This time next week I will be almost packed and ready to return to Pentecost, Vanuatu with Zoe. We were last there in the middle of last year but it feels like longer. People often ask me what I'll do there when I explain that there is no power, running water, internet or TV. The answer is simple; I'll be with my family. We'll spend time in the gardens where they grow their food, we'll sit around and talk (a LOT) and we'll do a fair bit of playing games with all the kids. We might walk to the "bank" and that could take half a day all up. The pace of life there is different and that's one of the attractions. In the past I've taken some books that I have had trouble reading as I find that the fact that my brain is allowed to slow down means that I can lose myself in some quality writing. Reading is also a good break from having to do my best to keep up in another language for the majority of the time. That really tires you for the first couple of days out but it's worth it in so many ways. Most of my Ni-Van family members will speak four languages fluently (two local ones, the Vanuatu national language of Bislama and either French or English) so working on my second one seems only fair. I know that the education system has changed recently so that the youngest children are taught in their local language rather than in English. I'm hoping to learn a few words and phrases but if I am in their classroom it may cause too much distraction so I may sneak up and sit outside so that I can listen in and learn!
In other news, Angus has left home for seven months and is now in Canada about to start work as a lift operator and snowboard instructor at a ski resort. It's been an emotional week for Alison and I since he left. The good thing is that he has somewhere to live, doesn't seem to be starving and is in regular contact with us! I'm not sure that I'm that keen on a visit (especially in winter) but when Zoe left for Vanuatu in 2015 there was no way I wanted to go there....times change. Fingers crossed that there are no cyclones in Vancouver.
Some of you will be aware that I have started doing some recording. I'm hoping to release a six song EP on whomever is silly enough to want a copy before too long. It's a challenge as I don't have a very good singing voice but I'm determined to get it done. So far I have recorded three songs and two of them will be on the EP. One is OK but not up to the standard that I would subject you to. So far it is simply guitar and voice but I might get some keyboards on a song in the future. Choosing songs is the real challenge as, whilst I can play most things, I can't sing them! For the technically minded, my recording setup is simple. I use the Reaper recording software (because Garageband kept crashing), a couple of old microphones and an ageing Roland Edirol UA-25 which connects the mics into my Macbook Air. That's it. Other than that it's my guitars, amps and voice. I'm happy to share the early versions of some of the tracks; just let me know if you're interested.
Don't think that I haven't been listening to music; I've been doing that a lot! Other than trying to find songs that I can sing there has been quite a varied selection rolling around in my playlist for the last couple of weeks. Of course there's a fair bit of Tom Petty but none of you are surprised by that.
I guess that most people will be aware that George Young died recently. He's famous as an Easybeat and also as the producer of many great Australian bands such as AC/DC, Rose Tattoo and The Angels. George is arguably one of the pioneers of what we might refer to as the Aussie Pub Rock sound. Here's George with his partner in crime Harry Vanda...
Flash and the Pan - Waiting for a train - https://youtu.be/aUB1VPjLGvk
The Night Flight Orchestra are Swedish. They have released three albums and...and...that's all I know about that. I heard them for the first time this week and I've since been working my way through their recordings. Given that they are signed to Nuclear Blast Records I was expecting metal but they are more melodic hard rock. I certainly have liked what I've heard so far.
The Night Flight Orchestra - West Ruth Avenue - https://youtu.be/o5PDIAvDY_I
Do you have albums that you just keep coming back to? I have a couple that are never far from hand. One is the compilation, "Folkways: A Vision Shared" which is a tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly. The other is W.A.S.P.'s live album which is imaginatively titled, "Live...in the raw". I'm not sure that you could get two albums further apart in almost all ways but I'm happy playing them one after the other. The Folkways LP has some wonderful versions of old songs and the W.A.S.P. one is just a rock and roll band playing loud and proud whilst putting on a great show. Many of you won't like both and that's OK!
Taj Mahal - The Bourgeois Blues - https://youtu.be/-VvfAfwS9k8
W.A.S.P. - Inside The Electric Circus (live) - https://youtu.be/NddMWTWoQ2Q
For those unfamiliar with Taj Mahal, a good place to start is his album from 1968, "The Natch'l Blues".
Rock and roll legend Fats Domino left us this week at the age of 89. He was the man that Elvis Presely referred to as the King and that says it all.
Fats Domino - I Hear You Knocking (live) - https://youtu.be/iU9f_MUBCSs
Finally this week, I've been listening to an old cassette that one of my Auntie's sent me years and years ago. It's by a German band called Helloween and really, I reckon I listened to it once or twice in the early 90s and never again until recently. That's a shame because, apart from the dodgy album title and even worse cover photo, it's a great power metal style record. Listening to it has mad me go back and check out more by the band and they are still around. If you like your metal with melody and a bit of cheese too then this is for you.
Helloween - Kid of the Century - https://youtu.be/GTjcQQFZVSU
See you next time,