Nothing like being caught short is there? Not on ideas or inspiration, but on priorities mostly, and time. I got carried away with one piece of writing and forgot about another. That other being, err…this blog. So this rather short fragment is really just a placeholder for something better (hopefully!) to arrive in the next few days.
Now normally I’d attribute this to writers’ block – a familiar enemy of any writer, especially with a deadline looming. Except that I was writing, and I have given myself permission to write whatever and wherever my muse takes me. Which is fine, but that deadline was still lurking in the back of my mind, along with associated guilt. So Wednesday morning I finally put aside my other work, (having rather conveniently reached a bit of an impasse after days of zealous scribbling) started to give attention to this blog and was almost immediately distracted by a fascinating article on …procrastination. Do give it a read, seriously – debunks the myth about procrastination being related to poor time management and actually more aligned with managing emotions. Could explain my entire life as a serial avoider! Which brings us closer to the real source of the problem. Avoidance. Also – how’s the irony of procrastinating via the very subject itself! I should get an award for that sort of ingenuity, surely?
Anyway…what to write about? Lots of ideas in my head but none jumping out at me, or none that didn’t require some research that would push my commitment back even further. So my page remained, stubbornly, blank.
And then I thought…Why not read over older pieces I’d written, searching for some sort of inspiration? Which could be mistaken for yet more stalling, but often this tactic has led me off in different renewed writing directions, so it’s at least worth exploring, right?
I did stumble across an old anecdote from my travels, one I have hilariously regaled my friends with many times over the years. To clarify THEY laughed and deemed it comical, not me projecting onto them. Although it is, trust me, kind of funny – even more so because it is absolutely true to form and most of you who know me well will recognise this, complete with requisite groans and face palming. For those readers who don’t know me well, or even at all…welcome to the mass of contradictions, dubious decisions and over-indulgence amongst various other little quirks and foibles, that is ME !!
I have a bunch of these tales from a specific period in my life, documenting my travels through Europe and America, and everyday life living in England and Ireland providing a riotous series of adventures that I thankfully captured in a daily or at least regular journal, size and intensity of hangover permitting.
I will warn you…these stories when they surface are entirely unfiltered, completely non-PC and peppered with colourful language so if you have delicate sensibilities…exit NOW. They’re also written as if I’m telling the story (not writing it) and so contain precious little grammar and the like.
The one I first want to share, does need a little editing though so do be patient for a day or two dear reader, whilst I tart up an old tale I hope you’ll enjoy. And while you’re being understanding, ponder this…a blog mostly about procrastination, which is in itself an exercise in hedging, buying myself some more time to present you with something more worthy. If that isn’t turning procrastination into an art form…I don’t know what is!
Well here we are again and it’s all about the music…part 2!. This week I’ll round out the special mentions, the records including my favourite new releases for the year, the playlists, the rediscoveries and…Radio!
Special Mentions (part 2):
Justin Townes Earle – I saw JTE with my friend Ed, in August at the Spotted Mallard, touring on the back of new release The Saint of Lost Causes and my goodness, his style definitely hits you in the face. His banter with the audience didn’t pull punches and he is certainly not shy of calling out social and political injustice. He spoke candidly about the difficulties following in the shadow of his father; his marriage breakdown and struggles with depression and substance abuse, as well as the joy of becoming a dad. Playing solo he filled the room with great music on the strength of just one guitar and his voice. He’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but I’m sold – I love his brand of blues infused folky Americana, and his ‘in-your-face’ style!
The Teskey Brothers I saw twice at The Forum on their Run Home Slow tour and boy oh boy…what a load of talent in this band, and doesn’t the whole world know it too! The boys are very laid back, each exceptionally gifted, and seriously…just where does that voice come from Josh Teskey??? Highlight of these two shows for me was ‘Hold Me’ off the new album, which they performed A cappella on the Wednesday night (13 Nov), stepping off stage and into the audience, Josh hoisted on the bands shoulders with the crowd joining in the chorus – this song is made for crowd participation, and the band managed to make it feel very intimate and personal. No doubt that version will make it to the DVD they are producing of the tour so keep any eye out!
The Temper Trap also at The Forum playing their Conditions album from start to finish on their 10thanniversary tour of that album in December, and they were fabulous, much better than last time I saw them at Festy Hall (I blame this bleurgh venue not the band!) Jonny Aherne is always a big, bouncing bundle of joy, Dougy Mandagi seems so comfortable in his skin these days, and that voice…still gives me chills! Was also nice to see Loz Sillitto join his former bandmates for the tour. They paid homage to long-time fans, playing some unrecorded numbers from their early days. Still my favourite Indie band, I sure hope they’ve got plans for a new album soon!
Nick Cave…oh Nicky, so much of my late seventies and very early eighties spent watching Nick and Boys Next Door, Birthday Party at divey little clubs in Melbourne, later of course with the Bad Seeds (slightly bigger, equally divey venues). A seminal part of my teen & young adult development, and partly responsible for my early anti-establishment views, politicisation, and also err, experimentation with various substances. Two VERY different gigs this year; the first an interactive conversation, plus a few tunes on piano. Nick answered questions honestly, sometimes tongue in cheek, others impatiently and spoke candidly about grief and his son’s death. I love the obvious need he feels to connect with his fans, audience on a deeper level with this conversation series. If you want a taste of what this experience was like , check out The Red Hand Files (the inspiration for the ‘Conversation’ series) and if you get a chance to go to one of these shows – DO IT!! The second show was with Warren Ellis and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, showcasing the film music of these two artists. Honestly from my perspective– this gig was all about Warren. Nick was the drawcard and though heavily involved creatively, it was clearly Warren who shone here. A very different performance, but I loved it, as I do pretty much all of Nick and Warren’s collaborations.
Russell Morris Another incredibly talented artist from my past I had the privilege to see perform twice this year. Russell continues to astound me with his voice and music, his new tunes sit seamlessly with the old, his songwriting is just fabulous. I will go and watch him again and again, just brilliant. Loved him at the Spotted Mallard in July with loads of great friends, and again at Memo Music hall in December (with Kerrie, Gavin and Kathy) on a bill including ever loveable, Broderick Smith.
Alex Smith – A fantastic Aussie talent with a new album out in 2019. Yes, he of Moving Pictures fame, with a solo album The Thread – startling in its purity, honesty and stellar songwriting. I saw him at the Spotted Mallard (another favourite in case you hadn’t noticed!) and he was just…WOW!! Such a great storyteller and musician, Alex has a voice that beyond the technical excellence is saturated with emotion, helping convey the stories in his lyrics every bit as much as the words. He’s another I will always have on my list of ‘must see’ whenever he’s in town…all too infrequently since he now calls Italy home.
I had the chance to see Mick Pealing sing a couple of times in one of his other projects, Raw Britand…Lord almighty what a whole lot of rockin’ that was!! He really belts out those 60s-70s Brit power rock numbers that are the staple of this band. If you’re a fan of this music (and who isn’t!!) they really do it best…not surprising when you add the combined talents of Dave Leslie (Baby Animals) and Boom Crash Opera rhythm section Peter ‘Maz’ Maslen (drums) and John Favaro (bass) to Mick’s incredible vocal range.
I know Mick is a huge Free and Bad Company fan, and he certainly gives Paul Rodgers a run for his money belting out the hits these two bands are famous for. Maybe he should have replaced Paul in Bad Company #2 instead of Brian Howe. He certainly has the pipes to back it up, and I’m sure Ralpher and Simon would have preferred him to Mr Howe!
Anyway…back to Raw Brit, they don’t play very often, so if you get the chance to see them…snap it up, there’ll be no regrets trust me!
Another great band featuring music from the same era, but with an Australian focus, is Stepback, featuring my long time mate David Zerafa. I’ve known Dave since we were wee tots at primary school, right the way through high school – Dave with guitar in hand the whole journey! Some great memories, including jam sessions when we should have been in class, our singing emboldened with liberal doses of wine (Coolabah cask, naturally!) and also ahem, the odd ‘herbal’ cigarette. We thought we sounded fabulous – Dave at least really did! These guys are great – and along with Raw Brit, top the list of a very small number of tribute bands I’d recommend.
Aaron Schembri – A new discovery this year – what a fabulous night my friend Yasemin and I had at Aaron’s ‘City Lights’ album launch @ Memo in September. A stellar cast of Australian music royalty turned out to support him and his band – one of the best nights I’ve had in a while. Check out the impressive cast featuring on his album in Aaron’s Spotify bio and sample one of the songs ‘Good Enough For You’ while you’re there.
I obviously saw a lot more than I’ve highlighted here, a lot of really fantastic local gigs, and the odd miss as well, though they were far and few between. Some of the other acts I saw in 2019:
Kevin Bennett & The Flood
Billy Miller & the Love Brothers
Boom Crash Opera
Tim Scanlon Trio
Bloom (Linda Ronstadt tribute)
Joe Creighton (Van Morrison tribute)
So that’s the gigs people, and while they took up a lot of my spare time in 2019, they weren’t the only musical something I had a lot of enjoyment from…
I mentioned in my first post ‘2019 – my year of Yes’ about the joy of rediscovering vinyl and also of trawling through collections at Crate Digger Fairs (Howler) and The Basement Discs. It all started with the return (mostly) of my record collection after a long and bitter custody battle, and that led to a turntable (birthday gift from my lovely daughter Gabby) and then searching out missing pieces in my collection. I had a lot of fun looking, chatting to fellow collectors and vendors at Howler – and I picked up some GREAT albums. Really hard to pick a favourite, but if I had to…there’d be two: Free Story (Free…duh!) and 2 Miles From Heaven by Mott the Hoople.
Favourite new Release(s) 2019:
I tried REALLY hard to pick one, and narrowed it down to three, sorry but it’s the best I could do –
Read my comments in last weeks all about the music (Part 1) for why, OR…have a listen for yourself via the links above! PS…if you like them…be sure to go out and BUY people (Support the ARTIST, BUY the music!)
I’m mostly a Spotify girl, although I occasionally I do dip into iTunes. I’ve put a number of lists together based on favourites generally, Australian bands, older stuff, my dad’s favourites, and then I came up with the concept of ‘Current Obsessions’. This list was meant to contain, well as the name suggests – my current obsessions – new tunes, old favourites, random stuff suggested by Spotify radio, whatever I liked, and wanted to hear over and over. Two simple rules:
I had to keep it to about 30 songs (or just long enough for my daily walk!) and
once I started skipping a song…banished from the list!
I broke rule no.1 in the first month…I have a lot of obsessions, apparently!
Anyway, if you want to know what songs I’m listening to on repeat – littlebird current obsessions playlist has my current faves which I’ll be culling come Jan 31! Never fear though, all songs end up on littlebird past obsessions, so you can still have a listen there…beware it’s a very lonnnng list! You can follow me on Spotify find my public playlists (and some of my kids – eek!) at limetyger. All of my playlists are prefixed ‘littlebird’.
I’ve also found myself listening to radio more this year. ABC 774 Melbourne is a favourite, and I do like Brian Nankervis & Richelle Hunt (Jacinta Parsons in 2020) on Friday Revue at 2:00 pm. They have great guests and Brian does stellar interviews – very natural.
Breakfast shows are often hard work, because – morning – but I have tuned in to Mick Pealing’s Breakfast show on 96.5 Inner FM 7:00-9:00 am Thursday. Mick covers a very wide variety of genres and eras – you never know what you’ll get…could be a laid back easy listen or a BAM!! wake you up with sound at the strength of 7 espresso coffees back to back!
Another favourite is Henry Wagon’s Tower of Song on Double JJ Monday nights at 8.00 pm great tunes on the periphery of several genres peppered with great banter, and well…Henry who of course, is always a delight.
My favourite for the year would probably be ‘County Miles’ (on Inner FM again) which sits comfortably in the Monday 8:00-10:00pm timeslot. This show kind of took me by surprise because I’ve never really considered myself a big fan of country. Remember that statement from last week’s blog, about not knowing I liked something until I found myself listening to it? Well here we are!
I like a lot more country than I thought I did, mostly on the fringes admittedly, and I’ve discovered a lot more mostly thanks to our erstwhile host (Mick Pealing again) who puts together interesting playlists spanning the depth and breadth of the genre, interspersed with interesting facts and humorous Facebook banter between Mick and his listeners. As Mick himself says’ if he can put ‘country’ in front of it – he’ll play it! I may have tested that theory once or twice…I’m fairly sure my requests for country flavoured Zeppelin or Mott the Hoople may have had our host face palming in the studio!
So that about wraps it up folks, my 2019 year in music. I could keep going on and on, and no doubt I’ll be revisiting music as a topic throughout 2020, which is shaping up already as another outstanding year! But for now I’ll sign off until next week saying a huge thank you and sending much love to all the people I gigged with in 2019 …here’s to 2020! See you next week with a fresh bunch of words on…something.
PS – I’ve created a Links page which contains a lot of the artists I’ve featured or mentioned here, as well as all my littlebird playlists; do check them out and…ENJOY!
That’s right folks, this week and next, it’s all about the music! Specifically a roundup of my 2019 year in music – and what a year it has been! Loads and loads of gigs, record purchases, and playlists later…I’ve discovered a lot about what I like, what I don’t like, what I didn’t know I liked till I found myself listening to it. It’s been heaps of fun and also because it has been such a HUGE part of my year…I’ve found I can’t fit it all into one blog! So this week is part 1 – the gigs (well a few highlights) and my top picks for the year. Next week – part 2 some more special mentions, top venues, the records including my favourite new release for the year, the playlists, radio and…rediscoveries. Oh jeez…maybe I’ll need a Part 3!
The gigs 2019
From the first on Jan 5 to the last on Dec 15, the live music has been sensational! There were so many great moments with some truly talented artists. Melbourne really is so lucky to have such a vibrant live music scene – so many great local and international artists.
Mumford & Sons – I’ve loved these guys for ages so was stoked to see them play, and they didn’t disappoint – had a 12000+ crowd eating out of their hand. This was possibly THE happiest crowd I’ve been a part of for a long while, and whilst I’m giving full credit to the music, I might just mention there was a plentiful aroma of a certain herbal remedy wafting through the air!
Support acts, local Gretta Ray and fellow Brit Michael Kiwanuka’s sets were fantastic, and even better when they joined M&S on stage. The highlight for me was an acoustic version of ‘Awake My Soul’ the crowd listening in rapt silence, and then joining in perfect unison. Literally blew me away, and also apparently, the nearby Australian Open crowd at Rod Laver arena!
Jeff Tweedy – everybody’s favourite mid-western teddy bear. A slightly sarcastic, exceptionally talented teddy bear. Wilco’s founder and front man was touring solo on the back of his new album ‘Warm’ (and later release ‘Warmer’) and a Memoir to boot. I saw him at Howler in May, and as ever, his storytelling was sublimely irreverent and the music…just lovely. Favourite for me was ‘Let’s Go Rain’ delivered in the inimitable way that makes Jeff so endearing. With a new album from Wilco ‘Ode to Joy’released late 2019 – fingers crossed for a band tour of Australia in 2020!
Stars…ah, my sentimental OZ country rock favourites from the seventies. I soon had the sentimentality blown out of my system when they started playing new tunes from their current album ‘Boundary Rider’. They pay tribute to their fallen bandmate and friend, Andy Durant, and his songs sound as great as ever, ‘West is the Way’ and ‘Look After Yourself’ timeless classics. The new incarnation blends seamlessly with the old – newbies Nick Charles(guitar) and Erik Chess (replacing Glyn Dowding on drums) fitting in with Mal Eastick (fabulous – ah THAT tone!)the always funky and every colourful Roger McLachlan, and of course – those pipes – Mick Pealing still belting out the big numbers and lulling us with beautiful ballads.
I saw them play a number of times; Yarraville Live was a great catch up with many long-time friends (I think we were a party of about 23-24 in the end!) all loving being out seeing one of our faves togetheragain. We rocked our little socks off, my mate Sandra scaring the hell out of the band by sliding along their meet and greet table after the show!
I think though the gig at Caravan Music Club in August was my favourite, musically the band had it 150% together and their high energy and happy vibes spurred on an already enthusiastic crowd. It was a fabulous night including teasers from the upcoming album and aided by the support act, immensely talented and all-round nice guy – Matt Walker.
Watch out for Stars new album and launch shows in February 2020, sure to be another stellar effort from these long-standing legends if those few teasers they have played so far are anything to go by!
I’ve also seen duo Nick Charles and Mick Pealing play a number of times, mainly at The Drunken Poet, and boy we had some fun those nights! The lads let their hair down, bouncing one liners off each other and the crowd; and as the key songwriters for Stars, often road-testing new numbers as well as some of their favourite songs. A lot of fun, great music and interesting conversations are to be had whenever these two get together!
Tex Perkins – I saw Tex twice in 2019. Firstly in May at the Spotted Mallard with Matt Walker, doing a ‘swampy blues type thing’ my brother Gavin in attendance. Reminder to self: do NOT try keeping up in the drinking stakes with your 6’ 4” brother…messy! Well, to be fair, we both were extremely messy, and so was the music – grungy, magnificent, dirty, messy blues. Yowser! Tex and Matt are back touring in early 2020…a do not miss for sure!
Saw them both again in August at the final (?!) run of shows for ‘Man in Black’ Tex’s long running Johnny Cash show, joined by Rachael Tidd as June Carter Cash and The Tennessee Four, including Shane Reilly (Matt’s Lost Ragas bandmate) Steve Hadley on bass and Dave Folley on drums. I’ve seen this show twice, both times absolutely fabulous, Tex and Rachael give an honest and wry telling of Johnny’s life, and the music…just superb.
I love Tex, he’s a down to earth, funny as hell dude with a heart of gold. He’s organised some great fundraisers for farmers and firies, and he’s not afraid to call it like it is (his one finger salute to our Prime Minister on New Years’ eve went viral on social media).
Monique Brumby– ah Mon, multi Aria award recipient and more importantly (from my selfish point of view! 😉) my once, and all-time favourite, gardener. I met Mon in 2016 when she took on a herculean task, lovingly transforming my huge neglected yard into a thing of absolute beauty, as we shared a lot of laughs and great conversations.
She moved back to home state Tassie in 2017 and has been busy looking after herself through connection with family, music and the land. The result is an album’s worth of songs she previewed at the Gasometer in mid-December. I went to this one on my own but felt like I was in a room full of friends. Such is the essence of Mon, and the people she attracts, both fans and friends, with her poignantly honest, witty and revealing tales and music. And her voice! Just beautiful…can’t wait for her album to come out. Mon is one of the world’s truly beautiful souls – I adore her.
Broderick Smith – what a national treasure! My friends and I used to follow Brod’s Big Combo obsessively in the early eighties, and of course everyone remembers the iconic Dingoes! so I was really looking forward to catching him again. Firstly at Kingston Arts in May with Lost Ragas…wow! (Sidebar: Ragas were magnificent, I could feel the hooks sinking in)
Broderick was at his storytelling best, as a friend commented “musings on life as it was and life as it is was wonderfully humorous, sprinkled with terrific song-writing and musicianship. Really good night.” That about covers it I think, thanks Phil! I don’t think any other artist this year has made me howl with laughter at his tales (apparently he wants a ‘Crusty the Clown’ headstone!) and then cry again with the beauty of song -ah, ‘My Shiralee’ and ‘Tomorrow Wendy’ just beautiful – Thank you Brod❤️
Oh there are SOOOOOO many things to love about this band. Musically they are amazing, and Nate writes songs that are poignant and full of emotion – joy, hardship, pain, loss, love and the band delivers them in a soulful, blues infused, New Orleans jazz, folky utterly delightful way.
From the time they walked on stage April 18 @ Croxton Bandroom to the time I hopped in the car to go home I danced and sang my way through their set and I certainly wasn’t alone! I loved this show so much, the band has incredible energy and so much joy – it still makes me smile thinking of it. So much that I created a playlist of their set (thanks to the person who shared that little nugget on Facey!) I love the videos these guys put out and also that they are socially and politically active – not just words, actions! Have a read about the Marigold project they are involved with for starters or the Fort Flannel fundraiser organised by Jeff Dazey (sax) just…beautiful, beautiful men.
OH.MY.LORD. This band!! I’d heard of these guys, but not really listened to much of their stuff previously or ever seen them play. So on the recommendation of a friend (Phil again!) I checked out their new album (Songs from the Aftermath) on Spotify and went to the in-store at Basement Discs, looking forward to a laid-back performance. JEEZUS H was that a miscalculation of biblical proportions!
Henry hit the stage and BAM!!…straight in peoples’ faces. It was a loud, compelling, fabulous 45 minutes and I was sold. I bought the vinyl there and then and was not disappointed – and I LOVE the cover artwork!
Their album launch at Croxton Bandroom (hmmm, is it a coincidence both of my top gigs were at this venue?! 🤔) was even better – the whole band was a riot, and from go to whoa…magnificent, each song delivered with the joy of a band that loves what they do. And Henry Wagons…how does one describe the tsunami of infectious enthusiasm that is Henry? Ummm, well maybe that descriptor about covers it actually…almost. He’s clever, insightful, funny and immensely talented. And also… I got a tea towel!!
So, I’ve seen these guys more than a few times this year and they snuck up on me, each time I’ve heard them I walked away happier than the time before. They just have something really extraordinary; a trippy, unique vibe of alt country-Americana that speaks to their fans (an ever increasing and extremely loyal number).
Matt is excellent on guitar, with dark distinctive vocals that complement the music and songs perfectly. Shane on pedal steel, mandolin, guitar and high but husky harmonies (how on earth does he get THAT combination?!) is a highlight and the banter between these two is always something special. Roger and Haydn round the band out as a tight talented rhythm section, and again…a band that really works because you can see they all love what they do.
They were great at Kingston with Brod Smith, playing their own set and then supporting Brod on stage also. I did forget Shane’s name temporarily and referred to him as Benedict Cumberbatch for the evening (To be fair he was rocking a Cumberbatch look – Shane, I promise it’s a compliment!)
Their June Union Hotel residency in Brunswick was stellar…yes, I went to all three gigs…what??!! Well, I live just down the road and they’re so good, why not? And with different friends each time, I spread the love around. They crowd tested a couple of new numbers as well as a fabulous cover of “Dark End of the Street” which some of you can probably find a small snippet of on my Insta or Facebook (I am the world’s worst at videoing anything so I’m not providing a link to prove it to the world!) Each gig was packed to the rafters with happy punters, all of us treated to a veritable feast for the soul.My favourite gig though would have to be the launch of their new album This is Not a Dream at Spotted Mallard on 8 November. Not gonna lie, I was tired…my daughter’s 21st was the next night and we’d both had a hell of a week preparing, but still I was determined to get out and relax for a few hours. I did, and Lost Ragas delivered in spades, with a guest appearance by Ambrose Kenny Smith (King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard)on harmonica. Fabulous gig…I floated out of the Mallard afterward, weightless with the dazed euphoria that comes from the special blend these guys seem to have – talented musicians playing fabulous music, with great often quirky songwriting and whimsical banter in between.Finally, and another reason to love them…weird little vids that randomly appear on social media, and the gem of a clip that accompanies ‘Keeping up with Yesterday’ the latest single from the album. Did I say I love this band? I love this band!!
So there you have it folks, my roundup – part 1 of “all about the music” Please throw me a like or a comment…what was your favourite musical thing of 2019? Friends – don’t chide me over ‘missed mentions’ – I promise I will try and cover the remaining next week, plus some other stuff! Do check out the various links above to learn more about the artists, venues etc and PLEASE listen to the music, watch the vids – we have such a wealth of talent musically, particularly local!
Bear with me folks as I embark on my blogging journey, trying to work out what the hell it is I might have to say that some of you may or may not want to read. Truthfully, anything and everything could be covered here, if what goes on in my head and generally comes out of my mouth is any guide! And I hope it feels natural, like a conversation rather than an essay, albeit with slightly better grammar, and possibly the tiniest bit more PG (That’s NOT a promise people, so be warned!) What I’m mostly hoping for is discussion back from readers in response to my ramblings, so please, please comment…even if it’s just to say ‘hi’ or give a thumbs ups, thumbs down.
So here goes…
To kick off, being as we’ve all just been birthed into a new year, I thought I’d write something deep and reflective about the year that was 2019, for me at least. I may be kidding about the “deep and reflective” bit, we’ll just see how whimsical vs philosophical I get…or possibly could be sizable portions of shite, who knows? That’s the fun bit right?
2019…for me, kicked off with a personal resolve to make it my “year of yes”. I’ve spent the last few years working too hard, trying to raise kids as a single parent, stressing about anything and everything, and truthfully spending precious little time on my own wellbeing and happiness. Then in late 2018 my father died, and it threw my life into sharp perspective. My dad although possibly ignoring his physical health at times, certainly nurtured his interests, hobbies, passions and looked after his mental health. Revisiting his life while gathering information for his eulogy, and sorting through my own grief, I was struck by the vast and varied things dad achieved during his time on earth. It made me put my own life under the spotlight, and I found the last several years to be lacking in the things that I had always loved: writing, reading, painting, drawing, music. I’d sacrificed a lot of friends for a relationship that ultimately failed and made the classic mistake of putting my kids’ happiness and wellbeing before everything and ignoring my own. Which, as anyone who has experienced this knows, is ultimately self-defeating. My kids needed me to self-care and be responsible for my wellbeing and happiness, so theirs’ can fall into place much more easily, when their primary caregiver/s isn’t perpetually stressed and miserable.
So 2019 was the year for me to look after myself first, and trust that my kids could take care of themselves a bit more (a lot more as it turned out!) And by committing to saying ‘yes’ to more things I guaranteed myself a little more ‘me’ time. I discovered, the thing with saying ‘yes’ (or ‘no’) to things is… it can be quite addictive. You’ve just got to have the yes and no in the right order. Saying yes to gigs, art galleries, exhibitions, catching up with friends, dates (good lord THAT could have a blog on its own!!) opened up a whole new world of experiences, happiness and enjoyment, rediscovering lost passions, reconnecting with old friends, making new friends, being reinvested in the world. It was, and is, a heady experience.
And I rediscovered music, opening up a whole new set of doors for me, not least the fabulous music scene we have in Melbourne, but also the past – my dad’s old favourites, that shaped mine and my brothers’ musical tastes, and also my own obsessions from the seventies and eighties (the teen years) and everything before and beyond that I loved. I have created the best Spotify playlists I can tell you – and boy have they taken a beating this year!
I went to lots of gigs, LOTs and LOTS of gigs, drawing in old friends and new to come along and experience the joy with me. And oh what joy it has been! Music has always been the background to my own creativity, and so once I started to re-engage with music…my muse came roaring back and I have been writing my little heart out. Page after page of writing books filled with my fevered imaginings, sparked by music, by people, by the world around me. I existed for most of the year in a euphoric cloud, and I noticed it infected people around me, as joy does, inevitably. (The reverse is also true and negative feelings also bring others down…but in 2019? – uh, uh nope!) My kids in the main benefited from this new happier, relaxed me, with the occasional blip on the radar generally the result of Year 12 stress, or the absence of dinner cos mama was off at a gig. Minor stuff, part of life and character and independence building for my children. (for those of you who don’t know…I have three delightful offspring, one who turned 21 in 2019, and 17-year-old twins who were in Year 12 this year…so not little kids in any sense of the word; my son at 6ft 5in, is a virtual giant!) There was the odd panicked phone call when I was out…mainly around whether the cats had been fed (?!) or ‘urgent’ requests for cash transfers or uber eats…nothing life threatening.
I should also tell you that I kicked off the year by taking extended leave…in fact commenced in Nov 2018, just to give myself a well-earned breather from a full on job, space to grieve for my father and reconnect with the me that was trapped inside behind a bucket of baggage and self-imposed misery. THAT was a great thing to do, and I recommend it to anyone who has been in a job for a long period of time (or several long periods of time)…give yourself a break, it can’t be all about money, and also…you don’t need as much money as you think you do! And spend it on stuff that makes you happy, enriches you –NO that is not necessarily the latest technology or newest car or designer clothing.
I’ll share with you 3 things (out of the many) I spent money on that made me indescribably happy this year:
An exhibition: Revolutions Records and Rebels. A whole lot of reading, listening and thinking came out of the Revolutions Records & Rebels exhibition (and the resultant book purchase!) I am still blown away by the sheer enormity of what happened around the world during those years between 1966-1970. And no small amount of envy in being too young to be a part of such a vibrant time, although I’m also happy NOW that I’m not ten years older!
Records from Crate Digger Record Fair (@Howler first Saturday every month). Vinyl from this fair (and Basement Discs, my other favourite go-to for several reasons) have given me some really happy moments…I really do feel sorry for the generations who didn’t grow up with vinyl, such a different experience all round – the crackling sound of the needle on vinyl and time spent pouring over every inch of the record sleeve, absorbing every detail…you can’t get that kind of pleasure with other recorded musical mediums.
New felt pens and writing books (quite a lot as it turns out!) The writing that followed…well there’s no point buying all those pens and writing books if they sit in a cupboard unused (and I have done this over the years, trust me!) Nothing is quite as satisfying as filling a page with words from your imagination. Many people have said to me ‘why don’t you use a computer or typewriter for writing?’ HELL NO!! It might work for some but for me (and Nick Cave incidentally) pen to paper is easily more satisfying for the soul and the imagination.
I can hear my friends all saying, but what about the music, the gigs? How could they not be in the top 3 purchases…and yes, some serious coin has been spent on live music this year for sure! I have been to a lot of STELLAR gigs this year, beyond amazing – new artists, old favourites, I’ve had a wonderful time!! So now you know what my NEXT blog will be about…come on, there is no way I could fit my thoughts on all the brilliant music I’ve heard, the lovely musicians I’ve seen and met, all the fabulous friends I’ve experienced this with, into a few paragraphs!! Next blog peoples…all about the music!
So clearly I’ve had a great year…mostly. Work, when I returned in March 2019, was less so…probably because my workplace had changed, and so had I. We’d outgrown each other. After a mostly unhappy seven months, I took myself off on leave again, this time for a longer period of six months and my personal journey continues in 2020…all the more exciting because this time I have PLANS, and also…it’s a new decade.
2019 was my “Year of Yes” so what will 2020 be? Well…I sense a revolution in the making, my own personal one. But also I think the world is ready for a revolution. Politically, musically, culturally, environmentally…bring on the changes. I’m ready. Are you?
Thanks for reading. PLEASE comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my 2019, read all about your 2019, and maybe start a discussion on what our hopes are for 2020.