Wednesday, January 31, 2007

EC was here

Eric Clapton and band
Sydney Entertainment Centre
January 30th 2007

Guest post by Christopher Sheil

He opened with "Tell the Truth", and poorly. But about half-way through the opener the players all found their slots, and in the end it was a triumph. There was "Key to the Highway" and a song I didn't recognise, which were OK, plus "Why Has Love Got to be So Sad?" which is a favourite. Then he went into "Little Wing", which was magnificent, and for mine the highlight of the night. EC went for it, with subtle and not so subtle Jimi embellishments, and he flew, and the number was nailed, dead into the ground.

After that, I loved the acoustic set in the centre. "Running On Faith" was surprisingly successful, and nothing was bad. Coming out of the middle section, "Motherless Children" delivered real freight - Clapton's "Rollin' & Tumblin'". "Further On Up the Road" was forgettably familiar, and felt like intermission.

By this time, I was waiting for "Layla" because Derek Trucks is a big deal, and could be Duane Allman II, and knows how to lift the roof, and I was getting edgy with anticipation. They started it well, doing the famous anthem that is that riff justice, but alas couldn't deliver the middle for mine, which was of course what I was waiting for. They just seemed to lose their way fleetingly, and once the micro-seconds pass, there's no going back. Bugger. They finished it beautifully. Touching, as ever.

"Cocaine", as the first encore, left me cold, as ever. This number must appeal to a particular audience, as he has always done it live whenever I’ve caught him, and, as ever, I could do without it. I don’t know why he doesn't play the funkier and more interesting "After Midnight" if he has to do a JJ Cale number, or the marvellous “Ride The River” from their recent collaboration. The finale was "Crossroads" which was pretty good, and the man left us with a wonderfully clean final solo.

All up, it was lovely, there were some special highlights, and it was always interesting – how neat to have a screen just overhead showing close-ups of the players’ hands at work. I was interested to see that both Derek (all the time) and Doyle Bramhall II (much of the time) play electric (as well as acoustic) guitar with their bare fingers, as distinct from playing with picks. Unless this is a new trend, it is very unusual. I can't remember seeing a slide player, like Derek, playing blistering solos with his bare fingers. EC always uses a pick, but supplements it with his fingers when he's playing acoustic, which all makes for a great feel inside the music. At times, Trucks went close to stealing the show, yet EC also punctuated him very well, setting up his spaces and then pulling him back down into the band.

I can’t remember seeing EC with two side guitars before, and it supplies a fabulous extra dimension, even if it does dilute EC himself somewhat. Chris Stainton on keyboards, Willie Weeks on bass and Steve Jordan on drums, together with a second keyboards player and two back-up chick singers, are one helluva ensemble. There is, in any case, a longstanding integrity to EC's music, which holds the sound together. While Clapton acknowledges the crowd, and the players acknowledge each other frequently, there is no sense of them seeking, let alone begging for, audience approval. I always enjoy the refreshment that comes with the sheer confidence of top flight international bands.

On the other hand, apart from "Little Wing", which was inspired and we were privileged, EC struck me as lacking the extremities he once had, which means that his concerts are less exhausting, less satisfying than they once were. The sound, for instance, was normal concert, whereas historically EC has always been very fucking loud. For all the reasons we know and understand, he can never again be the guitarist on the cusp of breaking music like you have never heard before, and is therefore bound to be less tense, less risky, less exciting. Perhaps, if we were to compare him with Dylan, Clapton's now tidying up in the late end of his career, rather than making consummating final statements.

But hey, it was a blast. My life passed before my eyes ... wish he’d done "White Room" … might go back again tomorrow night.

2/2/07 Update by Amanda: More guitar nerd discussion at Blogocracy.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


The website of the Nu Country show is always worthwhile, even if you can't get the broadcast, on a Melbourne community station. Very comprehensive Recently there were a couple of good obits, of Sneaky Pete and a songwriter I'd actually never heard of Dennis Linde, he wrote Goodbye Earl. It's a very interesting story.

The People, United

Further to the issues of sane licencing laws in NSW, John Wardle has passed on details of who to write to, and to say, to support the bill.

Sign the petition

The rest is over the fold.

If you are at all able, Can I request that you one or all of these activities:

Write to these state politicians in favour of these changes:


Frank Sartor

Morris Iemma

Grant McBride

Bob Debus

NSW Liberal Party

Peter Debnam

Barry O Farrell barry.o'

it makes a difference, as shown by Frank Sartor in Parliament in November when the new council laws were passed, and ask them to support the new live music liquor licence for NSW,

€ Mr FRANK SARTOR (Rockdale—Minister for Planning, Minister for Redfern Waterloo, Minister for Science and Medical Research, and Minister Assisting the Minister for Health (Cancer)) [9.57 p.m.]

Sixth, the bill makes the necessary amendments to the Local Government and Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Transfer of Functions) Act 2001. That will enable reform of the regulations for places of public entertainment and temporary structures to be completed. This reform is overdue and will be extremely good news for the music industry. I am in possession of more than 50 letters, emails and submissions from the music industry welcoming this change, which was foreshadowed in previous legislation some years ago

For example, this was one letter from one of the best pianists in town, Gerard Masters, who wrote to the AHA

John Thorpe
Australian Hotels Association
Level 5
8 Quay Street
NSW 2000

Dear Mr Thorpe

My name is Gerard Masters. I am a professional musician and have been playing music in Sydney since 1999. I feel very fortunate to be based here, as Sydney has an incredible wealth of musical talent. The musical scene is a very positive one, however due to a limited amount of venues in Sydney, a lot of our great players have been lacking places to perform on a regular basis and much of this great music gets pushed to the underground.

Premier Iemma’s proposed live music licence is potentially one of the best things that could happen to our scene in a long time. I believe the more places that are able to have talented musicians performing, the more vibrant our city would become. Artistic pursuits are what give big cities their lifeblood. The vibrancy of Paris, New York, New Orleans, and Melbourne is shaped by artists and musicians who flourish in these city centres.

Please think of this aspect of our city before you flourish your fat cat hotelier style comments. The only ‘pie in the sky’ is the one that you and your Hotel association cohorts have been feasting on and getting fatter and fatter while the real creative talent of our city goes hungry.

We have all had more than enough of poker machines, sub-standard beer and other mind numbing activity. The people of Sydney are waking up to the fact that live entertainment is essential to their general wellbeing. You will fail miserably by attempting to put us back to sleep

Yours Sincerely

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Today's Friday cat is Big Bill Broonzy. Unreleased live set from 1952 has recently been made available and, as you can read about at Hickory Wind, I've had the good fortune to hear it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Dream twangy double act this week, Mary Gauthier and Steve Young hitting town.

The Metro last week printed a ticket price of $12 which seemed unbelievable to me and for good reason, they are actually $30 which is still exceptional value.

17 Jan - Governor Hindmarsh - Adelaide
18 Jan - The Harp - Tempe, Sydney
19 Jan - Northcote Social Club - Melbourne
21 Jan - Harvest Festival - Red Hill, Vic

Media appearances for Mary Gauthier:
17 Jan - Radio National - pre record will air between 6 & 9AM
17 Jan - ABC Radio Adelaide - 4:15 PM
18 Jan - ABC Radio Sydney - 2:30PM
18 Jan - Acid Country - 3PBS FM - from 3 PM
19 Jan - ABC Radio Melbourne - 11 - 12PM
20 Jan - 3RRR FM - 11AM

I suppose they are being toured together by convenience and I'd rather a full gig by each obviously but if either of them absolutely must share a bill ... it's actually an inspired pairing. There are the obvious similarities of two country-folk (a good Gauthier quote on her style of music, "in Boston they call it country, in Nashville they call it folk") singer-songwriters, but beyond that they are also both deeply Southern outsiders with the gift of depicting intricate internal lives in their songs. I'm intrigued to see how it works together.

I’ve got another song about the south
It's white and its black
There ain’t no banjo on my knee
But that song's on my back

Steve Young was part of that whole landmark country scene depicted in Heartworn Highways and while he's not a name as big as some of those, his 1970s albums, particularly Renegade Picker deserve to be acknowledged with the very best of the that generation's product -- go here and listen to the clips. Raw and tight in the way of the best of the "outlaws" -- think Guy Clark's first couple of albums but with a more cosmic attitude -- and throw in a country song of such rare poignancy as "All Her Lovers Want to Be the Hero" and, my friends, you have lasting greatness.

He soaked up what Greenwich Village folk scene had to offer, hit California where his first album Rock, Salt & Nails featured the likes of Gram Parsons, Bernie Leadon, James Burton and Gene Clark. His songs were picked up by The Eagles (Seven Bridges Road) and Waylon (Lonesome On'ry and Mean) and he recently went as a musical ambassador to India. Co-wrote one of my favourite songs with Tom Russell, Angel of Lyon. Most recent [2000] LP Primal Young is wonderful, heavy on the celtic-country and I listen to his Solo, Live album alot. Both parts of the description "renegade picker" apply, he's a hell of a guitar player too. I saw him back in 1999/2000 and have been hooked ever since.

UPDATE: This is a very good interview with Steve Young from Adelaide, covers lots of interesting stuff.

Thanks to Joe Bonanno for the media list.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Cattle Dog

Do one yerself.

"Flop Eared Mule" is a trad song but the Holy Modal Rounders version was the inspiration for using the name. Hope I get to see this doco about then sometime.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Happy to be gazumped by LAN Downunder on this news. Dale Watson touring Oz Feb 24-March 5 -- halfway through the paragraph starting "SXSW." Looked at the websites of all the likely venues but can't find anything. Someone will tell me.

Friday, January 12, 2007


More 2006 releases that I like but I forgot about for the first list.

Kris Kristofferson This Old Road WTF?? 2006? Oh yeah, I guess it is. I saw him live in ’05 and he did songs from it so in my mind it’s been around a lot longer. It would’ve been a definite inclusion otherwise. My original review.

Bobby Bare, Jr The Longest Meow
I plagarize myself: Son of 60s country star (the original "Streets of Baltimore" for you Gram Parsons lovers) and one of the more original voices going round, does rock, indy folk,, a mixture of all three, and some other stuff, all at once.

Corb Lund Hair In My Eyes Like a Highland Steer
Real fun Albertans.

Rosanne Cash Black Cadillac
I said I'd write about this but have run out of steam. Next (this) year I'm definately sticking to ten albums and bad fracking luck to the rest of the forgotten artistes. Anyhow, it's good. You should get it.

George Jones and Merle Haggard Kicking Out the Footlights Again

The Possum and the Hag’s first collaboration 1982’s A Taste of Yesterday’s Wine is one of my very favourite albums. You won’t find it in any serious eight part PBS documentary series on the history of country music, but it is 31 minutes of pure, guiltless honky tonk pleasure. This one finds them in a less rowdy mood, a few too many soft jazzy shuffles for mine and Jones’ voice is sounding a little … puffy but still a few moments of the greatness you would expect.

Tom Russell Love and Fear
What I said then.
YouTube: Gallo Del Cielo which is an old song but I can't resist. Andrew Hardin doesn't play with him anymore, so enjoy it.

Greg Graffin Cold As The Clay

Emmylou and Mark Knopfler All That Roadrunning OK it didn’t really take with me, but I like it alot better live.

Jim Lauderdale Country Super Hits and Bluegrass

Doomsday Piano King Curly

Grayson Capps Wail and Ride
Larry got me on to this one this week. Like he says, seriously fine country music.

James Hunter People Gonna Talk

Chis Knight Enough Rope
Blue collar country-rock for those that like their Springsteen circa The River. Not as good ast that, obviously, but sometimes its exactly and only what you want.

The Gourds Heavy Ornamentals

Full Jon Dee Graham

Bert Jansch The Black Swan

A Couple of Notable Reissues/Compilations:
Willie Nelson The Complete Atlantic Sessions

Karen Dalton In My Own Time
Bernard Zuel saves me the trouble. Discovered it a few weeks ago on eMusic.

World's Smallest Violin Time

For the AHA.

But the NSW president of the Australian Hotels Association, John Thorpe, said the proposals were just "pie in the sky stuff".

"And if it did happen, the effect it would have on our industry would be fairly substantial. It would hurt. I don't know if the Government has considered compensation for these sorts of things," he said.

I'm no expert on the byzantine world of NSW licensing laws but seems to me these are exactly the changes musos of my acquaintaince have been aching for. As I've heard it said many times, you can stuff a pub with hundreds of screaming fans on grand final day without an extra layer of regulation but if a restaurant wants to have a bloke in the corner playing an acoustic guitar costs and red tape are prohibitive. While the article suggests it has the full support of the NSW Govt, alot can happen in an election year (especially where the AHA is concerned) but it looks OK.

Musician John Wardle quoted in the article also commented on Shaun's thread at LP,

the AHA cannot decline employment for the vast majority of musicians in NSW, and then demand compensation if restaurants and cafes are given the opportunity to host live music and contribute to the cultural life of NSW.

UPDATE: Oz at Decomposing Trees sounds a note of caution about the lack of detail.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


The long awaited new Lucinda Williams album finally has a name, a release date (Feb 13) and an entry at Amazon. I think it's finally happening.

Lost Highway has posted snippets of some songs, this link right here should take you, for the time being, to a full version of "Fancy Funeral." The Lost Highway audio player quality is usually terrible, I guess they fuzz it all out deliberately, so whether the scratchy 45" buzz is on the real thing I dunno. Fancy Funeral sounds sweet though, sparse and that good kind of Lucinda-sad. For ages the album was given the title "The Knowing" but that new song (she's been doing it live) doesn't seem to have made the final track list.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Welcome Return

Andy Baylor was sorely missed in Tamworth last year but he's back and ready to burn the place up again.

A Response

So I got an email from Bruce Elder in response to the Rosanne Cash post, and I'm including it all here because it makes a lot of good points and I agree with it, even/especially the bits where I'm wrong. This might come as a surprise given a defamation brief is what you might think he'd be sending me. In fact, I generally agree with 95% of everything he writes, it's just the other 5% sends me into fits of murderous rage. And as every blogger knows, murderous rage trumps quiet accord every day of the damn week.

I was glad of the opportunity to see Rosanne Cash but of course there are reasons other than her music she was chosen for the few available Festival slots. She is critically acclaimed, especially this year, but Mary Gauthier is equally and she's playing a suburban pub next week (I am interviewing her, BTW. Very exciting.) The Kirkpatrick comparison though is more to the point though. I'd thought about all this since I saw she was booked for the Festival but didn't go into it a) I was not really blogging for most of that time and b) I don't know how to say it without sounding like I'm being critical. I am 100% in favour of seeing Rosanne Cash at the Sydney Festival and 100% aware lack of imagination (and knowledge of the genre?) is alot of the reason she's there. Is that meaningless enough? Good.

Anyway. Bruce Elder:

I think I owe your readers a note of explanation. I agonised over the comparison between Anne Kirkpatrick and Rosanne Cash and the accusation that it was an example of cultural cringe. It didn’t seem to have a lot to do with the concert and was a bit tough on Rosanne who had provided the audience with a perfectly adequate evening’s entertainment. The band was amazing and the sound, as I noted, was unbelievable.
Still, in the end, I felt so strongly about the essential unfairness of the situation – particularly as I had seen Anne Kirkpatrick and Joy McKean on the stairs on the way into the theatre – that I couldn’t restrain myself.

The points I would make are as follows:

(1) You are not correct when you say that there are other musical performers in the Sydney Festival who could be replaced by locals. Martin Hayes, for example, is the finest Irish fiddle player in the world. No Aussie is going to match his staggering virtuosity. Lou Reed’s Berlin (which I don’t care much for) doesn’t have any Australian equivalent and has, apparently, been shaped into a theatrical experience which has already been performed in New York.

(2) It was only that, as I said, the comparisons were just too close between Cash and Kirkpatrick not to be noted. “In 2006 two very gifted female singer-songwriters, both with iconic country music fathers who had recently died, recorded albums about their sense of loss and the love they had for their fathers. On Saturday night the American daughter was on stage. The Australian daughter was in the audience.” They had both, by sheer serendipity, made very similar albums about similar themes and released them within months of each other. Now the question has to be asked “Why Rosanne and not Anne?” Had Kirkpatrick been invited by the Sydney Festival I am sure she could have come up with a very resonant series of images of herself and her father and the songs on Showman’s Daughter are really as good as anything Cash has written. Or, even more tantalising, why didn’t the Festival organisers have the imagination to try and negotiate for both Cash and Kirkpatrick to perform together under a banner like “Daughters and Fathers”.

(3) I guess I am irritated by the general disinterest which exists in this country for Kirkpatrick’s work. She does not make albums on any kind of regular basis but when she does she makes extraordinary, innovative and hugely creative works which are as good as country music gets in this country. It would have been a leap of great daring for the Sydney Festival to have put Kirkpatrick on at the State Theatre. It would have been filled simply because people go to everything at the Festival. It would have shown Sydney festival goers what an extraordinary singer – songwriter they have in their midst.

(4) While Cash is a good songwriter and consistently produces very good albums she is not a legendary country performer. If we must have an overseas country act why not try and persuade someone who has not been here before (last time Cash came she was part of a threesome with Lucinda Williams and Mary Chapin Carpenter and they could not fill the Enmore Theatre) and who would only come if they had festival funds and indulgence behind them. I think particularly of Lyle Lovett’s Big Band. Now that would have been a wonder to behold – and it is unlikely that we will ever see them in this country because the cost would be prohibitive. I would also give my eye teeth to see Alison Krauss and Union Station. Just seeing Jerry Douglas would be worth the money.

But we can only dream that one day the Sydney Festival will actually consult with people who know and love certain genres of music. They don’t! And that is why Leo Schofield kept bringing out very ordinary Cuban bands and why this current regime decided on Rosanne.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


This year I was asked to submit a Top Ten for a group poll at Hickory Wind. All such lists are arbitrary, that goes without saying but safer to say it and head off the whinges. I had to rank them for HW and since this is a follow up to that, I’ve kept the structure although its pretty meaningless. The list today would be different of course which is not reflective of downgrading any album, just the ordinary shifting sands of my musical environment. In another post tomorrow I’ll do all the top albums I left off this list for one reason or another. The top, say, four or five in this list might stand out but then there are about 20 others pretty much on a par of goodness. Hope this is enough of a disclaimer.

Most years I struggle to name five new releases but this year I’ve got dozens and dozens which could get a guernsy. A few reasons. One is a general effort to hear new releases. Also reviewing stuff for Hickory Wind is an extra incentive and also becoming a subscriber to eMusic (a legal download site covering indepedant labels.) Looking at the albums below, 10 of the 16 were acquired through eMusic, and most of the records mentioned in the appendix were too. I still have reservations about buying digital music sans the liner notes etc, not to mention bypassing local retailers but the price, convenience and range available is hard to resist. I put a [E] after the title if they’re available this way.

So this was my Hickory Wind list, keeping in mind the above. Click on Full Post for longer apologetics and YouTube multimedia where poss.

Best Dylan Album of the Year:
1. Modern Times Bob Dylan

Best Non- Dylan Album of the Year:
1. Starving Winter Report Deadstring Brothers [E]
2. Nashville Solomon Burke
3. American Recordings V/Personal File Johnny Cash (I know thats two albums but I think of them as a package)
4. Breathe Dan Bern [E]
5. Gypsum Strings/Second Guessing Oakley Hall (again two albums but when a band releases two equally good albums a year dunno what I'm supposed to do. I listen to them back to back and they all blur into one.) [E]
6. Do I Move You Janiva Magness [E]
7. Childish Things James McMurtry [E]
8. Leave the Light On Chris Smither [E]
9. The Animal Years Josh Ritter [E]
10. Seeger Sessions Bruce Springsteen

Hono(u)rable Mentions:
Foothill Dandy Cyndi Boste
Bronx in Blue Dion [E]
Ghost Repeater Jeffrey Foucault [E]

Best Dylan Album of the Year:
1. Modern Times Bob Dylan
If I Had to Pick One Song: Nettie Moore

I split my lists into Best Dylan Album and Best Non-Dylan album because that is how the universe works. You can’t argue with science, people. People might say my ilk will rave over Bob whatever he does. They say it like it’s a bad thing. It’s not. Me and Bobby have a relationship – and every release is not just an artefact of music, it is a memento like a photograph or a ticket stub or the wine stained napkin you keep from your sister’s wedding. Immune to scrutiny.

That said, it is a great album of music which at first refuses and then never stops giving. And he makes me laugh. Never got around to seriously reviewing it (no need) but about the best thing I read was Sean at Hickory Wind.

Starving Winter Report Deadstring Brothers
One Song: Get Up, Jake
It is compulsory when talking about this album to mention Exile on Main Street. So I have. Not that it’s derivative, and even if it is, it’s derivative of something that kicks arse so who cares. Gets the nod over Solomon on account of it makes you happy to be alive, happy the electric guitar was invented, sorry that Gram and Keef never got to make something like this and despite the obvious influences (the Talking Blues might be a wee bit parodic) sounds fresh and grrrl singer Masha Marijeh breaks up the blokey jam in the best possible way.

See the DBs on YouTube.

Nashville Solomon Burke
One Song: That’s How I Got to Memphis
Said it all here. I hear a rumour he’s coming out again at Byron time?
You're The Kind of Trouble.

American Recordings V/Personal File Johnny Cash
One Song: Jim, I Wore a Tie Today
Honey, why'd you have to ask?

Breath Dan Bern
One Song: Breathe
Haven’t seen this on too many ’06 lists, I think Dan is a bit of a boutique taste even among indie folk circles. One thing about him, which he shares with a lot of my favourites, is an ability to combine sharp, often acerbic, lyrics with catchy melodies and an often beautiful, shimmering sound. There’s always a line or two in his songs which hit you sideways and make you smile.
Walking Through Glass (not from the new album)

Gypsum Strings/Second Guessing Oakley Hall
One Song: If I Was in El Dorado
Got into these guys via Shaun, I reckon I’ll let his description suffice. I will add I think the English folk touches are rather beguiling. The only black spot is that House Carpenter, while fine in itself, reminds me of a really dreadful book I read by Clinton Heylin. Can’t sleep, boring poseur will eat me!
Lazy Susan

Do I Move You Janiva Magness
One Song: A Man Size Job

There are a few songs I like to collect different versions of. Not many, they have to have a sort of indestructable quality that means even the worst interpreter gets saved by the lyrics. So for that reason no, say, Dylan songs make the list – they’re easy to do badly. One of these songs is the blues standard “You Were Never Mine”, and searching for different versions of this on eMusic is how I found Janiva Magness. Just beautifully done soul-infused blues, explsoive and seductive. (What’s with all the word files instead of HTML on her website though?)

You Were Never Mine on YouTube. Do watch past the kinda smarmy presenter to the acapella bit at the end. Please believe I would kill every one of you with my bare hands to be able to do that.

Oh hell, watch this one too.

Childish Things James McMurtry
One Song: Charlemagne’s Home Town

McMurtry stands in here for a long list of country/folk singer-songwriters who had excellent releaases this year. His tough voice really grabs me and each song (even the polemic We Can’t Make it Here Anymore) is a gem of the songwriter’s craft.

We Can't Make it Here

Leave the Light On Chris Smither
One Song: Leave the Light On

Combining traditional blues with a folkie sensibility, he sounds like he's singing through a handful of Delta mud. And that's the way we like it. Touring Australia in March.

Origin of the Species.

The Animal Years Josh Ritter
One Song: Thin Blue Flame

Josh Ritter has been amazingly mature since his first album but also continues to grow and surprise. A sweeter Townes Van Zandt. Thin Blue Flame is a majestic Nick Cave semi-sermon.
Lilian, Egypt (sort of an alternate universe version of Rosmary, Lily and the Jack of Hearts) and Monster Ballads

Seeger Sessions Bruce Springsteen
One Song: O Mary Don’t You Weep
(although I’m kinda rooting for the Pharaoh)
Grew on my after initial wariness. And its the Boss, you know.
American Land (not on the album but from the tour)

Bronx in Blue Dion
One Song:

A favourite early 2006 releases and energetic standard still hold up.

Ghost Repeater Jeffrey Foucault
One song: Ghost Repeater

Dusty western tinged folk, more low key than others on this list but attentive listening pays off. Pedal steel like wind across … whatever remote terrain they have in Wisconsin.
Mesa Arizona

Foothill Dandy Cyndi Boste
One song:

Written about here.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Exceeding the polite number of YouTube links to post this week but the passing of Sneaky Pete Kleinow must be noted, and Christine's Tune contains the genre-defining work he's a legend for.


Uke revival! Story on the 7.30 Report, including our own local Balmain group and Jake Shimabukuro.

Renaissance Man

Kris Kristofferson once quipped, "I think between us, Bill Clinton and I have settled any lingering myths about the brilliance of Rhodes scholars," but as this delightful 1959 profile in TIME shows he wasn't wasting his time at Oxford.

The ancient seat of learning has seen far too much to be startled by the carryings-on of its scholars. Just the same, a 22-year-old Rhodes scholar from California's Pomona College has aroused a certain mild wonder at Oxford University's Merton College. Blond Kristoffer Kristofferson is a modest, husky (5 ft. 11 in., 165 lbs.) youth, and had he stuck quietly to his study of English literature, chances are that few of his Oxford friends would have discovered what an uncommon sort was swallowing their tea.

I even forgive him for playing yawnion.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Rosanne Cash

January 8th Update: A really enjoyable night. I've always admired Rosanne Cash for her honest, pragmatic and wry (see ie her Mrs L's Monthly column), she is a very warm presence on stage too. The show opened with an excerpt from a short film about her called "Mariners and Musicians," which is also screening as part of the Sydney Festival. There were two others throughout the show, the Daily Tele today described them as "schmaltzy" but I thought they were very well done and moving. And since collectively they only took up about five minutes of the entire 1hr 45min show, were a befitting addition to a show based around the heavily autobiographical Black Cadillac.

Bruce Elder (who was sitting behind me) made a sort-of interesting point (I know! ) in the Herald this morning, not online.

Last year, two very gifted female singer-songwriters, both with iconic country music fathers who had recently died, recorded albums about their sense of loss and the love they had for their fathers. On Saturday night, the American daughter was on stage. The Australian daughter was in the audience. The women in question are Rosanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash, and Anne Kirkpatrick, daughter of Slim Dusty.

If you want an example of Australian cultural cringe writ large, and the continuing musical howlers that seem to be a regular part of the Sydney Festival, there can be no finer example. Even Leo Schofield's sad errors of judgement about world music, when he was festival director, were never as cringe-worthy as this.

The review of the show (the one that was actually on, not the one that wasn't) which follows is pretty positive. It is an interesting point although I'm not entirely convinced, it isn't necessary to say Rosanne Cash shouldn't have been presented in order to champion Anne Kirkpatrick. And is one of the jobs of the Sydney Festival not to bring in arts from around the world? Maybe not, I confess to being a bit confused by its exact role in these areas. Presumably you can find Australian counterparts to every act in the thing -- where are the fringe events that usually accompany these official cultural displays?

Anyway. Bruce also says "[b]ut Cash is not an animated performer and she failed to excite the po-faced festival audience." This from the man who calls Dwight Yoakam charisma-less, so we can safely dismiss his opinion about what is and is not "animated." Still its true that the State Theatre doesn't lend itself to rowdy crowd behaviour. I was very engaged by the show but sat mostly passively in my Row G seat and only occasionally let loose with something more than clapping because ... I'd feel like a goose doing otherwise. You're not allowed to stand, not allowed to be at front of stage. I always feel a bit sorry for the performers in places like this, not alot of audience feedback to draw off. So, an unfair criticism. Put her at the Bald Faced Stag at 1am on a Saturday and we'll see some excitement!!

Brucie is absolutely correct in another comment though that the sound quality was the best he's heard at the State, it was pristine so we got to her voice in all its glory. I was hoping to see hubby and ace producer John Levanthal in the band but the three she had with her were faultless. Other than the Black Cadillac numbers, there were one or two older hits and a number from a list of "100 Essential Country Songs" her father gave her as a teenager -- personal favourite Sea of Heartbreak, Tennessee Flat Top Box, Wayfaring Stranger and a rather wonderful and surprising Ode to Billy Joe. I'll have some more words about Black Cadillac when I do my Best of 2006 this week.

Another Aussie blog review.
Lynden Barber in The Australian


Orrighty. I'm off now to see her at the State Theatre.

"House on the Lake" from the new album:

And an older fave, "Runaway Train." All very eighties (noice perm!) but I do have a soft spot for it.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Flannelled Fool/Friday Cat Blogging

Was simultaneously following the cricket via the TV, radio and The Guardian's over by over, wherein I learnt what a terrible, horrible, ungracious, mean spirited, small minded, oafish person I am for being Australian. Just to show we can be gracious in victory and don't mind a good laugh when an Aussie makes a goose of himself, I offer the following. Mock away, even Poms may join in.

, from whom all good things come.

No, The Bingbat is not the Friday Cat. Gawd no. These are the Friday Cats!!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Oh Six

My other bloghaunt Hickory Wind has a combined contributors' Best of 2006 album list. It's a small sample so Bobby gets number 1 with just the two votes but we'll all be posting individually on our lists daily which should flesh it out a bit. Larry kicked us off and I'm last, due January 13th.

Oh Seven

Very exciting double bill in Sydney in a few weeks. Mary Gauthier and Steve Young at the Harp on the 18th. I saw Steve, ah, must be at least six years ago now at the old Three Weeds in Rozelle (gone now, right?) and have been enjoying Mary Gauthier for a few years. Danke Harvest Fest for bringing them out.

Jim Lauderdale is coming out for Tamworth (where I won't be this year, alas) but the only Sydney gig thus far is The Basement which is fine, but as part of a Tamworth Showcase thing which .... no offence to Adam Harvey but I'd rather see a full Lauderdale show.

White Mainliner

My uncle's new ride, photo from my sister's Chrissie photos.