Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A time of great change

I cannot remember a time in my life when I have been quite as busy as I have been in recent months. Most of it has been excellent, but I have had no time for reflection; it's just been one thing after another.
Work. Trains. Sydney. Music, music, music. Family. Perth. Planes. Christmas plans. Sickness and health. Gigs. Gardens. Darwin. Birthdays. Full house. Guitars. Long goodbyes. Life out of balance.
I walked out of the office last Friday and I'm not due back until 2014. I'm hoping that 2013 will be a period of consolidation. Of taking stock, and getting things organised. How punk rock of me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Transcontinental man

I get around.

It's been an extremely busy time since the middle of the year. I'd decided that I was going to seek out as many opportunities to play as I could, rather than sit around lamenting the dearth of venues willing to take a gamble on original music. Of course, I figured that I'd have to make some compromises in terms of what I would play, and the type of venue I'd play at, and the amount/type of consideration for which I'd be happy to play...

Since winding myself up and heading out I've played on trains, in cafes, in pubs, under marquees, at markets and in halls. I've played in the Northern Territory, New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia. I've played when I've been feeling happy, sad, energetic, tired, ill and workman-like. I've played for decent money, for pizza, for train rides, for beer and for free. I've played in front of big crowds, and to empty rooms. I have played.
By my reckoning, I've done 64 shows in 135 days since July 1.

I'm a bit tired, what with a day job also requiring some attention, but this is exactly what I planned to do. It's all part of getting myself set up for 2013.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Up the (Bondi) Junction

A quick jaunt over to the east coast for a surprise birthday party.
Ken Stewart, Urban Guerilla and Yours Truly stalwart, is having a big birthday so I'm off to Sydney.
Up early on a Saturday morning. I could do with a couple more hours rest but that's the price I pay for loving you the way that I do.
Adelaide Airport. Under construction.
Security. No drugs, bombs or nail scissors, thanks very much.
Exit row seat - bonus. And why not? I'm six foot three. Thank you for noticing, Virgin.
An hour late out of Adelaide, 45 minutes on the tarmac in Sydney. Some kind of worldwide computer glitch. Millenium bug I reckon, just a bit late. Take your time, I can stretch my legs out and carry on reading.
Sydney airport is heaving, full of grumpy, impatient faces. Glad I'm heading in the other direction...
Train into city. Central. Banana skin on seat. People are so considerate.
Lunch. A burrito the size of a football. Pure Blonde.
Freddie Flintoff and Bill Tarmey (died this morning, RIP Jack Duckworth) autobiographies. Seven dollars well spent. Backpack now full. And heavy.
Train to Bondi Junction. A thirty minute walk through the local area. Allsorts around here. Bondi Pavilion.
Help with the party set up. Tote those tables, lift those chairs.
People filter in.
Memory Lane.
Ken is surprised. That's the thing about surprise parties...
Friends and family feel the love. Musical tributes. Ken joins me on stage - you can't keep a good man down. Folk punk is the new black.
And then, it is over. Remove posters, stack chairs, say goodbye.
A couple of hours' sleep. The morning sun hurts my gritty eyes. Airport. Fly. Finish my Wreckless Eric book. Arrive home.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Billy Bragg

One of the highlights of my trip to the west was heading out on the Friday night and seeing Billy Bragg perform. I haven't seen Bragg for a good few years so I was pretty happy that I managed to pull it off, despite my initial discovery that I'd be out of the state when he appeared in Adelaide.
I'd bought the Perth tickets well in advance so it was something of a relief to be actually standing there, ten yards from the stage. Nothing had gone wrong, everything had fallen into place.
Jordie Lane opened the show and did a great job, no doubt winning himself some new fans.
After a short break, Billy Bragg appeared on stage.

The first half of the performance comprised the latest instalment of Bragg's ongoing Woody Guthrie roadshow, presented in equal parts story and song. Although Bragg suggested it might be a warts 'n' all recounting of the Guthrie legend, it was, in fact, a warm and friendly tribute.
After a short interval, Bragg returned to the stage, strapped on his Telecaster and played a bunch of his own songs. Fifteen of the Bard of Barking's classics from times old and new. As much as I like Woody Guthrie, this was what I was waiting for. High points included The Price I Pay, Scousers Never Buy The Sun, Sin City (with Jordie Lane), I Keep Faith and the sublime Tank Park Salute. Sure, some of the introductions to songs are getting a bit long in the tooth for those of us lucky enough to own multiple concert recordings, and there was a tendency to perhaps bang on just a little too long, but I think most of the audience very much appreciated an artist who is willing to connect with his audience.
After a generous performance, Bragg finished the evening with an updated Great Leap Forward, and crowd-favourite New England (dedicated to Kirsty McColl).

At the end of New England, he put down his guitar, saluted, threw his tea bag at me, and left the stage.

Guthrie (partial): Ingrid Bergman, Way Over Yonder In the Minor Key, Slipknot, Go Down To the Water, Another Man's Done Gone, All You Fascists
Bragg: The Price I Pay, Sexuality, Distant Shore, Tomorrow's Going To Be a Better Day, Greetings To the New Brunette, Must I Paint You a Picture, Scousers Never Buy The Sun, Sin City (with Jordie Lane), The Milkman Of Human Kindness, Levi Stubbs' Tears, I Keep Faith, There Is Power In a Union
Encore: Tank Park Salute, Great Leap Forward, New England

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Western dream...

My transcontinental train adventures continue. I rode the train from Adelaide to Perth last week, playing and singing my way across the Nullarbor Plain. I left on Sunday, after playing at the markets for three hours in the morning. Packing for the trip was a bit of a rush!
I've enjoyed a few days of leisurely holidaying in the city - my planned performances fell through - and I got to see Billy Bragg play. But it's back on the Indian Pacific today.
After an unexpected sabbatical, I will be playing six-eight shows over the next couple of days. This will complete my north-south-east-west traverse of the country.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Original Hankster

I played at a Hank Williams celebration on Saturday night. I grabbed the opportunity when I saw that the good people at Country Music SA were looking for performers.
I love listening to Hank, and I play a couple his songs from time to time, so this seemed like a sensible thing to do. Plus I am committed to playing as often as I can, and I never say "no" to a gig if I can possibly help it.
It was a new thing for me though, in a lot of ways. I've never played a tribute show before, never played with a backing band - we met on the night - and I've never played a dedicated country gig. Embracing the spirit of adventure, I was looking forward to the experience.
It was great fun. I played a few songs, including the 'Luke the Drifter' number Men With Broken Hearts. I was a bit worried about that one, but it seemed to go down well. Quite a few people took the time to seek me out and have a chat after my short set, and that's generally a positive thing.
So I guess "I'm a little bit country" now, but it is back to the usual post-punk mod pop brit folk yeah baby mach schau sounds for this week's gigs.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Play something we know...

Over the course of the last six months, as I have tried to play as many gigs in as many places as possible, I have found it necessary to take a step back from my almost-absolute commitment to playing original songs. There are some nights where it would be performance suicide to stick slavishly to songs penned only by David Robinson.
I have become, for some shows more than others, a one-man cover band.
Some audiences just don't seem to be interested unless they have heard the songs before.
I guess it comes with the territory, but sometimes people can be more than a little tiresome. I had to remind a couple of tipsy teenage girls the other night that I could be just as rude as they were being. It did the trick.
Depite selling my soul, I have tried to stick to songs I like to sing and play, and I always find a way to get a few originals into the mix. I'll go down fighting.
My repertoire includes songs made famous by Slade, Paul Weller, Hank Williams, Joy Division, The Beatles, Alistair Hulett, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy Bragg, Warren Zevon and a host of others. It's actually quite good fun, working through my list. And, of course, all my covers are recorded on my APRA forms.
Its also been a bit of a learning experience too - getting an insight into other songwriters' structures and melodies. It will probably (hopefully) improve my own efforts.

I still play original-only sets and gigs, but I suspect I'll be playing covers at certain venues for a while yet. Damn filthy lucre!

Monday, October 8, 2012


It's been a busy time. Over a nine-day period that ended yesterday I played ten times, incorporating some 257 songs.
I've appeared at the Irish Club, the Daniel O'Connell, the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers' Markets, the Metropolitan Hotel, Tarlee Community Markets, SCALA @ Higher Ground, the Goodwood Park Hotel, the Regency Tavern and the Semaphore Music Festival.
Highlights included my first festival gig, Central Districts' James Gowans leading the choir in Living Next Door To Alice (and others), performing in front of the smallest SCALA crowd ever, playing Greetings To The New Brunette a couple of times, and getting paid.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Technically, this was my first-ever festival engagement. Hooray for me.
A one hour spot on the so-called 'Buskers' Stage' at the Semaphore Music Festival. No busking, and not really a stage either. It was, more or less, a repeat performance of the show I'd done down there a couple of weeks' earlier.
The streets were pretty quiet. I think the windy, drizzly weather, combined with the AFL Grand Final, might have kept people indoors. Nevertheless, I gave it the usual mach schau and those that came to watch, and those that strolled by, seemed to like what they heard.

If the right cards fall my way, I hope to impose myself upon music festival life a little more solidly in 2013.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Rose of Tarlee

As I played away at the drizzly Sunday Farmers' Market, I struck up a conversation with one of the stall holders. He asked me if I'd be interested in playing a show the next day. A day that I had rather hopefully earmarked as a day off. Being an enthusiastic sort of fellow though, I accepted his offer and 24 hours' later I was playing at the Labour Day Tarlee Community Market.
It was a little over an hour's drive from our place, and it was a delightful sunny spring morning. Once we'd broken free from the urban sprawl, I was once again marveling at the green and yellow fields, lying under blue, perfect skies.
The fair was already buzzing when I arrived. I got myself organised, and set up in the open air in amongst the vibrant stalls. I played a one-hour set of originals, which seemd to go down well with browsers and purveyors of quality tat alike.
Satisfied with my early session, I took a short break and had a cup of tea and a brief walk around the picturesque setting. Eventually, I made my way to the food and drink area and played a couple of hours' worth of covers for the lunchtime crowd. I saw a few toes tapping and passers-by indicated their approval in most of the usual ways.
I had my guitar case open to act as my CD 'shop', and I felt a little weird when some folks stepped up and threw money in. This wasn't supposed to be a busking engagement, but once the money started coming in I couldn't really stop, close my case, or give it back... Oh well, who am I to try and tell folks what they can and can't spend their money on?
It was a great way to spend my time, despite the fact that I'd promised myself a lazy day off. There was still time for some of that when we arrived home.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ethelton. One more time...

Almost as soon as I'd gotten off my bike, I was back into the cut-and-thrust of the Ethelton Entertainers' season. I'd missed the first four performances due to being away, so when I sat down amongst my band mates on Tuesday night I felt a little like a new boy.
I've been a member of this troupe for around 20 years; I started helping behind the bar in the early nineties and once they found out I played guitar and sang a little, well, that was that. I moved from the bar to the 'orchestra pit', and that's where I have stayed.  Apart from getting up on to the stage to sing a song or two each night.
Every year the show plays nine nights; sellouts more often than not. It has afforded me the privilege of playing with some very accomplished musicians, and has also allowed me to perform some wonderful show tunes on both bass and guitar. It's been great fun.

Living the rat pack dream...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Annual Tour Day Nine - All Good Things...

Homeward bound.

I was expecting a tough day, as the profile and wind forecast were both suggesting hard work. I wasn't disappointed.
We packed for the last time, and left camp around 7.30. The gentle downhill 30 kilometre run into Gawler seemed like anything but. The wind was fierce, blowing us sideways, and there was more than a little climbing, even if it was a nett downhill leg.
The five kilometre climb out of Gawler wasn't bad, and the ride along the top had its moments, both good and bad. The wind was another ripper though; probably the stongest yet.
The ultra-slow grind up to the summit of One Tree Hill Road was a bit of a heartbreaker. Not a lot of space for bikes and traffic, especially when you are tired and a bit wobbly...
The sideways buffeting of the wind as we re-entered the suburbs made playing with the traffic even more difficult than usual. I got the feeling the most of the drivers felt that four or five inches was more than enough space. How considerate...
The ride into the city along the Linear Path was a relief, notwithstanding the occasional idiot dog owner.
I was delighted to arrive at Bike SA, some nine days after leaving, relatively intact and in good spirits. Lunch, the gathering up of gear and the usual bittersweet farewells were brief.
The toughest day of the ride was saved until last, so I definitely earned my Radox bath that afternoon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Annual Tour Day Eight - Back on the Mawson

Once again, Ray and I hit the Mawson for some off-road hi-jinks. The Kapunda-Tanunda journey is picturesque, and there's some good riding to be had. I think it was the first time on the tour that we stopped specifically to take photographs.
We overshot a turn towards the end of the trail (still not sure how - all the markers were clearly visible), but even with the detour we were still sitting in Nuriootpa enjoying a coffee and a finger bun at 9.30. It was far to early to end the day's riding, so we planned a route out of town, onto some dirt, and then back onto the Mawson towards Rowland Flat. We passed a few Annual Tour riders on the bitumen heading out; I think they must have thought we were lost or heading the wrong way. I suspect we confused more than a couple of them.
It was a stonking good ride. The dirt was a great workout and, once again, the scenery was beautiful.
Just before we got back to the highway, I clocked 60 kph on one of the downhills. Nice.
The ride back into Tanunda was uphill, and into the strong wind. Traffic, magpies, and a bumpy shoulder. Not much fun, but a necessary evil. We managed to get to camp in time for lunch without too many dramas.

Chateau Tanunda played host to the tour; lunch and dinner were appropriately salubrious.

Annual Tour Day Seven - Wind Problems

The first stretch of the Day Seven ride was a lovely sprint out of Burra and towards morning tea at the Russian Molokan cemetery.
Once the wind had gotten up though, it was a different matter entirely. The breathtaking, panoramic views of the ranges were soon forgotten as we rode the World's End Highway and climbed into the wind; the leg between Robertstown and Point Pass was particularly tough. Point Pass looked like a bigger place that I would have imagined, and the golden spire of the church stood out for miles. I was happy and relieved to make lunch in Kapunda, where I enjoyed the best roll of the trip.
The last section was also quite climby, but we held a pretty good speed and actually quite enjoyed ourselves all the way into Kapunda, our evening destination. Unusually, we didn't see another bike along the whole stretch.
We enjoyed a few pints in town, visited the bakery, and I bought a two dollar 1940 edition of Treasure Island from a second-hand shop.

Annual Tour Day Six - Day of Rest

Rest day in Burra. Again...

I didn't do much. The sleep in, hot shower and cooked breakfast provided a sense of luxury and leisure, and from there it was a case of just wondering what to eat or drink next. I'd cleaned and lubed my bike the night before, and done my washing, so I was free of the burden of responsibility.
Lunch was a surprisingly good pizza from Cook o' Burra, which we ate sitting under the verandah of the Burra Hotel.
I bought three LP records for a $1 each, and managed to safely stow them on one of the trucks.
In the afternoon the weather turned pretty foul, and broke a couple of tents. Judging by the strength of the wind, I think we were lucky that it was only two. Thankfully, the poor weather and high winds were gone by the evening.
Time for the talent show. Oh dear...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Annual Tour Day Five - Mawsoneers!

After clearing it with those in charge, we rode the Mawson Trail rather than the established bitumen route on Day Five.
And what a brilliant ride it was.
Initially overcast and rainy, the day's conditions improved as the hours passed. From the moment we turned onto Angus Court Road, I was filled with happiness.
I've ridden this leg about half-a-dozen times in the past, but always in the autumn. To do it at this time of year was something a little different. The canola fields provided an impressive backdrop to Camel Hump. We didn't stay long at the top of the climb as it was a little fresh.
It is fairly flat, but there a couple of pretty thick climbs and some joyous freewheeling sections too.
We got buzzed by magpies, saw kangaroos, felt a few spots of rain, encountered cows on the trail, waited while sheep were led from one field to another, and had to get over a couple of electric fences. Ray took a tumble in the mud, just for fun.
All in a day's work, really.

We were fortunate with the wind, which was across us at worst. The roadies' route meant that they had to endure a tough slog into it.
Gotta love those mountain bikes.

The Burra Hotel was pleased to see us.

Annual Tour Day Four - Clare, the moment I met you, I swear...

I got up at 6.00 and was surprised to see a healthy covering of ice on the outside of the tent. It was an extremely cold morning. I was tempted to crawl back into my safe haven but the clear blue sky was promising.
Breakfast was back at the Town Hall, which added an extra dimension to the morning's preparations. A bit more to-ing and fro-ing. I left my shoes outside to dry out/warm up in the morning sun.
The ride to Brinkworth was slightly uphill and slightly into the wind, so it serves as a decent warm up for the day. One of locals came down for a chat, resplendent astride her three-wheeled bicycle. The next section was a solid climb, and my poor mountain bike and I laboured along the long, upwardly mobile route. About 20 kilometers outside of Clare things started to undulate again, which provided a few moments of relief now and again. It was a beautiful spring day, and the scenery was lovely - blue, green and yellow. The penultimate section was another big climb up Barinia Road, a bit of a gut buster, before we turned right and headed into town along the extension of the Riesling Trail.
Lunch at the fitness club was all very pleasant, as was our afternoon spent wandering around the town.
After dinner, Ray and I sought assent from Bike SA high command to deviate from the planned bitumen course and ride the Mawson Trail between Clare and Burra. Permission granted. Off we go!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Annual Tour Day Three - There's No Town Like Snowtown

I'd slept really well so I was about as fresh as I could be for Day Three.
I rose, washed, packed and ate with an almost ruthless efficiency. I was expecting a pretty tough day, which was likely to compound my feelings of soreness.
It was a cool, cloudy day which probably suited us for the early push out to morning tea. The leg to lunch at Bute was pretty flat, and pretty fast.
As it turned out, the main part of the day was more of a solid grind than a series of punishing climbs. Which probably suited me. After a couple of hours of gradual climbing it was a great relief to hit the ten per cent descent into Snowtown. Have I ever mentioned that I love downhills?
We camped at the school, and walked into town.
Sherrilee and Flash the dog greeted us as we walked into the hotel.
As I replenished my lost fluids I gazed out of the window. Even in a sleepy town, gaxing out of the window is a better option than watching Days of our Lives on the big-screen TV. I could see two people performing some kind of 'show', larking about in a barrel in front of that building. Not sure if they were locals or blow-ins. They probably thought they were being cutting-edge and funny, but it just looked boring and more than a little sad.
Dinner was one of those lovely community affairs, held in the Town Hall. The food, drink and friendship were all top-notch. Thank you, good folk of Snowtown.
We walked back to camp under one of those moonless, starry, country skies that never fails to remind me of my insignificance. Truly beautiful.
Despite the cool night, I slept well.

Annual Tour Day Two - An Ill Wind.

It's colourless, odourless and tasteless. Depending on its direction, it can be of great assistance or it can smash you to pieces.
On Sunday the ride took me to Kadina and then on to Wallaroo. It was a pleasant novelty to leave camp without having to pack up. The route to Kadina was fast, the strong breeze pushed us all the way there, but as soon as we turned for Wallaroo and Moonta I knew I was in trouble. The wind was right at me, and the long, straight stretch from Wallaroo to Moonta Bay was hideous. Exhausting. Partly because I was out of condition, but mainly because the wind was a bitch. The 4WD that missed me by centimetres didn't do much for my opinion of tank-driving idiots either. Anyhow, for the bulk of the ride I just tucked in behind Ray and cursed. Happy days.

I was a tad relieved when we arrived back at camp.

I spent the afternoon recovering from a precarious position. I felt pretty bashed up. The miniature train ride around the mine helped a little, as did the restorative 'brown champagnes' at the Royal Hotel.

Vegetarian lasagna for tea. I bought my own Parmesan.

I was asleep before 9.00 PM.

Annual Tour Day One - Triangulation

This is where I find out if two rides in ten months is sufficient training for a nine-day bike tour. I suspect I already know the answer...

I jumped off the Bike SA coach in sunny Moonta, set up my camp and got myself organised for the first day's ride. I said hello to many of my fellow riders, many of whom I've shared rides with at various times over the last eight years. After a quick lunch and an even quicker riders' briefing, it was time to head off. Here we go then!
Luckily, day one wasn't too arduous. We rode a triangular route which initially headed east from Moonta and took me to a couple of localities the existence of which I'd never previously been aware - Agery and Cunliffe - before arriving back at camp a couple of hours later. It was a fairly flat 47 kilometres, and wind wasn't really a factor. It didn't particularly hurt, which was a relief. The distance itself, though, was more than I'd ridden in 2012 so I was satisfied that I'd made it without tiring.

The evening was the time to reacquaint with old friends, and the Bike SA evening routine. I had a substantial feed, a couple of reds, and crossed my fingers in the hope that the next few days would be OK.

No turning back now.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Some kind of wonderful...

Since getting back from Darwin I have been really, really struggling. Physically speaking, I haven't been at the races. Not worth a cracker. I've been so tired, too knackered to do anything discretionary. Shame really, because I've been a dynamo in the preceding weeks.
I was in Canberra last week and it was a labour. I felt like I was a hundred years old. I did manage a few pints in The Phoenix so my efforts brought some reward, it is fair to say.
I got home on Friday night and spent Saturday trying to get back into the swing of things; doing jobs, standing in the pissing rain at the footy, falling asleep in my chair when I should have been at the Northern Soul night, and watching United fall over the line.
I guess I needed to rest up a little.
Sunday and Monday were much better. I went busking for three hours in the winter sunshine, did my APRA return for 2011-12, visited King William Road to view the SALA exhibition, made a date loaf, organised gigs, got to grips with the lawns and garden, cooked a kind of laksa, played with my latest eBay arrivals (including Top of the Tots!), attended to my Honda, watched a great film in Hunger, learned some new songs, and took possession of the latest batch of David Robinson CDs. I can't believe how different the last couple of days has felt compared to the preceeding couple of weeks...
Perhaps I am back.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

King of the Bus

I've been busking at the Sunday Farmers' Market recently. I thought it would be a good thing to do because it's better than a music room rehearsal, I like the market environment, and it's only around the corner. You have to go through an application process; not very punk rock I know, but it's a pretty good gig.
The vibe of the place is great. I'm not generally a busker, but this is a performance opportunity within a community, and I don't feel that I am at the mercy of some of the more aggrocultural elements of society. As I might be if I was playing in the Mall...
It's great way to work on new songs, to meet people, and to make connections with stall holders and other artisans.
The challenge of playing for three-four hours straight without resorting to music sheets or repeating songs has also been great. I've been dragging out originals and covers that I'd forgotten I wrote/knew - what a hoot!
It's not just coins and notes that find their way into the guitar case. Last week I also got a couple of bottles of (delicious) organic wine, a bag of apples, and an iced coffee.

I hope this continues for a while yet. It's been fun so far.

Monday, August 20, 2012

(Camel) Train Man

Cavorting in the Northern Territory. A nice thought, when one is sitting in a freezing house in the middle of the coldest time of the year. Frontier Land - where long trousers are only worn on special occasions and, even then, generally unnecessary.
As I was daydreaming of Darwin, three words came to mind - warm in August.
The lure of a mid-winter's break ultimately proved overwhelming, so last week I set off on The Ghan on a northern adventure that would take me and my guitar not only to Darwin, but also to Alice Springs and Katherine. Two places upon which I'd never had the pleasure of inflicting myself.
I had to reacquaint myself with train-life, but a few familiar faces helped to smooth over the logistical challenges.
I had three or four gigs every day on the train; harder work than it sounds, really. Some nights I was playing from 6.00 until 10.00, with maybe a half-hour for tea. Not that I am complaining - it's a great experience. The passengers generally love it, and it gives me the opportunity to shift a few CDs, and accept the odd free drink. I've had some great conversations with amazing people, and listened to tales of triumph and tragedy. I also get to eat like a king, albeit in a rather rapid-fire manner. Nice one.
In addition to the joy of playing music for people who enjoy it, I also get to visit other parts of the country. This time I got to go on a camel ride, cruise Katherine Gorge, visit the Winnellie Hotel, have a beer at Bojangles, climb Billy Goat Hill, enjoy a Pale Ale at the Katherine Hotel, and enjoy a shared bathroom facility in my Darwin digs. Oh, the glamour!

Eighteen onboard performances later, I emerged back in wintry Adelaide, needing a few days sleep.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Drunken Poet

Last week I was in Melbourne for a couple of days, exchanging one cities' bleak, cold weather for another's. On Wednesday night I went down to the Drunken Poet in West Melbourne for a pint or two. Its unassuming doorway is on Peel Street, just across from the Vic Markets. Like The Phoenix in Canberra, this is a pub with more than a whiff of the Emerald Isle about it, but hasn't stooped to the level of embarrassing cliche as typified by franchise "Irish" pubs. This is probably about as real as it gets, outside of Ireland. Along with The Phoenix, of course...

Unlike the raucous, vibrant Phoenix, the Poet is well-ordered and quiet. It turns out to be a great place to sit and catch up with a mate, Guinness in hand. The live music isn't overbearing, so shouting at each other isn't necessary. Unless we fancy an argument. The service is friendly and easygoing, and the patrons are happy just to be there, leaving the outside world at the door. And why not?

First time there, definitely not the last...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Car crash

I'm walking home, enjoying the pale winter sunshine. Headphones on, enjoying the latest ECB podcast. I cross King William Street at the usual spot and proceed up to the Gilbert Street corner, just across from the old Brecknock (lying, soulless bastards).
Parklands, suburbs, home. Not long now.
I punch the pedestrian button and then look east to see if I can go early. No chance, there's a shiny white car hurtling towards me. I look back south towards where I am headed. What's this, another car entering the intersection? A shiny BMW. One of these two drivers has obviously not seen the red light. Oh dear. Immediately I am awake to the situation - an imminent vehicular altercation - but providence will play a greater role than anticipation & agility here.
The cars collide at speed. As luck would have it, both cars turn my way once they have smashed into each other, perhaps looking for a genuine kill. This is what I get for swearing so much. Should I have worn my brown trousers?
I'm standing there, looking, ready to leap into the air to avoid being offed. Just like Bruce Lee would. The white car smashes into the pedestrian light eight feet away from me and it pole-axes the innocent structure into the ground. The Beemer comes to rest about six feet in front of me. There's petrol, coolant, and bits of car everywhere.
The area is suddenly filled with people. People wanting to help, those who are curious, and a gaggle of cocksure boys with terrible hair and poorly-fitting suits wanting to take iPhone snaps. I just stand there. I eventually help one of the drivers to a safe spot and then stand there, again. What the f*ck just happened?
Normality slowly resumes, as people ask me if I'm OK, and I ask the same of myself. Not dead. Good, then. I wait around for about three-quarters of an hour, give the police my number and a quick statement and then head home.
I am still tingling as I ring Lynn and tell her that dinner might be a little later than expected.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Journal extract.

...A thin band of orange creeps across the horizon. The day comes. Venus and Jupiter, the two brilliant planets in the eastern sky, begin to fade. Their time has come and gone.
I am already showered, shaved and dressed. I slept OK, but rose early.
In the red lounge car, it's just me and one other. Everyone else is clambering for heart-starting coffee in the next carriage.
I say "hello" as I pass my fellow traveller and he replies with an eastern European-flavoured salutation. He begins to cough. And cough. The sort of cough you are rewarded with after smoking a packet a day for fifty years. I think he might be about to die, but he just keeps coughing instead. The coughing only stops once he's used the communal sink in the refreshment spot as a spittoon. Nice.
Three shows yesterday; pretty much three and a half hours back-to-back. Rock and roll.
And the world races by...

Monday, June 25, 2012

All manner of things...

It's been a busy few weeks for this ol' boy. A few gigs here and there, with most going well. Writing, recording, playing, composing, admin (oh the admin!) - there just aren't enough hours in the day.

The first train trip worked out fine, and I am off again tomorrow for another Cody Pomeray-style jaunt to Sydney and back on the Indian Pacific. Well, at least that's how I like to think of it...

Last Monday I finished my recording of Wish I Was You for the next SCALA CD. I recorded it at Rob Pippan's studio and it has come up a treat. A nice heavy sound, without being too big; a bit of a departure from most of my recent studio efforts. I hope listeners enjoy it.

I've been tidying up my own home studio; my dream is to turn it into a small space that I can spend hours in, immersed in good vibes. Shabby Road Studios, the place I wanna be.

I haven't been to too many gigs, but I did get to see Steve Poltz for a second time. Shame it was the same night as Ralph McTell's last-ever Adelaide concert but I'd already organised the Poltz gig. I did pick up some Ralph McTell vinyl the other day though, as a sort of compensation. Three albums, all mint condition, $3.95 each. Plus I bought The Runaways' Queen's of Noise vinyl through eBay.

I had a poem published in Spur Magazine, and have been entertaining notions of self-publishing a book of poetry. Vanity, anyone? Perhaps that will have to wait for a little while. My write-a-song-each-month challenge is going OK, but I need to do some more work there.

This weekend I have a gig at the Daniel O'Connell in North Adelaide and I am also part of a Battle of the Bands judging panel. But I'll get the train ride out of the way first...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday's child

I'm sitting in the lounge car, having enjoyed two cups of tea and a rather joyous sunrise. There's a few other folks dotted around the carriage, all trying to act normally in this slightly surreal environment. I haven't had much sleep. It was a rockin', rollin' ride for most of the night.
As far as my location goes, I'd say I was somewhere northwest of Menindee.
I've just heard that we were delayed in the night so we'll be late into Broken Hill and only staying for 20 minutes. So much for an early morning constitutional.
My shows have been well-received, and I've actually enjoyed the performances much more that I was expecting. I can feel, though, that I am getting tired; a good sleep tonight, in my own bed, is something to which I aspire.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sydney rain...

Here I am, in Sydney again. Grey and wet.
The weather, not me.
The CFMEU are demonstrating, I'm drinking coffee while I catch up on a few things, and the world is turning.
I think I'll have a look in the markets, that will keep me dry. The colour, the industry, the irresistable tat... There's a pretty good book store up the road too. Lunch with Ken in an hour. A meeting of the Yours Truly brains trust. I wonder what we will come up with?
Back on the train at 2.30, and back to Adelaide. Singing for my supper, as it were. I ended up doing two shows last night; the late gig was a hoot. Made me miss breakfast though.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

In Broken Hill

Just a brief stop on the way to Sydney. It's been an interesting trip so far. This afternoon's groovy gig was sandwiched between stints in my train cabin, where I rehearsed and relaxed.
I watched the state roll by, turn into New South Wales, and tonight we climb over the Blue Mountains on our way to Sydney. But not before I give another performance...
I thought I'd pop into The Musicians Club in Broken Hill, and see a wealth of music-related ephemera displayed on the walls. Maybe get my picture taken next to a life-sized statue of Jimmy Little or something. Not a chance. The place was filled with pokies and eateries. No sign of music anywhere, unless you count the annoying jangling of the machines as music. I certainly don't.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Into the wild grey yonder.

Bags packed.
Guitar packed.
Off I go.

A new adventure, saluting the collective spirits of Jean-Louis Kerouac, Samuel Langhorne Clemens and Woodrow Wilson Guthrie.
This time tomorrow I will be in Sydney, and this time on Thursday I'll be home again. Six performances in front of me.
I've never been to Broken Hill before. Hope it's not midnight there when the train stops.

Let's get it on.

Friday, May 18, 2012

This is what we wanted.

Too tall to join the band...
The main reason we went across to Sydney was to see The Chords, very probably the best band to emerge out of the English mod-revival era. Was it really 30 years ago? Anyhow, The Chords weren't really mods, and didn't present themselves as such. Well, not as obviously as some bands, let's say. They released one cracking album and a handful of decent singles before falling apart in true rock and roll fashion.
Older and, quite possibly, wiser, they have reformed and have been playing occasional gigs here and there for a little while. At the beginning of May they arrived on Australian shores for the first time.
The two Sydney shows comprised a great Saturday night gig at a place called Notes, supported by Australian mod legends Division 4 and new boys from Perth, Hurricane Fighter Plane. All three bands were fabulous. I felt so lucky to be part of it.
With only one album and few other tracks in their canon, it was easy to anticipate The Chords' setlist. The crowd got what they wanted, a set brimming with melody, mayhem and a modicum of middle-aged modernism. There was no Spinal Tap-inspired jazz odyssey, although we were treated to the new single, Another Thing Coming. As expected, the highlight of the evening was Maybe Tomorrow. Rousing, to say the least.
The second show was on board a Sydney Harbour cruise ship, and it went off big style, despite a surprisingly low attendance. The locals should probably be ashamed of themselves. It didn't seem to worry the band or the punters though. Hurricane Fighter Plane once again provided the support, although they went on second. Rumour has it that The Chords wanted to play first so that they could party with the rest of us as the boat took in the sights of beautiful Sydney Harbour. It was much the same setlist, and was met with the same degree of approval.

On the Friday night we'd seen a short set from POPE - Chris Pope's band when he's not a Chord. An unexpected bonus! The Mayday Dreamers also played, and kept us entertained with a mixture of mod and power pop classics.

As with most great times, the weekend ended too soon. Within 18 hours of stepping off the cruise, I was back in Adelaide, reflecting on a great trip east. Such is life.

I brought back some great memories, albums and singles by The Chords and POPE, a DVD, a t-shirt and a gig poster. I'm just a big kid really.

Bravo The Chords, come back soon!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Gadding about in Sydney

During the daylight hours of our Sydney trip, we behaved like proper tourists. We walked across the bridge, hung around the Opera House, and went to Luna Park. We also strolled, in beautiful autumnal weather, through the Botanic Gardens, visited Mrs Macquarie's Chair, and spent some time at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
We caught a ferry over to Manly, enjoyed a wander to the markets, had a coffee, and came back a few hours later.
We had some good meals, and a few pints. One particularly welcome thirst quencher went down at The Orient, a pub I'd visited the best part of 20 years' ago. Twenty. I'm getting old, of that there is no doubt. I had another Guinness at "Sydney's Oldest Pub", Fortune of War. They had a fellow there singing and playing crowd-pleasers on his acoustic guitar. It reminded me of the job that awaits me on Great Southern Rail.
We stood on the 45th floor of our hotel and admired the views.Because we could.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mods Mayhem 2012 - Sydney

Sydney is a great place to visit. Like London, you can entertain yourself for days on end without really having to dip into the coffers too deeply. There's so much to see and do for free, provided you are fit enough to walk. Also like London, it is very easy to drop shedloads of cash, should you be in the mood...
We had four days and nights up there last week, combining the Sydney Mods Mayday events, a couple of gigs of my own, and some easygoing tourism.

The trip was book-ended with Yours Truly performances. The first was a Thursday show at the Kogarah Hotel, where Ken and I played a 40-minute set sometime towards the end of the evening. We'd had our regulation one rehearsal, and it was encouraging to see how well our songs held together on stage. I think we went OK; the punters seemed to like us.
Our second show was on Sunday at the Union Hotel in Enmore, where we finished off a three band performance afternoon. Steph Miller's Winterstation and the Urban Guerillas - Ken's other band - preceded us, and rocked the place. We were just as noisy, but without the drums and bass. At least for the first part. Sensing that the weekend revelers wanted some more rock and roll, we invited the other Guerillas up for a four-song set that featured a rendition of Werewolves of London which went down well. I also played Paul Weller's Wild Wood, for the first time ever. It can be a bit underwhelming when your cover versions are the high points of the evening, but such is life.

Despite my fears, my guitar made it to Sydney and back via QANTAS and Virgin without getting smashed up. Which was nice.

Yours Truly have now played Sydney. Tomorrow, the world!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Visions of John...

I went to see The Bootleg Beatles play the other night. I've been seeing their ads in the back pages of Mojo and Uncut for years now, and I've read that they are supposed to be the best Beatles' tribute band I am ever likely to see.
Guess what? They were.
I've seen the Beatnix, The Fab Four and quite a few others over the years; all good, but these guys were better.
The first half of the show concentrated, logically, on the early Beatles, and reminded me of the 1964 Melbourne Festival Hall show. Without the screaming.
As I watched, I became lost in the performance. I knew I wasn't actually watching The Beatles, but I forgot I was watching a tribute band, if that makes sense. It was more like watching a big screen video of The Beatles. Between songs, it was all too obvious that this wasn't them, despite the banter being pretty good. But while they were playing, though, I was caught up in the whole thing.
The second half of the show dealt with the so-called 'studio years' and, although most of the songs were excellent, I didn't feel the same connection. I think it's because we have a wealth of early live footage available to watch and become familiar with, while there are only a few film clips and one rooftop concert covering the second half of The Beatles' career. This gives us a more flexible mental template upon which to apply performances of the early songs, whereas the later stuff has only ever been seen/heard once, if you get what I am saying. It makes nuance more congruent and tolerable in the presentation of the songs from those heady days of Beatlemania.

I'll shut up now before I mention aeolian cadence...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Musically speaking...

Steve Poltz, wondering who the stalker is.
In the time that has passed since my Fringe gig, I have managed to keep myself very busy musically, without actually performing anywhere...
I have set myself a target of writing a song a month in 2012, and so far I am going OK with it. Three months down, three songs completed. It doesn't sound like much, but it's a huge improvement on my recent output. I entered one of these songs - What in the World? - into the "Songs for Social Justice" songwriting competition, run by the Alistair Hulett Memorial Fund. It didn't win, but they sent a nice letter thanking me for my efforts.
I have been learning and rehearsing Paul Weller's Wild Wood, a song that I have wanted to do live for ages. I am trying to get a few covers polished and safely stored in the memory banks, as there are going to be times when they come in handy, even for a committed player of originals like myself.
I have managed to acquire a couple of beautiful guitars. An Epiphone Sheraton II and an Epiphone Les Paul Ultra. Now I just need to find the time to play them. I also bought the new Paul Weller album and have been flogging that incessantly.
I went along to Thebarton Town Hall, my favourite venue, to see The Specials. What a brilliant night that was!
I've submitted a few poems to a new magazine that was looking for contributions. Fingers crossed on that one. A few of my journalistic efforts have been published; It is always nice to see the fruits of one's labour appear in print. I'll be a famous writer yet, I tells ya!
As part of my SCALA civic duty, I ran a songwriters' workshop that featured Rob Pippan; founder member of the Zep Boys, professional songwriter, studio owner, ace guitarist, and loads more besides. It was a successful evening and a great way to kick off our 2012 series of free events for Adelaide's songwriting community.
I ventured once more into the studio and recorded one of my songs, Wish I Was You, which is destined for release on the next SCALA album.
In April I went and saw Steve Poltz, who was every bit as good as I'd hoped he'd be. I have his very enjoyable Live at the Basement DVD, so I had an idea of what to expect. I got all that, and a little more.
Despite the paucity of performance, there are gigs in the pipeline. I have a couple of Yours Truly shows lined up in Sydney next weekend so I have been preparing for that. I have also received some exciting news that could see me performing to brand new audiences around the country. Can't say too much yet though...

So, yeah, lots going on really.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Starry, starry night.

I took my 2012 Fringe bow on Thursday, when I did my thing at Shimmering West as part of SCALA and Higher Ground's Fringe performance showcase.
In the days leading up to the gig, I felt flat and low, and I'd just about convinced myself that I didn't want to play. Grumpy and knackered, a lovely combination. The mood prevailed right up until the time we left the house for the show.
From the moment I got to the venue, however, I felt better.
I sat and listened to Annette Flanagan, as she played a few songs in front of a small but engaged crowd that had come to see her. People that I knew from Higher Ground milled around the square, soaking up the vibe. In the distance I could see Guy Masterson and a few others from the Centre for International Theatre, doubtless relaxing before the commencement of their evening performances. There was a mild buzz around the place, as people emerging from other Fringe shows, or waiting to get in, sat in the beautiful dusk to listen awhile. Others were just happy to be at Shimmering West for the duration, enjoying the weather, food, drink and bonhomie.
By the time I took the stage, I felt so much better. What a tonic this performing lark sometimes can be. I pulled a song out of the hat for a sound check and by the time we'd got it all sorted I was half way through. The song was going well so I decided to press on. So I unexpectedly opened with Where Did You Go? and we were away. The crowd seemed interested in staying, and I felt extremely comfortable chatting from the stage. I worked through a range of songs, choosing whatever I thought would match the mood of the crowd and the banter. I thought I'd have a crack at my brand new song, so What in the World? had its world premiere. It didn't sound too bad.
Day turned to night, and I signed off with Say Goodbye, wishing everyone well as we basked in the splendour of the full moon. I was genuinely, unexpectedly and quite gently urged to do an encore. I was scrambling for ideas but decided to finish with a version of Looking For Something.
The Shimmering West/Higher Ground/Art College/Light Hotel complex captures the spirit of the Adelaide Fringe perfectly. For me, it is the heart of the annual event.
I'd have to go back a long way to find a more enjoyable gig.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

in my studio

The pace of things lately has meant that I have been hot-tin-roofing from one thing to another with almost zero preparation. Without me realising, last Sunday arrived and afforded me less that 48 hours to write and record a song for the Alistair Hulett Memorial Fund's Songs for Social Justice competition. In addition, it was the end of February and I still hadn't delivered a February song, in line with my commitment to write at least one song per month in 2012. The pressure was on.
I'd been bouncing a few ideas around in my almost empty skull for a while, so I dragged together a song called What in the World?
By Sunday night it was pretty much done, lyrically and musically. Simple, but quite effective, in my opinion.
Monday was spent reacquainting myself with Shabby Road Studios, and recording the song. Performer, arranger, engineer and producer. Piece of cake.
I got to use my Telecaster on a recording for the first time, which was nice.
I sent the song off just after tea on the Monday evening, relatively happy with how it ended up.

Instant Karma, baby.

Friday, February 17, 2012

last night's gig

I played at Higher Ground last night. I think it was my first gig of the year.
I'd made the decision earlier in the week that I was going to play a set that didn't include a single song from my A Drop in the Ocean album, just to see if I had enough other songs to do the job.
A Drop in the Ocean
was a sort of bringing together of all my recorded work to that point, so I was keen to see if I'd written enough decent songs in the decade following its release to fill a short set. Pathetic really; such is the paucity of my songwriting in more recent times...
Some of the songs were a bit of a stretch, but I managed to acquit myself with a modicum of aplomb. It was refreshing to please a (small) audience with a bunch of songs I don't always play, certainly not collectively.
The set did include my latest composition, I Never Noticed, and I just about managed to get it out without breaking down. Good on me.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

on the radio

I did a little spot on Radio Adelaide last Saturday. It's usually a pleasant way to spend a little earlymorning time, talking about oneself and playing a couple of songs, and this experience was no different.
Not a great deal of talking this time around though; what I did have to say was squeezed between two performances on the 12-string. I think the broadcast was running behind schedule. Suits me, I don't generally have that much to say in any event. Well, I guess I do, but who wants to listen to the ramblings of a vaguely intelligent but definitely different individual?
As well as playing Shining Light, I debuted a brand new song called I Never Noticed. I blogged about this song, thinking it was finished, over a year ago. Well, after numerous rewrites and rearrangements, it is written now.
I think I'll play it live next week. I hope someone notices...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

in the studio

I spent yesterday afternoon back at Red Brick, putting what I hoped to be the finishing touches to the Yours Truly album. I was dog-tired when I got there, and there was no glamour or romance about the process. Anthony is a great guy, and the studio is one of my favourites, but there's no joy in listening to the same short phrases being repeated, ad nauseum, in an effort to get them sounding right. All I wanted to do was finish...
On and on we went; I guess it was a credit to us both that we didn't just pull the pin and have a beer. I still felt like crap, but discipline was my co-pilot.
Whatever my feelings, it was with a great sense of satisfaction that I, some hours later, walked out of the studio with a finished and mastered CD in my bag.

Thanks, Anthony. Hopefully I'll see you again soon. Red Brick is brilliant.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

High Flying Noel

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I was in Melbourne. I went across, with a mate, to see Noel Gallagher play at The Palais Theatre in St Kilda. Sure, I could have seen him do a set in Adelaide at the Big Day Out, but the gig would have been of a much shorter duration and I would have had to contend with Soundgarden playing at the same time on the other stage. So it was off to Melbourne...
The concert was brilliant. A reasonably well-oiled and expectant crowd packed the sold-out Palais, and (It's Good) To Be Free welcomed us all to the show. After a couple of songs Noel invited everyone to stand up. Everyone did, and stayed standing until the gig was done. I guess you don't mess with Noel; even the mellow 45 year-old version knows what he wants, and expects to get it.
The set was evenly split between songs from the new album and timeless Noel classics, made famous by that other band. The High Flying Birds' album is great so I wouldn't have cared if he'd just done new stuff, but I was happy to hear Whatever, Talk Tonight, Half the World Away and the rousing Don't Look Back in Anger, a fitting closer.

Seemingly, the entire audience was happy to sing those last two out loud. Without being asked.

  1. (It's Good) To Be Free (Oasis)
  2. Mucky Fingers (Oasis)
  3. Everybody's on the Run
  4. Dream On
  5. If I Had a Gun...
  6. The Good Rebel
  7. The Death of You and Me
  8. Freaky Teeth
  9. Whatever (Oasis)
  10. Supersonic (Oasis)
  11. (I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine
  12. AKA... What a Life!
  13. Talk Tonight (Oasis)
  14. Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks
  15. AKA... Broken Arrow
  16. Half The World Away (Oasis)
  17. (Stranded On) The Wrong Beach
  1. Little By Little (Oasis)
  2. The Importance of Being Idle (Oasis)
  3. Don't Look Back In Anger (Oasis)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sweat Lodge

Hot. I am trying to resist the call of the air conditioner. Going solar has made me a bit more careful about using electricity from the grid. Perhaps too careful about using electricity from the grid. And the aircon chews heaps of power.
It's going to reach 38 today, and is tipped to be 37 tomorrow. Only 34 for the rest of the week though, so I'll be searching for my thermals.
I've tried to fight it today, but these brick houses are really just large ovens, and once they heat up they stay hot. The fans have done half a job, but not enough. It will be the air conditioning tomorrow, for sure.
This was a well-intentioned, but awfully sweaty, mistake...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Ginger Prince

Paul Scholes, he scores goals.

Welcome back.

Monday, January 16, 2012

One (almost) perfect day...

Yesterday, Sunday, was about as good a day as I've experienced in a long, long time. Most days fall somewhere within the 'satisfactory' and 'quite good, really' range but yesterday was just that little bit better.
I enjoyed a sleep in, rising around 7.30. Once I was cleaned, scrubbed and fed, I sat down to watch Manchester United beat Bolton without the usual levels of anguish and frustration. It made for a pleasant and easygoing start to my day. Long live cable...
As the morning wore on, it became apparent that most of my neighbourhood friends had gone away for the day. Certainly the noise-making elements were refreshingly absent. The locale was devoid of yapping dogs, screaming and yelling, power tools, doors slamming and the like. Just me and the birds, and the soothing sound of someone mowing their lawn, away in the distance.
As it was deadline day, I completed an article that is destined to appear in Australian Cyclist. I mowed my lawns (very quietly and quickly, of course) and cleaned out the fridges. I played some of my old Jimmy Reed vinyl as I attended to my chores. There's no-one quite like Jimmy. I did some cooking, and prepared some bruschetta with home grown tomato, basil and garlic. I watched a few episodes of Dexter while I enjoyed a bottle of home-brewed bitter beer.
The sun was out, the sky was blue, and a beautiful breeze blew through the open house. Every time I entered the hallway, I was met with swirling summer air coming from all directions. Beautiful.
I watered the lawn in the evening, and had a chat with the neighbours before spending some time sitting out the front with a glass of wine and the "new" Jack Kerouac novel, The Sea is my Brother. It's the first Kerouac I've read since revisiting Desolation Angels a few years back, and it was a great way to greet the dusk.
I finished my Sunday watching the Martin Scorsese documentary Living in the Material World, telling the tale of George Harrison's life. I saw more new footage/photos of George and The Beatles in two hours than I have in the last 20 years.

Peace and quiet on a Sunday. Please Sir, I want some more...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Back in the saddle

After a month of music, madness and merriment, I thought it might be a good idea to get back on the mountain bike. I was feeling doughy, slow, and old.
Yesterday, I rose at dawn, prepared myself, and left the house at seven. I didn't fancy climbing all the way up to Mount Lofty, not after the weeks of divine laziness, so I decided that Eagle on the Hill was a big enough climb for my comeback ride.
Two of us made the trip and, as expected, it felt a little more of a push than usual. I spent much of the climb sweating and panting. I could almost feel the mince pies working themselves out of my pores...
I was breathing pretty hard, but we made it to the top without too much pain or embarrassment. In fact, I felt better than I thought I would.
The downhill was an entirely different matter. I felt like I was flying.
By nine o'clock I was sitting in Luna Rosso on King William Street, having a coffee. Erm, no cake for me thanks...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Last gig of the year

Last night I saw off 2011 by playing an early show at The Dan. It was a stinking hot evening and, although the pub was air conditioned, it was hot and sweaty up on the stage...
I'd not been feeling 100% in the lead up to the show. I'd pinged my back on Boxing Day morning and had been relying on pain-killers for a few days. Whether it was the tablets, the Christmas excesses, or the heat, I don't know, but in the days leading up to Hogmanay I felt about as energetic as Jabba the Hut. Rehearsing wasn't easy, and I couldn't decide on songs or instrument(s). I was concerned that I might resemble a shambles come showtime.
As it turned out, I strapped on the trusty 12-string and harmonica, played a complete one-hour set of originals, and seemed to go down pretty well; especially with my friends who had braved the scorched-earth conditions and ventured out.
I enjoyed a few ice cold pints of Guinness afterwards, watching and listening to the other acts, happy that the job was done, and done to my satisfaction.

Bye bye, 2011. It's been real.