A CUR­REN FAM­ILY HOL­I­DAY : BY THEA MCDON­ALD-LEE

Tracks - - Seven -

"You wanna check Sun­set?" Tom turns to look at me squished into the back seat of the aero­nau­ti­cal look­ing rental car. I nod. It's my rst day on the North Shore and I'm not go­ing to say no to any­thing Tom Cur­ren asks me. "Est-ce qu'on peut se garer ici?" The shared lan­guage bounces be­tween the Cal­i­for­nian and his French daugh­ter Lee-Ann. They speak about 30% English 70% French to each other. We pull up and Tom parks the car near a hand­painted sign that reads, "No Surf Check Park­ing". Lucky the thing is the size of a smart car and it goes un­no­ticed.

Noth­ing along the stretch looks par­tic­u­larly invit­ing and nei­ther Tom nor Lee-Ann end up sur ng the morn­ing ses­sion. We park back up at the Roxy house and wan­der in­side where a col­lec­tion of mu­si­cal in­stru­ments lit­ters the oor. A few days ago Lee-Ann picked up a bass ukulele at a store in Haleiwa. The strings are thick rub­ber and it plugs in. She's go­ing to play it on stage in a few nights time at a fundraiser at the Tur­tle Bay Re­sort. She's in a makeshift band with her Dad, Steph Gil­more, Ja­panese com­poser Hironbu Saito and pho­tog­ra­pher Steve Sher­man.

"I started play­ing the bass when I was 14," she tells me. "My dad was al­ways play­ing mu­sic and I just re­ally wanted to try it. Be­tween him and my step­dad I lis­tened to ev­ery­thing from Bjork to Snoop Dogg and old school blues and soul."

The mu­si­cal in­spi­ra­tion of this trip how­ever seems to be leak­ing from the African con­ti­nent. I ask Tom if he can speak Afrikaans; he tells me he can't. "But he's get­ting us to play songs in Zulu," Lee-Ann in­ter­jects and Tom throws some of the South African di­alect around. "Ear­lier this year we did a trip to Ivory Coast which was pretty cool," she con­tin­ues. "But there's so much good mu­sic in Africa that most peo­ple at the bar were prob­a­bly bet­ter mu­si­cians than us!"

Back in Hawaii Lee-Ann has de­cided the waves are fun out the front. As she comes ying out of a bar­rel at Off The Wall and stomps a mas­sive round­house, Tom is set­ting up a one-man band over­look­ing the ocean. There's a key­board bal­anc­ing on a pil­low as­sem­bled on top of a drum. With one foot Tom is us­ing a kick pedal and on the other he's man­aged to get his toes through a hand held sleigh bell. Around his shoul­ders is a har­mon­ica brace. He didn't bring a sin­gle surf­board to Hawaii but in­stead a quiver of harps.

The slow melody is bro­ken up only by Tom's vo­cals and I pick up one of the ukule­les and at­tempt to pluck along. In 10 min­utes he's got me play­ing chord sev­enths and as soon as our ses­sion is nished he starts look­ing for the next per­son to jam with. It seems the melody never re­ally stops with Tom.

Whether she's chas­ing trop­i­cal bar­rels or Ice­landic point breaks, writ­ing a new al­bum with her band Betty The Shark or edit­ing short lms, Lee-Ann has in­her­ited the Cur­ren cre­ativ­ity. "I think when kids see their par­ents do some­thing, es­pe­cially when they see they love what they do, kids want to do the same. If I had been brought up in any other fam­ily I'd still be cre­ative, but maybe I'd be cre­ative be­ing an ac­coun­tant!" she jokes.

Dur­ing all the jam ses­sions I've wit­nessed at the house Tom seems to take the lead role. It gets dif cult when he doesn't al­ways vo­calise his ideas clearly to the im­pro­vised band and Lee-Ann has to step in with what she calls, "trans­lat­ing the Tom Cur­ren lan­guage". "I un­der­stand what he's think­ing be­cause I know him but even for me some­times his ideas are a bit ab­stract. He's the same with sur ng. Once he told me, 'You need to put more siz­zle in your sur ng.' It was in the mid­dle of a con­test."

With all the mu­si­cal scrib­bling of the last few days we talk about a new lm con­cept. Go away on a fam­ily trip some­where and just surf and record mu­sic ev­ery day. "It could turn into any­thing," Lee-Ann gushes. Her younger brother Pat is also a mu­si­cian and Steph is now a sur­ro­gate fam­ily mem­ber. "But there's only 12 months in a year,we'd have to make it t in ev­ery­one's sched­ules," she smiles, know­ing what 2015 al­ready has in store for her.

To­mor­row she ies to Australia where she'll spend the next cou­ple of months play­ing Betty The Shark tunes with her band mate Philip. Then Bali is a pos­si­bil­ity for a mu­si­cal tour fol­lowed by thoughts of Ja­pan. "You don't get the op­por­tu­nity too many times in life to do this. It's some­thing that you can't do twice."

The artis­tic air that seems to em­body all things Cur­ren has an aura of ap­pre­ci­a­tion. You get the feel­ing Tom and Lee-Ann would be just at home beat­ing a drum for the Maa­sai tribe as they would be in a surf con­test. And they've gured out how to stay per­pet­u­ally en­ter­tained. The se­cret is in the mu­sic.

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