I've been spending the afternoon alternately either listening to or watching horse racing. It's a big day on the autumn racing calendar with four of the races being broadcast on Free to Air television.
I've seen Haradasun beaten the first time this season. He couldn't catch the winner in the straight and appeared to be lacking his usual zip. He had to race wide all the way, which didn't help his chances. Better luck next time. Apache Cat won his race easily. My top 30 stable did well with a trifecta and a quinella as well as 4 wins, 4 seconds and 2 thirds out of 12 horses running today, which boosts my score card in the competition. I didn't have a bet on any of them, more's the pity.
Belatedly, here's my report on The Handsome Family.
It was another of those hot and steamy nights in Melbourne and the crowded band room didn't cool things down. It was a great show nonetheless and being up the front as is my preference I was able to take some interesting photos.
The support act were a duo called Darling Downs and gave a riveting performance. They comprised Kim Salmon on a guitar and Ron Peno as vocalist. Ron Peno has an amazing voice and a very individual style of singing. He was fascinating to watch. He waved his hands around, up and down, leaned into the microphone as his voice crooned or soared in a high-lonesome register.
The songs were wonderful as well - Appalachian ballads, weird songs of heartbreak and loss. They were a fitting act to compliment the Handsome Family.
Then came the Handsome Family who are husband, Brett and wife, Rennie Sparks - complete with a laptop computer to generate sound effects and nuances into the mix, populated by chipmunks and squirrels as Rennie Sparks whimsically averred.
They are a droll couple and have a wicked sense of humour. Their songs, written by Rennie, have extraordinary lyrics - almost absurdist, but they somehow make sense and a lot of them have dark themes. Their latest CD Last Days of Wonder is described as:
"... a collection of love songs sung in airports, garbage dumps, drive-thru windows and shark-infested waters. The CD celebrates the little miraculous moments of beauty found in everyday life: a golf course shining in the rain, hanging lights bouncing in the breeze, pigeons singing from billboards, trees blooming in squares of dirt. The songs linger on those moments when we’re pulled from the ordinary to feel awed by mystery, bewildered by beauty, terrified by the vast unknowable around us (whether we wander through shady groves or crowded parking lots)."
~ Publicity Quote ~
Brett did most of the singing - he has a pleasant baritone voice - and Rennie sings background harmonies. They both provide musical accompaniment on a number of instruments
I did get to meet both of them and they were very friendly and unaffected.
It was a most unusual night's entertainment well worth the price of admission and the discomfort of standing for two and a half hours straight in steamy conditions.
On the subject of live music shows, someone sent me a recording of the Mary Gauthier performance at Northcote Social Club which I attended. It's a superb recording and, listening to it, I realise how very, very good that show was. One can really appreciate the beautiful and ornate guitar accompaniment of Thomm Jutz on this recording.
The interesting thing about hearing a recording of a concert one has attended, is that the concert itself is an immediate experience where you appreciate it happening now and are open to the power of expression of the artists live. Listening to the recording is different, though just as enjoyable. One can hear it all again at a distance and appreciate the nuances.