A CASUAL introduction melded with a dose of chutzpah delivered a gig in Belgium to Laura Zarb that has created international music opportunities.
The journey to Belgium and a performance at the Longines Global Championships Tour on April 25 began at The Chophouse in Sydney after a performance on behalf of The Australian Children's Music Foundation in November 2013.
In the audience was a Harvey Norman executive who asked Laura to perform at a staff conference in February this year. That gig led to an introduction to a Belgium businessman who was an international supplier to Harvey Norman.
"He loved my performance and guitar work and thought my attitude and personality would be a great influence on his children, all of whom are also learning guitar," Laura explained.
"He said he would like to invite me to Belgium to spend a month or so with his family, to teach them guitar, spend time with them and to also see if they could help me start a performing career in Belgium.
"I had only just met this man, but I had a good feeling. I looked at him and asked if he was serious, if he honestly meant what he was saying or was it all just talk. When he replied that it was an honest offer, I said I would love to come to Belgium, so let's make it happen.
"We exchanged emails, had a Skype call with him and his wife and within a month it was settled and instead of going back home after my trip to America I flew to Europe."
That confidence and chutzpah comes from years of learning and playing music in a family that is intimately connected to the Manning Valley and music. Laura is the daughter of talented local musician Matt Zarb, and her 26 years have been shaped in a world of musical connections, gigs and random opportunities for personal and professional development.
Laura described the Longines Global Championships Tour experience as "incredible".
"The event was beautiful, with fashion shows on the field before the horse jumping began and it was said that the Prince of Monaco and even Bruce Springsteen were in attendance at some point over the weekend although I didn't see them.
"I performed on a small stage inside the entry/exit area and I met a wonderful local band and had their saxophone, trombone and percussionist jump up and join me for some of my set. I am now in contact with them and we plan on doing some recordings together before I leave Belgium.
"I have a few more shows lined up over the next two weeks, mostly private parties from the other Belgian suppliers I met at the Harvey Norman conference as well as a public gig at an Irish bar in Gent. My goal while I am here is to network and play as much as possible so that I can come back and perform next year for European summer 2015."
Laura's stage is now international but she also looks to home and family for gigs and inspiration and is counting the days until she returns to Taree to play at Martine's Riverview Winebar on May 31.
Until then she will play the private gigs in Belgium and continue to work on her new show that she describes as jazz and blues inspired. She says it's due to be finished by December ... "think the love child of Ella Fitzgerald and Tom Waits, a full band and even a bit of brass."
Sounds good Laura.