Friday, April 24, 2009

Sweet Country Blues from Charlie Parr at Basement Discs


Today’s’ lunchtime in store at Basement Discs featured American country blues artist Charlie Parr who I admit I had previously never heard of or even knew about. Charlie describes himself on his website as follows:

“Charlie Parr has failed at most things in his life. Music seems to have rendered him unemployable and is the only thing he’s ever done with any confidence. A lot of folks have been saying nice things about Charlie, despite the lingering odors and indecipherable comments he makes. It says a lot about folks; they’re hanging in there with him, in spite of himself.”

A self deprecating kind of guy, he surprised me greatly as the photo I found for the in store poster made him look quite old, when in fact he’s fairly youthful (40 years old). He’s a whiz bang of a performer and played some very sweet blues, picking guitar with consummate skill. He also has a great voice, hard to describe, but perfect for the type of music he promulgates.

There was a big crowd at Basement Discs to hear Charlie play and he gave generously of his time, playing for forty-five minutes or so.

You can check out his music on his website and My Space

Or check out this video of him singing his relatively famous song 1922

Monday, April 20, 2009

Vale Timmy (199? – 20 April 2009)

Timmy was euthanized today, and thus passes a cat of CHARACTER into the ether. A curmudgeon of a beast, he could however be quite endearing in his eccentric way.

This morning when I fed the cats breakfast, all was well and Timmy showed no signs of abnormality. He gobbled his breakfast and then proceeded to go and menace Willy who had taken refuge under the bed. I gave Timmy a nudge with my foot to drive him away and as per usual he hissed at me and lashed out before skulking off. He was a cat that hated to be thwarted and showed it in no uncertain terms.

Anyway a few hours later, B rang me at work to say that Timmy was acting very strangely - drooling and falling over as if he was having a seizure or a stroke. He took Timmy to the vet (a nightmare at the best of times, but Timmy was subdued this time) who checked him out and advised that the cat had a very loud heart murmur. B decided not to prolong his life and had him put down.

It’s a bit of a shock and B is very upset about it, as Timmy was his mother’s cat.

Timmy appeared to be fighting fit despite his age which could be anywhere from 16 to 18 years, and looked like he’d go on forever.

It is however a relief that he’s now gone. The other two cats, Willy in particular, are overjoyed. Poor Willy has spent the last few years in terror of Timmy, so we might see more of him from now on as he has been spending most of his days elsewhere. In fact as I write this he's sitting on my knee purring. Now he won’t have to creep round looking fearful of attack. He’s a cheery cat, so it was a shame that Timmy caused this apprehension in his approach to home. They never reached an accommodation as Lizzie did with Timmy. Quite a number of visits to the vet by both male cats for abscess bursting and antibiotics attest to this.

The photo above is one I took a few weeks ago. Timmy was always a good photographic subject, sitting or lying (as above) motionless and staring solemnly at the camera.

So RIP Timmy old fellow - Can't say I’ll miss you a bit all that much, despite the space of absence this night, but it was nice knowing you all the same.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rodney Crowell at The Prince – 16 April 2009

rodney_crowell 012_filtered (Large)

Rodney Crowell @ The Prince of Wales – 16/4/09

My mind is still buzzing after a great night of music at The Prince, watching Rodney Crowell perform his wonderful songs live. The venue this time round had both seated and standing room. Seated tickets (catering for the baby boomers) were $10.00 extra and well worth it - at least from where I was sitting two rows from the front to the right of the stage. So I had a good view and was able to get some good photos. I took the Canon G10 this time and am pretty pleased with results.

This is the first time Rodney Crowell has toured Australia and hopefully it is not the last. He was accompanied by Will Kimbrough – a superb performer in his own right and a beautifully tasteful guitarist. Rodney was splendid – he has an engaging stage presence and had the crowd in his hands from the start. He also tells amusing stories, particularly one about his ex father-in-law Johnny Cash.

And then there are his songs…they sound even better live, being quirky and well written and could only be sung in Rodney’s distinctive voice, though many artists have covered his songs in the past. Will Kimbrough provided harmony vocals on many of the songs and their two voices together were reminiscent of the Everly Brothers who were my favorite band when I was about 10 years old.

There were many highlights through the night... I very much enjoyed Rodney Crowell’s Johnny Cash tribute song Walk The Line (Revisited), originally recorded on the Houston Kid CD with The Man In Black singing the chorus line. Will Kimbrough did a great job in this role last night.

It was a very fine night’s entertainment. Australia gave Rodney Crowell a very warm reception wherever he played so there is every chance he will return in the near future. I’d certainly go and see him play again.

Set List – ( May be missing a few songs)

  1. Rise & Fall of Intelligent Design
  2. Sex & Gasoline
  3. Moving Work of Art
  4. Running Circles Round The Sun
  5. Til I Gain Control Again
  6. Jewell of The South
  7. Riding Out The Storm
  8. Still Learning How To Fly
  9. Earthbound
  10. Closer to Heaven
  11. Will Kimbrough solo – didn’t get song title
  12. Will Kimbrough solo – Philadelphia Mississippi
  13. Will Kimbrough & Rodney Crowell – didn’t get song title
  14. I Wish It Would Rain
  15. Wandering Boy
  16. I Walk The Line (Revisited)
  17. It’s Hard To Kiss The Lips
  18. Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight
  19. Pancho & Lefty
  20. Ain’t Living Long Like This
  21. I Know Love Is All I Need

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Truth According to Ruthie Foster

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Basement Discs hosted Ruthie Foster at an in store today and it was a performance that warmed the sudden chill that descended on Melbourne city today.

Ruthie is touring to support her latest CD The Truth According To… so naturally she sang several songs off it today, a fine cover of the Patty Griffin song When It Don’t Come Easy and a cover of an Eric Bibb song, as well as her own spectacular version of Real Love that shows off the power of her remarkable voice to perfection.

She also brought her band on stage for the last song – two amazing looking ladies called Amanda and Tania who normally play drums and bass, but today just added backing vocals.

ruthie_foster 002

It’s always a treat to see Ruthie Foster play her brand of soul and blues and today was no exception. Great stuff!

Record Store Day

This coming Saturday 18th April, is International Record Store Day. This is a world wide initiative to support real record stores of an independent nature. Basement Discs and other stores in Melbourne will be celebrating this day in fine fashion.

Basement Discs has huge line up of artists who will be performing throughout the day from about 11.30am. They include Chris Wilson, Sarah Carroll, Charles Jenkins, Lisa Miller, Liz Stringer and heaps more. This page on the Basement Discs website has all the details, as well as links to the other Melbourne record stores participating in the promotion.

I will only be able to attend the Basement Discs for a short while as I am committed to a long and boozy lunch with friends on Saturday afternoon.

But before then I will be going to see Rodney Crowell at the The Prince of Wales tomorrow night. By all acounts it should be a great show. Reports from the East Coast Blues Festival have been extremely positive. His CD The Collection is on the player as I write.

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Totally Fab Hot Club of Cowtown at Basement Discs

Hot Club of Cowtown - l to r Whit Smith, Elana James, Jake Erwin

Shortly before lunchtime today a storm descended on the city. This morning it was 25°C at 6.00 am, but it dropped, as is its want in Melbourne, to 16°C in a very short time. The storm was right over the central business district and I was fortunate enough to witness a classic lightning bolt in Bourke Street.

Despite the stormy weather, I made it down to
Basement Discs for the Hot Club Of Cowtown in store. It was a beauty - foot tapping western swing played with enormous verve and spirit.

Hot Club is a trio, featuring Elana James, masterful violinist and vocalist, Whit Smith, who plays stunningly good guitar and shares vocal duties with Elana, and Jake Erwin who swings it up on upright bass. Together they create a dazzling mix of sound, predominantly old time dance music tunes.

Today they entertained the large crowd at Basement Discs with seven lively songs/tunes and won many hearts with their charm and mastery of the music.

They will play tonight at Thornbury Theatre - a new venue for music, but a very old establishment, formerly a Picture Palace and then a Greek Reception Centre. Unfortunately I will be unable to attend, despite the fact I was offered free tickets, as we are dining with friends this evening.

So I am glad I saw them today. It was certainly worth the drenching. By the time I made it back to work I looked like a drowned rat as the rain was bucketing down in torrents by them. Fortunately I am wearing light summer clothes – linen and silk - so I dried off pretty fast.

The next in store is on 15 April and will feature the amazing Ruthie Foster.

Autumn Racing Carnival 2009- Week 10 – Golden Slipper Day

An exceptional day of racing looms on Saturday with the Golden Slipper race day at Rosehill.

Including the feature race there are five Group One races on the program with excellent fields one and all.

The weather is expected to be rainy in Sydney, so the track will most probably be rated slow to heavy, which makes selection of possible winners somewhat tricky as you cannot always rely on wet track form especially where outstanding performers are concerned.

A race for two year olds over 1200 metres, the Golden Slipper looks to have a really good field of well performed colts and fillies in pretty much equal numbers. I have been watching the lead up races with interest and four runners stand out from the rest – colts, Reward for Effort and Real Saga and fillies, More Joyous and Rostova. There are any number of scenarios one can imagine, such as the two fillies fighting out the finish or the two colts, or a colt and one of the fillies or all four of them. But quite possibly none of those scenarios will occur and another colt like Manhattan Rain (an appropriate name if it is wet) or filly, Indian Ocean, for instance, may well win.

But before the Slipper is run, there are several other interesting races. Firstly, there will be the Vinery Stud Storm Queen Stakes - a race for three year old fillies over 2000 metres. Gallica will be gunning for a hat trick and will have stiff competition from the likes of Gold Water, Love and Kisses, Il Quello Veloce, Glowlamp and Purple (the last, only selected on the basis of liking her name).

The Queen of the Turf Stakes (1500 metres) is for fillies and mares. The field includes such stars as Forensics (herself a Golden Slipper winner in 2007 and winner of Queen of the Turf last year) and Hot Danish. It is hard to choose between these two, but Culminate, recently second behind Typhoon Tracy in the Coolmore Classic, the consistent Gallant Tess, Judged and Champagne Harmony all have a chance, of, if not winning, running a place.

A time honoured race, The BMW over 2400 metres has Viewed and Theseo in competition once again. I think Viewed has an excellent chance in this with the extra 400 metres in distance. The wonderful mare Zarita also can’t be overlooked, and Road To Rock with Glen Boss in the saddle may cause a boilover.

The George Ryder Stakes has been won the last few years by my favourite horses of the time. Last year it was Weekend Hussler, the year before it was Haradasun. This year there are eleven Group One winners competing in the field of fifteen starters. These include All Silent, Whobegotyou, Alamosa, Light Fantastic, Littorio, Mentality, Northern Meteor, Pompeii Ruler, Sarrera, Triple Honour and New Zealander King Mufhasa. It has all the makings of a fantastic race and it is very hard to pick the winner.

My heart will be with Light Fantastic, though he faces stiff competition from the likes of All Silent, Alamosa and the colt Whobegotyou. Grey horses have always been considered as good goers in the wet, so the grey factor may be in Light Fantastic’s favour.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Lucinda Williams at Hamer Hall – 1st April 2009

Well I must admit that despite the high anticipation I had in seeing Lucinda Williams live for the first time, I came away from the concert somewhat disappointed. This had a lot to do with her accompanying band Buick 6. To my mind they did not really suit Lucinda’s style and when they performed a set before Lucinda’s main act, I, and no doubt others in the audience, felt a certain dismay. Their set was loud, self indulgent, and for a person like me who likes singers and vocals, boringly instrumental. There was even - horror of horrors – a drum solo!

I love rock ‘n roll, but I was not taken with Buick 6’s type of rock – it sounded too much of extended jam sessions which I generally loathe.

Local duo,
Luluc, opened the show before Buick 6 with a short and sweet set of quiet folk songs. It was quite a contrast to the rest of the show.

My mood and appreciation of the show was tempered by the person who accompanied me. He sat stony faced throughout the entire show and didn’t clap once. He, like me was put off by Buick 6’s set, but he wasn’t making any allowances for Lucinda, unlike me.

Lucinda however was good, though she appeared to be somewhat dazed and confused and was occasionally inarticulate. Jet lag? She did however make it easy to note the set list, giving the song title in most cases, before she performed it. She seemed to be enjoying herself despite her apparent dislocation, and her oh so distinctive voice was spot on.

It is a pity that so many of her songs sound the same. She is fond of repetitious phrasing, which can get a bit tiresome, song after song. To my mind, her earlier songs, like Pineola and Happy Woman Blues, and songs from Car Wheels On A Gravel Road are superior compositions. In the case of her more recent work, I did like her renditions of Tears of Joy, Real Live Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings and Essence.

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get any good photos. For a start, I’d inadvertently brought the wrong camera and then the photo Gestapo were out in force, monitoring camera usage and telling people to turn their cameras off. Photo above is by Kip Karpik - obviously he had better luck and also had a much better camera than mine.

Set List for those interested.
1. Just Wanted To See You So Bad
2. Happy Woman Blues
3. Can’t Let Go
4. Circles And X’s
5. Well, Well, Well
6. Drunken Angel
7. Pineola
8. Side Of The Road
9. Jackson
10. Over Time
11. People Talkin’
12. Real Love
13. Tears Of Joy
14. Change The Locks
15. Real Live Bleeding Fingers And Broken Guitar Strings
16. Come On
17. Essence
18. Joy
19. Honey Bee
20. Righteously

1. Disgusted (Lil’ Son Jackson Cover)
2. I Lived My Life (Fats Domino Cover)
3. Things I Used To Do (Guitar Slim Cover)
4. Every Picture Tells A Story (Faces Cover
5. Long Way To The Top (ACDC Cover)

Update 3/4/09:
I've changed the photo for a better one snapped by John (Kip) Karpik