Marguerite Montes may have moved to Sydney to take up grandparenting duties, but that hasn’t dimmed her love for Bellingen nor curtailed her musical career.
She will be singing at The Little Red Kitchen on Saturday October 7 as part of a regional tour promoting her new album All The Time In The World.
But the tour is not just about the album, she says, it’s also ‘a celebration of life and family’ as it’s the first time she and her sister Marie Montes have performed together since childhood.
Marguerite comes from a family of musicians. Born in Almeria (‘mirror of the sea’) in the Moorish-influenced area of southern Spain, her father was a luthier and piano builder who ran an orchestra and her mother was a singer.
She’s the middle child of musical siblings, with an older brother Emmanuel who she says has a better voice than her, and a younger sister Marie, who she says is a better songwriter.
But she is the one who has forged a career in music, as a singer, songwriter and teacher.
When she was very young, her family moved to France for political reasons, then onto Australia in the 1970s when Marguerite was ten.
She’d already been writing songs for a few years by then, mostly about courtly, unrequited love – as one does aged six or seven.
Marguerite always knew she would live in Bellingen.
“My love affair with Bellingen goes way back, to when I was a little girl in France,” she says. “My mother had a coffee tray with a picture of a valley and Indigenous people spearfishing. I would look at this tray and think ‘oh, one day I will go to live somewhere just like that!’.”
In 2009, after she had been living in Bellingen for a decade, a small story and photo in the Courier-Sun caught her eye, and she realised the image on her mother’s tray had been a colonial-era sketch of the Bellinger River from Fernmount.
“It was one of those serendipitous moments,” Marguerite says, “where everything in my life made sense!”
A reviewer of Marguerite’s latest album who has known her a long time, commented:
“East Coast songwriter Marguerite Montes has lived a full, rich and colourful life – much of it in exciting boho circumstances, some of it in pain and darkness. Her new album of songs with violinist Peter Urquhart is informed, bruised and kissed with the ins/ups and outs/downs of her life. The eight songs on All the Time in The World are performed in a voice that carries the years in it – but is not worn out by them, only burnished to a clear, fine-grained glow, like any well-tuned and well-loved instrument.”Paul Hardaker
“I survived breast cancer in 2004, after being told it was so aggressive that by December I’d be dead,” Marguerite explains. “And I had a pretty hideous public separation in Bellingen. I’d built my house, started a uni degree, and then got cancer. My partner leaves, I lose the house, I almost lose the child because she wanted to go live with Daddy.”
“It was a very difficult time, and I think that’s what Paul was referring to in his review.”
Marguerite and Marie headed out of Bellingen on Wednesday (September 27) to perform at Carinda for the fledgling David Bowie Festival, which organisers hope will go the way of the Elvis Presley one in Parkes.
Carinda is a tiny town in far western NSW whose pub is famous for being the place where Bowie filmed his hit song, ‘Let’s Dance’ in 1983.
“You’ve heard of the back of Bourke?” says Marguerite. “Well, it’s just in front of Bourke.”
After Carinda (Friday September 30 to Monday October 2), Marguerite plays Lismore on Friday September 30, Bellingen on Saturday October 7, and Bowraville on Sunday October 8.
For more details, see http://www.margueritemontes.com