Making a Big Impact with Music at Geelong After Dark

Geelong-based musician Tim Hulsman is never one to shy away from a challenge. And the bigger the challenge, the more determined he is to make an impact.

After making his Geelong After Dark debut shrouded in fairy lights while playing slide guitar in the inaugural 2014 festival, Tim will be back this year with his latest big idea.

When you attend Geelong After Dark 2019 on 3 May, it will be well worth your while heading to the Market Square Mall to see Tim unveil and play a bespoke five-metre-long, four-stringed slide guitar which he believes will be the largest slide guitar in world.

Tim says he always likes to think big and this time he took that thought literally: “I still wanted to play slide guitar but why not create the biggest slide guitar that’s ever been created in the world and play that.”

The concept is the brainchild of Tim, his partner Nina Grant and art director Mike Patton. All three agreed there needed to be a visual aspect to the performance to bring the bones of the music to life.

“Instead of magnifying something we create a larger version of it. You can see sound in motion. A vibration that runs along a really long string can actually be seen.”

“I don’t actually sit there and play it. I have to run along it and dance. I actually have to create choreography to be able to play it.”

“Nina and Mike will also be performing live art in response to the music with the results projected onto a giant screen. So people watching will experience a lot of colour and movement in the overall show.”

Tim knows the over-sized guitar is an experiment but its creation is aligned with Geelong After Dark festival’s philosophy of allowing artists to push their boundaries. For a self-taught musician like Tim, such a challenge is just another step in his development as a musician.

“Music is just in my soul from when I was five years-old. My mum recounted stories to me about how I would react to music even at that age. I would be completely in a trance state. I would stop whatever I was doing and be lost in the music until it finished and then would snap out of some sort of spell.”

“I didn’t really start to play music until I was about 12 years old. I took to guitar and had a friend who was playing guitar at the time. We bounced off each other with that and taught each other to play. I have been self-taught since those early days.”

Tim’s musical talents now extend to drums, piano, bass guitar, violin and vocals. He founded his own band, toured Australia several times and has released four albums.

Since moving to Geelong eight years ago, Tim has established himself on the local music scene with regular appearances at Pistol Pete’s, the Workers Club, Beav’s Bar and the Barwon Club.

“Geelong has a strong history of having a music and arts scene. Although I hear from other people who’ve been around it’s waned in recent years. However, it’s starting to redevelop and I thought it was a really good time to be here while that redevelopment is happening.”

“Geelong is a big enough town to be well-received and there’s enough people for you to make something happen but it’s also small enough for you to make a difference.”

When not creating or playing music, Tim also spends time teaching through the High Voltage Rock School at Drysdale and Point Lonsdale primary schools, introducing kids from ages seven to eleven to drums, keyboards, guitars and vocals.

However, it’s not just the music culture which excites Tim. It is also the wider transition of Geelong to a creative hub.

“Geelong is going through a massive transition from an industrial town. We have been going through a transition for ten or so years now of becoming an education town and, because of that, a melting pot for creativity and new ideas because we’ve got all these young people coming through.

“I’m not just talking about music and art. I’m talking about science and medicine and all those things as well which are very creative fields. Geelong’s identity is really changing and the culture is changing because of that.”

“The cultural change is slow but it is driven by art. It’s driven by the presence of creative people and driven by a community involved and engaged in creating its own identity. Music and art are massive parts of that wherever that happens in the world.”

“Festivals such as Geelong After Dark which we are holding now in Geelong are world class. They are going to do all sorts of great things for the economy here in the long run and the rest of the world’s perception of Geelong and what we are about.”

Ukes D'Jour: Playing it hard, Playing it Rock and Roll

The cool street-slamming style of Ukes D’Jour will be hitting Geelong After Dark this May, showering our ears with their “bouncy old time swing...” .

The Uke legends, Ukes D'Jour kicking it at Geelong After Dark 2015

The Geelong local Bluegrass/Jug/Jazz street band joined us before their return to Geelong After Dark for a good ol’ fashioned lightning round of Q&A.

You are named after it, some of you play it, but why the love for the Ukulele?

We love the accessibility of the ukulele. Within minutes a new player can grasp the basics and be able to join in. For people who have never mastered an instrument before - this is an absolute joy. The ukulele bug can strike the heart of even more experienced musos because of its potential for beautiful and diverse sounds. It's a social instrument that brings all levels of musicianship together.

We all still play and love our ukes but we now mix it up with other instruments that take our fancy...double bass, guitar, banjo, mandolin, and saxophone.

Tell us about the birth of Ukes D’Jour and your fondness for ‘Jug’ and ‘Old Time Swing’.

The name Ukes D'Jour is a play on the idea of 'Soup D'Jour' (soup of the day) because whoever turned up on a particular day was a part of the band. Mike and Herc (band members) set us on the path towards old time jug and swing music from the 20's and 30's and from there we all grew to love the bouncy rhythms and crazy lyrics about gamblers and tarts of old.

What’s the best part of playing with a fun mix of young and not as-young bluegrass lovers?

Its so cool that our 'young'ns' want to hang out with the grey heads - they are now seriously starting to show us up! Hayden (band member) is a rock with the chunky beat on his banjo uke, Elliot (another band member) has the stance and style of a blues harp maestro; and Tom (another band member) knocks us out with his mandolin and guitar breaks. We're fostering the next wave. A mix of young and old allows us to be unique.

You're back again for Geelong After Dark, what was the best thing about playing in the streets last time around?

We loved Geelong After Dark in 2015, there was so much happening. We all enjoyed the fantastic vibe and the family friendly environment. Last year we had a 'join the band' theme and we got around 50 people playing along with us. Geelong After Dark is great for bringing everyone into the streets. With so many interesting pop up performances - people just love it!

Tell us about the show you have in store for Geelong After Dark 2016?

Well, as you know this year's theme is 'Air' - so we plan to blow up a bit of a storm for people who come and see us perform. We will bring out your inner muso and help you find your finger plucking forte. We'll be playing it hard and playing it rock and roll. 

But that's all I can tell you.... You'll just have to be there!

What do you love most about being musicians in and around Geelong?

We play at so many great festivals, and love getting out there on the streets or on stage. We love seeing people smiling and tapping their toes as they walk towards us. To be 'scientifically specific' playing music is all about 'endorphins, serotonin and good vibes - what's not to love?

Catch Ukes D'jour at Geelong After Dark 2016, for a dose of their infectious energy. Follow them on Facebook.