It announces some tour dates for Eric Bibb in Australia. Nothing strange about that. Now take a closer look. There’s a gig in Melbourne, capital of Victoria. Population 3.8 million. And another one in Hobart, capital of Tasmania. Population 205,000. And Meeniyan. Population 1006. Meeniyan. Where the hell is Meeniyan and why is it hosting Eric Bibb, arguably one of the world’s greatest acoustic blues performers? Don’t get me wrong, there’s no reason why Meeniyan shouldn’t host world-class performers, but doesn’t it strike you as strange? Doesn’t it make you wonder how this has come about? And I can disclose, this is not Eric Bibb’s first visit to Meeniyan.
I share something with Eric Bibb. I too have had a gig at Meeniyan Hall, albeit a facilitation gig. This is what it looks like.
It’s a typical Australian country hall. Wooden floor, stage with steps at one end, fading picture of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, lists of Hall Committee Presidents and Secretaries, a supper room out the back where, well, supper is prepared. In fairness, it’s quite some time since I’ve visited Meeniyan Hall so this description may not be absolutely accurate, but I bet it’s pretty close.
I remember Jeanette, a participant in one of my workshops. She attended one of Eric Bibb’s gigs at the Hall, queued up along the street with all the other locals, carrying supper and a bottle of wine. She said it was ‘the best night of my life’. She met Eric afterwards, he signed her CD. The Hall was packed to capacity. In a town with a population a little over 1000, in east Gippsland, about two hours’ drive from Melbourne.
This story epitomises community. A small country town is not daunted by its size or isolation. I bet someone once said: ‘why don’t we just ask?’ When I was organising a conference way back in the 90s called Live and Earthy (great name, don’t you think?) we wanted Campbell McComas – a consummate performer, public speaker, comedian and all round good bloke. He was way out of our price range, but I called him anyway. To my great surprise he answered his own phone, listened to my request and said ‘yes!’. Similarly the Coodabeen Champions also agreed to a whacky request to make a Landcare tape. I asked and they too said ‘yes!’.
So the lesson for me is that anything’s possible. And if you want someone’s help, just ask. The answer might be ‘yes!’.