Womad’s in the house

Welcome to Womad

Going to Womadelaide this weekend was the perfect antidote to a bloody busy and stressful week.

A few weeks ago I happened upon a house I liked, went to see it, made an offer and the offer was rejected. I looked back at that house and missed it even though I’d only visited it once. I didn’t dwell on it heaps but just over a week ago the real estate agent contacted me to ask if I was still interested.

I was, so I went back to have another look. I took a friend and she and I both noticed a few things that would need fixing.

I stayed with my offer and a few days later it was accepted.

I contacted a building inspector who I’ve used before who just happened to have already inspected that house so he briefly told me his findings and when my offer was accepted sent me the report. As he didn’t have to physically do another inspection I got a cheaper rate for his report.

After evaluating the report, speaking to him, speaking to others, I pulled out of contract during the cooling off. Besides what needed fixing in the house I would have had to rent it out for up to a year while my house is sorted out. There’s some council stuff happening at my house which could affect me, and affect a sale until I know one way or the other.

While all this was going on I had a job interview to prepare for, and my son to get ready for a scout camp this weekend. So by Friday night I was physically and emotionally exhausted.




I always love the atmosphere at Womad and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a well-oiled machine – the organisation of it all.

I had a massage not long after I got there and that helped set the tone for the rest of the day for me. It was a bit warm but there’s plenty of shade and free sunscreen near the first-aid tent if you forgot to put sunscreen on your feet like I did.


Sunday evening parade at Womadelaide

Sunday night is parade night and it’s a sight and sound spectacular.

Stage 1 Womadelaide

There were definitely some music highlights too. We left there 12 hours after arrival feeling very satisfied.

Finding time to do your singing practise

Band practise minus the singer (photographer). Day 280/366.

I’ve been doing singing lessons again. I used to do them in the late 90s and then stopped and thought I’d probably not do them again because I already had spent two years paying for lessons.

Since then I’ve been singing in choirs and doing a semi-organised thing with friends and more recently The Surfer, a friend of his and I have made a little band – two guitarists and me, the vocalist and occasional ukulele player.

I’ve got a reasonable voice but thought I could do with some polishing. Add that desire, and the location of the nearby music school it was a no-brainer to go and try it out.

So I’ve been going for about three terms now. My singing teacher is young enough to be my child but she knows her stuff and she likes similar types of music to me so we get on quite well. My last singing teacher kept bringing up artists that I’d never heard of or couldn’t stand – mostly the latter so it was a bit of a struggle to find common ground with song choices.

However, I need to practise during the week. This time round we don’t tape my lessons. Last time I used to tape the lessons and listen to it during the week while driving to work so I’d practise then.

I’ve put the songs I’m singing, or have sung onto a playlist on my iPhone and while I’m washing the dishes or preparing dinner I put that playlist on and practise. It’s a good way to not have the words with you although sometimes I need to momentarily stop cutting up onion and get out the words so I actually know what to sing.

I’ve also bought a contraption for my aging car so I can listen to the music, and practise, in there as well.

I should probably practise more but I figure I’m doing what I can.


What’s the one musical event you wish you’d been at?

Red Hot Chili Peppers ticket

You know how people go to a great event and they don’t stop talking about it 20 years later. You wish you could have been there but you weren’t so it doesn’t matter how many stories they tell about this fantastic event you missed out on, you weren’t there and you just smile and nod and wish they’d shut up about it because of course you would have loved to have been there.

What event would this be for you?

For me, it was the 1993 Big Day Out in Adelaide. It was the first Big Day Out here, and it was held at Adelaide University. It was a stinking hot day in early February as days in Adelaide are bound to be at this time of year.

Iggy Pop played and he was awesome. You should have seen him. Well I couldn’t because I wasn’t there.

I had a really good excuse as to why I wasn’t there. I wasn’t in the country. I was in England – freezing – in winter.

While you were getting squirted with firehoses at the Big Day Out before Iggy Pop came on, I was commuting for an hour or two to work in the dark.

There’s been some other good bands play at Big Day Outs in Adelaide, but they’re still not as good as the first one. Because the first one was at Adelaide University and all the rest have been at the Adelaide Show Grounds. Totally different venue. Totally different feel.

So when people are still posting photos on Facebook from that day, or talking about it at parties, I just try to think of all the great gigs I went to in England.

I could tell you about the time I went to the Reading Festival in 1993. Or when I saw Red Hot Chili Peppers and Henry Rollins on the one night at Brixton Academy for the princely sum of £10.50. One of my favourite shows was Pop Will Eat Itself at the Town and Country.

Smashing Pumpkins ticket

Here’s some more:

  • Smashing Pumpkins at the Astoria – 14 February 1992
  • The Jesus and Mary Chain (Rollercoaster tour) with Blur, My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr at Brixton Academy – 7 April 1992 (£12.50)
  • Fugazi at Brixton Academy – 9 May 1992 (£5)
  • Sonic Youth at Brixton Academy – 15 December 1992 (£9.50)
  • Jesus Jones – 1 April 1993 at the Astoria (£8.50)
  • Madonna – Girlie Show  at Wembley Stadium- 25 September 1993 (£22.50).

Ok, so missing out on that inaugural Big Day Out in Adelaide perhaps wasn’t so bad after all. And it’s a pity those prices are now long gone.

Some Barry

Thursday morning I left the house after a fraught morning trying to get organised and get out of it. I waved my son off to school and realised I’d left my phone behind.

While on the way back to get it, a friend drove past my house and ended up giving me a lift into work. Yay! On the way there I told her that I had a childfree night the next evening and she said if you’re not doing anything we’re going to see Barry Adamson.

Barry Adamson I said? I know who he is, I’ve got one of his cd’s. I’d love to go. So I booked tickets.

He played at the Promethean on Grote Street in Adelaide, a fantastic little venue and I loved that an artist I admire was sneaking into town and that by the vaguest chance, I’d found out and was able to go. How’s that?

After working for most of the week I was pretty tired but found my second wind to absolutely enjoy the show.

I had a pretty good view even though I was up the back near the mixing desk. He mostly played songs from his new album which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I love that feeling when you’re out and about seeing a band that’s fabulous. I used to do it all the time, go and see live music that is. Back in my 20s I was out at least two nights of the week seeing local acts. That doesn’t happen any more and I couldn’t even tell you the names of many local bands. Turn back 20 years and I’m on it though. Oh well, times and priorities change.

So when I do get out to see something like this it’s all the more enjoyable. It was great to have some good friends there too.

Towards the end I turned around and Tex Perkins was sitting up the back. He was doing his Man in Black show down the road and popped into see Barry Adamson after that. I tried to get a sneaky photo of him but that didn’t work.

After the show finished I bought the new CD and got my photo taken. Is Barry rolling his eyes?

Barry Adamson. Day 258/366.

Do you enjoy live music?

What’s not to love about the ukulele?

Uke group

I can’t quite believe that it’s seven – yes seven – years since I first picked up a ukulele and learned three basic chords and therefore started to play it.

I’d always wanted to learn the guitar and that never happened but learning the uke was much more achievable. I still play it but I’m pretty much still a one-strum-wonder. I’m just not that dedicated I suppose. I’ve sat in front of YouTube clips that show differeing strumming methods but if it doesn’t click fairly quickly I lose interest just as quickly.

I have had a lot of fun with it along the way though.

I’ve had trouble staying in rhythm with my singing. Although I have to admit sometimes I just don’t have the mojo for it and other times I think I sound pretty damn good. One night I picked up the uke at about 11pm and started belting out a song. My son’s bedroom was the next room and normally he sleeps through quite a bit of noise. This time, however, he came out to the lounge with his face screwed up because of the light and a look of disgust and told me quite clearly that I was making too much noise. Suitably chastened I packed up for the evening.

I think the most fun I’ve had with it is getting together with a group of people. There’s a lot to be said for other players hiding your mistakes and introducing you to songs you otherwise might not have considered.


I’ve even performed in public. I’ve done this more than once and get a kick out of it even though my legs were shaking.

More recently I’ve started ‘jamming’ with The Surfer and a friend of his. They play the guitar and I sing, and play the odd song with the ukulele so it’s getting a bit of an airing.

I realised only recently that I haven’t got the ambition to become a great ukulele player, but I do enjoy picking it up every now and then to have a strum.

Some blokes singing about death

Graveyard Train at The Gov. Day 129/366.

I went out the other night to see this band – Graveyard Train. A band of seven blokes singing about death.

It was the first night of their Australian tour to launch their new album. I’ve now got their first and second album and they’re both brilliant. When we got the first album we played it in the car and I was ‘allowed’ to turn it up so we could both sing along. Usually my son pleads with me to turn the music down. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

Hailing from Melbourne I’ve been very lucky to see them twice this year. Once at Barrio (Adelaide Festival), then again the other night.

As you can see I was nice and close and when they finished their set I could have stood there to watch it all over again.

Often when I see a band, even though I’ve enjoyed it, I’m glad for a rest at the end. Not so with these guys.

There’s a guy (at the end playing the harmonica in this shot) whose usual musical instrument is chains around his neck and a hammer. I wonder how they explain that at customs if the need ever arises. I’ve never seen a band playing chains.

The other thing I love about them is that they all sing (except for the drummer I think) and when they do it’s just magic.

This is the type of boy band I really dig!

You might enjoy this video

Songs that immediately lift my mood

As I try to sort out playlists on that iToy contraption of mine I’ve been creating a favourites list. Last Wednesday saw me dancing around the kitchen to some of it. Sometimes JJ and I will crank up the music’s volume and have a dance together and occasionally I’ll do it myself. It makes me feel really good, and it’s good exercise. Here’s a few of those tunes (if viewing this via RSS and can’t see the clips below click through to the site).

What songs would you add?

Lonely Boy – The Black Keys

I’ll bet you have trouble staying still when listening to/watching this clip.

It’s Lunacy – Ed Kuepper

Ed Kuepper is a favourite musician of mine. I haven’t seen him recently but saw him years ago at a local university with the Hoodoo Gurus. Listen to the lyrics – love em.

Fever – Sarah Vaughan [Adam Freeland remix]

Yet another cover version of an older song and I really like how it’s been done. This is a great one to sing along to as well – if you’re into that sort of thing. I might be!

Human Fly – Nouvelle Vague

It takes nearly a minute before the song actually starts and it’s a live version, but it’s a great song – a Cramps cover. It’s also somewhat slower than the music above. I saw Nouvelle Vague a year and a half ago at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and I thoroughly recommend them. They were great.

I know I asked above, but I’m asking again. What song/s make you feel great?