The launch of The Cabin Sessions proved to be a night beyond my wildest expectations! The Alex Legg Memorial Foundation gave over the last Leggacy Sessions of the year, and I played host to a fine collection of musicians taking on the parts of various characters in my book.
With thanks to Suzanne Diprose for her role as Delilah Makepeace, and for handing round the Christmas cake! And to Dave Diprose for his role as Alf Plum.
The night was made special by warm words of legendary Australian Bluesman ‘King of the Keys’ Andy Cowan in his official launch speech.
I came close to selling out of stock, which was a good thing as I was using a shopping trolley to cart the remaining books home with me by train!
A special thank you to all who came to my launch. Friends came from as far as Ballarat, St Andrews, and beyond the Black Spur to share the night with me. I’m still feeling the love. And my thanks to those who are messaging me with warm praise as they open their copy and discover for themselves why Andy Cowan phoned me the day before the launch and told me he absolutely loved The Cabin Sessions.
My gratitude to the ALMF for their generous spirit, to all the musicians who performed, and to James Longmore at HellBound Books for making it all possible.
If you want to find out what the fuss is all about, visit any good online bookseller or grab a copy here.
Or use the contact page on this website for an author signed copy.
I didn’t plan to write a horror novel. Not at first. Although the elements were there from the start.
The genesis of The Cabin Sessions began in 2012, during a period of my life in which I attended an open mic every Wednesday night without fail. The open mic was held in a log cabin up in the Dandenong Ranges, east of Melbourne, Australia. I was living with the host, Scottish troubadour and gifted songwriter, Alex Legg. Every Wednesday, I would help him carry in the gear. I drank the rider. At the end of the night, making sure I didn’t stagger, I would help pack up.
That year, I was writing short stories in between being Alex’s groupie. I had yet to write my first novel, probably because I was having too much fun going to his gigs. I knew all his songs inside out and loved every single one of them. Naturally.
One night, on the way back down the mountain to our home, I had the idea that an open mic would make a good setting for a novel. Alex enthused straight away. The next day we sat in a cafe in Sassafras and cooked up the story. This is where we sat.
Together we came up with a bunch of characters, including his doppelgänger, Benny Muir, who appears in my short story, ‘All Because of You’, named after one of his songs.
Alex supplied me with tips and quips and odd insights that could only come from an open mic host. With a notebook full of jottings, I figured out a plot and set to work.
Three chapters of composing later and our relationship came to an abrupt end. My creative spark for the story was gone and I shelved the project.
Two years went by and my life changed dramatically. I moved interstate. I wrote like fury and as 2014 neared its end, I had my first novel on submission, another serialised on my blog, and my third in the making.
That December, I received news that Alex had passed away. It was a huge shock for everyone. He was loved and appreciated by so many. He nurtured many a talent and was hugely supportive of local musicians. A foundation has been formed to keep his legacy alive. The Alex Legg Memorial Foundation
It was early 2015 and I felt compelled to preserve his memory. I toyed with writing a memoir of those two beautiful years we shared, a memoir I had conceived when we were still together, one filled with anecdotes from all his friends past and present, but I soon decided the emotion involved would be too intense.
In the process of reminiscing those precious years I had with Alex, I re-read my old notes and chapters of The Cabin Sessions. For me, it was like gazing at old photos. I couldn’t listen to his music. It made me well up too much. So I buried myself in our ideas.
Then, something astonishing happened. I realised Alex’s passing had liberated my story. I made a critical creative decision, and it was as though I had Alex’s permission to do it. I won’t say what it is. After that, things moved fast. In days I was hacking into those early chapters, revising the characters and tightening the plot. There were times I felt Alex was right there with me, urging me on.
The setting for The Cabin Sessions is a version of Warburton, in the Yarra Valley east of Melbourne. It was there, in a cafe that we first met. Our meeting was powerful. Alex even wrote a song about it.
The Cabin Sessions is my way of paying respects to Alex Legg and the two transformative years I spent with him. Even if my offering is grotesque, absurd, hard-hitting, at times deeply confronting and there is not a skerrick of romance to be found. I honestly believe Alex would not have had it any other way.
I am hugely grateful to HellBound Books for believing in this story. HellBound are based in Texas, USA. That feels fitting somehow.
A book launch of The Cabin Sessions is scheduled for December at Leggacy Sessions, the open mic run by the Alex Legg Memorial Foundation every Wednesday night at Oscar’s Alehouse, Belgrave.
I’m delighted to share the ALMF website and announce their annual music scholarship which is open to applicants based in Melbourne and surrounds.
The Alex Legg Memorial Foundation began in early 2015, after musical legend Alex Legg passed away the previous December. The ALMF are a hard-working and dedicated bunch of musicians local to the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, who all knew and loved Alex. Each week they run an open mic in Oscar’s Alehouse, Belgrave.
And every year they hold a memorial concert, raffling an Alex Legg signature guitar (Cole Clarke). At the concert, that year’s scholarship winner is announced. It’s a fabulous prize of $3,000 plus a heap of mentoring. A real career booster for any serious muso.
Tune in to Ann Ann Creber’s The Good Life, 3MDR on Monday 19th June @4.35pm when I’ll be talking about it. http://www.3mdr.com/
It’s been a hectic month of moving house and in amongst it all Odyssey Books re-released my short story collection All Because of You: Eleven tales of refuge and hope.
It’s an eclectic collection and they’re mostly semi-autobiographical. Two were written from the point of view of my former partner, the late Alex Legg, who ought to be remembered forever as one of the world’s genius songwriters.
The timing of the release is remarkable. I’ve been invited to run a series of writing workshops for survivors of family violence as part of Knox PLEDGE and to perform one of the stories with my daughter pianist Elizabeth Blackthorn. Details to follow.
I’m indebted to Elizabeth and to Alex for helping me compose and revise each of these stories. And to my publisher Michelle Lovi at Odyssey Books for continuing to believe in my work.
“After a sudden and intense battle with cancer, Alex Legg, age 62, passed away on the 3rd December 2014, leaving behind his son Angus, his sisters and brothers, and nieces and nephews in Scotland, and the swathe of musicians he inspired. Alex led a rich and interesting musical life since writing his first song at twelve years of age. By the time he was fourteen he was playing bass in Scottish dance band, Dave Barron’s Baronettes. After playing bass in a number of Aberdeen bands, including Hedgehog Pie, he moved to London in 1974 and spent the following thirty years songwriting and gigging, finally moving to Melbourne, Australia with his then wife Jenny and son Angus, and two contact numbers in his phone book. From such tenuous beginnings, Alex went on to forge a successful musical career in Melbourne, especially in the Dandenong Ranges where he ran Kelly’s Sessions, at Kelly’s Bar and Grill, Olinda, easily the greatest open mic in the world and a training ground for many emerging artists. Alex nurtured the talent and gave freely his own hard won wisdom, encouraging singer songwriters to work up a three-hour set and get themselves out there. He would even help to book them gigs. Alex also hosted a monthly Blues and Roots night at Burrinja Arts Centre café, featuring Nick Charles, Fiona Boyes, Andy Cowan, Phil Manning, Kavisha Mazzella, and Lloyd Spiegel and many more top Blues artists, all of whom held Alex in the highest regard. Alex was a master songwriter and consummate performer, his stomping grooves and rich vocals the perfect delivery for songs of passion, loss and social justice. Alex will be remembered for his award-winning songs like Too Many Children and Heaven Help Me; songs he considered simple and funny like Leather and Lace and Forget It (another award winner); and songs like May All Your Friends Be Artists which he wrote for his son Angus, songs that strike at the hearts of many. At the time of his passing he was working on an album featuring the great Albert Lee on guitar. The album was originally to be titled Cupid’s Graveyard after one of the tracks. Towards the end of his life Alex decided to re-name the album Leggacy. I think it was a wise choice. Alex had a huge heart and a giving & generous nature and he has left us with a song catalogue second to none. His songs are his legacy. Here is Heaven Help Me, a song that Joe Cocker passed over and Johnny Neel recorded in 2004 can be found on YouTube” Isobel Blackthorn
It is with huge sadness that I write this. Not twenty-four hours have gone by since the passing of consummate songwriter and performer Alex Legg.
This morning I was so moved by all the messages of love and goodwill on facebook I wrote a short story to contribute to his memory. It’s no more than a vignette. I wanted to capture something of the private Alex, the man I knew so well; his humour and imagination that bubbled continuously behind the scenes. Incredibly, the ABC have published it straight away. This story is for his son, his siblings, his family and for his ark of fans and friends who leave no room aboard for even a fly.
I was fortunate to spend two sweet years with Alex. I went to all of his gigs and applauded every song. I guess I lived inside his song bag so to speak, and each one grew on me so that now I’m covered in them like a rash.
His music is a feast for the ears and the heart. His lyrics have an aerodynamic quality found in the great master songwriters, such as Paul Simon or Bacharach. Each song is carefully crafted with all the hooks and sweet melodies of truly great pop. He wrote in many genres: blues, folk, country, pop. He will be dearly missed but his music will live on. Here he is playing I’m Down at Camelot, Sydney.
Alex was a passionate man. We shared a take on the world and all its flaws. His views came out in songs. You Gotta Laugh Sometimes