Fremantle Stuff > music > Hammer and Tongues.
See also: Voices Abreast, cassette recording, 1991

Hammer and Tongues

Unaccompanied vocal group 1989-1992

HAMMER AND TONGUES - BRIEF HISTORY

Fremantle Gazette 24 October 1989 >
Maria Wilson, Christine Evans, Kerry Fletcher, Lynn Hazelton
>

1989
Received "Artrage" grant to produce HAMMER AND TONGUES cabaret season "Sequins and Searchlights"
Performed live on Music Deli Featured at Toodyay.
1990
Featured on "Woman at Work" double cassette
Featured in "Spare Parts Puppet Theatre" 4 week season of 'Alice'
Regular performances in Perth and country touring Featured at Toodyay Folk Festival.
1991
Queensland Tour, headlining at Maleny Festival.
Regularly played on National ABC programmes eg; Connexions Intempo
Half hour HAMMER AND TONGUES special on ABC Nationals "Coming Out Show"
Performed at Lismore Womens Music Festival
Guests for Goolwa Festival (S.A.) and numerous Adelaide performances and community workshops.
Received grant from Office of Family to teach multicultural lullabies.
Featured at Toodyay Folk Festival
Released first cassette "Voices Abreast"
Received grant from "W.A. Womens Trust" to produce "Standing Strong"
International support for Molombo
Performed at National Folk Festival, Adelaide
1992
Support for Robyn Archer
Performed in Festival of Perth
Received Grant from Office of Family Domestic Violence Unit
Featured in Youthfest W.A.

Photograph in the program for the Maleny Folk Festival 1991-92.

Spotted by national folk festival

Peter Sherry, Fremantle Herald, date unknown, 1991

LOCAL Fremantle a cappella act Hammer and Tongues has been invited to perform at the National Folk Festival.
Band member Kerry Fletcher sent a demo tape and band bio to the organisers. The response was an-all expenses paid invitation to the festival, to be held in Adelaide over the Easter weekend.
Kerry says they're very excited at the prospect. The band has been playing for three years and its perseverance is beginning to pay off, she believes.
"It's wonderful - a breakthrough. It will be especially stimulating for us because there will be lots of other a cappella groups there."
Hammer and Tongues has also scored a support slot with South African band Malombo, coming for the Festival of Perth.
And on top of all that, the band has just finished recording a cassette at Planet Studios.
If you want to wish this great a cappella group well on their trip cast, be at the Hammer and Tongues Go East bash at the Ethnic Music Centre on Saturday February 23.

Cover of Infolkus, Folk Federation of SA, vol. 1 no. 8, May 1991.

Kerry Fletcher @ Toodyay, 1991

'RAGING TONGUES'

XPress, unknown date

A Cappella lilts into Artrage this year with the all female group Hammer and Tongues.
These artists of unaccompanied harmony have been heard serenading audiences all around town, and will carry on in the same way during the October Fringe Festival.
Of course, you will have Hammer and Tongues' performances of Go For It pencilled in your diary already, like any enthusiastic Artrager. But even the best laid plans go astray.
Hammer and Tongues has completely altered its plans — dates, venues, titles, the lot — just to keep us on our toes. The group will now be performing Sequins and Searchlights at the Seaview Tavern, Fremantle, on October 25 to 28. The foursome will join with some of Perth's most exciting performers to evoke Paris and Berlin between the wars, treading the line between glitter and gunfire.
The four performances will be full of spangles, sequins, and songs with stings in their tails, with a great dance bracket to finish.

Homecoming brings down the house

Fremantle Herald, unknown date

THE annual Homecoming Concert at the Fly By Night Club last weekend was another huge success - as everybody knew it was going to be.
A large crowd witnessed the best of local music play til the wee hours of the morning. Rich and Famous and Jim Fisher opened the night. Their performances were excellent and well received by the vocal, but at that stage fairly small, crowd.
Hammer and Tongues were very entertaining. The three women use only their voices as instruments and their enthusiasm was absorbed by the audience with the set tight and enjoyable. Their song about Soweto was uplitting.
Devils on Horseback brought the crowd to the dancefloor. They never fail to deliver and once again their set was excellent. The band played a stack of songs from their Scatter the Mud CD which were well received.
WARMIA song contest winners Kavisha Mazzella and Russell and Shirley Smith also played enjoyable sets, and Water Diviners were the next band of the night to bring the crowds back to the dancefloor. Their stint was very danceable despite the fact they were without their percussionist.
The last act of the night was the excellent Market Banned. Their music is very personal and at times almost classical. It was unfortunate they played last, rather than a dance band. It was hard to sustain interest at three in the morning and I ... um ... fell asleep.

Tender slices of roast pork in a traditional rich gravy, topped with poached apples, served with roasted vegetables and a cauliflower & pea gratin.

Clip from the program for Alice, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, 1990.

'Images louder than words'

Ron Banks's review of Alice, West Australian, 31 July 1990.

Written by Christine Evans
Directed by Peter Wilson

ALICE is an entertaining and enlightening demonstration of the bewildering array of modern images that face teenage girls. Full of carefully constructed symbols, its blend of puppetry, music and surreal images is presented with such panache and inventiveness that one can only be beguiled by its cleverness and charm.
It is loosely based on the famous Alice in Wonderland, who went on the ultimate fantasy trip. This particular Alice is an adorable rod puppet with wide-eyed face and a wonderfully expressive body.
Her alter ego is Lynn Hazelton of the a cappella quartet Hammer and Tongues, who are an intrinsic part of the action.
Like most teenagers. Alice fantasises about romance, her daggy parents' music and finding out who she really is. Temptation comes her way in the form of the White Rabbit (Brian Ireland), who introduces her to the glitzy world of music and fashion and even surfing.
She also has a little sister Minnie, a tiny rod puppet who can’t understand big sister and gets in the way.
The dialogue from Christine Evans is sparse. Images speak louder than words and the story’s symbolism is carried mainly by the imaginative puppetry directed by Peter Wilson.
It was an inspired choice to cast Hammer and Tongues. Dressed in black velvet, the four women move through the play both as image-makers and as a chorus. Their songs, ranging from the plaintive to the upbeat popular, are woven through the story with intricate harmonic stitching. Their opening and closing version of Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time is a gentle delight and additional taped rock music by Phil Griffin and Mike Burns considerably enlivens the imagery on stage.
The set by Mark Thomson consists of a larger-than-life dressing table and mirror, complete with drawers that act as steps for the actors. Through the mirror comes the White Rabbit with his images to tempt Alice, while her mother and father (grotesquely large puppets) bob up out of the drawers.
Spare Parts sets a cracking pace with a crazily inventive opening scene that shows Alice taking breakfast with her family. It’s full of visual jokes and crazy sound effects that set up an expectation of more enjoyment to come.
And later images don’t disappoint, particularly the poignant image of Alice’s suitcase being converted into a house with Alice trapped inside, incapable of breaking free of the domestic bonds.
It says more about the 'trapped housewife’ syndrome than half a dozen earnest books on the subject.
But be warned: this play is more suitable for older teenagers who are facing the same problems as Alice. And encapsulated in the story is a neat little message about finding one’s true self.
Alice marks a return to the witty and ground-breaking work that established Spare Parts' reputation. It is quite possibly their best work to dale.

Fremantle voices rise in harmony at Qld festival

Jennifer Temm, The West Australian, 1992

Fremantle a cappeiia group Hammer and Tongues returned to Perth in triumph last week after performing at the Maleny Folk Festival in Queensland. The five-day event drew 45.000 people—one-third more than last year.
“It was just magnificent. We performed on the opening night and to be a part of it was just brilliant. It would have to be the best folk festival in Australia,” singer Maria Wilson said. “We thought we’d get lost in the crowd but they invited us back.”
Other performers at the event included Kev Carmody, Sirocco, Archie Roach, Koori singer-songwriter Joe Gaia, and a contingent from Fremantle which included Ros and Steve Barnes and Rich 'n' Famous.
The show was just one of the many festivals around the country attended by the singing group, which began as a five-piece about three years ago.
“It started out as just a group of women who wanted to sing in the lounge room and evolved from there,” Wilson said.
"I don't know if we ever had a direction, except that we always choose our songs for their message. We thought we had a chance to reach people, with a very lovely medium.”
After various line-up changes the group became a trio a year ago and now includes Wilson, Kerry Fletcher and Lynn Hazelton.
Their material is a mix of traditional vocal songs from as far as Spain, South Africa and South America, and original compositions. They include laments, songs of freedom and contemporary topics such as black deaths in custody.
But not all the songs are grim—Hammer and Tongues are also adept at using satire and humour to make their bitter pills easier to swallow.
Nor is singing all they do. Last year the group put together their Standing Strong project with Aikido and self-defence instructor Katie Noad.
The 20-minute theatre and music piece is a series of skits highlighting the situations in which women can be threatened—on a bus, in the pub, in the bedroom—and aims to raise women’s awareness of their strengths, rights and ability to defend themselves.
Hammer and Tongues have performed Standing Strong about 10 times and will hold a few more shows early this year. But their next performance will be as support to actor, singer, writer and director Robyn Archer at the Octagon Theatre on Sunday night.
They were booked on the strength of their popular 10-track cassette Voices Abreast which was released and recently featured on ABC Radio’s Coming Out national broadcast.
Hammer and Tongues will open the show at 6.15pm for an hour before Archer, accompanied by Michael Morley, presents Robyn Archer, Chansonnier at 8.15. Patrons are invited to bring picnics for the one hour interval.
Tickets at $20 ($18 concession) are available through BOCS booking outlets.

Magnificent 17 ride into town
Women at Work: a wild bunch ready for debut

Mike Gee, West Australian, date unknown

THE magnificent 17 rode into town last week on a mission—to have breakfast together. But, more importantly, these women had two things in common.
They are all so busy that singer/songwriter Kelly Newton-Wordsworth couldn’t get the other 16 together to chew grits at any other time.
More importantly, she and her compatriots all appear on Women at Work, the forthcoming double album from Kitchen Records Co-operative Ltd.
And so this musical super posse sat down to swap tales of the lonesome studio musical trail and to get vibed up for the big show, down Shenton Park Hotel way, on November 11.
That night for four hours most of these women will perform at the launch of what is arguably the most important local album released yet.
It represents the original work of 12 of WA’s best female solo performers and the all-women a cappella group Hammer and Tongues.
Each artist has two tracks—26 in all.
However, until this week the talented 17 hadn’t met, so Newton-Wordsworth got them together for a little press and R&R.
"These Women At Work are really working,” Newton-Wordsworth said. “That’s a good sign for starters.
“But even better is the material on the album—it is simply outstanding.
“There’s everything from folk to blues, jazz to rock, funk to contemporary and some styles they haven't even got names for yet.
“The songs deal with issues as diverse as politics, love and the environment.
“What is even more important is that the album has brought all these artists together and made them realise that they aren’t out there alone and they can compete with the best product from anywhere in the world.”
Newton-Wordsworth might be seen to be a trifle biased as one of the magnificent 17, but the smoke signals from good judges who have heard some of the material is that it is as good as the big wraps being put on it.
So here are the bare facts:
• The project was co-ordinated by A2Z singer Shirley Smith and grew from a pre-production recording workshop held in May 1989 in conjunction with the Department of Employment and Training.
• The tracks were engineered and produced by Russell Smith at Fat Chance Studios.
• The album will be available on two high quality chrome cassettes and runs for more than 100 minutes.
• Buy the double cassette in advance and you get into the release show free.
• The magnificent 17 are: Jeannie Ashurst. Carmel Charlton, Hammer & Tongues (all five), Cathy Hole, Helen Matthews, Kavisha Mazzella, Rita Menendez, Josie Mitchell, Victoria Newton, Shirley Smith, Tzudy Vogue, Louisa Wise and Kelly Newton-Wordsworth.
• Gary Burke of Kitchen Records helped make it all possible.
Be at the Shenton Park on November 11 when the magnificent 17 make their first stand.

Reviews of Hammer and Tongues Performances

"... the music of the a cappella group Hammer 'n' Tongues is a total delight, reinforcing once again that there is no finer instrument and none more delicately balanced than the human voice ". Peter Laud (Sunday Times, Perth, 1990)

"Hammer 'n' Tongues, from West Australia, knocked the socks off listeners - their repertoire was delivered with a winning stage presence."Gordon Mignot (Cornstalk Gazette, Sydney, 1991)

"... an inspired choice ... woven through a story with intricate harmonic stitching ..." Ron Banks (West Australian, 1990)

"An unbelievable highlight of the Folk Federation's weekend ... the sound defied words to describe the beautiful full resonance. Their songs flowed from the staircase through the Club, spilling over into the streets, stopping passers by in their tracks." Alister Wilson (West Australian, Perth, 1991)

"... Their vocal performance is very nearly flawless throughout, and the arrangements sparkle with imagination." Steve Barnes

References, Links, Acknowledgments

Thanks to Maria for lending me her scrapbook.


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