Mace Francis

Mace Francis

MFO 15th Birthday Gig

It is the 15th Birthday of my big band: the Mace Francis Orchestra. The plan for 2020 was to have a series of gigs throughout the year, but…..COVID

Instead we had a celebration on August 20 and will have another party on October 22 at The Rechabite.

I am really proud of this band, what it has achieved and the simple fact that it is still active!

Come down and check us out! TICKETS HERE

Below is a new piece I composed called Squint Your Eyes… featuring original band member Ben Collins on Alto Sax and guitarist Jacob Mitchell.

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WAYJO Isolation Videos

WAYJO‘s first performance of the 2020 Homegrown Season was due to be in late March 2020… since then a lot has happened and we have had to cancel the program as it stands. During the downtime WAYJO has been planning and reconsidering a lot of what we do.

One this I did with the Wednesday Night Orchestra was make some isolation edition videos of songs that we were going to perform at different concerts. Below are three video we made with everyone recording their parts from home on their phone or computer. I hope you enjoy and make sure you subscribe to the WAYJO YouTube Channel.

ARMISTICE: Jamie Oehlers arr by Mace Francis, lyrics by Kristin Berardi

BEGIN THE BEGUINE: Cole Porter arr by Bill Holman

TOO DARN HOT: Cole Porter arr by Nelson Riddle

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3 Questions: the first 10 episodes

For awhile now I have been thinking about a series of really simple questions to ask lots of different musicians and composers that I know and respect. The questions would need to be simple and vague enough to allow different interpretations. When the lock down happened in March 2020, I saw this was an opportunity to get in contact with lots of people and talk deeply about music, and so 3 Questions was born.

In these short 15-20min interviews, now up on YouTube I ask musicians and composers, from various backgrounds, the same 3 simple questions about music.

1. Why do you have music in your life?
2. How do you make music?
3. What excites you musically right now?

This week I release my 10th episode of 3 Questions with New York big band composer Sara McDonald. To celebrate I have made a little highlights reel of the first 10 artists. Hear what everyone has to say, check out the links to their music in the description section, enjoy, Like the Facebook Page and Subscribe to my YouTube Channel. There is plenty more to come!

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Isolation Videos – Spatula

During this Covid-19 lock down period I have spent sometime learning how to use some simple audio and video editing software…and I mean simple! However I am pretty happy with these videos. These two are a collaboration with singer/songwriter Greg Brenton and brass quartet Spatula. These two tunes are songs of Greg’s that I have arranged with the four brass. I hope we can perform these live soon and hope we can get a few more together.



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No Post Code – For Victor O’Connor

In 2017, a good friend, Victor O’Connor asked me to compose a piece to play at his funeral. He had been sick for a very long time, fighting the good fight like the stubborn bastard he was, but his cancer was getting more aggressive and he knew the end was near. A heartbreaking task and one that I resisted for awhile. When I agreed, he then sent through LOTS of youtube links of pieces to influence me and the piece… lots of Zappa, Turkish folk music, psychedelic rock and other weird stuff… there was nothing sombre or sad.

A few months later he passed away on January 22, 2018. I miss you buddy! I was able to play him a rehearsal recording while he was in hospital…I got a wicked twisted smile and weak hoarse “fuck yeah!”. I really wish he was there to enjoy the party he organised.

Here is a live recording made by WAYJO at the Quarry. It features Alana Macpherson on soprano sax and was lovingly mixed by Kieran Kenderessy from the desk recording. Here it is available for your downloading or steaming pleasure. You can also give a small amount to help with the composer fund :)

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The 950 Local/Express

At the start of 2019 I put together a swing band called The 950 Local. This is an 8-piece band that plays music specifically for swing dancers and Lindy Hoppers. We have played at The Mustang Bar and the Duke of George and a few other venues around Perth. This band has also expanded to The 950 Express which is a 15-piece big band version of the smaller band.

You can follow these bands on Instagram at @the9fifty.

The 950 Express has been playing a monthly residence (the last Thursday of the month) at a new venue in Fremantle called Freo.Social. This night, called Freo.Speakeasy, is a night dedicated to learning swing dancing and dancing along to the swinging repertoire of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford and Benny Goodman. We will be back starting January 23.

We finished our year at the Quarry Amphitheatre playing our 11th year of Jazz on the Rocks. Here is the great swinging tune Deed I Do from Ella & Basie featuring Lucy Iffla on vocals.

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New Recording – Love Songs I Love

I have been a little lax with the website posts – oops! A couple years between drinks, but a lot has happened since the last post.

The most exciting being a new MFO recording called Love Songs I Love. This is an album of five of my favourite standards, this time available as LP, CD and Digital Download. I have always wanted to have my own LP and this cover looks amazing in the LP size! … very exciting. Please check it out on BandCamp and order a copy!

Cover - Love Songs I Love

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The Music Mill part 2

The Music Mill was built and was a huge success! There were a few moments were I didn’t think we would get it finished but many people pulled together and helped to make it a success!

You can follow the journey, progress and the final Leederville Festival outcome HERE on The Music Mill Facebook page.

I would like to thank the following people who made this project a reality…

A huge thanks to Makoto Oka for the idea and trusting me with it – we did it! Also thank you to my Japanese friends and Music Mill supporters Tomoka Kai, Chihiro and Fumihiko for travelling to Perth.

Also a massive thank you to Edith Cowan University for awarding me a Collaborative Enhancement Grant. To Ken Allen and Jimmy Murphy for believing in the idea enough to feature at the Light Up Leedy Festival.

Then there are the people who helped with building the beast – all the help was really really appreciated – no matter how large or small. A big thanks to David Pinkus for the workshop space and to Adam Cruickshank for the CNC cutting… and then in no particular order Gabrielle Sherwood, Dan Sherwood (and Bear), Greg Sherwood, James van de Ven, Andre Junior, Wayne Slater, Ricki Malet, Alex Benn, Sam Hadlow, Nick Pages-Oliver, Gregory Brenton, Stuart James and Andrew Greenham.

…and finally all the people who gave so generously to my GoFundMe campaign!!!

THANK YOU!!! and I am looking forward to the next time!

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The Music Mill

I have been a bit absent from this website recently, no blogs, no gig posts… bad website owner! The reason has been because it has been a crazy busy year… lots of gigs, teaching and fun projects including The Music Mill.

This has been a project that goes back a few years when I randomly met Makoto Oka at a bar in Japan called Bar Chit Chat. We got talking, over about 40 highballs, about music and our current projects. I spoke about my site-specific research and he talked about his Music Mill Project which used the old water wheels in Japan to power his automated sound sculpture. Since that time in 2014, I have been to Japan several times to help Makoto with his Music Mill and perform with it at two festivals in Ehime and Iwate Prefectures. Who says you can’t still meet nice men in bars? Haha!

What is The Music Mill? I hear you say…

The Music Mill is a solar powered sound sculpture made up of many automated musical instruments: glockenspiel, marimba, tuned pipes, snare drum, bass drum and cow bell. Each instrument is manually programmed through the use of pins and lift arms to create different melodies and rhythms. It is like a giant kids toy which brings joy to small and big kids! Here is a photo of th eone that has evolved over the years in Japan…

Why Make This?

I have been helping Makoto to create one in Japan over the last few years and now I would like to build one in Perth.

What I love about The Music Mill is the purely analogue way you create music with it. The whole process of the music making is visible – the motor turns the gears which lifts arms and beaters, which then hit instruments to create joyus sounds. While it makes music by itself it is also fun to play along with. Here is Makoto and myself playing along with the Japanese Music Mill at the Tobigamori Festival in Iwate Prefecture in Northern Japan.

I am looking to raise funds to help me build this beast! Your generous support will go to purchasing materials, instruments, specialist tools, expertise labour and flying Makoto out to Australia. I have set up a Go Fund Me page (below) and I would be super super thankful for any contributions as it will help make this dream machine come true.

If you are unable to give financially but are handy with building things, please make contact. I will need all the help I can get!


Research Award

Hi. It has been quite a while since posting and so much has happened! 2015 & 2016 have been very kind to me and I hope the fun times continue!

I finally graduated for PhD studies – officially Dr Mace now. It was quite a journey and I learnt a lot, but boy I am glad that is over! The thesis is published online HERE and you can listen to the music I created as part of the project. A huge thank you to my supervisor Cat Hope for getting me through,  even if it was kicking and screaming sometimes!

I was also very honoured to be awarded the Faculty of Education and the Arts Research Medal for best Masters and PhD graduate of 2015. Super exciting! Not bad for a kid that almost failed year 12 English! Take that Belmont High School! I got to play dress ups to celebrate!

Now part of the funny hat club

Now part of the funny hat club



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