Sunday, February 27, 2011

David Live

The last time I performed in the Fringe was way back in 1988. Today, some 23 years later, I am at Higher Ground. It's not a show that I am staging independently, although I've often thought about doing that. David Robinson - Life is Absurd. A 50-minute one-man show...
Not this year. The venue and SCALA have decided to stage a few Fringe showcases and I have been selected to play. One of the lucky ones.
It's a warm afternoon. Even warmer under the canopy. There's a few people hanging around, comprising friends of the performers and bar staff on a break. A few after-work types drift by. Some stop and listen for a while; most don't. Places to be, I guess.
I do my usual thing. I play for 40 minutes or so, trying to blend my radio-friendly-unit-shifters with a few of my numbers that I only perform every now and again. I think the mix of songs is OK. I'm certainly enjoying it. The 12-string and the harmonica behave themselves, and the foldback is good. Battling the traffic noise is almost fun.
It seems to go down well. A few friends show up, and after I finish I grab a beer and enjoy the sweet sounds of my co-conspirators.
All up it's a very pleasant evening.
I can't hang around too long though as we have a couple of Fringe theatre shows to see.
Does it ever stop?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fringe in my eyes

The Fringe marches on. Seven shows down, 17 more to go.

I've watched human pigs cavort, DH Lawrence share the memory of his early years, Luke Rhinehart preach his dice theory, Monique Brumby strut her stuff, scary young dudes being all weird, Neil Young as a female and Ian Moss sing Cry Me a River.

Just another Fringe, really.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gardening on a Sunday.

Last night I went down to The Garden Of Unearthly Delights to watch Monique Brumby. All up, it was a very interesting evening...

Walking, at pace, down Rundle Street. I hear snippets of other people's conversations.
"How many Target shops are there in the world, Mummy?"
"Oh, millions, dear..." Mum says, without needing to think.
"My car shits all over that heap!" a cocksure, pockmarked boy brags, as he walks along the footpath. Walks.
I get to The Garden sometime around nine. I meet a friend, and we wax lyrical as we share a couple of glasses of hideously overpriced wine. Solving the world's problems is becoming quite an expensive pastime.
We go to the gig. It's the first time I have seen Monique Brumby and I am impressed. The hour passes quickly; good vibes wrapped up in a late Sunday late summer slightly inebriated way. Almost perfect.
After a series of random post-gig events, I end up chatting with Brumby and her bass player for a while. Recording at home, studying music, Andy White (no surprise given my t-shirt) and my 12-string are all topics that come and go.
It's work for some of us tomorrow, so all good things etc.
I pour myself into a taxi and, about half-way home, the driver says "Do you ever get the feeling that each day is harder than the last, and that it all sometimes seems like too much trouble?"
Not sure where we are headed (hopefully Millswood), I engage in some lightweight existentialism before tipping generously and exiting the cab.
Here's to you taxi driver, I hope your Monday turned out alright.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday grooves

It's a rainy evening; Adelaide is experiencing a deluge. It's caused the cancellation of the Fringe Opening Parade, which is a bit of a downer for those involved. I am off to a Fringe show a little later on; hope it's OK.
I like the rain. In a practical sense it has been useful as a test of our repaired storm water pipes and, on a much more romantic level, it has added a pleasant dimension to my afternoon. I've been inside, jamming Beatles' songs with a mate and watching a Dario Argento film without ever feeling guilty about not being outside in the garden.
I used to watch a lot of horror films, something that I haven't done so much of in recent times. After today, I think it might be something I do a little more often... Good fun.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A return to form?

Once again it's Tuesday, and I am at The Metro. There's loads of people in the pub, all types, most of whom are here for the advertised evening of live music.
In the last month or so I've enjoyed four fantastic gigs at four very different venues. Ken and I performed as Yours Truly at The Grace Emily, before I returned to solo mode to play a SCALA showcase at Higher Ground, a Sunday afternoon session at The Governor Hindmarsh, and a low-key but very enjoyable set at the Burnside Library. I've had a great time at each of the shows, but I can't say the same for my 2011 open mic experiences thus far.
Is it me? Is it the sound? Am I choosing the wrong songs? Am I just bored? Tired? etc etc.
There's no single answer, except to say that things go in cycles, and maybe I've just been a little flat of late.
I have friends here tonight; I've shined my shoes, sought out a shirt worthy of a proper gig, thought about my songs, even had a rehearsal. Egads!
Although I am still feeling tired, things go my way. Because there's a few there to watch me, I steer clear of risky Billy Bragg covers and my own songs that hurt my fingers and affront the listeners' ears. I choose three of my favourite originals, and belt them out. I can tell I am winning. There's enough people looking at me, bobbing heads and tapping feet, to provide encouragement for the artist. Eventually, I step down, happy with my lot.
A little while after my short set, I am back on stage, reliving my youth. I'm playing and singing some classic Jimmy Reed, Chuck Berry and Willie Dixon songs with my mate Lindsay. I used to sing this stuff in bands when I was a teenager. It seems to go down well tonight. The familiar three-chord progression of the 12-bar blues is a winner with the well-oiled crowd.
Time to relax, listen to other people making music, and have a drink.
Welcome back, David, welcome back.

photo: Copyright © Stewart Cook 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

An equal and opposite reaction.

Monday mornings should be outlawed.

I'm tired. My head hurts. So does everything else.

Payback is a bitch.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Animal House weekend

I'm sitting in the second row, watching Ian Moss. He's doing quite well. As for me, I am just about hanging on to reality. It's been a good-sized couple of days...
I had a mate down from Brisbane for the weekend. He arrived a few minutes after the main dramas with the plumbing had been dealt with. We'd been thinking about our upcoming odyssey for a few weeks, and it was going to take more than a water service emergency to dampen our enthusiasm.
First stop was the Cremorne, for beer and lunch. In the afternoon session we watched horses run around in circles. We won some money and, being the gentlemen we are, gave most of it back. We walked back to Millswood, exchanging shared reminiscences of our joint adventures. These were mostly untrue. We went out for a curry in the evening. We drank some fine red wine, which was largely wasted on a philistine like myself. Through bleary eyes we saw Wayne Rooney score the goal of the century in the early hours of Sunday morning. After a couple of hours sleep, I was chopping garlic, tomato and basil in the kitchen. Breakfast bruschetta again. Fresh coffee for Pete, multiple cups of tea for yours truly. Six Nations England v Italy next. A late morning coffee on King William Road. Grazing in the afternoon, enjoying a pound or two of the until-recently-outlawed Roquefort blue cheese. Another bottle of red? Why not? Down to The Garden of Unearthly Delights. Overpriced Beck's beers in the sun. Finally, it's us and Mossy. And maybe a few hundred others. I don't know, I didn't turn around once...

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Less than a week after managing my own storm water issue, and feeling a small sense of pride, some of our more serious plumbing decided to make things interesting.
I got home on Friday night to be greeted with the news that a water pipe had burst under the carport, and my party mood immediately disappeared. The water had been turned off though, so we weren't too panicky. I had, however, no idea about how it could be fixed.
We called the emergency plumber on Saturday morning, and waited. We only turned the water on for our rapid-fire showers, then we filled all of our buckets with rainwater. The plumber arrived, he spent a good few hours digging up about 15 metres of million year-old rusty galv pipe (it couldn't be fixed) and replacing it with the modern plastic equivalent.
A small fortune later, we were back in business.
The amazing thing was the sense of helplessness I felt - something bad had happened on the property and I couldn't fix it. Thinking rationally a little later, I realised that plumbing is only one of a great many things about which I don't have much of a clue.
Not so clever after all!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Here comes the Fringe!

On Thursday night Adelaide celebrated the arrival of its annual Fringe Festival. Second only to Edinburgh, if you believe the hype. I'd wager that our weather is better than it is in Scotland...
We went along to the opening of The Garden of Unearthly Delights and stood in line with the 5oo other "VIP" guests, all eager to slurp down some free, cheap wine.
Once inside, we rubbed shoulders and clinked glasses with the core of Adelaide's art community. About half the people there could probably lay claims to being an artist. The other half comprised a collection of wannabes, has-beens, never-wassers, liggers and blaggers. Like me. Ha! Great stuff.
There's a week to go before the official opening, but there are events scheduled from here on in. I have 21 shows to watch/review in a 21-day period. Plus I am playing my own gig as part of a Fringe event on February 24. It's the first time I've been in the Fringe since 1988!
It's going to get busy around here.

We hung around for a while, watching the bite-sized chunks of entertainment, before catching a bus home and sitting in front of the telly. Sometimes, your lounge room is the best place in the world.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Busby Babes

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning
We will remember them
We will remember them

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Plumbing new depths...

This doesn't look like a big job, but it was...
A few weeks ago, in my overzealous attempts to remove a meddlesome rose bush, I accidentally smashed my way through about a metre of storm water piping. I completely destroyed a three-way meeting of pipes, and tore holes through each of the sections.
It was the last thing I wanted to do - spend a day sweating and swearing as I attempted to repair the damage or, worse still, pay a plumber to do the job. Still, I'd made the error, so it was up to me to make good.
I took my time in thinking about the repairs, and planned, shopped and measured with care. I dug a hole, and I cut various bits of plastic pipe to exact measurements. Fitting the pipe was a tough job. Because the bulk of the piping was all still underground, there wasn't much give or flexibility, and the connections had to be as flush as possible. The remnants of the rose bush weren't helpful either, the roots were all over the place.
Whatever the situation, the task needed doing - it wasn't going to fix itself.
Ultimately, the job was completed by yours truly. I didn't swear much, didn't hurt myself, and didn't have to pay a plumber either. Maybe I'll get a song out of it. In your face, world.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Flag waving, anyone?

When I was younger, the prevailing view locally of our cousins in the USA was that they were a bit strange. The chest-beating patriotism, Ol' Glory proudly flying from flagpoles up and down the nation, and the every-day warbling of The Star Spangled Banner - no matter how minor the occasion. We never quite understood why all the hoo-ha was necessary.
It seems (to me anyway) that Australia is, thirty years on, moving down a similar path. The flag is displayed everywhere, a much bigger deal seems to be made of national holidays and national anthems. 'Australia - Love it or leave it' and 'F*ck off, we're full' t-shirts are worn with pride. If I never hear the odious term 'un-Australian' again, it will be far too soon. Do we really think that we have a mortgage on friendship, lending a helping hand, and fairness? Perhaps we could ask an Iraqi...
Don't get me wrong, I think that it is fine for people to be happy that they were born in a particular country. I don't mind at all. Some degree of recognition of where we have come from, and a measure of satisfaction that we, as a nation, are doing OK is probably both helpful and desirable.
I just think it's a bit odd that all of this flag-waving is happening here, within Australia. What are we saying? Who are we saying it to? Are we afraid of something? If we were a small enclave situated abroad, I could understand it more so. We might feel a bit better about being away by displaying a few reminders of home. But why do it when we are at home? I saw a similar proliferation of St George flags when I was in England in 2006, but I assumed that was because England had just achieved another inspirational failure at the football World Cup. Maybe it was down to something else...

Perhaps this is just a natural step in our national evolution. Oh well, let's see what the Republic brings.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Taking a breath

I've especially enjoyed my last three gigs. The Gov, SCALA, and the Burnside Library have made me feel that 2011 could be a good year for making music. All the shows have been different, each posing their own challenges, and all ultimately proving worthwhile.
Tonight I am at The Metro. Six songs; three of mine, and three old blues songs. It goes OK, but something is missing. Technically all the bits are in the right place, but I fail to inspire or impress myself. Understandably, no-one else seems particularly interested either. I sound like mud. Maybe it's just a flat spot. These things happen.