Definitely NOT a morning person

Definitely NOT a morning person

The alarm bell gradually grew louder and louder until it fulfilled its evil purpose by waking me with an all too unpleasant start. I grumpily snatched my mobile phone off the bedside table and stuffed it underneath my pillow in the hopes that it would miraculously disappear.

I was about to hit the snooze button when reality sunk into my consciousness and I realised my flight would take off without me unless I got myself out of bed and down to the airport in time.

I’d been out till the wee hours the night before doing a massive Halloween show at the Ellington – but even if I hadn’t, I’d still grumble at being woken up.


Halloween show at the Ellington

Me and my little sis at the Halloween gig the night before


I had been invited to perform at the 2014 Mildura Jazz Food and Wine Festival. Mildura is a gorgeous little town about four hours drive from Adelaide and 6 hours drive from Melbourne and each year the Festival draws performers from all across Australia.

I was actually supposed to perform in the 2013 Festival but had to pull out for family reasons so I was super excited to be heading there this year. :)

Accompanying me on the trip was legendary jazz pianist Mike Nelson – who had actually stepped in to do the gig only days before we were due to fly out. I’d had some dramas with the other piano player I had  booked who was going through an emotional crisis (as musicians do) but wanted to pull out at the last minute – even though I’d paid for his flights out of the performance fee already.

As it was the busy time of the year EVERYONE was booked up. :-( I’d been calling pianists and guitarists all over Perth, Adelaide, Mildura and Melbourne to see if I could find someone to fly in and do the gig with me but noone was available. So you can imagine my relief and stroke of good fortune when I found out that an amazing player like Mike was not only available, but keen to come on tour! YAY  :-)

Mildura jazz festival

Mike and I grabbing some breakkie the morning after the show. I look sooo bleary eyed in this pic.


Saturday 1st November

I flew into Adelaide first and got to spend the day checking out the City. Life was in full swing down the main shopping street – packed with buskers and cool street art. I LOVE street art and was delighted to spot this rather rambunctious pig snouting his way through the garbage on the strip:

A Pig in Adelaide

Mr Piggy Wig snouting.


Chilling out before picking Mike up from the airport

Chilling out before picking Mike up from the airport

8:30PM swung around and I collected Mike from the airport and we set out to get some grub from nearby China Town. We spotted a typical looking Asian food shop where the dishes are displayed as images on the outside with Chinese writing next to them as the description. I chose a very Western looking fried rice but Mike, who was more adventurous with his dish suddenly started streaming from his nose and eyes and was gulping down water and gasping something that sounded like ‘Chillie!!….ho, ho, hottttt……!”

Once he’d recovered, Mike entertained me with stories of touring back in the day, Mike has toured all over the UK and Europe and had a hit song that went to number 26 on the charts in the USA. Way cool.

Sunday 2nd November

I was soundly asleep again when my phone rudely awoke me with a start. I checked the time – 7:20am. My alarm wasn’t due to go off for a whole hour so I blinked through my sleepiness to see what caused the offending noise. Turns out it was Mike calling me to wake me up!!! Grumpily I slunk out of bed and met Mike downstairs for breakfast. I put on a brave face and didn’t mention the untimely wake-up call.

After some bitter coffee and slimy scrambled eggs (it was free so I didn’t complain) we were soon hitting the road and driving the 4.5 hours out to Mildura.

We stopped at a run down little pub for another coffee but they had just bought a new coffee machine and didn’t know how to work it so I went around to the back of the bar and flexed my Barista muscles. It was just one of those George Clooney Nespresso machines so it was super easy to figure out.

We also ordered some fruit salad- which ended up being the crappy tinned variety – and they charged us a whopping $10 each for a small bowl of the stuff and the Nespresso-machine coffee that I made for them!! Pwwwwaaaar!


The evil little tinned-fruit serving pub

Inside the tinned-fruit-serving pub of evilness

Inside the tinned-fruit-serving pub of evilness

Driving to mildura

On the road…

Mike Nelson - Piano

Mike has a funny habit of crossing his eyes in photos…



We made it to Mildura with about 30 mins to spare before sound check at 6pm and after chatting in the car the whole drive up, my vocals were in desperate need of some port. Port is my go-to vocal remedy while I’m on the road. If you have a sore throat and need to sing it is the BEST thing for it.

The team from the Mildura Rural City Council were there to greet us and looked after us very well. We had a fantastic sound tech and breezed through our sound check  and wrapped up just as the first few guests were arriving.

The girls were lovely enough to go and fetch me some port because the bar didn’t have any (aren’t I a diva!) and I was soon sipping away, feeling the burn at the back of my throat turn into a soothing goodness and then I was ready to sing :)

Mike Nelson

Mike checked the piano

Nicola Milan

and I checked my hair…. ;)

Nicola Milan at Mildura

One last check of my set list…

Nicola Milan and Mike Nelson

Then we were ready to go!


Thanks Mildura! It was a great show – totally sold out and what a wonderful crowd.

Looking forward to visiting you again.

Nicola xx




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