Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Autumn Racing Season 2010 – Week 10 – Golden Slipper

Typhoon Tracy resumes this Saturday

What a relief it is to write something different for change, albeit about racing. I must admit I love writing about horse racing, and think I’ve missed my true vocation.

With so many distractions, i.e. music, I’ve struggled to keep up with the latest racing news, but today looked at the acceptances for Super Saturday at Rosehill, and liked what I saw.

There are five Group One races on the card including the richest two year old race on the planet, the Golden Slipper, always a fascinating competition.

Besides the Golden Slipper there is the Vinery Stud Stakes over 2000 metres for three year old fillies, the Queen of the Turf Stakes, for fillies and mares over 1500 metres, The BMW an open staying race over 2400 metres, the George Ryder Stakes another open competition over 1500 metres.

So let’s look at the Vinery Stud Stakes first. It has a top class field of staying fillies, including Faint Perfume who must be considered the top chance. She’ll have to contend with Run for Naara who ran third in the Rosehill Guineas against the boys, Set For Fame, the Peter Moody trained filly who last ran second against the boys in the Crown Guineas, which was an excellent effort, Small Minds, winner of the South Australian Oaks, Valdemoro, Little Surfer Girl and the Gai Waterhouse trained Once Were Wild.

The Queen of the Turf Stakes, sees my favourite ,Typhoon Tracy, resuming. She will be very hard to beat. It’s a mouth watering race what with top Sydney filly More Joyous also in the picture as well other classy three year old fillies, Sister Madly and Response. Of the mares, Allez Wonder could also threaten Tracy’s dominance, but I very much doubt it. Go Tracy Go!

The BMW has the usual suspects – Theseo who will no doubt start favourite, Daffodil who is in with a good chance as the track is likely to be heavy, and that other staying mudlark mare Purple who must be about due for another win. The Bart Cummings trained duo Moatize and Roman Emperor can’t be overlooked either.

Last year’s George Ryder Stakes was won by Vision And Power, who could well win it again, though he has a smart field to contend with this year. Good old El Segundo will be having his first start in Sydney and is always an honest galloper, though is unlikely to win. Black Piranha showed he was back in contention last start running second to Hot Danish in the Canterbury Stakes, and Heart Of Dreams, after failing in the Australia Cup is back to the a distance he can cope with, has won at Rosehill before, and is an excellent chance. Surely he has to put a win on the board soon. Other chances are Danleigh, Snipers Bullet, Dao Dao, New Zealander King Mufasa and three year old Tickets who broke through for a win in the Pharlap Stakes a fortnight ago.

So now we come to the Golden Slipper

I’ve watched and taken note of runners in the various preludes in the run up to this race, and the stand out is the filly Military Rose, unbeaten in all her starts, she also handles the wet, so is the one to beat. In my opinion, her main threats are the super talented Shaaheq who acquitted herself well in the Blue Diamond Stakes and won her last start earlier this month and Chance Bye who won the Silver Slipper back in February, though hasn't raced since. Of the other fillies Solar Charged, unbeaten until defeated by Military Rose in the Riesling Stakes, has a chance to turn the tables, as does Obsequious. Of the colts, Brightexpectations, Beneteau and Hinchinbrook look the most promising.

The weather should play a big part in deciding the outcome of most of the Group One races, and favour the mudlarks. However class can always win, no matter what condition the track is in.

Let’s hope Sydney’s Super Saturday is not as supersaturated as Melbourne’s was on Australia Cup day.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Eddi Reader at Basement Discs

Despite the fact that I am on leave this week from work, I took time to go into the city to see the remarkable Eddi Reader perform live at a Basement Discs in store today.

Eddi Reader with Alan Kelly(concertina) & Boo Hewerdine (guitar)

It was well worth the effort, as Eddi is a superb performer and possesses a truly beautiful voice, almost operatic in the way she uses it.

She has been touring Australia this past month as part of the Brunswick Music Festival and Apollo Bay Festival among other gigs.

She has a new CD called Love Is The Way which she gave us sample of this afternoon. She sang Dragonflies a song about living life to the full, and Dandelions which is her tribute to housewife superstar Susan Boyle and Leezie Lindsay which is from her album of Songs of Robert Burns. She also performed the title track of her new CD - a beautiful song.


She puts her whole heart and soul into her performances, they’re passionate and thrilling. She trills whilst playing an air violin, and seizes the microphone like a rock star.

Boo Hewerdine on guitar and Alan Kelly on the concertina, added sterling accompaniment.

She was born in Scotland and has a quaint accent and calls “small” wee in true highland fashion.

A special treat indeed was Eddi Reader and you can read, see and hear more about her on her website.

Monday, March 29, 2010

More of a legend than a band – The Flatlanders live at Spenserslive

Whew, I’ve finally got a chance to write about last night’s show at Spenserslive, out in the wilds of West Melbourne, which of course featured The Flatlanders.

The Flatlanders

At this moment I am supposed to be at Northcote Social Club waiting for Lil’ Band O’ Gold to put on a show, but the person whose ticket I was taking, found she could go after all. And no, I don’t feel cheated, as I’m tired and weary worn by the constant music stimulus. And besides, I did get to see them at Basement Discs on Saturday.

Anyway, enough of diversions…

Let it be said, The Flatlanders are a fantastic band and it was unbelievable to many at the show last night, that we collectively were seeing the legendary band in action with help from a few extra musicians, including an ace guitarist called Robby someone.

The gig at Spenserslive was not advertised at all, as far as I could see, except on their website. I was lucky that a friend alerted me to the show early (the same friend, by the way, whose ticket I was going to take up tonight) so we ended up with a table abutting the stage. Prime position!

Jimmie Dale Gilmore

I’m not going to describe the show in any detail, but it was thrilling and quite up to expectations.

Butch Hancock

I had never been to the venue before, but was favourably impressed. I’d certainly not jib at going to a show there again. It’s comfortable and laid back and the sound system was excellent.

joe_ely1 (Medium)
Joe Ely

As you can see The Flatlanders are an interesting looking bunch of guys. They’ve been friends for over forty years, having all grown up in Texas. Both individually and together, they have been creating music for a very long time. Hence their legendary status.

The Set List – filched from the stage at the end of the show:


They played all of the list in order up to the encore (Sowing on the Mountain was the last song of the set), where they performed only See the Way and Gimme A Ride To Heaven. They took it in turns to lead the vocals, starting with Joe Ely whilst the other two, plus guitarist, provided harmony vocals.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lyle Lovett, Mary Gauthier & Lil’ Band O’ Gold

This will be a very brief run down of the music I’ve had the pleasure of seeing over the past few days as I’m feeling bleary after too many late nights – music festival lag has set in and it’s not over yet.

First and foremost to report on, is Lyle Lovett’s concert on Friday night at Hamer Hall. In terms of quality and class, it was on a par with last year’s tour by Leonard Cohen. It was an exquisite night’s entertainment, with Kasey Chambers performing an engaging opening set.


Hamer Hall has strict rules about taking photos, so I’d primed my camera to be unobtrusive, switching off the LCD display, and relying on the view finder. This didn’t work too well at all and I ended up with unusable shots. The photo above was kindly sent to me by my friend Margaret who was sitting near the front and managed to take some very good photos.

Lyle came across as a genial, funny guy with a self deprecatory, quirky sense of humour. His band was excellent and comprised Luke Bulla on violin and vocals, Keith Sewell on guitar, mandolin and vocals, John Hagen on cello, Victor Krauss on bass and vocals, and James Gilmer on percussion. The four part harmonies on songs such as I Will Rise Up, and Ain’t No More Cane were spine tingling and rang out across the excellent acoustics of Hamer Hall to a hushed and awed audience.

Lyle played for something like two and a half hours, covering songs from a wide range of his repertoire. Of course he did If I Had A Boat, also That’s Right You’re Not From Texas, One Eyed Fiona, and Cowboy Man to name a few. There was a marvellous bluegrass segment, with Lyle, Luke Bulla, Keith Sewell and Victor Krauss (as pictured above) gathered in bluegrass fashion around a single mike for Pantry and Up in Indiana.

A real treat it was to see Lyle Lovett finally in the flesh - he’s a class act.

Yesterday was The Basement Discs double attraction In Store of Mary Gauthier and Lil’ Band O’ Gold, which basically took up most of yesterday afternoon.

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“Hail, Hail the Orphan King, with the crooked smile and a crackerjack ring”

I snapped the above photo of Mary just as she was concluding the song Orphan King, and it coincidently depicts the lyrics of the chorus.

Looking somewhat tousled, Mary accompanied by Ed Romanoff, played an abbreviated version of The Foundling over the space of half to three quarters of an hour. She had performed on Friday night at the East Brunswick Club, so it was generous of her to give her time to a show at Basement Discs at midday on a Saturday. It was another moving performance and warmly received by the sizable audience.

The Lil’ Band O’ Gold were supposed to be following on from Mary at about 1.30pm, but were delayed till about 2.15pm. It was a long wait, but as the store filled up, no one moved from their positions and waited with admirable patience for the band to arrive, which they eventually did, heralded by CC Adcock, looking dangerously attractive, unshaven, wearing sunglasses and holding a stubby of beer. He charmingly apologised for the delay and promised the show would proceed as soon as the rest of the band with gear arrived.

There are eight in the band, and it is amazing that they all mostly squeezed onto the tiny Basement stage…


“Lil' Band O' Gold are a Louisiana supergroup of legends of Cajun, Zydeco, Swamp Pop, Country music and Louisiana Rock and Soul who blur the lines between their genres in their mutual admirations.

Born in the late 1990s when young Cajun accordion wizard and bandleader Steve Riley and producer/rocker/film scorer CC Adcock put the band together, their 2000 debut was a joyous celebration of Louisiana musical diversity, with Swamp Pop Maestro Warren Storm on drums and vocals, much covered songwriter David Egan on piano and sculptor/hipster/returned New Yorker Dickie Landry on saxophone, and Richard Comeaux on weeping, twisting pedal steel guitar. For their new CD The Promised Land they've added Swamp Pop angel Tommy McClain and Clifton Chenier's guitarist Lil' Buck Senegal. As their album cover proclaims, '8 members, 25 egos, 6 livers.'”
from promo on The Planet

Anyway, they were well worth waiting for and played a sizzling set of swamp pop, Cajun influenced rock n roll, somehow managing to cope with the tiny arena, swapping microphones and changing places with adroitness. They were, in a word, fabulous.

Tonight it’s The Flatlanders at Spenserlive. Will report back tomorrow.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Autumn Racing Season 2010 – Week 9 – Rosehill Guineas

The Rosehill Guineas is the sole Group One event this weekend. Run over 2000 metres, it is for three year olds and hasn’t attracted much of a field, only 11 runners will start.

Be that as it may, the field is pretty good, with Crown Guineas winner Rock Classic and Randwick Guineas winner Shoot Out being the outstanding chances. Neither has raced further than 1600 metres, so the race is a kind of trial for the Derby for both of them. Hanks, trained by the in form Peter Moody has won over the distance as has the lone filly Run for Naara, but any one of the other runners – Kidnapped, Captain Sonador, Gathering, Zabrasive might turn the tables on the favourites.

I’d love to see Shoot Out win and his breeding (High Chaparral) suggests he’ll handle the distance easily as long as he’s not worn out from racing every second week since summer.

Last week’s results were a mix of the expected and the unexpected; Military Rose is the new favourite for the Golden Slipper after continuing her winning ways, beating the highly fancied Solar Charged by several lengths in the Riesling Stakes, and Theseo won his second Ranvet Stakes in succession in fine fashion. What an old war horse he is!

Alverta signalled that she wasn’t past it stealing the Coolmore Classic from Gold Water and Palacio de Cristal, and Hot Danish returned in style winning the Canterbury Stakes.

Star Witness bombed in the Todman Stakes, obviously unable to handle the Sydney way of going, so all plans for the Golden Slipper are off and he is being spelled until spring.

We won’t see Denman racing in Australia again, which is a pity, as he’s being sent to England and will be competing there in July. However, his aunt, a full sister to the great Lonhro, Shannara, shows promise, after a win at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.

A piece of good news is that Graceful Anna is back in training and will be competing in the Queensland winter carnival. She beat Shoot Out twice in the early summer and won the three year old Magic Millions Classic.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gasp, Sigh – The Extraordinary Truckstop Honeymoon

Back on the sticky carpets at the East Brunswick Club last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Truckstop Honeymoon for the first time.

They were pretty amazing, playing high powered music on banjo and double bass and singing with ATTITUDE. They were also pretty funny, coming across as a blend of Fred Eaglesmith and The Handsome Family, in terms of black humour and acerbic wit.

Truckstop Honeymoon is Mike West and Katie Euliss partners in life as well as on stage. They have a tribe of children who accompany them everywhere they go and often feature in the on stage monologues. About the first question the couple were asked last night was “How’s the kids”. In response, we were then given a description of their sojourn at the Yakandandah Festival where one of the progeny took on the duties of goat walker at the place where they were billeted.

Originally from New Orleans, after their home was washed away by Hurricane Katrina, they settled in Lawrence Kansas, selected, so they claim, because it as far from any large body of water as they could get.

They were on tour in Florida when Katrina struck and were stunned to see their inundated house on the front page of the New York Times. This of course inspired a song, The Cover of The NY Times.

A very crowd friendly act, they had the audience oohing and gasping during a song about their great grandparents playing music for Saturday matinee melodramas. Crazy stuff!

And on another occasion they got the audience involved in a yodelling wave.

They sing songs about looking for the perfect pair of sunglasses, following the Melathion truck to get high on toxic mosquito killer, vacation Bible Schools and other eccentric and unusual topics.

It was a very enjoyable show and I’m glad my friends persuaded me to attend.

Next weekend and week is heavy duty as far as music events go. There seems to be something on everyday.

On Friday there’s Lyle Lovett, on Saturday the Basement Discs double bill in store with Mary Gauthier and Lil’ Band O’ Gold, then on Sunday it’s The Flatlanders.

Monday, I am not spared either, having taken up the ticket of a friend who can’t go, to see Lil’ Band O’ Gold at Northcote Social Club. Basement Discs hosts Eddie Reader on Tuesday and on Thursday it’s the Old Crow Medicine Show at Thornbury Theatre.

Music Festival lag anyone?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sweet Music for a Sultry Day – Kim Richey at Basement Discs

Melbourne, over the past few days has been under the influence of a hot and sultry weather pattern, a surprise lingering of summer which we had almost given up seeing again after a cold snap in early March.

Despite the unseasonable weather,
Basement Discs continued today with the second in store performance for the month, and it featured the wonderful US singer songwriter Kim Richey.

I discovered Kim Richey’s music way back in the 1990s with her sophomore disc, Bitter Sweet, a great collection of beautifully written pop songs. I have continued to collect her records ever since, though I don’t get much of an opportunity to listen to them these days.

As an aside, she also sings background vocals on Ryan Adams’ debut solo disc Heartbreaker, on the popular song Come Pick Me Up.

It was in January 2002, that I saw her live for the first time, when she toured Australia as part of a singer songwriter showcase which included Fred Eaglesmith, Audrey Auld, Jim Lauderdale and Jason McCoy.

Today however, Kim performed solo, simply accompanying herself on guitar. She has a new CD called Wreck Your Wheels, and she treated the small but appreciative audience to a snippet of it today to the tune of four songs, and also performed two from her previous album Chinese Boxes.

Kim is an excellent song writer and has collaborated with singers like Trisha Yearwood, Radney Foster, our own Felicity Urquhart and Sydney artist Karl Broadie, and her songs have been covered by many artists including the Dixie Chicks.

She has a sweet voice that is a pleasure to listen to, with a timbre that gives it character and expression.

Song List

Chinese Boxes
Careful How You Go
Not A Love Like This
Once In Your Life
A Word To The Wise
Wreck Your Wheels

Kim Richey has an attractive website where you can learn more about her music and check out her My Space page for sound clips and video

Other news…

I have written expanded reviews of the Eilen Jewell and Mary Gauthier concerts for the Nu Country website.

Check them out
here (Eilen) and here (Mary) if you’re interested.

Autumn Racing Season 2010 – Week 8 – Coolmore Classic/Ranvet Stakes Day

Star Witness - racing this Saturday ?
The focus this weekend is on two states – South Australia, where Morphettville will be featuring two Group One races for fillies and mares, and New South Wales at Rosehill which hosts the Group One Coolmore Classic and the Ranvet Stakes.

The Ranvet Stakes run over 2000 metres, has a good field of top stayers. Theseo, having returned in style in the Chipping Norton Stakes, looks the one to beat again. Rangirangdoo was only narrowly beaten by Theseo in that race, so is likely to be a threat if he can run the distance. It’s also good to see New Zealand mare Daffodil back in this country and – cross fingers- she may well prove the winner, especially if it’s wet. Others sure to be in contention are Roman Emperor, Road To Rock and Moatize who ran a ripper of a race in the Australian Cup last week, I’d also like to see Purple put up a fight.

It is disappointing that Typhoon Tracy and More Joyous were non acceptors for the Coolmore Classic (1500 metres). Typhoon Tracy was given the top weight of 61k which seemed to me to be over the top. She would have been giving the likes of Faint Perfume and Set For Fame over 8 kilos advantage. Because of this, her connections decided to delay her Sydney campaign until the Queen of the Turf on 3rd April. More Joyous is being rested, after pulling up sore after her last start, but will also be back for the Queen of the Turf.

I reckon Faint Perfume can win this. She easily won her first start this season, the Kewney Stakes on March 6th. Set For Fame, who ran second in the Crown Guineas last Saturday will be having her first start in Sydney, and if she is not negatively affected from her Guineas run and can handle the Sydney way of going, should be right there at the finish. Allez Wonder who will start as top weight, is too classy to dismiss out of hand, nor can one ignore smart mare Palacio De Crystal or filly Hurtle Myrtle who raced More Joyous to the line in her last start.

The exciting Star Witness will start in the Group Two Todman Stakes (1200 metres), so it seems he is being set for the Golden Slipper. I will be watching this race with interest.

Military Rose, the sensational winner of the Magic Millions 2 year old classic back in January will be starting her autumn campaign in the Group Two Riesling Stakes (1200 metres). She will be up against top two year old fillies Solar Charged, Elimbari, Psychologist, Yosei and Obsequious to name the most obvious. What a great field of talented fillies it is!

Also the Group Two Canterbury Stakes over 1500 metres looks like a rather good race with Hot Danish who hasn’t raced since last spring when beaten soundly by Typhoon Tracy on the two occasions they competed. This race is easier, even though she does face the in form Dreamscape, slick sprinter Turffontein, and Black Piranha resuming after a long break. Demerit also can’t be dismissed out of hand, having the Lonhro factor.

You’d think Spacecraft would have a chance to finally put a win on the table in the Group Two Pharlap Stakes (1500 metres) after running well in harder races against the likes of Denman. His main opposition in this race appear to be Tickets and Al Dhafra.

On to the Morphettville races...

The Group One South Australian Oaks, raced over 2006 metres, has attracted a full field. The main chances at a glance are Melbourne fillies, My Emotion, No Evidence Needed, Aloha and Ipioga who has the advantage of having top female jockey Clare Lindop on her back. Otherwise, it’s anybody’s guess.

A more interesting race in terms of horses I have in my black book, is the Group One Robert Sangster Stakes, a sprint over 1200 metres. Augusta Proud whose career I have been following since her two year old season, won her last start in open company a fortnight ago. However, she faces a very talented field of fillies and mares here. There’s Madame Pedrille who admittedly Augusta beat last start, Velocitea who has won her last two starts, super fillies Headway, Irish Lights, Avenue, Sister Madly, Rostova and Majestic Music who is Augusta’s stable mate and also won her last start.

Last weekend’s results were generally unexpected. For a start, Denman lost! The Guineas was won by the Bart Cummings trained Rock Classic, with filly Set for Fame running a close second. Linton was raced too far back, but looked impressive making up ground at the finish rocketing into third place.

The Australian Cup was taken out by veteran stayer (8 YO) Zipping, by a whisker from Sirmione, with Moatize running third and the Blamey Stakes saw New Zealander Lord Tavistock take the prize.

Shoot Out looked spectacular winning the Randwick Guineas. Considering that he seems to have been racing since summer with hardly a break, it’s about time he won a Group One. He must be one tough customer to keep on going like he has and remain so consistent.

So another scintillating Saturday of top class horse racing to look forward to this weekend.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mary Gauthier at Brunswick Town Hall

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Mary Gauthier at Brunswick Town Hall – 14/3/10

Rarely does one see such a powerful and affecting performance as that which Mary Gauthier performed last night at Brunswick Town Hall.

From my seat in the front row, I could see how sincerely Mary sang her words. It was like seeing her lay bare her soul, in fact it was pretty well amazing from start to finish.

Us lucky Aussies are probably the first to see Mary Gauthier perform her new CD, The Foundling, which was indeed what she did last night. She sang it in its entirety from start to finish. The Foundling is a concept album, and tells “the story of a child abandoned at birth who spent a year in an orphanage and was adopted, who ran way from the adopted home and ended up in show business, who searched for birth parents late in life and found one and was rejected, and who came thru the other side of all this still believing in love” (from Mary Gauthier’s website).

The story is Mary’s own heartbreaking history. The CD was released in Australia last week to coincide with her tour.

The photo above was taken while she was singing The Orphan King, a song that affirms a belief in love and salvation.

Before launching into her saga, Mary sang three songs from her back catalogue – Last of the Hobo Kings, I Drink (requested) and Between the Daylight and the Dark, the title track of her previous CD.

She was ably supported through her set by Ed Romanoff, who provided tasteful guitar and backing vocals.

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Ed Romanoff & Mary Gauthier

The show lasted about one and a half hours, with Mary returning for an encore of two songs – Mercy Now and Killing The Blues a much covered song written by Rowland Salley.

It's a good venue, the Brunswick Town Hall - small and intimate - and it was a relief to be sitting down after the sticky carpet situation at East Brunswick Club. Actually, I'll have to face that again next Sunday night when I'm going to see Truckstop Honeymoon, which is a recent addition to the shows I'm anticipating after friends persuaded me to go.

Set List

  1. Last of the Hobo Kings
  2. I Drink
  3. Between the Daylight & the Dark

The Foundling

  1. The Foundling
  2. Mama Here, Mama Gone
  3. Goodbye
  4. Sideshow
  5. Interludes
  6. Blood is Blood
  7. March 11, 1962
  8. Walk in the Water
  9. Interlude 2
  10. Sweet Words
  11. The Orphan King
  12. Another Day Borrowed
  13. Coda


  1. Mercy Now
  2. Killing The Blues

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Eilen Jewell enchants the East Brunswick Club

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Eilen Jewell live at East Brunswick Club – 12 March 2010

The Eilen Jewell concert last night at the East Brunswick Club was worth the sore feet and aching leg muscles that resulted from standing for four and half hours. I now realise where Patrick Donovan, in the Age Entertainment Guide, found the title to his weekly column “Sticky Carpet” as the carpet in the East Brunswick Club band room adhered to one’s shoes to such an extent, that one almost suspected them of squelching when lifting one's feet.

No doubt years of spilt beer have resulted in the carpet reaching this state and certainly discouraged the patrons from sitting on it.

Anyway, back to the show…

We got there early and snaffled a spot in front of the stage – an excellent spot for taking photos as it turned out.

Suzannah Espie and The Last Word opened the show at about 9.15pm and played a splendid set of rocking country blues and soul.

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Suzannah Espie at East Brunswick Club - 12 March 2010

Eilen and her band made it on stage at about 10.15pm and wowed all who were present from the first song, which happened to be the opening track – Rain Roll In - on her latest CD, Sea of Tears and followed up with the title track, and a Loretta Lynn cover The Darkest Day.

Someone in the crowd yelled out a request for High Shelf Booze, whereupon Eilen remarked dryly “well, if you want to start out the night like that…”. She did however oblige after first singing Heartache Boulevard.

She is a slight, lissom person, but her song choice belies her innocent looks, being predominantly about hard drinking, mean men and desperados. Her heroines are Loretta Lynn, Billy Holliday and Bessie Smith and she performed covers by all of them. Her guitar bore several signatures which I asked her about when I was getting my CDs signed after the show. She said they were by Loretta Lynn, Lucinda Williams and Mavis Staples. No doubt she’ll be collecting more as time progresses.

Her band was ace, particularly Jerry Miller her guitarist. She mentioned straight up that she wasn’t bothered by audiences who applauded his guitar solos. Jason Beek played drums and also provided backing vocals and John Sciascia played an upright bass.

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Jerry Miller (Gretsch guitar) & Jason Beek (drums)

Eilen’s set lasted over two hours and she held the audience captive throughout. She is a wonderful entertainer and has a droll sense of humour, several times wittily exhorting the people at the back to stop talking, which they seemed to be doing all night long. I’m glad I was at the front, with the real music lovers.

She closed the night with Codeine Arms, one of my personal favourites on Sea Of Tears, which Eilen claims is the saddest song she’s ever written.

Set List

    1. Rain Roll In
    2. Sea of Tears
    3. The Darkest Day (Loretta Lynne)
    4. Heartache Boulevard
    5. High Shelf Booze
    6. Fine and Mellow (Billy Holliday)
    7. Where They Never Say Your Name
    8. Tagging Along With Jesus (George Jones)
    9. Everywhere I Go
    10. Dusty Boxcar Wall (Eric Anderson)
    11. Thanks A Lot (Charlie Rich)
    12. Too Hot To Sleep
    13. Fist City (Loretta Lynne)
    14. I’m Gonna Dress In Black (Van Morrison)
    15. Mess Around
    16. Rich Man’s World
    17. Sweet Rose
    18. Shakin’ All Over (Johnny Kidd)
    19. If You Catch Me Stealing (Bessie Smith)


  1. Putty In Your Hands (Shirelles)
  2. Codeine Arms

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bright, Rambunctious Lunchtime Entertainment - The Junes at Basement Discs

Basement Discs at lunchtime today hosted an in store as bright and sunny as Melbourne’s current weather, featuring The Junes, who are Sarah Carroll, Suzannah Espie and Glenny Rae augmented by Dougie Bull on stand-up bass and Chris Tabone on drums.

The Junes have just released a new CD 12 Golden Greats, a sterling collection of country swing originals and they gave the appreciative audience at Basement Discs a scintillating taste of what’s on the record.

They sound like an updated version of Git and indeed both Suzannah and Sarah were members of that group and like Git specialise in superb girlie harmonies.

As both individual artists and performing in super groups like The Junes it’s always a pleasure to see one or other of these women play.

Tonight I get to see Suzannah Espie again with her band The Last Word at the East Brunswick Club supporting Eilen Jewell. It should be a fantastic night’s entertainment.

Check out
The Junes My Space page to hear their music for yourself.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Autumn Racing Season 2010 – Week 7 – Super Saturday Redux

Heart of Dreams
It is to be fervently hoped that extreme weather conditions will not spoil the running of the rescheduled Crown Guineas and Australian Cup this coming Saturday at Flemington.

The storm last Saturday was freakish in its intensity and it is remarkable that only a few horses were injured. If the Newmarket had been run just a few minutes after, it would have been catastrophic. As it was, it was good to see Wanted, perhaps by default, finally win a Group One event after being the bridesmaid so many times.

Other results on Saturday saw Solar Charged rocket into Golden Slipper favouritism with a stunning win in the Kindergarten Stakes, and More Joyous succeed once again in a fighting finish when Hurtle Myrtle threatened to take out the Surround Stakes. More Joyous will most probably be up against Typhoon Tracy in the Coolmore Classic later this month - a race surely not to be missed.

In Monday’s races in Adelaide I was pleased to see old favourite Augusta Proud in winning circles again. Her jockey Claire Lindop took out two races on the day, also guiding Majestic Music to a win in the Group Two Yallambee Classic, narrowly beating the classy Sister Madly.

The 2010 Golden Slipper is shaping up to be a beauty with so many very talented two year old colts and fillies proving themselves in the build up races. The fillies (Shaaheq, Chance By, Crystal Lily for example) currently dominate, but there is a possibility that Blue Diamond winner Star Witness will compete after all, despite his trainer initially stating that he would be spelled until spring.

This coming Saturday, as well as the rescheduled Crown Guineas and Australian Cup, Sydney hosts the Group One Randwick Guineas and several interesting Group Two events. The focus of the autumn racing season will shift to Sydney from now on as Melbourne’s carnival will be over after this weekend, unless something untoward happens...

The Randwick Guineas is run over 1600 metres, and has the usual suspects, including the consistent Shoot Out, Viking Legend, More Than Great, Kidnapped who will appreciate the extra distance, and the surprise winner of the Hobartville Stakes, Monton, who may well win again.

Blue Diamond favourite, Beneteau, who was not disgraced finishing third in that race, is a good chance to win the Group 3 Skyline Stakes (1200 metres), Of those opposing him, Hinchinbrook, Blackball and Pressday, all having won their only starts, could score again, but would have to be pretty good to beat Beneteau.

The Group 3 Sweet Embrace Stakes for two year old fillies, is also run over 1200 metres. Crystal Lily, Amber’s Waltz, Divorces and My Amelia appear to be the most likely to win or place.

In Melbourne there are few changes to the line up for the two group one events. Melbourne trainer David Hayes has had a horror week, losing two of his best horses, Our Aqualeem and Changingoftheguard, the former breaking down in track work and the latter dying during a gelding operation.

The Group Two Blamey Stakes (1600 metres) has a small but quality field that includes Dao Dao who came second to Typhoon Tracy at his last start, Rightfully Yours, full brother to Heart of Dreams, Vigor who beat Typhoon Tracy last spring and the intriguing US import Dr Fremantle.

Last week Shocking was a late scratching from the Australian Cup, but will take his place this weekend. I’m still sticking to Heart of Dreams as my pick.

As the races are not being screened on free to air television this week, it’s back to squandering bandwidth watching the races online - a few of them anyway. I signed up for a two month free subscription to Skynet online, so shall take advantage of it while I can. I usually watch on the free Big Pond horseracing site, but though the quality of the video is quite good, it tends to be unstable and freeze at inconvenient moments, like in the finishing stretch.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Autumn Racing Season 2010 – Week 6 – Super Saturday

Linton after winning the Alister Clark Stakes - 13/2/10

The Melbourne autumn racing carnival winds up this Saturday at Flemington with three Group One races – the Australian Cup, Newmarket Handicap and the highly anticipated Crown Guineas.

First to run will be the Newmarket Handicap, a sprint over 1200 metres. There are 19 acceptances and what field it is! Top sprinter All Silent , resumes in this race and his opponents include Nicconi who loves the Flemington straight though is questionable at 1200 metres, Starspangledbanner, last start winner of the Group One Oakleigh Plate who could well succeed again, Light Fantastic second up this campaign who could show enormous improvement on his fourth place in the William Reid Stakes, and Peter Moody colts Wanted and Tickets along with the filly Headway are also worth consideration. Turffontein who I witnessed winning the William Reid Stakes is also in with a chance.

It’s nice to see former class galloper El Segundo returning to the scene, though I don’t give him much chance.

The Crown Guineas for three year olds is run over 1600 metres and the big question is whether Denman can continue his winning ways. In my opinion, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t win again, judging by the ease with which he has disposed of his opposition in his build up to this race. His only attempt at running the 1600 metres was in the Caulfield Guineas last spring where he failed to run a place. He’s older now and in peak condition so the extra 200 metres shouldn’t trouble him at all.

The most interesting runner, other than Denman, is Linton, a late nomination for the race. This promising young stayer could well supply a decent challenge to Denman’s pre-eminence judging by the way he won the Alister Clark Stakes a few weeks ago. The sole filly, Set For Fame, who is unbeaten in her last two starts, is the only other runner who could mount a challenge. By all accounts it should be a bottler of a race if only to witness Denman racing for perhaps the last time in Australia. It will be disappointing to Australian race fans if he is sent overseas, as we have fond memories of his sire Lonhro, whom he resembles to an extraordinary degree. Lonhro’s win in the Australian Cup in 2004 represents one of my highlights in Australian racing history.

The Australian Cup (2000 metres) has a time honoured history and has been run since 1863. It has been won by champions such as Makybe Diva, Saintly, Lonhro, Octagonal, Dane Ripper, Northerly to name just a few.

This year’s field contains seven group one winners in a field of 16 runners. 2009 Melbourne Cup winner, Shocking has a chance in this as do reliable performers Master O’Reilly, Sirmione and Sydney horse Tobique, but my heart will be with Heart of Dreams, surprisingly beaten last start by La Rocket in the St George Stakes. The mystery horse Our Aqualeem, an import from Britain, who impressed with his first run in this country with a win over 1600 metres after a 30 month layoff due to injury, could spring a surprise. And then there are the top class mares Zarita and Miss Maren who could feature in the placings.

In Sydney the races are at Warwick Farm and also feature a Group One event, the Chipping Norton Stakes over 1600 metres. Sydney’s best middle distance runners and stayers are entered in this race. With old trooper Theseo, Danleigh who won first up a couple of weeks ago, in form Rangirangdoo, Vision & Power, Alcopop, Rock Kingdom and Road To Rock you’ve good a solid field. Throw in mares Purple and Palacio De Cristal, plus import Speed Gifted and it becomes quite interesting.

Another two to look out for in Sydney is the Group Two Surround Stakes (1400 metres)with More Joyous against her own age group and sex who she should easily account for, and the Group Three Kindergartan Stakes (1100 metres) which sees the return of the exciting filly Solar Charged.

So it’s a Super Saturday indeed and no doubt will be watchable from the comfort of home on free to air television.

Last week it was great to see Typhoon Tracy win her fourth Group One. She’ll continue her autumn campaign in Sydney possibly in the Coolmore Classic which she won last year. There is a murmur that she will try again for the Cox Plate in spring. It’d be great if she could emulate Sunline and win it.

UPDATE - Saturday afternoon

A few minutes after the running of the Newmarket Handicap, a giant and vicious storm hit Melbourne and inundated the Flemington track to such an extent that the rest of the meeting was called off. Hailstones the size of iceblocks battered the city. They created an amazing din - great thuds on the roof, that freaked out the cats and sent them scurrying for cover.

Of course it's disappointing that the races were abandoned, but I'm certain they made the right decision in terms of safety for the horses. So we'll have to wait until next weekend to see the Crown Guineas and Aus Cup.

An Evening with Elizabeth Kostova

Last night I had the opportunity to attend a book event at Eltham Library which featured Elizabeth Kostova, the author of The Historian, a New York Times best seller.

She is in Australia as a guest of Perth Writers Festival but is touring in a number of states promoting her new novel The Swan Thieves which purports to be a story about the nature of obsession as seen from the outside, and explores the world of art and art galleries.

Anyway she was in Melbourne last night in the outer northern suburb of Eltham.

The event was quiet and civilised and I suppose about 30 to 40 people were in attendance.

I was given a lift to the event by friends and we managed to get seats in the second row, so I was able to snap the above photo of the celebrated author.

Though I have not as yet read The Swan Thieves, I was impressed with The Historian when I read it back in 2005. It’s a literate vampire novel cum travelogue and takes the reader on a wild journey through exotic European localities hunting an elusive Vlad the Impaler. When it first came out it was dubbed the Da Vinci Code for the literati or some such thing.

I have never read, nor would I even consider reading , The Da Vinci Code or any Dan Brown novels, having being told by various friends, whose taste I respect, that it is a load of codswallop and extremely badly written.

Kostova’s The Historian, however is very well written and is both a leisurely, satisfying read and a page turning thriller.

Last night however she concentrated on her new novel and read several well chosen passages that certainly piqued my interest. She came across as an erudite, articulate person and was friendly to meet in person.

On the subject of best sellers, my current reading, for the past few weeks, has been the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. I’m onto the third book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, and I must admit I’m riveted by the story and, moreover, have found the entire trilogy to be a compulsive reading experience, despite challenging my disbelief at times.