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Celebrating the life and music Jimmy Little

Last night on In The Pines we paid tribute to the legendary Australian musician Jimmy Little. Born in 1937, Jimmy Little had an incredible career spanning more than five decades. He loved Jim Reeves and Nat King Cole. He had charm, drive and the most heartbreaking falsetto you ever heard. His first great success was the 1963 single ‘Royal Telephone’ a gospel number that sold more than 75 thousand copies, making him the first indigenous Australian to have a Top 10 hit. His most popular album Messenger reached no. 26 on the ARIA Albums Chart in 1999.

When Jimmy Little died earlier this year, I asked his friend, collaborator and Messenger producer, Brendan Gallagher if he would curate a special program to celebrate Jimmy’s life and share with FBi listeners some of the finer moments of his extensive career. BG took great care in putting together an extensive playlist that spanned Jimmy’s entire career from early recordings going back as far 1956 right through to unreleased material from the Messenger recordings. Program highlights included re-mastered covers of the Paul Kelly masterpiece ‘Randwick Bells’ and an unreleased version of The Triffids’ classic ‘Wide Open Road’.

A huge thank you to everyone who tuned in to the show last night and shared their appreciation for Jimmy Little’s music with us via facebook and twitter. For those who missed it, I’m delighted to say that FBi has streaming on demand and you haven’t missed out. The program is available for streaming here, starting about three minutes in.

And last but not least, here is a clip of Jimmy Little adding his magic to The Go-Betweens’ ‘Cattle and Cane’.

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On The Road Again (Again): In The Pines in America

For the next two months, I am taking leave from radio duties in Australia to spend some time in America. This is my fourth trip in three years, so to say I love the place feels like something of an understatement. Free pour, fries with everything, dim-lit bars, I love-love-love it. Feels like home. Don’t get me wrong – I adore Sydney. Great people, beautiful beaches, perfect climate. But I never feel like the city and I are having a kind of grand romance. I get to the US and almost immediately my heart falls through the floor. Normal people fall in love with other people. I’m a geography teacher’s daughter. I’m wooed by places.

On various trips, I’ve driven through the Grand Canyon in a convertible with my best friend, watched the bats fly over Austin at dusk, lost money in Las Vegas, thumbed the Dylan Thomas plaque outside New York’s Chelsea Hotel. You could fall in love with those things. That would be normal. But it’s the joy found in the unremarkable things that makes me certain I’m head over heels. Or crazy. Or both. Evidence?

I cried in a supermarket in Seattle yesterday. No good reason, of course. A nice young man behind the deli counter asked if I was okay. How do you explain that you’re so happy you have to cry about it? Worse still, how do you explain that the tears were triggered by the in-store radio’s perfectly timed back-to-back classics – Bob Seger’s ‘Night Moves’, followed by Tom Petty ‘American Girl’.

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I Dreamed I Saw Anne of Green Gables last night

I am writing this from Prince Edward Island in Canada. Home of amazing seafood, a tonne of musicians and the world’s most famous redhead, Anne of Green Gables. I am at a music conference called the East Coast Music Awards. I have been watching dozens of bands, meeting dozens of people and doing my cultural duty as an Australian representative by drinking to excess everywhere I go. Charming! For the most part, I am trying to blog about the ECMAs here, so y’all can check out my travel narratives over on the other site. But since I am collaborating on that project and my travelling party need not be tainted by all my tales of musical discovery and misbehaviour, I might as well still do some writing on the In The Pines site.

And so here I am.

And here is a picture of me with Anne of Green Gables.
Stoked! Seriously, I lost my shit so much when I saw little Anne that I didn’t even realise she was carrying a basket full of chocolate coated potato crisps! I really dropped to ball there too because when I sampled those tiny mouthfuls of hardened arteries I think I went to heaven. Anyhow, I’m not here for Anne or here for the food, or even here for booze. I am here to research and put together two special versions of In The Pines that will focus specifically on Canadian music. So far I have seen some great bands and I look forward to sharing them with y’all on FBi 94.5 very soon. In the meantime, rest assured that I am having a splendid time and could totally adjust to living in a hotel.

My favourite things about it are:

*the endless supply of clean towels
*getting into a freshly made bed every night
*never having to wash towels or make aforementioned bed

My least favourite things about it are:

*air-conditioning
*non-ironic wood panelled walls
*when the bar closes at three a.m. and there’s no beer left in you room

Tough life, huh?

LATE ADDITION TO THINGS I LIKE ABOUT HOTELS…

*when the staff cleaning your room make all your scattered bathroom products look super neat and tidy and not at all like the chaotic mess you left behind some hours earlier

Example:

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On The Road Again: Canada Calling

I’ve crossed a bunch of oceans and a bunch of time zones and am writing this from Montreal. It is a grey day, I’m over-dosing on caffeine and Leonard Cohen and all is right with the world. What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? Not much probably, except to say that if you tune into In The Pines on FBi radio tonight, you won’t be hearing my breathy tones. But I will be there in spirit.

Tonight’s guest at FBi is Nashville based Australian singer Audrey Auld Mezera. She is classic country at its very best. Soak it up and if you can, go and see her play at Notes in Newtown on Wednesday April 13.

I’m going to get back to Montreal for now and to my caffeine. I’ll leave you with a little Leonard.

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PINING FOR A HOLIDAY… But first I’ve got to stop by FBi & make some folky radio

Boy-oh-boy am I exhausted tonight. Perhaps it was the sterling drinking effort I put in over the weekend. Perhaps it’s the change back to normal time after a blissful couple of light-filled summer months of Daylight Saving (come back! I wasn’t done with you yet!) Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Most probably, it’s because I’ve got a holiday scheduled to start on Friday and I’m still working and living and breathing and present even though my spirit feels like it must have boarded a plane weeks ago.

Still, we made it through the show tonight without too many glitches, aided of course by the fact that much of the program was dedicated to the new album from Seattle-based Appalachian folk revivalists, Fleet Foxes. I played a pre-release copy of Helplessness Blues from beginning to end courtesy of the good folk at Inertia. It is a damn fine effort, although I have to say that to my mind it feels like more of a ‘grower’ for me than their self-titled debut. I’m not in love yet and I haven’t decided if it is a case of sophomore blues or if the record will woo me over the next few weeks. Will have to keep you posted…

One album that I am head-over-heels for however is KORT’s Invariable Heartache. Some might argue that this is further evidence that I’ve gone too far country and I am spoiled for all other genres. Although in my defence I’d like to think my enduring love for James Murphy and little tears of sadness over the last ever LCD Soundsystem gigs just a few days ago throws a spanner in my somewhat twang dominated tastes! Anyhow, Invariable Heartache sees Nashville-based songwriter Cortney Tidwell revive some of the fine (if a little dusty) old songs released on her grandfather’s record label Chart Records many decades ago. Together with Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner, Tidwell delivers a moving homage to her heritage and to Nashville’s golden era.

Here’s a little explanation of the album and the idea behind it:

And here is the vid for Kort’s first single, ‘Pickin’ Wild Mountain Berries’ (cc: Conway Twitty; Loretta Lynn)

And that’s about all I can muster for the moment. It is way late and I have a to-do list the size of Texas to get through before I depart for Canada at the end of this week. The trip is part play, part work, all of which I will inform you about in due course. In the meantime, here’s the song that’s been getting me through: Steve Miller Band’s version of Jet Airliner. Consider yourself lucky I’ve pretty much been banned from playing SMB on the radio. My love for classic rock knows no bounds.

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Birthday messages are better when plastered all over the interwebs

Ah, productivity. I’m on deadline. Which means I’ve spent the best part of this morning writing a short history of the 27 quality years I’ve shared with my little sister Lani, who is celebrating her birthday today. Without getting too soppy (my mascara isn’t waterproof) Lani is about the best sister a gal like me could hope for. She is funny and sweet and she knows how to tell a good yarn. She can do all sort of things that I can’t, like drive a car and bake a mean lasagne. She can speak Spanish and has travelled a lot and reads a good mix of quality literature and really crap self-help. She isn’t a hippy but she knows how to talk star-signs and manifesting. She isn’t an alcoholic but knows how to drink 20 standard drinks in one sitting without getting kicked out of our favourite late-late-late night pub. Where I am a dishevelled and disorganised mess, Lani is organised and well-groomed. Where I am a little bit crazy and a little bit OCD, Lani is cool and calm and together. She is a blessing and I am so glad that I got to grow up with her. As our many siblings can attest, she is the Patty to my Selma.

To show how much I love her I tried to post the following birthday letter on her facebook wall today. But there is a word limit for these things and I guess unsurprisingly, I’ve been a little too verbose. So in the interests of over-sharing, I’ve put it up on the blog. Happy birthday Lan-Lan. x

Dear Patty,

I don’t remember the months leading up to your birth as I was probably too busy drooling chocolate freddo down my fairy dress and scratching Ma & Pa’s record collection. But I do remember how excited I was when Dad took me to the hospital the day you were born.

“I want to see my baby sister, NOW!’ I screamed as Dad (probably bleary-eyed and itching to get down the local tavern to do some head wetting, or at least make it to the TAB before close and put your birth date on a trifecta) walked me down the hospital corridor. I’m sure he was thinking “Fuck me, I hope baby Lanneke isn’t as bossy as this kid.”

Lucky for the parentals, you weren’t as bossy. Or messy. Or fashion challenged. Mum got the pretty Mummy’s girl with golden locks she always wanted and Dad found you to be the kindred food spirit he always knew he would one day sire. On family road trips, in the days long before fast food outlets dotted the highway like fluorescent lit roadkill, you and he could sniff out a food van selling hot dogs and jam donuts from 25 kilometres away.

One day I will document our many adventures but for the benefit of our family and friends on the book of face and on this your 27th birthday, here are some of the childhood highlights:

*1987. Enforced fun times. Like the day Cousin Katy and I made you to learn the words and dance moves to Bananarama’s ‘Venus’:

Me + Katy (enthusiastic, jazz hands): Goddess on a mountain top
You (arms folded, unimpressed): top top top
Me + Katy (more enthusiastic, big smiles): Burning like a silver flame
You (arms folded, even more unimpressed): plame plame plame

*1991. Empathy will bring us together. They say blood is thicker than water.

But you know what is thicker than blood? The hot pink fleece of a home made track suit. The mutual humiliation of being forced to wear Mum’s sewing machine creations, which included jumpers with appliqué houses and circulation cutting cuffs.

*1995. Rebellion in Turvey Park.

The subtle yet revolutionary alterations you made to our street sign made dull suburbia a little less dull. The crossing of the ‘T’ on ‘Tucker’ so it became an ‘F’ showed the creative zeal you would put to good use in your future as a media professional. And it always gave the homeward stretch of the family car trip a little more pizzazz.

Happy birthday, dear girl. Have a good one.

Love,

Selma + Jub Jub

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Headed for Hangover Tavern

So much wine politely declined, so much hard-earned coin wasted on soda water, so many gigs seen without an amber-tinted looking glass… At the beginning of last month, I made a promise to myself that I would see February out in a sober fashion. I also made a promise to FBi listeners that I would share some of my Feb-Fast moments on the blog. And so here I am. But I have a slight problem. You see, the thing about taking a short-term break from the bottle, aside from being easy on the bank balance and tough on the good times, is that it is mind-blowingly boring. 28 days of utter yawn!

Every night of last month’s temporary sobriety can best be described as nice. Gigs were nice. Dinner with friends was nice. Getting up on the weekend without a hangover was especially nice. But it was dull. Achingly dull. It took five short days into my detox for me to realise that any feelings of smugness I may have been anticipating about giving my liver a rest and waking up all sparkly-eyed everyday would be trumped by a nostalgia for nights I only half recall on account of the number of standard drinks consumed. For the first (and hopefully last) time, I found myself identifying with Charlie ‘sobriety is boring’ Sheen. A terrifying thought.

Anyhow, it’s March now, which means I can drink again. Woot-woot! Can’t wait to spin some Hank Thompson on a jukebox near you this weekend.


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