Posts Tagged ‘music’

The Badpiper is (not) stalking me…

June 24, 2011

My local council is big on practical things.  Over the years I’ve had, free or at minimal cost, a worm farm, a compost bin, a free immobilizer for my old car, and they mow the verge 3-4 times a year.  Over the border, by contrast, my sister’s local council does bread and circuses really well.  Which is why I usually get an invite to a free concert in the park once or twice a year.  These concerts can be a mixed bag – Mental as Anything were brilliant, Shannon Noll was memorable for all the wrong reasons (me having to go to the police station afterwards to give a statement  regarding an incident I witnessed) – but the best concert of all for the old rocker in me was the Hells Bells AC/DC tribute (oops sorry, “we’re not a tribute band we’re a respect band”) concert.  And at that concert I first heard The Badpiper.

Awesome, leather kilted, mohawk wearing, punk rock bagpiping!  Belting out AC/DC on the flamethrowing bagpipes!  (OK, I may have cultural pretensions but I did grow up in a suburb where AC/DC were king… so how can I not love The Badpiper)

Since then I’ve seen Cam McAzi wowing the crowds at the Fremantle Street Arts Festival (follow him on facebook for dates and times of upcoming gigs on the busker’s pitch outside the Freo Markets).

So what could I do when I read this on his facebook page…

EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL SPECIAL!!! Buy any Badpiper album from the website and receive my first album, “Music for the kilted generation” absolutely free, includes postage anywhere in the world. Please help me get to Scotland to rock the festival.

… but take up the offer and buy two CDs.  What I wasn’t expecting was to receive them hand delivered in my letterbox wrapped in a note that said:

The Badpiper is (not) stalking me!

Thanks Badpiper!  I’m enjoying the music!

And for those who were wondering, yes this is the same Badpiper who wowed the judges on last year’s Australia’s Got Talent.


How many librarians does it take to change a light globe?

June 16, 2011

It’s been a busy and slightly trying week so here’s a video essay of library humour guaranteed to improve the mood:

An old joke retold (as dramatised by me using Xtranormal):

For those of us battling with introducing new technology:

For those of us who’ve had one of those days with the customers:

Even though some of those customers may be kind’ve cute!

We may feel the desire to take this approach:

It could be worse (or why we only allow pencils in rare book reading roooms):

We can always go home and read in peace and quiet:

Thanks to all the people who’ve shared these videos with me over the years…


How many librarians does it take to change a light globe?

I don’t know but I can look it up for you!

Christmas at sea: of Sting and Robert Louis Stevenson

December 8, 2010

Its that time of the year and I’ve started listening to my Christmas playlist on my iPhone.   I’ve been particularly touched by the beautiful and melancholy Christmas at sea from Sting’s Winter/Christmas album of 2009 – If on a winter’s night.


Album cover for "If on a winter's night" by Sting

If on a winter's night / Sting

Today I discovered that the lyrics are selected verses from a poem of the same name by Robert Louis Stevenson,  originally published in Ballads, 1890. (On the album Stevenson’s words  are interleaved with a Gaelic song from the Isle of Skye Thograinn Thograinn sung by Mary McMaster).  Stevenson came from a family of lighthouse engineers and was a sailor himself so it’s no wonder he captured the feel of beating off a lee shore in bad weather so evocatively.  I commend both the song and the poem to my friends, particularly those that sail in square rig…

Christmas at Sea

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor’-wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.

They heard the surf a-roaring before the break of day;
But ’twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay.
We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout,
And we gave her the maintops’l, and stood by to go about.

All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North;
All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth;
All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,
For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide-race roared;
But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard.
So’s we saw the cliff and houses and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye.

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;
The good red fires were burning bright in every longshore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;
For it’s just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year)
This day of our adversity was blessèd Christmas morn,
And the house above the coastguard’s was the house where I was born.

O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there,
My mother’s silver spectacles, my father’s silver hair;
And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves,
Go dancing round the china plates that stand upon the shelves.

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessèd Christmas Day.

They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall.
“All hands to loose topgallant sails,” I heard the captain call.
“By the Lord, she’ll never stand it,” our first mate, Jackson, cried.
. . . .”It’s the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson,” he replied.

She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good,
And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood;
As the winter’s day was ending, in the entry of the night,
We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.

And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me,
As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea;
But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold,
Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old.

Robert Louis Stevenson

James E Buttersworth / Ship in a Storm

James E Buttersworth (1817-1894) Ship in a Storm




October 4, 2010

…Just how much noise can we make in shared spaces? How do we negotiate our clashing freedoms and tastes as our population grows? An article in The West this weekend on mediating disputes between neighbours got me thinking some more about this… particularly after I came across a wedding party having photos at the Maritime Museum on Saturday afternoon – their giant stretch limo was not to my taste but hey, my taste wouldn’t be theirs either (and wedding critiquing is a great spectator sport) – but did they have to have the doors open and the sound system imposing their choice of music on everyone in the carpark and forecourt? Perhaps this is the problem with noise – you can look away from a sight you don’t like but you can’t turn off your ears…

Just like Arthur Ransome and Dorothy Sayers I particularly hate noise in wild places, whether (in the example that formed my opinion on these things) in the Norfolk broads…

He paddled faster again, and presently heard a strange jumble of noise from farther down the river. Faint at first, two tunes quietly quarrelling with each other, it grew louder as he came nearer until at last it seemed that the two tunes were having a fight at the top of their voices.

Suddenly he knew that all this noise was coming from one boat, a big motor-cruiser… But he could hardly hear himself speak for noise. There was nobody to be seen on the deck of the Margoletta. All the Hullabalooos were down below in the two cabins and in one cabin there was a wireless set and a loudspeaker, and in the other they were working the gramaphone.

Coot Club / Arthur Ransome (1934) Puffin ed. 1969 p. 53-54

or on the river in Oxford…

A punt went past … then a noisy party with a gramophone bawling “Love in Bloom”… then a bunch of both sexes and all ages in an inrigger with another gramophone whining “Love in Bloom” — the Town at play… And here was Miss Harriet Vane … savagely resenting the approach of a boatload of idiots whose gramophone was playing (for a change) “Love in Bloom.”

Gaudy Night / Dorothy Sayers (1935) NEL ed. 1978 p. 285-286

…or in your local park or reserve. Surely you are there to experience the beauty of the place, experience the wildlife, share it with your friends – loud music will cut you off from this, and worse, cut off anyone else who is there. If you want a wall of sound that’s fine, just hire a venue where you can wall it in and limit it to those who choose to share it. Don’t do something like this:

Speak up about it and you’re just a grumpy old killjoy who won’t own up to secret jealousy… dear me!

So please, before you turn your music up where others can hear it – whether it’s a tradie’s radio, a house party, a boombox at the beach, a party boat, remember your music goes far beyond the space you are in – keep it down or take it somewhere else…

Toby at the Fly

September 11, 2010

I have a  playlist in iTunes that I call Divas – it ranges from Ute Lemper and Lotte Lenya via Nina Simone, Cleo Laine and Peggy Lee to Alannah Myles, Carly Simon and k. d. Lang, Kavisha Mazzella and  June Tabor.  So I was surprised that I’d missed hearing of local muso Toby Beard.  Last night I rectified this omission when as part of a friend’s birthday celebrations I went to the Fly by Night Musicians Club to hear Toby (Toby Beard and 15 piece band) launch her new CD Sleeptalk.

Toby playing at the album launch of Sleeptalk at the Fly by Night Musicians Club, Fremantle

Toby at the Fly

Great gig – beautiful woman with a beautiful voice, dreadlocked blonde hair and feisty stage presence, she sang her own songs from her new CD and back catalogue (all new to me) and covered Little Red Rooster, Etta James‘s I’d Rather go blind and When a man loves a woman.  The band included cellos, flute, smoking violin, awesome horns (trumpet, trombone and sax), something I have tentatively identified as a melodica, Mr Jean-Guy Lemire on harmonica as well as the more usual guitars, drums, keyboard and percussion.

The encore evoked Commedia dell’arte,  first Jean-Guy appeared on stage for a mournful harmonica solo, turning to reveal half his face whitened and marked with the black tear of a clown, then the trumpeter echoed the solo, face fully painted,  the theme was then taken up by the white faced violinist, poignant and plaintive (and remiscent of Latcho Drom).   Fom behind us we heard the beat of the drum and we turned and parted to admit the band, faces painted white, each with the black tear or mark, marching funerealy in double file led by two drummers.  Toby had switched her tunic for a red and white striped clowns vest and a top hat hid her dreadlocks.  There was somthing about it that suggested a New Orleans’ funeral for a clown… this was the extended intro into the beautiful C’est L’amour.

A brilliant finish to a great evening…

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