Gypsy Spelling saves the day

A BELOVED creation of Warrnambool artist Gypsy Spelling was on show on the big stage last weekend.

Spelling’s double bass, complete with customised artwork, was used as part of Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier’s show on stage 1 on the Sunday of the Port Fairy Folk Festival. The band’s bass player, Simon Starr, used the double bass after his own had been damaged en route to the festival.

Spelling said he was happy to help out.

“I had a site in the instrument works tent,” Spelling said.

IN TUNE: Deborah Conway on stage at the Port Fairy Folk Festival last weekend. Conway was thrilled Warrnambool artist Gypsy Spelling was able to help her band out. Picture: Perry Cho

IN TUNE: Deborah Conway on stage at the Port Fairy Folk Festival last weekend. Conway was thrilled Warrnambool artist Gypsy Spelling was able to help her band out. Picture: Perry Cho

“When Simon realised his bass was broken, he came into the tent looking for another one in a hurry. I had mine there and I was more than happy to lend it to him. It was a thrill seeing him up on one of the main stages using my double bass.”

Conway and her band were one of the headline acts of the festival with their shows attracting full houses.

Spelling began his business, Double Bass Tattoo, six years ago.

He uses pencils to draw designs on instruments such as double basses, guitar, ukuleles and drums. Once the drawings are complete, a lacquer is applied to produce a protective seal. 

Spelling said the artwork gives the instrument a unique look.

“As far as I know, I am the only one in the world who does the artwork on musical instruments with pencils,” Spelling said.

“I spend my time between working here in Warrnambool and in Melbourne. More and more musicians are approaching me to get some artwork done, there is a lot of interest.”

Interest in Spelling’s work at the Port Fairy Folk Festival extended beyond the Deborah Conway band.

Visiting his site across the weekend were festival acts Folk Uke, a act made up of Cathy Guthrie and Amy Lee Nelson. These girls have some impressive lineage with Cathy the daughter of Arlo Guthrie and Amy Lee the daughter of Willie Nelson. He also received a visit from a famous Australian musical family with brothers Reg Mombassa and Peter O'Doherty stopping by to look at what was on offer.

Spelling not only beautifies musical instruments for others, he also plays double bass with a local band.

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