Hobart MorningDamn this is a big world! They say it’s getting smaller, but these 15 hour flights are no joke! The contrast of getting information IMMEDIATELY online versus actually seeing it days later might make Australia (in this case) seem even further.

After finishing the condo renovation (literally gluing down carpet at 2am last night), I got a lift to the airport for the long trek to Australia. I made it a point to get out there a little early to visit Maria before continuing to Tasmania for the Festival of Voices.

She lives in Perth, where we met a year or so ago on the “Get Ready” tour. It was summer then (February in the Southern Hemisphere), and it’s clearly winter now (July)! So weird! I packed so poorly for this!

Maria’s family is from Italy. They immigrated to Australia when she was 4, started a restaurant, and now run a thriving catering business (complete with mobile wood fire pizza oven). We spent nearly every day enjoying massive family feasts with the rest of her aunts and uncles and cousins and friends. We had lamb and fish and truffles and wine and cheese. I was in great shape after renovating the condo…not so much any more!

We also got to see more of Perth than last time, including The Big HOO-HAW with her friends on stage doing improv comedy. We hit up Fremantle and got some sushi, noshed downtown for Alicia’s birthday, explored King’s Park, and watched an Eagles footy match from her uncle’s huge waterfront mansion. During the evenings, Maria would head off to dance and I would use the time to arrange music for our upcoming shows down in Tasmania.

The time in Perth was exhilarating and exhausting. Getting things prepped for the group takes so much of my attention and I find myself up late just thinking and planning and prepping for the shows. I felt bad because at times I was a little preoccupied while I was out there. It got to the point in my head where I had to put down the arranging and planning and emailing and just go talk to people. Keeping focused on the moment can seem detrimental but it also helped me focus on what I needed to do when I was actually working.

The trip felt all-too-short as we made our way to the airport, a couple days before the American Independence Day. Last year I was here for that, and we had a party and made our own fireworks. It was awesome! But this year I’d be in Tasmania with The Exchange.

Richard Robot in Hobart 2014

The Exchange at Festival of Voices 2014 Hobart, Tasmania

We arrived in Hobart a few days before our commitments to prep. It was one of the more productive times we’ve ever had, with everybody focused on making good new music. The air outside was cold and without much money or wifi, we were beholden to our work. It was good. It felt right. And we ended up with some really polished music.

But the highlight of the Tasmania trip for us was the workshop. We got to work with about a hundred Aussies who had flown down for the week. We taught music technique, workshops their groups, arranged a few songs to perform, and frankly made some close connections. We even made a beat box group called “Calypso” with a song called Jacques Cousteau. Please stay tuned for the full song 🙂

Oh, and I can’t forget Carmen, who became a close friend as well. We spent our nights eating at Cargo (effing good pizza), playing beer pong in the hotel, and watching some of the other acts that were part of the extensive Festival of Voices. For such a far away place, they really put on an amazing event with a huge turnout. Thank you guys for the wine ;).

I can’t say enough about it. One of the festival’s headliners was Ben Lee, who put on a remarkable and heartwarming show. There is also a huge outdoor event called The Big Sing where the entire city of Hobart shows up to sing along with one of the bands whilst an enormous bonfire is lit in the middle of the Salamanca market square. On top of that, we got to bring our workshop choir on stage to perform one of our originals, “The Good Fight” which brought tears to a few of our eyes.

It’ll be sad to leave our Woolstore Hotel, but for some reason I feel like we’ll be back! <3 u Taz!