Monday, June 30, 2014


When I was a teen, I was a huge Lloyd Cole Fan. Those first two albums, Rattlesnakes and Easy Pieces, I practically wore out. He was suave, had a great voice, and used fabulous pop-culture references in his songs that appealed to my precocious side.
Oh yeah, it was Lloyd Cole and the Commotions...but who cares about them. For me, it was all Lloyd!
So the years pass and Lloyd turns up on Spicks and Specks, still looking suave...this was about 4 years ago.
And then a few months back I noticed Lloyd was touring and he was coming to Newcastle. I was keen to go, a few people were interested but it all fizzled out, and to be honest I forgot about it.
When I was at Henry Wagons I was lamenting about not going. The following night my friend A passed on a link to the Lloyd Cole fanclub on Facebook. The fans sell his merchandise at the shows for him and they had no one lined up for Newcastle.
I gave it a little thought (why? who can know!?!) and immediately joined the club and sent the coordinator a message. Less than an hour later it was all sorted, I had the gig!!!

And so, on a cold rainy Friday night in June, I headed to Lizotte's to take up my position as door bitch...I mean Merch Chick! (I have always thought I would be great as a door bitch)
Part of the deal was I got 2 tickets to see the show, and of course asked A, since I would not be there without her. But she was sick, so J kindly stepped in.
Leading up to the show was quiet, didn't sell a lot. But I saw a lot, watching the fabulous staff at Lizotte's do their thing, and people arrive excited for the concert. I do love to people watch and that made the evening move fast.

The concert was wonderful. Just Lloyd and a couple of guitars. He sounded better than when I first listened to him. Men's voices do get richer with age, and he was no exception. He was funny and self deprecating, telling cute stories in between songs. It was what I would call a powerfully quiet performance. He played everything you wanted him to play in two sets with an encore. I was thrilled.

But now, the big moment.
J & I hightailed it back to our spot and sold heaps of CDs, and Lloyd came out to sign. He asked if I was Cathy, and I said yes, he said thank you and handed me a beer saying he hoped I drank beer (of course!), he then said he had one for my friend, and I introduced J. J & I exchanged looks that I think can only be translated as Yay (C) and Squee (J) Lloyd just bought us a beer!!!
I continued to sell CDs, and J took over official phone photography for those that wanted their photo taken with the man. And he was generous, kind, sweet, and funny to each and every fan. What a great thing it was to be on the other side of the table observing the punters gush or try not to gush meeting their musical hero. Some bought albums and posters from way back, others traded stories of seeing him at other concerts (Brixton came up a lot!), and some had poignant stories of what he and his music meant to their lives. And he loved every minute of it, not in a hey I'm a star kinda way, but in humble, interested way.

This went on for about 20mins, and then things quietened, I asked Lloyd to sign my disc and have a photo taken. He was just lovely, we chatted a little, and we were thrilled to be there.
We said out goodbyes, grinning from cheek to cheek, and floated out into the rain.

Monday, June 23, 2014


I first came across Henry Wagons on Rockwiz some years back. He was great, irreverent, witty, and charming. His music a blend of bluesy, country, rock that grabbed you. So when we found out he was playing Lizotte's with his band Wagons, A, L, & I were there. I had the new album and really loved it. but I was not prepared for what a great gig it would be.

From the moment he took the stage we were in the palm of his sweaty hand. He embodied every note that came out of him, moving like a powerful beast to the rhythm of the music, inhabiting the stage with such a primal presence I found myself moving physically closer as the night wore on...well as close as leaning over the table I was sitting at would let me.

In fact his stance on stage reminded a little of Nick Cave.

But he was more accessible than Cave, talking with great humour between songs and just providing us with a genuine show on top of the music. His band were tight and loud, and best of all, they all looked like they were having the best time on stage.

He talked about his influences, Elvis, Springsteen, Willie Nelson...including his fabulous tribute song to Willie, which we all joined him on at the encore. Wiiiilllllleeeee!!!!!!

As he belted Willie out and encouraged us to join in, he came into the audience and jumped atop the table next to us, a grinding, sweaty, hunk of musical agility. The audience cheered and sang, we were with him and the band every inch of the way.

And then it was over, we left riled up, thrilled for the experience and a little sad it was over.

Wagons, and indeed Henry himself, are a band that defies description, suffice to say, you must go and see them live now!!!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Last Sunday afternoon I took my parents to see The Glenn Miller Orchestra at The Civic Theatre. What a splendid time we had!

I’ve always enjoyed music from the 30s and 40s, especially standards and swing/jazz. It wasn’t music that was played much growing up – ours was a rock household through and through, but I remember my grandparents playing or singing the tunes. I knew Mum would enjoy the afternoon but was surprised when Dad asked to come too. They had a ball, much leg jiggling and hand tapping was seen, and possibly the odd singing along and maybe a few tears. Or maybe that was just me.

The Orchestra itself was incredibly professional, not a bum note at any point, in fact the entire show was one of the most professional, musically, I have seen. It was not a large orchestra, about 17 or 18 musicians, but boy they produced a grand sound. Fat brass as I call it, bending those notes and knocking it out the ballpark.

The band leader was a knowledgeable chap, with a great voice and sense of humour. Added into the performances were two soloists, a man and a woman. He was pure Sinatra in sound and she was as elegant as Billie Holliday with the most stunning costumes and beautiful voice. Three young girls in their late teens, did songs a la The Andrews Sisters, and their harmonies were sublime, perfect victory rolls, the cutest costumes, and swing moves. Rounding out the group were 4 dancers, swinging and being tossed around the stage, again great costumes. All of this added to the atmosphere of the show quite beautifully.

But it was all about the music, songs either written by Miller or arranged by him and the orchestra. Highlights were Moonlight Serenade, String of Pearls, Don’t sit under the apple tree, At Last, and Rhapsody in Blue.

Rhapsody in Blue was unexpected, a Gershwin tune and the ONE song I cannot live without. If someone told me I could never hear that piece again, I think it’s over the cliff for me! I had no idea Miller had arranged such a sweet albeit truncated version of it, it definitely brought tears to my eyes.

And of course show stoppers like Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Chattanooga Choo Choo, and In the Mood. They brought the house down!

And then, there was the audience. Mostly an older audience, but I loved their reaction to songs, polite clapping, lots of gasping and ahhing as songs were announced, it was marvelous. And then there was this old guy, sitting along from us, who yelled out for a song very loudly at the end. That made me laugh. A good audience also makes a show, and this was a very good one.

Two sets that came in at just over 2 hours, we were thoroughly entertained and left the theatre, beaming grand smiles, humming those tunes, with a little skip in our step! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Freedman does Nilsson

When I heard Tim Freedman was doing a Harry Nilsson tribute show I was curious. A fan of both it seemed a good thing. No one I knew was interested, it's pretty niche I guess. Then a friend was going with other friends and there was a spare seat at their table. So despite a busy and tiring week I left work and headed for Lizotte's.
Tim has previously done a tribute to Randy Newman, another songwriter I adore. Nilsson had released a tribute album to Newman in the late 60s, so this was the genesis for the Nilsson show. And what a show it was.
His style and voice worked beautifully with the work. It was an interesting set, with a mix of Nilsson and Newman songs. The Newman songs did feel a bit cheaty, and he certainly didn't exhaust Nilsson's catalogue, but I love Newman so it did make me smile. Of the Nilsson songs, written or recorded, I knew almost all of them. Although some I had no idea that he had written.
In between songs Tim told stories of Nilsson's Nilsson. It mostly worked, but he needed to work on his accent. This he admitted towards the end of the show. Nilsson was quite the character with a tragic life, but in the short time he was here he made amazing music and got up to a lot of fun. He hung out a lot with other musos, including the Beatles. He indulged in a famous lost weekend with John Lennon and worked musically with Paul McCartney. I knew that Keith Moon and Mama Cass died in the same bed, but I didn't know that bed belong to Nilsson!
I could have sat all night and listened to the stories and songs. The range was impressive and who doesn't love Everybody's Talkin'? Freedman did a pretty good job on it.
The second set was all Tim and The Whitlams, a lovely mix of hits and the melancholy. No Hamburgers, but Louis Burdett always has me jumping!

So in all, quite the experience, I would have like more Nilsson and less Whitlams (been there, done that!).

Monday, June 9, 2014


May got off to a lovely start with a musical weekend.

A and I headed to Newcastle Folk Club on a cold Saturday night to see the stunning Kavisha Mazzello play. The club operates out of the Church Hall in Beaumont Street and it was as you expected. Lovely people, sandal count high (even on a cold night), and home made supper. The first half of the evening was members playing small sets, and it was mostly good. Occasionally it went down "A Mighty Wind" direction and took itself a little too seriously. Then Kavisha played a small set of her tunes, before coming back on after supper to sing from her new album of 18th Century Italian Folk Songs and they were divine, accompanied by her brother from time to time. Kavisha is a born storyteller, through her songs, and stories about the songs and her amazing life. We left warm and smiling, with our soul well and truly fed.

The next day I headed back to the same venue for the yearly Record Fair. Each year gets busier and busier, and the cool stuff gets less and less. I still managed a stack of interesting and weird, but couldn't stay long, so many of these dudes lack the personal hygiene needed for a crowded, small warm space, you need to leave for fresh air! I headed into Newcastle Farmers Markets for lunch and some fresh food for the week after.

As a new member of Newcastle Art Gallery, I was lucky enough to get a guided behind the scenes tour of the Gallery. You can read about that here.

I do love Eurovision, well not really the music, though sometimes it is good. I love the spectacle of it and well, taking the piss. And since joining Twitter, Eurovision weekend is always a blast, with Tweeps trying to outdo each other with witty commentary on the event. This year we managed to convince the fabulous Grain Store in Newcastle East to stay open a little later and show the Final on their big screen. And so a bunch of up dressed up Eurovision Style and headed in for drinks and laughs, we even had wind machines set up (fans). It was a great night, with truly wonderful friends, but I guess one of those times where you had to be there!

Work was busy during May, with my 500 Words Online Writing Group growing due to exposure the previous month at the writers festival. Our movie night was Raising Arizona, and we celebrated the Biggest Morning tea. Local artist Fern Martin came along to talk about her art and techniques and had us all transfixed. And my good friend, Susan Whelan spoke at Charlestown Library with her collaborator, Ursula about Children's imagination. So proud of her and what a great turn out for a cold Monday night. Oh and a computer upgrade AND year 7 visiting for their annual research visits!

Our Bookclub discussed Major Pettigrew, you can read about it in my May Reviews. My big concert of the month was the APIA Good Times Tour at the Civic Theatre with C & E.

I saw a few movies, Fading Gigolo with L, before seeing the new Jarmusch, Only Lovers Left Alive at Film Society. In between I had a lovely dinner at Cazador.

Fading Gigolo was a comedy/drama written and directed by John Turturro. He plays a florist who becomes an escort pimped out by Woody Allen, his friend, who is in need of money after he shuts down his second hand book shop. The film is like a Woody Allen film never made, a secondary/interwoven storyline involving Vanessa Paradis and Hissadic Jews is also fascinating. Turturro and ALlen are fabulous, and the supporting case of Paradis, Liev Schreiber, Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara is superb. It's more melancholy and dry wit than laugh out loud funny, but it's worth seeing.

Only Lovers Left Alive is a Vampire film of sorts. I say of sorts, as you don't see much Vampire action at all. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston are very old vampires, Eve and Adam, and are in their respective cities of Tangier and Detroit, languishing in darkness. Eve travels to Detroit - all night flights - and they meet again after centuries of being together. Plot is limited and set design is highly stylised and stunning. The dialogue is witty and clever, there are many rushes to get 'blood' which they drink rather than killing, and their laid back lifestyle is turned upside down when Eve's younger sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska) turns up. Supporting cast is Anton Yelchin, John Hurt, and Jeffrey Wright. I really loved this.

A group of us saw Romeo and Juliet at The Playhouse later in the month. Whilst only an amateur production, it was really good. With an all teen cast, the leads were luminous and just right, with stand out acting from the ladies playing Mercutio and Nurse. Yes, lots of females played men's characters, and were addressed as women and why not!?! The script was traditional but dress and movement on stage modern, and it worked. It was very enjoyable and I had forgotten how very physical and brutal the play was.

I've already written about my wonderful day in Sydney for the Sydney Writer's Festival and Vivid, and I rounded the month off locally with morning tea at Bella Beans with T, and lunch with R at Hippos.

Life is good, you only get one chance, you gotta have fun

And as always, much walking and photography of sunsets.


I didn't realise how much I had been reading, watching and listening to until I wrote up this month's reviews, and these were only the picks of what I've been up to. Still need to listen to more music and read more, but getting there.

DVDs I've watched
Sons of Anarchy S4 - started off slow and the same old, same old. I almost gave up, but so glad I didn't. Things got very heated this season with all manner of deceit amongst the players happening. It was also the most grotesque season I have seen, in terms of murder and body count and what you saw. Yikes! The acting as always was great.

Nurse Jackie S5 - how I love this show, a perfect mix of drama and comedy. Merrit Weaver as Zoey continues to shine and be the stand out character after Jackie herself. I loved the thread of a new love interest for Jackie also. As always the season was way too short.

Spies of Warsaw - war mini series starring David Tennant, I enjoyed it but wanted more.

Fargo - This is my favourite new show! Taken from the superb Coen Brothers film, it fleshes the story out a little more and a little meatier. Similar characters but not quite, and a brilliant cast headed by Billy Bob Thornton (surely his best character to date?) and Martin Freeman. It's the same dark, wry humour as in the film and shot so beautifully. If you are not watching this, you are missing out on something!!!

Movies watched this month were Thanks for Sharing, a film starring the gorgeous Mark Ruffalo, about sex addiction. The trailer looked good, the film not so much.  Cafe de Flore was an intriguing French film with the ever jaw dropping Vanessa Paradis about reincarnation. Two separate stories set in two eras with similar themes, were the characters reincarnated? To be honest, no so sure about this tenuous link, but the stories and acting were great. Best taken at face value I think. Alan Partridge Alpha Papa starring the incomparable Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge was really funny, It was a silly premise with silly characters, but silly in the usual British way which means loads of laughs.

My movie of the month was The Best Offer starring Geoffrey Rush. Rush's character, Virgil, is a auctioneer who manages to collect an array of art himself due to collaborating with his friend Billy, Donald Sutherland, who bids on items Virgil is actually auctioning. Virgil is eccentric and obsessive and when approached by a young woman, who he never meets, to auction her large collection of art, the story turns into a psychological thriller. A seemingly side plot of Virgil taking mechanical pieces to a young restorer weaves it's way into the intrigue also. Sidebar: the mechanical pieces turn into a magnificent...ooh, that would be telling. I really liked this and didn't see the twists coming, which is always a sign of a good thriller. I love any story to do with art, and there is so much beauty in this film, you will be left gasping. Rush is superb, as are the supporting cast. This is a must see film.

I also saw a lot of great documentaries this month, Scatter my Ashes at Bergdorf's was a documentary about the classic New York department store. It was interesting, and filled with great New Yorkers and style icons. Ultimately vacuous as such things often are, I was still intrigued by this beautiful piece of architecture and those that inhabit it. The Rise and Fall of The Clash was disappointing to me, it was a bit of an expose of their downfall. I found it soap opera-y and irritating, sure things did not go smoothly for the band and there was infighting, but there was also greatness, and it was the negatives that were focused on here. To me it was not an even account, but then I am a fan. 

Weekend of a champion was an enthralling documentary by Roman Polanski of Formula 1 great, Jackie Stewart. The documentary was originally filmed over a Monaco weekend back in 1971 and it is a heady time for F1, a shocking time for the players, death had been recent for other drivers, you can feel it so much you are on the edge of your seat. Originally released in 1972 and directed by Frank Simon and Polanksi, this version has an added section of Polanski and Stewart reminiscing back on that time. Stewart was at the height of his profession then and a lean sports machine, it was fascinating to see him look back over that time. Stunning shots of the race and Monaco, you don't have to be a fan to enjoy this but if you are you will revel in it. I know I did.

The worst documentary I saw this month was The Act of Killing. I say worst as the subject matter was just too horrific. It was well shot and in fact stunning in parts, so technically a grand documentary and one that was predicted to be THE documentary of the year, but I think the nature of the topic was just too much for people to bear. It is about Indonesian warlords re-enacting murders from their 'reign' in what ever film style they wish. This allows the most overblown and downright chilling scenes. I am in two minds about this film, it's intent is to obviously showcase the horrors done by these killers and let them 'hang' themselves and in a way that is what happens, yet the sheer reveling of these madmen was overwhelmingly grotesque. The film-makers were brave, and pretty much let the players do the talking. I guess what upset me the most was the lack of remorse shown by most of the men. I dunno, it left me cold and bothered and upset. I get the need to make such a documentary, but it haunted me too much.

My pick is the documentary that has been taking the awards away from The Act of Killing, and deservedly so. 20 Feet From Stardom. Wow, what a stunning piece of film making. Not only is this beautifully shot, but it's simply a great story. It was a story that had me shocked and sobbing but it was ultimately uplifting. 20 Feet from Stardom is about the back-ups singers, mostly African American women with the most outstanding voices. Women who should have been stars in their own rights but it just never happened. These women backed some of the most famous songs and for some in the 60s actually sang the songs but were not credited. 

The documentary focuses on a small bunch of women, whose careers spread the 60s and 70s. Each story is different, some were happy to remain that 20 feet back, other wanted the limelight and the stories are fraught with difficulty. Without a doubt Darlene Love's story is the most compelling. Phil Spector is now known as a nasty piece of work, but back then he was genius supreme...until you hear Love's story, and you realise he was always a monster. As a Letterman fan, I have always known and adored Love, but I never knew her story. This film gives these remarkable women the chance to showcase their talent. The stories are large, the personalities larger, the musicians they worked with also interviewed and of course the music played...this film is up there with Standing in the Shadows of Motown and Muscle Shoals, two of my all time favourite music documentaries. It's a must see for any music fan. 

Books I've been reading

Buying a Piece of Paris: finding a key to the city of love - Ellie Nielsen  I listened to this on talking book and to be honest it irritated me. It's about an Australian couple who decide to buy an apartment in Paris. Ellie is an actress - never heard of her - and comes across quite dippy, unsure whether she really is or it was just the reader. I stuck with it as I wanted to know what happened. I loved the descriptions of some of the areas of Paris, and the hunt for the right apartment, so it wasn't all a bust. 

Provence and the Cote D'azur- Janelle McCulloch - beautiful travel guide/small coffee table type book. Janelle has put together a few books like this and the design of the books are always stunning. This covers an area I have travelled through so was lovely to reminisce. It also made me want to visit some of the other places I didn't get to. 

Major Pettigrew's last stand by Helen Simonson. This was May's Bibliotweeps Book Club book and what a treat it was. Major Pettigrew is a widower living in a small English village and he strikes up a lovely friendship with the lady who runs the local store. The village is shocked as she is from Pakistan. This is a lovely story, comedic in parts, about race, class, and love. Essentially a love story, but there are many other layers to it and Simonson really takes you to the end in a non-typical way, which I thought was outstanding for a debut novel. It is not normally the type of book I would pick up to read, but so glad I did. 

The hundred year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. This was a delightful book about a man on the eve of his hundred birthday who decides to go on one last adventure. Feisty for his age he gets into all manner of trouble along the way, all the while police and nursing home staff looking for him. The story also goes back and tells about his life, which has been one long adventure. Likened to Forrest Gump, where our hero is placed in all manner of history, I was unsure about the flashback chapters, but they were cheesy like Gump and worked. This book made me laugh out loud numerous times, a sheer delight.

Chanel: an intimate life - by Lisa Chaney. This was way too long, the author needed an editor. Half the book was not about Coco at all, but about the life stories of people she knew. I find this frustrating when I am reading a biography. A little background on key people is always important, but not the the degree of this one. However I did enjoy the Coco bits, especially about some of her lovers and her escapades during wartime. What a fascinating woman and what a life and legacy. This was a spoken word book and the reader was superb with great British and French accents.

Music I've been listening to

Coldplay - more laid back and chilled than previous efforts, which is saying something! I like it, but like most of their stuff it needs more than one listen to appreciate.

Wagons – great new album, very rock’n’roll with a bit of blues and country in it. Loved from the first beat.

Beck – love this new album, very mellow but addictive listening

Kavisha Mazzello - after seeing Kavisha play earlier in the month, I've been listening to her music more, what a stunning voice.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sydney Writers festival and Vivid

Last week I got up very early and headed to Sydney for a day at the Sydney Writers Festival. It was a glorious day when I arrived via train to Circular Quay, in fact unseasonably warm for Autumn. I walked around the water to Walsh Bay where the festival is held. It has been some years since I made my way down to the festival and in the past I have stuck to week days as they are less crowded.

My first stop was to try and secure tickets to John Safran, I've been a fan of his since Race Around the World and had my copy of his book for him to sign. He was sold out, but that would not stop me trying to get the book signed. So I went around to the bookstore to bide my time until my backup session started.
I managed to purchase a signed copy of Alice Walker poems, which eased the pain of not going to see her talk.

I then lined up in the sun for Anatomy of a Song with Josh Pyke, Earthboy, and Sarah Blasko. This was a brilliant session on writing songs, how they do it, subject matter, inspiration and as all three have been doing this for some time, how their songs have evolved over the years. All three had different perspectives and were fascinating to listen to. It ended with each taking a song to dissect and then playing it. Pyke spoke about The Lighthouse Song and Blasko, I Will Run. I love this song so was thrilled to hear her sing it accompanying herself on a grand piano. I ducked out the session early and missed Earthboy as I needed to line up for Safran.

I was first in line and got to see both Christos Tsoilkas and David Marr (yes the photo is blurry!) readying themselves for their long lines of fans. Safran arrived shortly after looking a little nervous and a bit buttoned up. He introduced himself as John Safran from John Safran's Music Jamboree which I thought was funny and of course I went all stupid and fangirl and said John Safran from everything...WTAF!?! But he was lovely and signed my book, chatted a little and when I asked for a photo he insisted I be in it. I am flushed of cheeks because I had been standing out in the sun an hour earlier!!

I then took time to catch up with friends, enjoy some wonderful conversations, have a few beers, enjoy the stunning weather and harbour surrounds, and take in a late lunch of amazing Thai food. I probably missed a few sessions, but the lines were a bitch and I was having a grand time so who cares!

The other session I went to was late in the day and it was People of Letters. I have mentioned the fabulous Women of Letters books here before and they are based on wonderful women getting up on stage to read a letter based on a pre-arranged topic. Curated by Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire, I have wanted to attend a session for ages so this was my chance. People of Letters had duos writing letters to each other and included men, so we were in for a special treat.

First up was step siblings Ella Scott Lynch and Andy Sharp, they wrote each other touching and hilarious letters about meeting at 5 and becoming firm friends and how they have supported each other through a seemingly trying family. Next up Liam Pieper (author of Feel Good hit of the year) and his publisher recounting their experience of editing and publishing his book. Benjamin Law and his partner, Scott Spark read a back and forth hilarious account of the many times they probably should have left each other. They had the audience in fits of laughter, with their lovingly comical take on each other's faults. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and Zan Rowe were next, with Zan reading the most lovely letter to Dr Karl leaving him a little unstuck when he got up to respond.
Finally Kristin Williamson took the stage to read the most haunting and beautiful letter to her husband, playwright, David Williamson, about how she felt when he had his stoke last year. An accomplished writer in her own right, Kristin's letter was funny and poetic and so very upsetting to listen to. She struggled to get through it understandably and you could feel a pin drop as the room wiped back tears. Then the great man himself was up, but he could not read his letter, he was so unstuck, he muttered something about the session going overtime and he couldn't go on anyway and sat back down covered in tears. Wow!
People of Letters was everything I thought it would be and much much more. What a thought provoking and compelling session, though it left me a little unstuck, as I wandered from Walsh Bay back through to Circular Quay taking in Vivid.

Vivid was as spectacular as I expected with great sights from the Walsh Bay side of the harbour, but as soon as I hit the Quay and Overseas Passenger Terminal, I was struck gridlock, wall to wall people and it was most unpleasant. Never a fan of crowds of any level, this was crowding unlike I had ever experienced and I pushed my way through to the railway station, made my way back to Central and took a train home. Satisfied in a full and fabulous day.