Church of the Open Sky

Leanne Tennant: Bearing The Crown

Soon Leanne is seated on the timber porch, picking out sparse notes on her guitar, the sound disappearing into the thickened air, a space already occupied by rainbow lorikeets in the canopy above. A raucous chorus of birds and a heat like a lead weight, not entirely the elements of paradise most readily invoked in mid-winter daydreams.

Then it happens…

Marlon Williams: Silent Passage

Silent Passage is the rarest of songs: a ballad that makes you yearn for something you can’€™t quite place. What was Carpenter’€™s sailor yearning for? Home? Family? An end to his wanderings? Perhaps the writer foresaw his own future torments when he wrote this lyric.

Danny Spooner: Dark Old Waters

The thick basalt walls of the former Congregational Church proved both blessing and curse during the recording of Dark Old Waters for Volume 1:4. While the walls blocked out most of the racket emanating from the heavy construction going on mere feet from the church’€™s western flanks, the bluestone blocks and concrete-rendered interior also served to add unwelcome levels of echo to Danny Spooner’€™s voice while bouncing the concertina’€™s bellowed notes in all directions across the empty space. But drawing on a lifetime’€™s experience playing in venues of all shapes and sizes Danny soon found a sweet spot, and you can download the results here.

Mick Thomas: Port Melbourne Beach

Mick Thomas walked into the Norla Dome at the Mission to Seafarers just hours after a massive storm had ripped through Melbourne. The Yarra was in flood, the Bay in a state of chaos. It seemed fitting to be hunkered down in a place of refuge for sailors. Mick’€™s beautiful whistling will be new to many listeners, and his song, Port Melbourne Beach, has never been recorded before. Enjoy the wild acoustics of the Dome, and read the full story behind the recording in our issue 1:3. Download Port Melbourne Beach here –

Archie Roach: Old Mission Road

Archie Roach recorded Old Mission Road in the tiny chapel at Framlingham, on a hot and humid afternoon as the little settlement geared up for its 150th anniversary celebrations. Archie had had a big weekend, leaving awestruck audiences in his wake at the Port Fairy Folk Festival. But he warmed to the task, and turned out a haunting acoustic rendition of this widely-loved song for a small gathering of family and friends. (Listen carefully for the little girl’€™s voice whispering ‘€œYay!’€ as the final chord fades out’€) You can download it here.

Laura Hill: Blue Eyes

Our recording session for issue 1:2014 took place at a tiny stone church on the highway between Port Fairy and Portland in western Victoria, perched in a neatly mowed yard in a bend of Darlot’€™s Creek. Our artist is South Australian singer-songwriter Laura Hill, whose new album Powdered Sunshine is about to hit the airwaves. Her song, Blue Eyes, is sad and warm and lonely and soulful and, and’€¦ no more adjectives ‘€“ download it yourself!

Shane Howard: The Church on the Hill

This, then, is our first Church of the Open Sky session, a quiet musical interlude in old St Brigid’s Church, Port Fairy, Victoria, and how a community rescued it back from a fate it did not deserve.

In our launch issue is the story of St Brigid’s and the song sung there, with the invitation to listen to, and download if you like, this wonderful Shane Howard composition, The Church on the Hill. We hope you like it.