1 Tomato, 2 tomato, 3 tomato 4

When are too many Tomatoes too much….NEVER

You can make so many things to keep you going over the winter months. Last year we pulped them with our own celery and onion and froze them into little containers to bring out on winter nights for pasta and ragu.

The Mudgee township has a huge fruit fly problem so it is a bit hard to grow anything organically apart for Tiny Tim, Yellow Pear and Cherry varieties. Having said that they are very prolific at at time of writing we are picking almost 2 kilo A DAY.

This year as well we are only growing from seed and heritage seed at that. No more Bunnings stale and forced punnets around here thank you very much.

This year looks like we are drying the lot. Have a new Dehydrator which we might use for the Figs and Pears as well. Lizzie is having a field day. The dried cherry tomatoes are a revelation, not unlike a ‘Tomato Chip’. We’

ve ground it using a mortar and pestle and added some Nigella seed for a fantastic crunchy flavouring… anyways enjoy the pictures

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Zin House and High Cube tales

Since March 2015 Ive been working full time at High Cube Cafe in Mudgee. It was a new venture by James O’Neill the owner of the the iconic Butcher Shop Cafe in Mudgee. Built completely out of shipping containers it won evry major architectural award in NSW in 2015.

That finished in January round the time of ‘Mudsling’ our little Mudgee Music Festival preview. Since then ive been working at the Zin House; Kim Curries hatted Vineyard restaurant at Lowes Family Wines.

One big similarity is their use of the kitchen garden. I started up the high cube garden myself and Kim has a huge Bio Dynamic garden at the vineyard. There is that can compete for authenticity and freshness.

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Market return

The call of the kitchen and garden is never far from Richard and his wealth of experience on all facets of food from the paddock to the plate as well as beyond is reflected in his range of products which are adaptable for all seasons and menus.

After a 9 month solid cooking gig at the new High Cube container cafe in Mudgee he is back at market and wholesaling again

Orange Growers Market Sat 12 March

Mudgee Fine Food Markets Sat 19 March

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Huge Tapenade Orders!!!!

We’ve just been hit with the start of the Christmas Rush and been besieged with a few very big orders which will keep us busy doing tapenades for the next few weeks

Slice of  Orange use them for their christmas hampers as do Mainly Mudgee gift store and Aaron Cole from the wonderful Market Street Cafe has been busy selling them so along with Mudgee Region Tourism and Hi Valley Wine and Cheese they are all hitting at once

Extra markets in Mudgee for the makers market and Orange Growers just add more fuel to the mix

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Daniel Champagne Guitar workshop at Studios Sat May 25

Absolutely stoked to have my good friend Daniel Champagne giving a free guitar workshop on Saturday May 25 11.00 am at the tuition studios located in the Old Dance with attitude studios 13 a Lewis St Mudgee.

Daniel is already one of the foremost guitarists in Australia and is playing at the Mudgee Brewery the night before and has kindly offered to run an exclusive workshop for me for our guitar and percussion students.

RING 0447036783 to book as places are limited

Daniel Champagne 2

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Fig Jam and Kings of Congo Congo rule at Kandos Bob Marley Festival

Sue Honeysett from Down the Tracks Cafe Kandos is to be congratulated for initiating ANOTHER festival locally. Kandos has already seen Cementa Arts Festival which we were proud to play at and keeps up our festival ethos [ie only playing festivals and big gigs]. This festival was the first Bob Marley festival to be held locally and they are popping up all over the world…it is a salute to the great man that his legacy still shines on and is held close by so many people

Both Kings of Congo Congo and Fig Jam were booked to play. Fig Jam as one of the main acts on the big outdoor stage and Kings of Congo Congo on the ground area between the first few local bands to get the audience vibed in lieu of a drumming circle.

SO after packing up both drumkits , assorted percussion and Fig Jams gear we headed on over to Kandos and quickly set up…all the drummers were waiting there and remember 3 of our drummers have only turned 12.

A run through of ‘Fanfare‘, the original opener for the group quickly set the scene for some frenetic 6 piece drumming with 2 kits, djembes, bongos, timbales and extra floor toms and the new pieces were unveiled and went well…Triptych is a special BUT it does require 2 drumkits playing sixteenth not triplets to make it work…Erin Kelly is now out front with me and the main drummer


By now the sun was high and there wasnt much shade…we were all quite warm but the crowd was even warmer. I was run off my feet keeping up the vibe for 2 Kings performances and Fig Jam was set to go on about 1.30pm

Fig Jam …what do you say. We started out as organic rock as a 3 piece with no computers with Josh Gow and Erin Kelly and since the have played festivals, toured down the coast with Southerly Change and Big Erle, ;played electronic with live drums and keys at festivals [and slayed them there…I get to hammer it on drums there] and now we finally come to the point I knew was going to happen…we loose our first young dude to the call away from Mudgee. I knew this was going to happen and had made allowances for it having been through it before with Tangent in the 90s and noughties…but it still dosnt make it any easier. Josh Gow is mercurial, affable , irritating and loving and mature all iin the same sentence…but he is also a great drummer , guitarist and DJ as well and is leaving for Coffs Harbour…we have made a friend for life and will miss him sorely

Katie Gilbert on the other hand is joining and brings a whole new dynamic approach…shes a lead singer and will be eased into it…not that Im over singing but the harmonies are finally sounding great and Im sure well work out some stuff…one wag said we sounded the same. Shes a fantastic presence onstage and gets us all going. Witness our hilarious but uplifting version of GET UP STAND UP BY BOB MARLEY

I was exhausted utterly by the event…having also been on a fast at the time..[not the best timing!!]

…but have already received texts and facebook messages congratulating is on a fine job and it seems out love affair with Kandos and music and arts ferstivals only grows….now to find a drummer…should be OK I already work with 6!!

Kings of Congo Congo on facebook

Fig Jam on facebook

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Recordings in the farm studio and a Paragon sorta week

Its 5am Monday morning and Im sorting through tracks for the latest recording project at ‘Braymont’ just out of Gulgong. I have Kerry Ellen here, she played yesterday at the Gulgong RSL, to do a 5 track EP of material which I am doing all the backing for as well. She is also projects officer for Orana Arts and has been instrumental in helping me access grants for the Gulgong Folk Festival and in starting up drumming workshops with Kings of Congo Congo…nice to give something back.

The recording side of the business has taken an upturn since the release of Rainbows End and word seems to be getting out that I also record other people , not just myself. My last job was star student Brooke Colley in her first ever venture into the studio and I have another local girl Katie Gilbert lined up for Wednesday this week.

The week that was after the Blue Mountains Music festival was spent mostly here in the studio and at the Paragon for 2 gigs; one on Thursday for the monthly Mudgee Music Jam where I took onstage 3 of my vocal students for their compulsory performance “update” and here is where this little gem by Brooke Colley was filmed by Elizabeth Walton. She’s a great talent and only 15 and really is quite an exciting prospect.

Brooke Colley / Hurt


The other event at the Paragon was for a benefit for a local Mudgee lad in his twenties with brain cancer. Turns out I used to work with him and his brother at Eltons, a local eatery , when I was cheffing round. The place was jam packed and “Fig Jam’ really turned on a searing performance for our first ever Mudgee appearance [we’ve been playing everywhere else for almost 6 months now]. Refreshing to see so many old faces and musical cohorts coming out of the woodwork and I know I surprised the hell out of a few of them. It was also Elizabeth Waltons first outing on keyboards with the band and she lent some keyboard finery to Lovely/My time/Valentines Day.. all recently recorded at Pirate Studios.

I attended ‘The song and the sigh’ an exhibition by Sam Paine, my great friend and media champion from the Mudgee Guardian, at Lyra Burghaus’ ‘My little dress shop’ which is sadly closing now after 2 years of operation in Gulgong. Both these guys have brought a sense of style to the are which transcended rural eegance with a certain 1920s chic . Sam is off to New York this week and Lyra is off tho Europe and Asia. Hopefully both will be back because I find it hard sometimes filling downtown Gulgong with any sense of bohemia!!

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Richard works the Blue Mountains Music Festival March 2013

About 3 months ago I was asked to volunteer for the                          Blue Mountains Music Festival and told with my experience I would be put on staging and MC work. I didnt need a second look as I was keen to learn how a major festival worked in light of the decision to go private with the Mudgee Music Festival and promote it myself.

Festival skies ...misty mountain hop Fri night
Festival skies …misty mountain hop Fri night
Liz Stringer Blues Room Friday
Liz Stringer Blues Room Friday

The time came round and I was rostered on 3 shifts ..the first on the Friday night at the Blues Room in the Katoomba RSL and the second after a whole day off on the Saturday was a big spell in the Mainstage Pavilion from 11am till 7.30pm.

First up I got side of stage and witnessed Liz Stringer’s Blues/Soul intensity first hand. Passion is what seems to drive and make great music and here was a clear example. She is starting to make real headway and her intensity and passion is what seems to be winning it for her, indeed the theme over the weekend was not just musical excellence but driving passion that boils out of every great artist here. Next my good friends from Melbourne and Gulgong Folk Festival times , April Maze, were on and I loved doing their stage set up. They nailed the set in their usual charming fashion and it was a lot of fun having some friends around. Speaking of passion next up on that stage was the Popes, Shane McGowans [Pogues] backing band for a few years in the 90s. By now I had made my presence clear as a stage manager and Tim my cohort was leaving me to it a bit. The Popes were chockful of energy…a bit light on the songwriting side and a bit anthemic for me but there was no denying their infectious energy

Rich and Dave Allen form the Popes...broken fiddle!!
Rich and Dave Allen form the Popes…broken fiddle!!

The set up for these guys was more intense and it was a full rock band set up and I was doing drums/guitars/bass and all the usual water /leads/string changing requirements. I take my job seriously and I watched the stage like a hawk making sure they were all comfortable…I had to do a lot of running back and forth to frony of house to get foldback changed as well. the drummer was a legend and Dave Allen on fiddle a nicer guy you couldnt meet…he reminded me of Dave Hill from Slade.

Volunteer office
Volunteer office

I had Saturday off and strolled round and checked out all that makes a larger festival work…lots of volunteer grunt on security and ushering and miles of cable/barricading/lights and festival stalls plus big sound and light rigs…so much to take in before I start my Mudgee Music Festival out at the Showgrounds in May 2014…Gulgong will be nothing on this.

Zoe Keating weaves her Phillip Glass style magic  Guinness tent Sat
Zoe Keating weaves her Phillip Glass style magic Guinness tent Sat
Spooky Mens Chorale Guinness tent Sat
Spooky Mens Chorale Guinness tent Sat

I was impressed with Zoe Keating and her cello loops                    [very Phillip Glassish] was thrilled to catch Luka Bloom [he even played ‘Diamond Mountain’ first song] but was tempted to an early bed as Id just found out via SMS that I was going to be MC tomorrow on mainstage as well as stage manage Arlo Guthrie/       Kate Miller Heidke and Seth Lakeman. Pretty nervous and thought I should do some youtube research…I didnt even know who Seth Lakeman was…little did I know what a profound experience he would be tomorrow!!

Guitar chronicles Mainstage Sunday
Guitar chronicles Mainstage Sunday
Arlo Guthrie warming up
Arlo Guthrie warming up

Early onstage and before anyone else was there Id cleaned up the stage from the night before and started setting up for first act which was Mike McClellands guitar circle including Fiona Boyes/Sean Taylor and Chris Smithers. Next up Red Molly were so so but then the action really picked up with Arlo Guthrie arriving backstage…by now Id taken over stage management and was to do the MC for him. I was so friggin nervous having to go out in front of 2000 or so people but it went OK. He was a lovely guy and very approachable and I gotta say a wonderful guitarist/story teller and his singing reminded me of Willie Nelson…the last song ‘Peace be with you’ brought me close to tears as I realised his wife of 30 years had died only last October and how sad he must still at his tender waning age of 66.

Arlo Guthrie
Arlo Guthrie
Kate Miller Heidke pic Elizabeth Walton
Kate Miller Heidke pic Elizabeth Walton

Kate Miller Heidke was imperious and swerved from Opera to idiosyncratic pop with utter ease. Id got her album ‘Little Eve’ back in 2007 but she has grown in stature so much in the last few years and 2 albums and I found her voice/songs and presence utterly rivetting. Sarah and Mama were particular standouts   chilling!!

Seth Lakeman…Id met up with him and the drummer Simon earlier in the day when they came in to check their set up and hire instruments…lovely guys straight up and down and utterly Irish!!  ..[note they were the only artists to do so at whole festival]

What a force of nature , what a show…Id caught one song of theirs at the big top on Saturday [Kitty Jay] but was spellbound and  they were fantastic …I found myself running again and really having to take care of Simon on drums…the hire kit was falling apart round him a bit and at one stage I was holding down the hi hat whilst he played…a brilliant set and my pick of the festival.

Seth Lakeman  pic Elizabeth Walton
Seth Lakeman pic Elizabeth Walton

All in all a fantastic experience and nice to know my staging credentials got me a guernsey on the mainstage…must admit I do love being in the zone with the artist and it only makes me hungrier for my own little pot of success!!

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Richards new band ‘Fig Jam’ record first EP March 2013

Richards new band he has formed with 2 extremely talented young multi instrumentalists has come a long way in the short time it has been together since Sept 2012 and have already played a swag of festival shows and electronic and acoustic gigs in Mudgee and on the South Coast over Summer…big things are planned for 2013

The Fig Jam Truck rolled into Pirate Studios on Friday March 1…right on the first day of Autumn after a disgustingly hot summer to record ostensibly a 5 track EP. What eventuated was an 8 track recording with a few bits of skittish drum loops chucked in as well.

Erin and Josh had never been in a studio before…for Richard it was his 13th album including Lime Spiders, Krunch, Figtree Renaissance, Blue Valentine and FTR and solo albums.

It didnt take long for the weekly rehearsals to prove their worth as the band locked into a groove late on the first day. Ziggy Stardust was tried out as the only cover and slower numbers like My time and Lovely were left until

Mick Elderfield [Saxophone] and Sharon Lee Twiss [Guest Vocals] were in town on the Sunday.

Console to studio?? Come in...

Console to studio?? Come in…

David Sparks , Pirate Studio owner and Lime Spiders guitarist put down some tasty overdubs on Valentines Day and Cover Girl using Rickenbackers and Guild 12 strings before ripping into a dirty distorted guitar attack on Ziggy using an Orville white bodied guit. Richard played a Gilet handmade 6 string acoustic. Erin played a Fender Jazz bass through an Ampeg 8 x 10 cabinet and Josh used Ludwig Kit with Gretsch snare and Zildjian cymbals.

Rich and Erin listen to playback...god knows what song but they dont look impressed??

Rich and Erin listen to playback…god knows what song but they dont look impressed??

On the Sunday when Sharon and Mick were to put down their stuff Elizabeth Walton also put down her Electric Piano tracks on the the Fender Rhodes adding a subtle jazz infused colour to the sessions.

Mick Elderfield working Sax magic on Valentines Day

Mick Elderfield working Sax magic on Valentines Day

Sharon put down the vocals on My time and then Mick and Elizabeth went to town on a ‘fantasy’ on Lovely, one of the lead tracks which Richard wrote on coming back from the ill fated In your face tour in May 2012. Indeed a lot of these songs came out of his frustration with the lack of success with that album and tour.

The saxophone suddenly lifted the game of the whole proceedings…Mick Elderfield is a jazz player  par excellence and his eerie synthesis with Elizabeth Walton who is also a jazz player of excellence had everyone gasping. The two had never played together before and first take was the only option.

Sharon is happy with the vocal on My Time I think??

Sharon is happy with the vocal on My Time I think??

Next Mick and Elizabeth put overdubs of Sax and Piano onto My Time and Lovely and the icing as put on the cake. Mixing is set for the Easter Weekend on what is shaping up as an amazing little EP…tentatively titled ‘Who the F**K  are Fig Jam?’

The Pirate GreenRay mascot under the watchful eye of Hendrix

The Pirate GreenRay mascot under the watchful eye of Hendrix

Rich about to do a hand fart down at the beach

Rich about to do a hand fart down at the beach

Much gracious thanks to David Sparks as usual for service, talent and friendship above and beyond the call of duty. The guy is a true genius on the Guitar and his ear is what keeps me coming back…Elizabeth Walton commented on how well the two of us work together.

Thanks to Mick Elderfield for ethereal Saxophone of the hihghest order and Elizabeth Walton for exqisite and delicated keyboard flourishes..it adds a real emotional depth the the tracks she is on…her first time on a recording as well. Sharon Lee Twiss ..what can you say… gorgeous soulful lead vocal on My Time whch seemed to fit her like a glove…thanks all and I know Josh, Erin and Me loved every minute of it

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New market in Canberra @ OBDM

Started some new markets now …have finally relocated totally to Mudgee or the little farm on the outskirts of Gulgong to be more specific. Have reluctantly given away a lot if not all of the South Coast Markets as they were 1. Not doing well 2. Not dedicated grower/producer markets 3. Petrol costs were untenable due to low turnover.

Now Im trialling Canberra Old Bus Depot Markets Image

and Newcastle Growers Markets for a while to add to the current roster of Orange and Mudgee Growers Markets. First market over weekend just passed was successful and should also lead to some cool new wholsale opportunities in the Canberra region


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