Society member Pennie Lennon, along with her partner Bruno Koenig, run a singer-songwriter night right up at the heart of the Blue Mountains, at the old Imperial Hotel in Mount Victoria. You can’t miss the Imperial, it’s a foreboding white pub/hotel to the right as you’re coming up from the east into Mount Victoria. More information about the gig and the pub, and contacts, are in Pennie’s words at the bottom of this article. Mount Victoria is about a fifteen minute drive west of Katoomba and sits at a regal 1000 plus metres above sea level, or 3,500 feet. Pennie and Bruno, of the duo My Hearts Dezire, run this gig every Tuesday night. It invariably features a full night of performers and 3 songs are given to each act with more songs given to a feature act for the night. Most of the performers are local singer-songwriters although occasionally Sydney people come up for the gig, which in this instance, comprised of ZaraMeow and myself. At any one time we had up to about 30 people in the room watching and listening.
The gig itself is set in a charming tea-room to the left of the pub’s entrance. The hotel is old (1878), grand, regal, and quite likely, delightfully haunted. My Hearts Dezire comprising of Pennie and Bruno started off the night of music. The yearning lead strains of Bruno’s Gibson Les Paul sounded sterling next to the aromatic, arresting tones of Pennie’s lyrics and piano. My Hearts Dezire are superb and are one of my favourite acts in the local (or extended-local) scene. Pennie herself had an album produced by Steve Kilbey which of course always makes me salivate (and a great album it is too), and it was great to see Pennie and Bruno again, both personally and musically, and to just watch them just enjoying and relaying and loving their music to the nth degree.
Dave Griffiths took to the stage next. Dave was actually at the very first Songwriting Society gig I ever attended, back in October of 1998, at the Excelsior Hotel in Surry Hills. More recently Dave is content to be a regular at Pennie’s gig given that he is a resident of Katoomba. He was backed by drums and Bruno on lead guitar and it’s great to see him enjoying his performing as he always had.
I got up and sang one song, ‘Secrets’, that I’ve just taken to the studio to record. I was pleased with the sound of the guitar in that room; my valued piece of US Rock Maple sounded shimmerier than ever. Next up I joined ZaraMeow for a set of her brilliantly sung material that fuses strands of jazz, folk, and contemporary piano, matched with a strong and melodic lyrical push. People were as quiet as stones as we performed her songs that drew comparisons with Tori Amos. Our reception was rapturous. The sound was good and we enjoyed playing at a place we hadn’t played before, and that somehow suited the ambience of Zara’s music better than many of the pubs around the Sydney circuit.
Mad Cow Disease were a great country-blues band that featured electric violin, and Bruno sitting in on some lead guitar. The songs were wryly humorous and were indicative of fun, rootsy country pop. It was all quite brilliant and very uplifting.
Toni Farlow got up and performed some very intimate songs that were made all the more personable by her performance on the nylon string guitar. This was folk that was at once haunting yet very warming and intimate. It was a brilliant set and the nylon string guitar sounded so good!
Roman performed a terrific set that somehow had European tones to the music. The chord changes seemed unusual yet were so effective. These songs were heartfelt and lyrically true with a subtle yet strong musicality weaving them through. He wore his heart on his songs and the crowd responded to them warmly.
Egg Malt was graced by a very charismatic lead singer who looked the part of a seventies metal singer morphing into 90’s grunge. He sang brilliantly and strongly to songs that were Led Zeppelin in flavour and that featured Bruno on 2nd lead guitar. This was great rock and I hope these guys can go places with what they do – they rock!!!
Wild Man Bru got up to do a set of his shimmering, electric inspired folk-blues. The songs were zany, humorous and lyrical, with Bruno’s trademark guitar sound shining through each phrase. Bruno is an exquisite player; his phrasing and expression on the electric guitar is like gold slipping through his fingers, brilliant stuff Bruno!
At this point Zara & I had to leave to make our windy way back downhill to Sydney but next time we plan to stay to drink a few more drinks, watch all the acts, and take advantage of the cheap room deal. It was a lovely night and I recommend Sydney singer-songwriters make the effort to get up to Mt Victoria for a Tuesday night at some point when they can. It’ll be warm, friendly and toasty! All the details of this gig, and the overnight stay deal, in Pennie’s words, follow:
Great atmosphere, great room to play in, be there from 6.45pm on to sign in, first in best dressed. Three songs limit each perhaps more, depending on numbers- minimal setups so we all get a go.
Hosted by Pennie and Bruno (My Hearts Dezire)
Original material ONLY all styles welcome, NO COVERS.
Electric piano will be set up for those that like to play the keys.
Come and play or come and have a few drinks, be entertained and have a good night
What we (Pennie and Bruno) intend with this night at the Imperial Hotel in Mt Victoria, is to enable and support songwriters, whatever category and expertise.
A space to try out your new material, hone your skills or just come for the fun and entertainment.
To find spaces to explore creativity and the joy of expression.
Mt Vic is a wonderful place, if your coming from the city take a few days to wind down and enjoy the sights and special places.
The boss of the Imperial Hotel says if you want to stay at the hotel he will only charge $50 for a double room.