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Byron Shire
March 9, 2021

Captivating stories, deep emotions, fine music

Latest News

Seapeace: the late Tony Maxwell’s wetland legacy

Many curious minds have pondered the purpose of the rice paddy-like waterbodies that scallop the contour lines out into the Ewingsdale coastal plain that can be viewed from St Helena Road.

Other News

Suffolk Park pump track for Cavanbah

Kathy Gleeson, Suffolk Park When I first heard of, and supported, the pump track at the Linda Vidler Park in Suffolk...

PM forced

Narelle Rendalls, Ballina With reference to the recent serious sexual assault allegations in Canberra, our Prime Minister has a lot to...

Seapeace: the late Tony Maxwell’s wetland legacy

Many curious minds have pondered the purpose of the rice paddy-like waterbodies that scallop the contour lines out into the Ewingsdale coastal plain that can be viewed from St Helena Road.

Be proud of Ballina, help clean up our beaches

This Sunday, 7 March, Ballina Coastcare is inviting everyone who cares about Ballina's environment to Step Up To Clean Up, and join a special event for Clean Up Australia Day.

Parking permits

Liz Levy, Suffolk Park Why has Byron Shire Council decided to impose a layer of digital tyranny for residents wishing to...


I Menahemi, Myocum In his editorial Hans Lovejoy says – ‘the optics from The Echo have been and hopefully always will...


World musician, contemporary of Paul Simon and one half of The Hottentots, Carl Cleves, has created a very special new album entitled The House is Empty. He spoke with Mandy Nolan about his upcoming launch.

What inspired you to create The House is Empty ? The torments of my soul.

How would you describe the genre of this album and the songs contained within? I struggle with genres, as they shift from album to album. David Hinz in Folkworld magazine calls The House is Empty the ‘missing link’ to the classic UK folk scene from the 1960s. The setting is acoustic, reminiscent of Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks and Joni Mitchell’s Blue. I didn’t realise it when I recorded these songs during a 16-month tour with the Hottentots around the world, but in hindsight I realise that I was looking for the voice of my roots. I was born in Belgium, a tiny country in the heart of Europe, and when I grew up I was exposed to all kinds of popular music on the radio: Italian and French hits, German schlagers, English rock music and pop and American R&B, broadcast from Luxembourg to the US soldiers in occupied Germany. The rawness of folk music and blues and the freedom of beat poetry gave me goosebumps. The House is Empty does have a definite European flavour. I even sing a Jacques Brel song on the CD.

What is to you the essence of a great song? To touch. To connect. A direct line to your heart, your hips or feet.

When you are crafting your music, what are the traps or obstacles that you try to avoid? Leave your editing hat on the clothes hanger while you are in a creative mood and drive your car without brakes. Return to it later with a critical eye. Persist gently. Some songs take an hour to write, others take years.

Do you recognise a great song when you write it, or does that come in the playing? Finishing a song is like having a baby. You admire it and wonder how you managed to create such a wonderful thing. You play it over and over in a state of bliss. After a couple of days of doing this, the umbilical cord is cut and you sober up and know whether it is truly great, mediocre or ready for the bin.

Who are the people who have influenced you the most on your creative path? Big Bill Broonzy, Bert Jansch, Randy Newman, Jacques Brel, Leadbelly, Buddy Holly, Caetano Veloso, Bob Dylan, The Everly Brothers, Arthur Rimbaud, Sister Rosette Tharpe, Kurt Weil, Ray Charles, Parissa Bouas, Joni Mitchell, Corto Maltese, Townes van Zandt, Charles Bukowski, Woody Guthrie, Jules Verne, Milton Nascimento, Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, The Beatles, Jack Kerouac, Tintin… Now you’ve got me raving, Mandy.

You are such a traveller as well… how does this reflect in your songwriting and storytelling? A stranger in a strange land does not meddle, but observes and learns. A sense of humour, attitudes towards children, relationships, sex or music might change, yet every human being, anywhere in the world, has to tackle the challenges, potholes and car crashes of life. Having lived for long periods in foreign cultures – Latin America, Africa, the Arab world and Asia – I have not only enriched my emotional palette and acquired a trunk full of stories but have soaked up song structures, guitar styles and rhythms. My songwriting and storytelling is constantly evolving.

What should we expect from your Byron show? An entertaining concert with captivating stories, deep emotions and a fantastic band. I am thrilled to be joined by 10CC’s guitarist Rick Fenn, my Hottentots partner and favourite singer Parissa Bouas, and Byron’s ace bass player Thierry Fossemalle.

Launching at the Byron Community Centre on Saturday at 8pm.

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Caravan park to pay $2.3mil plus to consumers

The NSW Court of Appeal has upheld the Supreme Court’s decision arising from the sale of the movable dwellings located on waterfront sites along the Tweed River.

Government modelling fails to reflect women’s interrupted careers

New research to be released this week analyses two decades of Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey to estimate the actual labour force experience of women over their life and accounts for working when super is not paid.

Ballina cleans up!

Clean Up Australia Day was a great success in Ballina, with the beach clean up event organised by Ballina Coastcare yesterday attracting twenty volunteers.

Lismore future councillor information sessions

With the delayed Local Government elections being held in September, several councils, including Lismore City Council, are holding information sessions for community members who are thinking about running for Council.