31 December 2023


I fully expected to find Jordan Wolfson Body Sculpture hard to take, even easy to ridicule, given my love of more traditional art, Renaissance and the like.  But I didn't.  In fact, I was quite taken by the deliberate, human-like movement and the sensuality and the violence and even the communication I could see in this animatronic sculpture.  Everyone is thinking AI, of course, and I only half-heartedly joked that I was happy to see a strong chain on the cube with its arms, but there was some fear of the strength and inhuman regard of the machine.  We were limited to our space, but I muse on what to do if it left its stage.  But really this wasn't AI: presumably it was fully programmed for its movements.  We were warned of mature themes and volume levels.  Certainly  the 30-minute performance started with with hands on chest and clumping cube meaning intimacy and even sexuality, but soon moved on to chest drumming fingers and palms on cube, an invitation then a threat and an autocratic control of the support robot that waged war with or on the chain, then a release, guilt, surrender, robot fingers forming a pistol shape aiming at cube then at the audience, another attempt at companionship and an ultimate submission.  Through all this most stood, quietly, perhaps taking a mobile pic, in the end idling out quietly.  We chatted with a few staff about current frightful AI and the apparent humanity of this performance and only half-heartedly joking about that chain as protection.  There was fear in this but also humanity and even the stories that we tell constantly in film with real people.  In the meantime, it was quite fascinating and very much early days for such things.  And just in ending, amusingly, I was wondering where do you store such a large but delicate work and how often are updates required?

Jordan Wolfson's animatronic Body Sculpture was on display at the National Gallery of Australia.

23 December 2023

Women and men

We'll I don't warm to identity arguments.  The second wave feminism that I easily supported fifty years ago was a claim to equal treatment where it was missing, like women being required to leave some employment on marriage and pay that was different for the same job, and it was a recovery of the first wave with its trivially obvious demand for the vote and the like, but listening to Matilda Abraham I feel that intense comprehension and response to personal matters and I recognise it often enough from women and I wonder where I hear it from men.  Maybe it's there and I don't come across it.  It's certainly not in my rants (as Megan calls them!) as The Pots.  She was at Matilda too and admired it and just said people are different.  There's strength in that openness to people and experience without too much ideology.  Whatever, I admire Matilda's awareness and I was entranced to catch the emotionally charged lyrics.  The backing was pretty minimal, just simple piano accompaniment (apparently her first piano accompanied solo gig) and sometimes an aged drum machine (amusingly recovered from her Dad's shed) with very simple grooves.  The complexity was in the truth of the lyrics and at least one that I noticed with an intricate melody of divergent intervals and comfortable leading notes and assorted note lengths.  That one was Tender lament and its melody was a stunner.  She played a few covers, too, form Minnie Ripperton and Sade and even Kylie, but Matilda's presence remained central.  Matilda was playing for family and friends on a late-announced Smiths gig so it was an intimate gathering, coming from Berlin with Carl and young Abe for Christmas.  Carl sat in for the final number with a devastating solo.  What with a family and this musical prowess all round, Berlin must be doing them good.  It would.  It's renowned and I'm not surprised.  Check out Matilda's string of songs, EPs and an album on the streaming sites.

Matilda Abraham (keys, vocals, compositions) performed at Smiths.  Carl Morgan (guitar) sat in for the final tune.

17 December 2023


Five concerts in the Christmas series and we got to two.  This was a much smaller concert than the first but what was lost in complexity was gained from the familiarity of the performers and the clarity of the performance.  This was just the core 6 singers who make up Luminescence and who presumably, frequently, sing and practice together.  We could hear that heightened awareness between performers.   We could hear each individual voice, given just 6 singers together in great clarity and the space did its bit too, with its gentle presence.  So the sometimes raucous songs of Spain's golden era and Alfonso's cantigas was a dream.  Despite foot stomps and tambourine percussion.  This is music from later C13th and late C16th, sometimes simple melodies, sometimes embellished or harmonised by the group, sometimes boisterous and festive, sometimes sole voices with perhaps a single tonic note accompaniment.  What I loved was the clarity of a small, comfortable, practised group and the clarity and uniqueness of each voice.  Interestingly, choir was ordered with sopranos at each end, low bass and baritone in the centre and mezzo soprano and tenor between.  One performer spoke of two trios, whether the male lower and female higher, or the right baritone-tenor-soprano or left bass-mezzo-soprano, I'm not sure.  Whatever, this was a memorable display and one fully worthy of Tim's complex recording (hint: love to hear it...).  Just a stunner.

Luminescence Chamber Singers were led by Roland Peelman (conductor, percussion).  LCS comprises AJ America (mezzo soprano), Lucien Fischer (baritone), Veronica Milroy and Rachel Mink (sopranos), Alasdair Stretch (bass) and Dan Walker (tenor).

16 December 2023


Visiting other worlds will surprise but also fascinate.  This was a Christmas concert and some things were from the world of everyday Christmas concerts and so were just lovely joy, especially the singalong on Hark the herald angels sing and O come all ye faithful.  They are both wonderful songs and well known and a huge joy when you are singing, doubly so when accompanied by the likes of the Luminescence Chamber Singers.  Our lines were not the complex harmonies of their choruses but enjoyable none-the-less.  But there were other worlds at this Christmas Classics concert.  The first tunes were the strangeness of pre-Renaissance music (as early as c.1370) where I noticed just one harmony, a simple 5th, but the melodies were exquisite and the rhythmic phrasings were challenging and the stratospheric high notes were just enthralling.  I was a bit dumbfounded that a Song of the nuns of Chester, after starting with females, had a second chorus with males, the lower tenors and basses, but then this is the modern world.  We got more modern with William Byrd ~1580 then through to contemporary takes on early music (not least one by local David Yardley) and generally on Christmas and arrangements of modern songs in an early, richly luminescent style to fit the choir.  There were actually 2 choirs: Luminescence in 6 or expanded to 9 (presumably written for 3 each of SATB) and the Luminescence Children's Choir in the balcony at the rear of Wesley Church, plus an occasional organist on Wesley's worthy organ.  So this was a period outing but also varied and even fun at times.  The singing, of course, was always impressive and sometimes to die for.  I enjoyed several solo segments, not least one from our guest, Alex, and both the extremes were thrilling at times, Veronica at the high end and Jack at the low end.  The chance to join in the singing and the lovely hymns reminds me of the season and has me longing to attend a few sung masses and other services to partake in the joy of singing in community but I doubt the accompaniment at the local midnight mass will be quite so capable.  So a challenging and satisfyingly arty take on the Christmas concert and much contemplated and enjoyed.

Luminescence Chamber Singers and Luminscence Children's Choir were led by Roland Peelman (conductor) and joined by Samuel Giddy (organ) and Valdas Cameron (percussion).  Our guest is Alexander Gorbatov (tenor).

15 December 2023

Fly in, fly out

It was like being whisked away.  First I thought of NYC obviously, as that's a common site, but perhaps New Orleans was more apt.  The music was madly swinging with bass way on top of the beat and wildly, ecstatically driving and busy, but still that essential blues character.  This was swing and done hard.  We were at Smiths and the band was concocted from visiting players from Harry Connick's band that was playing the next night at the Canberra Theatre, but this was a club and we could hear these guys and see them close up and have a chat between sets.  My joke was to bassist Neal 'Sugar' Caine that I wouldn't shake his hand because it must be so strong.  He'd been playing with huge strokes and effort for loud notes and I guess it's from a history of playing jazz bass with no amp (unamplified jazz bass is hard work) but maybe form mainly playing gut.  And there was his partner Jerry Weldon, all slouched over his tenor, explosive and inventive but also dynamic with quiet phrases ... occasionally.  These were the leaders and they introduced the members and tunes.  The tunes were all standards and the style was swing, often very hard,  and the energy was 110% although there was a ballad.  Jerry would largely manage the solos and swapped fours for local Andrew Dickeson and to some degree for local resident Americans John Harkins and JC Styles and he'd lead a few more fills from a few more horns from Connick's band later in the night when they sat in for a few final tunes.  A jam session expanding with fellow internationals!  Not a common Canberra experience.   All that with that explosive energy that's the USA.  I see it as an element of desperation and love to hear it, although I'm wary of the winner society that's partly its source.  But it makes for commitment and that energy is a feature.  John Harkins was a bit more restrained although could be quick and could be chromatic.  JC Styles was crispy sharp and lithe with clipped notes.  The later visitors were Deon Tucker and Geoff Burke, respectively trom and alto, comfy and busy in the end of night loss of restraint.  We were all smiles at this stage, amused and amazed by the energy that can be unrestrained swing.  Lucky and worthy local Flynn Marcus got a very decent chorus in too.  So this was the night.  There was a good degree of milling around past midnight as the night ended and we exited Smiths.  Oh, not West 4th or Frenchmen St but not far off this night.

Jerry Weldon (tenor) and Neal 'Sugar' Caine (bass) led a quintet with JC Stylles (guitar), John Harkins (piano) and Andrew Dickeson (drums) and two sit-ins Deon Tucker (trombone) and Geoff Burke (alto) from their Harry Connick Jnr band and local Flynn Marcus (tenor).

13 December 2023

A free Tuesday eve

I had a Tuesday evening free and that's jazz night at Molly with a string of small bands and this night was Eric Ajaye with Sean Kirk and Elliot Kozary.  I'd seen both Sean and Elliot but I need a better knowledge of the current crop of jazzers so I was there.  I was fascinated.  Eric introduced the band, the songs, and the players as young playing old, meaning mature.  I could agree.  I was sitting with one bassist and had another at the next table and it was easy enough to fathom Eric's style, his soft tone, generous volume, indulgent slides and deep vibrato.  Throw in his lovely sense of melody and it's a huge pleasure and a core of the band.  We could also discuss his e-bass and parallel amps and solo strings detuned.  But I was not so clear on the other two.  First up, Sean.  It seemed to me he was freely improvising over the rhythm, but the core could come through, too.  Then I noticed his hands, right hand playing snare and left playing a ride cymbal beside the hi-hat.  He explained this as open handed.  I hadn't heard of it but it made perfect sense when he explained he's left handed playing a right handed kit.  Interesting and maybe it lent itself to his style.  Dunno.  Being a bassist I thought of Mononeon but then there's Hendrix of course: worthy associations, even on different instruments.  Then Elliot.  There are no left/right hand pianos but I was intrigued by his sense of tonality, unsure if it was substitutions or extension or maybe fourths.  He spoke of rootless left hand (or two handed) voicings and thus extensions.  And occasional drop 2 chords.  His sparse and delayed melodies suggested Keith Jarrett to me and he confirmed that, but also Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson (very different!) and mentioned Corea and Hancock, of course, so nothing  unexpected.  Thinking back, maybe Bill Evans were more those passages, but there were others more on top of the beat and more simply arpeggiated.   Whatever, this was a satifying bit of playing with quite expressionistic, often slower, takes on standards and a few originals.  Some titles I recognised or caught on introductions like Night and day and Round midnight and Norah Jones Don't know why and Kenny Wheeler.  Worthy stuff indeed.  I enjoyed this immensely and it was a good theory lesson to boot.

Sean Kirk (drums) played with Elliot Kozary (piano) and Eric Ajaye (bass) at Molly.

12 December 2023

A small and worthy outing

Herbert's @ Evatt is a little venue but it's had some amazing performers over recent months.  I finally got there if only for the final set.  This gig was the expert local trio of Lachlan, Chris and Nick, a rhythm section that we see often recently and always a huge pleasure with guest Mark Ginsburg.  I hadn't seen Mark for some time but the addition of his sax just lifted things with the addition of tone and the interplay of parts.  So a small venue with some great acts but a big presentation from the band.  We chatted with the players over their lunch and heard the final set, just a few common standards played with real panache.  I loved Chris' light and flight fingerwork; Nick is just as swift and wonderfully expressive; Lachlan always quick and melodic uniquely playing with a thumb pick and at least two other plucking fingers. Then over the top, the sweet tenor tone and telling solos.  It all ended too quickly, but Mark had to get back to Sydney, for a concert of Jimmy Webb in Angel Place.  JW is, of course, one of the great songwriters of ~70s, having started with Motown, no less.  Mark was advising me of JW's 10 easy pieces album and praising the voicings.  I could only remember my recent rediscovery of the JW song Galveston and its theme and rhyming haunts me daily.  So a small and worthy outing.  Herbert's suggests to book for lunches, but we could get a beer and sit outside and listen.  But Herbert's is small with a big musical heart on Sunday arvos.

Mark Ginsburg (tenor) played with Lachlan Coventry (guitar), Chris Pound (bass) and Nick McBride (drums)  at Herbert's at Evatt.

09 December 2023

10 years

It was Red Hill Primary School's end of year party and Tilt was playing again and James reminded me that this was the 10th anniversary of our first gig together.  Time passes, as they say.  we've done quite a few of these events, for year start or end, over the years since and it's something we enjoy immensely with kids and happy parents milling around and sausages and the like on tap.  Dave has caught Covid so Mark filled in for this gig and it was a beauty, despite my return from little playing.  It seems the muscles come on tap as required and double bass does require considerable muscles in those hands and fingers.  So thanks to James and Mark for a driving and entertaining outing and looking forward to Dave next up. Unlike several previous incarnations, no storms this night despite the theatening sky.

 Tilt Alt. were James Woodman (piano), Mark Levers (drums) and Eric Pozza (bass).

08 December 2023

Coming Christmas

It's the end of the calendar year and Christmas is around the corner and the final Wednesday lunchtime concert at Wesley is always the Wesley Music Scholars.  It's a worthy thing that Wesley does, some sort of training-cum-scholarship for worthy students and Liz was suggesting they are about to expand it with four singers to cover SATB and provide the base for classical singing in the church.  BTW, in case you didn't notice, I record these concerts so attend virtually all, and it's a short weekly duty that I enjoy, but that explains these concerts on CJ.  The scholars this day were a string trio of Brad, Anika and Pippa, a solo trumpet Jess and a pianist-cum-tenor Martin.  The trio played a lovely Dvorak with admirable playful interaction.  The Martin performed a Debussy but more interestingly, Praetorius Es ist ein Ros entrspringen (=It's a rose) sung while played on piano.  Now this piano man routine is common enough in pop, folk and the like, but I was quite bewildered to see it in a classical context but of course why not.  I realised after that he also plays jazz, so again, why not.  Then Jess on solo trumpet playing Goedicke and Charlier, two etudes, and Martin and the trio returned for a sung Kodaly and an encore on a lovely arrangement Holy night in three choruses.  Given the call from the audience and the easy response, I guess this was set up but why not.  So lovely and a joyous end to the Wesley Wednesdays for the year.

 Wesley scholars Brad Tham and Anika Chan (violins), Pippa Newman (viola), Martin Magill (piano, voice) and Jess Hill (trumpet) performed at Wesley.

07 December 2023

Tribute and more

I'd been travelling and thus could not prepare with Maruki for Brahms 1.  I have a love for Brahms (and BBB for that matter) and so I asked if I could sit in and Kristen said OK.  So I listened a little to the program following music occasionally during travels so I had some preparation.  We were playing Tchaikovsky Nutcracker suite and Serenade and Brahms 1.  But then, a week or so before the performance, we heard of the death of John Gould.  John was much loved as Maruki founder in 2005, but also widely respected as an LSO principal, Carl Pini String Quartet, AYO, SSO, Dir. Orange Conservatorium and more.  It was quite some thrill to have dealings with John, hearing his anecdotes of various huge symphonic names.  One degree of separation.  My first encounter with John was to play just my second orchestral performance with a program not the least meek: Beethoven symphony no.5 Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures at an exhibition, Weber Oberon overture and Bizet L'Arlesienne suite no.2.  The pic is John and me after that concert.  So this the concert became a tribute and fond farewell and a favourite piece of John's, Elgar Nimrod from Enigma variations, was added.  It's a slow and beauteous and memorable piece and it took on further significance in this context and, I thought, was played with great dignity and care.  Then something lighter, Nutcracker, which was the piece that had attracted several friends to the concert.  Again, hugely attractive, but joyous and alluring with just a few challenging passages, at least for bass.  Then Winsa Daniswara soloing on Tchaikovsky Serenade melancolique and the biggie Brahms 1 after the break.  Now this was the work I was dreading.  Difficult with timing that was anything from obvious with accents on off-beats and some delirious dotted rhythms.  I faked some lines, as everyone will, but still got befuddled in the 4th movement and I don't think I was alone.  I indulge myself in thinking I wouldn't have lost it given some rehearsals, but given the wedding, I couldn't even attend the last practice on the Saturday before the Sunday concert.  But none-the-less done and achieved.  I love playing the repertoire, building that familiarity that only playing a work can give.  So, this day was a worthy tribute to a much loved leader and my cocky challenge to sight-read (or close enough) a Brahms symphony was achieved.  But my next Brahms will be better prepared and better played.  In the meantime, Vale John Gould (1940-2023).

Maruki Orchestra preformed Elgar Nimrod in memory of John Gould, Tchaikovsky Nutcracker for fun, Tchaikovsky Serenade melancolique for soloist Winsa Daniswara (violin) and Brahms Symphony no.1 for Eric Pozza (bass) to sight-read, all under Kristen Simpson (conductor).

06 December 2023

Back to Bach

My little wedding gig meant I was late for Canberra Bach Ensemble with their latest string of Advent cantatas.  It's obviously a nostalgic return for me to the cantatas at home in Leipzig and this group will be playing at next year's BachFest so it's virtually the same thing.  I just caught the second half and some lovely song, notably several appearances from a visiting Sydney tenor Thomas Hallworth and a duet from Greta and Maartje and some bass recitative from Andrew as well as a few features from Bianca and friends in the instrumental  section and a feature on the curved oboe da caccia.  And always Dave's very unrelenting bass part played on a gut 5-string with baroque bow.  Also noteworthy and parallelling the common role of organ in Leipzig was the final, thundering organ piece to finish the show, played by James Porteous on an instrument sequestered in the adjacent chapel.  I was not the only one looking for the source of that sometimes big sound.  Organ had a prominent role in the cantata services that I saw in Leipzig so it fitted wonderfully.  I was taken, too, but the voluminous strength of the SATB chorales when they took flight.   Loud and boisterous and not at all delicate, even if perfectly correctly performed.   This felt to me like the visiting Australian cousins with their outspoken ways, and it worked a powerful treat.  So I caught some, not all, and enjoyed it and look forward to our Canberra presence next year in Bach's town.

Canberra Bach Ensemble performed advent cantatas (BWV61,62,36,1) at St Christopher's Cathedral in Manuka.  CBE was directed by Andrew Koll (conductor) with Bianca Porcheddu (violin) as concert master and solo singers Greta Claringbould (soprano), Maartje Sevenster (alto), Thomas Hallworth (tenor) and Andrew Fysh (bass).

05 December 2023

Playing for the canapes

Richard and I played a short set, just 30-mins to accompany the welcome canapes at Cassandra's wedding at the National Museum.  Now this was fun: just a sharp short set, clear enough even if the room is drenched in echo, playing my most solid, rhythmic bass with Richard's tenor over the top and just a few bass solos.  This role just again confirmed my respect for simplicity and chordal/structural clarity given the wide responsibilities of the bass in this duo format.  The guests were all arriving, then gradually going to their seats, greeting us every now and then (that was nice) and just time for a pic with the father of the bride, Paul (on the right) and his brother Joe, friends of mine.  Just a light and lovely role for a wedding: playing for the canapes.

Richard Manderson (tenor) and Eric Pozza (bass) performed a short set at the National Museum.

04 December 2023

Choral home

I've just travelled and heard Bach's choir and more and on return recorded Wesley's Oriana Chorale and I remain dumbfounded at our local quality.  This was really very good.  Oriana Chorale is a local non-professional choir but it performed complex modern works with great authenticity and quality,  The main work was Mass for double choir by Frank Martin (pronounced as in French) and it was complex with its eight parts (SSAATTBB, I guess) with dissonant harmonies and odd intervals and there were times the entrances were a bit unsteady in some parts but there were also times, far more frequent, that the voices just rang with those odd harmonies and questioning dissonances and high sopranos and melding lower and mid parts and the beauty was quintessential.  That was eight parts and complex, but the simpler four parts could be similarly challenging if not so dense and the performance equally enthralling.  Brooke Shelley Nativity, a modern work out of Sydney, and Poulenc Found motets for Noel were thus and even the shorter C16th madrigal by Madalena Casulana were similarly adventurous, with rich inventiveness of chromaticism and conterpoint.  They were all musics pretty new to me and all performed with seriousness and dedication and mature awareness for a devouring crowd.  I was pretty stunned actually.  There's great music in Europe but we have our fair share, perhaps more than our share here in Canberra.  So I guess the message is be proud and be there. 

Dan Walker (musical director) led Oriana Chorale in a Christmas themed concert called O Magnum Mysterium at Wesley with music by Frank Martin, Poulenc, Brooke Shelley and Madalena Casulana.

03 December 2023


So much for pouring, our gig at OCI was flooded.  We were playing in the back room with a low floor in an old building and the rain was heavy and suddenly we were flooded.  The water arrived suddenly, rising fast enough to demand we interrupt a tune to unplug and move instruments and amps.  The staff got busy but there was still water when we left.  In the meantime we had a goodly laugh with the audience and each other and moved to the main room.  Thus a memorable gig, for the flood but also  for the music.  James had a family event and Dave had Covid so they couldn't play, so it was a makeup band with Ross and Mark and me, terribly out of practice after weeks away.  But it all came together for a great fun gig with an interesting twist.  So climate comes to effect our gigs, too.

Tilt alt. performed at Old Canberra Inn.  The flooded band was Ross Buchanan (piano), Mark Levers (drums) and Eric Pozza (bass).

02 December 2023

Return to Chrissie

Just back and I'm returned to Wesley lunchtime concerts which I record weekly.  It's almost Christmas so the year is almost up, but also we hear Christmas theme.  This day under the noise of considerable rain and thunder, but still a great pleasure.  This was Rhythm Syndicate, our local jazz choir, singing a series of jazz and popular arrangements and a few yuletide numbers.  There were songs by Sting and Elton John as well as old swingers like Sunny side of the street.  The Christmas tunes were mostly modern arrangements, including a nice one by Sally Greenaway of Away in a manger.  I remain pretty traditional in my seasonal preferences.  I think my favourite was O Holy night for the glorious trad. melody but maybe that's just the comfort of tradition.  And so lovely to hear those SATB harmonies with swing grooves and the piano of ANUSOM student Harrison Whalen under Sarah Louise Owens.  An entertaining return to Christmas and the local music scene.

Rhythm Syndicate performed at Wesley under Sarah Louise Owens (director)  with accompanist Harrison Whalen (piano).

This is CJBlog post no. 2,750.

01 December 2023

Pouring 3

But as for the stage, there's nothing to match the delirious joy of the stage shows with their dancers and lights and singers and harmonies and tongue-in-cheek sentimentality.  It was a short trip but we got in an early 45-minute show called Sweet Soul Music, essentially a big medley of that funky Black US music of the '50s/'60s/'70s, Motown and Stevie Wonder and the like.  Then a final production show on the pen-ultimate night called Encore.  This was opera arias with big voices, big dresses, big harmonies, delirious Mozart soprano arpeggios, the full House orchestra meaning with the two violinists, against a garden backdrop and plenty of lights.  I can love opera for its arias even if its full performances area challenge for me.  I'm not alone in this, of course (it's a specific and, I expect, an increasingly rare love) but everyone loves a big soprano outing and this was a corker and very much enjoyed.  This is an impressive theatre so not left unused.  There were other stage shows that were essentially a solo artist backed by the reading House band.  One was an off-beat country outing called Country days with Patrick McMahon up front.  Patrick returned with collection of Americana on the final night and I was convinced.  Same character performing some classic songs but also with a presentation that spoke of authenticity and understanding.  First up was Dylan Like a rolling stone and then songs with their history and poetry.  I'd highlight the subtle, understated Galveston for its poetry of implied story and offbeat rhymes.  Glen Campbell had seemed so tame that I had never given this song its due respect, but then it's a work of Jimmy Webb.  The other was an interesting and political Helen Reddy retrospective called Invincible: the Helen Reddy story performed, and I think written by Helen Reddy fan and capable singer/performer Nikki Bennett. The songs seemed to relate closely to Helen Reddy's life, so I guessed she must have written them, but no, she was co-composer of just two, but including her classic I am woman.  But regardless, a fascinating look at the life of our Aussie-own world star of '70s feminism (with ne'er a mention of Germaine Greer).  What's not to enjoy there, all classy performance and good humour and indelible hits.  So not a lot of commentary but a long list of pics and names to outline the musical entertainment on a short cruise around Australia's shores.

The House Band comprised Jose Milanes (piano), Scott Kruser (guitar), Phil Manley-Reeve (bass), Gio Rossi (drums) with Harry Nijkamp (trumpet) and an unnamed sax/flute. The production shows were Sweet Soul Music (50s/'60s/'70s) and Encore. The showtimes were Tribute to the Beatles featuring Grace's Secret, Country Days with Patrick McMahon and Invincible : the Helen Reddy story with Nikki Bennett. 

30 November 2023

Pouring 2

The readers also gather for the shows, so the House band may include wind (trumpet and sax/flute) or presumably strings, although I haven't seen the violins sitting in yet. And then the professionalism of the House band just rings true to my ears, sitting there with charts, perhaps messy and jotted over which is a common refrain, and the in-ear monitors and the rest for this professional cadre, in the big sounding space of the Princess Theatre, so different from the Piazza or public spaces of the dance bands and entertainments. And the effervescence of the singers, especially Chilean Maria out front of Sunset and often out front singing directly to the audience or the low-slung punky bass presence of Graeme from Greta's Secret as he accompanies the inevitable line dance to Nutbush City Limits. It's obvious how a cruise can bring out the most ridiculous and joyous of the audience, at least in Australia. Then there's the covers, not least Grace's Secret tribute show to the Beatles, but being of the Beatles era I did feel some lack of connection from the much younger band. That low-slung Mustang bass suggested Nirvana to me more than Paul and the songs didn't include my sentimental fave early Pauline ballads but maybe that's my problem! Of course, listening to pop music and seeing the joy and involvement that shares widely from our mobile, smiling Chilean singer Maria just had me musing over the value of entertainment, the effectiveness of simplicity and repetition, the frequent indulgence of improv, the communication inherent in melody and lyrics and the beauty of vocal harmony. And then a few latins tunes sung in original language followed by a rock track from Midnight Oil had me further musing over the natures of different cultures. But musing that is...

Sunset comprised Maria Mare (vocals), Pablo Gaete (drums), Robinson Ibaca (keys incl bass synth) and Edoardo Salzado (guitar). Grace's Secret comprised Jennifer Hall (vocals), Oliver Miles (guitar), Chip Dragan (keys), Peter Boldy (drums) and Graeme Heath (bass).

29 November 2023

Pouring 1

It never rains but it pours. I'm on a short cruise with my Mum. This is a very generous replacement for days lost to Covid on our cruise last year which ended locked in cabins. It's generous by Princess and much appreciated, although they are pretty much in a bind. Nonetheless we are here. This is just a quick 6 days Sydney to Hobart and back. To give you a feel of the entertainment, here's just an overview of bands and shows. I'm surprised quite how much there is this time. I have seen or glimpsed rock or related bands Sunset Quartet (ex-Chile) and Grace's Secret (UK) as well as the House band (or at least its rhythm section) playing jazz. The House band obviously backs the stage shows so they are well trained and capable readers. Solo artists and duos included pianists Tetiana Shabaieva (classical) and Jose Milanes (jazz from memory), piano-man Kevin Brando (who apparently plays Las Vegas), guitarist Scott Kruser (of the House Band playing classic real book jazz), guitar/singer Ercobel and pop violin duo No Strings Attached. Plus DJ Hammer laying out pop and beats. These people can have interesting backgrounds. Kevin Brando was in the New Mickey Mouse Club at age 5, has acted and performed with Lily Tomlin, Ricardo Montalban and more and voiced over Schroeder in Peanuts and is still the voice of Pinocchio in Disneyland. There are also a string of singers and dancers for the stage shows and individuals to lead a few concert presentations. The bands and solo performers play various locations on the ship at different times, so they can be busy...

Solo performers included Kevin Brando (piano, vocals), DJ Hammer (DJ), Ercobel (guitar, vocals), Tatiana Shabaieva (classical piano), Jose Milanes (jazz from memory) and Scott Kruser (guitar), No Strings Attached comprised Iryna Khaschenko and Tetiana Sapozhnikova (violins).

28 November 2023


The Museum of Modern Electronic Music is a new place tucked into a S-Bahn station just by Katarinakirche.  It's not big; it's pretty new; it's known as MOMEM; it claims it's not a museum but an art and cultural centre.  Here in Frankfurt, a centre of this music.  It was my last outing before the flight home.  It has a series of sessions, DJ workshops or academic discussions, but not this day and probably not in English anyway.  There was a display of the birth of techno ('70s/'80s) and the early interactions between Berlin and Afro-American Detroit.  There was another of "Milestones", the top historical techno hits as identified by a series of working DJs.  The list is updated with visitor recommendations and it can be heard as a playlist on Spotify.  In person, it's an array of headphones , one for each hit, and accompanying pics of party-goers of this scene; all very sexy, very earthy and sweaty.  There's a small display of digital instruments of the era but behind glass, Moog synths and Roland drum machines and the like.  My first encounters with synths were '70s Mini Moog and Arp Odyssey and neither made an appearance.  Techno was slightly later; mainly from the '80s.  There was a screen with drum machine and sequencer apps and that was fun.  My invention was a 4-bar loop on the alt scale.  The most fun was an area where you could play with small physical machines of this style with your own private headphone.  The Boss DR-3 was my favourite: so easy to use and with great samples and grooves although maybe for the newbies rather than the aficionadoes.   This is techno and related dance musics, which is a subset of the broader genre of electronic music.  It was not a big visit (MOMEM is new and perhaps has a limited audience) but a bit of fun to round off the trip and to delay that dreaded return flight.

The Museum of Modern Electronic Music (MOMEM) is in Frankfurt.