Monthly Archives: January 2010

Return of the New Folk

Well, already 2010 has been lighting up my musical cortex; an incendiary performance by Dirty Three kicked started my year of live music and though 2010 is still in its infancy, there have already been some great new releases. Here’s a taste of some of the music that is rippling the waters of this Lost Shark.

Blank Pages – The Album Leaf

This slow burning, cinematic track, effortlessly walks the line between serenity and melancholy and brims with a vibrancy that lifts it from mere mood music to something transformative, irresistable. Jimmy LaValle has again skilfully blended the organic folk sounds of violin, xylophone, percussion and horns with electronic ambience and programmed beats, to create an album (A Chorus of Storytellers) that is quietly assured, and big on emotional impact.

Little Bird – Eels

Mark ‘E’ Everett’s latest opus, End Times has been referred to as his Blood on the Tracks and he has never been one to pull punches when it comes to baring himself in his songs. Little Bird shuns humanity and curses the insincerity that is plaguing society. When E sings, Little Bird/ You look alright/ I’m sure its not easy/ Getting through your night, I am reminded of the loneliness in Hemmingway’s Old Man and the Sea, when a small bird comes to rest on the Old Man’s fishing line, only to leave him as the fish lurches and cuts his hand. Little Bird has that same hard won beauty about it… lonely and stoic, this is the sound of a man and his struggle.

Hide it Away – Retribution Gospel Choir

Low’s Alan Sparhawk made his name pioneering his very own brand of slowcore, but with the formation of Retribution Gospel Choir in 2008, the man proved that there is always room for rock. Hide it Away has got some real swagger, mixing spaced-out psych rock and lurching grooves with a catchy-as-hell chorus that will stick inside your brain like cobblers pegs. A full-tilt sonic rave that stings hard and beautiful.


Filed under who listens to the radio?

Forever Young: JD Salinger 01/01/1919 – 28/01/2010


JD Salinger lived much of his life as an intensely private man, born the son of a kosher cheese salesman, he was drafted into the army in 1942 and was among those who landed at Utah Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. It was during this time in the army that his writing career started; editing  the military acadamy’s yearbook , writing several short stories (his first to be published The Young Folks in the magazine Story in 1940) and meeting one of his own literary heores, Ernest Hemmingway. But it was the publication of The Catcher in the Rye in 1951 that captured the attention of readers and critics across the globe and earned JD Salinger the title of the Apostle of Adolescence.

The books protagonist, Holden Caulfield, became the poster boy for teen alienation. Caulfield is a character of epic proportions, the kind that gets under the skin of each generation,  a cocky, searching anti-hero, waging war on adulthood and society at large. Character’s like Holden Caulfield never die and in their immortality, their authors live on. JD Salinger, is gone, but Holden will carry his memory, with the same unflinching certainty, for many lifetimes to come.


Filed under interviews/artist profiles

Riverbend Books Feature Poet #2 – Betsy Turcot


Betsy Turcot is originally from Vermont, USA.  She received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Secondary Education at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont.  There, she was a member and captain of the collegiate field hockey team.  She went on to teach Secondary English and coach field hockey, snowboarding and lacrosse at Burlington High School in Vermont.  She enjoyed the active seasonal lifestyle that the state afforded including skiing and hiking.  After several years of teaching, she resigned and travelled to Australia.  Betsy settled in Brisbane where she has been a resident for eighteen months.  Betsy currently works as a Barista at Stove Café in West End.  She has been a featured poet at Words or Whatever at Black Star Café.  Betsy was a winner of the Brisbane Poetry Slam heat and went on to compete at the final of the 2009 Queensland Poetry Slam.


Dr Kinsey
          by Betsy Turcot

Please, Dr Kinsey, what does it mean to be me in nature’s eyes?
What will my lover surmise or my mother despise?
Decries that it’s unnatural. An aberration from the Stations of the Cross.
Well, if this is my sin, then give me my sin again because I am grounded.
Uncovering the truth of the human condition. Reconciliation my confession.
The elephant in the room.
Doomed by words unsaid that sting my soul.
My palms bleed as I forsake the sacrament of holy matrimony.
Makes my sister’s living in sin sound like a healthy confession.
No longer suffering depression. Don’t suffer fools.
Spools of yarn ignite my mind. Create rhymes with each stitch
but there’s a hitch –
If you want to be a writer, you must reveal the Truth.
Dig deeper to the roots.
And I don’t want to bear fruit. But wait, maybe I do. It’s my decision.
A ticking time bomb of a woman whose biological clock keeps ticking.
Rocks my world as I hurl my tips off the lip of a jump, and I see
each tiny snowflake.
Each to its own identity. Discover my destiny.
Unlike any other.
Faced the fear and took the plunge. Handed in the resignation letter.
Said I’d better be off.  I’ve got an ocean to cross to a land down under, but I am American.
Easy Virtue soothes my soul.
The American Dream at my core to search and succeed but with no greed.
So I grind the beans. Play a game of monogamy. Because for her,
There is no substitution. Nothing to constitute our substance.
We’ve played with the recipe to perfection.
Confectionary sugar caramelised on the outside and the centre
is soft. And warm.
I have learned to bake.
Don’t take it for granted. Been gifted with optimism. I believe
in what I can achieve.
And maybe there’s a part of me in Melvin Van Peebles.
The people’s revolutionary.
Black Panther’s idolatry. Never stationary. Fighting against mediocrity.
Not a trivial pursuit. It’s a mind resolute on what should be.
The sounds of eight thousand steady feet push me. I’m influenced by movies.
Harvey Milk said, “Come out.”
And how great would if be if for just one day
We could all be
That free.


You can read more of Betsy’s work at:


Riverbend Poetry Series – Tuesday 23 February

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the first Poetry on the Deck event for 2010. Join us on the Riverbend deck as we showcase an exciting mix of local poets to kick start the year. Our first event will feature the seductive and award winning words of Bronwyn Lea (The Other Way Out, Giramond Press) reading along side debut authors, Jonathan Hadwen (Night Swim, Brisbane New Voices vol. 1), Pam Schindler and recent finalist in the QLD Poetry Slam, Betsy Turcot. And as the event falls on the 189th anniversary of John Keats’ death, there will also be a special reading of some of his best known works.

Date: Tuesday 23 February
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at
These events are always hugely popular, so book early to avoid disappointment!


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Getting to know yourself with the Dirty Three

Last night, I opened my live music account for 2010 at The Tivoli, with Laughing Clowns and Dirty Three joining forces as part of the Don’t Look Back concert series. The Don’t Look Back concerts emerged out of the legendary All Tomorrows Parties Festival and since 2005 have showcased bands in the USA, UK, Europe, Australia & NZ, playing one of their classic albums from start to finish… just some of the artists and albums to have been given the Don’t Look back treatement include Iggy & The Stooges (Fun House), Slint (Spiderland), Sonic Youth (Daydream Nation), The Saints (I’m Stranded) and Died Pretty (Doughboy Hollow).

Last night’s show opened with Laughing Clowns playing one of their retrospective albums, History of Rock ‘n’ Roll Volume One. I know it may be seen as sacrililege in these parts, but the band just didn’t work for me on stage last night. At times the band locked into some mean, bass-heavy grooves, but the members seemed disparate, never quite coming together to forge new ground. Wegner’s drumming, lost somewhere between jazz flourishes and straight ahead rock beats, seemed overstated and instead of uniting the elements, left them stranded, looking for structure. It wasn’t until album closer, Collapse Board, where saxophonist Louise Elliot unleashed, playing like a wounded animal calling for its mate to couple in unrelenting bliss until the light goes out in their eyes, that the band seemed to surprise themselves and (rather than recreate) create a sound that pricked the ears and skin.

And then after a short break, the good ship Dirty Three hit the stage, with captain Warren Ellis, luminous in spirit greeting the crowd, while the crew of Jim White and Mick Turner, readied the vessel for the journey ahead. Ellis tells us they will be playing Leo Sayer’s Just A Boy, which would be fascinating to hear, but as the anchor is pulled, Ellis reveals that tonight, it is Ocean Songs, an album recorded in the late 90’s over five days in Chicago with Steve Albini, with the idea of being quiet.

Ocean Songs for me, has always been much more than an album… it is a year at sea. And as the band launch into the opening notes of Sirena, each of the members is transformed, taking on the vast power of the elements… White, the ocean, at times still and shimmering, at times rising thunderously, whitecapped and dangerous, but always present, always; Ellis the wind and sky, unpredicatbly moving from a gentle caress to a blinding squall, a high-kicking dervish, whose sound is so vast you never reach the edge; and Turner, the tide, knitting it all together, his constant pull, while not always at the fore, always felt deep.

Warren’s got a story for each of the songs; the epic Authentic Celestial Music is about love and it’s fucked up nature, how it’s like realising that 98% of it is like being in a bowl of soup, wondering how you will get out; Last Horse On The Sand is about vastness, realising you are so small that it doesn’t really matter (as Warren says, baby I may not be much, but I’m the last horse on this sand); Black Tide is dedicated to the late Roland S. Howard; Backwards Voyager is a middle finger salute to flying economy and getting probed (literally) by the Chicago police; and Sea Above, Sky Below is about realising even the birds in the trees and the nice old lady down at the shop are telling you to get fucked, so you go home and take pyschadelic drugs and get to know yourself better than even the good lord intended and how you come out of that haze 5 years later and realise they have been the best five years of your life, so you go down to the shop and bend that nice old lady over the counter and say thank you.

It’s a show that surpasses the epic beauty of the original… Dirty Three are a band playing for their lives, all of our lives and tonight, all who (truly) climbed aboard, have returned transformed by these elemental forces, salt-licked and staggering, having been taken to the edge of wonder and allowed to drink.

* if you couldn’t be there, this doesn’t capture the magic, but it is incredible in it’s own right… this is a link to Dirty Three playing many of the songs from Ocean Songs as part of ABC TV’s Studio 22 series.


Filed under events & opportunities, who listens to the radio?

Patti Smith’s first book of prose

Bohemian goddess Patti Smith has just released her first book of prose, a memoir, a-la-Bob Dylan’s Chronicles vol. 1, titled Just Kids which details her remarkable relationship with photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe and the romanticism and mythmaking of their life in New York in the late 60’s/early 70’s.

Here’s a link to a great article in the New York Times – Bohemian Soul Mates in Obscurity.

And with my mind swirling with visions of Patti, I just had to share this clip of her ripping up Horses and Hey Joe… epically raw!

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Riverbend Books feature poet #1: Bronwyn Lea

The live poetry scene in Brisbane is starting to wake from its Summer slumber and one of the events to look forward to is the first of the Riverbend Books – Poetry on the Deck readings on Tuesday February 23. The Riverbend Books gigs have been a highlight on the poetry calendar for the last five years and this year’s opening event will be no different. Featuring debut author Jonathan Hadwen (Night Swim – Brisbane New Voices vol. 1), Pam Schindler, 2009 QLD Slam Finalist Betsy Turcot and the senuous words of award winning poet Bronwyn Lea, the Riverbend Deck will once again come alive with words.

So to celebrate I have asked each of the poets for a poem to give you a taste of what to expect on the night. The first of the feature poets is Bronwyn Lea.

Bronwyn Lea, is series editor of UQP’s annual Best Australian Poetry anthology and the author of Flight Animals (UQP 2001), which won the Wesley Michel Wright Prize for Poetry and the Writers Anne Elder Award. Her most recent book is The Other Way Out (Giramondo 2009) which was shortlisted for the Judith Wright Calanthe Prize and the Victorian Premier’s CJ Dennis Prize for Poetry. She teaches narrative and poetics at the University of Queensland.


A Place

There is a place I like to go
that is behind language

I like to go there & wobble
like a melon on a table

or a spoon that doesn’t care
if it is chosen or not

I also like to come back
& slip into ‘myself’

like a pair of silk pajamas
ornamental & cool to touch.    



Tuesday 23 February: Poetry on the Riverbend Books deck

Queensland Poetry Festival, QLD Writers Centre & Riverbend Books are proud to present the first Poetry on the Deck event for 2010. Join us on the Riverbend deck as we showcase an exciting mix of local poets to kick start the year. Our first event will feature the seductive and award winning words of Bronwyn Lea (The Other Way Out, Giramondo Press) reading along side debut author, Jonathan Hadwen (Night Swim, Brisbane New Voices vol. 1), Pam Schindler and recent finalist in the QLD Poetry Slam, Betsy Turcot. And as the event falls on the 189th anniversary of John Keats’ death, there will also be a special reading of some of his best known works.

Date: Tuesday 23 February
Location: Riverbend Books, 193 Oxford St. Bulimba
Time: Doors open for the event at 6pm for a 6:30pm start
Tickets: $10 available through Riverbend Books and include sushi and complimentary wine. To purchase tickets, call Riverbend Books on (07) 3899 8555 or book online at

These events are always hugely popular, so book early to avoid disappointment!

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Air for the Birds pt II – poems by Glen Sheppard and Mike Russell

          by Glen Sheppard

I stand tall and proud, looking down over the ages
Don’t know the wonders I have seen
Many people worship me  / but the truth is I’m just a piece of work.

Groups adore me, that confuses me because I’m a piece of wood.
Somebody lovingly carves me into a head, but I am still just a piece of wood.
It’s great to be adored when your disguised / dressed up as a piece of wood.

It tells how we can get conned.

Dress me up / adore me
I’m still just a piece of wood.



Autism Dreaming
          by Mike Russell

It’s only a little space / Somewhere in between waking and sleeping

somewhere in the little moment  / between eating and drinking

I try a little space between walking and rocking.

A minute into space between sneaking and freaking / a molecular moment between trying and doing

but somewhere in there is a controlling dream that keeps us alive

… Autism dreaming…


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Air for the Birds – Ghostboy & the Brotherhood of the Wordless

If you don’t already have it marked in bright red (or whatever colour takes your fancy) on your 2010 calendar, then grab said pen and mark Saturday January 30, as the day you head across to State Library of QLD to experience Air for the Birds.

Air for the Birds is an inspiring spoken word event, combining the talents of some of Australia’s most well-known performance poets and one of the country’s most unique writing collectives, the Brotherhood of the Wordless. The Brotherhood of the Wordless is comprised of fourteen South-East Queensland writers with autism and other disabilities that preclude speech or the muscle ability required to use keyboards or writing implements. Using the technique of facilitated communication, the Brotherhood works with trusted scribes to bring their powerful thoughts and words to life. The Brotherhood of the Wordless have published a book of collected writing, “Tapping on the Heart of the World”, now in its third reprint. They have featured on ABC Radio National, the Brisbane Writers Festival, Queensland Poetry Festival, and members have preformed at the Woodford Folk Festival to a standing ovation.
Working with their facilitators and one of Australia’s premier performance poets, Ghostboy,  the Brotherhood of the Wordless will present performance based texts and poems they have written over the past year with Ghostboy entitled Air for the Birds.  Air for the Birds covers the themes of fantasy and dreams, the face of the “other”, and the voices of the everyday objects central to these writer’s lives.

I recently had the chance to interview Ghostboy and several members of the Brotherhood of the Wordless, to get an insight into the collaboration.

Peter Rowe and Peter Brown with one of the BOW facilitators

Air for the Birds is such a great title for the show; air and breath being such important elements in both the performance and writing of poetry. Tell us about the title’s significance and how it came to life.
Ghostboy: The line is from one of the shows central poems by Peter Rowe – I felt it really summed up the collaboration, the process around their writing with me, and the degree of their dreams and ambitions… and all the guys agreed!

Glenn: it represents freedom of expression, like flying / spreading wings

Lucy: the expectations of flying is so precious to me. the lost capacity of speech is tragic & the need for speech breath is basically not there for us.

Sam P: Freedom.

Peter B: Enjoyment!

Peter R: freedom of expression and the thought of movement / something we do so naturally but so essential to my words

Adrian: freedom! our poetry is like clean air, cleansing our souls.

I was reading an essay by Diane di Prima recently and she was saying that what we are is nothing but a physical instrument, not much different to a musical instrument in some ways and that creation comes only out of changes in the physical instrument. Tell us about how the unique ‘physical instruments’ of this show came together and the creative process involved in developing Air for the Birds?
Ghostboy: The writers wanted to give you some sample lines from their object poems about their facilitation boards & physical environs  – as they are so central to their creative process – to answer this one:
chair takes me places  – Adrian

My chair is my life / It comforts me / It’s chocolate and leather / just for me  – Mike R

Chair / Flat in my legs

And yet a cube in my sign  – Lucy

Straining at the loo / I can’t let this go  – Geoff

the Communication Board feels like my lover

I’m full of gratitude and respect / my beautiful God given board / my life, hope and future    – Glenn

My Board / My true love / my fun time / my friend / my everything. 

You are to me / what air is to a bird.  – Peter R

What have been the highlights of the collaboration?
Sam R: So much fun working with Ghostboy, have really loved being part of this.

Mike: The enthusiasm Ghostboy brought to the sessions has been very inspiring, it has brought new life and energy to my words.

Peter R: This project has brought another level to my work

Peter B: Ghostboy and “air for the birds” ROCK!

Ghostboy: The Brotherhoods creative drive being one of need not ego; the efficiency of their language set against their unbridled energy and spark as physical beings; their ability to direct their own work in terms of the voice required by others reading it; their self-belief as artists – huge!

Finally, what can the audience expect from the show?
Peter B: The audience will be gobsmacked. awestruck, overwhelmed and flabbergasted!!!

Sam P: It will change the way people think about us – both us writers and human beings

Glenn: it will bring further understanding about the autistic world.

Peter R: It will bring another message that we are artistic – not just autistic- and clever.

Mike R: This is a space for us to express ourselves in the outside world.

Rodney: They will see us as poets being part of the most mind blowing dazzling spectacle of fun. fearlessness, and fucking awesome poetry!

The State Library performance will be accompanied by ouTsideRs artists including musician and poet Suzanne Jones (keyboard); renowned avant garde musician Bremen Town Musician (violin), and ouTsideRs award winning spoken word artists Pascalle Burton and Tessa Leon.
Air for the Birds is Presented by the State Library of Queensland, ouTsideRs aRT Inc and Brotherhood of the Wordless.
When                    4pm, Sat 30 Jan
Where                   slq Auditorium 1, level 2
Tickets                 Free, no bookings required
Please note this performance contains some adult themes and is best suited to people aged 16 and over.
And you may want to follow these links:


Filed under events & opportunities, interviews/artist profiles

Hunting and Gathering at Lifeline Bookfest

Well, I look forward to it every year and finally it is here! Lifeline Bookfest… the universe’s largest second hand book sale. The range of books and prices are incredible… the vast majority of the books in the unpriced section go for 50 cents… the most expensive book I purchased today, a staggering $4. So if you are anywhere near Brisbane (really, it is worth the drive), get yourself along during the next week (Jan 16 – 24), and stock up on your reading material for the year.

And for me, the timing couldn’t be better… I am heading off to the serene waters of the Brunswick River for a few days, so will be packing a fine selection of today’s bounty to take with me… here’s just a sample of what I picked up.




Am looking forward to the reading time and the touch of salt on the skin. Until soon…


Filed under events & opportunities

A Day Without Music?

To quote Nietzsche, without music, life would be an error. So, here’s a handful of songs to take with you throughout the day… let their lyrics sink deep beneath the skin, let their rhythms drag you from stillness, let their sound colour your daydreams… yes indeed, let there always be a song.

Curse Your Branches: David Bazan

Curse Your Branches is the title track from Bazan’s much anticipated debut longplayer, after years fronting indie favourites, Pedro the Lion. He is a truly gifted songwriter, his lyrics always taking front of stage. What I love about Bazan’s delivery, is that he makes no bones that the lyrics carry the weight; the music is perfectly crafted to carry the words… and they are a joy to listen to. Oh, falling leaves should curse their branches/ For not letting them decide where they should fall. This is folk/pop at it’s very best… unafraid to ask questions of life itself.

Here to Fall – Yo La Tengo

This is another lush, dreamy, slice of psych-pop from indie veterans, Yo La Tengo. The cinematic strings and dark, swirling keys grab you firmly by the ear and place you on some some neon-lit dancefloor, with its blissed-out groove. I am right there when Kaplan reassuringly sings, I know you’re worried / I’m worried, too / But if you’re ready / I’m here to fall with you. And after 25 glorious years in the business, these are some of the safest arms to fall into…

Underwhelmed – The Fauves

I have long been of the opinion that Andrew Cox has one of the sharpest wits in this country and during the course of the last 20 odd years, he has been unafraid to flex his sardonic muscles as chief songwriter for the criminally underrated Australian band, The Fauves. Underwhelmed is the opener from the bands ninth album, When Good Times Go Good. As Cox sings, all the years of waiting/ dreaming of the day/ somehow when it came/ it was underwhelming, you could be forgiven in thinking that Cox is singing about his bands fleeting success (remember the album Future Spa and the 90’s hits, Dogs are the Best People and Self Abuser?), but instead, Cox is poking his angular guitar at the new government, questioning, where’s the revolution? Like all great pop songs, Underwhelmed charms us into cranking the volume and singing along, while quietly questioning our own beliefs.


Filed under who listens to the radio?