Got Qi?

Got Qi?

Quite at random this morning after my shower I put on a t-shirt that I had got from a lady on the qigong course I attended in Texas back in 2008. It has on the front:

got Qi?

and on the back:

Qi (chee), n. Matter on the verge of becoming energy; energy at the point of materialising. The essential energy of the universe which maintains the vital activities of life.Continue reading

The Sentence

The Sentence

The gift of life comes with its inevitable companion, the sentence of death. You can’t have one without the other, there is no choice. You live, you die. As soon as you start living the clock starts ticking. Every life, human, animal, plant, no exceptions. There is no control other than adding the full stop through suicide, self-destruction. The length of the sentence is arbitrary and therefore unknown, unlike the sentence pronounced by a human court sitting in judgement. The sentence though is full of commas and colons and semicolons and capitals and hyphens, all defining the events of our life. But where does the natural judgement on the length of the sentence come from? Continue reading

441 Days

441 Days

441 days. A death sentence, the date set. With the date of pronouncement being the 5th of September 2017, add 441 days and you get 20th November 2018. The finality of an actual date struck me hard. Our vet has confirmed that our little Daisy has a heart murmur and it is more pronounced than it was on the earlier visit about a month ago. Dr Andrea just comes straight out with “441 days is the average prognosis for this condition”. Life expectancy that is, the average time it takes before the condition takes its victory, death. Death will conquer, overcome, the indomitable spirit of our little Daisy with a certain finality. An eventuality we knew would happen at some time, but now that it has a date it is just very hard to accept. Final. Real. No avoiding it. Of course, the 441 days is an average and the good side is that it might take longer than that but the downside is that it could also happen much sooner. Continue reading

Back to Natural

Back to Natural

I was about fifteen when I first started to fool my body and brain into a new way of thinking. Thinking that it was actually enjoyable to put burning cigarettes in my mouth and suck the smoke from them deep down into my lungs. It wasn’t easy to do though, to overcome the natural response to this unnatural act. To ignore nausea in my stomach, the severe coughing as my lungs tried to reject the incoming, overwhelming clouds of toxic smoke. But with perseverance, the ingestion of nicotine that got through the natural defences of my body into my system worked its magic completely and convinced my brain that it was, in fact, essential to my continued well-being. Continue reading

Just Alive To Alive In The Blues

Just Alive To Alive In The Blues

This has not been an easy decision but a decision it is, I have decided to “retire” from doing the weekly AFL sports segment as part of the Alive 90.5 fm radio show “Sunday Sports Roundup”. I have arrived at this so that I can focus fully on the blues scene interviews which I am enjoying immensely and also to improving my writing skills through the blog.

I first started doing the AFL segment on Alive 90.5fm, very nervously, way back in 2012 thanks to the never-failing positive encouragement from the show’s founder Gordon Allen, or El Supremo as he became affectionately known to the team. Continue reading

Fiona Boyes

Fiona Boyes

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Show notes:

In many of my chats we always spend some time talking about the person’s day job but with Fiona Boyes, music is her day job. Fiona has been a professional musician for over 25 years and during that period has won many awards and distinctions.  Indeed at the time of recording this Fiona had two nominations coming up in the in the American Blues Music Awards for her latest album “Professin’ The Blues”; one for best acoustic album of the year in America and one for Fiona personally as Acoustic Artist of the year. Continue reading

Molly CoddleCream

Molly CoddleCream

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 Show notes:

You met Stringy Bark last week, now hear the woman beside the man Molly CoddleCream herself (a.k.a. Cheryl Firth).

Molly takes us through her interesting life before Stringy which gets even more interesting after teaming up with Stringy. Molly’s influence is noticeable in the music Stringy is making these days and this chat gives us a lot of insight into how that comes about.

Continue reading

Stringy and Neil

Stringy and Neil

I made a comment when posting to Facebook about my Stringy Bark McDowell podcast that Stringy could be Australia’s equivalent of singer/songwriter Neil Young. As this elicited some feedback I thought it might be worthwhile explaining how I came up with such an idea.

Firstly let me say, yes Stringy is that good!  I became so impressed with Stringy, the man, and the musician, during our chat. Continue reading

Stringy Bark McDowell

Stringy Bark McDowell

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Stringy Bark McDowell (a.k.a. Ken Terrington) is a talented laid back musician with a great sense of humour. The humour came through notably in the Muddy Puddles blues band from the 90’s which as Stringy reveals was a bit of a satirical look at the blues from the outset. But it is his outlook on life and the “take no prisoners” attitude combined with his musicianship that makes him what I think is the “Neil Young” of Australian music.

He is living in an off-grid house in South Australia with his lovely partner Molly CoddleCream (a.k.a Cheryl Firth) and still traveling around Australia to play gigs. But not in a city if he can help it, which is a bit of a handicap for a musician.

Continue reading

Meditation Direction

Meditation Direction

All of us who meditate regularly develop our own little quirks and idiosyncrasies in our practice. I haven’t tested this personal theory but here is an example of one of mine and I would appreciate any comments you might have about your practice.

As I have stated before, I do open eye meditation from the Zen school of Buddhism. That is, I keep my eyes open throughout the meditation and keep my gaze fixed on a single spot in front of me, usually an image in my iPhone meditation timer which I place in front of me. However, most people in our Western communities learn meditation in the traditional method with eyes closed. This choice to use the open eye method is however not one of my individual idiosyncrasies. But it does lead into one that I do have and that is, that I usually like to face east when I have a choice of direction, at least at home. Continue reading

Captain Bluetongue

Captain Bluetongue

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Here is the other half of the Blues Preachers, Captain Bluetongue, as promised during the previous episode with Brother John.  They are a very balanced duo both musically and spiritually and this shines through in this chat with the Captain.

It is also fitting that this is published on this date, 18th January 2017, which is the 40th anniversary of the Granville train disaster in which 83 poor souls lost their lives, including Captain’s older brother. Please see the link below for more details of this tragedy.

Enjoy! Continue reading

Brother John

Brother John

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Blues music originated in the difficult social conditions that poor people spent their lives in from the earliest times in the USA. Most musicians attracted to the blues also have a well-developed sense of social justice but my guest this week, Brother John from The Blues Preachers, has more than many. It unashamedly informs the music he creates.

A keen student of the history of music and an observer of the social issues facing us all today, he addresses these from a firm spiritual base and the results make compelling listening in this podcast. Continue reading

Patty Mifsud

Patty Mifsud

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From a 30+ years veteran of Australian blues music last week, Shayne Soall, we have this week a relative debutante, Patty Mifsud, who is just starting to get known around the Sydney blues circuit as a very capable blues harp player.

Patty is also a wife, a mother, and holds down a full-time job as an employment consultant while striving for excellence in her “spare” time as a musician. The Rolling Stones were the first to draw her attention to blues harmonica many years ago and lead her to listen to many of the greats of blues music as you can see from the references below to people mentioned in this podcast. But it is only in recent years that Patty has decided to pick up and learn to play the harmonica. Now she is joining jams and playing gigs around Sydney as she continues to hone her skills.

Here is Patty’s story. Continue reading

Shayne Soall

Shayne Soall

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Cigar box guitar maker, jeweler, philosopher, blues man through and through, meet Shayne Soall from the Oz Blues and Roots Music Emporium in beautiful Yackandandah.

Shayne has been in the blues music industry for over 30 years in many facets and his is an absorbing story to listen to and one of the most enjoyable ones I have been fortunate enough to record.

He dropped so many names in the interview that it has taken me nearly as long to get the links together (see below) as it did to record and edit the chat 😉 Continue reading

Evrin

Evrin

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Show notes:

Saturday night in Amsterdam, Sunday morning in Sydney, the wonders of technology join us together to bring you a chat with the lovely couple known as “Evrin“, Riny and Evi, Riny Raijmakers and Evi Terschegget to give them their full titles.

Riny is the singer-songwriter of the partnership and Evi brings a beautiful presence and voice from a jazz background, smokey as Evi describes it. Continue reading

Pat Procter

Pat Procter

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Like an earlier guest in episode 18, Keith Nicholson, Pat Procter is a maker of quality cigar box guitars but over on the other side of the country, West Australia. They seem to be a special breed these cigar box makers and the quality of Pat’s work is remarkable as you can see from the gallery of Pat’s examples below. Click on a pic to see a larger view. Continue reading

Eric K Betts

Eric K Betts

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Meet Eric K Betts, blues harp maestro, and find out:

  • What the K really stands for
  • How does a Canadian end up in Australia
  • How does an itinerant blues player make a dollar
  • What makes a good musician
  • Who can sing
  • What does the pursuit of excellence involve

Continue reading

Pip Cowan

Pip Cowan

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Pip Cowan’s website”Busking My Way To Mississippi” sounds like a bit of a challenge but factor into your expectation that Pip is a quadriplegic and the enormity of the undertaking presents itself.

A motorcycle accident on the farm at the age of 17 had left Pip a quadriplegic with limited use of his arms and hands. But the disability has led him to an interest in blues music and he is now starting to master the diddly bow, a one-stringed cigar box guitar. From there it seems a logical step to travel to Mississippi to learn at the home of the blues Continue reading

The Lowlands

The Lowlands

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Emmett Louis Till was a 14-year-old colored boy who was murdered in 1955 by two white men for the perceived crime of wolf-whistling at a white woman.

Chris O and Jonathan Beckenstein in 2016 collaborated over Soundcloud on a song called “The Lowlands” which honors the relatives and strangers who stood up in seeking justice for the murder of Emmett Till. Continue reading

Jasmine Beth

Jasmine Beth

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Jasmine Beth is firstly a writer who has developed a rare talent through her music and her voice to convey beautiful shared experiences with audiences. Combine that with her social conscience and you have a very interesting person to talk to.

Jasmine was in England when we caught up over Skype but will be back performing in Australia from December 2016. Continue reading

Chris O

Chris O

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It’s time for a break away from the “boys only” flavour of the podcasts to date, so my guest on this episode is Chris Okunbor, a musician from the Blue Mountains, better known by her public persona of Chris O.

As you will hear Chris has led a varied and wonderful life, full of exotic experiences, all of which I think comes through in her voice and her choice of material for her performances at gigs all around the world. Continue reading

Keith Nicholson

Keith Nicholson

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It’s not every day that you get to talk to a cigar box guitar maker so I felt privileged having the opportunity to chat to Keith Nicholson.  I was introduced to Keith by Mark Bishop who featured in episode 16 and it is Mark playing an original composition on Keith’s cigar box resonator as the opener to this episode.

Keith Nicholson is as he says, “A jack of all trades but master of none”, but after talking to Keith and seeing his work, I beg to differ. As a cigar box guitar maker he is indeed a master of his craft. This is an amazing musical art form which specialises in creating beautiful musical instruments, mostly from recycled parts. You can see some of his instruments in the Gallery below from pictures that Keith sent over . Continue reading

Mark Bishop

Mark Bishop

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I had the good fortune to meet Mark Bishop at a local market recently and even better, to get a chance to interview him. Mark is a mild-mannered pathology manager by day and a talented blues musician by night. By blues I mean music, not Carlton all you AFL fans.

Mark plays a number of gigs in and around Sydney where you can catch up with him in person if you are in the area. Check out his website and Facebook page links below to find out where he is playing next and/or buy a copy of his CD.

As a blues fan for more years than I care to admit I enjoyed talking to Mark and also to be able to share some of his music with you. Continue reading