Saturday, July 22, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #420

I've just looked in my notebook at my list of music to listen to and consider for this week and I've only written two entries. I guess they'll get an airing then! Bear with me as the rest I'm just making up as I go along.

The radio was playing a feature all about the music of the band Queens of the Stone Age yesterday. I've never been a huge fan but what hit me was how many of the tracks I was very familiar with and how good they were. I really must spend some time with their back catalogue. I really liked, and still do, the band Kyuss who became QOTSA. I was lucky enough to see them opening for Metallica in Sydney in March 1993. I guess QOTSA are closer to a traditional rock band than Kyuss who had a very stoner, doom laden sound. Whatever the case, both are very worth considering as a listening project. Josh Homme has been in nearly as many awesome bands as Chris Slade or Dave Grohl!

Kyuss - Green Machine - https://youtu.be/R-MSfd2S7lo

Queens of the Stone Age - Misfit Love (live) - https://youtu.be/hH4Gt467T7E

I've been on the lookout for an octave pedal for my guitar rig for a little while. In essence what it does is add an extra layer of sound, either an octave up, or an octave down, to the sound. Hendrix is probably the most famous user of this effect but there are plenty of other examples. The search is proving interesting with way too many options to choose from and a huge price range to deal with from, "so cheap it must be dodgy", right up to, "goodness gracious, that costs more than all my other pedals combined". I'll find something one day but for now I'm watching and listening to way too many gear demonstrations on YouTube.

I wrote something earlier in the week about one of my favourite bands. Feel free to peruse my ramblings here. Here's a tune from the group in question.

Baby Animals - Early Warning (live) - https://youtu.be/FZKh8XXvTz4

The band is working up to a rather special live show. As a result I had some fun during the week just sitting with some band members and running through a few tunes. It's a good feeling to play tunes that have been absent from our repertoire for a while. And even more fun simply going through them at lounge room level volume. Playing with the dynamics of a song is great and I'm lucky to have talented and understanding co-collaborators. We hadn't played this one for a while and I really enjoyed it...

Jason Isbell - Cover Me Up (live) - https://youtu.be/NaUCDqWzy1k

This is just a cool song that I hadn't heard in a while. It's got something for everyone. Groovy vocals, great bass line, brass and a ripping guitar solo.

Blondie - Rapture - https://youtu.be/6FM9M2_WP8g

Angus was off in Sydney this week seeing a rapper with a funny name and questionable hair (his words, not mine). Rap got really dumb somewhere along the way. It used to be hard hitting and fun all at the same time. These days, much of it is like the reality TV version of the worst thing you can think of ; low rent and lower than the lowest common denominator. Let's remember the really good stuff and hope that more young MCs and rappers do as well.

Run DMC - My Adidas - https://youtu.be/JNua1lFDuDI

Ice-T - I'm Your Pusher - https://youtu.be/_nODi6OECzs

I read this week that there is a TV mini-series coming soon about the life and times of Australian rock legends, The Easybeats. As well as this is a national concert tour that seems to feature most of the same lineup that I saw paying tribute to The Beatles White Album. If you're not familiar with The Easybeats and their place in rock music history then I encourage you to have a listen to the following tracks. You won't be "sorry".

The Easybeats - I'll Make You Happy - https://youtu.be/2YM8qOKUmwA

A couple of weeks ago I played a song by Songhoy Blues, a group from Mali. Imagine my surprise when, at the record store I spotted their album! I couldn't wait to get home and have a listen and I wasn't disappointed. If you think you might fancy an insistent mix of desert reggae, Hendrix style guitars, brass and funk then you need this record. This is definitely one of the musical highlights of 2017 thus far in my opinion.

Songhoy Blues - Bamako - https://youtu.be/xBujXJVBxNU

Look, I understand a musician needing to make a living, but some of the use of classic tracks behind advertising is getting beyond a joke. Let's remember Ronnie James Dio for his great songs rather than for in an ad for cars.

Dio - Holy Diver (live) - https://youtu.be/dO7tBeNHXyE?t=1m4s

More guitar practice shall now occur....after a bike ride and a listen to Sgt Peppers in 5.1 surround sound; I will report back on if it's any good!

I'll leave you with something released 30 years ago this week. Rock on!

Guns N' Roses - Welcome to the Jungle - https://youtu.be/o1tj2zJ2Wvg

See you all later,
Rob

Some songs definitely sound better in German...like this

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Baby Animals fanboy...

It was the early 90's and I was in my first rock band. It was so much fun and the fact that people actually came to watch us play AND enjoyed it was a revelation. We played fairly standard rock and roll covers and that endeared us to a few venues around the place so we had fairly constant work.

Always on the listen for something new and cool to play, we were blown away when Baby Animals burst onto the Australian music scene. "Early Warning" was such an amazing song and, given that we had a female singer, we covered it. 

Why did I love the band? Well, it was the energy, the great vocal delivery and of course the guitars. David Leslie's swirling, overdriven sounds were, and still are, such a huge influence on me.

Seeing the Baby Animals play live was simply awesome. The first time for me was at the ANU bar in Canberra and either late 91 or 92. The crowd was heaving, the band rocked hard and the music was just first class. I have memories of them ripping into a cover of Hendrix's, "Fire". During the show, one of my friends got to the front only to have his dodgy knee give way. He remembers ending up lying on his back directly under vocalist Suze de Marchi as she was singing and apart from the pain it's a gig highlight for him! By the time the show was over Sutto's knee was stuffed, Alison (my future wife) had lost two buttons from her shirt and an earring, and I'd lost my watch somewhere in the crowd. It was one of the best shows I've ever been to!

And I still think that Baby Animals are right up there with the best live bands I've ever seen. I wore my "God Shave The Queen" tour t-shirt for years.

This week I realized that Mr Leslie is in a music gear Facebook group that I am a part of. That's just so cool. It's easier to have my fanboy moment from afar though. I'm sure I'd be tongue tied if I actually met him. But if I did, I'd want to thank him for the years of enjoyment and inspiration that his music has given me.

Rob

Saturday, July 15, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #419

Winter....winter is everywhere! With temperatures due to head back down to -7 degrees over the weekend there's only one way to cope and that is to rug up and embrace it. We're very lucky here in Canberra that the sun is usually out even if it is freezing cold. And when it comes to cycling you just need the right gear and attitude.

By the time Monday rolls around I will have had two whole weeks with no cycling. I've been pretty unwell and I'm doing my best to behave and get properly well before I venture out again...but it's boring. The upside has been a few days on my motorbike. Very much colder than cycling but fun all the same. It's also a good way to avoid paying for parking at work as well as the great unwashed on the bus.

For all of you following Le Tour de France how good was it to see Fabio Aru move into the leader's jersey and the race actually become interesting? I was seriously worried that it was just going to be a Team Sky processional lap of the country. Nothing at all against Chris Froome, I just want to see an interesting competition which we may now be blessed with.

ABBA - The Winner Takes It All - https://youtu.be/92cwKCU8Z5c

Musically I discovered a singer/guitarist called Chuck Prophet this week (thank you Spotify algorithms). If you like Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, David Bowie and Bob Dylan then Chuck may just be for you. He's got around a dozen solo albums to choose from. I started with the newest one, "Bobby Fuller died for your sins", and I haven't looked back as it's a real treat. One or two of the songs could be a bit lost on a non-American audience but that's a very minor issue. There's plenty of twangy guitars as well and it's load of fun!

Chuck Prophet - Jesus Was A Social Drinker - https://youtu.be/TTiRNRvoG1s

Broken Social Scene are a band that Kelowna's own DJ Kel-C introduced me to a few years ago now. Their new release (their first in seven years) has been getting a massive push on national radio here this week and it's worth a spin. 

Broken Social Scene - Hug Of Thunder (live) - https://youtu.be/RhYqAfCn3SA

DJ SlimRollins clued me into this track from Gary Clark Jr. this week. Another artist for me to investigate and listen to. I really appreciate it when people take time to recommend tracks and/or artists. I'll spend some time with Gary's music and report back at a later date.

Gary Clark Jr. - Bright Lights (live) - https://youtu.be/x_ZeDn-hHGE

I was in a car with a colleague this week and they were super excited when one of their favourite TV theme songs came around on the stereo. Do you have a favourite? I can think of some rather cool ones that I regard as iconic...here are four that I really like:

Theme from CHiPs - https://youtu.be/FPJAwHQj8SI

Theme from Battlestar Galactica (the original one) - https://youtu.be/vzyHxYxc-Mo

Theme from Dr Who - https://youtu.be/XZ1kRxgKft4

Theme from M*A*S*H - https://youtu.be/4gO7uemm6Yo

As many of you cannot have failed to notice, Midnight Oil are on a rather large world tour. Whether they have rekindled passion to play music or were just low on funds is a moot point really as many, many fans all over the place are overjoyed at the chance to see them play again. I'm not going though and there are two reasons for that. One is that tickets were simply very difficult to get. And the other is that I've seen them before not to mention watching endless live footage trying to work out which bits I should play live when we did our run of Oils tribute shows. What I do think is cool is that they are significantly varying their setlists. Lots of other big acts seem to play almost the same set night after night but not the Oils. They had one show at which they played the entire Diesel & Dust album in the middle of the show and another where then let loose with the complete Species Deceases EP. That kind of surprise would be simply amazing for real fans. I'm not greedy though, I'd be happy to see them playing just this song...

Midnight Oil - Cold Cold Change - https://youtu.be/8rJLpYRwDs8

John Mellencamp has a new song from the soundtrack to the National Geographic film, "From The Ashes". It's an old Merle Travis classic and John does his best to sound like Tom Waits on this great version.

John Mellencamp - Dark As A Dungeon - https://youtu.be/NaBglElgQ5w

That'll do this week. Places to go, people to see, Adele songs to learn...

Rob

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #418

Hello there rock and roll brothers and sisters, we're back and it's not even the end of a week. The truth is that I'm off sick and rather than waste my day on the lounge binge watching something on Netflix, I've decided to head to HQ World Wide Woozle (aka the garage studio) to recommend some tunes for you. Any weird or seemingly random suggestions could be due to the cold and flu medication or simply just a reflection of my listening tastes at the moment. Are you sitting comfortably?

I recommend this list of 25 albums from the last 25 years from NPR. Whilst there are a couple of obvious choices in there for me there is also a lot to explore. Working my way through it I can say that Bon Iver is NOT for me, Death Cab For Cutie is a great name for a band but I really did expect heavy metal and Liz Phair is always cool. I'm a bit stuck on Ray La Montagne. Lots of reviews compare him to people like Steven Stills and Van Morrison but initially I thought he was just a talented Ben Harper fan with a good folk music collection. But I persevered and this song might just be the turning point for me...

Ray La Montagne - How Come - https://youtu.be/a5KZrYSfgic

The next band turned up on Double J radio the other day and really made me stop and listen. They are from Mali and refugees within their own country as a result of Sharia Law being imposed in the north. This is a catchy and relentless tune which also features Iggy Pop on vocals. Put this band down as one to spend some time with.

Songhoy Blues - Sahara - https://youtu.be/VrTXSrGYL7U

I like electronic music in very small doses. One or two Kraftwerk songs a year is generally enough. Every now and then though I hear something that has just the right feel to it. Not too "doof-doof", not too atmospheric and not a Pet Shop Boys ripoff. The next group is from Melbourne. I know nothing about them other than that I really enjoyed the tune. I still have visions of turning up to a show and seeing them just plug in a laptop and that's it...

Black Cab - Senses Wild - https://youtu.be/RgCJdTbUoiA

George is still doing his best to open my eyes to prog rock. I dunno though, if you think all AC/DC sounds the same then listen to a few Dream Theater albums and you'll quite possibly feel the same. H did give me an album by a UK band called TIlt to listen to. I liked it a lot. So much so that it's still in my regular playlist a couple of months later. What Tilt seem to manage is a nice combination of prog and classic rock sounds whilst avoiding a lot of the cliched progressions that I hear from other bands of a similar ilk.

Tilt - Strontium Burning - https://youtu.be/-ZJJ7jtlMHc

One of the things I really enjoy about the internet is that it lets noobs like me publish whatever I like. Sometimes people even read it too! For musicians it really is amazing. If you're a guitarist then there are a bazillion videos and soundfiles out there of people playing all sorts of things. Recently I stumbled across a whole lot of band videos recorded by PhilX who is currently in Bon Jovi. Imagine being able to play this well and putting it out there just for people to enjoy. Fantastic!

PhilX & The Drills - Superstition - https://youtu.be/59m6BoEVkng

A long time ago I introduced some of you to Irish band, The Answer. They came to be in my playlist as a result of their very, very cool cover of Rose Tattoo's, "Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw" I think that they're a great rock and roll band (both of them!). The Answer warrant more attention from anyone partial to gangs of long haired rockers doing their thing.

The Answer - Raise A Little Hell - https://youtu.be/_NJK5oaAa6U

If you haven't listened to the new Jason Isbell album yet then, seriously, get on with it. I'm really glad to see that it is charting well because that means he might come back to Australia to play and can also release more stuff into the future. It's not a rock album and it's not a country album. It's solid mix of the two with well penned lyrics. Jimbo Hart's bass is one of the absolute highlights for me. He rarely plods along on the root note and always adds an extra push to the songs. Get a copy now.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - White Man's World - https://youtu.be/nu4dupoC7EE

Finally, a quick word about Wonder Woman. DJ ZedBoots and I went along to see it a couple of weeks ago. Look, it's a fun action movie but I'm not sure that it's the triumph for women's rights that some commentators have suggested. When Wonder Woman can battle the forces of evil without having to strip down to leather underwear then we might be really getting somewhere. I guess Superman has his undies on the outside so I could just be being a little harsh. See it yourselves, it's worth the price of admission.

Stay tuned for exciting guitar amplifier news in the next few weeks....

Rob


Friday, June 2, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #417

Here we go again folks...another episode where too much music is never enough.

If you want to skip straight to the songs and avoid my rambling then scroll down quite a bit...

So, the band is playing tomorrow (Saturday night) at Vivaldi's here in Canberra. As you all know, this iconic venue is being bulldozed and not replaced. It's very sad but it's going to happen and all we can do is rock our little hearts out in tribute.

When we played there a couple of weeks ago George mentioned that I was giving all of my gig payments for both shows to aid in the construction of some classrooms at Level School in Vanuatu. What happened next was quite shocking in that kindhearted people in the crowd gave us more money to put towards the cause. It ended up being a lot of cash and the difference this will make is amazing. Classrooms that don't blow down in a cyclone and that provide shelter from the rain are a decided advantage! I've already sent the cash in anticipation of the gig payments as my sister, Nancy, from Port Vila, is off to visit Pentecost next week and will organise the purchases for us. I could've spent my pay on guitar gear or some cycling equipment but I'd rather be broke and happy in the knowledge that a whole community will benefit from our hard work on stage.

I've started my new job and it's great. I won't bore you all with details of what I do but I should say that my new team has reached the gold standard in organising my induction process and they are simply awesome. The work is challenging in the best way and my bike can live in my office! The university environment is very, very different to anywhere I've worked before but I feel like I fit in here. I also know that there is a group doing some research to do with Vanuatu. At some stage I'll introduce myself. Maybe they'd like to send me to Pentecost to do some research for them - ha ha! I can dream can't I?

I went out with some friends this week to see the movie, "Le Ride". It's about the Tour de France event from 1928 that featured a team from down under. The guys in the film tried their best to retrace the complete ride on period correct bikes. Seeing them climb through the Alps and Pyrenees on a heavy bike with only one gear made me happy that I have a nice carbon fibre steed! The film tries hard to capture how brutal the race was including 160 mile stages and midnight starts but unless you've done some long rides you might not quite get it. The pain and suffering that riders in multi stage endurance events in is simply amazing.

For my first couple of days in the new job I caught the bus. This was only because I wasn't setup for having clothes and shower gear at work. The time I spent not only on the bus, but walking over to work gave me a welcome opportunity to listen to some new tunes that were in my Spotify playlist. I must admit that I got stuck on two albums because they really resonated with me. I did try to listen to other stuff but I kept going back to The Muttonbirds and The Beatles.

It's 50 years since Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released. I've never really liked it and I don't know why. The re-release seemed like as good a reason as any to try again. OK, I agree, it's a pretty good album. I'm still not convinced that it's the most important rock and roll album ever but I enjoyed it. The extra tracks are pretty cool as well. I enjoyed being able to hear some of the parts that might normally be a lot lower in the mix. I also understand that meditation and gurus were in vogue at the time but the Indian sounds on "Within You Without You" just leave me scratching my head.

The Beatles - Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (take 1) - https://youtu.be/2RoA0QTZ-bM

The Muttonbirds are from New Zealand and I have no idea why I haven't paid them much attention in the past. If you like bands like The Lemonheads coupled with a definite Byrds and 60s influence then these guys might be right up your street. It's fabulous indie-rock with lyrics worth a listen. I've only listened to a greatest hits collection I'll admit but I will remedy that over the next few weeks.

The Muttonbirds - Wellington - https://youtu.be/SiN0HsEI9TA

Chris Cornell died recently. He had one of the truly fantastic voices of rock and roll. And whilst it's unclear if he took his own life or not, there's a massive, gaping chasm left behind by his passing.

Soundgarden - Fell On Black Days (live) - https://youtu.be/mlPDRCRePbQ

Audioslave - Cochise - https://youtu.be/KDMvN45sjo4

I've been having another go at reading "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance". Sometimes I think I've got a handle on this book and at others I'm completely lost. It feels like the right thing to do to persevere though. It hasn't made me want to ride my motorcycle more...I get enough bad weather on the pushbike!

I'm going to finish off this week with a couple of songs that I found whilst looking for something else. The truth is that I was checking out anything I could find by the Traveling Wilburys that might not be on regular release. George Harrison seems like an easy connection to make but I have no idea where the Smithereens came from. In the end it doesn't matter because I liked the tunes.

George Harrison - Cheer Down - https://youtu.be/VI4xzwvaTWU

The Smithereens - Wall of Sleep - https://youtu.be/02kvX8f0zgQ

And on that note, dear listener, I'll leave you for now. Bikes to ride, gigs to play and all that.

Cheers,
Rob

And in the end, the love you take Is equal to the love you make

Saturday, May 13, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #416

I'm not even going to pretend that this blog will go back to being regular. For the time being I'm going to revel in being wildly unpredictable!

First up, I've got a new job. I'm finishing in my current position on Thursday and after a few short days I start something new on the 24th of May. I'm heading to the Australian National University in a Human Resources position. It sounds like a good challenge and I'm very excited to be going there. Choosing to leave "Soldier On" has been difficult. I aim to be what they call an 'active volunteer' when I'm needed. I won't lie to you, working for a charity is very challenging. I am well and truly sick of people demanding that we do everything for nothing. Working to assist veterans, first responders and their families has been massively rewarding in many ways and I'm glad I did it. For Canberra based people, there's a rather fine coffee shop about 100 metres from my new office so after I've settled in please come and visit!

Cycling. Where do I begin? Last time I blogged I was recovering from a crash. I was seriously worried that I wouldn't be able to ride in the Pollie Pedal. Luckily, my body and the physio worked in tandem to get me right just in time. We rode just over 1000km in 8 days and it was an amazing experience. I made what I imagine will be lifelong friendships with the other seven Veterans who we took with us. We pushed other riders up miles and miles of huge hills. We saw wild brumbies between Talbingo and Cooma. And we all had days when we wanted to get off the bike and get in the van....but we didn't. What we didn't really expect was how busy we'd be. With the number of riders up to 50 each day we were all talking non-stop about Soldier On as well as riding, attending public events, speaking at dinners and with the media. The only time we really had to ourselves was when we were asleep or when we managed to sneak some time alone climbing a hill on the bike! The biggest day was 160km but the hills from Talbingo to Cooma made for the most challenging time. The Southern Highlands, when we got there, were amazing. I can, however, guarantee you that I have no desire to ever ride through central Sydney again. My fitness was just fine but I certainly lacked some top end speed and that's down to recovery time needed from the crash. It's almost returned now.

In music news, the band has been working hard on the two shows we have coming up (May 20th and June 3rd) at Vivaldis. These are the final two shows for this iconic venue as it is being demolished. Come along and see our show, "Burning Down The House". We're playing a selection of tunes from the many and varied shows that the band has done here in the past. So if you like Oils, Elton, Oz Rock, Beatles, Springsteen and simply having a good time then you shouldn't be disappointed. My fingers are so sore from all of the practice and I'm sure that the neighbours have heard one or two certain tracks far too often!

Tropical Cyclone Donna reached Category 5 but seems to have avoided major dramas on most of Vanuatu. Some of the very northern islands seem to have sustained significant damage but there isn't a lot of new from there yet. We haven't heard from our families on Pentecost yet; it looks like they got some strong winds and rain but nothing like TC Pam. Watching all of this play out with real time weather feeds was very difficult. I'd almost rather have been there to help out. My ni-Van sister, Nancy, did end up coming to Sydney a little while ago and Alison and I were able to take her to dinner and spend some time chatting. I was so pleased that Alison could meet her, it really made my day. 

So, Angus bought a car. It was a bit of a shock for all of us, especially as he's off to Canada in November for 6 months (at least). It's a Subaru so I guess it's like father, like son for first cars. Now he just has to learn to operate the manual transmission! If anyone out there wants to buy a second car give me a yell as we've got one for sale.

I'm so proud of Zoe and not for the reasons you might think. Yeah, yeah, her studies are going well and she's all about injections, drugs, dead bodies and vital signs but it's not that. What made me so happy was a message from her complaining that it was raining so hard that she couldn't ride her bike....followed up by one a couple of days later that the big hill on the way to work (11% gradient) was hard work. Is it possible? Another cyclist in the family? Do I dare dream it! Ha ha!

Finally, a big shout out to DJ Beck who is cycling professionally in the USA at the moment. I'm so excited to see her doing well and winning races. The podium places go well with the world championships and recent medals. Beck told me that she had a whole lot of previous blog entries of mine saved up to read and she was finally getting through them. After being in a bit of a writing funk, she inspired me to get to the keyboard. Thanks Beck!

I guess you want some tunes. I know I do.

Jason Isbell has a new album coming soon and according to him it's quite energetic. Here's the first single....

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Hope The High Road - https://youtu.be/ci-6Au1Gnrs

Alice Cooper is coming to Australia but the $180 ticket price has put me off. Sorry Mr Furnier, I've seen you before and at this price I won't see you again it seems. America; you should've listened to him in this clip. Could a golf fanatic, born again shock rocker be any worse that his royal orangeness?

Alice Cooper - Elected (live) - https://youtu.be/YrJxyv41m1M

I recently discovered the most recent Def Leppard album and only because their old stuff isn't on Spotify (due to a long standing record company dispute). It's a really good listen if you like their style of heavy rock. I do.

Def Leppard - Let's Go - https://youtu.be/EB7BeKwoYAs

I'll admit that I do hang around record shops looking for a bargain. My Scottish Granny would be proud! A few weeks ago I picked up one of my favourite albums on vinyl for a song. It's one I've had on CD and probably cassette too but never on LP record. One of the best from Irish folk punks, The Pogues, "Rum, Sodomy and the lash". Produced by Elvis Costello!

The Pogues - Sally MacLennane (live) - https://youtu.be/sh5gtGk9XZ8

And for those of you who are criminally unfamiliar with Elvis Costello it really would be remiss of me not to play this for you...

Elvis Costello - Jimmie Standing In The Rain (detour) - https://youtu.be/UJbwM-F0Nk0

Oh dear, I wonder if anyone else remembers this one? It came up on my suggested songs on Spotify the other day. Tons of fun!

Nick Lowe - I Knew The Bride - https://youtu.be/Kn1CXbf2xF8

DJ Guzbox put me onto this next band. I've got a couple of their albums doing the loop on my playlist at the moment. Interesting. See what you think.

Snarky Puppy - What About Me? - https://youtu.be/fuhHU_BZXSk

And lastly in q whirlwind of tunes here's one from DJ ThinRollins. He suggested the latest tracks from prolific US guitarist, Buckethead. I didn't realise that he had released over 300 LPs. All whilst wearing a KFC bucket on his head and a white mask; I kid you not.

Buckethead - Glacier - https://youtu.be/oyatFpkDH6g

Righto, it's bedtime and that's enough. I'll try and be back in your inbox or blog feed sooner next time. Write back!

Hoo roo,
Rob

Sunday, March 12, 2017

World Wide Woozle episode #415

In only a few days the football season starts (real football; the Australian Football League). Hooray! Angus and I, along with some good friends, went to see the Giants put North Melbourne to the sword in one of the pre-season fixtures on a perfect Friday evening here in Canberra. Although the pre-season competition is not always a great indicator of fortunes for the upcoming season it's always a lot of fun to get a win. This next track and associated footage never gets old. It takes me back to my childhood in football mad country Victoria.

Little River Band - Playing To Win - https://youtu.be/GbtiUrHUhRw

Last weekend, in a pain relief medication induced haze, I went to watch the band I usually play in at a gig. It may have been a combination of the drugs and the pain but I can assure you that it was a surreal experience. There was also almost as many current and former band members in the audience as there was on stage. I'm glad that I'll be back on guitar next time the band plays; watch this space and the band Facebook page here for details of some very special upcoming shows.

Spy vs Spy - Don't Tear It Down - https://youtu.be/gOeJshHFpPI

After the disappointment of a cancelled trip last year, my "sister" Nancy from Vanuatu will now be in Australia in a couple of weeks. Sadly her training course has been shifted to Sydney but Alison and I will be heading up to see her anyway. On Saturday I spoke with my "brother", Michael, who lives at Level on Pentecost. Sadly, phone calls to Vanuatu have doubled in price so I don't get to talk to him all that often. However, he was in fine form and reported that all were well and happy in their part of the world. If anyone knows a generous philanthropist who would like to fund me to go there for an extended period of time then feel free to get in touch!

Eurogliders - Heaven (Must Be There) - https://youtu.be/WHLxW-n-WT4

Last night (Saturday) I went along to see John Schumann, of Redgum fame, play a show here in Canberra. I wasn't really sure what to expect. I remember moving to Australia in 1983 and taking an instant like to their classic single, "I Was Only 19", when it was on heavy radio rotation. After that Redgum was one of the few bands that everyone in my family agreed upon. I also have strong memories of listening to their live album, "Caught In The Act", non-stop on cassette in 2000 as I travelled across the Simpson Desert as part of a mountain bike race. The short version is that John Schumann is an excellent performer. His voice is as good as it was all those years ago if not better. He played a wide range of old and new tunes and he's an excellent storyteller both in song and in between! I dodn't expect a version of Cold Chisel's hit, "Khe Sanh", but when John explained his reasoning it fitted nicely. Thanks to Scot, Sascha, Isabella and Ike for having me along. It was a musical high point for me and having the chance to shake hands with one of my heroes was pretty special...even if he was slightly distracted looking for a beer. Have a listen to what John has to say about "Khe Sanh"...and the reworded first line.

John Schumann & Hugh McDonald - Khe Sanh (live) - https://youtu.be/H-1bdGIM7BU

Try this one as well. The story John told of him singing this song at the funeral of an Australia soldier was extremely moving.

John Schumann & The Vagabond Crew - The Glass On The Bar - https://youtu.be/oGNJYDgJHKY

Italian punk rock outfit Giuda have a new single from their "Speaks Evil" album. I've been really enjoying their music for a while now and their songs, along with their fashion sense, never fail to make me smile.

Giuda - Bad Days Are Back - https://youtu.be/RSl6XjeSWo0

My recovery from crashing my bicycle seems to be coming along nicely. After a couple of weeks of pain, walking with a cane and no cycling I'm steadily improving. Walking is still frustratingly uncomfortable but yesterday's cycling adventure was pretty good. The new helmet is comfy as well as being brighter than a bright thing. Not long now until I head off, with work, for 1000km of riding in eight days. Woo hoo!

The Soup Dragons - I'm Free - https://youtu.be/_SpA6jECLuU

Bye for now,
Rob