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!

Rock Star Man – Day 28 NaBloPoMo 2016

Today I had one of those days.

Really, it was only a moment – but it was so good. It was one of those things that make everything worthwhile, renews my love for the wonderful people I work with and reaffirms my faith in my teaching practice.

I had a session with my friend Callum out at Oak this morning and I decided to introduce him to a guitar slide. What happened was just sublime.

You might remember that I coached Callum through his debut performance back in August and since then, we’ve continued to work, improving and exploring his music. It was a light bulb moment for both of us and we managed to film it – and Callum has given me permission to put it out here to share with you all. Huge thanks to Chris Rule for help with this today.

Here’s “Rock Star Man” ❤

 

Sunshine at Last! – Day 16 NaBloPoMo 2016

I’m really tired tonight.

Last night I went out and celebrated Meraki Management’s 1st birthday, had a drink (yes, only one!), listened to some wonderful local, original music and caught up with lots of friends – it was lovely! There’s a fabulous vibe in Hobart at the moment valuing live music, which in many ways is bucking against the global trend. Long may it prosper!

This morning I slogged away at more weeding and prepared another area for tomatoes. It was overcast but very muggy, and as the morning progressed, the cloud burned away and it ended up being a really lovely day. But tomorrow is forecast to be increasingly windy and 29 C (84 F), well above average for this time of year.

I hope all my baby beans survive but this is perfect for the raspberry bed, which is looking like a wonderful (and early) crop this season.

With overnight temperatures only predicted to go down to 11 C (52 F) and no rain likely until next Tuesday, I’ll probably be up early and out watering everything before it gets too hot. Although I live close to central Hobart and have mains water, I like to use rainwater out in the yard. I’ve plumbed a gravity feed line down the the back corner and the greenhouse and I have a small electric pump that provides mains pressure. It’s a good system but I’m continually tweaking it. Over the coming months, I’m planning to set out extra lines off the gravity feed with soaker hoses that I can turn on and off as needed. It’s a big job and quite fiddly, so I’m happy to take it one bed at a time.

Tonight I had the house to myself and being tired, I decided on a very simple dinner. A piece of fresh fish, a little butter and everything else from the garden. I cooked off chopped garlic in the butter, added a sliced mushroom (from the compost bags again!) and once that had softened, I pushed it aside and put the fish in. Once I turned it, I tossed in shredded silverbeet and sliced fresh snow peas. I covered the pan for a minute or two while I got a plate and cutlery ready, serves the veggies first and put the just cooked fish on top. It was delicious!

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Tomorrow after watering, I have to finish off my last assignment for my current unit. I decided to put myself way outside my comfort zone and prepare a draft for a children’s picture book. Maybe that’s what I’ll write about tomorrow for NaBloPoMo.

Sometimes I don’t know why I do this to myself!

Goodnight friends, be well and I’ll see you tomorrow ❤

Making Room – Day 10 NaBloPoMo

This will be a short post as I’ve got to get ready for an early set tonight as I mentioned here a couple of days ago and I’m still not absolutely certain what songs I’m going to play. Something short and vitriolic feels kinda right at the moment.

While the world seems to be coming to terms with the US election, I gardened hard this morning. I picked heaps of snow peas, and there’s loads of new flowers and peas coming on. It’s been a wonderful crop and hopefully with last another month or two.

I also ripped out a couple of giant Italian Parsley plants that are going to seed and stripped them for use in the kitchen over the next few days. Then I got stuck into the broad beans in the next bed and picked the largest pods I could find and shelled them into a bowl while the chickens looked on. Again, there’s still heaps of flowers and new beans forming, so this is going to be a good crop. All the parsley heads and bean husks got chopped up and fed straight to the chickens, who are giving us loads of eggs this year.

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I’m the only one in the house that likes broad beans as a fresh vegetable but they dry very well, and we go through a lot of dried beans each year in curries and stews to make meat go further. I’ve laid out what I imagine would be a meal’s worth and I’m going to see how long it takes for them to dry out. It could end up being a dehydrator job but at least these will have a start.

Also, I gave up waiting and decided to lift the rest of the garlic. Some of it is a little small but it is what it is – and with the parsley, I want to make that other great Italian garnish – gremolata.  I’m going to experiment with reconstituting some of my dried lemon zest and adding that instead of buying fresh lemons. My lemon tree is flowering but no fruit until next year.

And the big reason to harvest these plants is the amazing realisation that I’m running out of bed space! I really need the room to plant out more beans, tomatoes and zucchinis. It’s hard to imagine that I’d ever run out of space in this yard. When I arrived here (7 years ago next month) the back yard was a huge mess. Many of the fruit trees were diseased and some were dying. What is now the greenhouse was an overgrown shed that had suckers from a cherry tree growing inside and most of the yard was a jungle, with weeds almost as tall as me.

This year’s garlic was in the first bed I made. I remember the soil was impoverished, dry and hard, with little worm activity. After all my layers of compost, mulch and crop rotations, today it’s black, rich and alive. When I first started here it was easy to get overwhelmed by all the mess and everything that needed to be done, but over the years I’ve created 6 more beds plus the greenhouse and got it to the point of producing almost all our vegetable needs and some of our fruit year round. One is dedicated just to asparagus, another just to raspberries and one is in the permanent home of rhubarb and acid-loving berries.

Now I go down the yard and still get overwhelmed by everything that needs doing – and because of all the rain the weeds are out of hand again and the grass is tall – but that’s good for the rabbits and there’s food to pick while I consider my options 😉

Today’s cute bunny pic is a double feature. Bernard Black has undoubtedly grown

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But this is my British Giant doe, Boudica. She is a lovely girl, very good tempered, but HUGE – especially when compared to BB!

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I love the “one ear up” pose from both of them 😀

I’m off to get ready to play music. Go gently and be well friends ❤

Greenhouse Action & Musings – Day 8 NaBloPoMo 2016

Today, I’ll start with an apology – there’s no gratuitous cute bunny pic in this post. In truth, I forgot to take one today. To Bernard Black Bunny’s fans, I promise I’ll make it up in tomorrow’s post!

I went into the city today for lunch, catching up for coffee with a dear friend and calling into my favourite bookshop, but this morning after I fed the animals, I had a little bit of fun in the greenhouse.

I grow strawberries in pots so I can move them around the yard throughout the year and I’ve been picking fruit steadily for the last few weeks. But one poor plant really wasn’t looking great a couple of weeks ago, so I took it into the greenhouse, fed it some of my home made worm juice fertiliser and promptly forgot about it. What a lovely surprise this morning when I discovered this luscious beauty and more on the way 😀

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A few weeks ago, I planted my precious stash of chilli seeds for the coming summer. While I usually keep a few Cayenne and Rocoto in the greenhouse to overwinter, most get treated as annuals, so this is a big deal for a chilli-lover like me. I was thrilled to see the first of this year’s crop poking their heads up this morning. The weather has been downright cold at times in recent days, so I was worried that I wasn’t going to get any to germinate, not uncommon if temperatures are too low. I’ll post some pictures in the next couple of days.

This winter was so mild, there’s more chillies than usual held over from last summer, including a few Poblano Ancho and I’m really pleased the Cayenne are starting to flower already.

After, I went into the city and (not for the first time) I was quite astonished at the difference between my oasis here and being in town. All the more so that it’s a 10 minute drive or a 25 minute walk from here to central Hobart – it’s not like I like in the bush or even an outer suburb.

I had a great time with my friend but my last stop was the best – catching up with Richard and Mike at Cracked & Spineless New and Used Books. I love bookshops but this one is really something else. It’s not uncommon to bump into friends there, it can be hard to navigate around the shelves depending on how many boxes of books have arrived that day, sometimes you’ll even see the shop’s stick insects fornicating in their tank (I have photographic proof of this!) and for me it’s almost impossible to keep track of time once I set foot in the door.

And while I always come away poorer in monetary terms, I’m always enriched by the books I buy. Today I picked up a new sci-fi thriller, The Tourist by Robert Dickinson, and a very important book from my early adolescence, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.

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My father gave me a copy of this same printing when I was probably 11 or 12 and it quite literally changed my life. It caused me to think about making a smaller footprint on this fragile planet, something I still strive to do to this day but above all, it brought me even closer to my father. I’m looking forward to re-reading it and remembering my dad ❤

Finally, for those of you in southern Tasmania, I’m playing a short set Thursday night at the Waratah Hotel in Murray Street. I’m opening the wonderful UNLOCKED show that, now the days are getting longer (and sometimes warmer), is back to being a weekly event. I’m really looking forward to playing 😀

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A Star is Born! (And a Sunday Gig)

Back in August (before life got seriously weird) I told you all about my friend Callum, who I’ve had the privilege of working with the last few months. Well, I’m extremely proud to say that his debut was the most fun I’ve had in ages and a resounding success!

Meraki Management runs a beautiful gig each Thursday called UNLOCKED at a The Waratah Hotel here in Hobart. It’s designed to nurture new music and let emerging artists rub shoulders with more experienced performers. And it was the perfect forum for Callum to strut his stuff.

The lounge was packed with Callum’s wonderful family, most of the staff from OAK Tasmania and his extensive network of friends. And he didn’t disappoint! Sadly, I haven’t been able to get any good footage to share with you all – it was one of those “you had to be there” moments.

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At the end of his set, he thanked his family and friends, turned to me and said “oh yeah, thanks to my assistant”. In a true Wayne’s World moment, I bowed down – not worthy!

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It was a night to remember! After we played, Callum worked the room like a real pro, making sure he thanked and talked to everyone who came to support him. Something many performers neglect, but it gives an idea of the sort of person he is, polite, kind-hearted but with a wicked sense of humour. He even got hold of a marker pen and signed people’s wrists. Like most folks there, I was the proud bearer of an autograph. It was sad when I finally washed it off ❤

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In the meanwhile Callum’s back at rehearsal. We’re getting more songs together, looking for gigs and planning a recording in the near future. This is incredibly exciting news and I’m really proud to be involved in bringing this young man to a wider audience.

And for those of you in southern Tasmania, I’m playing at another Meraki Management show tomorrow, Noteworthy at Customs House Hotel, down on Hobart’s beautiful waterfront. Also on the bill are two friends, Matt Dean and Ian Murtagh and it’ll be great to catch up with them too. It’s the first time I’ve played a full set in quite a while and I’m looking forward to it. Playing music is like gardening for me – great therapy 😀

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More Goodbyes

Hello friends,

It’s been a rough month. In fact, it’s been a really rough year and it’s only April. I confess I’ve been putting off writing this even though I know the act of doing so will be therapeutic.

In late February, my friend Jeff Weston passed away after a long illness, then another elderly friend passed away in early March. Late last month, my friend Leon Turner passed away peacefully up in New South Wales. I met him in the early 1980s through his youngest son Michael, who is a truly gifted songwriter and still the best rhythm guitarist I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.

Leon was cheeky, irreverent and had a delightfully wicked sense of humour. I’m sad that I couldn’t make it up to his memorial service but he will not be forgotten by me and all who knew him.  Vale to The Cuddly Man ❤

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Leon Michael Turner 1930-2016

Then, last week my friend Kevin Gleeson passed away. Although he was a handy bass player, Kevin was best known in music circles across Tasmania and interstate for his fierce passion for live local music. There are very few musicians in the original scene statewide (and across all genres) who wouldn’t have come across Kevin as a sound engineer, gig promoter, or enthusiastic punter who just loved going to live gigs. He helped many of us any way he could and was always thinking of new gigs he could set up to showcase new acts as well as keep people like me with paid shows. He didn’t do it for any monetary gain, he did it because he loved the music and the people who made and performed it.

Last week, I went into 936 ABC Hobart with Katie Warren (another incredibly talented local muso) and we talked on air about Kevin and what he meant to us. It was undoubtedly one of the hardest gigs I’ve ever had to do. (Huge thanks to Jo Spargo for making this link available.)

Perhaps the most difficult thing about Kevin’s passing is how sudden it was, although he had been seriously ill for several years. And unlike the other folks I’ve been mourning, he was relatively young – a similar age to me. It hammers it home how precious and fleeting this life is. Vale my friend, may you rest easy ❤

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Kevin Gleeson 1960-2016 [Photo by Mark Young]

As I said recently on social media, I don’t place much store in concepts of any kind of afterlife, but I hope that Kev is having a great time at The Big Gig in the Sky, dancing forever with his beloved, who also left us way too soon a few years ago.

So, my mantra is live your life well, with honesty and integrity and love unreservedly.

Life is short.

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