Monthly Archives: January 2010

Return of the New Folk

Well, already 2010 has been lighting up my musical cortex; an incendiary performance by Dirty Three kicked started my year of live music and though 2010 is still in its infancy, there have already been some great new releases. Here’s a taste of some of the music that is rippling the waters of this Lost Shark.

Blank Pages - The Album Leaf

This slow burning, cinematic track, effortlessly walks the line between serenity and melancholy and brims with a vibrancy that lifts it from mere mood music to something transformative, irresistable. Jimmy LaValle has again skilfully blended the organic folk sounds of violin, xylophone, percussion and horns with electronic ambience and programmed beats, to create an album (A Chorus of Storytellers) that is quietly assured, and big on emotional impact.

Little Bird – Eels

Mark ‘E’ Everett’s latest opus, End Times has been referred to as his Blood on the Tracks and he has never been one to pull punches when it comes to baring himself in his songs. Little Bird shuns humanity and curses the insincerity that is plaguing society. When E sings, Little Bird/ You look alright/ I’m sure its not easy/ Getting through your night, I am reminded of the loneliness in Hemmingway’s Old Man and the Sea, when a small bird comes to rest on the Old Man’s fishing line, only to leave him as the fish lurches and cuts his hand. Little Bird has that same hard won beauty about it… lonely and stoic, this is the sound of a man and his struggle.

Hide it Away – Retribution Gospel Choir

Low’s Alan Sparhawk made his name pioneering his very own brand of slowcore, but with the formation of Retribution Gospel Choir in 2008, the man proved that there is always room for rock. Hide it Away has got some real swagger, mixing spaced-out psych rock and lurching grooves with a catchy-as-hell chorus that will stick inside your brain like cobblers pegs. A full-tilt sonic rave that stings hard and beautiful.

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Forever Young: JD Salinger 01/01/1919 – 28/01/2010

 

JD Salinger lived much of his life as an intensely private man, born the son of a kosher cheese salesman, he was drafted into the army in 1942 and was among those who landed at Utah Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. It was during this time in the army that his writing career started; editing  the military acadamy’s yearbook , writing several short stories (his first to be published The Young Folks in the magazine Story in 1940) and meeting one of his own literary heores, Ernest Hemmingway. But it was the publication of The Catcher in the Rye in 1951 that captured the attention of readers and critics across the globe and earned JD Salinger the title of the Apostle of Adolescence.

The books protagonist, Holden Caulfield, became the poster boy for teen alienation. Caulfield is a character of epic proportions, the kind that gets under the skin of each generation,  a cocky, searching anti-hero, waging war on adulthood and society at large. Character’s like Holden Caulfield never die and in their immortality, their authors live on. JD Salinger, is gone, but Holden will carry his memory, with the same unflinching certainty, for many lifetimes to come.

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Riverbend Books Feature Poet #2 – Betsy Turcot

 

Betsy Turcot is originally from Vermont, USA.  She received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Secondary Education at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont.  There, she was a member and captain of the collegiate field hockey team.  She went on to teach Secondary English and coach field hockey, snowboarding and lacrosse at Burlington High School in Vermont.  She enjoyed the active seasonal lifestyle that the state afforded including skiing and hiking.  After several years of teaching, she resigned and travelled to Australia.  Betsy settled in Brisbane where she has been a resident for eighteen months.  Betsy currently works as a Barista at Stove Café in West End.  She has been a featured poet at Words or Whatever at Black Star Café.  Betsy was a winner of the Brisbane Poetry Slam heat and went on to compete at the final of the 2009 Queensland Poetry Slam.

 

Dr Kinsey
          by Betsy Turcot

Please, Dr Kinsey, what does it mean to be me in nature’s eyes?
What will my lover surmise or my mother despise?
Decries that it’s unnatural. An aberration from the Stations of the Cross.
Well, if this is my sin, then give me my sin again because I am grounded.
Uncovering the truth of the human condition. Reconciliation my confession.
The elephant in the room.
Doomed by words unsaid that sting my soul.
My palms bleed as I forsake the sacrament of holy matrimony.
Makes my sister’s living in sin sound like a healthy confession.
No longer suffering depression. Don’t suffer fools.
Spools of yarn ignite my mind. Create rhymes with each stitch
but there’s a hitch -
If you want to be a writer, you must reveal the Truth.
Dig deeper to the roots.
And I don’t want to bear fruit. But wait, maybe I do. It’s my decision.
A ticking time bomb of a woman whose biological clock keeps ticking.
Rocks my world as I hurl my tips off the lip of a jump, and I see
each tiny snowflake.
Each to its own identity. Discover my destiny.
Unlike any other.
Faced the fear and took the plunge. Handed in the resignation letter.
Said I’d better be off.  I’ve got an ocean to cross to a land down under, but I am American.
Easy Virtue soothes my soul.
The American Dream at my core to search and succeed but with no greed.
So I grind the beans. Play a game of monogamy. Because for her,
There is no substitution. Nothing to constitute our substance.
We’ve played with the recipe to perfection.
Confectionary sugar caramelised on the outside and the centre
is soft. And warm.
I have learned to bake.
Don’t take it for granted. Been gifted with optimism. I believe
in what I can achieve.
And maybe there’s a part of me in Melvin Van Peebles.
The people’s revolutionary.
Black Panther’s idolatry. Never stationary. Fighting against mediocrity.
Not a trivial pursuit. It’s a mind resolute on what should be.
The sounds of eight thousand steady feet push me. I’m influenced by movies.
Harvey Milk said, “Come out.”
And how great would if be if for just one day
We could all be
That free.

 

You can read more of Betsy’s work at: http://whisperingradical.blogspot.com/

 

Riverbend Poetry Series – Tuesday 23 February

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the first Poetry on the Deck event for 2010. Join us on the Riverbend deck as we showcase an exciting mix of local poets to kick start the year. Our first event will feature the seductive and award winning words of Bronwyn Lea (The Other Way Out, Giramond Press) reading along side debut authors, Jonathan Hadwen (Night Swim, Brisbane New Voices vol. 1), Pam Schindler and recent finalist in the QLD Poetry Slam, Betsy Turcot. And as the event falls on the 189th anniversary of John Keats’ death, there will also be a special reading of some of his best known works.

Date: Tuesday 23 February
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at http://www.riverbendbooks.com.au/Events/EventDetails.aspx?ID=2237
These events are always hugely popular, so book early to avoid disappointment!

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Getting to know yourself with the Dirty Three

Last night, I opened my live music account for 2010 at The Tivoli, with Laughing Clowns and Dirty Three joining forces as part of the Don’t Look Back concert series. The Don’t Look Back concerts emerged out of the legendary All Tomorrows Parties Festival and since 2005 have showcased bands in the USA, UK, Europe, Australia & NZ, playing one of their classic albums from start to finish… just some of the artists and albums to have been given the Don’t Look back treatement include Iggy & The Stooges (Fun House), Slint (Spiderland), Sonic Youth (Daydream Nation), The Saints (I’m Stranded) and Died Pretty (Doughboy Hollow).

Last night’s show opened with Laughing Clowns playing one of their retrospective albums, History of Rock ‘n’ Roll Volume One. I know it may be seen as sacrililege in these parts, but the band just didn’t work for me on stage last night. At times the band locked into some mean, bass-heavy grooves, but the members seemed disparate, never quite coming together to forge new ground. Wegner’s drumming, lost somewhere between jazz flourishes and straight ahead rock beats, seemed overstated and instead of uniting the elements, left them stranded, looking for structure. It wasn’t until album closer, Collapse Board, where saxophonist Louise Elliot unleashed, playing like a wounded animal calling for its mate to couple in unrelenting bliss until the light goes out in their eyes, that the band seemed to surprise themselves and (rather than recreate) create a sound that pricked the ears and skin.

And then after a short break, the good ship Dirty Three hit the stage, with captain Warren Ellis, luminous in spirit greeting the crowd, while the crew of Jim White and Mick Turner, readied the vessel for the journey ahead. Ellis tells us they will be playing Leo Sayer’s Just A Boy, which would be fascinating to hear, but as the anchor is pulled, Ellis reveals that tonight, it is Ocean Songs, an album recorded in the late 90′s over five days in Chicago with Steve Albini, with the idea of being quiet.

Ocean Songs for me, has always been much more than an album… it is a year at sea. And as the band launch into the opening notes of Sirena, each of the members is transformed, taking on the vast power of the elements… White, the ocean, at times still and shimmering, at times rising thunderously, whitecapped and dangerous, but always present, always; Ellis the wind and sky, unpredicatbly moving from a gentle caress to a blinding squall, a high-kicking dervish, whose sound is so vast you never reach the edge; and Turner, the tide, knitting it all together, his constant pull, while not always at the fore, always felt deep.

Warren’s got a story for each of the songs; the epic Authentic Celestial Music is about love and it’s fucked up nature, how it’s like realising that 98% of it is like being in a bowl of soup, wondering how you will get out; Last Horse On The Sand is about vastness, realising you are so small that it doesn’t really matter (as Warren says, baby I may not be much, but I’m the last horse on this sand); Black Tide is dedicated to the late Roland S. Howard; Backwards Voyager is a middle finger salute to flying economy and getting probed (literally) by the Chicago police; and Sea Above, Sky Below is about realising even the birds in the trees and the nice old lady down at the shop are telling you to get fucked, so you go home and take pyschadelic drugs and get to know yourself better than even the good lord intended and how you come out of that haze 5 years later and realise they have been the best five years of your life, so you go down to the shop and bend that nice old lady over the counter and say thank you.

It’s a show that surpasses the epic beauty of the original… Dirty Three are a band playing for their lives, all of our lives and tonight, all who (truly) climbed aboard, have returned transformed by these elemental forces, salt-licked and staggering, having been taken to the edge of wonder and allowed to drink.

* if you couldn’t be there, this doesn’t capture the magic, but it is incredible in it’s own right… this is a link to Dirty Three playing many of the songs from Ocean Songs as part of ABC TV’s Studio 22 series.

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Patti Smith’s first book of prose

Bohemian goddess Patti Smith has just released her first book of prose, a memoir, a-la-Bob Dylan’s Chronicles vol. 1, titled Just Kids which details her remarkable relationship with photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe and the romanticism and mythmaking of their life in New York in the late 60′s/early 70′s.

Here’s a link to a great article in the New York Times – Bohemian Soul Mates in Obscurity.

And with my mind swirling with visions of Patti, I just had to share this clip of her ripping up Horses and Hey Joe… epically raw!

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Riverbend Books feature poet #1: Bronwyn Lea

The live poetry scene in Brisbane is starting to wake from its Summer slumber and one of the events to look forward to is the first of the Riverbend Books – Poetry on the Deck readings on Tuesday February 23. The Riverbend Books gigs have been a highlight on the poetry calendar for the last five years and this year’s opening event will be no different. Featuring debut author Jonathan Hadwen (Night Swim – Brisbane New Voices vol. 1), Pam Schindler, 2009 QLD Slam Finalist Betsy Turcot and the senuous words of award winning poet Bronwyn Lea, the Riverbend Deck will once again come alive with words.

So to celebrate I have asked each of the poets for a poem to give you a taste of what to expect on the night. The first of the feature poets is Bronwyn Lea.

Bronwyn Lea, is series editor of UQP’s annual Best Australian Poetry anthology and the author of Flight Animals (UQP 2001), which won the Wesley Michel Wright Prize for Poetry and the Writers Anne Elder Award. Her most recent book is The Other Way Out (Giramondo 2009) which was shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe Prize and the Victorian Premier’s CJ Dennis Prize for Poetry. She teaches narrative and poetics at the University of Queensland.

 

A Place

There is a place I like to go
that is behind language

I like to go there & wobble
like a melon on a table

or a spoon that doesn’t care
if it is chosen or not

I also like to come back
& slip into ‘myself’

like a pair of silk pajamas
ornamental & cool to touch.    

Links: http://www.austlit.com/a/lea-bronwyn/index.html

 

Tuesday 23 February: Poetry on the Riverbend Books deck

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the first Poetry on the Deck event for 2010. Join us on the Riverbend deck as we showcase an exciting mix of local poets to kick start the year. Our first event will feature the seductive and award winning words of Bronwyn Lea (The Other Way Out, Giramondo Press) reading along side debut author, Jonathan Hadwen (Night Swim, Brisbane New Voices vol. 1), Pam Schindler and recent finalist in the QLD Poetry Slam, Betsy Turcot. And as the event falls on the 189th anniversary of John Keats’ death, there will also be a special reading of some of his best known works.

Date: Tuesday 23 February
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at http://www.riverbendbooks.com.au/Events/EventDetails.aspx?ID=2237

These events are always hugely popular, so book early to avoid disappointment!

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Air for the Birds pt II – poems by Glen Sheppard and Mike Russell

Statue
          by Glen Sheppard

I stand tall and proud, looking down over the ages
Don’t know the wonders I have seen
Many people worship me  / but the truth is I’m just a piece of work.

Groups adore me, that confuses me because I’m a piece of wood.
Somebody lovingly carves me into a head, but I am still just a piece of wood.
It’s great to be adored when your disguised / dressed up as a piece of wood.

It tells how we can get conned.

Dress me up / adore me
I’m still just a piece of wood.

 

 

Autism Dreaming
          by Mike Russell

It’s only a little space / Somewhere in between waking and sleeping

somewhere in the little moment  / between eating and drinking

I try a little space between walking and rocking.

A minute into space between sneaking and freaking / a molecular moment between trying and doing

but somewhere in there is a controlling dream that keeps us alive

… Autism dreaming…

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