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Byron Shire
May 23, 2024

Captivating stories, deep emotions, fine music

Latest News

Rally demands action over Gaza

As the crisis in Gaza continues to escalate, a march through Byron’s streets last Saturday demanded immediate action from the Australian Labor government to stop the genocide and mass starvation of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza.

Other News

Police appeal again to locate man missing from Mullumbimby

Police are again appealing for public assistance to locate Gage Wilson, a man missing from Mullumbimby, since Saturday, 18 May.

Appeal to locate man missing from Mullumbimby

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate a man missing from Mullumbimby.

Northern Rivers will host the 2025 and 2027 NSW Bowls Championships

Ballina is set to host the 2025 and 2027 State Bowls Championships that will see over 900 competitors vying...

Hundreds of DV arrests across state

Police have charged more than 550 people during a four-day operation targeting the state’s most dangerous domestic and family violence offenders.

Only three flood buybacks done in Byron Shire

The most recent data from the Resilient Homes Program (buybacks, house raising and retrofits), administered by the SW Reconstruction Authority (RA), shows Byron Shire has just three buyback purchases completed, as of May 10, 2024.

NSW gov’t opens Tweed Valley Hospital

The NSW government is to officially open the $723.3 million Tweed Valley Hospital today after the transferral of patients to the new facility last week.


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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New witnesses in long-running kambo inquest

Proceedings reopened in Byron Bay Courthouse yesterday in what is expected to be the final stage of the long-running coronial inquest into the death of Jarrad Antonovich.

Police appeal again to locate man missing from Mullumbimby

Police are again appealing for public assistance to locate Gage Wilson, a man missing from Mullumbimby, since Saturday, 18 May.

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