Tag Archives: FBi Radio

For The Long Haul: Obsessive Compulsive Romantic Seeks Faraway Country For Enduring & Impossible Love Affair

Twenty hours in the air might seem like a long trip for some. Too far to go for a holiday. Too many hours in transit. Too much expense – of time and dollars – only to land and have your body-clock feel as though it’s been fucked sideways for about three to five days. It is a long way, yes.

I’m on the road at the moment. I have been for about three weeks. For better or worse, it means I’ve shaken the feeling of being fucked sideways. But when you’re on the road and you’ve traveled many, many hours to be somewhere, you are constantly asked by locals about time in the sky, so you spend a dumb amount of time thinking about it.

How do you cope?

Is it worth it?

Why would you do it?

I always say the same thing, a little monologue about my homeland, how it is nestled way down at the bottom of globe. Far from London. Far from Paris. Far from Rome. And far from America of course, a distance I have known too well for too many years. I have never been to London. I have never been to Paris. I have never been to Rome. But, oh how I have been to America.

I am nothing if not obsessive compulsive.

I have walked jet-lagged and bleary-eyed and dumb-struck on American streets so often. Too often? Perhaps too often. The trick when flying far is how you divide the time.

Two weeks ago: Sydney to Seattle via LAX (Swift’s Adventures in America: Trip Four, aka Too Early To Be Named Yet But Off To A Bloody Good Start)

*Arrive at the airport stupidly early because you’re stupidly excited.
*Consume five processed meals, six in-flight films and more than a few standard drinks.
*Have a brief nap but wake with enough time to obsess over a song or two, re-imagine an old love and remember why it’s an old love.
*Stop-over in LA and stretch legs, fire off an excited email or four and cue your favourite traveling song on the iPod so that when the plane that’s become the second leg of your journey takes off, you can let the excitement outweigh the exhaustion:

Four months ago: Sydney to New York via Vancouver, Montreal and Prince Edward Island (Swift’s Adventures in America: Trip Three, aka In The Interests Of Diversity – For The Love Of God – Go Further North)

*Arrange to meet an old flame in Vancouver. Obsess over this for the entire distance between Australia and Canada. It will kill the hours more quickly than you could ever know.
*Decide old flame is a bit of wanker.
*Drink. Meet new flames. Watch bands. Repeat until you arrive in NYC:

One year and five months ago: Sydney to New York via LAX (Swift’s Adventures in America: Trip Two, aka Seven Days In Total Is A Stupid Length Of Time To Try And Do This)

*Stay out until four in the morning in Sydney the night before and arrive at the airport with a half-packed bag, almost no dignity and certainly no sleep.
*Sleep all the way from Sydney to Los Angeles.
*Miss connecting flight to New York and become stranded in LA:

Three years, three months ago: Los Angeles to Sydney (Swift’s Adventures In America: Trip One, A Lesson In Breaking Your Own Heart, Really, Properly, Better Than Any Man Could)

*Fall head over heels for the country you are about to leave so much so that even the thought of getting on a plane home makes you feel unshakably sad.
*While waiting around LAX, in between drinking margaritas and staring vacantly at ugly airport walls, use public computers constantly and pick up swine flu.
*Sniffle all the way home, happy and sad and confused, love-sick and actually, really pandemic sick.
*Decide to find out how many times Steve Earle’s Fearless Heart can be played on a 14 hour flight.

*Land sleepless on the tarmac in the mother country. Feel a dumb sense of awe and happiness and craziness restored with the knowledge that LA to Sydney is not merely a 14 hour flight to you anymore. It’s 206 plays of Fearless Heart.

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Just Another Torrential Tuesday…

Actually, today was quite the perfect Sydney autumn special after yesterday’s overwhelming downpour. I sure hope you kept your thirst quenched and your feet dry in the manic Monday rain. Me? Well I’m still recovering from this cursed cold that’s been keeping me down. Contrary to popular belief, epic use of whiskey only works wonders when you’re intoxicated. And to think it was only a month ago I was blogging about my February detox!

If you caught tonight’s In The Pines, hopefully you heard the first half of the program, which featured the lovely sounds of San Diego crooner Gregory Page. He is in Sydney after playing the super drenched but wonderful Blue Mountains Folk Festival on the weekend. I will endeavour to get the interview up online as a stream shortly but for now I can tell you that we discussed Al Bowlly, songwriting in Hyde Park and retro microphones.

You can catch Gregory Page at the soon to be closed Raval this Wednesday March 23 and at the Shire’s finest music venue, The Brass Monkey on Thursday.

Also featured on tonight’s show was another of the highlights from the Blue Mountains Folk Festival, Frank Yamma. Frank’s debut album is called Country Man and has just been released by Wantok Musik. His voice is golden. Soak it up.

And we heard from Middle Brother (that’s two weeks in a row, this could get dangerous) and revisited one of this year’s more experimental folk albums, Destroyer’s Kaputt. Good times.

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JOE PUG: Return of the playwright/ poet/ messenger

The Joe Pug story goes a little like this: clever kid with a way with words goes off to college to learn how to be a playwright. Makes it through a few years of study. Learns a thing or two about plot, structure, character. Learns how to be damn fine storyteller. Also learns that he doesn’t really care for college. He is unhappy. He wants out. He wants to pick up the guitar with serious intent.

And so the clever kid does what feels right. He drops out. Drives to Chicago. Crafts objects out of wood during the day. Crafts songs by night. And the rest, as they say…

Australian fans who caught Pug’s captivating shows here late last year do not need to be persuaded of the performer’s gift. With a cheeky grin and a good dose of Yankee charm he wooed his audience well. But the young troubadour showed more than just stagecraft. He delivered stories that were tender, pensive and moving. Deceptively simple images became plot points, three-minute soliloquys carefully reached crescendo. Slowly, surely the tragedy upon which all great Americana songwriting is built began to unfold.

When I spoke to him long-distance a few weeks back ahead of his current Australian tour, it seemed perhaps unsurprising then to find that the singer, who is currently writing songs for his sophomore album, had just begun reading perhaps the greatest tragedy of them all, Hamlet.

“I’ve never read it before,” he laughs down the phone.

“It was definitely compulsory reading, I just didn’t do it.”

I don’t blame him. I majored in English and spent as much time studying as I did actively avoided a whole bunch of required reading.

“The fact of the matter is I wasn’t ready to read Hamlet then. That’s one of the bogus things about school, you have to read books at certain times. Books and records, it’s very important that they come to you at the right time, otherwise they are totally meaningless.”

It’s a good point, well made. Readiness, as distinct from preparedness or willingness. Does he feel ready to record the follow-up to Messenger?

“I’ve been writing it for the last three months. Just putting a lot into the writing of the songs. Going in and cutting the record to me is the easiest part. This is the hard part right now, in the trenches, slogging out each song.”

Taking a break from the battlefield of crafting songs, Joe Pug has found his way back to Australia once more for a March tour. But even though we might be feeling ready for new tunes, I’m told those new songs will remain in the vault for a little while yet.

“Every time I play a new song someone will post it on youtube or something and then it’s not a new song anymore. I’m going to keep this album pretty close to my chest.”

And so the new stories stay safe guarded for now. But the old tunes remain: solid and aching and true. Well worth the price of admission. Well worth a few hours of your time. Well worth being ready for.

Joe Pug’s tour details are here. Thank me for it later.

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Tonight It’s All About The Ladies: International Women’s Day on FBi

All women, all night long. In celebration of International Women’s Day tonight’s In The Pines was just that.

A mix of tunes old and new and in-between, heartbreakers and heart-warmers, songs of love and lust and hardship and survival. We heard classics from Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette, contemporary heroes like Lucinda Williams, Neko Case and PJ Harvey alongside newcomers like Sydney’s Holly Throsby, New Zealand’s Tiny Ruins and Nashville’s Caitlin Rose.

It was wonderful to share so much great music with you and to make radio infused with greater meaning and purpose. Of course, I always try to put together the playlist with a special sense of care and to give it that little bit of tenderness, because after all I am passionate about all things americana and folk and country. But tonight felt extra special. I’m a feminist. I’m proud of it. I’m proud of the many improvements that have come about since the first International Women’s day one hundred years ago. And I am proud of the women at home and abroad who continue to fight for equal rights for all women across the world. Solidarity sisters. We have won many battles. We have many battles to go. Keep up the good fight!

If you missed the program, you can check out the playlist under the appropriately marked tab.

And as an added bonus, here are some live tunes from performers featured on the program who make me glad to a woman and a country music nerd. Happy International Women’s Day y’all x

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Mid-week Mixtape: Bryan Estepa

This week’s Mid-Week Mixtape is courtesy of Sydney solo artist Bryan Estepa. Bryan writes great country infused pop songs, the kind that Ryan Adams might have written post-Love Is Hell if he took anti-depressants and listened to more albums by The Beatles.

A recent review published in a much more widely read publication than this blog described aforementioned songs as ‘country rock-cum-pop’ but to my ears that sounds less like Estepa and more like an obscure porn genre that can only be found in adult stores in Nashville and Austin. So it’s country ‘infused’ pop, okay? Make of that what you will…

On his latest album Vessels, Estepa wraps tender lyrics around seemingly effortless and catchy melodies. Of course, that effortlessness only seems to be so, as Bryan claims on his website to have suffered significantly from writer’s block before recording the album!

Still, writer’s block or no, he has managed to scrape together some words about the following songs that have inspired him over the years.

The Bee Gees – To Love Somebody

A song that instantly connects me to my childhood. Of my uncles and mother harmonising to this tune and the Bee Gees greatest hits on repeat during the long drives on our school holidays. This is the Gibb brothers writing a song for Otis Redding. He sadly did not get the chance to sing it but this version can last me a lifetime of listens. Brilliant.

The Jayhawks – The Man Who Loved Life

This was my first introduction to this fabulous band and pretty much got me hooked from the first line. People seem to overlook Sound Of Lies when talking superlatives about the Jayhawks back catalogue. Which is a damn shame as it’s an amazingly textured album. Louris’s guitar lines and arrangements, especially with this song is quite remarkable. As for memories, this conjures up my first time driving through Texas where I picked up this album in a thrift shop near San Antonio. Worth every $3.99 spent.

Elliott Smith – Ballad Of Big Nothing

There’s only a few artists who I never ever tire of listening too, no matter how many repeat rotations happens with their music. Elliott’s music is one of them and this song shows everything great about this man in 2 min and 48 seconds. His voice always tugs my heart at the right places and I’m constantly at awe at how his songwriting makes it seem so simple yet is very much complex and intelligent. This always brings me back to my working stint in the USA where all I had was a cassette of his 2 albums, Either/Or and XO to keep me company for two months and got me through it unscathed!

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Texas Flood

There was a time when I fancied myself as a guitar shredder and part-time bluesman, jamming to every blues song I can get my hands on. The (Good) intervention and discovery of ‘alt-country’ & 70’s west coast rock changed the game a bit for me but my one guitar hero that’s still constant to this day is Stevie Ray Vaughan. Though I loved Hendrix, Clapton, Page etc, it was SRV’s guitar playing that really connected to me on a deeper level. Every note and run he plays has so much conviction and soul. The fact that we lost him just as he was reveling in his sobriety is a tragedy. Listen to ‘Texas Flood’ and you will know exactly what I mean

You Am I – How Much Is Enough

My late high school and University years was pretty much soundtracked by the million You Am I shows I went too. I idolised and worshiped this band and realised that we had our own world-class live band in our backyard. Tim Rogers & co, influenced my early songwriting a lot and made me want to be onstage. I remember the excitement by myself and all the crowd before each gig and would many times climax for me during their encore with ‘How much is enough’. I always left You Am I gigs sweating, exhausted but bloody happy!

Bryan Estepa will be launching Vessels at the Annandale Hotel on March 17. Supports include Dave McCormack, Matt Purcell & the Blessed Curse and the Bernie Hayes Quartet.

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Post Pines: Tuesday February 22

Keeping it brief tonight as I have some pretty great interviews that I need to write-up for the blog. Pretty soon you’ll get to read about Justin Townes Earle’s plans to retire and become a dirty old man, Joe Pug’s thoughts on William Shakespeare and Mariam Wallentin from Wildbirds & Peacedrums will share why she prefers playing vinyl over mp3s.

But while that trifecta of awesomeness awaits, let’s unpack some of the music played on this week’s show.

Iron & Wine

I’m still really enjoying the latest effort from Iron & Wine. This week we heard single number two from Kiss Each Other Clean, ‘Tree By The River’. A quick browse online tonight uncovered this gentle, more acoustic version of the album track. That beard, those nostalgic lyrics, that gentle mandolin! Dreamy…

Drive By Truckers

The best thing about having a radio gig in the late-ish evening is the opportunity it presents to play songs that aren’t as radio friendly as others. Like seven minute narratives about a former cops with former wives, former families and a whole lot of unhappiness to carry around. ‘Used To Be A Cop’ is one of the highlights from the new Drive By Truckers album Go-Go Boots. It could go for another seven minutes. I love it. I don’t why it only goes for 5.49 in this video.

Download it for free here.

Tobias Cummings/ Kanye West

It feels like I’ve been waiting for a decade for someone to turn Kanye West’s ‘Runaway’ into the pensive folk ballad it demands to be. At long last, Melbourne songwriter Tobias Cummings has done just that. It’s the B-side to his latest single ‘Busy Bees’. Pusha T’s ‘Never was much of a romantic/I could never take the intimacy/And I know I did damage/ ‘Cos the look in your eyes is killing me’ feels like it has belonged in a folk ballad forever. Gold stars.

This one’s a free download too. You can get it here.

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A Night Without Gin or Chicken: Valentine’s Day Is Over

Ah, Valentine’s Day. A couple of months ago I blogged about a rather undignified February 14 a few years back that involved over-indulging on gin and chicken, recalling that it was probably the best Valentine’s I’d ever had. Perhaps disappointingly, perhaps unsurprisingly, as yet another February scrambles past the half-way point, I can assure you that the gin and chicken Valentine’s remains the best one yet. Which is not to say I didn’t have a lovely time yesterday. I did. But it was mostly unremarkable. I stayed true to my February detox (yawn), finished my book (next!) and took Archie the spaniel for a stroll down King Street.

Archie raced out into the night with his usual goofy enthusiasm, dragging me reluctantly behind in my less than glamorous stretch pants and Hall & Oates t-shirt combo. Making a cracking pace in the Carlisle-esque summer rain, we passed restaurant after restaurant, packed with couples young and old, cute and not-so-cute, making declarations of love over three course meals, moderately priced white wine and tasteful bunches of flowers.

It was sweet. It was heart-warming. It was kind of cheesy. I should have been hating every second of it. I should have been sorting a playlist of heartbreaking classics in my head to remind me of why I like being single. But who am I kidding? While I do like being single, I also like a bit of sap. My favourite movie (after Sex, Lies & Videotape) is Gone With The Wind. My favourite country song is ‘Always On My Mind’ and I’ve read way too much poetry to pretend I don’t care about romance.

Which is why, instead of compiling a list of tunes more fitting of my current ‘status’ (think Pernice Brothers ‘Not The Loving Kind’, Neko Case ‘Hold On, Hold On’ etc) I’ve put together some of my favourite duets for the blog this week. Some of them are by real couples and some of them are by mere singing partners… but they’re all good. And they all make me wish I could teach Archie to bark in tune.

Waylon Jennings & Cheryl Ladd – Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys

He was an outlaw. She was one of Charlie’s Angels. The dialogue at the beginning of this video makes it pretty much my favourite clip on the internet.

Waylon Jennings & Jessi Colter – Storms Never Last

If I were Jessi Colter and I’d been side of stage to witness Waylon’s outrageous flirtation with Cheryl Ladd in the previous clip, I’d have created a mighty big fuss. And then looked at what a dreamboat he is and gotten over it. Storms never last.

Rita Coolidge & Kris Kristofferson – Help Me Make It Through The Night

If he’s not standing impossibly close with an open neck navy shirt and a look of total adoration, he’s just not that into you. I take back what I said about Cheryl & Waylon. This is my favourite clip on the internet.

June Carter & Johnny Cash – Jackson

It would be plain wrong to document country duets without Johnny and June. You’ve seen the movie. Enough said.

Linda Ronstadt and Hoyt Axton – Lion In The Winter

I love this song. I love Hoyt’s awkward arm over Linda’s shoulder. I love the way she sings ‘ca-all’. Consider yourselves lucky I love y’all enough to spare you Aaron Neville.

Donovan & Crystal Gayle – Catch The Wind

Just because I’ve spared you Aaron Neville, it doesn’t mean I’m going to spare you a dose of Donovan. This video is worth it for Crystal Gayle’s hair alone. I would tell you this is as sappy as it’s going to get but there’s still a Kenny Rogers video to come.

Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn – You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly

Unfortunately there’s no video for this one. But I really like the ugly pink jacket Conway is wearing on the vinyl that has been used as the graphic. And teamed a white skivvy! I think we all know the reason the ‘kids’ have terrible dress sense.

Sheena Easton & Kenny Rogers – We’ve Got Tonight

I know it seems like a glaring omission to leave out Dolly & Kenny’s ‘Islands In The Stream’ but I have blogged about it before, and it doesn’t feature a creepy/cringeworthy/awesome bit of play acting from Kenny that comes across as him pressuring a young Scottish pop star to start a family.

Happy February 15 everybody xxx

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