Music Odds and Ends

International Day of People with a Disability

December 3rd is the International Day of People with a Disability. How wonderful that my favourite song of 2016 is from the Paralympic Games. I posted this clip on my blog  a couple of months ago, but have to repost it to celebrate all the fabulous people who do not let their disabilities describe who they are.


Music Odds and Ends

Superhuman stories

You may have already seen Channel 4’s ad for the Paralympics…..if you have, watch it again, because it is worth it. If you haven’t watch it to be uplifted, inspired and listen to a fantastic song.

Now find out more……..

As Alvin Law says, there are no disabilities, just people with incredible talents!

[Thanks to everyone who taught me how to imbed videos. It worked like a charm. I think I was overthinking the whole process!]

Beckler's Botanical Bounty Music My art work Odds and Ends

The sad story of a little creature

The plant I am painting from my Menindee trip is Cullen cinereum.

To paint it I have to concentrate on it, learning about its shape, the way the leaves join the stems, the structure of the flowers and so on. I was intrigued to see this attachment. At first I thought it was the empty shell of a creature….

Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015

….so imagine my surprise and delight to see the next stage. It was not a dried, rejected casing, but the pupa of a ladybird! (This link explains the life-cycle of the ladybird.)

Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015

I identified her (hopefully correctly!) as the transverse ladybird, Coccinella transversalis. She will have to be added to my painting. She scurried around the leaves, hunting down little beasties that were lurking. Not that I could see them, but I know from microscopic work that there is whole zoo on plants.

Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015

And now to the sad part for the little ladybird. I didn’t think about her on the last day as I pressed my specimen and packed away my gear. So when I got home I was dismayed to find her, quite dead, tucked into the fold of my pencil case.

She certainly deserves her place in my painting.


The gift of music #4 — Dave Holmes

You may remember that I have a wonderful stash of music given to me on my birthday, and you also may remember that I am sharing those musical gifts with you. It is a long time since I have shared any, but I am getting back into the swing of it with two great CDs.

Great Ocean Road and Heartache Moon by David Holmes were gifts from Sue and Dave himself. And I have enjoyed them immensely, another wonderful addition to my listening.

David writes most of his own songs, creating songs that are heartfelt and entertaining. He is a Melbourne lad and, while his lyrics reflect that, they will fit anywhere. His music is rather bluesy and rhythmic. But it is his voice that draws you in. His website describes him as “Blessed with a Rolls Royce baritone voice”, one that is an wonderful combination of speaking and singing. Have a listen to him singing my favourite track from Great Ocean Road “Hold on tight”, which has the very wise words

The day-to-day gets in the way

Hold on tight to your dreaming

Some have country flavour too

I think my favourite of the two CDs is Heartache Moon, and my favourite song of all is the title track. Unfortunately I can’t find a clip to share with you. You will have to go to his website and buy the CDs, or check out his performance dates in Melbourne [Sunday 18th Jan at the Town Hall Hotel, Errol St, North Melbourne].

The website also has a great link to a very young Dave, in 1970 when he “won best new talent on Bandstand and released this track, “Denver Idle Man”, which got to number 8 on the XY top 4 chart.”

Melbourne Music

The gift of music #3 — Young Voices of Melbourne

You will remember that I have a wonderful stash of music given to me on my birthday, and you will also remember that I am sharing those musical gifts with you.

Out there by the choir, Young Voices of Melbourne was given to me by Deb. It is a very special CD for her because her daughter sings in the choir. “Nothing like a proud parent,” says Deb, “but choir sings very well.” She is so right.

The singing is sweetly delicious, as you would expect from a choir of young voices who are very well trained and obviously love to sing. As these things happen, not long after listening to the CD, I went to one of their concerts. As well as the YVM choir there were three junior choirs and the Exaudi Youth Choir. Beautiful and a lot of fun!

The programme notes tell me that choir members rehearse weekly in one of five groups, learning aural, music reading vocal and performance skills. That is a big commitment, and it seems to pay off. They have toured overseas a number of times and regularly perform in Melbourne.

Have a listen to them singing

All the songs on the CD are lovely to listen to, especially their version of “Waltzing Matilda”. My favourite is “Walking in the Air”, the theme music from the movie The Snowman. Sorry that I couldn’t find YVM singing it, but here is a snippet from the movie (and I think they sing it better!)



The Gift of Music #2 ~ Russell Morris

You will remember that recently I had my 60th birthday, and suggested that if guests wanted to give me a present, then music would be wonderful. Then I decided to share that gift with you, letting you know about the birthday album that  have been listening to.

Denise couldn’t make it to the Party, but she did send me love, and some CDs. 2 of them were the recent Russell Morris albums, Sharkmouth and Van Diemen’s Land.

If you are an Aussie of a Certain Age, the name Russell Morris will probably make you think The real thing. Well, his latest work is so far away from this. Both are wonderful blues music. I don’t think I am a blues fan, but then I wonder. A couple of years ago I went to the Blues Festival in Echuca and loved it. I wanted Dave Hogan’s Meltdown to play at my Party, because their blues music is fantastic to dance to. And then Denise sent me these albums. Maybe I do enjoy blues after all. 🙂

Both albums are rooted in Australian history, but you don’t need to know that history to enjoy it. The music is strong and gutsy ~ and the album notes in both fill in knowledge gaps.

At the beginning of the notes for Sharkmouth, Morris says that he had always wanted to write music about Australian characters, stories and legends, such as the boxer Les Darcy, the racehorse Phar Lap and the thug Squizzy Taylor. The “characters, events and moods” from the album come from 1919 to the 40’s, with the exception of Mr Eternity who was writing his chalk message, “Eternity”, on the footpaths in the 50s and 60s.

The Great Depression hit Australia very hard. One in three adults were out of work. “Blackdog Blues” is a general feel song about that time, and its intention “is to set up the mood for the album, one of listlessness, out of work, boredom.”

I did a little research about the album and found that it won the ARIA for ‘Best Blues and Roots Album’. Apparently its success took Morris by surprise. He originally only made 500 copies to sell at gigs. Late last year it had sold 60,000, making it nearly platinum! This is an interesting interview with Morris, where he talks about that success as well as his music.

The second album, Van Diemen’s Land, is my favourite of the two and takes a broader view of Australian history. (Van Diemen’s Land was the original white name for Tasmania.) There are songs about the paddle steamers on the Murray River, with the interesting aspect of what indigenous people may have felt, the shipwreck of the Loch Ard, Breaker Morant and the Eureka Stockade. He sings about the misery of prisoners sent to Van Diemen’s Land, the misery of the Islanders who were taken from Pacific Islands to work on the sugar cane, and the 1894 Shearers’ strike.

In this clip Morris talks about “Sandakan”, a forced march in WW2. Morris’s father was one of five men who escaped and were on the run for six months.

And a final clip, “The Bridge” from Sharkmouth. Whatever you think of the music, it is worth watching for the footage of the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

So I give Denise a big hug, and thanks for showing me that I may well be a Blues fan after all!


The gift of music #1 ~ Leonard Cohen

“I’m your man” is the first CD from my birthday present stash I have listened to. I promised that I would share, and what a stunning one to begin. Thanks Sue and Frank.

Hal Willner says this about Cohen on the album notes:

I was aware of him while growing up, but what I heard was like food that you spit out as a kid — though you knew it was good for you; you’d taste it again every few years, and eventually it became one of your favourite things to eat. His music has depth of emotion, passion, and humor that is entirely his own.

This sums up my reaction to Cohen. Although I loved Suzanne, it was separate from other things I heard when I was younger. Those other songs seemed to be dark and full of angst.  But thinking back, I never listened properly to his work. Once I started to really listen I recognised his emotion, passion and humour in the songs. Also I realised that many of my favourite songs are Leonard Cohen ones. It’s a bit like reading Shakespeare for the first time and noticing that so many of our cliques and sayings come from Macbeth and Hamlet.

“I’m your man” is from a movie of Leonard Cohen songs sung at concerts at the Brighton Dome, the Sydney Opera House and The Slipper Room in New York. So this album has an added bonus ~ it is others singing the songs too. I love cover versions. Each artist interprets a song differently and the good artists will bring out an aspect of the song that you hadn’t noticed before. And boy, these artists are way beyond good. Nick Cave, Teddy Thompson, Perla Batalla are there, as are some of the very talented Wainwright clan ~ Martha, Rufus, Kate and Anna McGarrigle. Cohen and U2 sing Tower song as the final track.

I hoped that the CD gifts would encourage me to expand my music beyond what I know. Wow! Has this done that! I have listened to all the tracks a few times now, immersing myself in Cohen’s words and music, and really listening. But I have also explored some of the artists and found other songs and performers to enjoy and want to hear more of.

Anthony is one. I knew nothing about him, and still know very little. His version of If it be your will is an immediate standout on the album, haunting, simple, complex. Don’t just take my word for it; listen to this clip.

I have found other works of his, and am interested in finding out if I want to listen more. Really listen!

Martha Wainwright is another performer I need to listen to more. This album illustrates how different artists bring out different aspects of a song. Her version of Tower of song is the first track; the last is Cohen singing it. Both wonderful, but you wonder if it is really the same song. This is Wainwright’s version.

And to finish off….the amazing Nick Cave, singing “I’m your man”. Nick Cave, now there is someone else to listen to. I have started something that I am going to enjoy. I wonder what I will discover with my next CD.

Do you have a favourite Leonard Cohen song?