Saturday, April 26, 2008

temples


Today I take a car trip to forestville
to rehearse our eva cassidy songs with Brigette
forestville is a pleasant tree-lined suburb of northern sydney
straddled between the north shore proper and the northern beaches
it contains it's own quirkily mormonesque charm
villagey, safe, & leafy
seemingly shielded from the waxyness of the northern beaches
and the imagined detritus of the inner suburbs
i had sum time to spear
so i took a turn-off at the roseville bridge
and did a sweet walk along the cove
much of it was pristine walkway shrouded in greenery and dazzling sunlight
the river was a bit murky though
and some of the smells were dank
that gave away the city factor
and the bridge high above itself was swarming with traffic
i then took to forestville proper
indulged in a gilty coffee
proprieted by a major international conglomerate
and stalked down starkey street
snapping a swag of photos
of flame trees glowing yellow and red
in the warm autumn sunshine
these trees
straight from the source
don't need to project much
...don't need to project anything at all actually
they are real
they are true
and they are utterly magnificent
vibrant and alive
they speak volumes of the integrity of the earth
our blessed planet Earth

last night i waza reading a national geographic
dating back to august 2007
the feature article was on the maya civilisation
proven archeological accounts were given
of some horror stories around the 9th century ad
(the time of the end of the mayan classic age)
with various theories thrown up
about why and how the maya civilisation collapsed
there's general agreement amongst scholars
that there is no one reason but a combined factor of a few reasons
compounding and compacting on each other
resource depletion, drought & food scarcity
war
familiar anyone.... ?
the fairy-floss
we ingest as the standard worldly heralds
are blotting their 4-paragraph column-8 bitties
bita rice shortage in americca
bita rationing that's all
pique oil
getting more of a mention
the dank unpleasant odour is emanating from the boiling pot
we call our civilisation or world
our "way of life"...
if mainstream media reports this stuff
as it is starting to in small whiffs
it means there is some serious shit happening behind the scenes
because mainstream media will go all out to prevent serious concern and inquiry
except to manufacture various hysterectomies
when that suits the criminal corporate class of demogogue
that has infiltrated the whyte house
and wallpaper street

there are stunning photographs within this national geographic
many fold-out photos of mayan temples
photographed at night and bathed in floodlights to avoid daytime shadows
these civilisations around what is now mexico and guatemala
could never have conceived of their way of life coming to an end
just as we find it difficult
to conceive of what could be next
on the sivilisation or progress ladder
their temples to this day stand magnificent
yet utterly solemnly and deathly empty
and emptied
as if to say yesterday does not exist and never has
only as a mere shell
or monument
that stuns in its glorious finality and silence

this morning i went to acquire some produce
of the fruit and veg variety
i strolled into a temple
our temple
a particularly monstrous temple
the largest temple of its kind in the southern hemisphere
a modern shopping complex
where people indulge and worship their gods
their love of consumerism
and projection of material longing
though for some
the temple caters for foodstuffs
bought in large frenzied 'super'-markets
booze, plonk, whateva u call it
all nicely and vividly labelled
still an opiate nonetheless
that along with mainstream entertainment
keeps us herded nicely
in the imagined safety of the masses
want
have
take
no (DIRECT) responsibility
no (DIRECT) consequences
or so we conveniently like-to-think.......

the metaphor
of modern shopping complexes
being seen as temples
i'm sure has been read and said
by writers and real-thought practitioners
many times over
primarily in relation to usa
but australia is in the same catagory
the mayan's long-count calendar
ends on 21 december 2012
on that date
the earth and sun
will be directly in line with the centre of the galaxy
(under the milky way tonight should be the official 'end-date' song...)
it may not be the abrupt end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it
but one prediction or two i can make
look...Beijing olympics 2008
commodity & food prices rising fast
economic strain grips the globe as all the money flying around the globe
isn't actually worth the led flashing its number symbol on the computer screen
an undercurrent of international (ie, westernised) worry will pervade
but we'll come through it
come 2012 olympics, London England
they will proceed under a cloud of great apprehension and distress amongst the world's populations
those underlying problems that were beginning to rear their lochness heads in 2007/8
have wrenched much much tighter
rendering economic anal-ysts
and media commentators
to concede that the market-slash-housing-slash-food-slash-commodity "downturn"
or shortfalls
were not just a mere "cycle"
this is the crunch baby
this is the beginning of the belt tightening, spinning
and flapping about outtacontrol
look at the planet
She is bellowing to us!!!
in Her loving way mindyou
that we have overcapacitated ourselves
and She will reflect that to us
in Her glorious symphony
as glaciers melt as methane loosens and sea levels rise and fiercer storms gather that frenzy and havoc us
...we'll get the idea then
by the London Olympics 2012
i'm pretty sure
that this will all become starkly apparent to us all
this is the endtime
that we are now rapidly approaching

sydney autumn leaves


forestville australia 26 april 2008

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Gigues of the weak and the strong



Been a good week for me
gigwise
first a jaunt at the ukulele club
but that wasn’t a gig so much
merely a happy excursion
into a curiously bygone world
the Wednesday night gig was at the cock’n’bull hotel
in bondi junction
this corner pub
with the rather macho sounding name
used to be quite rough’n’ready
yet like most of these sorts of pubs
particularly in these gentrified suburbs
it has been renovated and cleaned up considerably
bodyguards apart of the spivvy furniture
I turn up about 40minutes before I’m due to go on
which is @ 10:30pm
I really didn’t feel like leaving the house that night
it was cool and wet
as the southern hemisphere continues sinking
into wonderful winterdom
anyway I packed my maton cw80
fitted the condom over the sound hole
buttoned up the case
and choofed off
I turn up to watch Bill Beare perform
he’s very good
he used to be in the deadly nightshades
and I saw them when they were doing nick drake tribute nights
showing great respect to a genius songwriter
who died before the world got to know how truly special he was
and at cock’n’bull
I rush in
hurriedly drop my case near the stage
acknowledge bill
and frumpily take up a stool near the stage
listen to bill as I’m perched with a flicker of a slightly taut smile
what am I doing here I ask myself with ironic amusement and detachment
I’m not unhappy to be here
but I look around
and most the crowd here are into footy I’m sure
and I’m reminded
again
of a tchoon from the breakfast at sweethearts album
recorded 30 years ago
1978
the tchoon is chisel’s one-off delving into sub-disco beat
the chorus smooths out a bit into a nice turn of melody
that Don was to nick from himself some ten years later
when he gave ‘Telephone Booth’ to Mossy for his matchbook album
…yet it’s don’s unforgivingly serpentine lyrics that hook me
(don doesn’t mind me spilling off a few of his words here…)

“showtime
hang a guitar round my shoulder
check the vacant drooling faces around the room
another heartbreak battle
and I’m only getting older
jesus help me when I say I’ll give it all up pretty soon…
…second rate musicians
feeding infantile illusions
reading music magazines
to keep their habit satisfied…
…inspiration cauterised by years of useless heartache
every shallow night’s reaction
sounding twisted up and wrong…”
from ‘Showtime’ words & music ©Don Walker 1979

still I examine Don’s words with wryness and detachment
because it conjures up images of rockers in leather
40 plus
and wearing mullets
I don’t relate to it
partly because I’m not a rocker
and mainly because I always put music first
in whatever shape or guise I do it
whether it’s these gunslinger solo gigs
or with beautiful brigette doing eva Cassidy
or just playing bass or keys for whoever wants me
like velvet road
older guys who look it
but we get on and click and enjoy it
that’s all that matters

Bill Beare was a little disappointed with the audience response
I empathise with his disappointment
because he is a very good writer and performer
but these eastie-footy-sydney types make a virtue of not showing any interest
in some One’s deliverance of great art
I think the audience liked him
I vibed it
and their way of expressing it of course
is to lap up the vibe
and ignore the show
no clapping
etc
I’m used to it
I’m good at reading crowds now
I know the audience liked me
I could tell because more people started to mill around the bar
and my antennas picked up much buzz
that a vibe or energy was happening in the place
i sunk into that energy
emanating from my psyche and lower chakras
leaving to rest my conscious mind
plus I had my schooner of heineken sitting behind me
for totem support
I’m pleased that I can just turn up with little preparation
not even a set list
I played and sung quite loudly
for 50 minutes
and my voice held up well
and my playing was solid
I mix o-riginals with covers as per usual
finished with the jam’s town called malice
for all these reasons
it was a success
because if ya a serious musician
who cares about ya craft
you see yourself improving
and thats major ticks
these skills are priceless
when you stumble onto those gigs that actually do matter
a meeting of goodly time and place
and people are digging it fully
it means all these other gigs
the ‘grinders’
have well been worth it

I avec guitar case briskly hustle out of the macho-ly named cock’n’bull
I stumble into cool drizzle
bondi friggin’ junction all around me
I turn around and glance at a ginormous brick coloured monstrosity
it’s coles and Westfield or whatever its called
with twin towers of apartments rising above it all
back in the nineteen seventies
say 1977
that acreage was home to the bondi lifesavers
where bands like cold chisel
were ripping into their primary blend of led zeppelin and ray charles
belting out songs about metho addicts and bums and being on tha road
and a newy about a Vietnam war vet…
as if their entire fucking beings were dependent on this music
a sonic fury of soul-based bluesy rock’n’roll
move on 31 years
bj 2008
and soul is now defined by shopping bags and scowls
of a deadened plastic society
the eastern suburbs “community”

I never saw chisel at the lifesavers
mainly because in 77
I was only 7
leading the most boring childhood
any kid in the western world could’ve wished for
mum and dad were more like gran-parents
sitting like stone in front of the telly
night afta night
never saying A word
but for the pungent gaseous energies
of deep generational unhappiness
and hypernervous anxiety
permeating the rooms
of the sad terrace
across from a drive-in bottlo
jus down the road from the bondi lifesaver
in charing cross waverley

tick over Friday night
at the art- I-choke café in Manly
where they make a terrific artichoke salad
just a boat ride away from downtown syd
I’d transmogrified
from Wednesday night’s lone ranger
effusively and relentlessly yelling off one sawng after another
to the snag playing gentle Eva Cassidy
alongside Brigette
eva and other things as well
some jazz-blues
like cry me a river an’ don’t go to strangers
some nu-folk jazz like norah jones
a version of into tempation by neeill finn
and, uh, utfmw by our favourite Killa
amongst others
these gigs always go well
on the surface it may well seem
that it’s just a singer with a guitarist
but it’s obvious to all it’s much more than that
brig & I have a true chemistry
we play as one
it wouldn’t be the same
with me playing with another singer
just as it is for brig
playing with another guitar player
people want our contact details
we forgot to bring cards
but we’re back there on Saturday nite 7 June
with an Eva Cassidy Acoustic Show
it’ll be heaven

Friday, April 18, 2008

e e cmings

everything i do i do for a purpose
everything i do i do for a lark
sometimes i feel that the world is all empty
sometimes i feel that the world is all dark

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

the uke club



It's a Monday night
the first 'teen' Monday of the month
I decided to do something a wee bit pithy
I attended my first meeting of the Balmain Ukulele Klub
I'd purchased a uke back around Christmas 07
actually ordered it in June 07
made and delivered by Christmas 07
from Cole Clark Melbourne
I could have purchased a cheapie
yr standard twenty dolla ukie
...and it's the best value twenty d you'd ever spend
(aside from your lucky catch of good 12 dollar vino)
a feasible instrument for that amount of money
yet still
these cheap ukes are a little dinky
and often give ukes a bad name
i paid 500
dollars
for my uke
made of victorian solid blackwood
and totally hand crafted
friends of mine doubled over when i told them how much i paid
you paid 500 dollas for a uke???
until they heard me aloha away
at which, yep they got it
...it took me a few days to get the gist of holding a uke
coz u don't use a strap
like on those electric guitars and things
but once i got the hang of it
it was ok
i was playing
i picked it up in friggin' no time
admittedly i aped from a video
of jumpin' flea the uke man from u s of a
and with this happy man's help
all the diminshed and sergeant major 7ths
were flowing from my little ukie
like a little mousey tryin to scratch its way outofa cardboard box

the uke klub in Balmain was at the Gladstone Bowling Club
1st time i'd been there
it felt very warm in that hall, psychically
the room was toned with mellow lived-in vibes
most of all
the energy gently pulsing from its walls
in marshmallow-like tones
was that of music
music sweet music
it was the vibe of much happy and unfettered music making
at least 3 & 1/2 decades worth
of a particular kind...
I heard the psychic essences of folky-jug-blues
the kind that's rootsty and warm and toasty
and makes people feel good
and which the musicians enjoy & comerade themselves like heavenly brothers & sisters
the club stood on its own within the park
overlooking downtown balmain
defying all trends and movements
it could've been 1968 in that hall
or 1976
and I felt sad that the whole world wasn't like this
or at least my world
that hall emanated soul
soles of sandshoe bluegrass bands
those clandestine ghosts of jug folk blues energies ballooned over us all
they permeated through me
it was wondrous

I indulged myself
I got into the spirit
I had 2 light beers
I took photos
I recognised faces, talked to one of them
people came and introduced themselves to me
I name-dropped my bro-in-law - once a part of this gang
Oh How's Alan going!!! Is he moving back up this way???
...that all wun me instant kred
sheets of music were handed around
'tiptoe through the tulips'
and other sweet pieces
I played them with gusto
i only been playing uke for 4 months
and i was playin' better than most people there
i got passion
and i got a gift
to pick up an instrument and just play it
i felt gratitude for that
and just when you think the corners are safe
there's always someone who comes along to stuff up the vibe
someone who externalises from yr own inner annoyance buttons
happens all the time, particularly if it's got to do with music
like in woody allen films
..annie hall & manhattan..
there's always one of those 'Yael' characters
woody's mate
tall boufant hair
cocksure & charming
always the first to offer crap advice
well here he was...
Dennis A
i met dennis in 1999, perhaps a coupla times
he's very charming and friendly at first word exchange
until one realises
DA is an egomaniac
who needs to get in the last word
and he won't buy you your beer
you just bought his instead...
anyway, he likes wings
macca variety
1999 - he wants my opinion on wings as he's beerily trampling on me
Saturday night November 1999 Excelsior Hotel Surry Hills Sydney
quite subtle aggression really
and i said quite diplomatically oh they're alright
the exchange didn't last long
but i got the feeling he swooped on some of my energy
skewered me in a game of one-up-man-ship
and i only realised it...seconds later...as he bopped off to the next chap/chappette
these days i'm not so diplomatic
last night he swanned over my way
admiring my uke
he asked me how much i paid for my sweet ax
and i tell him
and he tells me hes jus bought a cole clark 12string
and that's about it
later i perform...there's an open mic!
and me being mista show-off
puts his name down 'me sir me sir' dog tongue & all
i play orange coloured sky
i stumble a bit coz i never sung with uke in my hand before
brig & i do OCSky so i knew the song
but the vibe was there
the electricity was there
it went well
the room was silent xept for my voice and little ukie
someone took 3 photos with my camera
came out blurry of course
i received a very emphatic applause
felt thankful and expressed that thanks to the audience
a man to my rite calls out to john the convenor
pointing to me and declaring i've got to come back next month
i felt pleased and again, thankful
and think i can do this singing with a uke lark
watch out tiny tim hsk hsk
secretly i think to myself
i'll take my uke to wok and practise in my lunch break evry day
so i can really show'em nextime!!!
all the uni kids will look at me strange
then, they don't know better
wouldn't know tiny tim if he came up 'n snapped their ankles
practice in the library even
the students 'll appreciate that surely
as they're learning lines for their pericles
measure for measure
and othello...
Applause subsiding
I walk through the stage and past dennis a
i don't look his way
and he don't look mine either
cause that's quite the natural thing to do...
i notice later dennis obsequiously pats'n'praises every performer on the shoulder
not me though
like all them 'industry cats'
its all steadfast ignorance
no mind though
I got nothing against mr a
he drinks alot
he has a paunch
but he is a quite good musician
he had nice things to say about my bro-in-law he knew in '73...
and he's got spirit
and for that you gotta give him somethin'
but i won't be drawn into conversations about fucking macca and wings again with him
other to say
that aside from historical interest in a 70s o'rama way
Wings were shit!

...dennis would wonder how i remember all that stuff from 1999
he didn't appear to remember me
but i don't forgot a face you see, once I'm introduced and have had some degree of conservation
i got a memory like a friggin' elephant
Phil Donnison
ie Al Meadows's good friend
was very pleasant to talk to
he told me the uke is a very complex instrument
I agreed totally, I see that
the uke is very much a case of less is more
you have to be that more creative to extract the harmonic tones you can produce more easily on a guitar
moreso on a piano
(Jake Shimabukuro makes this 4-string minituate sound like a harp - miraculous!)
but for that
it's actually much more rewarding
but i got into uke
because it's innocent
because it's happy
because it's fucking irreverent
I love the uke for its sweet musicality
and that it's the last thing on this planet to hurt anyone
we thank the blackwood tree that made this uke
someday i'll give back to the earth
what you've given to me

Dennis A told the audience towards the end of the evening
from da microphone
that his mate from Sunburst Music in Coogee had told him
in all my years in this business, since '72, i never seen a ukulele 'burn''
...or at least I thought he said 'burn'
he actually said 'boom' (as in popularity 'boom')
but until i realised that's what he'd said
i was lost in visions of a uke lighting up like a gentle lamp
a sweetly enlightened grail
a little effigy of searing luminousity and spirit

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Album review: My Hearts Dezire live @ Cheltenham Studio 2005

Pennie Lennon’s most recent mini-CD release is My Hearts Dezire’s Live 2005. This EP was recorded live at Cheltenham Studios and was released some 2 ½ years ago, and it’s taken me a couple of years of getting around to reviewing it! Not for any misgivings about the product mind you as I’ve always loved and greatly revered Pennie’s work.


My Hearts Dezire is the duo comprising Pennie Lennon (keyboards/lead vocals) and Bruno Koenig (lead guitars/backing & occasional lead vocals). On this EP, produced by Dave Burgess, the duo were complimented with Stephen Martin on bass and Dylan Huw Jones on drums. Bruno Koenig’s artwork is splendid and matches the mood of the music and the duo’s vibe. All songs were composed by Pennie with the exception of ‘Rocks in the Bathroom’ that was co-written with Bruno. This is as far as I’m aware this is Pennie’s fourth CD release comprising of three EPs and one full CD. First came ‘Healing Bones’ EP recorded at Karmic Hit Studios Rozelle in December 1995, then came her full-length CD ‘Journeys’ recorded at the same studio and produced by Steve Kilbey of the Church (with Kilbey performing on bass & the Church’s Tim Powles performing on drums for that record) followed up with the recording of ‘Live at Karmic Hit’ in 1997 that featured Bruno’s performance for the first time; in my opinion, a series of magnificent recordings.


This EP commences with a song that had been recorded in the past, ‘The Past has no power’ originally appearing on ‘Healing Bones’. This is a more fully realised recording of a song that proves to be one of Pennie’s most popular at live gigs. Bruno’s vibrant and inventive guitar pushes the track with an urgency and articulation that was lacking on the more laid-back original recording, all housed neatly into a very pleasing almost samba-like rhythm. This is brilliant songwriting with strong new-age sentiments and a memorably uplifting chorus; still it’s Pennie’s luminous piano track & solo (not altered from the original recording) that more than anything gives to this track its special radiance. ‘The Past has no power’ stands as a beacon of inspired songwriting and performance.


Monsters in my mind’ features a very satisfying and synergistic mix of Bruno’s vibrant and emphatic guitar work with Pennie’s chordal & lush piano phrasing, and behind that, the bass & drums fit in nicely to create an excellent sounding track. Pennie’s lyrical themes are often about change, raising consciousness, being free of fear and limitation, and this song is no exception, “…save me from the monsters in my mind, that’s what’s hurting mankind…”. Pennie is acutely aware of the notion of ‘one mind’ and this song is an elucidation of how individual minds create separation and hurt.


Rocks in the bathroom’ is a slower piece that commences with an instrumental passage where Bruno’s lead guitar riffs sing and sway alongside Pennie’s evocative and stirring piano – this is, you could say, a new age gospel of sorts, Pennie’s piano always sounds so Benedictive, like JSBach coloured with sage, purple tones. This song is something of a prayer, with Bruno interrupting Pennie’s lead vocal with recitative half-spoken sections that have the drums pull-back to feature Pennie’s piano and Bruno’s guitar. This is a beautifully yearning piece of music – a terrific song by Pennie & Bruno and it’s something of a new age prayer, “…that’s divine…” Pennie sings at the end of each phrase, and it is.


God knows’ follows a similar musical vein to the previous song athough the intensity on this piece is not quite as potent as on ‘Rocks…’. This song has an almost ever-so-slightly country vein, particularly as the verses lead into a chorus taken over by Bruno’s weeping lead guitar over music that almost touches a Neil Young vibe. This song possesses its own elegant charm with a mellowness and grace that suits the storyline and musical fabric; a song with a warm and amber glow. A constant of this album is the synergy between Pennie and Bruno, they work so well together with Bruno’s expressive lead playing off from Pennie’s lead vocals which pretty much makes up the unique My Hearts Dezire sound!


The album’s final piece ‘You’ve got to find yourself’ is again a somewhat meditative piece in a minor key with an underlying sense of drama brought forth by the low bass and drums. Musically it’s reminiscent of some of Pennie’s earlier work with its heightened and evocative melodies and lyrical concepts, “…reach yourself…free yourself…”. Pennie’s piano takes the fore on this piece with Bruno providing the perfect counterpoint to Pennie’s melodies and piano motifs. This song is indicative of what Pennie does best, paint and evoke heightened colours and moods with her piano, lyrics and melodies; there is almost a purple hue wafting from this music, it’s very exalted in its own way, and quite ultra-dimensional. Yet her songs are fundamentally very grounded in structure and possess an almost baroque-like exactness. Very few songwriters possess these traits, or gifts.


On the whole Live 2005 is a very fine EP and showcases the synergy and sound of My Hearts Dezire, namely, Pennie & Bruno’s dual musicianship. The songs are deep, real, and very intricate musically and emotionally so that it’s not as easy an album to ingest as its predecessors although on the surface it is a very immediate and enjoyable listen….it’s almost as if these songs are pushing something within the listener to a higher state of awareness, or consciousness. Nevertheless it represents an excellent platform for My Hearts Dezire as a musical venture for both Pennie Lennon & Bruno Koenig. From a songwriting perspective, it reveals Pennie to be in a place of sanctity and calm acceptance, and that amber halo seems to project itself nicely through this wonderful music.


For details and further information on Pennie’s music and CD purchases, go to
http://www.myheartsdezire.com.au/. This is what they say about themselves in the ‘about us’ page:
“My Hearts Dezire are an Original music duo plus, who play a Contemporary jazzy electric folk rock home brew with a twinge of blues and a twang of country and who are proficient musicians, singer songwriters. They are no puppies, except in mind, who have fallen through the cracks of time and different art forms to be here today and play heart and all.”



Friday, April 11, 2008

cw80



this is my cw80
i'm very drawn to this photo
it has an artfilm-like appeal to me
a way of life
like woody allen's manhattan movie
of 1979
refracted through soft lens
i am in this frame of mood right now
fading amber glow of a friday night
a couple or 3 glasses of italian vino
'abruzzo' 'illuminati' are the keywords
mirrored to me from the label
hmm
jus' posted a silly comment on killa's blog
well it's not that silly
it's just me being whimsical sensual and earthy all at once
in essence
that's who
i am

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

cliff's edge

Tonite I got my back cracked
duly crackenbacked
mc'd by Pete T
master Chiro
a damn fine drummer and sketcher
not to mention superlative djembe player
a true artist/craftsman if ever there was one
he's the only being in a body i'd trust
to adjust my neck
a snapping motion of a good 45 degrees
done, in one split second
in that instant
inside my neck
i hear a packet of biscuits drop hasteningly to the floor
*CRUNCH*
it feels fucking good
my head feels freer, better
like a freeway has opened up through my neck to my crown
and I walk straighter, jollier
and half my weight lighter

we have dinner
in that villagey suburb of summer hill
the turkish food is relishing
the beer is even better
heinekin is the perfect reward
for having your back massaged to a pulp
and getting ya neck twisted and snapped around
like a rodent meeting its final trapping place
Pete T is an excellent man
a being of true value and great virtue
much needed on this planet
and boy.. the man doth rock

Killa's post was good today
it's always good
anyway...
killa talked about everything being so "solid"
his beautiful family all around him at home
in comparison to yesterday that was spent in emotional sorrow
at being with a good friend during the stages of passing
at the local hospital st vinnie the pooh
...I feel this way everyday
I'm perpetually curious to read about the serious issues of the day
that signify a sudden scissor cut to our umbilical cordal attachment to worldly life
there is pique oil
there is food shortage
water shortage
there is the terrible possibility of abrupt climate change
there is the basket case of economic things crash stocks depression hyperinflation
- and the remainder of that fucking nonsense
I'm interesting in reading about collapse
I'm fascinated to read about the end of our civilisation
voiced by few writers and scholars
yet make no mistake
the number of those people who go public with this
information of frowning apprehension
is getting more numerical by the month
and yet
you read the mainstream papers
even the more erudite and informative ones
and it's business as usual
6 o'clock swill
business as usual
dumbfuck cloth like daily telegraph
..let's not get started..
2020 summit
business as usual assuming 'usual' will last that long
survival acres & latoc, as examples
are pretty much telling us
that we all are fucking toast as of yesterday
that 'we' are on cliff's edge right now

...I'm thinking of this all the time
when I walk out onto the streets and glaze at shop windows
I wonder who's right and who's wrong
sometimes I feel great sadness that my "way of life" is about to end
ukuleles, singin', blogging
but then...
some fucking prick
in some bullshit prestige car
(don't know the cars as such just recognise the cymbals...)
swans around like the total arrogant prick they are
cutting in not indicating
tailgating
etc
(happens ev'ry day)
as i'm driving my very practicle and capable hi-undai
i sorta think, well
if the rugs pulled out from under your feet (sorry no feet, just 2 metre tyres, 4 of 'em)
and you just have to fucking cop it sweet
it's salutory even if we all pay
and face the coming days of reckoning


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Stewy's Shed

Here I sit
at Stewy's studio
36 minutes to midnight
on the northern shure of sydney
polishing up a couple of tracks
re-recorded for Brigette to sing
they sound sweet
like Eva Cassidy's been around...

got an email today from a friend who's in Delhi right now
singin' jazz in a swanky hotel
for 3 months str8
a great gig and muchly deserved
she's worked for it
her birthday today
a grand happy birthday to you LC
and all the best for the rest of your engagement
may it swing'n'scat shimmer'n'shake
as you relive in song the classics of american jazz toons
she wrote me of the kids livin' on the railway
near the Taj Mahal
she bought dinner for the children
one little girl
hungry
refused the offer
LC was saddened utterly for these kids
she carried her heartbreak for the little girl
on the train ride home to the hotel
now lodged irretrievably

in her psyche
and i read on LATOC sight
headlines of coming food shortages
rice going up fifty percent
scattered bits and pieces articles & writings
we in the west know nothing about
...yet
we are bit-islands in our own insouciant take-it-all-for-granted ness
but the waters around our little feet
are getting higher
give it 1 2 5 10 years
there will be a shift of sorts
it'll be like a sharp stinging backhand across our faces
and it'll fucking hurt...

i'm sitting at stewy's spivvy computer
flatscreen blackrim etal
i'm a leech for fast broadband
seemingly other people's...
i should be helping him
(i'm paying him by the hour goddamn!)
i just wanna finish this mixing
drive home
thru the harbour tunnel
the lit black hole
to sleep

cbay hotel

tonight i trundled
to my fortnightly ritual
that i activate in fits and starts
according to my song cycles...
there's no money in this gig
not the usual 30 bucks for a forty minute pop
you buy a coupla beers
and you're a tenner in the red
no matter
it's the practise and experience that matters
as well as every so often
a great gig
a magical meeting of time and place
anyways
the transformation from being off stage to on is an amazing one
as i'm waiting to go on
i'm pensively sipping on my beer
the singer guitar player's earnest visceral expressions
are hazy on me
i appear doleful
i feel calm and fine enough
but i'm dreaming of being at home
any home
dreamin' of slippers and mugs of warm buttermilk
very roger whittaker...
i take the stage
knowing all too well this is a mugs game
of schooners and middies and eastern suburbs grit
i go into gunslinger mode
here at cbay hotel
overlooking splendid coogee beach
hosting much booze brawn and bimbo
i do my thing
o-riginals mix with covers
often-ones are mr weller
tonight i performed a ray charles song
for the first time
hallelujah i love her so
(apra relax they'll all go on the forrm)
people seemed amused
even grizzled
...very common at cbay hotel...
to cop a blatant r&b attack
dating back 53 years
from an r.b born in '70
but there was a solid group in front of me
who bayed me on
and dug it babey
i was thankful
i stayed to the end
enjoying the sets
supporting those who supported me

the phone's a ringin - - - 9:50am
i hear the effervescent and irrepressible greeting
hi ross it's br-r-r-a-d-d-l-y *razzamatazz*
hi bradley how are you?
..immediately methinks bradley wants me to do a set at cbay tennis centre
just upa the road from the 'hotel'
but no
bradley asks me to be a support act for his solo album launch
to be held at the lansdowne hotel
where i once supported tall tales and true
two friggin' decades ago
i thought that was very nice
and i tell bradley so
i always feel a touch of apprehension about bradley
because some five years ago i yelled at him

very uncharacteristic of me of course
we hadn't been introduced
that was only the second time i'd encountered him
'around the traps'
but a good friend of mine introduces us nine months ago
who'd just been introduced to bradley herself
by the unstoppable and debonair bradley himself
you're a nice guy and a good muso, bradley exclaims with vigour
on the morning phone
and i think, simply and humbly, that's nice
that's just nice
as honourable and noble as nice can be
thanks bradley

you're much appreciated
sometimes a bit of humble recognition
is a good thing
it was nice to take a phone call like that
at 9:50 am
on a monday morning

Sunday, April 6, 2008

SS suMMit (or, S-cubed)

So here in Sydney this weekend under glorious autumn skies we hosted the S3, or, as is widely known around the local omniverse, the ‘Sydney Song Summit’, staged at the Hordern Pavillion surrounded by the leafy Moore Park environs.

Now I got mates running a stall there, good mates, good people, one of them is a guy I play with though I chose to stay away from this event. No doubt there is much good information available for songwriters and aspirants of all shapes and sizes, so fair game.

I love songs, and I hate them! I mean songs are my life goddamn it, but to me songs fall into 2 categories, the inspired ones by inspired artists, and the rubbish that gets peddled about by “professional writers” and songwriting “teachers” and the like.

I mean, I receive a monthly newsletter created by my aforementioned friend who I perform with occasionally that is full of good information and anecdotes. My abhorrent objection comes when names get bandied about proclaiming a new Messiah has arrived, always in the form of an esteemed songwriting teacher….eek! P.P. is here!!, and here come the workshops, ‘Tools & Strategies”…(hello…tools and strategies?? …we’re not building environmentally-protected survival huts here…)

All respect to good people and decent citizenship – because that’s the most important thing really isn’t it - but to give undue esteem and credence to people who teach songwriting to me is utter anathema. I suppose for me, growing up in a spartan environment, I had to learn and discover for myself that which I loved. I developed my ear on my own, nutting out songs on the guitar or piano without the use of charts etc, and yes I suppose I’ve related to the more ‘enfant terrible’ bunch of writers, ie John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Paul Weller, Steve Kilbey, Don Walker – these people are all self-taught as writers and do it their way with a touch of that 'f.u.' swagger in their music. I believe in being inspired to write, and you learn how to do it by the love and inspiration you have for songs and music. Without that inspiration and if you need someone to teach you friggin’ “tools and stategies” then why fucking bother??

I’m sure that if a songwriting teacher got hold of Bob Dylan’s ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ they would turn it precisely into the Byrds version. And alarmingly there are many people who believe that the Byrds version of ‘ ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ is the superior version of the song. The original does not have the pretty chiming Rickenbackers nor the sweet and syrupy vocals & harmonies of McGuinn & Co’s rudely abridged version; the original instead is sung with a searing in-the-moment conviction with its kaleidoscope of dazzling lyrical visions & poetry, almost like it envisions the dawn of a new era, the Age of Aquarius or the like.

No-one tells me how to write my songs, and why would they need to?? It’s my total vision, lyrically and musically, and that total vision and inspiration is what drives me to create the finished product. So if you like it, great, if you don’t, doesn’t matter, we all know where we stand because I’m offering the listener one-hundred percent-ness.

Sure, of course there is a place for songwriting tuition…it doesn’t cross my universe and it’s fine that way. What I object to is giving these people who teach songwriting undue kudos & authority – I personally think these teachers who sit around like caesers critiquing and picking through other people’s songs and do so for a living are, as far as being true musicians and creators are concerned, fucked and they know bollocks. They’d surely be telling Bob Dylan to cut verses to his songs on ‘Highway 61’ and ‘Blonde and Blonde’. And all those songs that have been “workshopped” and papered-over and co-written by numerous entities always end up sounding like the equivalent of what dishwashing water tastes.

People, if you’re gonna write songs, get off on the music that you love and moves you and just do it. If you need help from a book or lesson then so be it – but leave it behind as soon as you’ve integrated the new knowledge & skill and then return to your real songwriting tutor – ie, your inspiration & musicality, and as a help, the music, songwriters & songs you love and have brought you to this point, in short, your wonderful, beautiful Life. And my advice is, put your wonderful, beautiful Life first (the eternal being inside your body), then your love of music second, then, after all that, writing songs if you are moved to, or need to.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Reformation, from the Jam

A few weeks back we had Bruce Foxton and Rick Buckler, formerly of the Jam, on Australian shores with their quasi-reformation concept, From the Jam. (I didn’t see them). Basically it’s bassist Bruce and drummer Rick with a couple of other guys playing songs of the Jam, not heard live in this context since 1982. The songwriter / lead singer / guitarist of the Jam was of course, nowhere to be seen.

I suppose on one level, if Bruce & Rick and the rest of the band are getting off on playing those songs, and with that, there are sizeable enthusiastic audiences lapping it up, well then, fair enough to them. Paul Weller’s take on the whole thing is a strictly no-go zone, stating unequivocally that the whole idea of bands reforming is “naff” and that it’s good to keep things where they’ve been and to keep memories sweet.

Weller said in the same interview, “Why is everyone reforming? I’m not aiming that in anyone in particular…”, well, it appears Weller was referring to the swathe of major acts who’ve recently reformed for tours and the like, no doubt in his mind he had the Police and perhaps Crowded House in his mind.

I agree with Weller. I think it is naff when bands reform. Why the hell did Cold Chisel reform back in 1997?? Chisel were of the era and time, 70’s to early 80’s; I saw them at the Horden in 2003 and obviously they were tight and had the vibe of guys who’d been close together, and yes they played as such…yet that burning spirit of riding the wave of their time, the electricity, the zeitgeist, was utterly absent, in it’s place was a kind of jovial nostalgia. So it sort of takes away from the legend somewhat, it kind of dilutes the band’s power & spirit that continues to carry through after their original demise, and therefore, dilutes their integrity and message somewhat to a subtle yet significant degree.

As for Crowded House, I mean, you can’t have Crowded House without Paul Hester! Again, Crowded House provided highly crafted pop-rock for the era they thrived in – it’s just not the same a decade plus later.

In a Chisel biography Don Walker make mention of telling his family the difference in “lifestyle” if Chisel were to reform, …oh then, so all those countless early Chisel songs about blind metho addicts, drinkin’ in Port Lincoln and being “on the road” don’t mean nothin’ now…

And perhaps Neil Finn has assuaged his Catholic guilt by making up to bassist Nick Seymour who he treated appallingly when the House called it a day in ’96. I mean, if you read the Crowdie bio you read that Neil had the unbelievable audacity to tell Nick, in front of the rest of the band and management, that he thought he was an “ok bass player” and that’s all he had going for him, and that he had a “heightened sense of his own talents”.

Perhaps for Finn, like Sting, cutting it solo doesn’t quite do it as well for him; perhaps these guys enjoy the chemistry of playing those songs with that group of guys that did very well popularity and money-wise, and continue to do so when the reformation bells start ringing through the music press and general populace.

The Church, a band I love, have never really split – although they appeared to be hanging on a very fine silver thread after that electrifying concert at the Enmore Theatre back in October 1992; instead they’ve evolved. But I doubt it very much they’ll be getting Ploogy back on the drums and start ripping through ‘Fraulein’ and ‘Too fast for you’ in too soon a hurry.

Anyhow, I’m very glad the Jam never reformed – they were of a time and place that can never be recaptured.

And the Beatles, they are the perfect example of leaving something so gloriously and utterly sweet by not reforming. John Lennon was intensely adamant about this subject in interviews in 1980 prior to his passing, one feels that had Lennon lived on he would have vicariously made fending off Beatle-reunion questions/requests/proposals a full-time occupation.

Yet perhaps, this spirit of revisionism in pop has wider ramifications. Perhaps there’s a sense that all that’s needed to be done and moved within our structures, “our way of life”, our westernised civilisation, has no further place to go. In 2008 we look to a future of certain energy and resource scarcity, climate change, and economic dislocation. But we can’t rewind that time dial, it can’t be 1967 again…

End of a Civilisationist

Here are the lyrics to a song I've recently recorded and posted on myspace (www.myspace.com/rossmusician)... the song won't go on any album and musically is like early-Church in the verses, and bares more than a passing similarity to Don Walker's (Cold Chisel) 'Conversations' from their 'Breakfast at Sweethearts' album of 1979. The song is about peace and love, but it may not appear that way at first glance....go to myspace to listen!

Regards, Ross


End of a Civilisationist
Copyright Ross B 2008

I’m not one to cry about some building crashing down
or the stars and stripes that shoulder their capital foundations
I love it when I lose my money
better to blow it now before the inevitable post-wake looting!

I’m just an end of a Civilisationist
an end of a Civilisationist
I’m just an an end of a Civilisationist
blow it now, tomorrow we’ll be gone
(tomorrow we’ll be gone)

I drive some trendy car, I couldn’t give a shit
realms and realms of A4 paper premium dust-binned
I got almost everything I think I need
enough to grimace at the losers left sleeping in rags on the streets, because they’re…

…end of a civilisationists
they’re end of a civilisationists
they’re at the end of this Civilisationist!
blow ‘em now tomorrow they’ll be gone

I see a light burning through the night....

I’m not one to make a fuss if things don’t go my way
so don’t expect my sympathy when you tell me of your pain
there’s only one state that I care to be
and that’s to be as free as the sunshine
as free as the birds and the trees
cause I’m an end of a Civilisationist…..

Copyright Ross B 2008

Recording engineered, mastered & drum programmed by Stewart Havill at Sound Dog Recording Studios, Lane Cove, Sydney.
All other instruments, voice, production & mixing by Ross.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

my Space Intro

Here is what I've just posted on my myspace page, (www.myspace.com/rossmusician):

  • Greetings All!
    I have entered the world of blogging, and I'm not sure where it'll take me. ...I suspect nowhere much but it may improve my writing skills, and evolve 'n' revolve me in some subtle kind o' way.
    My blog address is rossmusician.blogspot.com, I anticipate this to be my main blog site, but they may change as time goes on...
    Best wishes to all, love, Ross from the Sydney beast.

Wishing Well, R.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Introduction

Welcome to my first blog dear woman, or man, and your little doggie...

I'd only discovered recently what the word "blog" actually is - after falling into Steve Kilbey's blog universe I got the gist...you hear these newfound techno-words bandied about for years until you discover what they actually are (well, it takes me that long!), "podcast" is another of those 'key'words...

But, my intention is to be more primal and bring up topics that are of interest to me generally, I may not know much about them, but I have a feeling for them - and I want to connect to people spritually and integrally.

Pretty soon we are going to enter the "us vs them" era of our westernised life, and they (Kilbey calls them "straights") are going to win, until the final curtain does away with it all. Let's bandie together and be real, true beings of Light.

But more importantly, ...I suppose I just wanna practise and get an idea of what this blog is all about!!

Al-Anon

enjoying a bevvy Awakening to the ‘good’ in our lives and to the fulfilling sense of gratitude which follows often comes to us via ...