOUS? Well yes & no!  My aim in this workshop is for the students to gain a better understanding of a professional artist process, to take an idea and try it from different angles so that it has room to grow and become better.  This workshop is about still being spontaneous with ideas, but also taking more care in how they are put to paper.

BOOKINGS:  bradfield@bradfielddumpleton.com | 0413 575 113

PLEASE NOTE:  These 4-hr drawing intensives are for keen drawers, who enjoy being immersed in drawing for long periods of time.  Each session is 4 hours long, including a lunchbreak.  Please ensure your child brings enough food & drink for the day.  If you think your child will have difficulty focusing for that long, please find them a more suitable activity!

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JUNE 2015 2-DAY CARTOON INTENSIVE – MELBOURNE

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Can you help spread the word?  Print out the funky poster to stick up at your local shop or school, or do the Facebook thing!

MON JUN 29 / TUES JUN 30 @ GEALC, 419 North Rd, Ormond

2-DAY WORKSHOP:  JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF YOUR MIND!!!

10am – 2pm | $100 | ages 9 – 14 only (why?)

A 2-Day Creative Cartooning intensive for keen drawers, using thINK drawing games to experiment with creative cartoon techniques, as we investigate the question:

PrintDay 1:  Students will be mentored through a professional illustration process – discussing the concept, sharing ideas & experimenting with their own, making visual notes & developing concept drawings, planning a design for their final image.

Day 2:  Students will make any final adjustments to their idea, then take their design to finished art stage,  a black & white ink drawing on quality art paper (suitable for framing later if they wish), which they can scan and have featured in issue #5 of THUNKCheck out previous issues of THUNK here!

As usual, I’ll provide drawing games & “experiments” to get the kids thinking in new ways about drawing technique, and to push them into new areas of their own creativity.  I’ll also be offering professional tips based on my years as a designer & illustrator.  The focus is on fun skills, new perspectives, and creative inspiration.

SOUNDS SERIOUS? Well yes & no!  My aim in this workshop is for the students to gain a better understanding of a professional artist process, to take an idea and try it from different angles so that it has room to grow and become better.  This workshop is about still being spontaneous with ideas, but also taking more care in how they are put to paper.

BOOKINGS:  bradfield@bradfielddumpleton.com | 0413 575 113

PLEASE NOTE:  These 4-hr drawing intensives are for keen drawers, who enjoy being immersed in drawing for long periods of time.  Each session is 4 hours long, including a lunchbreak.  Please ensure your child brings enough food & drink for the day.  If you think your child will have difficulty focusing for that long, please find them a more suitable activity!

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SLUGBUNNY CAKE ANIMATIONS!

Slugbunny Takes The Cake Pt 1 – animation by Bradfield Dumpleton 2015

THE GIFT THAT KEPT ON GIVING: SLUGBUNNY CAKE ANIMATIONS 1-3

SBcake4AIn March this year I had my 300th birthday, and while I usually don’t bother celebrating, my friend Heidi thought I should break tradition & made me a gorgeous chocolate mud-lathered-in-slabs-of-icing SLUGBUNNY CAKE!

For some reason it tickled my cartoonist mind and I found myself making animation experiments with the cake as it passed through various stages of getting gobbled.  My kids also helped out with ideas, making bizarre characters, adding music & sound effects, and of course a lot of co-gobbling.  The end results are brief, but the whole process spanned many days, and involved a smorgasboard of creative family activity – paper construction, Fimo-building sessions, playing music & recording, philosophical discussions, researching techniques from other animated movies, and lots of tea & cake.

Having not really tried stop-frame animation before, it was a fantastic learning curve for all of us.  We used a wonderful animation app on my iPad called Animation Creator, which I acquired a couple of years ago for hand-drawn animation experiments like this:

Flying Paper – animation by Bradfield Dumpleton 2013

SBcake2The first two Cake animations are a bit rough – the camera was hand-held so the frames jiggle around a lot, and we were still working out how to time the flow of movement and to think sequentially.  By Part 3, I’d improvised a tripod for the camera using my daughter’s music stand, and had a much better idea of how to plan frames and edit.  Still pretty rough, but in the end, a really rich creative experience and a great way to savour a delicious birthday gift!

Slugbunny Takes The Cake Pt 2 – animation by Bradfield Dumpleton 2015

Slugbunny Takes The Cake Pt 3 – animation by Bradfield Dumpleton 2015

MY INVISIBLE MUSIC CAREER PT 5: UKULELE (2005 – )

BLUE-MOON-MAN-ART-2

Blue Moon Man, art © Bradfield Dumpleton

The Elevator – Bradfield Dumpleton 2015 (Cordoba tenor & Bruko soprano ukulele, cello)

Ukeboy

The author c.1968, blissfully unaware, or presentient?

Following 25 years exploring guitar & percussion, my primary instrument of the last decade has been, and will continue to remain,  Ukulele.  Beyond all the pop fads & historical derision, the ukulele is such 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.

It came to me by accident, quite apart from the much-touted “ukulele revival” – a cheap old school-issue Mahalo that smuggled itself home via a child’s schoolbag, like the innocuous little bacteria that it is, and nuzzled into my unsuspecting arms.  With its alien tuning it was a delicious mystery, a creative conundrum, a code to be cracked & a lock to be picked.

The Article – Bradfield Dumpleton 2015 (Cordoba tenor ukulele, cello, balafon, cajon)

My fingerpicking guitar habits immediately found home on these four small strings, and a bouquet of sounds bloomed forth: touches of appalachian hillbilly, classical, 20s jazz, ragtime! My ignorance of the instrument was my bliss, as I gradually discovered its range of voices – sometimes harp-like, or classical guitar, even banjo-esque.  After the frenetic guitar music I’d been playing with the Spondooli Brothers, ukulele was a relief to my hands, my brain, and my ears.  Gradually guitar receded into the dusty shadows, for a few years at least, while I lost myself in this marvelous new device.

Bowler Hat – Bradfield Dumpleton 2013 (Mya Moe resonator ukulele)

Ukulele was my bridge from skewed neo-gypsy music into 20s jazz, ragtime, crooners, swing….what I had learned in the Spondoolies about melody, harmony & dissonance, fingerstyle technique and delicious chords, I could now apply to sweeter sounds.  For several years my main ukuleles were a Cordoba tenor & a Bruko soprano, both of which have a delicate voice, and these instruments both helped me find a little wry humour and tenderness in my dark period.  As I gradually emerged from that abyss, I discovered YouTube and gathered enough confidence to put myself (privately) out there to the world.  I was pleasantly surprised by the positive feedback to my tunes, and discovered a vast resource of inspiring uke players around the world, from Bach enthusiasts, fiery flamenco, clawhammer oldtime, and jazz of all eras.  I hosted Bosko & Honey’s entourage when they toured Tasmania as part of their national  “Ukulele Safari”, put in a few solo performances when I was coordinating the monthly Acoustic Nights at Brookfield Margate, and accumulated some interesting recordings of dedicated fellow ukulaliens.

Somewhere around 2011 I bought a Nashville metal-bodied resonator uke.  It was not a prestigious instrument, but I liked that it was cranky & cantankerous, it was clunky & had grunt.  It immediately brought out more dissonance in my playing, some harsher rhythms, some gutterblues and dirty bits.  I don’t generally name instruments, but this one I called – PIGBOX.  Pigbox opened a new door in my ukulele exploration, this time as more of a percussion instrument, a little more brash & funky perhaps.

In 2012 Pigbox found a perfect match riding shotgun to Gordeaux Unknown’s baritone banjo uke, when we collaborated as the Porchmonkeez, but that’s another story, and another album.  I’m gradually hobbling together a collection of tunes that I only ever play on Pigbox, which will eventually be officially not released (like most of my other “albums” – that is, I complete them but can’t afford the time or money to have them pressed and to promote them).

There Was A Light On – Bradfield Dumpleton 2014 (Nashville metal resonator ukulele, cello, banging things)

In 2012 I invested in a custom-made Mya-Moe walnut-bodied resonator uke, after seeing ukulele & pedal steel maestro Gerald Ross playing western swing tunes on one that he had commissioned.  The resonator cone gives the uke so much more presence but the wood provides warmth in the tone. It’s a superbly-made machine and has enriched my playing even further.

Skedaddle – Bradfield Dumpleton 2013 (Mya Moe resonator ukulele)

UKULELE with ROSS SERMONS (2012 –  )

Rosny 4

Live with Ross Sermons (left) @ Rosny Barn, 2013

BROOKFIELD APR 2013Also in 2012 I was accepted into the Hobart Conservatorium of Music.  Unfortunately the unpredictable timetable was not sustainable around my family & work commitments, but I completed the first semester & got a high distinction.  For someone as isolated as myself, it was just fantastic to be around musical peers, to hear music oozing through the building, and to get sincere peer feedback.  I was a little surprised to still find derisive attitudes towards ukulele from “educated” musicians, but the jazz in there worked on me by osmosis & I began figuring out jazz stylings I’d not tried before.  My experiences at the Con gave me the confidence to think about collaborating again, and so I looked up  Ross Sermons, a Southern gentleman from North Carolina, recently moved to Tasmania & a consummate bass-player, having been 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.

Tasmanian Summer (Bradfield Dumpleton 2005) – BD – soprano ukulele / vocals, Ross Sermons – doublebass, from the album Limited Emission CD.

Swingaling Thing (Bradfield Dumpleton 2011) – BD – tenor ukulele, Ross Sermons – doublebass, from the album Limited Emission CD.

LIMITED EMISSION COVEROur initial rehearsals went so smoothly, Ross decided to record them in his loungeroom, and 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.  Playing with Ross also inspired a wealth of new material, much of which we’ve performed live but have yet to record.

Blacksnake Hop (Bradfield Dumpleton 2006) – Live with Ross Sermons @ Rosny Barn, 2013

MINI-EXHIBITION: SPONDOOLI BROTHERS ART

DEBUT POSTER

The first poster – © Bradfield Dumpleton 2004

In 2003 I spontaneously answered a small hand-drawn ad in MacFie’s Music shop in Nth Hobart, someone looking for interested parties with whom to play guitar music of a Eurofolk bent.  It was Luke Yates, a young uni student recently-returned from travels in France, previously an 80s metal guitarist who had an acoustic epiphany while tending goats in the French countryside.

Cactoid Fractal Swing  (Dumpleton / Yates 2004) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar, horses, jaws harp / Luke Yates – acoustic guitar, from the album An Anthology Of Revised Ambiguities.

Luke & I immediately discovered a shared curiosity in the quirky, offbeat sounds of European folk, Rom gypsy, Jazz Manouche, the Near East, Flamenco, the pathos & melancholic edges of cabaret, circus music, anything with that exotic flair, weird time signatures & plenty of articulate dissonance.  Not that either of us had learned to play any of it, we just devoured as many recordings as we could and worked out the essential ingredients ourselves.  Within the month, Spondooli Brothers were writing & performing their first compositions.

symbolThere’s also a certain absurdist humour inherent in all these musics, which appealed to our own sense of same, and before long a Spondooli aesthetic emerged – the music, the lo-fi Op Shop gypsy outfits, the accents, the mythology…..and the artwork.  Creating the Spondooli artwork was a welcome departure from my usual commercial illustration, and for the first time in many years I gave myself permission to draw for My Own Pleasure.  (This is a big deal, when all your creative energy is usually spent illustrating other people’s ideas & teaching / inspiring other people’s kids to get creative.)

PIGS bigI’d been designing some circus tent panel designs for Justus Neumann’s Circus Elysium, and while researching old circus poster art (a la PT Barnum et al), I found a glorious image of a man in tux & fez, solemnly conducting a pair of musical pigs.  For some reason the pig idea stuck, and so developed our mascot, the Ukulele Pig.  The UpsideDown Question Mark represented the Spondooli response to the world – a state of perpetual bafflement.  The circus theme continued into the lettering for our logo and the subsequent gig posters & CD art, and was all the more fitting when, performing live, we never knew if the music would derail mid-hurtle or not, and we often felt like trapeze artists without a safety net.

Recently I dusted off all the old Spondooli art & decided to put it together here as a celebration of more colourful days, so here ’tis.  I’ve included some Spondooli tunes as a soundtrack, to complete the picture as it were, if you so choose. You can also click on the images to enlarge them.

Moustafa’s Revenge  (Dumpleton / Yates 2004) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar / Luke Yates – acoustic guitar, from the album An Anthology Of Revised Ambiguities.

SPONDOOLI POSTER ART:

guitartamer hats COLThe very first Spondooli poster was the generic design at the top of this page.  The Spondooli Brothers didn’t perform frequently (on account of spending most of our time wrangling work, babies, uni studies, work, family, babies, uni studies, family, work etc etc), so when we had a gig, I wanted the posters to make a splash, and to be pieces of art in their own right.  The style was old world retro (before old world retro became de jour), and stood apart from the trends of the time (though of course it all just goes in ever-diluting circles).  Also, being an acoustic duo, we were better suited to sharing gigs with kindred acts who had a more robust sound, and this was a fundamental inspiration for each poster.

Dancing On Yesterday’s Grave  (Dumpleton / Yates 2004) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar, vocals / Luke Yates – acoustic guitar, from the album An Anthology Of Revised Ambiguities.

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Animal characters also became a theme (we’re all just performing animals in the circus of life, are we not?), and a useful device to indicate the flavour of each gig – eg the funky medieval lute-playing pig when we shared a CD launch with Harlequin, who played Moorish music on hand-crafted medieval instruments.  Some of these characters’ lives were extended – the Dancing Bear reappeared on the back of our CD cover, the Funky Lute Pig stars on the cover of my Baroque-tinged album Marzipan, and the Crooning Moon Man became a mascot for my own solo ukulele music post-Spondoolies.  In hindsight, the Crooning Moon Man is clearly indicating my growing interest in ukulele & 1920s jazz, but I had no idea at the time where that would take me.

SPONDOOLI CD ART:

Luke & I were both really proud of our first CD, An Anthology Of Revised Ambiguities.  For us it was an authentic work of art, so it deserved to be clothed in appropriate finery.  The Guitar Tamer was a shoe-in for the front cover, and we wanted a full-colour booklet inside, an extra window for people to explore the world of Spondooli through, to add more story to the music.  Like back in the old days, when album cover art mattered.

BOOKLET 8_1I decided to create individual panels to illustrate the songs, using the titles to suggest the imagery.  In some cases the illustrations are reflecting a story or mood in the song, in other panels the drawing is a story unto itself.  The long vertical shape & design aesthetic of the panels were a little reminiscent of the old cigarette cards of the 1920s.

BOOKLET 2_7For instance, the instrumental Dancing On Yesterday’s Grave was our very first collaboration and marked a new beginning for us both, in defiance of our past, so a Mexican Death image seemed fitting.  The baby in the guitar case for New Song was a tribute to my daughter, and the flailing trapeze artist in Symfonjo Garibando was myself and every man who walks the tightrope juggling the pressures of family life & work.

Symfonjo Garibando  (Dumpleton / Yates 2004) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar, vocals / Luke Yates – acoustic guitar, from the album An Anthology Of Revised Ambiguities.

BOOKLET 6_3The centre of the booklet became a homage to sheepliness (Luke & I both being born in the sign of the Ram), bucking the “flying pig” trend with an airborn woolly, a kind of Dumbo-meets-Ottoman-Empire thing.BOOKLET 4_5

Madame Octopus  (Dumpleton / Yates 2004) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar, vocals / Luke Yates – acoustic guitar, from the album An Anthology Of Revised Ambiguities.

One of our best-loved songs had always been Madame Octopus, so I payed homage to her on the inside disc tray, with the Guitar Tamer printed on the disc, so that when you removed the CD from the case, the two images created a before / after sequence, thus:

DISC LABEL BACKTRAY INLAY 2The final ingredient was the back cover with track listing, and after some deliberation it was decided the Dancing Bear should make a final appearance.

BACKTRAY INLAY 1

THE MAP OF SPONDOOLISTAN

Around this time I also designed a map of Spondoolistan, which didn’t make the CD booklet but was used in other promo material.  Drawn in Ye Olde Mappe Style, the chart is peppered with puns & visual jokes, some esoteric humour & nonsensical randomness, as well as a couple of villages named after two songs on the album.

When I released the limited edition Camel Lips CD (solo project, as the Spondooli Other), I connected each song in the liner notes to its native region on the map, delving deeper into the Spondooli mythology.

SPONDOOLISTAN MAPThe Spondooli illustrations mark a creative renaissance for me, reconnecting me with the pleasure I once took in drawing for its own sake, and is an illustration style that I still enjoy working with.  This period represented a new level of creative expansion, musically & artistically, that I think I’m still tapping into.

SPONDOOLIES 4

Spondooli Bros performing @ Taste Of Tasmania Festival 2006

MY INVISIBLE MUSIC CAREER PT 4: SOLO – MARZIPAN (2007)

Scimitar  (Bradfield Dumpleton 2007) – Bradfield Dumpleton – octave mandola,  mandolin, from the album Marzipan.

MARZIPAN COVER ART

Marzipan. Art © Bradfield Dumpleton 2007

Throughout 2007 I was recovering from a nervous breakdown and in the depths of clinical depression. The music that forms this album helped me examine my profound grief & find my own ways to navigate the abyss.  With a newly-purchased antique European mandolin and a throaty octave mandola on permanent loan (neither of which I had ever played before), I set about pushing myself into more technical complexity & creative exploration, to stimulate my frontal lobe and balance my brain chemistry.

 

MARZIPAN DISC LABEL

Marzipan disc art, © Bradfield Dumpleton 2007

Far from a depressing album, I still consider this my most accomplished and substantial music to date.  Eighteen instrumental tracks, mostly featuring octave mandola and/or 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.  The mandola felt like a bass guitar, it was muscular & earthed me, the acoustic guitar now was more reflective and lyrical, squeezing beauty out of grief.  There are playful moments, a little musical humour and flashes of upliftment, but none of the deliberate absurdism of the Spondoolies.  It may seem sombre in parts, but to me this collection articulates my finding some semblance of grace.  You can listen to the whole album here.

When Words Fail  (Bradfield Dumpleton 2006) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar, from the album Marzipan.

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.

And perhaps to complete a journey begun with the Spondooli Brothers’ polished Anthology of Revised Ambiguities, and bridged by the roughly-hewn Camel Lips and A Month Of Moonbeams, there is a final reference to the Spondooli mythology before I leave Spondoolistan forever and enter the Fourth Dementia…..the loving embrace of the ukulele….

MARZIPAN GATEFOLD 2

Marzipan gatefold sleeve. Art © Bradfield Dumpleton, photo: Malcolm Fielding 2007

MARZIPAN GATEFOLD 1

Marzipan gatefold sleeve art © Bradfield Dumpleton 2007, “Love Is A Purple Intensity” poem © Bradfield Dumpleton 1998

MY INVISIBLE MUSIC CAREER PT 3: SOLO – THE SPONDOOLI OTHER (2005 – 2006)

She Sweats Velvet  (Bradfield Dumpleton 2005) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar, from the album Camel Lips.

In between Spondoolies, I was experimenting more with home recording my own material.  A few tunes were in Spondoolish territory but didn’t quite fit our repertoire.  Some were CAMEL LIPS COVERrecording experiments that contained spontaneous improvisations, percussion or editing effects – in other words, not easy to replicate the performance or sound.  I compiled these roughly-hewn lo-fi sketches into the limited edition “mini-album” Camel Lips, under the moniker of the Spondooli Other, and we sold them or gave them away at gigs as prizes.  The cover was kind of “anti-design” in keeping with the lo-fi material, and presented with liner notes (“academic flubberings”) as an “anthropillogical” document – to wit, field recordings of folk music styles from across Spondoolistan.

A Matter Of Urgency  (Bradfield Dumpleton 2005) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitars, kpanlogo, tambourine percussion, chopsticks, from the album Camel Lips.

CAMEL LIPS INSIDE CVRThere is one track played by the Spondooli Bros proper – Gadjo Blues, an improvised rehearsal of the piece in its early days, and its only existing recording.  She Sweats Velvet later became the opening track on my solo album Marzipan.  The title track Camel Lips was an impromptu excursion recorded when someone lent me a banjo for the afternoon – the first & only time I’ve played one.  In my ignorance I had it tuned in a minor key, which enabled the Egyptian riff to pop forth.  The percussion is me drumming darabuka-style on the banjo skin.  Turklepants and Blacque Djugg were two of my earliest ukulele experiments, and I will say no more on the subject.  An abridged Fools! Cannibals! did momentarily find its way into the Spondooli Bros repertoire during the last days, but the Camel Lips disc carries the original version in all its long-winded, shambolic glory.

Fools! Cannibals!  (Bradfield Dumpleton 2005) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitars, vocals, ukulele, from the album Camel Lips.

I had a lot of fun writing the liner notes for each track.  I’d designed a Ye Olde style map of Spondoolistan which I included in the CD cover art, and I connected each song to its own region within the map, having of course traversed the country myself, gathering the recordings.  I completed the liner notes with the disclaimer, tongue-only-partially-in-cheek:

“While some efforts were made to achieve reasonable sound quality on these field recordings, the integrity of the artistic moment took priority.  We cannot be responsible for imperfections caused by drunk musicians, intemperate camels & other technical truancies which may sound awful on your home stereo.”  Those damned intemperate camels…

Camel Lips (Bradfield Dumpleton 2005) – Bradfield Dumpleton – banjo, acoustic guitar, banjo percussion, from the album Camel Lips.

SPONDOOLISTAN MAP

Map of Spondoolistan. Art © Bradfield Dumpleton 2005

 

MY INVISIBLE MUSIC CAREER PT 2: THE SPONDOOLI BROTHERS (2003 – 2006)

LOGO COLOUR

Madame Octopus  (Dumpleton / Yates 2004) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar, vocals / Luke Yates – acoustic guitar, from the album An Anthology Of Revised Ambiguities.

“Legends abound as to the origins of the Spondooli Brothers: Born in a guitar case in a Lower Spondoolovitch potato field. Raised by feral goats in the barren foothills of Upper Spondolia. Illegitimate heirs to the throne of the Grand Hoopla of Absurdistan, sold as child slaves to a nomadic circus tribe who trained them in the ecstatic arts of guitar-strangling. All explanations fold in on themselves, mere ticklings of a larger truth. Whatever the forces of Fate or Friction that have carried these two, they continue to travel their beloved motherland of Spondoolistan, carefully documenting & disseminating the rich musical folklore found there. But then, they may just be making it all up.”

Spondooli Brothers in-store performance @ Aroma Records, Nth Hobart 2005

My main instrument, since age 14, was guitar, mostly acoustic, and over many years I developed a fingerstyle approach that enabled me to play my own mix of rhythm, bass & melodic elements.  In 2003 this led serendipitously to a creative partnership with likeminded guitar-strangler Luke Yates, with whom I formed the Spondooli Brothers.  It was a short-lived but prolific collaboration, hugely inspiring, and which opened a font of musical creativity in me…… permanently.

Turkish Delights  (Dumpleton / Yates 2004) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar, vocals / Luke Yates – acoustic guitar, from the album An Anthology Of Revised Ambiguities.

SPONDOOLI BROS

AN ANTHOLOGY OF REVISED AMBIGUITIES – Spondooli Brothers 2005. Art by Bradfield Dumpleton.

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 and we even sold a few.  It was recorded live over two days at Huon Delta Studios by Geoff Francis.  The album had airplay nationally on community radio, and a pinnacle for us was getting some regular plays on ABC ClassicFM Drive by the eclectic Julia Lester, who was a bit of a fan.  You can listen to the whole album here.

You can also have a look at all the Spondoolies poster & CD art here.

A MONTH OF MOONBEAMS – Spondooli Brothers with Andrew Morrisby 2006. Art by Bradfield Dumpleton.

Unfortunately, only six months after the release, and just as the Spondoolies were hitting a new creative stride, Life smashed in, swinging its mallet like a berserker, and the duo came to an untimely end.  We ran a short series of farewell gigs, the official swansong being at the old Moonah Arts Centre.  I’d been composing & arranging some new pieces to include Luke’s friend Andrew Morrisby on cello, and with barely three rehearsals under our belt, we exited with a concert of brand new material….which we would never play again.  Of note are two beautiful instrumentals by Luke, who was finding new subtleties & confidence in his musicality.  Thankfully, we recorded the night, warts’n’all, which I edited 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.

The Unwanted  (Bradfield Dumpleton 1998) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar, vocals / Luke Yates – acoustic guitar / Andrew Morrisby – cello, from the album A Month Of Moonbeams.

Chrysalis  (Luke Yates 2005) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar / Luke Yates – acoustic guitar, from the album A Month Of Moonbeams.

Madame Ictapod  (Bradfield Dumpleton 2006) – Bradfield Dumpleton – acoustic guitar, vocals / Luke Yates – acoustic guitar / Andrew Morrisby – cello, from the album A Month Of Moonbeams.

black spondoolies

MY INVISIBLE MUSIC CAREER PT 1: WHY?

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.  I don’t use an iPod – whenever there is a gap in my thinking, melody & rhythm immediately pour into it unbidden. It’s no hyperbole to say music has saved my life – the regular practice of playing & composing music, in focused solitude, has helped me harness & reorganise my own brain chemistry when I was recovering from nervous breakdowns & clinical depression.  It enabled me to piece together my fragmented psyche after suicidal spirals.  With music, I articulate the wordless to myself.  I think of my instrument as a brain machine, a sophisticated neural biofeedback unit.  In the 90s, I used my visual art in a similar way, as a consciously transformative biofeedback tool.

Redemption (Bradfield Dumpleton 2007) – BD – octave mandola, from the album Marzipan.

In 2012 I had a revelation about why I play music.  I asked other musicians, “if there was no such thing as ‘audience’, would you still create music?”.  No-one seemed sure how to answer.  They seemed bound by the identity of “musician”.  My son, an electronic sound artist, insisted that all artists create in order to make some kind of statement, and therefore need an audience.  I don’t have a message to deliver, stories to tell, perceptions to challenge, I don’t need validation, a sense of communion with an audience,  I don’t need to be liked or understood through my music, and I certainly have no delusions about making an income from it.  I make music for myself, simply because it intrigues me & is fantastic for my brain health.

A Renaissance Bard of the Field, Spondoolistan 1642

I play ukulele, guitar, mandolin, balalaika, and occasionally my daughter’s cello for bass, as well as various percussion instruments.  These include djembes, dunduns, kpanlogo, balafon, talking drum & cajon.  I am entirely self-taught and play by sound & feel.  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)

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 music I’ve generated in amongst the other demands of my life.  This is no hobby, nor am I trying to “express myself”….it is a compulsion, a necessity, it is my pulse.  It’s just that I’m also passionately devoted to a few other things in my life (teaching kids, illustrating, being a good dad, being an authentic person), so music rides shotgun & steps up when it gets a chance.

In this series of blogs I’ll scratch the surface of my invisible music “career” of the last decade, though it actually spans three.  The blogs won’t be in chronological order, instead they’ll focus on particular bodies of work from chapters in my musical evolution.  These will include: SOLO UKULELE, with ROSS SERMONS, the SPONDOOLI BROTHERS,  OTHER PROJECTS (solo recordings & collaborations Porchmonkeez and Stromatilites), and DRUMMING.  If you take the time to explore these pages thoroughly, I think you’ll see that as a musician, I have in fact been working as hard as any artist dedicated to their craft.  An important part of any artist’s process is documenting & reflecting on ones work, acknowledging it in order to let it go, and at 50 I’m happy with what I’ve achieved, albeit below the radar.  I’ve shed all aspirations of living the “musician” identity, which has freed me to create the music for its own sake, and for me.

Brain On Fire – Bradfield Dumpleton 2014 (baritone banjo ukulele)