Super Saturday – Day 25 NaBloPoMo 2017

Oh what a day!

The Superstars played a set at today’s Christmas Lunch for OAKPossability participants and I was very proud of us all. We played a selection of our favourites, that showcase people’s skills, a few festive numbers and a couple we’ve written. And ended up doing encores of audience favourites!

Playing in a band is quite a tribal thing, and it’s evident that we’ve made connections with each other that are lasting. This was particularly clear today. Two of our group, Kathryn and Sally have been away sick for a few weeks and turned up today with their families – ready, willing and able to perform. As a professional musician, I couldn’t have asked for more commitment than these people gave ❤

Me and my lovely friend Sally (aka “my gorgie one”)

Although we’re a month early, it was a lovely festive function and we had heaps of really excellent Xmas food to eat. (So much, I couldn’t eat dessert!) It was a very warm, muggy day but we finally got some brief respite with a thunderstorm and a little rain this afternoon.

All round, I think I’m a very lucky woman – I live in a lovely part of the world, I’ve clean water and good food to eat, and work that sustains me, letting me work with dedicated staff and fantastically talented participants ❤

Time to Sleep – Day 16 NaBloPoMo 2017

Well, that was a ride and a half!

I’ve just submitted an 1800 word short story and 500 word exegesis for my Speculative Fiction assignment and I feel like I could sleep for a week. Unfortunately, there isn’t time for that!

Tomorrow (Friday here in the southern hemisphere) is the day I get to play music with The Superstars at Oak Tasmania, and we’re deep into preparation for a private function we’re performing at next weekend. These men and women are simply fantastic and I’m truly blessed to be able to write and perform with them ❤

Maybe I’ll be able to post some photos next week of our performance – I always love action shots 🙂

Meanwhile, there’s lots of gardening that needs doing over the weekend, a jam session at a friend’s place to go to and lots of new movies to see. I’m particularly keen to check out the Kenneth Branagh Murder on the Orient Express, Killing of a Sacred Deer, Loving Vincent and Jungle. Let me know if you’ve seen any of these films, I always like to hear other people’s opinions 🙂

I’ll leave you with a wonderful discovery I made in the greenhouse yesterday – the first Rocoto chilli flower for the season ❤

I Saw the Light – Day 14 NaBloPoMo 2017

I Saw the Light (2015) Directed by Marc Abraham.

This is a movie I’ve been meaning to watch for quite some time – yes, it’s been in my pile of shame for too long! – and I’m really sorry I left it so long to give it this a first viewing.

Hank Williams had a tragically brief life but meteoric career and penned songs that remain classics of the country and western genre. He also inspired artists such as Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan and can be seen as something of a stepping stone in popular music from the 40’s across to the post-war boom in record sales and interest in celebrity.

As much as I enjoy Tom Hiddleston’s diverse body of work, I seriously wondered if he could pull off portraying Williams but he really delivers the goods – who knew he could sing as well! He is matched by Elizabeth Olsen (also on leave from MCU duties) as his first wife Audrey, and the chemistry between them on screen is great. It is shot with great care and obvious love for the material, (kudos to DoP, Dante Spinotti) which gives the whole film an appropriately melancholic air. This was a passion project for director Marc Abraham, who started working on this as far back as 2009 and it is lovingly crafted in a very traditional bio-pic manner.

However, I can see why this was a box office flop. Almost the entire film is taken up with Williams’ relationships and his ongoing battles with alcoholism and painkiller addiction. While that’s undoubtedly the story behind his death at 29, I would have loved to have seen a closer, critical examination of his music and songwriting.

A beautiful looking film, with a stellar performance by Hiddleston – good but not great.

Breaking the Mirror – Challenging the Male Gaze – Day 9 NaBloPoMo 2017

I had to turn down a gig recently and not because I was sick or too busy – but because of how the show was being promoted. I objected to the poster.

This isn’t something I would normally write a blog about but it really rankled with me and got me thinking about my politics and having the strength of my convictions. I want to be clear I’m not going to reproduce the image here out of desire to preserve the anonymity of the venue in question and also because I don’t want to look at it again or subject any of my friends to it!

The proposed poster depicted a beautifully coiffured and made up young woman, wearing a bustier, stockings and heels, lying on a wooden floor. She has her head turned to one side, exposing her throat while smiling towards the camera, holding a black guitar across her body. For those of you who know me, it’s not really the kind of image that comes to mind from my music!!!

It was also an image redolent with all the properties of the classic “male gaze”. The gaze was a means by which academics (and practitioners) could examine and analyse visual culture, classically advertising, television and film. The seminal essay with respect to the male gaze remains (for me) Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, which was first published in 1975. And if you’re interested, you can read it here.

I tried to explain to the female proprietor that I thought it was an inappropriate image but sadly, she took it as a personal judgement and quickly became very defensive, blocking me on social media. That saddens me so much. It takes two to make a dialogue and I wasn’t attempting to personally attack her, merely point out that there are some people in the broader community who might find the image offensive. Here, I’m particularly thinking of the parents of young people I teach music to – is this the kind of industry they want their kids working in?

But ultimately, there’s two things that this woman didn’t take into account. Firstly, I don’t need her small show. After all these years of professional arts practice, I’m confident enough in my own self-worth to live without it. And ultimately, John Berger had her pegged way back in 1972 when he wrote,

“Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves.”

(Berger, John 1972, Ways of Seeing, p. 42)

As always, I appreciate your thoughts and comments on the matter. Is this something that matters to you in your arts practice? And, how do you deal with this kind of entrenched, normalised objectification?

Here’s a picture of my favourite native mint bush (Prostanthera rotundifolia) that flowered recently. It’s such a calming image ❤

Round leaved Mint Bush

Sick Day Blues – Day 5 NaBloPoMo 2017

Well, best laid plans and all that jazz……..

I was supposed to go out to the wonderful MONA today for a special lunch with a whole bunch of female musician friends but no such luck 😦

Last week, I got a Whooping Cough and Tetanus booster shot from my GP because there’s a very small and extremely precious brand new member of our tribe I want to hang out with. My doctor warned me I might have some pain from the Tetanus part of the deal and it would hang around for a few days. Yep, he was right on all counts – but I’m sure it will be worth it!

When I got up this morning I had trouble lifting my arm above my shoulder, so hanging the washing out was pretty hilarious – not! Combined with very little sleep last night, I feel utterly wrecked today, so I’ve decided to rest up so I can make music tomorrow with my friends at Oak Tasmania.

Meanwhile, after wrestling with the clothes, I found some lovely bits around the yard that made me smile. I live in a fairly moist climate and there’s always water in the garden for bees and native birds. But because I breed rabbits, I try and avoid mosquitoes as they carry some truly awful diseases. So, I got some tadpoles from my friends Josie and David and was really pleased that they’re thriving in a tub I eventually plan to turn into a wicking barrel. I spotted some fat little chappies this morning, feasting on mosquito larvae 😀

And over near the chook house (aka as Frankenhutch) I drank in the heady perfume of lemon and lime flowers ❤

The lime in particular is thriving, after surviving the Tasmanian winter and after the flowers have gone, I plan to leave a couple of flowers and see if we can have a few fresh limes next year.

I’m resting up now, dinner’s in the slow cooker (Beef and Bean Curry) and I’ve movies to watch and uni work to do.

See you all tomorrow!

No One Can Run – CD Review

 

Last week, in between snow and spring sunshine, I had the opportunity to attend a CD launch by Hobart-based musician, Matt Dean. I’ve played quite a few shows with Matt over the years, perhaps most memorably, a Butterscotch Pony single launch in Launceston a few years ago. It was lovely to catch up with people, not have the pressure to play myself and hang out with friends, especially Matt.

This CD, ‘No One Can Run’ is (I think) Matt’s third solo release in about as many years and there’s a profound step up here in every way. I think the six songs on this disc are musically his best pieces so far, lyrically far stronger, very tastefully arranged and the whole benefits from the solid production of Mike Raine. I must also mention that Matt is offering download cards as well as physical CD’s and has produced a wonderful, limited edition booklet to go with this (which he keeps telling everyone, isn’t an autobiography), but gives further insight to the songs and Matt’s back story.

Thematically, the songs are all intensely personal, documenting a relationship breakdown, but I didn’t find them maudlin. Rather, there’s something really genuine in Matt’s words that reaches audiences and speaks (to me at least) about love, loss and learning lessons as part of the journey.

While the recorded tracks have added instruments and they’re well played, I love hearing Matt perform live – just him and acoustic guitar. There’s an immediacy that really displays the man’s skill and the depth of his message. I liken it to a painting in the naive art tradition. On the surface, there’s a direct frankness and simplicity – but if you look a little deeper, there’s complexity, pain and joy.

You can find ‘No One Can Run’ at Matt’s Bandcamp page but I’d recommend contacting him via email to see if you can get the CD, download card and booklet package, especially if you don’t live here. Worth doing!

We’ll Keep On Going – Remembering Tony Cohen

Back in the dim, dark reaches of the last millennium, I was making music with a great bunch of folks here in Hobart. Together with Michael Turner, Dan Tuffy and Mel Fazackerley we made up Wild Pumpkins at Midnight.

Through Michael and Jo Volta (Stevens back then), we managed to get in Tony Cohen’s ear and he agreed to work with us on our first recording. It was a frantic, funny, at times frustrating but overall, an incredibly rewarding experience. Tony was insane, shambolic, intense – but literally amazing to work with. And for a new band, we knew how lucky we were to have him for the project. Working with him also led to meeting Chris Thompson, his great friend and the other very prominent engineer/producer in my time with WPAM.

These first sessions with Tony though, became the self-titled, bright yellow EP, with the little dancing figures in the bottom corner. People still talk to me about that first recording and even after 30 or so years, I’m proud of it. Looking (and listening) back, I can see how good Tony made us sound, and for that fact alone I will always be grateful.

We worked with Tony again over the years, hung out, made some questionable choices but always ended up falling about laughing courtesy of that razor-sharp Cohen wit. But, like so many people from those days, I lost touch with Tone over the years as other relationships, kids, physical distance and different lives got in the way. Occasionally Jo Volta would let me know what he was up to and I was always thinking I must catch up next time I’m in Melbourne.

And of course, now it’s too late and that makes me very sad.

It was only a brief moment in Tony’s stellar career, but I’ll leave you with my favourite track from that first EP.

 

Vale Tony, and thank you ❤

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