Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Teddy Thompson Again

Teddy Thompson was so impressive the last time I saw him, I felt compelled to go and see him again. After all, the venue is only just up the road from where I live at the Northcote Social Club.

I went alone this time and got there early as usual to grab a good position up the front. Northcote Social Club band room is generally a standing only arrangement (though you can usually sit on the floor), so I was surprised to see that they had put out tables and chairs in front of the stage. Quite an improvement from the floor, I thought. So I grabbed one for myself and hoped other people would use the two vacant chairs, so that at least I could go to the bar and not lose my seat. Two very pleasant young women took the vacant seats and we discovered we had remarkably similar tastes in music. They had come from the coast for the event. I would imagine that it was worth the effort, for Teddy Thompson was in very fine form and just as impressive as the last time I saw him 11 days ago at the same venue.

I’m getting quite fond of the Northcote Social Club as a venue, as every time I have been there I’ve met friendly and interesting people. Melbourne audiences are polite and well behaved in general and genuinely love music. Melbourne has a reputation for being the live music capital of Australia and every day of the week there is plethora of live acts to choose from. You will have gathered that I love live music as much as I like the recorded stuff. Teddy Thompson is better live than recorded, though having seen his live act, I appreciate his CDs all the more as it generally works both ways to benefit the artist. I have discovered some previously unknown artists at live shows playing support for the main act. Such a one was Shane Nicholson who is virtually unknown in Melbourne.

Tonight I’m off to another show at a different venue. It is the Sunshine Harvester CD Launch at Manchester Lane. I’ve decided to go for dinner as well as that ensures me getting a seat for the show.

On the topic of venues, Melbourne music goers were spoiled for years by a wonderful venue called The Continental, which was situated in the Eastern suburbs. It was the perfect venue for the intimate music experience. The Continental was the first to offer dinner and show as a package. Many people took advantage of it as it ensured them a seat up the front. The food and service was first rate to add to the luxurious comfort of the venue and the artists who played there were always unusual and interesting musicians and also enjoyed playing there. Unfortunately the venue was closed several years ago due to the Continental managers being unable to secure the building in which it was housed. The building owner refused to sell, so the Continental was no more. It is still held up as the ideal venue. People say about new venues” It’s just like the Continental”, but it never is.

Manchester Lane sounds promising in this light – it just might be as good as the Continental.

Anyway enough rambling on about live music tomorrow brings another National Day of Action protesting the Howard Government’s erosion of worker’s rights with their new Industrial Relations laws. In Melbourne there is to be a big rally at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a large capacity sports arena close to the city. The catch cry is “Fill the “G”. I’ll be there with my camera and will report on what transpires.

For international readers who may be curious as to who won the Victorian State Elections, the Labour government was comfortably returned to power. Thank goodness!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Another Band, Another Photo

The photo above is of Moana Kerr, Leo Kahans (mandolin) & Paul Jonas (fiddle) with Brian Fitzgerald (guitar) in the background. There was also a dobro player, Peter Fidler who is out of shot. Together they form a great little bluegrass band called Sunshine Harvester.

They were appearing at the last Basement Discs In-Store for the year and it certainly was a good lively act with which to finish the year.

I have known Moana for a number of years through Nu Country. She is currently 8 months pregnant with her first child, but she certainly hasn’t let that interfere too much with launching her latest CD Between Trains - the CD is being launched next Wednesday.

Moana is a vibrant girl, full of vivacity and bounce. She has a lovely singing voice, which is very suited to the old style Americana type of music she specialises in.

Between Trains is a celebration of bluegrass music, a genre I very much like. I love the sound of banjos, mandolins and fiddles playing together, and I am partial to dobros as well.

The band played the whole CD today and it is certainly a charmer. I was delighted to hear Moana’s take on one of my favourite Richard Thompson songs, “Waltzing’s For Dreamers”.

I intend to go to the CD Launch next Wednesday. It’s at Manchester Lane, a new venue for me, but by all accounts a good one.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

State Elections

The Victorian State Elections are being held this coming weekend, so this is a timely rave on the political situation in this state.

The two main contenders are the Liberal Party and the current incumbent Labour Party. The Labour leader is the bland Steve Bracks, a sort of non-threatening kind of guy. He’s quite popular with the electorate, though the rednecks in the regional areas think he is too Melbourne-centric and object to his policies regarding energy conservation and bans on logging and cattle grazing in various sensitive areas.

Being a State public servant, I’d prefer that Labour get re-elected. The last Liberal Government totally decimated the public service as well as selling off most of the State's assets, like the gas and electricity services. They also privatised public transport and closed schools and hospitals. So I will definitely not be voting Liberal, and wouldn’t in any case being a die-hard leftist.

The Liberal leader Ted Baillieu comes from a wealthy background. He’s quite a toff, though bland at the same time. He’s been going around demonstrating what an all-round regular guy he is, plunging into the surf for a swim, rocking it up in a band, while Bracksy is filmed reading stories to children in kindergartens.

It’s all been a bit of laugh, this election campaign, the lavish promises of both parties failing to impress me. Who cares, is the general consensus.

As I live in a solid Labour electorate, I can be fanciful in my choice of candidate. The current representative for my electorate has hardly set foot in the place since being placed in office. She’s retiring (ho hum) and another female candidate will be contesting in her place. Fiona someone or other...

As you no doubt gather, I’m disenchanted with Australian politics at the moment. There appears to be hardly any difference between the major parties. Federally, I don’t think Labour has a hope of winning unless they ditch the current leader Kim Beasley, who has been around so long – and has lost every election where he has been leader of the opposition – that the populace fail to hear or indeed comprehend any of his policies, which, in any case, are only slight variations on the Liberal policy. A new face to the fore would do wonders for the party’s chances, as long as they aren’t loopy like the last new face - Mark Latham - who went to pieces when he lost the last election.

Roll on Saturday – I will use my right to vote as wisely as I can.

The Carnival is Over - Final Super Stable Update

I have been waiting for the final results of the Spring Super Stable competiton to be posted at Racing & Sports before reporting on how I fared.

I ended up coming 11th out of 144, which isn’t bad at all. My overall virtual outlay was $1, 522,00 and my stable won $4, 149,000. A pity it's all virtual - dream on AS.

So how did my stable go?

Apache Cat – a good performer throughout, though he never scored a win. Was in the money most of the time .
Cat’s Fun – hopeless, ditched him at first substitution
Ellicorsam – never made an appearance all spring, ditched at first substitution
Haradasun – brilliant early in the season until he sustained a minor injury and was retired for the rest of the Spring
Miss Finland – superb perfomance all round, only beaten twice all Spring and was always in the money.
Paratroopers – started really well then sustained an injury which knackered his chances for the rest of the season.
Virage de Fortune – missing in action
El Segundo – good form early in the season but failed to win much after that
Pompeii Ruler – good performer until failing in the Cox Plate. I ditched him at the final substitution when I should have dispensed with Paratroopers instead. His performance after the Cox Plate was excellent.
Gold Edition – excellent performance – won just about everything she raced in. It’s a pity I didn’t add her to my stable earlier
Tawqeet – won the Caulfield Cup but was injured shortly before the Melbourne Cup, and, although passed fit to run, shouldn’t have run at all. My big hopes for the Melbourne Cup dashed.
Wonderful World – good performer - won the Thousand Guineas.

The Spring Racing Carnival is now over and was, as usual, fascinating to follow. Miss Finland is certainly one to watch for in the autumn, as is Haradasun who will resume then as well. These two raced against each other earlier in the spring and Miss Finland won by a nose. Haradasun was blocked for a run and couldn’t quite catch her, so it will be fascinating to see them race again.

Other stars to emerge from the carnival are Efficient who won the Derby in spectacular fashion and Divine Madonna who came out of nowhere to win the group 1 Emirate Stakes.

Other Stuff

My review of the Teddy Thompson show at the Northcote Social Club is now up at the Nu Country site. His performance on the night was absorbing and brilliant. I’m mightily tempted to go and see him again.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tarot Card Meme

I found this meme on Liz Williams blog and thought it was rather fun. I was also pleased to find my Tarot Card was:

You are The Sun

Happiness, Content, Joy.

The meanings for the Sun are fairly simple and consistent.

Young, healthy, new, fresh. The brain is working, things that were muddled come clear, everything falls into place, and everything seems to go your way.

The Sun is ruled by the Sun, of course. This is the light that comes after the long dark night, Apollo to the Moon's Diana. A positive card, it promises you your day in the sun. Glory, gain, triumph, pleasure, truth, success. As the moon symbolized inspiration from the unconscious, from dreams, this card symbolizes discoveries made fully consciousness and wide awake. You have an understanding and enjoyment of science and math, beautifully constructed music, carefully reasoned philosophy. It is a card of intellect, clarity of mind, and feelings of youthful energy.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Teddy Thompson at the Basement Discs

It was a very special treat to see Teddy Thompson perform at the Basement Discs at lunchtime today.

A comely young man, he has an amazingly powerful voice that has an attractive timbre.

He sang about five songs from his latest CD Separate Ways. As he is touring solo, he simply accompanied himself on guitar and as it happens, is accomplished on that instrument as well.

Teddy Thompson is part of the younger Rock Pop scene, a child of famous parents like Rufus and Martha Wainwright who are the son and daughter of Kate Mcgarrigle and Loudon Wainwright. Not surprisingly, these three have collaborated on several projects and also play and add vocal support on each other’s recordings. They are all incredibly talented.

Teddy’s music is singer/songwriter stuff, sort of pop/rock. Separate Ways is a lovely CD and I would, as will many others, include it on my best of list for 2006.

This afternoon was only a taste of Teddy Thompson live, so I am very glad that I have tickets for his show tonight at Northcote Social Club.

I will probably be writing a review of the show for the Nu Country website, so stay tuned.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Buckley’s Hope - 25th Anniversary Celebration

Craig Robertson, author of Buckley’s Hope , is an old friend so we were glad to accept his invitation to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the book. Amazingly, it’s still in print and will continue to be so, according to his publisher who spoke at the event.

The venue chosen for the event was Comrade Paddy’s Bar in the
Trades Hall building, the 147-year-old birthplace of leftist politics and trade unionism in Australia.

Mounting the stairs to the bar, I noted how worn the bluestone steps were and imagined how many feet must have climbed the same steps through the years – honest workers feet.

As soon as we entered the bar, I felt immediately at home. The walls were decorated with revolutionary posters and satiric paintings of current Federal Government members.

Buckley’s Hope is a novel about William Buckley ,
an escaped convict who, shortly after arriving in the new colony, fled into the bush and ended up living with the aboriginals for 32 years before returning to the white settlement. He was dubbed the “wild white man”. Craig was the first writer to tackle William Buckley’s story. He researched the novel for many years before sitting down to write it and it was originally published in 1980.

Having neglected to read the novel before, I picked up a copy yesterday and started reading it on the train this morning.

Getting back to the celebration, there was a good turnout, and I was pleased to discover many old friends whom I have not seen for years.

After preliminary drinks, the ceremonial part of the proceedings began with Craig (pictured above) speaking on the experience of writing the book and introducing the other participants, his publisher Henry Rosenbloom (who I remember from my University days), the poet Barry Hill who recited several of his Buckley poems inspired by Craig’s book, Gregory (I forget his surname), a singer –songwriter who performed 2 songs relating to Buckley and a highly entertaining performance by Jan Wositzky of his “The Go Between - The Story of William Buckley & the Settlement of Melbourne.”

It was an interesting way to spend a Sunday afternoon and, apart from that, it was good to re-meet old friends.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Another musical diversion

I took time off to go to yet another Basement Discs In-Store performance today.
The artist was
Fiona Boyes, local, Internationally acclaimed, blues artist.
She has great bluesy voice and also is no mean slouch on the guitar.

It was a small audience, but Fiona appeared unfazed by this and we were all very appreciative of her performance, which was gutsy and entertaining.

I naturally took some photos and one of them is above.

Next Friday I am really looking forward to seeing Teddy Thompson perform there and I am going to his show at Northcote Social Club the same night.

Teddy Thompson is the son of famous folk artists Richard & Linda Thompson.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Melbourne Cup Day and Thanksgiving

Melbourne city gets a holiday on its biggest racing day the Melbourne Cup. It is a tradition, that if you don't go to the race, you are at a Cup day party.

The latter was the case for us, which was combined with a token Thanksgiving feast of roast turkey owing to the presence of an American at the party.

It was a great day, lots of food, booze and convivial company.

The photos are a tradition that was started last year. One of the hats we used for drawing the Cup Sweep was a pith helmet. We thought it would be amusing if we took photos of everyone wearing it, so I took along my camera this year to reinforce the tradition for a second year.

Bernie - the hostess with the mostest

Nani - turkey cooker supremo and manufacturer of intriguing home made liqueurs.

Tony's looking happy because, for the third year running, he won the Sweep and also managed to successfully bet on the Cup trifecta which paid a tidy sum.

There's always one...

The inevitable grumpy person who would rather be dead than be seen wearing a pith helmet ... Michael - resident cynic and trenchant wit of the party.

The Melbourne Cup was won by Japanese horse Delta Blues and his stablemate Pop Rock came second. A clean sweep by the Japanese racing contingent.

You may well ask - how did I go? Well, I did select Delta Blues a month or so ago in a future bet, so I scored rather well myself, though not as well as Tony.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I almost forgot...

Back at the beginning of October Clare Dudman at Keeper of the Snails ran a BAFAB (Buy a friend a book) competition, requiring participants to submit:

" ...a story of exactly 101 words (not including title) written using words spelt exactly as you say them (e.g. I wint downt laik an got owt me buk. Twas gud buk. I cudnat stop reedin.) The theme is 'guilty pleasures'."

I submitted a piece in Strine and I won, so I have been informed by Clare.

You can read my entry in the comments here.

Needless to say I am chuffed, not giving myself a snowflakes chance in hell of winning.

Thanks Clare, I should run something similar myself, but I fear I have not that many readers.

The Panorama Has Moved

People who have read Edward Whittemore's Jerusalem Quartet would recognise the above phrase from Nile Shadows. It is evocative, but in fact relates to the Nile side cafe where Strongbow and Menelik Ziwar carried out their 40 year conversation.

I am digressing...

What it means in this case is that the Jerusalem Dreaming web site has moved to a new location on the web.

It now has its own domain name and also a fresh new design.

If it is not accessible over the next day - I received an email from my hosting service advising of server outages tonight and tomorrow - keep trying.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Occupational Obsessions

Well, it's not really occupational, though it has kept me occupied for the last week...

If I have been very quiet on the blog front of late it is because I have been creating a fresh new web design for my Edward Whittemore tribute site Jerusalem Dreaming. It has occupied me all week, to the exclusion of almost everything else. When I am in web creation mode I tend to get obsessive and worry away at it until it's finished.

It is fortunate that I am also on leave from my real work, otherwise it would have taken much longer to complete the site. I put the finishing touches on it this afternoon, but it will not be online until next week most probably. Up to now, the Jerusalem Dreaming site has been hosted on my free homepage space allocated by my ISP. It was threatening to become too big for the space allocated (10mbs), so I decided to create a totally new site with a fresh design and get it hosted elsewhere. This also involves acquiring a domain name, which will of course stuff up all links to the current site location. I will advise the new domain name when the new site is online and you will be able to access it and take a look.

Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival

The Spring racing carnival is my favorite time of the year and it is now in full swing.

Last week the major WFA (weight for age) handicap, the Cox Plate was run. It was a thriller wherein the oldest horse (9 years old) in the race won by a whisker and the over-hyped favorite came second last.

Tomorrow is Derby Day and there are 5 major races on the card and 4 of my super stable are contending.

Last week my 3 super stable contenders came 2nd, 6th & 7th, but they all earned money so I am now coming sixth in the competition. If my 4 contenders win or place tomorrow, my virtual coffers will be boosted even further and if Tawqeet wins the Melbourne Cup next Tuesday, I might even win the competition. I did win the first Super Stable competition a couple of years ago, so if , like good old Fields of Omagh (the elderly winner of the Cox Plate who previously won in 2003), I might stage a comeback.

Here's hoping for good fortune...