Ricky Tims in Perth

20 09 2012

Last weekend I had the BEST time – I attended four Ricky Tims sessions and one concert by him! He’s currently in Australia and the lovely Michelle (my good friend and my Handi Quilter Sweet 16 [S16] dealer) got him over to Western Australia for five days, two of which were the session and concert days. Ricky has blogged about some of his experiences here: http://www.rickytims.com/ (and you can see a picture of Ricky and Michelle here: http://www.rickytims.com/home/47-blog-general/1789-down-under-day-6).

Ricky was such a personable, open, warm presenter. We got HEAPS of tips and tricks from him (and fortunately a 50+ page book of notes so we didn’t have to try to write everything down), as well as stories about his life in both quilting and music. And the concert was fantastic – not only is he an award-winning quilter, author of quilting books, Quiltshow TV presenter etc., but he’s also an incredible musician and composer.

He also spent time after each session signing people’s books, CDs, etc. and allowing photos to be taken.

If you get the chance to see Ricky live in concert or attend his lectures, just DO IT. He also holds retreats at his home town in Colorado a few times a year. I believe he’s also presenting in Brisbane and Adelaide this month.

BTW, Michelle and her staff have made the excellent videos on using rulers etc. with the S16: http://www.handcraftershouse.com.au/index.php?act=viewDoc&docId=8

Ricky signed my book

Ricky signed my book

Close-up of his Rhapsody quilt — one of several that he brought with him and talked about at length.

Neil Young in concert, Sydney, 24 January 2009

26 01 2009

24 January 2009, Sydney Entertainment Centre.

My Morning Jacket“, a young rock band from Louisville, Kentucky started their brisk 45-minute set right on time at 7:30PM (I like it when concerts start on time!). I didn’t know any of their songs, but their music was appreciated by the crowd. The lead singer has an amazing voice, with a big vocal range and some serious power.

After a 35 minute interval it was time for the main event — Neil Young. Who is not so young any more. He’s 63 now, but you would never believe it from his performance. From 8:50PM until after 10:30PM he played and sang like a man possessed, with only a slight break between the final number and the encore.  I’m not a big Neil Young fan — that’d be my husband — but I REALLY enjoyed this concert.

In the dark I tried to jot down all the songs he performed, but some of them I didn’t catch the title of, so I’ve put in a few key lyrics and hopefully my husband can fill me in on the correct titles later (he has pretty much every album and CD that Neil Young has ever released…)

  1. “Love and only love”
  2. “Sea change”
  3. “Everybody knows this is nowhere”
  4. “Spirit Road”
  5. “Cortez the Killer” (my husband’s favourite of the night)
  6. “Cinnamon Girl”
  7. “Oh Mother Earth” (on harmonica and pipe organ!)
  8. “The needle and the damage done”
  9. “Light a candle”
  10. “Four strong winds” (my favourite)
  11. “Unknown legend”
  12. “One of these days”
  13. “Get back to the country”
  14. “Words”
  15. “Just singing a song won’t change the world”
  16. “Rockin’ in the free world”

When the band came back on for the encore, they played something surprising, especially considering the tens of thousands of songs Neil Young has written. They played Lennon/McCartney’s “Day in the life”. And what a performance that was! If we thought the concert had been pretty rocky and grungy earlier (with a softer set in the middle), we were gravely mistaken. Neil Young spent an amazing 10+ minutes playing his version of this song and totally wore out a guitar in the process — literally. Unbelievable. The crowd went wild…

This guy has not lost it — his voice is as clear as ever, his guitar work is frenzied and almost demonic. If half of us had the energy that he has at 63, we’ll be doing very well indeed!

Other notes from the concert:

  • Band members: Anthony Crawford (guitar), Chad Cromwell (drums), Pegi Young (Neil’s wife, piano player, percussion, backup vocals), Rich Rosas (electric bass), Ben Keith (slide guitar)
  • There was an artist (painter) in the background working on a new canvas which ended up being of skulls. He finished that one then started another. Strange. But interesting. (A Google search has just brought up some stuff about these paintings.)
  • Official review from the Sydney Morning Herald.

So, was it worth the 6 hour drive to Perth and back, the Perth–Sydney return flights, the 4 nights accommodation (2 in Perth, 2 in Sydney), the meals out, the cost of the tickets? In a word — yep!

CSN: Retire. Now.

8 12 2007

Crosby Stills & Nash (CSN), with and without Neil Young, have been a favourite of my husband’s for decades. Their soaring harmonies, terrific lyrics, and beautiful music have been the soundtrack to most baby boomers’ lives.

When they came to Perth in 1991, we were one of the first to buy tickets. CSN performed at the Perth Concert Hall, which has superb acoustics for such a group. We were in the third row and it was a concert to remember. It was SO good that when they announced a second concert for the following night, we raced out and got tickets for that too. We even hung around the stage door and got to meet them very briefly—that’s how much my husband likes their music.

So there was great excitement when we heard they’d be playing in Perth again in February 2007—some 16 years since they were last here. Unfortunately, David Crosby got ill and the February concert was postponed until December 1. No matter. We were shifting house the weekend they were originally scheduled, so we were personally quite OK with the cancellation. Our only concern was that they’d be well enough to fulfil their commitment, and that the outside venue (Kings Park) would be OK for their type of music and three-part harmonies. The tickets sat under a fridge magnet for months…

With great anticipation we travelled to Perth last weekend (it was the first time back for my husband since we’d moved nine months ago). We combined the concert with other activities, such as doctor, dentist, and medical specialist visits, as well as catching up with some friends. But we were really there for the concert.

It was a cold day, and was going to be an even colder evening. But we were prepared with polar fleece jackets, beach chairs, and a picnic rug. After paying exhorbitant prices for wine ($39 a bottle!) and concert T-shirts ($45 each), we settled in to enjoy the two groups on before the main event—’Blanche du Bois’ a local band with two sisters out front, and ‘Ross Wilson and the Urban Legends’. Blanche du Bois were fine, though their musical style is not particularly interesting to me, nor perhaps the rest of the mostly grey-haired audience (average age would’ve been 50 plus). Ross Wilson—who turned 60 a few days earlier on the 20th of November—was a different matter! He had the crowd up on their feet, singing along to some of the old Mondo Rock and Daddy Cool songs. And when he did the 1971 classic “Eagle Rock” the crowd went wild. A terrific warm-up act to a group like CSN. [As far as I know, the band members for Ross Wilson and the Urban Legends on the night were: Ross Wilson (vocals and guitar), Eric McCusker (lead guitar and backing vocals), John McAll (sp?; keyboards), Davey Porter (drums; from NZ), Chris Paraha (bass)—this is the same line-up found on Ross Wilson’s website]

So now to the main event… CSN ambled on to the stage spot on time at 8:30pm. And right from the first notes it was clear that something was amiss.

Stephen Stills could not harmonise—his voice was shot. Whether his voice is irreparably damaged, he was ill, or had had too much drugs or alcohol, I have no idea. But he couldn’t hold his notes. He played guitar like a demon, but as a third voice in a three part harmony band, he just didn’t cut it. Even the songs where he is normally lead singer, he had to rely on David Crosby. Graham Nash had difficulty reaching his high notes, but age could account for that (Elton John can’t reach his high notes these days either). David Crosby’s voice was the only one that hadn’t faded, and his efforts on “Almost cut my hair” took us all back to those heady days when CSN were a major force in popular music.

Despite that, the crowd got into it, though I think that was more for the nostalgia of the old songs than their rendition on the night. It was all over by 9:50pm, less than 90 minutes after starting, though they did come back for two encore songs. They played many of their old songs, and I tried to write them down, even though I don’t know all the official titles:

  • Carry On/Questions
  • Marrakesh Express
  • Long Time Gone
  • 49 Bye-Byes (Bye-bye baby)
  • Just a Song Before I Go
  • Military Madness
  • Deja Vu
  • Southern Cross
  • Helplessly Hoping
  • Our House
  • For What it’s Worth (Stop children, what’s that sound)
  • Almost Cut My Hair
  • Wooden Ships
  • Woodstock (encore)
  • Teach Your Children (encore)

The band members for this concert were James Raymond (keyboard; David Crosby’s son), Kevin McCormick (sp?) (bass guitar; originally from Perth), Todd Caldwell (also keyboard), Joe Vitale (drums; from Canton, OH).

All in all, a very disappointing concert. We’ve been to quite a few of what we call ‘retirement fund’ concerts over the past few years—Jackson Browne, James Taylor, The Eagles, etc.—and all have been great. This wasn’t. If Stills’ voice is gone forever and this wasn’t just an aberration on the night, then it’s time for CSN to retire gracefully and let us enjoy them through the legacy of their recordings.

BTW, we weren’t the only ones disappointed with this concert. The review in The West voiced similar sentiments.

Photos from the concert…