Tram Sessions volunteer: Simon Conlon
What do you do as a volunteer at Tram Sessions?
What motivates you to volunteer?
I’m new to Melbourne and trying to find my way into interesting projects. Also, you can call yourself whatever you like, but if you are not doing it regularly…
What would the world look like without volunteers?
There would only be a small number of large-scale, ready-established ventures. What can you name that didn’t need a bit of a push from some good people for nothing at the very start? Never mind the charitable work that will never break even.
What has been your most memorable experience as a volunteer?
I worked with Clowns Without Borders and took a Clown show into outback communities in the Tanami desert in the Northern Territories for a week. I will never forget it.
Simon’s favourite Tram Session:
In the theme of National Volunteer Week, Tram Sessions would like to say ‘thanks a million’ to Simon!
Volunteering Australia has put together a new campaign which asks people to ‘say thanks a million to Australian volunteers’. The statistics show that over 6 million people in Australia are giving up their time, free of charge on an annual basis.
Here at Tram Sessions there are 16 volunteers who help out in some way or another. We have put together a Q&A to find out why they love volunteering.
“We got it!”, “We did it”, “We won the grant!” were splashed across our Facebook and Twitter as the clock rolled over to 12:01pm and announced that Tram Sessions had received The Bank of Melbourne Local Project Grant last Friday.
Now, you’re probably thinking that the “We” in the above is the Tram Sessions crew for orgainising such an awesome project (come on… we know it’s an awesome project and yes, we are allowed to gloat about it li’l), but no, the “We” in the above is all of you who helped us get over the line.
So here it is, a massive thank you to you. Yes, you.
When Tram Sessions was first started by Nick about two years ago, bewildered passengers watched on, nervous and concerned. Now, in 2012, tram passengers already know about our little project and they love it! They tell their friends about the band that they jammed with on their commute, they film it on their smart phones to savour their experience and they get involved in something that is uniquely Melbourne.
This is our aim, to get Melbournians involved and to embrace our unique culture, our amazing live music scene, and to bring a bit of joy to unsuspecting commuters. And with artists like The Vaudeville Smash, Lisa Mitchell, Ben Kweller and Amanda Palmer spreading their soulful messages across our tram network, our job is pretty damn easy!
So, what next for Tram Sessions? Well, the bands are lining up to play, the audiences are growing by the week and if this is anything to go by, 2012 and Tram Sessions will deliver some awesome experiences for Melbourne’s music lovers.
Media / Sound Hound
During our Foo Fighters adventure last year we had the pleasure of having Mary tagging along to capture the campaign in her radio documentary. As she was new to Tram Sessions we thought it would be interesting if she could write a little piece about the experience. Well, in true Mary style she delivered. Enjoy a text behind the scenes of Tram Sessions:
Taking the ride with Tram Sessions: behind the documentary
© Mary Cruz 2012
I consider it a very good day when an opportunity to document and produce something special walks into your life. Tram Sessions cropped up, unexpectedly, when a friend told me to Google it after my desperate call-out for a documentary subject.
A peek at the website and some quality Vimeo time told me to get in touch with Nick Wallberg. A couple of emails and a phone call later, I received an invitation to meet the Tram Sessions crew over drinks on the first sunny Friday night in September, 2011. In the same week I cried for help on my documentary, I had discovered Tram Sessions and met the people behind it. I was pleasantly surprised to find a young, entrepreneuring and welcoming group who were doing something they loved and believed in. I had no idea how the story was going to unfold. All I knew for sure was that I was at the right place at the right time and how glad I was that I posted that Facebook status!
Nick was gracious enough to let me shadow him, recording face-to-face interviews as well as a TV spot with Channel 31. The real treat came when the opportunity to be present at a tram session came up. UK band Frankie and the Heartstrings opted to play some tunes on a tram between their Melbourne gigs during their Australian visit in October 2011. This was the perfect opportunity to capture a live session and also to put myself in the shoes of an unsuspecting commuter. I was quite blown away. The acoustics in a tram were surprisingly rich, and I was amazed by how the street sounds and the tram bell added to the dynamics of the session. I realised that there is a distinct difference between playing ‘to’ and playing ‘for’ and audience. As I fumbled with the recording equipment, I was torn between focusing my attention on the sound levels or allowing myself to just enjoy the jam. No tram ride can ever compare, after that day.
A tram session has been likened to busking, where live music is played in a public space for the public. I find that’s pretty much where the commonalities end. Tram Sessions is not about gettingyour coin donation, it’s about giving you the tunes. For free. While you travel to your next appointment, or to school, or to meet your friend. When you get to your destination, the first thing you say after hey how’s it going is guess what happened on my way here. I’d say that was a more interesting way to start a conversation.
After I had a clear idea of what Tram Sessions was about my next big question was I’m sorry? Who did you say you’re trying to get to play on a tram? I’m a sucker for a good story, and I wanted to see how Tram Sessions were going to get the Foo Fighters to jam on a tram. Meeting Dave Grohl’s cut-out is probably the closest brush to fame I’ll ever have, but what I could see evolving was a very exciting and ambitious campaign. Tram Sessions received significant media coverage throughout Melbourne and generated a lot of chatter amongst Facebook followers. The networks and contacts established in the whole process was invaluable and the consistent efforts that backed this 4-month campaign must be commended by at least those who were privileged enough to witness it – me. I haven’t met many people who have been bold or brave enough to take a chance on grand dreams. It was utterly refreshing to meet not one, but a whole group.
The energy that gives life to each tram session is no accident. This energy, I discovered, comes from the dedication, good will and generosity that Nick and his team have so willingly devoted to this project. I admired the professionalism and seamlessness in which the sessions were delivered. The ‘imperfections’ of the live recordings and the realness of the moment express the true essence of a tram session. This is something I didn’t fully understand until I had been to one. Time spent with the team also gave me insight into the motivations around such a project, and why so much time and energy is invested into something without commercial gain for the people who are creating it. The artists certainly receive great exposure in playing on a Melbourne tram, but what about the crew who built the wheels and set this thing into motion? In a society driven by consumerist ways and profit, the basics of pure enjoyment in doing something fun, for the love of it, has been diminished. Essentially, this is what music brings to people – joy. There was no reason greater than that.
Two months after I had started my journey with Tram Sessions I had countless hours of audio to trawl through, select, and edit to compile into a 20-minute package. Eight intensive days into November, with little sleep, a few nightmares and a cramping neck, I finally had a result I was satisfied enough to share. To capture this Tram Session journey was my goal from day one. I just hadn’t bargained on being so encapsulated in it. I’d say I reached my goal, and scored some bonus extras, like a packet of inspiration and a handful of new friends. All because of that Facebook status. Seriously.
A week has passed since the Foos rocked Melbourne and we were so close to getting them to jam on a tram. We delivered the 2500 signature petition to the tour manager, got a personal letter to Dave and were in the front row of AAMI Park waiving a life size cut out of Dave chanting “Jam On My Tram”.
Even though the campaign didn’t deliver the Foo Fighters, previous Tram Sessions’ musicians got a lift by a huge increase of traffic to tramsessions.com and to their videos. We were also lucky to generate some great media attention which included many of our past bands. This is one of the cornerstones of what we want to achieve. We want to showcase all the great music Melbourne and Australia has (and we even throw in some cheeky international acts once in a while). There’s so much talent out there, and not enough platforms for them to shine!
Initially we were thinking of doing a write up, taking you behind the scenes of the Foo Fighters campaign, but something got in between. That something was Mary Cruz. She decided she wanted to do a radio documentary about the adventure. We loved the idea and gave her access to pretty much every meeting and interview we had (there were quite a few…). Hopefully it gives you some more insight in what we try to do and how lucky we are to attract all these great people that make it happen! Click the link below to have a listen.
Stay tuned for the last session of the year, which will be announced real soon. Until then – Happy Commuting!
Help fellow commuters,
We need your help! It’s only a few days until the Foo Fighters are here in Melbourne. And we want them to jam on a tram. Badly.
We would be ever thankful if you could help us by posting messages on FB-pages like:
Please write the messages in your own words. It doesn’t have to be advanced at all (examples below). Would be great if you could have the post to link to any of the links below. Just to make it easier for media to follow what’s going on.
- Make history @Foofighters, jam on a tram! It would make my year! http://vimeo.com/28335831
- I dare you to jam on a tram @foofighters! http://www.facebook.com/events/264898576870475/?ref=ts
Promo video: http://vimeo.com/28335831
Facebook page: just write @tramsessions in the post.
Petition page: http://www.facebook.com/events/264898576870475/?ref=ts
Their Record label and Tour Manager have been following the campaign for months and we’ve been in regular contact with them. This is the final stretch people! This is where we all need to show them that Melbourne wants this. That it will be something never done before, something people will talk about for years to come. And you can be a part of it!
It’s time for another update (yep, we know it’s been a while). It will be about Tram Sessions in general, but of course also about the pledge to get Dave Grohl and the boys to jam on a tram in December. It sure is getting close…
Let’s start with the campaign. Our petition on Facebook is ever growing which is great fun! The last time we looked a bit over 2000 people had signed up. Only in the last week or so, 300 people joined in. Please keep it up good friends!
What’s more fun though is that we now have been in contact with the Touring Company! After a few very friendly stalking efforts (picture taken outside their office) from our/Dave’s behalf, they’re now aware that we’re out there (rumour says that they’ve heard about our plans months ago…). Thanks for all your support friends! And rest assure, we won’t rest until we have them jammin’ on a lovely Melbourne tram!
Besides the campaign we’re continuing to film sessions, the last one with New Settlement Road. We’re also developing a new website, which is super exciting! Have a look at the screen shot and let us know your thoughts. It’s still a few weeks away for it to go live.
I think that’s enough for now, but if you want more updates, head to our Facebook page as you’ll get heaps of small updates from there.
Oh boy we’ve been having fun lately. On Monday we got the front page page of MX Melbourne, on Tuesday Melb Magazine wrote a piece about us, and on Wednesday The weekly Review had us in an article about the Awesome Foundation.
On top of that we’ve been loving filming sessions. The Messengers was a hit, going through the city on the 86. Johnny Rock and the Limits was filmed on Wednesday (online this weekend) and we’re off again today to film the multi award winning Canadian band Hey Rosetta at 2pm today.
We also have to mention the success we’ve had in the quest to get Foo Fighters to Jam on a Tram as well. The number on our online petition keeps growing and the support we get from people around us is phenomenal. However, we need to keep at it! If you’re not ‘attending’ the event, please do. And if you haven’t invited your friends, please do that as well. We can assure you that we won’t rest until we have Dave Grohl & co on a tram in Melbourne.