Brisbane, Australia 2016 Report — A River Runs through It

Hello My Friends…

How you going? (Aussie greeting)

Like most Australian cities, Brisbane was founded upon ancient homelands of Australia’s indigenous peoples, specifically the Turral and Jagera peoples, who are still around the area today.

In 1824, a penal settlement was founded 17 miles north, but within a year it is was moved to where the city sits today.

Brisbane is lovingly called “The River City.” The large Brisbane River wiggles its way through this two million modern metropolitan population like a snake.

The North Bank of the city is packed with all of its high-rise skyscraper city center buildings that makes an impressive, Hong Kong-like skyline.

The South Bank is full of low-rise apartments, million dollar houses, the three-kilometer riverside pathway called the Brisbane River Walk. There are also many public venues built along the south bank of the riverside, such as their convention center, the city botanical gardens, museum, art center and the South Bank Parklands.

Brisbane is situated halfway up the east coast of Australia and is much closer to the Equator than Sydney. With the subtropical climate, everything has an outdoor element built into it. The locals have built their party lifestyle around the river. Many of their annual events are scheduled on or near the river. They have many restaurants on both banks of the river that take advantage of the warm Brisbane weather, with outdoor dining and river views.

Brisbane is well-known for its distinct Queensland architecture. My Hotel is a 10-minute walk to the Playshop venue. Simon Faulkner and I have made that walk each day, sometimes by different routes. On our walks, we see many of the amazing old Colonial golden tan and orange bricked sandstone buildings that have been preserved from as early as the 19th century. They are snuggled up amongst the city center high-rise buildings.

Our Playshop venue was situated in the center of downtown Brisbane. The river curves around it in such a way that we were only a few blocks from the waterside, in three different directions. The venue is called the Metro Arts Center and was an old dock warehouse converted into a state-sponsored Arts studio building in the 60s.

Our Playshop room was on the 4th floor. The only problem is that all the floors were almost 2 stories tall and the small Lift (elevator), was only for equipment, not people. People had to use the stairs. Also in Australia the first floor is called the ground floor, so the 2nd floor is called the first floor. So the 4th floor is really the 5th floor, but with the tall ceilings, the 4 floor was really about what we would call the 7th floor. We had to use the stairs to get up to the 5th floor (really the 7th), every day. So I got a lot more exercise than I wanted. Diana, my wife and love of my life, will be pleased to hear this. And Simon (a veteran outback tracker and salsa dancer) got just what he wanted, which was a good morning workout.

This was my first Playshop in Brisbane but my most fun training on the tour. There was a great mix of 6 culturally specific drummers, 10 recreational drummers, 8 drum teachers, so we rocked while the culturally specific drummers were told to play “anything that they did not already know.” That mix of drummer types was, at first, an “oil and water challenge” for me but I was finally able to successfully work them into a rhythmical alchemy situation that benefited all concerned.

We also had a mix of the rest of the usual suspects, including a gaggle of community servers including: 7 Music therapists, 6 kids at risk facilitators, 8 special needs, 6 corporate, 7 gender empowerment, 11 school event facilitators, and 7 community drum circle facilitators. Remember that in the demographics above, quite a few participants in the Playshop had more than one job description.

Because we had only a few “Challenge” people in this first Brisbane Playshop, both Simon Faulkner and I did a lot of 'jumping in' during the challenge exercises. Also I did the Saturday morning Drum Call demonstration (the 7 elements) with Simon critiquing me. And then Simon did the “Running The Map” demonstration (The Anatomy of a DC), on Sunday morning with me critiquing him.

The Community Drum Circle was a great sounding event, thanks to Optimum Percussion’s REMO drums and a wide variety of extra drums and percussion supplied by Playshop participants Billy and Paul. And thanks once again to Optimum Percussion for giving us another drum to give away during the drum circle event.

It was also a very spirited family-friendly event with a lot of recreational drummers from the area showing up. My Playshop graduate kids did a great job of facilitating while respecting the 12 measure rule wait in-between jumps. Simon did a great closing for the event.

Sneaky/Cheeky Vegetable...

As part of the Playshop training, I am now emphasizing more of how to "Teach Without Teaching" and how to "Follow The People Who Are Following You" in order to help move the DCPlayers into more sophisticated interactive music making.

I do this under the heading of how to be a “Sneaky Vegetable" (replacing the word Bastard with Vegetable).

At the end of the Playshop, Kelly List came up and presented me with a laminated cartoon drawing that she did. It was a drawing of a vested, beens-hatted Arthurian-looking elf with carrots in both hands. It had the title of 'Cheeky Vegitable' on the top of the drawing. In Australia, Cheeky means = an impudent, impertinent or irreverent personality, (typically in an amusing way) with "a cheeky grin”… Yep, that's me!

This has be the most extensive and fully-packed Asia Playshop tour that I have ever done. With eight 3-day Playshops done with overlapping Challenge programs in 6 countries, + 3 separate Challenge programs and 29 other non-Playshop related programs in Japan, Malaysia and Korea, I should be dead right now.

But I’m not dead, thanks to My Regional Organizers (ROs) Tonny Wen, Channon Liu, Gabriel Lam, TomTom Yokota, John Hagedorn, Mr Song, and Simon Faulkner, I received all the support and rest I needed between events. I am fully rested and ready for Hawaii. Are You??

Without the teamwork cooperation between the ROs, the REMO Distributors, and the travel help from REMO itself, all of these Asian Playshops that I have done over the years would be nearly impossible to do.

Thanks to all of you and to the over 900 people who attended the Playshops, Challenge courses, and other programs that were held on this year’s VMC Asia Tour.

As I pack the ball of collected closing ceremony strings into my suitcase, I can envision adding it to the BIG BALL in my Santa Cruz office in two days. That ball will then have over 11,000 strings in it, representing our worldwide VMC Rhythmical Evangelist Facilitator Community.

Life is a dance... when you are sharing your Spirit…. Uncle Arthur {]]’;-)