FOR the first time in her life Piper Butcher can blow up a balloon.
It might be a basic skill most of us take for granted, but for the Newcastle 16-year-old it's indicative of the growing positivity she feels following her third bout of mouth surgery in January to fix her cleft palate.
Butcher was born with a hole between the roof of her mouth and the floor of her nose and underwent initial surgery as a toddler. After experiencing trouble with her pronunciation and singing last year, the Americana artist's doctor recommended further surgery.
"It's been bit of a challenge as I've found I'm producing different sounds with pronunciation and I'm way louder than I've ever been," Butcher said. "Anyone that knows me singing, I'm very loud.
"It's been easy to project, but at the moment I'm focusing on harnessing the sound I want."
Two months after the surgery at Sydney Children's Hospital, Butcher received a clearance from her specialist to sing again on March 10 and later that night she performed at the Stag and Hunter Hotel's Peppertown Jam.
Butcher has performed consistently since returning and will play a set of originals on Saturday at Hiss & Crackle Records.
Then on May 3 Butcher will release her debut single Haunting Your Thoughts.
POOL RETURN GROWS
FRESH from making her long-awaited return to live performing on Sunday at The Gum Ball, Melody Pool has announced a national run to showcase her new material.
The Kurri Kurri singer-songwriter kicks off the tour in the familiar surrounds of Maitland's Grand Junction Hotel on May 20, before performing at the Stag & Hunter Hotel in Mayfield. The early bird tickets for the Stag show were snapped up in an hour.
Pool is also travelling to Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Goolwa.
Another of the Hunter's finest singer-songwriters, Americana artist Katie Brianna, has also announced a homecoming show at the Stag and Hunter for June 19.
BIRDS FLYING IN
KEITH Urban's return to Newcastle to kick-start the summer of 2021-22 has gotten hotter with pop-rock hit-makers Birds Of Tokyo secured as his special guest.
Broadmeadow's Newcastle Entertainment Centre will host the opening night of Urban's The Speed Of Now World Tour on December 1. While that show was announced last December, Birds Of Tokyo were only added to the Australian leg of the tour on Wednesday.
Birds Of Tokyo released their sixth album Human Design last April while the world was in lockdown and managed to debut at No.1 on the ARIA charts. During January and February the Perth band finally rescheduled their Symphonic tour in capital cities, but the five-piece haven't performed in Newcastle since September 2019.
UNDOUBTEDLY one of the best uncovered treasures at last weekend's Gum Ball was King Stingray.
The Indigenous surf-rock band from Arnhem Land may have only released two singles in Get Me Out and Hey Wanhaka, but they illustrated there's plenty of amazing music coming in their electrifying Saturday evening set.
They were one of a select few who attracted calls for an encore all weekend.
If you missed Gum Ball, don't worry. King Stingray return to Newcastle on May 1 to play the Hamilton Station Hotel on their Get Me Out Tour.
ALL FOR ONE AGAIN
THE Screaming Jets changed the course of their career, and that of Newcastle music, in April 1991 when they released their debut album All For One.
The album spawned their greatest hit Better, written by then lead guitarist Grant Walmsley, and peaked at No.2 on the ARIA charts.
Three decades later the Newcastle pub rock legends are gearing up to release a fresh recording of All For One by the current line-up of Dave Gleeson (vocals), Paul Woseen (bass), Jimi Hocking (guitar), Scott Kingman (guitar) and Cameron McGlinchey (drums).
Due to COVID-19 the various members recorded their parts in isolation and original producer, Steve James, edited it together.
"One of the things that we've always loved about the recording studio is that it's a bunch of blokes, locked away in our own world creating and mucking on," Screaming Jets vocalist Dave Gleeson said. "Obviously that option wasn't open to us due to COVID, so we had to do it like the kids do."
To celebrate the 30-year anniversary of All For One, The Screaming Jets will perform the album in its entirety, plus other tracks, when they tour from July to October. Newcastle fans can see the Jets soar again at Belmont 16s on September 17.
VINYL devotees will be stoked to learn that the Newcastle CD & Record Fair is returning to the Hamilton Uniting Church in Beaumont Street on May 2.