Beautifully Mad: War zones, Frank Zappa and a new Silhouette

ALBUM LAUNCH: Beautifully Mad play Four Winds on Friday, November 17 followed by a songwriting masterclass on Saturday, November 18.
ALBUM LAUNCH: Beautifully Mad play Four Winds on Friday, November 17 followed by a songwriting masterclass on Saturday, November 18.

Musician Tony King is no stranger to war zones.

Born in Cypress to a military father, he spent his youth travelling from civil war to civil war, and along the way absorbing the rich musical cultures places along the way.

With his wife Kris Ralph, AKA Nina Vox, the pair come together creatively to form the award-winning Beautifully Mad.

“Kris and I are gypsies, we love being on the road, which is just as well because we have to make a living that way,’ the 58-year-old said ahead of the duo’s concert and songwriting masterclass at Four Winds this weekend.

As a child he spent time in Papua New Guinea, the Soviet Union and Yemen, falling in love with the bagpipes as a five-year-old living in the port-city of Aden on the Red Sea.

While a student in Queanbeyan, his love for music grew while part of what he describes as a “delinquent” class, uncontrollable until his teacher introduced them to the world of Frank Zappa.

“Forty years later I recognised the teacher at a venue in Canberra, I told her she inspired me to be a songwriter, and she broke down in tears,” King said.

“She said she didn’t think anyone was listening, and I had to give her a big hug.

“So, it’s a lesson to teachers out there.

Beautifully mad with Michael Palin. Photo: Supplied

Beautifully mad with Michael Palin. Photo: Supplied

The group’s latest album Silhouette will be their last pressed to CD, due to a changing music industry, with King and Ralph inviting all their friends to recording sessions, contributing with everything from the spoons to guitars.

“It is a bit sad and nostalgic,” King said.

“it’s a farewell, a thank you to everyone.”

An avid book-lover, King has always loved to read, and as a child the family would bring home a new book every week.

“I was lucky to grow up in the time before distraction,” he said.

The couple moved to Bermagui from Sydney three years ago, and King says their songwriting has flourished with the newfound lifestyle.

“In Sydney you spend so much time in traffic, you could be spending practicing,” King said.

“I love it because there is no static or white noise of modern life.

“We write more clearer down here, and it’s a great place to record.

“There’s a few rooms in our house that are fantastic to record in, better than expensive studios in Sydney,” he said with a laugh.

“It is amazing how many good musicians are in this area, it must be something in the water.”

  • Beautifully Mad play Four Winds on Friday, November 17 at 7.30pm followed by a masterclass on Saturday, November 18 at 10.30am.