As the sun set on the touring days for indie rock band The Lime Spiders, Richard Lawson dreamt of heading to Tuscany to live as a peasant farmer. Instead he settled in Mudgee in the Central West of New South Wales, which offers a lifestyle closely aligned to the Tuscan experience. There he established one of Australia’s first certified organic olive farms with the Figtree Food Company. He also began taking music students with the Lawson School of Music.
Although the connections to Mudgee have remained strong for 25 years, Richard and his partner Elizabeth are now based at Mystery Bay, where they have planted over 100 fruit and nut trees to continue the Tuscan experience by the seaside. The pair attend weekly growers markets up and down the coast, including SAGE Farmers Markets every Tuesday, Bermagui growers market as well as Tilba markets on Saturday mornings with their hand made produce.
But it’s not just the food that hungers this musical couple. “For me, the full experience of life has always centred around both food and music,” Lawson says. “In many ways it’s exactly what our culture is crying out for – a return to the simple pleasures of life, like good local food, and real music,” Richard said.
Richard and Liz teach a variety of instruments, with Rich focusing on performance and rock music, whereas Liz takes a more formal approach teaching classical guitar, piano and improvisation.
Richard’s experience was gained on the road touring the world as original drummer with the Lime Spiders, whereas Liz has taken the formal approach to studying music at the University of New South Wales and Sydney Conservatorium. Liz has been teaching private piano and guitar groups at many public and private schools in the Central West. “We have students from kindy to HSC and many adult students as well,” Liz says.
The pair bring their musical talents together in their band called “Honey”, symbolizing a substance that is pure and real that makes the world go around. The band plays as a duo at events and night clubs, swelling the ranks with other musicians for a full line up at larger music festivals throughout New South Wales, and featured on ABC radio.
Rich and Liz also run rival drumming groups – with Richard’s snare and Tom Tom based outfit Kings of Congo Congo featured as the headline band for many Mudgee events in recent years, and Liz’s African drumming band Bella Djemballa bringing a different style of groove to street events and festivals too.
Richard is now taking rock guitar, vocals and kit drums, students on the south coast, and Liz is taking classical piano, classical guitar, improvisation and African drumming classes on the coast as well.
When not teaching or playing, they can be found pottering around as they work towards establishing their new food garden at Mystery Bay.