Sunday, March 05, 2006

John McEuen at Sydney Bluegrass Society

In town for non reasons (he has an interest in a play about the death and life of John Lennon 'and in the end'), Sydney bluegrass and traditional music fans were treated to some great playing and anecdotes from a seminal person in the genre.

The playing was more traditional American music than bluegrass. He played a medley of 1860's banjo tunes (Cripple Creek, Soldiers Joy, Turkey in the Straw) as they had been played then, rather than the refined bluegrass versions more common today. A lovely anecdote about Merle Travis was followed by a superb 'Cannonball Rag' on guitar.

He joined in with local jammers in the corridors and recognised them by bringing them on stage to join him in renditions on songs from the 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken' album, including; 'Way Downtown', 'Wildwood Flower', 'Keep On the Sunnyside' and the title track, with which the audience sang along as one.

I came away from the evening impressed by a warm, generous man who can play the bejesus out of a banjo or guitar. He gave a group of people weaned on 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken' everything they wanted, bar bringing Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs and Vassar Clements with him. A wonderfull evening.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Secret Steel from Lucky Oceans

Picked up 'Secret Steel', the latest release from 'Mr Planet'

Lucky has assembled a fine band for this project and is not afraid to let them have their heads.

It's an immediate hit in the woodshed, perfect for kicking off your shoes and sinking into a bottle of red.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Layla and Assorted Other Love Songs

Been meaning to blog this for a while. One fine day at Rozelle Markets, while listening to a mighty fine pedal steel version of "Caravan", I happened upon a box set of Derek and the Dominoes Layla album. This little beauty contains three cd's, an informative booklet and the studio log sheets.

CD1 is the studio album as released. No surprises there. CD2 has a series of jams that the band used to work up the songs. This is great stuff, you get to hear the creative process in action. CD3 has outtakes and some stuff that they couldn't fit on the album, such as "Mean Old World", which I have only heard on the Duane Allman Anthology.

Normally I find it hard to get enthused about alternative versions, directors cuts etc, but this adds to the enjoyment of an already superb album.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Michelle Shocked at The Basement

Not my favorite venue and things didn't get off on a great footing, what with getting gouged for a third rate meal and booze, but at least it gets you a decent seat. The support act's sound was so muddy that I couldn't even make out her name never mind her lyrics, which is a poor state of affairs for a singer/songwriter. Maybe it was something to do with the PC that she played and sang through. Her guitar playing and harmonising with loops was impressive but ultimately didn't make up for the poor sound.

Michelle Shocked arrived on stage with normal fanfare, strummed a chord and....... nothing. A bit of fiddling with connections, still nothing, she said "thank you and goodnight" and walked off. Cords were replaced and after about 10 minutes the show got on the way.

Fortunately she has the personality and showpersonship to overcome such fuck-ups and proceeded to give a truly fabulous performance. Admittedly most of the audience were true believers (in more that one sense)and she gave us a blend of the new with tracks off her 'divorce album' and tex-mex album, and everything the audience wanted from earlier material. Not afraid of speaking her mind, in this current climate she could expect a visit from immigration for encouraging the audience to do likewise.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Ten Little New Yorkers

Just finished reading Kinky Friedman's latest page turner '10 Little New Yorkers'. As usual it's a delightfully irreverent romp crammed with Kinky's trademark one-liners, such as "The cat was a free-form fundamentalist who'd once been a Baptist until she realised they didn't hold 'em under long enough." There's enough music references to justify a mention in this music blog.

Not quite in the same class as "A Case of Lone Star" in which lines from Hank Williams songs are left as clues by the perp. Got to admire someone who describes Garth Brooks as the anti-Hank.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

It's a Banjo

I have managed to get a loan of this year's hippest, most happening instrument, a banjo. I'm in the process of cleaning it up and putting some strings on it. It's got a sticker on it with the name 'Sheltone', but I haven't been able to turn up any information about it other than it was bought at a car boot sale in the north of England 20 years ago.

Guess I'll have to start a banjo meme

Monday, August 15, 2005

Soweto Gospel Choir

Oh dear, six weeks since my last post. Reminds me of my childhood efforts at keeping a diary. However I was moved to post by a truly great experience. On wednesday I won two tickets to see the Soweto Gospel Choir on ABC radio 702

Last friday I lobbed up to the Opry House expecting to be wowed by the choir. Instead they absolutely rolled me, despite being in a venue in which the architecture seems to insist that you sit still in you seat. The choir overcame this by asking the audience to stand for a rendition of the South African national anthem, and then going into some uptempo gospel. The joint was jumpin' and swaying and clapping along till the end, by which time even Peter, a life-long atheist, was contemplating getting religion.

This is more than a choir. This is a 30 piece explosion of colour, movement and joy. If they visit your town, drop everything and go see them.

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