Friday, April 23, 2010

Seductive Gypsy Music – The Baker Suite at Basement Discs

On this warm day in Melbourne, Basement Discs hosted an in store of the elegant and intriguing duo The Baker Suite at lunchtime today. The Baker Suite are from Adelaide, but have been touring the East Coast with Mary Gauthier, and performing side shows on their own, promoting their wonderfully named CD, A Quartet for Car Horns And Brakes.

Their musical style is languid and atmospheric and is accurately described as “Straight from the heart and reminiscent of a smoky, French cafe. Guitarist & vocalist John Baker and accordionist Gayle Buckby create a seductive and potent world with compelling stories and lush instrumentation that carry the listener through elegant ballads, gypsy reggae and a lurching waltz in the rain at night”.

Indeed it was a very pleasant interlude for a lazy lunchtime in Melbourne wherein one could imagine oneself in a twilit taverna in France or Spain.

Check out The Baker Suite on their
My Space Page and be seduced.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Autumn Racing Season 2010 – Week 13 – Sydney Cup

RIP Viewed 17 April 2010
Viewed winning the 2008 Malbourne Cup

The Sydney racing carnival winds up this week with the running of the Sydney Cup and three other Group One races.

The first of these is the Champagne Stakes, a 1600 metre race for two year olds. The unlucky Beneteau has a chance to win in this, but there are others with equal claims, for instance, Toorak Toff, Skilled, Kudakulari and the filly Yosei who won the Sires Produce at her last start. Still, two year old races are hard to predict, so anything could win.

The Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000 metres) has a familiar field of runners from last week. Doncaster Mile winner Rangirangdoo is backing up here and is the top pick, though he has not won over the distance. Road To Rock was only narrowly beaten by Rangi in the Doncaster and could turn the tables on him this time. Victorian Derby winner and AJC Derby placegetter, Monaco Consul has a weight advantage, and if back to his best could well surprise.

A smallish but quality field of stayers will contest the Sydney Cup (3200 metres) with several of the runners having good form over the two miles, and half the field having the Zabeel factor. Zavite won the Auckland Cup back in March and was narrowly beaten by Littorio in the BMW, Cape Cover won this year’s Adelaide Cup over the distance, and is a very good chance. Then there’s Moatize who has the Bart Cummings factor in his favour, though he hasn’t won a race for a long time. He prefers a good track, and he’s likely to get it on Saturday. The other Bart runner is Precedence who has recent good form and will probably start as favourite. Of the mares, Jessicabeel looks the most promising, recently winning the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap.

Class gallopers, Danleigh, Mic Mac and Hot Danish are the leading lights of the Group One All Aged Stakes (1400 metres) However filly Melito, may trump them again as she did in the TJ Smith, though I’m hoping Mic Mac, who was by no means disgraced with his third place in the TJ Smith, will win.

Ascot racecourse in Western Australia hosts the WATC Derby. As I’m unfamiliar with the form in that state I won’t even try and suss a winner, though I am attracted to God Has Spoken, Chartreux and filly, Impressive Jeuney who won the WATC Oaks.

And it’s good to see Graceful Anna return to racing in the Mick Dittman Three Year Old Plate (1000 metres) at Eagle Farm. She hasn’t raced since winning the Magic Millions 3 YO Trophy back in January. Also part of the field is 2009 Golden Slipper winner, Phelan Ready and smart filly Paprika. Looks an interesting race…

The VRC St Leger at Flemington (2800 metres) on Sunday is of interest as the very promising young stayer Rundle is part of the field. By Galileo, he’s owned by Lloyd Williams who specialises in stayers, e.g. Efficient, Zipping and Linton – all high quality distance runners. Rundle has had four starts for three wins, his last at Flemington over 2500 metres, where he beat Chartreux by two lengths.

Last Saturday, I managed to listen to the Doncaster Mile on the way to Geelong. I was very disappointed that Typhoon Tracy didn’t run a place, but apparently she was galloped on during the race which no doubt stymied her chances. I was surprised that she didn’t launch into her usual fighting finish, so that explains it.

Gai Waterhouse managed to win the AJC Oaks with Once Were Wild, who beat Faint Perfume by a fair margin, but Ortensia scored a sizzling last to first win in The Galaxy.

The sad news this week was the death of Viewed who was put down after suffering a twisted bowel. A great stayer, he will go down in history as the winner of the 2008 Melbourne Cup and the 2009 Caulfield Cup. Valerie at
Foolish Pleasure Blogspot has a wonderful post on Viewed in the light of his relationship to her blog’s namesake.

Recent retirements have included the wonderful Zarita, Light Fantastic, Wanted and Miss Maren, so we won’t see any of them race again, though we can look forward to their children in the case of Zarita, Miss Maren and Wanted and maybe see Light Fantastic as a Clerk of Course horse in the future.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hoon City – Justin Townes Earle at The Studio Geelong

Finally a chance to write about Saturday night’s Justin Townes Earle concert at The Studio in Geelong.

Well, for a start the venue was pretty good, small and intimate, so everyone got a good view. Being a rural venue, the crowd dynamics were quite different to those in the city, but more about that later…

jason_isbell 003_resized_filtered

Jason Isbell opened the show with a really engaging set to the tune of nine songs. These included The Blues, No Choice in the Matter which are both covered on his debut CD and a cover of a Mac McAnally song All These Years, which Jason claimed was his favourite cheating song. He won the crowd over with the honesty of his performance, singing with passion and conviction to superb guitar accompaniment. He lives in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, home of the great soul singers, and his voice has that soulful quality, even though he said he couldn’t sing soul all that well.

justin_townes_earle 004_resized_filtered

After a short break it was Justin’s turn on stage and he proceeded to give his usual fantastic performance. In fact, with Jason Isbell, lending his guitar skills and vocals, it was a special night, Jason contributing a new dimension to the show. But it was Justin Townes Earle who was the star act and he gave generously of his time with the show lasting at least two hours.

Back to the venue and the audience. There was a great rapport between Justin and the audience, and JTE was in fine form, and funnier than I’ve ever seen him before with his between song patter. Also he was seen to be swigging on red wine through the show, which perhaps relaxed him. I’m pretty sure he’s restricted himself to water in the past shows I’ve witnessed.

Difficult members of the audience were given short shrift. A persistent interjector was summarily forced to pick up his seat and place it beside the stage. The hoon in question sat there grinning like the proverbial idiot, until he really disgraced himself by sneaking around behind the performers and briefly interrupted the song in progress. Another member of the audience, a muscle bound young man, castigated him severely, which I ‘m sure won the approval of the more polite spectators. Anyway it successfully shut the offender up for the rest of the night.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that at least one of the audience was a Ryan Adams fan. Justin’s last song in the main set was Can’t Hardly Wait which he dedicated to Chris Feinstein who died earlier this year. He was the bass player in the Cardinals. The audience member knew that his Cardinal nickname was Space Wolf, which only a Ryan Adams fan would be aware of.

Hoons aside, it was a fabulous concert, leading one to conclude that Justin Townes Earle only gets better. That was the fourth time I’ve seen him and he never disappoints and I'm freshly amazed by his brilliance every time .

Set List:

  1. They Killed John Henry
  2. I Don’t Care
  3. What Do You Do When You’re Lonesome
  4. Mama’s Eyes
  5. What I Mean To You
  6. Someday I’ll Be Forgiven For This
  7. I Ain’t Waitin’
  8. Christchurch Woman (?)
  9. My Starter Won’t Start
  10. So Different Blues
  11. Hard Livin’
  12. Wandering
  13. Slipin’ N Slidin’
  14. How Long
  15. South Georgia Sugar Babe
  16. New song – One More Night in Brooklyn (?)
  17. Ain’t Glad I’m Leaving
  18. Halfway to Jackson
  19. Midnight At The Movies
  20. Close Down All The Honkytonks
  21. Can’t Hardly Wait


  1. Yuma
  2. ?
  3. Chitlin Cooking Time in Cheatham County
  4. ?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Autumn Racing Season 2010 – Week 12 – The Doncaster Mile

Shoot Out winning the AJC Derby
An exciting program is on the cards this coming Saturday with the running of the famous Doncaster Handicap, now called the Doncaster Mile, a time honoured competition that has seen top race horses over the years take home the bikkies. The great Sunline won it twice; at the age of three (1999), then again at six (2002).

The big question this time is, can Typhoon Tracy score her fifth Group One win in succession and become the undisputed Queen of the Turf and Racehorse of the Year for the 2009/10 season? Let’s hope so, though she is facing a very tough test.

She is up against the best Sydney can throw at her with top middle distance runners Theseo, Rangirangdoo and Danleigh part of the field of twenty. However, despite there being a contingent of three year olds including Palacio de Cristal, they are not likely to trouble her, not being of the calibre of More Joyous or Shoot Out. Tracy has drawn barrier 14, but her main opposition hasn’t done much better, with Theseo drawing barrier 17, Rangirangdoo barrier 10 and Danleigh barrier 15. It will also be interesting to see how Brilliant Light runs in this. He won the Doncaster Prelude last week and has been consistent all autumn.

As she has drawn outside barriers in most of her races, Typhoon Tracy probably won’t be all that disadvantaged; she can quickly take up a forward position and take a sit. The weather should be mostly dry and sunny in Sydney through the week and fine on Saturday, so at least she won’t have to contend with a wet track, though she does handle them well. She is a joy to watch in action, seemingly floating lightly over the turf in an effortless fashion. Go Tracy Go!

There are two other Group One races at Randwick on Saturday, one of them being the AJC Oaks over 2400 metres for three year old fillies. The top chances are arch rivals Faint Perfume and Valdemoro, though I think Faint Perfume has the edge. Peter Moody trained Speedy Natalie also represents a threat, after her last start three lengths win on this track a week ago, and stable mate Ocean Dream may score a placing.

The Group One Galaxy is a sprint over 1100 metres. Here’s hoping smart mares Ortensia, De Lightning Ridge and the filly, Rostova can keep the flag flying for the females of the species who have won a fair share of the major races in the Sydney racing carnival.

Last week’s Group One races resulted in a surprise win by the filly Melito in the TJ Smith, snatching victory from Hot Danish with a fast finishing Mic Mac running into third place. Totally overlooked Victorian filly Yosei won the Sires Produce, giving young female jockey Michelle Payne her second Group One win.

And just how good is Shoot Out! After a long campaign, he took out the AJC Derby like a true champion stayer. High Chaparral, soon to take up stud duties for Coolmore in Australia, remarkably sired the first three runners. Shoot Out was purchased for $15.000 in 2006, a bargain as it now turns out. He must be one tough young horse, and versatile; he’s won over various distances from 1200 metres to 2,400 metres. He’s going to be set for the big rich races in spring, and could well win one of them.

Also successful last Saturday was Sunline’s daughter Sunstrike, who broke through for a win at Te Aroa. Pure white Zabeel filly, The Opera House had the third start of her career at Newcastle and ran a creditable third.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to watch the races this Saturday, as most of my day will be taken up with music events – Basement Discs Record Store Day for a short time, then travelling to Geelong for a Justin Townes Earle concert later that night. I’ll try at least to listen to the Doncaster on the way; otherwise I will be tormented by not knowing the result.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The music continues…Basement Discs hosts the Legendary Rodriguez

As it has almost been a week since I last witnessed live music, it was a pleasure to venture down to Basement Discs at lunchtime today to watch Rodriguez in action.

Rodriguez, in case you don’t know (which I didn’t) is an iconic Detroit musician who has only two records to his name. They are Cold Fact (1970) and Coming From Reality (1971), both of which have recently been reissued. He dropped out of the music scene in the 1970s to pursue other interests, but was rediscovered in the 1980s and returned to touring, including a trip down under with Mark Gillespie (remember him?) and Midnight Oil.

He dropped out of the music scene again in the 90s and re-emerged in the early 2000s, and eventually appeared at the 2007 East Coast Blues Festival.

He’s now 72 years of age, and although he doesn’t look it in the picture above, he was obviously frail, needing to be assisted onto the stage. His guitar was held together with gaffer tape and the strap was fastened around his neck by a knot, still he could play a mean guitar and his voice was undiminished by time.

It was a short set, only about five songs including The Establishment Blues and I’ll Slip Away, but it was something special to be present at the performance of such a legend.

He was accompanied today by several unnamed Australian musicians (guitarist, drummer, bass and keyboard) who did a fab job complementing Rodriguez guitar playing and singing.

You can find out more on Rodriguez by visiting the site above which is maintained by his fan club.

Next week, on Saturday 17th April Basement Discs celebrates once more
International Indie Record Store Day. They have a great line up of local musicians and will be kicking off from about 12.00 noon. Details here.

Autumn Racing Season 2010 – Week 11 – AJC Derby Day

Mic Mac resumes this week in the TJ Smith
Class prevailed last week in Sydney with Typhoon Tracy easily winning the Queen of the Turf, thus making her tally of consecutive Group One victories, four for the season. She will next contest the Doncaster Handicap on the 17th April. More Joyous didn’t run, so we’ll have to wait for another time to see these two clash.

Danleigh took out the George Ryder Stakes and will also run in the Doncaster. Littorio pulled off the surprise of the day with his win in the BMW, and Melbourne filly Crystal Lily won the Golden Slipper in a wayward fashion similar to the win of Haradasun in the Ryder Stakes in 2007, veering wildly towards the outside rail. Faint Perfume showed just how good she was in the Vinery Stud Stakes, with a stunning win, speeding from a no win situation to pip Valdemoro at the post.

This coming Saturday, the feature race is the AJC Derby, run over 2400 metres. It has a field of 15 acceptances 14 colts and geldings and a sole filly in New Zealander Keep The Peace. Victoria Derby winner Monaco Consul, another New Zealander, who hasn’t won a race since then, and failed to fire in the NZ Derby, may show a marked improvement and surprise with his return to Australia, though he’s up against some very smart young stayers. For a start there’s the Bart Cummings trained Rock Classic, beaten a nose by Zabrasive in the Rosehill Guineas, and of course Shoot Out who has won two from two on the track. Derbies tend to be unpredictable, so any of the other runners could win.

There are two other Group One races on the cards, the most interesting race being the T J Smith, a weight for age sprint over 1200 metres. Mic Mac who hasn’t raced since the spring will be resuming in this. He goes well fresh, but will have to be at his best to beat top Sydney mare Hot Danish, and 2009 Rosehill Guineas winner Metal Bender who also makes a welcome return to the track. It is a small but select field which also contains Wanted, Lord Tavistock and Patronyme.

The Sires’ Produce Stakes for two year olds over 1400 metres, is the other Group One and has two Golden Slipper runners, Hinchinbrook and More Strawberries trying their fortunes again this week. They respectively came fourth and third in the Slipper so may win Group One glory this time, if they can beat smart young things Hidden Kisses, Toorak Toff, Skilled, to name a few.

In other racing news this week, 2007 Cox Plate winner El Segundo has been retired after sustaining a tendon injury in the George Ryder Stakes last Saturday. Here’s wishing him a happy retirement - he was a real champion in his day, and always performed well in top company, winning his owners almost $4 million. With those sorts of earnings you’d expect him to roll in clover for the rest of his life.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Old Crow Medicine Show at Thornbury Theatre

old_crow 001

It was a strange night at the The Old Crow Medicine Show last night, at once exhilarating and at another frustrating.

The frustration was caused by the incompetence of the management of the Thornbury Theatre, where we had booked for the dinner & show. You expect paying the extra cash to get a good seat, but it turned out that preference was given to the standing only patrons. The view for those seated was severely obscured by those standing. Actually, even those who had booked a reserved table were better off than us dinner and show bods, as their tables were more to the side and afforded a view of the stage. We were forced to move to get any view of the show, and I could only get photos by sneaking up to the side of the stage and snapping from a back stage viewpoint (as above).

Anyway, whinges aside, it was a great night’s entertainment with The Old Crow Medicine Show delivering their usual high powered, energetic performance. They certainly give their all, and by the second half of the set had stripped down to singlets.

I didn’t manage to note down the whole set list, but songs included Down Home Girl, Methamphetamine, God’ s Got It, Crazy Eyes, James River Blues, I Hear Them All, Caroline of a total of twenty, plus another three performed during the encore.

The surprise of the night was the guest appearance of Justin Townes Earle who joined the band on stage for two songs. He looked like he was having fun, and his reception by the crowd was uproarious.

old_crow 009

Before the show, I went out for smoke and whilst out the front, a young chap came up and bummed a light from me. Much to my surprise it was none other than Ketch Secor, the leader of the Old Crow Band. I had the opportunity to chat with him, and a friendly young man he was. Later, during a break, I went out for another smoke taking my camera this time and noticed Ketch out there as well. I asked him for a photo and he charmingly posed for this one.

old_crow 012

For a change from the baby boomer audiences of the Brunswick Music Festival, the crowd last night was mostly young 20 somethings. They were a friendly and enthusiastic audience, which for sure contributed to the dynamics of the show.

A big hello to Josh and Eric from Mildura who shared our table – it was a pleasure meeting you.

The concert last night was final one of the mad music festival frenzy of the past few weeks, so it’ll be a relief to relax and do something else for a change, until Justin Townes Earle breezes through this town again in mid April.

Oh and Happy Easter everyone. I spent today, Good Friday, cleaning the house, to make myself feel virtuous and marked the day by having a few hot cross buns for lunch.