About Silkweed

Silkweed musicSilkweed was conceived for what was to be a one-off performance at the Cygnet folk festival in 2002 with the creation of our first multi-media presentation "From the Diaspora to a place in the Heart" playing to a packed house.

The glorious collaboration of strings - cello and violin - vocals, keyboard and flute, ensured that the quartet continue their popular association.

In Silkweed , strings, keyboard, flute and vocals weave and merge to create a sound described at one festival as ‘silken magic'. The band was formed from several previous collaborations... Erin and Susan in "Moon Muses", Erin and Anna in "Bandecoute" and Marjorie and Erin in "Saltarello", and continuing with "Czardas"

At one time band members were living in four different locations in three states! These days things are somewhat simpler with only Susan as an occaisonal Tasmanian (other times she resides in NSW and emails music files a lot!)

"From the Diaspora to a place in the Heart" has been performed at Festivals and select concerts including benefits for refugees and for Amnesty International.

Silkweed then developed a musical, narrative and visual history of Maria Island on the East Coast of Tasmania. “Maria-- Island of Dreams” was enthusiastically received at performances around Hobart and regional Tasmania, culminating in performances at the 2007 Ten Days on the Island Festival.

Following the Success of "Maria-Island of Dreams" Silkweed were funded to develop a show based on the history of Jane Franklin. "Jane Franklin-An examined Life" was featured at the 2008 and 2010 Cygnet Folk Festivals, the National Folk Festival, Junction Arts Festival and a Regional Arts tour in 2010.

Silkweed were then awarded funding to write "Letters from a Broken Heart" based on letters written by Erin's father in Japenese POW camps and also from asylum seekers in Australian detention centres.This was premiered at the 2012 Cygnet Folk Festival, and follwed with performances at UTAS, the National Folk Festival and Rosny Barn.

Silkweed are about to launch "Fire" for the 2017 season of Ten Days on the Island, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1967 bushfires, one of the worst natural disasters in Australian history.


Silkweed are:

Susan McGowanA graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Susan has worked in numerous musical ensembles, currently including “Zanuba” a Middle Eastern quintet and “Silkweed”, and has performed in numerous commercial venues and at music festivals around the country.

Susan has worked with Erin in a multitude of ventures over the past 15 years. She is a professional music teacher and has also completed a music production course at Southern Cross University.

Susan also spent over ten years as the resident musician in a Playback theatre ensemble in NSW.

Music Theatre
1977 “Solzhenitsyn” Student Piece co-written with conservatorium students
1991 Composer and musician “Off Limits” by Julia Nolan
1992 Composer and musician “Wind in the Willows” adapted for outdoor performance at the Bellingen Butter factory

Music and Dance

* 2001 – 2004 Musician and composer in “Zanuba” World Dance and music troupe.
Entertainment for corporate conferences in northern NSW
* 2003 Composer and musician for the show “Extremities” as part of Bellingen Flamenco festival
* Musician 1995 – 2000 “The Brolga Trio” Weddings, parties, funerals, community functions.
* Musician 2000 - 2005 “Ibis” Folk group played at many music festivals including Maleny (Woodford), The National Folk Festival, Bellingen Global Carnival, Port Fairy and the Adelaide Fringe.
* Musician 2000 - 2005 “Connextion” Trio performing for -weddings, parties, funerals, community functions etc.
* Musician/Composer 1987-1989 “Pamphlets” Musical Cabaret group
* Musician/Composer 1989 “Moon Muses” music/dance and art display with Erin Collins, Caroline Muller, Kym Pitman Ellen and visual artists.
* Musician/Composer 2000 - 2005 “Silkweed” Multi media instrumental/vocal group

Professional Recordings Include;

* "Same River Same Song" with Kym Pitman and Ibis
* "Woman of the Moon" with Kym Pitman
* "Moon Muses" with Erin Collins

Erin CollinsErin has been involved in producing and performing in collaborative music and drama projects for many years, in addition to performing as lead singer in several bands in a variety of genre.

Erin can compose and perform both written and musical works for specialist events. For example writing and performing a song for the opening of the new interpretation centre of the at the Richmond gaol, opened by the then Tasmanian minister for the Arts, Paula Wreidt. More recently she and Susan McGowan wrote and recorded a CD companion based on the poetry in Rosa Vasseighi's book "Where is the Justice?"

Previous collaborative works with Susan McGowan have spanned almost two decades and include “Moon Muses” (NSW); a performance piece involving original music, dance and artwork, “Extremities” a contemporary flamenco dance piece with original music, with Silkweed, “From the Diaspora to a Place in the Heart”, a live performance of songs and music with a visual presentation, various music and video installations, and “Maria, Island of Dreams”and most recently "Jane Franklin-an examined Life." Her favorite place as a singer is between Anna and Marjorie (ie between the cello and violin.....bliss!)

  • Principal singer/songwriter with “Bandecoute”; a six piece folk music group 1995-1999
  • with “Saltarello” a Renaissance and Early Music Ensemble,
  • various choirs and singing groups both as a performer and director.
  • Accordion and vocals for “Buttongrass Serenade” performing traditional Tasmanian dance music.
  • Principal singer/songwriter with “Silkweed” (Current)
  • Singer with “Czardas” Gypsy and Eastern European inspired music trio (current)

Erin has also been involved in multiple professional performance pieces in Queensland and Victoria working with organisations such as the Queensland Folk Federation, The Boite World Music Cafe, and Arts Victoria. These include:

  • with Riverina Trucking Company; vocal and dramatic leads in; “Diamond Studs”, “The Les Darcy Show” and “The People Show” produced by Terry O'Connor.
  • performances under the direction of Neil Cameron; “Boadicea” for the Queensland Folk Federation, Symphony under the Stars and Woodford Folk Festival.
  • With Robyn Laurie(director), Kavisha Mazzella (musical director) and Carmel Davies (writer) in “Kan Yama Kan” based on (and performed with) asylum seekers wishing to settle in Victoria.
  • With Bandecoute: performances at National Folk Festival, Cygnet and Tamar Valley Folk Festivals , as well as numerous music venues.
  • With Czardas: at music venues in NSW, Victoria and NSW as well as Maldon (Vic), Majors Creek (NSW) Cygnet and Tamar Valley Folk Festivals.
  • With Silkweed at numerous festivals, music and performance venues in Tasmania, Victoria (including the Boite World Music Cafe), ACT and NSW.

Professional music recordings include ;

  • “Just Blown In” with Bandecoute
  • “In a Vision” with Czardas
  • “Mindful of the Muse” with Susan McGowan
  • A CD insert accompanying Rosa Vasseghi's book "Where is the Justice"
  • and guest spots on others including Mark Robson's “Magenta Moon”

Marjorie GaddA graduate of the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music, Marjorie is the director of Valley Strings Music School (Huon Valley) and also runs a private music studio in Hobart. She has been the principal writer for two of Silkweed's shows: Jane Franklin-An Examined Life" and most recently, "Fire"

Marjorie has instigated and been involved in numerous community music projects, including co-directing The Tasmanian Heritage Fiddle Ensemble, playing and teaching traditional Tasmanian dance tunes.

The Heritage Fiddle Ensemble was specifically formed to showcase music recently collected by Marjorie and her husband Steve with the aim of reinvigorating the music scene with traditional and contemporary Tasmanian music.

The ensemble consists of a few adult players with a group of young people aged from 10 to 18 yrs and was selected to represent Tasmania at the 2005 National Folk Festival and to open the 2005 programme for 10 Days On The Island.

Marjorie has played in a multitude of ensembles including,

* Steptoe
* The Apple Cores
* Slapdash and Buttongrass Serenade (current)playing arrangements of traditional Tasmanian tunes
* Saltarello (current) a renaissance/early music ensemble
* Czardas (current) playing Eastern European inspired music
* Silkweed (current) playing mostly original songs and tunes, often with a particular theme.
* Marjorie also makes guest appearances with Shake Shugaree.

Marjorie is currently working on the second edition of Eureka; her highly successful teaching manual for violin

Marjorie has performed at numerous festivals and music venues, including;

* the National Folk Festival with Slapdash and The Tasmanian Heritage Fiddle Ensemble
* Maldon Folk Festival (Vic) and Majors Creek (NSW) with Czardas
* Cygnet Folk Festival with Czardas, Silkweed, Slapdash and The Tasmanian Heritage Fiddle Ensemble
* Tamar Valley Folk Festival with Czardas, Silkweed, Slapdash and The Heritage Fiddle Ensemble
* The Boite World Music Cafe (Vic) with Silkweed numerous music and performance venues including The Trades Hall (Vic), The Polish Club,
university campuses, the Cool Creek Cafe (NSW)The Palais and pubs, clubs and schools.

Professional Recordings include

* "In a Vision" with Czardas
* "Real Island Roots" with Steve Gadd
* "Voices of the Valley" with various artists
* "No Blood for Oil" with various artists

Anna SpinazeAnna completed B.Music Hons in performance and musicology (UTas) in 1995. She freelanced professionally for a number of years a great strength being her ability to improvise and perform in a variety of styles including classical, contemporary and folk.

As a young classical cellist, Anna toured internationally with the Australian Youth Orchestra.

Anna has performed locally, nationally and internationally as both instrumentalist and vocalist; with numerous groups in various styles, most recently including Kazakstan Kowgirls and Recherche Baybes as well as Silkweed; and is regularly called upon as a session cellist as well as for festivals and benefits.

Performances 1994-2005 include

• Support for Carinda Christie at the Franklin Palais
• Cygnet Folk Festival 1998-2005 inclusive (various bands, including Silkweed)
• National Folk Festival 1997 (Bandecoute) and 2005 (Kazakstan Kowgirls)
• Tamar Valley Folk Festival 1996 (Bandecoute)
• Franklin Apple Harvest Festival 2003

Musically, Anna loves accommodating and accompanying other peoples’ flights of fancy, whether through low cello drones, atmospheric noises, or melodic harmony.