Location: Brisbane, QLD
Challenge: Blind / Acquired Brain Injury
Hollow Tree are a duo consisting of Blind musician Renee Kelly and Acquired Brain Injury musician Dave Rowlands, they come from Brisbane, Australia.
Renee Kelly is a young woman who was born blind.
She started playing on her dad's drumkit aged three. Her musical skills are inspiring. She can pick up an array of different musical instruments and play pieces by ear. Not only does she drum and play percussion she has also learned to play dulcimer and fiddle.
Renee has written a collection of songs and musical pieces as well as poems and short stories.
A hand percussion jam on a hollow tree with her dad whilst her family was on holiday in Cairns, led to a name for her musical project named Hollow Tree.
Renee attended a blues jam with a friend a couple of years ago and asked if she could play the house drumkit.
The person who guided her onto the drums was Dave Rowlands. That chance meeting set off a chain of events that saw Renee and Dave collaborate in their love of music.
Dave was so inspired by Renee's drumming skills that he asked her family if she could come back for another jam and she astounded everyone on her own electronic kit.
Earlier this year Renee travelled to the U.S. and met up with an organized vision impaired group with guides and visited the Southern States. She met with jazz drummer Stanton Moore in New Orleans and formed a friendship with him. Renee has also jammed with Kevin Borich and knows his son Lucius.
Dave Rowlands started off playing guitar aged fourteen but switched to drums. He formed a blues band with a school mate and they went on to record a hit single in 1967, appearing on TV and touring interstate. The blues scene later on waned and he left the band.
He started a family and joined the army. After retiring from the army Dave was working close to home and commuted on his bicycle. A car turning into his path changed his life significantly. He suffered an acquired brain injury and severe positional vertigo. A symptom he suffers from due to the ABI, is chronic fatigue.
Dave's band reformed in 2011 and performed at Byron Bluesfest.
Earlier this year, Renee invited Dave to meet with her at an Open Mic Night and suggested the project Hollow Tree. Dave was inspired to relearn guitar. There were songs they had written individually and in collaboration more songs and musical pieces were created.
Now they have a collection to work on. Renee was hampered by the lack of performance opportunities. A significant opening arose for her when friends in a band with whom she had been playing percussion, encouraged her to learn one of their songs on fiddle.
She recently performed with them and was so well received that she came back a few nights later and did it again. Since then she has learned some more of their songs.
Renee and Dave realize that anything is possible in music through determination and never giving up.
In January 2014, Hollow Tree entered the studio to record their debut release "Music For Your Soul", a digital copy can be purchased and downloaded at http://hollowtree1.bandcamp.com.
Hollow Tree performing "Lynch And Murray's Jig"