Chris                           Graham                         Holly

Charming, chilly concert at Carey’s Cave

BY KARAN GABRIEL     15 Feb, 2011 05:19 PM

The first thing you notice as you leave the everyday world of trees, grass and sky and enter Careys Cave at Wee Jasper is the temperature change. It drops several degrees as soon as you pass through the door at the mouth of the cave.

We feel our way down the first few stairs, until our eyes adjust to the dim light. At the foot of the stairs, a large chamber opens out ahead of us, and at the far end a stage has been set up.
Chairs are arranged in imprecise rows in front of the stage – imprecise because they must make room for the formations of the cave, and the occasional drips from the roof.
Candelabras are dotted around to add atmosphere, and the electrical lighting system is kept to just a few spotlights that are dimmed low.

The cave itself is breathtakingly beautiful. In the glow from the candles, the walls of the cave are cream, orange and rich brown. Walls curve and drop away; gaps stretch wide to reveal another chamber, and then another. Stalactites hang above and around us, occasionally drip-dripping.

There are about 60 people finding their seats in this unique and glorious chamber, settling in for a concert by an acoustic trio called The String Contingent.
Holly Downes (double bass), Graham McLeod (guitar) and Chris Stone (violin) are young, energetic and charismatic. They hold their instruments assuredly and have that quiet confidence that comes with having performed more times than belies their youth. They have just returned from a tour of the UK.
Their music is described as ‘new acoustic’ and in the literature handed out with our tickets, it says, “Rather than beginning with a genre, new acoustic music begins with each individual musician: what can they do best, and what does that sound like?”

I can tell you that it sounds amazing, particularly in an earthen underground chamber where the sound is crystal clear.
For almost two hours, the trio play tunes of their own composing, talking us through each one, explaining its origins and influences. They are a joy to listen to as they both talk and play. The tunes are joyous, hopeful and fun.

I temporarily forget where I am, until a drop from the clammy ceiling lands on my arm. Brought back to reality with a jolt, I look around and realise this is a bucket-list experience – something to do before you die.

We emerge afterwards back into sunlight and warmth. It is about 7pm on a beautiful, balmy Saturday evening. After such an invigorating concert, stepping back into the light after the cool darkness of the cave is like a kind of rebirth.

Yass Valley Tribune  16th Feb 2011