Tuesday, April 18, 2017

PATTI SMITH AND HER BAND PERFORM HORSES



Is there anyone on this planet cooler than Patti Smith?

Ummm, no!!!

I sat in my seat, watching the State Theatre Sydney fill up. People from all walks of life were eagerly taking their seats.

Is there anything more exciting than entering a theatre and watching it fill up prior to a gig?

NO!!!

It is my favourite thing to do, take my seat, sit back and watch, feel the anticipation rise and rise. It's palpable and the intensity is inexplicable.


The choice of music prior is always fun, and this was no exception, a lovely mix of punk and 60s. Iggy's The Passenger played, and bouncy bubbly tones of the classic added to the inferno within the theatre.

And the lights went down.

And the band started to walk out.

A huge backdrop of that famous Mapplethorpe pic, the cover of Horses, showing a gorgeous, young, and feisty Patti unfurled.


People gasped...you could actually hear that.

And then the squall really started, Patti walked on stage and boom, standing ovation. 

I burst into tears.

It was too much, and too perfect.

I sat and composed myself and they ripped into Gloria and I felt my heart and soul and stomach collide in some sort of euphoria unlike anything I have experienced in a long time...if ever.

She owned the State Theatre, unlike anyone had ever owned it.

She sounded amazing musically, the band were tight.

And it was pure joy to behold.



I had no idea what to expect, I do love her music, but really I am more of a fan of Patti Smith the person, as opposed to Patti Smith the musician. I know her music well, and know it is seminal and important. I like her voice, but know full well - like Dylan - it can be hit and miss.

I guess I really fell in love with her when I read Just Kids a few years back. A more stunning book I have yet to read. Her words spread like lyrics or poetry across the page, and the subject matter of her time in NYC with Robert Mapplethorpe in the late 60s and early 70s was delectable.

And with that book it seemed her star shone again, an aging doyen of the punk scene, an almost biblical figure, leading the world with her simplicity, her politics, her feminism, her beauty, her knowledge, and her no fucks given attitude.

"Take me now baby, here as I am"

So when the tickets went on sale, I knew I had to go. But no one was keen to come with me and I was bereft.

But it was like Patti spoke to me and told me to wake up to myself and I bought a single ticket. I'd treat myself to a few days in Sydney around the event!

And so I did.

I had forgotten what a great seat I had selected, tickets had been purchased so long ago. In that middle mezzanine section of The State Theatre, about 5 rows back in the middle on the aisle. I pretty much looked over and down at Patti.


And so, back to the concert...Gloria rang out, loud and wild, sharp and strong.

And morphed into the funky Redondo Beach, and the Jazzy Birdland, finishing up with Free Money.

Patti didn't speak much between these tracks, she was on a rhythmic roll, unlike any I had seen before!


She made a little joke about, that was Side A, now you take the record out and turn it over and pull the arm out, etc etc. Now here is Side B and boom, straight into Kimberly.

Next was the tale of Break It Up, a tribute to Jim Morrison that came to her in a dream. It was wild and romantic and crazy and sexy.

Land and Elegy followed, with the later - a tribute to Jimi Hendrix - including added names to roll-call her beloved dead including Ramones, Prince, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, Lou Reed and of course her beloved Fred, who she still thinks of as her boyfriend.

8 songs and my mind was blown, the band were superbly tight she was a mix of poetress, goddess, rock and roll superstar, and punk doyen. Perfection.

She talked some more and then launched into Dancing Barefoot.

More...there was going to be more...

Oh yes there was.


A dude in the audience told her that was the stage Prince did one of his final concerts from.

Patti was like, we like Prince, we know a Prince song we haven't played it in a while though...the band conferred.

She was a little nervous, better to fuck it up with love than not give it a go she said and they did a lovely hypntoic version of When Doves Cry. Yeah, some of the words/verses got mixed up, but the dead on delivery made up for that. Patti's version was well worth hearing.

From that they went straight into Lou Reed's Perfect Day, and oh how perfect it was.


Because the Night and People have the Power, and they left the stage, it was almost 2 hours. The majority of those on stage were 69/70.

Somewhere in there, they asked us to sing Happy Birthday to Iggy (Pop) for his 70th birthday. They turned their backs and a stage hand came out with a phone and taped us all...what a delight!!!!


Of course the crowd wanted more and after a few minutes of applause and shouting, the band came back out and launched into the most punk, kick arse version of My Generation you will ever hear. It was incredible, Patti on the guitar for the first time this evening, working on feedback and reverb, and breaking strings as she blasted her way through the song.


She held the guitar up and announced this is the only weapon you will ever need!

Indeed Patti, indeeed!!


They finished up with Rock and Roll Nigger, gracefully bowed and left the stage.

It was just over 2 hours worth of entertainment, front and centre.

And I was gone.

In a world where we don't have a lot of older female role models, Patti shines a light for us women wondering how we will fare in later years. There are no fucks given, she is herself and that's that. She is tender and caring, honest and still blazing trails. She believes in love and peace and goodness.

She was brilliant!!

So glad I didn't pass on this and headed down solo!


Sunday, April 16, 2017

NEWCASTLE WRITERS FESTIVAL 2017

The 5th annual Newcastle Writers Festival may have been the best festival so far. The program was a great mix of big stars and fascinating unknowns. 

As a Librarian and a lover of books, writing, words, and reading I was well in my element. But a festival like this is something else, it blows your mind with ideas and things you hadn't previously thought of. Or maybe you had been thinking of but it takes you in directions that hadn't come to mind yet.

Yep, just sitting in a session and taking in all the interesting and intellectual information, and ideas and thoughts the panelists, whether writers or readers, have to say. That is pretty much my idea of heaven.

I'm a deep thinker, a conversationalist, and a dabbler in writing. I have many projects going at once, most I keep to myself. I find festivals like this a great place to add to my long list of ideas, and to blow open ones I have been sitting on but not quite done much with. I choose my sessions carefully to gain these outcomes.

As soon as the following years dates are announced (at the end of the current festival) I block out my diary for that weekend! Then when it becomes known I list in my diary the launch date and patiently await the program so I can go through it with a fine tooth comb. I do the same for SWF.

I swooned at the 1-2-3 punch of Leunig, Roxburgh, and Moss this year. But I also was drawn to many of the free and unknown sessions.

So the time came to head to the beautiful Civic Theatre for opening night with Michael Leunig and Caroline Baum. We sat through the interesting and important opening night speeches. This gorgeous festival is the baby of Rosemarie Milsom, and these thank yous are indeed important for her and for our community involved in the set up of such an amazing weekend. It's their Oscars!


Over the years each opening night has been great, but National Treasure, Michael Leunig was something else. It lifted the evening into a stratosphere that may be difficult to top next year. But maybe I am biased, I have loved Leunig a long, long time.


In a time that is fraught with unknowns, and political unrest like now, where the news is a constant force of things that make you (me) stabby, people like Leunig stand out and just make you feel better.


His musings, philosophies, poetry and truly genius cartoons show a man with an unusual and stunning brain. A man who is gentle and kind, profound and philosophical, melancholy and thoughtful, whimsical and wonderful. The world could learn a lot from what he says and what he writes.


I felt my soul fill with love and my heart warm by listening to his view on the world and life. It was a great start to a great weekend.

Then, of course, every Saturday should start with Richard Roxburgh, cheeky and intelligent, and showing us there is a lot of Rake in Richard. He spoke about his writing, his family, travel, the latest play with Cate, his love of libraries...



Wait, what!?! My heart grew enormous, thinking how can I love this man anymore than I already do!? He was generous in his love of libraries, although they could be quieter, lol!!  This is clearly a tuned in and clued up dude!




He was cheeky and generous and knew his power of appeal without being a dick about it. Why can't all men have this ability of realness!?!

I then had a couple of hours break before my next lot of sessions. I checked out the Art Gallery exhibits nearby, went for a walk, indulged in Popolo Gelato, and bought a new pair of shoes!

And then I was back for 4 back-to-back sessions, all of them intriguing and interesting.

The first was In Harm's Way, exploring the impact of violence. It had Suzanne Leal, interviewing Michael Sala (I have just finished his latest book which was really good), Sarah Armstrong, and Emily Maguire - who I fell in love with. I love her no nonsense sass and her fierce intelligence. This is a topic that is important to me and a project I have been working on for a while, but getting nowhere, so I like to hear how others approach it, it helps me move a long a little more. Such important topics take time and should not be written about thoughtlessly.


After that was the amazing Steven Amsterdam talking with Caroling Baum about his new book, The Easy Way Out, about assisted dying. I cannot wait to read this book about such an important topic.


Rebellious Daughters was the best of the four, with Lee Kofman (glorious lady) interviewing three of the authors she choose for the book she edited called, Rebellious Daughters. Caroline Baum, Leah Kaminsky, and Susan Wyndham all recalled being asked to contribute, and how they drew stories from their past to be included. It was funny, sad, and poignant.


Musical Notes with musicians/novelists Peggy Frew and Holly Throsby chatting to Anneli Knight about the change from writing lyrics to their first novel, juggling the writing with real life, and where to next. Holly finished the session with a lovely acoustic song.



After another small break, I caught up with friends and we headed to Tara Moss in conversation with Tracey Spicer.

This was a fantastic session where both women were fierce and formidable and truly wonderful role models. Tara was amazing and kind and genuine, and a more intelligent woman I've yet to meet. It was all about the sisterhood, equality, and feminism, and most importantly having your voice heard.




Sunday was less full on with three amazing sessions, starting with Ashleigh Wilson talking to Sarah Johnson from Newcastle Art Gallery about his amazing work on Brett Whitely. I have this book at home and cannot wait to commence it. It is a really balanced and true reflection on Brett, the man and the artist.


The middle session was Two Worlds: the relationship between heritage and identity with Deng Adut, Roanna Gonsalves, and Alice Pung talking to Ruby Hamad. What a fascinating group of people and important words to be listened to. The key theme, simply executed by Deng, was you don't want refugees, don't have war. So bloody simple, yet so far away...frustrating!


I finsihed the weekend with the wonderful, The Importance of Women's Voices with Emily Maguire, Sara Mansour, Tara Moss, Tracey Spicer, and Jane Caro. What a superb panel of inspiration. Stand up and be heard was the clear message and when someone cannot...pass them the mic!!!!



You learn so much from weekends like this and honestly I am still processing al I have learnt.

The main things I took away was: have a voice, have a go, stand up and be listened to, everyone deserves their say, the world should be impacted less by our differences and indeed brought forward by them, get rid of war, share our experiences, listen to others...especially those different to you. Be kind to others, you will always learn from other people's experiences, open your heart to love and kindness.

The other thing I love about the festival is the sense of inclusion by others you meet. I always go solo, so I can do my own thing but usually meet friends for key sessions. However, I am never alone, I run into many, many people I know. Or have conversations or exchange looks of knowing with those sitting near me, people I have never met, but who are kindred spirits.

My three favourite exchanges of the weekend were as follows.

I overheard Tracey Spicer in the bathroom, prior to her conversation with Tara Moss chatting to an acquaintance of mine. She was a little anxious, I came out and my friend said I would be there. I smiled and said I would and I couldn't wait as I knew they both would be wonderful. She smiled a little, put at easy, to know someone as amazing as Tracey would have nerves made me realise we are all the same, no matter how popular you are!

I also ran into Rosemarie Milsom on the Sunday, she looked surprisingly relaxed and happy and was keen to hear my experiences. I was happy to share, she seemed relieved to hear a good story. I get that, you want the people to love what you put out there, and we do. We do so very very much!

My final exchange was not one of words, but one of a knowing glance. I walked out of the Art Gallery that Saturday morning, happy and smiling, as Michael Leunig was walking in. I so desperately wanted to say something, hug him, ask for a pic, but I did not. There is something about his lovely soul that I just didn't want to bother, we exchanged knowing smiles, and for me, that was better than anything i could have asked for. A smile from my whimsical hero.

And so my brain is overflowing, my notepad full of more ideas, my soul satisfied, and my heart full to the brim. Until next year, or at least the SWF, where I will do it over and over again!


Monday, April 10, 2017

MARCH UPDATE

March began with appalling singing and ended with joyous singing!

Our lovely twitter group had a Tweet Up at The Gallipoli Club Karaoke night. I’ve been singing on and off all my life, so I was kinda excited. But Karaoke is a much difference experience to real singing and coupled with my usual nerves, I was pretty bad. Yet, refusing to be defeated, I gave it three shots and improved marginally as the night progressed. But I guess the whole thing about Karaoke is, it’s not meant to be pretty. Having said that, there were some great performers within our group, and it was such a fun night.

I have been looking for an appropriate for me choir for years now and mid month one finally turned up. A great mix of popular, gospel, and world music with an emphasis on fun, and being casual, this was just what I was looking for. Also a lovely group of singers. It is a great leveller, beautiful for the soul, and just simply the most joyous thing I do!


I also attended my first Civic Theatre subscription for , the superb production of Jasper Jones. Having recently read the book, some of the more impacting scenes lost their edge a little, but it was still great storytelling and acting. The staging was simple but clever and worked so very much for this complex story.


At work I was flat chat and enjoying the cooler weather, I spent the month finalising recruitment for two new staff, and inducting and training them. A full team for the first time in ages, yes! We held the ever popular Cavalcade of Fashion, this time bridal gowns from 1880-1930. We were inundated with lovely seniors and these glorious gowns and accessories. I also commenced a TAFE based Leadership course, which I have found wonderful.




And I hosted Share the Story with Carol Duncan and Rosemarie Milsom at Toronto Library. What a great morning with fabulous women discussing intelligent and interesting topics.


My bestie returned after being away for 6 weeks, and it was so lovely to give her a hug and make sure she was ok. I headed up to my sister’s property for dinner, and met their new pets, two cute little piglets, Doris and Dottie. And I even fitted a date in mid month!!

On the health front, I felt really on top of the usual things that dog me, but I was super tired and exhausted, putting it down to the earlier months heat and lack of exercise I soldiered on until I found out I had anaemia! Back on the red meat and iron tabs I am getting there, slowly but surely!

I also had the extreme pleasure of seeing Martha Wainwright at Lizottes later in the month and a great literary adaptation of Dracula at the Civic Theatre.


I ended the month visiting lovely friends, T and J, in their new house, for dinner. What a great evening we had.

And as usual, the markets, loads of reading, watching, and listening, and some photography.




Friday, April 7, 2017

MARTHA WAINWRIGHT



I have missed seeing Martha Wainwright more times than I care to think, so I wasn't missing out this time!

I got the tickets for L and I last November and it kinda snuck up on us, in the loveliest way.

So we headed to Lizotte's anticipating an excellent evening.


Martha was excellent, but unfortunately we received the most appalling service when we arrived to find someone else sitting in our seats. How such a mistake could happen is bizarre, but it was their treatment of us during this situation that was incredibly upsetting. So much so, I ended up writing an email of complaint, which I hated, cause there is nothing worse. But nonetheless I did, and have felt listened to which is marvelous so kudos to them!

I love Lizotte's and have attended many a show there, mostly as it is the most perfect way to experience music and you don't seem to get the dopey drunken bogan fuckwits you seem to have at most other music venues. People are there to experience the music and well, the experience!

I will continue to attend Lizotte's but was upset this one annoyance almost marred a great night out.

Martha, however was magnificent. Light and breezy, friendly and sweet. 



And then her voice, hearing a recorded version of it is nothing, you need to hear Martha live, a little bit raw, but stunning and soaring.

She moved me to tears on more than one occasion. She did songs with just a guitar at the beginning and towards the end, and mostly with her small but tight band.

Most of the songs were from her new album, which I think is her best so far. It is a more cheery album, with many songs about her kids, one - my favourite - written by Rufus, it's a bit operatic, so I should have known.



But there was some old stuff, including my fave, Jimi, and a great rendition of Chelsea Hotel #2 towards the end.

She was happy and chatty (but not too much) in between songs, loving Australia, but missing her kids.


I could have listened to her forever, but before we knew it the night was over.

But the great thing about Lizotte's is they get the performer into the foyer to sell and sign merch. So I waited in line with all my CDs and got to meet her.


She was beautiful and sweet and kind and generous, she was pretty stoked I had all 6 of her albums, signed them all, gave me a hug and suffered a selfie!



My night was made, a good artist will always do that.

And despite an awful start to the evening, I drove home as you do late in the evening after a good gig, not much traffic, drizzly rain, your brain buzzing, your face smiling, and your soul totally enriched and lifted.