Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Well, it hasn't been without its hectic moments but, so far, the festive period has been a jolly old time.
Friends, family, eating, drinking, Christmas specials, more eating, gifts, overseas phone calls, Christmas CDs and, most of all, a genuine sense of kindness prevailing over all.
No real chance of Peace on Earth, but it's been pretty peaceful around here...

Friday, December 23, 2011

All good things...

Well, that's it for a while. We played six songs last night, had some fun, and now it is time for Christmas.
It's been a busy week. The radio spots with Cath Kenneally (Radio Adelaide) and Michael Hunter (Three D) went well, and the gigs were a blast. The EP launch was the highlight - we only have a few copies remaining - and I can only hope that Shining Light becomes someone's favourite, somewhere in the world. More copies have been ordered, so hopefully we'll have some in the New Year to help create interest in the Yours Truly album. That one should be out in April, with launches in Adelaide and Sydney if we can swing it.
We've also applied for our first festival gig, so we'll see what comes of that.

But, for now, it's time to sit back and relax. For at least a couple of weeks. I'm tired.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Yours Truly all over again...

Tonight the roles were reversed; we took our turn, supporting John McCall at his CD launch.
While not reaching the heady heights of last night, for the obvious reasons, we still had a blast. John's crowd were there in numbers, we did what we did without fuss or bother, and no-one threw bottles at us. Werewolves of London was fun.

Yours Truly - Shining Light

It's early. I'm exhausted. I feel great.

Last night was one of those times when everything seems to fall into place. The Shining Light CD launch at The Grace Emily went like a song. Funny about that.
Good people, plenty of them, good music, good vibes and good pints (plenty of them, too).
The Grace is a terrific venue. Such a groovy room and, thankfully, it doesn't take too many bodies to fill it up nicely.
John McCall did a great job up front, and Ken and I managed to get through our set with the usual levels of enthusiasm and bonhomie. It is my considered opinion that people very much enjoyed their evening. I know I did.
It's days (nights, actually) like yesterday that remind me why being a songer-singwriter is worthwhile.
Thank you, one and all.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

International Swingers

Last Wednesday I went down The Gov to see Glen Matlock and his mates. The International Swingers describe themselves as a punk supergroup and, although that might be slightly overstating things, there is a degree of pedigree there. Apart from Matlock, co-writer of just about all of the Sex Pistols best songs, the band boasts Clem Burke (legendary drummer from Blondie), Gary Twinn (oz-rockers Supernaut), and James Stevenson (The Cult, Generation X).
After a slightly disjointed start, things improved as the band and the crowd warmed to the occasion. Songs included Dancing With Myself, Call Me, I Like It Both Ways, All the Young Dudes and Hangin' on the Telephone. Burke seemed to be enjoying himself immensely, and I think Matlock is making the most of yet another Indian summer. It will probably never make up for being booted out of the Pistols, but I suspect he's doing OK. The evening's rousing finale was based around songs performed by the Sex Pistols back in the day, including the classics God Save the Queen and Pretty Vacant, as well as No Fun (Stooges) and C'mon Everybody (Eddie Cochran). Members of the audience were invited up onto the stage for a quick pogo, and it was all very sociable.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Higher Ground

The latest album to be assembled and unleashed by the Songwriters, Composers and Lyricists Association was launched earlier this evening. Higher Ground is SCALA's 10th CD, and I have been lucky enough to have had eight of my songs find their way into peoples' consciousness via this esteemed collective.
On the new album, you can hear me as part of Yours Truly performing my song Shining Light, a song that has its own launch next week. Yep, Yours Truly are in town next week, armed with copies of the brand new five-track Shining Light EP.

The SCALA launch was great fun. It was only a small audience, quite different to some of the previous mega-launches, but a good time nonetheless. All the quality people were there.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Slack Alice

crazy times with gigs and mountainbikeriding and the madness that comes with owning a house. rescued a baby bird and watched it live in the front garden for a couple of days after having to cover it with a sheet in the middle of the road with cars coming to kill it and listening to mother bird up on high calling and waiting for a response but unable to help the poor thing actually fly. noel gallagher in melbourne tickets booked for end of january. i have a cd launch whatever that is tomorrow night and another on tuesday with my mate ken the eternal urban guerilla stewart. come to the grace emily i promise it will be great. went solar. bought the proclaimers first album sunshine on leith on vinyl for nothing and listened it's actually good. rode my scooter and for a few moments i was the ace face. cooking, planning, working, working and bloody working sometimes everything seems like work. trying to stay happy and balanced in the face of idiocy. george sanders/tom conway falcon films arrived via ebay - oh boy if only i could be that cool with cigars and suits and murder solving. easy when you know how. vegetable garden booming. oh yeah watched melancholia best film i have seen this year. plenty more but i forget. weather here wish you were fine.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hanging around on a Saturday

I like being home. I've never really understood people that just treat their place as a docking station. I mean, you put a lot of effort into making your house a home - even if you don't realise it - so why not strive to enjoy it?
Anyhow, it's nice to have a free weekend, after being away for the last two. A chance to catch up on a few chores, and to generally reacquaint myself with the vegetable garden, the shed, and the telly.
As my mate Pete is fond of saying, it's good to be King.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sheffield Shield

I finished up work a little early today and went down to Adelaide Oval, to watch some cricket. I wasn't particularly interested in the contest, it was more that I like the idea of sitting at the cricket on a warm afternoon and having a relaxing beer. Enjoying the therapeutic sound of bat on ball. Although, at $7 a pop, the two beers I had were something of a luxury and, quite possibly, a hardship to boot.
In front of a very small crowd (double figures at best), South Australia laboured to dismiss Western Australia, who ended up declaring with seven wickets down. The home team showed why they will probably struggle in this competition by losing their opening three wickets in the last half an hour of the day.

In any event, it was quite a meditative few hours. I sat in the Bradman Stand, reflecting on the week thus far, watching cricket, and counting my blessings. And my beers.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

High Flying Birds

I bought the new Noel Gallagher album on Monday. I've been listening to it ever since. It sounds very much like Noel's songs that featured on the latter Oasis albums. Not much of an extension, but all very listenable. I'm not complaining. I like his songs, and his voice.
As time has gone on, I have found myself much preferring listening to Noel singing his songs, over listening to brother Liam's faux Lennon (which I also happen to like, let's call it a guilty pleasure).
Oasis were my band for a long time, a less than popular choice here in the antipodes, but I don't give a monkeys; I loved them.

In December 2005 I went to see Oasis in Melbourne and they were loud, full on, and pretty brilliant. A year later I was in Perth watching England meekly cough up the the Ashes and I got wind of a surprise Noel Gallagher gig. It was scheduled for the Perth Concert Hall on the Saturday night. The gig had sold out in no time at all, so I had to buy my ticket from a tout on the day. Costing me a small fortune, I was somewhat relieved to actually get in and then ecstatic to find myself about four rows back from the stage. The band comprised Noel, Oasis' Gem Archer, and Terry Kirkbridge on percussion. The low-key show was reminiscent of the much-bootlegged and never officially released "MTV Unplugged" concert, and I was lucky enough to be there. Another great moment in my life.

So now I have Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and the Beady Eye's Different Gear, Still Speeding. I just put them both into the player and select shuffle. Voila, an Oasis double album! I feel all warm inside...

It's a long way from Definitely Maybe, but it's still better than most of the Pop Idol crap that is prevalent these days. What we need is another punk rock revolution. Stage-managed as it might have been, it changed the music world's landscape when I was a teenager, pretty much completely for the better. Let's do it again.

Who's with me?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Nine - Riders in the mist...

I emerged from my tent at the irrationally early time of 5.55. Although the sun wasn't up, I could tell that I was walking around in a very thick mist. It wasn't cold, but it was foggy. Extremely foggy.
The sun rose, its disc as easily discernible as a full moon due to the filtering of the thick atmosphere, and I admired the spectacle as I drank my first cup of tea for the day.
Because of my early start, and that of the others, we left camp just before 7.30.
It was a great ride, one of the best of the trip. We headed north, through the mist, and I was glad I had my lights on. It got a little lighter, and a little warmer, once we'd got to our turnaround point not far from Mannum. It was a lovely drop into town, and shortly after our tea break we boarded the ferry and crossed the beautiful River Murray.
We followed Burdell Road just about all the way down to Murray Bridge, climbing and cruising in equal parts. The sun came out, the wind stayed away, and the views to the west were nothing short of superb. It was a shame it had to end.
We crossed the bridge into Murray Bridge and completed our tour, where it began, at Sturt Reserve. It was handshakes, farewells and lunches before we packed up and headed back to Adelaide.
A great ride, but lovely to be home too!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Eight - Bush Camp

We left Strathalbyn in pleasant, if a little overcast, conditions. Because of Saturday morning traffic concerns, the published route had been altered to take a more relaxed road into Wistow. Perhaps it was more relaxed as far as cars were concerned, but it contained a stonking climb that seemed endless. Oh well, it got the body into gear...
Another rise, followed by a beautiful downhill, took us into Mount Barker and morning tea. After a quick break, we headed through town and out the other side, via a decent climb up the Old Princes Highway, before passing through the pretty town of Nairne.
From there it was up and down all the way to the zoo. We enjoyed some very fast downhills, and worked our way up the hills. We endured one more big climb up the old highway before turning left at Schenscher Road and heading to the bush camp.
In the afternoon we went on a tour of Monarto Zoo and had a good look at the collection of exotic animals.
Our last night together was spent eating and drinking under the stars, enjoying the music, the open fire, and the chat.
Almost done.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Seven - Wet Feet

Friday. The seventh day of the tour, and probably the coolest conditions yet. It wasn't cold, far from it, but it was overcast and threatening to rain. We left Goolwa, and spent the bulk of the first 40 kilometres climbing in the drizzle. It was a fun ride though, just a shame the scenery wasn't visible because of the mist. We had a fairly serious climb up and over a hill as we approached Meadows, and once we'd descended into town we learned we had to turn around and climb out again.
The last 15 kilometres was a much faster affair. The rain stopped, visibility improved, and there was a lot more downhill to enjoy.
We made Strathalbyn pretty early, enjoyed lunch, then I had a couple of pints at the Terminus while I caught up on a few things. On the way back to camp I visited the second-hand book shop and the newsagent. I found a 10-movie blaxploitation DVD set that set me back $4.95. Win!
The rain stayed away in the afternoon, raising hopes for dry shoes in the morning.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Six - Cloudy but fine.

A different, but very enjoyable day. I awoke, once again, to the sound of my noisy neighbours sharing pre-dawn inanities at high volume. I figured I might as well get up. The planned ride was a loop; a 60 kilometre jaunt up through Mount Compass. It was overcast but it wasn't cold. We worked pretty hard to get out of town and onto some open road. The traffic was busy, without posing any real danger, all the way until we reached the Mt Compass turnoff. From there, it was a very pleasant ride in to morning tea, apart from one lunatic in a chicken truck.
We had a decent length tea break before setting off for home. We zipped down the main Victor Harbor Road before turning left for Goolwa. It was a pretty straightforward trip; the only novelty was the crippling climb up and over the hill on Flagstaff Hill Road. I made it with no gears to spare. Someone told me later that it was a 14% incline, which explains the pain. Coming down was a thrill. I got to 72 kmh - not bad for a mountainbike with knobbly tyres!
We rode back along the coast and arrived at camp before noon.
In the afternoon we visited both pubs and also went down to the brewery to sample their beers. We eventually settled into the balcony of the footy club where we watched the rain come in. Pizza seemed like a good idea for tea.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Five - Love's Crashing Waves

Today was an OK day. Up late, a cooked breakfast, and a departure around 8.40. The three of us headed out of Goolwa and set sail (on our bikes) for The Bluff, about five kilometres the other side of Victor Harbor. The 60 km ride was great; we got wetlands, lovely views of the coast, and a good run all the way. We had to take a detour to avoid a brown snake as it sunbathed, but otherwise it was plain sailing. We got to The Bluff in good nick, and had a short break before turning around.
The way back was incident-free. We had a good lunch from the Port Elliot Bakery and then pressed on. It was warming up, and the wind was freshening, so it was nice to make it back to camp by 12.30.
I spent the afternoon wandering around Goolwa, buying a replacement tyre, fitting it, visiting the pub and generally relaxing before settling into the darkness and eating, drinking and chatting to my heart's content.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Four - Cruisin'

Today wasn't the official rest day, but it might as well have been. The three of us plan to do more riding tomorrow (on the designated rest day) than we did today. I enjoyed a sleep in until around 6.45, packed up Camp David in a relaxed manner, and then went to the Meningie Bakery for breakfast. We hung around, eating while we scanned the newspapers, before heading back to camp. We needed to load our bikes onto a trailer before getting on a bus. The bus would take us to Long Point, where we would get on a boat for a tour of the Coorong and Murray Mouth. While were waiting I developed a raging thirst so I rode back into town to get cans of Coke for me and the boys. I also went to the newsagent and bought two mountain bike mags for $2 each.
The cruise was pretty cool; it is the first time I have seen the Murray Mouth.
We arrived at Hindmarsh Island, where we alighted and were reunited with our bikes. We rode the length of the island, in the heat of the day and with a bit of cross and head wind, and over the once-controversial bridge.
A very easy day. Goolwa is my home for the next three nights so it is nice to be set up for that.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Three - Much Better...

A much more enjoyable day. We got up late, broke our fast in a most leisurely manner, and hit the road at 8.30. The only downer was that my rear tyre was flat, and was showing some real signs of fatigue. Bulging, perishing etc. I knew the tyre was old, but I hadn't noticed this degree of damage previously. I pumped up the tube and decided to ride my luck, as well as my bike. Please, please, please, no blowouts.
The wind had, unsurprisingly, turned around on itself so we rode back up the Princes Highway into a delightful northerly. At least it wasn't as strong as the previous two days.
Once we tuned the corner and headed west, things improved considerably. We circumnavigated Lake Albert at a good speed, the wind behaved itself, and the sun shone. It reminded me why I ride my bike. Beautiful scenery, lovely blue-sky weather, and a fast ride. We got back to camp reasonably early in the afternoon, around 1.30. I had to switch my tyres and tubes, but after that it was time for a few beers, firstly at the cheese factory, then at the footy club.

Lower Lakes: Days One & Two - Wind, bloody wind.

Probably the best thing I can say about the first two days is that they are over and done with.
Only 47 clicks on the first day, from Murray Bridge to Langhorne Creek, but it was tough. The first half was OK, in fact it was downright enjoyable, but once we turned right onto Wellington Road everything changed. Black clouds, and a wind straight from Hell. In a nutshell, it was probably the strongest wind I have ever faced. The only good thing about the gale was that it blew the storm just to one side of us.
To say I was relieved to make camp is an understatement.
We stopped at the pub, exhausted and sweaty, on the way in to Langhorne Creek so we could watch the running of the Caulfield Cup, and also to enjoy a very welcome pint. I asked the barman if he'd be willing to show the Manchester United v Liverpool match later that night. He said "probably", which was enough for me.
After the evening's entertainment, Ray and I staggered back up to the pub to watch United draw 1-1 with the rat-eaters. We got back to camp sometime early on Sunday morning...
When I was jarred awake by the sound of idiots talking loudly, I questioned the wisdom of staying up so late. Too late for regrets. It was another really tough day, 80 kilometres pretty much directly into a horrible headwind. South, straight down the Princes Highway, straight into the wind. For f*ck's sake. Anyhow, we made it, I survived. Then I had a beer. Or ten.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Zero - All Set?

Fit enough? I hope so...
Odd jobs done? Who cares.
All packed? As far as I can tell.
Looking forward to it? You bet.

Let's get it on...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Down at the Brunswick

Tonight I think I will head down to the Duke of Brunswick Hotel to play a few songs. Because of my Ethelton Entertaners' commitments, and a few other obstacles & issues, I haven't played any of my own stuff for a few weeks. I am away all of next week so tonight is my only chance to have a little original music fun.
This will be the second time I've played at The Brunswick. I went down on the night the open mic started up and I had the pleasure of being the first act of the evening. I played Shining Light, Wish I Was You and Say Goodbye, and it all went very well.
It seems like a pretty groovy venue, it's on my side of town, so I'm hoping it will be around for a while to come.
Now I need to find some more real gigs!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Railway Children

Tonight I indulged my inner child and watched The Railway Children. I remember my mum taking me to see it at the pictures when I was very young, and also sitting through it a few times on television back in the day. I probably last watched it sometime in the middle 1970s, so it's been a while...

What a delightful way to spend a couple of hours. The film is little more that a collection of episodes, I suspect they are chapters from the book, with a hint of plotline that just about holds the film together. It describes an almost-heavenly existence in an idyllic Yorkshire village, where innocence abounds, the crises are manageable, and there is hope in every passing train.

I doubt a village like ever really existed but, if it did, I'd move tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Spring into spring

I love this time of year. The days are lengthening, and the sun feels warmer. The buds on the plants are bursting into life, and the lawn is growing madly. Tomatoes are in, and the winter greens are finished. It is daylight when I walk to work, and I am greeted by the new-born ducklings and their protective parents most mornings. I can leave the windows open longer in the evenings, and I doubt I’ll be using the heating again this year. The baby swallows have learned to fly, so the car roof is almost free of swallow crap. I wake up to birdsong. I can smell blossom and freshly-mowed lawns wherever I go.
I wish it could be springtime every day.

Monday, October 10, 2011

That's Entertainment!

The 2011 season of the Ethelton Entertainers has been and gone. This year I played guitar, rather than bass, as part of the EE band. I had to cede my bass playing duties to a man with an upright bass - not only did the upright bass deserve a place in the band on aesthetic merits alone, but Kym is a much better player than me. In any event, it allowed me to road test my new Telecaster. Which was nice.
On each of the nine nights, when the time was right, I left my orchestra post and took to the stage for a song or two. It only happens once every 12 months, but I love singing the old cabaret numbers. Over the years I've performed such classics as Summertime, All of Me, Pretend, Wee Wee Hours, Something Stupid, Dream Lover, This Guy's In Love With You, and a host of others. The rat pack would be proud. This year I sang Mean to Me, a song I first heard on Dean Martin's 1960 This Time I'm Swingin' album, a record that still means so much to me, largely because of where I was in my life when I initially came across it. I picked it up for a couple of dollars at a second-hand vinyl shop. There I was, aimless, bereft of joy, alone and poor, when along came Dino. Nelson Riddle never sounded so cool...

If I could find a job singing this stuff regularly, I reckon I'd take it.

Friday, September 23, 2011


One day a real rain will come...

On occasion, it can be really, really difficult to see the good in humans. The rampant stupidity, self-interest, chewing gum, bullshit, mob-mentality, litter, inordinately loud cars, dog crap, idiot media, single-sided printing and general pig-headedness wears me down. And that's just the local experience.

Globally, we appear to be heading inexorably towards an Armageddon comprising environmental, financial and military meltdown, faster than you can say "Rupert Murdoch".

I know I'm not perfect, but I do try to ensure that my personal pursuit of happiness doesn't deliberately trample all over other people's lives. Sure, I make mistakes, but nothing in the realm of the ongoing idiocy which I witness first-hand most days.

All it takes is a little consideration for the needs and desires of other people.

Sometimes I think I'd like to be The Omega Man.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

the last metro

The open mic at The Metropolitan bit the dust last night. It didn't come as a huge shock; attendances have been pretty poor for a while now. It is disappointing personally though because I always found it to be a good night out.
For the last hurrah, regulars were invited to play a few songs out in the band room at the back of the pub.
A good sized crowd turned up to support the evening's performance, and I enjoyed the chance to get up and play. My good mate Lindsay joined me for the show, singing and playing three songs he'd never played before. My facebook song went down well, and choosing to play Werewolves of London immediately afterwards proved a good decision. It has been some time since I've played before such an obviously engaged crowd, it's just a shame that we couldn't have gotten a few more to the Tuesday night venue through the winter.

Oh well, one door closes, another one slams in your face.

Monday, August 29, 2011

All alone

I ride my bike most weekends. I've been doing it for a while now, and have had some marvellous adventures on my longer tours. Most weekend rides are interesting; cars, pedestrians, dogs and other bikes all contributing to the fun and games. Climbing up a steep hill and roaring down the other side provides its own particular joy. But the most enjoyable times on my mountain bike are those rare moments of solitude and tranquility that come from out of nowhere.
Don't get me wrong, I love riding with others. In fact, I rarely ride alone. These joyous, meditative experiences usually occur while I am riding with friends.
It happened yesterday. I was barreling along a stretch between Mount Lofty and Norton Summit, and I'd moved a fair way ahead of my mate. The morning sun was (finally) warming me up and I was lost in the beautiful scenery as I rode. No cars, no riders, no Sunday morning bikers, no-one. Just me, the birds, and the breeze. Out of nowhere, I suddenly felt that everything was perfect. The whole world was in balance, as was I, gliding along at around 40 kilometres an hour.
Five minutes later and I was at the Norton Summit intersection, with a four-wheel drive tank up my khyber. Bikes and riders everywhere, cars using both sides of the road, and me wondering where all the peace and quiet had gone.

I wish I could bottle that beautiful, fleeting feeling and take a swig whenever I felt the need. I suspect I'd need a big bottle...

Catching a break.

OK, right up front, I admit it would be stupid of me to bleat too much. Relative to most of this doomed planet's inhabitants, I have a great life and a great lifestyle. No-one, as far as I know, is trying to blow me up, rip me off, or make my life miserable in any other way. Not directly, at least.
Having said that, the last few days have been murderous. One of the downsides of trying to pack so much into life is that precious little slack time is built into the daily plan. If something goes wrong, it can have a flow-on effect, or simply darken the mood so that minor issues seem a great deal worse than they truly are.
Since Thursday, I have felt a rage growing inside me, nourished on an all-too-frequent diet of rude people, bad drivers, being taken for granted, making dumb mistakes, technology meltdowns, and a million other minor irritants. To say it has made me grumpy and angry is an understatement akin to saying that Hitler was misguided.
The manner in which I have dealt with this (admittedly trivial) rough patch has demonstrated, to me at least,that I have slipped dramatically from a few years ago. Strengthened by an almost insatiable appetite for Buddhist literature and learning, that version of David would have laughed the bad mood all the way to Nirvana. Or at least tried to.
Some work to be done, I think.

I have to go to sodding Melbourne for work tomorrow. A day full of planes, taxis and offices. And a gig in Adelaide tomorrow night.

Serenity now.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday rambling...

Friday is my favourite day. It always has been, and I suspect it always will. I usually have Fridays off, which adds to the joy.

This morning I rose before dawn, got picked up around 6:45, and was ferried into town. My mate Bob and I, along with a few hundred others, took part in the Walk A Mile In My Boots charity walk to help the homeless. It was a cold, cold morning, but at least we hadn't spent the night sleeping outdoors.
I walk to work at dawn most days. I pass through Adelaide's parklands and I know that there are folks sleeping rough out there. It's freezing in winter; I don't know how people do it. I guess you can do just about anything when you have no choice. I am thankful that I have a choice.
The walk went well, there was a pervading sense that we were doing something good, and I enjoyed a fried egg sandwich at the end before we headed down Hutt Street for a coffee.

I am fond of saying that "You are only two bad decisions away from sleeping in the parklands". I believe this. Most of us can make one almighty mistake and just about recover. When one mistake leads to another, however, things can spin out of control very quickly.
Extreme caution is advised when making mistakes.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


People die every day. Famous, unknown, heroes, villains, old, young; it doesn't matter - mortality doesn't discriminate.
With each passing year I seem to be less and less affected by the news of celebrities shuffling off. Even the young and tragic cases don't generally have much of an effect on me. I guess I've just become used to it. I still remember hearing about Sid James (neither young nor tragic) passing in 1976; I think that is about the earliest I can recall.

The one that still gets to me is the untimely death of Joe Strummer - dead at 50 from an undiagnosed heart condition. Poor sod. He was doing quite well; riding high(-ish) on the crest of a second wave of acclaim with The Mescaleros.
I met Joe once. By some fluke, me and a few mates bumped into The Clash in the back rooms of Thebarton Town Hall after their 1982 gig. We'd been out to the airport to see them arrive (see photo) and already enjoyed a bit of banter, so this was an unexpected bonus. He was top bloke, as were the other three members of the band. By all accounts the Australian tour was not The Clash's happiest time, but we shared a few laughs and a few beers over the course of a couple of hours that night.
Anyway, I miss Joe more than I miss most of those that have checked out. I reckon his best may still have been in front of him.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


July has been a pretty good month for gigs. I've made a total of nine appearances, and only two of them saw me playing less than half a dozen songs.
As well as the usual open mic spots, I've played gigs at the Metropolitan, the Ambassadors, and the Burnside Library. The highlight was a well received two-hour show at The Ambassadors. I had to drag a few songs out of the vault, and resuscitate others, just to make sure I had enough originals to fill the time slot. I did throw in a couple of covers...
So, it's been a good month, musically speaking. Long may it continue.

photo copyright © Stewart Cook 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

End of leave

My leave is almost over. I haven't been quite as industrious as I would have liked, but it has been a good break.
I've done just about enough to convince me that my work rate has been satisfactory, but I've also drunk a lot of wine, eaten a lot of food, and watched a lot of telly.

That's fine by me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blaxploitation and Zombies

Having a little time on your hands can be a wonderful thing. I've had the pleasure of watching a few low-budget classics while I've been on leave.
Penitentiary (I & II), The Black Godfather, Zombie Flesh Eaters, Sugar Hill (1974 version), The Big Doll House, The Black Street Fighter, The Big Bird Cage, Zombie Holocaust and The Black Six have all been part of my holiday viewing schedule. I've found this concentrated experience to be a most enjoyable ride.
Most of these films look like they were made on a budget of around a thousand bucks. Some of the dialogue is cringeworthy, but the majority is just plain B-movie gold. The perfect antidote for the winter blues.

Oh, and just to remind myself that there other types of films, I've also watched the excellent Lost in Translation and Adaptation.

Monday, July 25, 2011


While walking around the neighbourhood, I've noticed that blossom is appearing on a few of the trees. This is great news for anyone waiting for the longer days and the warmer weather. It is another sign that we are heading in the right direction.
We are now well past the Winter Solstice, although it is still dark when I walk to work in the mornings. Not that I've been doing that in the last couple of weeks. The evenings seem a little lighter.
It is forecasted to hit 20 degrees on Thursday. That sounds very pleasant indeed.

I suppose it won't be very long until we have to put up with folks whinging about Daylight Saving and carping about the heat.
Humans are funny.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Writer's cramp

It's been a productive few weeks for David Robinson, boy reporter. Writing takes time and energy, and the pay-off moments are often few and far between. It is most pleasurable, then, to find oneself in the midst of something of a purple patch.
In the last month or so I have written and submitted mountain biking pieces for Cycle magazine and the nationally distributed Australian Cyclist. The articles focus on my latest Mawson Trail odyssey and my usual Sunday morning ride respectively. Hopefully both will see the light of day soon.
I have also had music-flavoured articles published in SCALA News, Infolkus, and Trad & Now. This is the first time I've appeared in Infolkus and Trad & Now, so I was pretty happy to see my name in their pages.
Hopefully this trend will continue. It makes me happy.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Musical interlude

I've just started a fortnight's leave. Fantastic.
Holidays generally involve me embarking on some sort of project or adventure; this short break will probably see me doing as little as possible. I am hoping to take it easy at home, escape the bleak extremes of winter, and spend my days doing comfortable, pleasurable things. Musical things, most likely...
I have websites to update/redesign, songs to write, new musical equipment to work out, and more than my fair share of minor chores to manage. On the other hand, I have loads of films to watch, guitars to play, and comfort food to eat.
We shall see how things pan out.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"...for we are young and freezing"

I spent most of last week in Canberra. I arrived on Tuesday and flew home on Friday. It was, unsurprisingly, extremely fresh. Mid-July is never going to be warm in the capital. The skies were blue though and the days had a sunny disposition, which made it quite pleasant despite the chill. I was reminded of my longer stints in the city, over the course of a couple of winters back in 1995 and 1996. Despite being a long way from home, they were fun times.
I got to spend a couple of my evenings at The Phoenix; it is a most agreeable place. It would be good to get a gig there sometime. I wish it was just around the corner from my house...
I also picked up some more cut-price horror DVDs from Landspeed Records - Dario Argento and Tobe Hooper collections, as well as a couple of cinematic masterpieces; the evocatively named Zombie Flesh Eaters and Zombie Holocaust. I remember watching both of them when living in share houses back in the day.

Canberra can be fun.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Well, it's been a long time. After lying dormant for few years, underutilised and undercover, my Honda deserved some love.
I finally got around to getting the old girl looked at in late 2009. I thought it probably needed points, a new battery, and a couple of other minor things. Nope. It needed plenty of work, and I was going to have to pay, and wait, if I wanted a functioning bike again.
I didn't see the bike for just over a year, and was very happy to regain possession of it in mid-April. Unfortunately, Mawson Trail mountain bike rides, work, bronchitis and music commitments have made it difficult for the two of us to spend any quality time together.

That all changed this morning.

Welcome back, Honda.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Friday on my mind...

It's Friday night and I'm playing a two-hour show at The Ambassadors. For someone who relies almost solely on originals, this is a pretty big ask.
My setlist comprises all of my songs that I know well, and don't mind playing, as well as a host of songs I almost never play. Plus a few covers courtesy of Billy Bragg, Alistair Hulett, Joy Division and Wreckless Eric. Thanks guys, the cheque's in the mail.
The bar is filled with after-work drinkers in various stages of disrepair, and I wonder if the level of weekend-welcoming inebriation is the reason why I'm going down so well. Not that I am bothered, a win is a win. Without wishing to put too finer point on things, they love me.
It's nights like this that remind me why I play for people. And play for myself.

As usual, the time passes quickly and I sense that my singing, my harmonica and my 12-string have passed the audition. I could do this every week; it might be time to seek out a residency somewhere...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A good day

Some days, everything falls into place.

This morning, the radio shattered my pre-dawn escapism as per usual, and I rose and went about preparing myself for workaday drudgery. At least it was my half-day.
I'd forgotten that we had planned to drive to work, so I walked in without thinking. Nice one David.
I left work at lunchtime, and when I got home I went online and registered my Honda before taking it for a very short ride to fill up the tank. Despite the fact that it was only a couple of kilometres (the real ride will come on the weekend), it felt great to be back on my motor bike. It has been getting fixed up over the last 12 months and has only recently found its way back to my house.
As soon as I got home and flipped the bike up onto its stand, a parcel van arrived. Very timely indeed - it was my Fender Telecaster that I'd recently purchased from Austin, Texas. Welcome to your new life, you little beauty!
I also discovered that I'd successfully bid on a guitar effects rack. I'd made a very skinny bid expecting it to be bested but it turned out to be sufficient. What luck!

Just when I was thinking that the day couldn't get much better, the sun came out.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Winter's Tale

Tuesday night. The Metropolitan Hotel is relatively empty as I walk in, escaping the chilly evening air. The true believers are there, and no doubt the place will fill up once things get underway. Although, it is a cold winter's night and I understand why folks may choose to stay at home.
I have a decent chat with a few people; there are advantages when the evening is a little more relaxed than usual. We talk about guitars, life, and other absurd concepts.
I play a few songs. I've been trying to showcase a bunch of different songs at recent gigs - covers, really old songs, and a few new ones. It all helps to broaden my repertoire. Tonight I give myself a night off and play six of my more familiar numbers. Just for fun.

Catching the bus home on a cold but fine winter's night in deserted Adelaide carries with it a sense of romance. For a few minutes I am 17 again.

Friday, July 1, 2011


I got out of bed the other Sunday, quite early as it happened, to prepare for a mountain bike ride. My Saturday night had been of a half-decent size so I wasn't overly surprised to feel a little dizzy as I lurched down the hallway.
It passed quite quickly and I didn't give it another thought.
When I went to bed that night, I had an attack of the head spins as soon as I lay down. Weird.
It was the same the next morning and night, and for the ensuing days.
Anything strange like this is a concern and, as the early morning/late night spinning persisted for over a week, I decided to consult a physician.
I was hoping it wouldn't be anything too serious, but worry is a powerful thing. After doing his best to allay the most melodramatic of my fears, the doctor pronounced a confident diagnosis of "benign positional vertigo". It turns out that its quite common, and can be helped by the execution of an exercise known as Epley's Manoeuvre, and although this is usually successful, it can always come back.

Great. Now I don't know if, on any given morning, I am going to walk into the hallway, or into the wall.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Yours Truly. Again.

Back in May, I reunited with my good mate Ken for a weekend of Yours Truly gigs. Ken was in Adelaide for the Alistair Hulett Memorial Fund concert, and we decided to make the most of his four days in town.
On the Thursday evening we caught up, said hello, and had a quick rehearsal just to make sure we remembered the songs. Then it was into the cars and down to Higher Ground to play a short set of originals as part of a SCALA performance. Luckily we know enough of each others' songs that we are just about proficient without the need for lengthy rehearsals. Things happen so quickly in the the Yours Truly universe that any kind of rehearsal is a rarity. The gig provided a great launching pad for the weekend.
On the Friday we journeyed down to Red Brick recording studios. After playing as a duo for a few years now, we figured that it was probably time to commemorate our union and do some recording together. We had a great day, recording eight songs under the guidance of Anthony Stewart, studio supremo. We hope to have the first Your Truly album out before Christmas, with a sneak preview song appearing on the next SCALA CD.
This was another of our whirlwind weekends as we played gigs at The Ambassadors Hotel, The SA Folk Centre, and the front bar of the Governor Hindmarsh. All the shows were different, and we had a great deal of rock and roll fun. The Alistair Hulett concert was a bit special, and I was very happy to accompany Ken through the set of Hulett classics.
We just about had time for a quick pint after the Sunday afternoon show at The Gov before Ken had to make his way to the airport, and beat a hasty retreat back to Sydney.

Adios amigo!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mawson: Aftermath

After three nights of sleeping in my own bed, things are beginning to return to normal. I am still trying to shake off the cold, so periods of feeling like a wet rag are common. I'd be lying though if I denied that some of the general feeling of fatigue was due to the ride itself. Apart from these minor maladies, I am just about back in the fold.
I haven't attended to the bike or the camping gear yet, but all my washing has been done, as well as the various other administrative tasks. Maps, blogs, emails, notes, ride guides, journals...
I am keen to keep my fitness levels up, and to learn more about my bike. Once my head clears, and if the weather is kind, I hope to be traversing the trails at Eagle Park. It's right on my doorstep and I am embarrassed to admit that I've never ridden there.

For now though, I need to turn my head back to being a musician - After a couple of weeks away, there's much to be done.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mawson: Day 15 - Reflections

I'm on the bus. All around me, people are sneezing and coughing, and I wonder how healthy the next eight hours are going to be. I try and snooze...
My mind is filled with fast-flying recollections. Kangaroos hopping across the trails only metres ahead of me, emus lying dead on the road, and a giant wedge-tailed eagle skipping out onto the path in front of us. Arriving at the top of ascents, stopping to breathe, sweat and swear. The crash of the bike as it smashes its way through another creek bed, the speed of some of the crazy downhills, and my screaming, screaming legs. Cold mornings, warm afternoons, cloudy days. The ice-cold Pale Ale I'd enjoyed at Laura. Crowded dinner tents, vegetarian lasagna, salad. Bloody salad. Seeing old friends and making some new ones. Feeling good, feeling sick, feeling tired. Feeling ecstatic upon arrival at Blinman.
That's four times now that I have done this trip. Is that enough? Will I be back? Who knows, ask me in a few months...
What I do know is, that I am ready for a hot bath and my own bed. I smell like a camel and look worse.
Home, James.

Mawson: Day 14 - Job done!

Another early departure. Start early, finish early. It's a pretty good plan. Let's get this done.
The singletrack section through Rawnsley is a beauty. Crashing through the creeks at speed is a lovely way to make sure you are awake, and the fast section into Wilpena is also fun.
More singletrack, the best of the whole ride, waited for us the other side of morning tea. Breathtakingly fast and scary.
I'd decided to try and ride the entire Razorback climb, and I'm happy to report that I succeeded. Yay me! I was, of course, breathing heavily at the top.
The arid, red dirt sections that have to be travelled before and after lunch were a chore, but (again) I managed the climbs without having to stop - except for when I got to the top. And there are some beauties - especially the uphill to the top of the ridge around Red Hill.
The bitumen into Blinman was a breeze. A sealed road all the way. We rode fast, intent on making a good time. We were 4th/5th into the finish, a lovely way to end our great ride.
Beer o'clock!

Mawson: Day 13 - Full steam ahead!

After the joy of the previous day, I was hoping for good riding and rude health for the Rawnsley leg. I'd slept OK, and Ray and I blew out of town a little earlier than usual. The penultimate day is a pretty tough gig, and I wasn't sure how it would pan out.
The no-man's land section outside of Hawker is a beautiful landscape, filled with great scenery and good riding. There's a big climb up around Mernmerna Hill before travelling across the top and then contemplating the huge downhill at Mt Little. I generally don't contemplate it for very long...
The erstwhile sandy section was relatively easy to traverse this time around; the creek beds were forgiving. Kangaroos hopped about the place, almost oblivious to our presence.
The Moralana Scenic Drive might be a nice way to spend your afternoon if you are seated in your 4WD, listening to music and drinking Coke, but it remains a pain in the backside to ride. Literally. Having said that, it improved after the first eight kilometres.
The dirt road into Rawnsley is a horrible way to finish the day, definitely the worst last leg of the trip, so I was happy to make camp.
Last day tomorrow... almost there.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mawson: Day 12 - The longest day

A really good ride. We woke up in the rain; at least it wasn't cold. Baked beans for breakfast and we left camp after most had set sail for Hawker. We rode like trains for most of the day. It was the fastest I've ever done this leg. There were a couple of stretches into the wind around Simmonston, and we also had the lung-bursting climb at Yarrah Vale Gorge, but the wind was at our back for most of the journey. Even though it is the longest day of the odyssey, it is probably my favourite. We arrived in Hawker on the coat tails of the first two riders to get in; very satisfying. Despite the snot, my headcold has almost disappeared. Two days left, and big ones at that. Let's do it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mawson: Day 11 - Quorn

I'd slept horribly. Dreams filled with frustration and anxiety, cold, half awake... Something I could have done without. I packed and had breakfast in a bit of a daze, and the haze continued through the first section of the morning's ride. Luckily it was pretty fast and flat. I seemed to wake up a little on the next stage, and three of us rode pretty well over the hills to lunch. Richman Gap wasn't half as daunting as I remembered; maybe I am a better rider this time around. We rode into Quorn via the most fantastic downhill, on the other side of the gap, arriving around lunchtime. My day had improved significantly as the hours passed. I think (hope) that my cold may be on the way out of my system. Here's hoping.

Mawson: Day Nine/Ten - Remarkable Melrose

Laura to Melrose is pretty good ride. It's reasonably short but includes a fair bit of climbing out of the Wirrrabara Forest as well as some uphills closer to Melrose. I made the trip in good time, arriving around lunchtime. It was a coolish day and my headcold was holding me back, but I just kept on pedalling. It tried to rain as I set up camp in the early afternoon shadows of the impressive Mount Remarkable, but it was relatively light.
Apart from doing some washing and replacing my thorn-resistant inner tubes with a thinner variety, I took the rest day literally. It didn't seem to do much good - I was pretty knackered and a bit down most of the day - probably the headcold. Come on body, get your act together.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mawson: Day Eight - Channel surfing

A pretty tough day. I woke up tired, and everything was an effort from there. Headcold. We rode the Bundaleer Channels in the cool morning sun (not too many did), and made the refreshment break in good time. The ride up into the Never Never Range was the highlight of the day - steep, rocky and quite tough. Bundaleer Forest was good fun, but the last section was a straight up grind. By the time we made camp I was finally feeling a little better, I suspect the cold is waning. We celebrated by having a few beers in the Laura Hotel. The evening is forecast to be a lot warmer; maybe we are on the way up.