By JULIUS DENNIS
Sally Balfour says her first go at recording children’s music, Clara Crocodile, which will be released on March 3, has got “an Alice Springs heart.”
Which makes sense, as the journey of the least menacing crocodile in the world takes the audience on a journey from Darwin to Alice in search of a home.
Sally says that the inspiration for this came from the idea that “Darwin is overrun with crocodiles”.
And her own childhood journeys from Alice with her family.
“When I was a kid we went up and down that Stuart Highway either going south or north on holidays, you know, and getting to know that road and what’s on it.”
It’s a trip that Sally has now completed more than once with her own offspring as well as immortalised in song.
The album’s 11 songs have the essential quality of children’s music, immediately engraving lyrics on the back of your brain.
Particularly catchy is the song Mango of which parents will likely hear no end of dog-dog’s need to wee resulting from gorging on mangos of the highest quality.
However, it’s not all dogs needing bathroom breaks, at the heart of Sally’s endeavour was to “create music that kids would enjoy, but adults would enjoy too. So, you know, it’s not all just crazy noises, it’s kind of the tunes that I’m hoping that the whole family will enjoy.”
On those trips that inspired Clara’s, Sally’s family, who were a part of the Alice folk community (her father is Scott Balfour of the iconic Alice band Bloodwood), would listen to children’s music like Ted Egan’s Urapunga Frog and the John Williams and family album.
“In the same sense my parents were obviously trying to find music that they enjoyed that we would also enjoy.”
In a testament to his enduring effect on the Alice Springs music scene, Ted Egan now appears on Sally’s album all these years later as a frog who rides road trains.
“There’s so many little things within the album that are really little special things to me,” says Sally, the frog being one of them.
The album is choc-a-block with features, chief among them is Sally’s two sons and her nephews who appear on the final punk driven track about a family who finds a crocodile, presumably Clara, in their pool. Apologies for the spoilers.
More than the valiant effort to keep all ages entertained, Sally says: “Subconsciously it shows how much I love Alice Springs, because at the time I wrote it, I was living up in Darwin. And I really love Darwin as well, I mean I just obviously just love the Territory.”
It’s a light hearted and refreshing reflection of Alice Springs as a place that is full of magic and adventure. A positive introduction for children from around the country, and a reminder to those who live and come from here of what a great place Alice is and can be.
“One person I sent it to down in Melbourne said that it makes her really want to come back to the Territory which is great. That’s exactly what I wanted — to get people back to the Territory.”
The album has been on Sally’s mind for nearly six years and in the works for the past three years.
The project, which was recorded at Red House Recording Studio by Bill and Darcy Davis here in Alice, was partially funded by an NT Arts grant. The rest of the money came from a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised over $6400.
The journey that both Sally and Clara took has been a little unconventional, but it will soon finally be reaching the end in Alice Springs.