Wild Thyme

By Anna Dowd

The meeting of three of Australia’s most celebrated instrumental musicians in their fields, brand new trio Wild Thyme is selling out gigs for good reason. Harbour caught up with Arlene Fletcher, Katie Crane and Laura Targett to get insight into their alchemy.

How many years of dedication to your instruments do you all bring to this trio?

Katie:  I started playing guitar when I was 11, taught by Dad who’s a professional guitarist. I had a big break during my 20s studying an unrelated degree, working and exploring other sides of life, so 29 years all up minus a life detour!

Laura: I began lessons on the violin age seven, but really found my inspiration with it as a young teenager, actually after giving up for a year. I discovered this incredible world of fiddle music beyond classical violin. My mum had cancer, and music became my refuge during that time – so my relationship with my fiddle spans 33 years.

Arlene:  Music always gave me access to express myself and explore concepts in the world. I started my musical journey at seven and I have been playing double bass for 17 years so that equals 24 years. So, between the three of us that’s 86 years!

You certainly bring a wild brew of musical influences and genres to the mix – what can we expect at one of your gigs?

Arlene:  The nature of playing bass is you can be versatile across genres. As an audience member you can expect sweet ballads, cheeky stories, some stomping instrumental tunes and a lot of laughs in between as we cross genres.

Katie: Our different musical backgrounds is one of the best things about playing with Laura and Arlene! I bring Bluegrass, country, blues and roots, Laura brings a world of different flavours from Irish to Balkan and varied European influences and Arlene has a jazz and classical background.

Laura: We also all have a love of old school jazz swing and Manouche Swing. We’re exploring songwriting and composing. Our original music is coloured by all of these influences and our personal life experiences.

What’s your ‘how we met and fell in musical love’ story?

Laura: I moved to the area a couple of years ago and was musically set up with Katie by a mutual muso friend. We both also have young kids and instantly had a great rapport. Sitting on her deck playing tunes was the best mothers group ever!

Katie: The first time Laura and I played together it just worked instantly. We’d been admiring Arlene from afar and when she moved to town we couldn’t believe it. It was a match made in heaven.

Arlene: Haha! I got called in for a quick rehearsal and gig at Coramba. Little did I know I was being musically courted by these two. Our musical chemistry, open conversations and humour has definitely been like musically falling in love. It’s a rare thing.

One of your hopes is to inspire new generations of female musicians – tell us a bit more about that?

Katie: Yes, we’re all passionate about this! I’ve often been asked after winning flatpicking competitions, “What’s it like beating the boys in a male dominated field?” I’d never thought about it. I’d love to see more young women believing they can do it too. Being mothers as artists definitely makes it harder.

Laura: I always wondered why there aren’t more female instrumental musicians. I think as women we’re so conditioned to be carers, to put family, relationship or social expectations first. It can take courage and commitment to step up as an artist. I guess many men can relate to this too. I’d love to see more young women artists in the music world and more industry support for artists who are also mothers.

Arlene: There are some studies and interviews currently happening in Australia exploring gender in music. One of the things my father gave me was the belief that I could do anything I set my mind to. There was no speak of gender roles and as I grew older I started loving the athleticism in technical mastery¬– my masculine– and the creativity of music– my feminine. If we can inspire humans to play, then that’s a great thing.

WHEN Sat 5th June | 6.30pm
WHERE Dorrigo Golf Club | $15.
WHEN Sat 12th June
WHERE 63rd First Ave, Sawtell
WHEN Sat 19th June
WHERE Bellingen Brewery