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.



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?

Melbourne Uncategorized

The Garden of Ice presented by Forest Collective

Forest Collective, in their own words, is

a not-for-profit multi disciplinary arts organisation made up of creative, young professionals who strive to enrich audiences through innovative, collaborative, experimental and traditional art forms. We start 2014 with the support of volunteers, donors and sponsors who assist us in presenting local and international music, art, dance and theatre that provokes and compliments Melbourne creative community. 

My nephew, Evan Lawson, who I have mentioned beforeis the Artistic Director and CEO. He has drawn around him a very talented group of young musicians and artists, who love to experiment and explore more unusual aspects of the musical world.

Last night they presented a beautiful concert, The Garden of Ice. They performed it in the Salon, at the Melbourne Recital Centre. This one of Melbourne’s most prestigious spaces. And they made the space resonate with stunning sounds.

The outside texture of the Melbourne Recital Centre (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
The outside texture of the Melbourne Recital Centre (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
The Melbourne Recital Centre (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
The Melbourne Recital Centre (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
Inside the Salon. The walls are constructed to enhance the audio of the space. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
Inside the Salon. The walls are constructed to enhance the audio of the space. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)




















Letters and patterns carved into the wall. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)
Letters and patterns carved into the wall. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)

The advert for the programme puts the performance like this

Youthful Melbourne-based multi-disciplinary organisation, Forest Collective present new works alongside influential composers inspired by the mythology, music and the natural beauty of Scandinavia.

Jean Sibelius and Claude Debussy, known as peers and colleagues, led to the commission of a new composition’s from Forest Collective Artistic Director Evan Lawson and peer, Lisa Illean, who have been strongly influenced by their recent time in the Netherlands and Finland. Contemporary Scandinavian composers, Lars Ekström and Kaija Saariaho will also be featured embodying exquisite contemporary northern European music.

Forest Collective will be joined by Melbourne Soprano Rosemary Ball for a walk through this wintry garden.

The six pieces were all evocative.

While I was listening to the title piece, The Garden of Ice by Lars Ekstrom I was thinking of those of you who have been writing living through and writing about the cold winter in North America this year. In the music I could hear the wind whistling through cracks in the barn wall, the snow crunching under thick boots and ice breaking from frozen branches.

Evan conducting (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2014)

There were beautiful pieces by Sibelius and Debussy. However, one of the strengths of the collective is that it is prepared to be adventurous. There was the world premiere of Lisa Illean’s And the black sea, Breaks….. as well as Evan’s flute solo Sikinnis No 1. It was delightfully played by Naomi Johnson.

Forest Collective are a very polished group of young, experimental musicians. Their music is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is dramatic and interesting. Like all those who work in the arts, they need funding and/or other support. If you can help out in anyway, go to their website. I will leave you with a link to a video of their programme launch. At the end are the dates of the performances still to come.


Odds and Ends


Lately the quiet streets of our little part of Blogger World have been electrified by the sounds of the 70s and 80s. Some of us have been trolling Youtube to find clips of bands that take us back to these times and places. Then there have been squeals of delight as others remember too.

Pondering that time has reminded me of what a huge influence Countdown was on those of us who are Australians of a Certain Age. For those of you who aren’t either of those things, Countdown was a weekly TV show which showed video clips and live bands. It had a huge following and was a ‘must see’ show for so many of us, running from 1974 to 1987. It was very influential, promoting many Australian and international bands, such as Blondie, Cyndi Lauper, INXS and Skyhooks.

It was well produced, but rescued from being too slick by the host Molly Meldrum. We loved Molly because, while he obviously had an encyclopedic knowledge of and passion for the music industry, he bumbled his way through the show. His interviews were classics in how not to do an interview. There’s a good example of it in the clip below, where Kim Wilde is totally confused by his question.

The clip is the first part of the 10th anniversary show. If you are not an Australian of a Certain Age you may not realise that the person at the beginning of the clip, being interviewed by the journalists was John Gorton, an ex-Prime Minister.

Adding to my Countdown thoughts was a funny short story I read recently — Everything I know I owe to Countdown by Jessica Adams. (It is in a very lovely collection Kitchen table memoirs. More of that some other time.) Adams recalls her addiction to the show in ways that made me laugh.

I felt nobody in the family really respected my obsession with Countdown, though…..Even worse, my father’s colleagues in the rural fire brigade would insist on ringing up in the middle of Flying Lizard interviews. How could people be so stupid as to start a bushfire in the middle of Flying Lizards?

Sometimes my mother would even call me into the kitchen during Countdown to help with getting dinner ready. It was all too much.

Adams even links Countdown to unexplained natural events.

Project Jonah volunteers, like my mum, rescued beached whales, which seemed to wash up on our beaches more in the 70s than in any other decade — possibly because of the unearthly sounds reverberating deep below the ABC studios every Sunday night on Countdown.

Could the Ted Mulry Gang have been responsible for the mysterious, en masse arrival of confused marine life? If not them, then certainly Hush.

Not sure about whales, but it did have extensive influence over the music scene, and our lives, for many years. The Wikipedia entryis an interesting read, and fleshes out that influence. If you read it, read to the end to see what happened to the tapes of the shows. It was vandalism! 🙂

What are your Countdown memories? Come on, if you are an Australian of a Certain Age you will have them! Share!


Odds and Ends

Meeka’s Music Challenge

Colin threw down the gauntlet to Meeka, who threw it out to us. Metan picked it up. Now here are my offerings. The challenge was to blog about the music from your favourite decade. I don’t really have a favourite decade. Music comes to me from different times and styles, from classical to country, and from a range of sources too.

However, to be reasonably true to the challenge, I have interpreted it as music that reminds me of a period in my life. It’s around the mid 70s. I was involved with a chap who loved music, collected it, listened to it, remembered it and spoke about it. Never have I  been so immersed in music. We went to hear bands in pubs, including Skyhooks, and we listened to tapes in the car as we travelled the long distance to our Queensland holidays. Countdown was new and exciting. Everyone in the shared house would gather round the (new) colour TV to watch. I remember the stir Abba created with their Mama Mia video clip. Those lips! Was it the first we had seen?

So here are some songs that take me back to that time. (It was an interesting experience going down the wormhole of Youtube to find these. Links to forgotten bands and singers made it difficult to choose just these. There may be a Part 2.)

The first I thought of was Al Stewart’s The Year of the Cat, 1976. We owned the album and I loved looking at the album cover to see how many cat references I could find. I thought he was a one hit wonder, but it turns out he has produced 15 albums! Enjoy the flairs and hair in this clip. Good sax solo too.

I remember the first time I heard Joan Armitrading. We went to the Sunbury concert — Santana, Fleetwood Mac. It was great, but my standout moment was hearing Down to Zero playing as we arrived. I asked a friend who it was, and I thought they said “John Armitrading”. This one, Love and Affection, has stayed with me through the years, and stopped me wallowing in tears and self-pity many times. Again, a fabulous sax solo, and I just love the deep voice in the chorus.

Boulder to Birmingham has also stayed as one of my favourite songs, and Emmylou Harris one of my favourite artists. This clip is from a later period. There is no sax, just Emmylou’s clear and beautiful voice, supported by guitars, mandolin and harmonies.

Then Bruce Springsteen burst onto our turntable. This clip of Born to Run captures the energy and the power of the band. And yep, there is a saxaphone! Not the solo of Jungle Road, but still pretty damn good.

Now, to calm us all down…Gordon Lightfoot was another who provided the soundtrack to my life then. If you Could Read My Mind Love takes me back there.

I couldn’t leave this journey without a Bob Seger. He always reminds me of a housemate who had a crush on a friend of a friend because the friend looked like Bob Segar! She did keep a pet duck in her room, so maybe her view on life was a bit skewed. Anyway, here is a much older Bob, with a surprise guest. And yes, by chance, there is a saxophone solo in it!

Thanks for following me on my indulgent nostalgia. I would love to hear of your favourites. Leave me a comment  🙂