Happiness as Anarchy #90: Due South

Following on from yesterday’s sailing ship post, I think my inner pirate was awakened in the mid 1990s while watching Due South. A brilliant Canadian crime series, with a good dash of quirky humour. The main protagonist is a dashingly handsome Mountie on secondment to Chicago accompanied by his trusty clue-sniffing husky. My favourite tune from the soundtrack is  Henry Martin, recorded by Newfoundland folk-rock revivalist band Figgy Duff. It’s a traditional 17th century Scottish song about a seafarer turned pirate.

Happiness as Anarchy #87: Cultural Change

It tickles my fancy when I play a Sarabande that at one stage it was illegal. Bach’s Sarabande – the one I play is part of the fifth French suite – is a beautiful, restrained piece of baroque keyboard music. It doesn’t get much more refined that this in the classical musical world. However … in the 16th century things were different. Having it’s origins in folk music and dance in Latin America, the Zarabanda was considered “so lascivious in its words, so ugly in its movements, that it is enough to inflame even very honest people.” (Juan de Mariana). Public performance was punishable by two hundred lashes!

I’ll be playing the whole suite and telling tales of Versailles tomorrow night in Castlemaine if you’re in the mood for a little once-inflammatory entertainment.

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Happiness as Anarchy #85: When You Wish Upon A Star

My grandmother had a little porcelain Pinocchio that lived on the bookshelf. He had a music box in him that played When You Wish Upon A Star as he gently turned in a circle. It was written for the 1940 Disney film of Pinicchio, for the adorable Jiminy Cricket, and sung by ukulele hero Cliff Edwards. I can remember Nan singing it in her kitchen as she baked and I wound the music box over and over.

Happiness as Anarchy #83: A new old song

I’ve had a compilation CD playing in my car for a week to learn one particular song. That song successfully lodged in my head, I let the rest of the CD play and discovered something I’d not heard before: Billie Holiday singing Did I Remember To Tell You I Adore You. There’s not much information to be found. It was written in the mid 1930s by Walter Donaldson, who wrote a good many classics, including Makin’ Whoopee, Yes Sir That’s My Baby, and My Baby Just Cares For Me, with lyrics by Harold Adamson. Billie Holiday sings it with heart and style, in only the way she can. I might spend the rest of the week driving around with Billie in the car.

Happiness as Anarchy #82: Song research

I’ve been digging into the stories behind a set of songs for a performance at the SexRurality Conference in a couple of weeks. I find song history fascinating – who wrote it, when was it first recorded, the different versions, who made it famous, and especially for this set, why it was banned or how it got past the censors. Here’s one on my list, recorded in 1929 by Bessie Smith, with not so subtle lyrics:

“I’m wild about his turnip top, I like the way he warms my chop, I can’t do without my kitchen man.”

Happiness as Anarchy #78: my Audience

That’s you! You make me happy! It’s always a pleasure to play for the diverse mix of people who come to my gigs (and this all applies to you too, the people who read my blog). Tonight was no exception – from the jolly group of birthday party women, to the regular attendees and new faces and occasional friend-attendees. I’m perpetually delighted that you like my music and stories enough to come out on a cold Winter’s night and listen. I love sharing the time and place with you and look forward to the next time we meet over sounds.

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Happiness as Anarchy #75: Miss Otis Regrets

Cole Porter is one of my favourite composers, for his artful combination of melody, chords, lyrics and wit. Apparently he only wrote in the key of C and the arrangers transposed songs into other keys. Miss Otis Regrets was written in 1934 for the revue Hi Diddle Diddle that play at the Savoy Theatre in London that same year. The mob, a broken heart, high society, and murder are all cleverly intertwined in this little song. I’ll be singing it this Wednesday night at my monthly spot in the cellar at Craig’s Royal Hotel, along with a raft of other songs made famous by great female singers.

Happiness as Anarchy #73: Gigs with friends

I’m opening the show tonight for Pete Daffy. Not only a great musician with an incredible voice, he’s also a very good friend of mine. It’s such a pleasure to play a gig with people I love, and it’s also very special – I love their music, love their smiles, and love their hearts.

Here we are at a gig last year, with Alison on bass: