One Guitar, a Keyboard and a Sore Throat!

The Burning Log on Feb 4 was the first time that my producer/keyboard player Stefan Nowak and I have played a concert without the rest of the band. What a treat to have him there. He’s a glorious player.

We had a full house, which was great as it was the first time I have played there. The new management has invested in revitalising a venue that has been a Dural institution for decades but needed work. They have made a great start. Still things to be done but the commitment and enthusiasm is very evident. The room ‘feels’ good, the food is excellent and the service inviting.

I must admit as Saturday progressed I was getting increasingly concerned about my throat. I rarely get problems in that regard (just lucky I guess) but by the two encores I was really struggling. Sunday morning and it felt like someone had lit a fire in my throat and I couldn’t talk for two days. Just getting over the virus now, a week later. Thankfully no gigs before early March when I’m off to Phillip Island for their Music Festival. Should be a buzz. I haven’t played there in many years and the last time I did I think it rained incessantly. Hopefully that won’t happen this time.

I have been listening to Sharon Robinson’s solo album (Invisible Tattoo) while writing this. She sings, writes, produces and tours with Leonard Cohen and has one of the most exquisitely seductive voices I have ever heard. If you saw Leonard’s recent concerts in Australia you would have heard her. The album is lovely. Beautiful songs, lots of space for her voice. Layed back R’nB and Soul, late night listening over a glass of good champagne.

Speaking of listening, Stefan introduced me to a recent album by guitarist John Scofield. Recorded with Vince Mendoza and the Metropole Orkest in Holland it has some of the most adventurous music I have heard in many years. This is jazz with a large orchestra, 50 players, some stunning arrangements and Scofield’s adventurous take on electric guitar that ranges across all his many influences. Vince Mendoza wrote the arrangements on one of my favourite Joni Mitchell albums of recent years (released 2000) called Both Sides Now. On it she re-interprets some of the classic songs from the first half of the 20th century, returning to just two of her own – A Case of You and Both Sides Now. Her version of A Case of You is breathtaking and the whole album contains some of the most beautiful vocals she has ever recorded, not to mention the arrangements, which are stunning. Recorded at Air Studios in London with Herbie Hancock on piano, Wayne Shorter, sax, Peter Erskine, drums and Chuck Berghofer on bass and a 90 piece orchestra (yes 90 players!) it’s a revelation to hear Joni so completely master these songs.

And oh what a joy to hear a real orchestra outside of a purely classical context!

Finally another singer songwriter whose work I have admired for many years – John Gorka. I have been going back and listening again to several of his albums recently. He’s an exceptional wordsmith – concise, heartfelt and poignant. Early songs like I Saw a Stranger With Your Hair and Armed with a Broken Heart still get me every time and his recent work is just as impressive. Simply recorded with his acoustic guitar and subtle additional instrumentation supporting his rich, deep voice he remains pretty much unknown here, which is a shame. He deserves a wider audience.

Okay, that’ll do it for now. Keep listening. In among the noise there’s a lot of great music out there.

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6 Responses to One Guitar, a Keyboard and a Sore Throat!

  1. paul says:

    Great to see you in action again. Love your new CD. And then in your blog you mention two of my favourite CDs – Sharon Robinson (Invisible Tattoo) and Joni Mitchell (Both Sides Now). Recommend you have a listen to the new one from laughing Lenny (Leonard Cohen) called Old Ideas (absolutely great) and the most recent one from the backup singers who work with Sharon Robinson – the Webb Sisters. Their most recent CD Savages is yet more great stuff.

    • admin says:

      Hi Paul, I have the new Leonard Cohen – when your a life long fan you don’t hesitate. I am still in awe of his ability to move and still find inspiration in his music. I hope I am still doing it when I am his age.

  2. Cafetaria says:

    As a fan of Leonard Cohen too, as well as a second-generation dsdceneant of Glastonbury, where my father was born, I loved the connection made here. For me there’s a wonderful synergy between the words of this anthem, and a symbol that is associated with Chalice Well in Glastonbury the . In a mandorla’ the focus is that almond shape created where two circles intersect and it’s a space in which we are invited simply to sit and be still’ in the middle of seeming paradox. If we can do so quietly, and simply accept what is rather than try to resolve the difference or take sides’, a new understanding or paradigm will emerge.From my perspective, Cohen’s anthem offers a similar invitation. Often we can be tempted to reject or bemoan the cracks’ we encounter in life the faults, the broken pieces, or the pain. But if we can simply be still’, accept them and embrace them, they offer us the gift of light’, of new learning, new understanding and growth.Perhaps another way of expressing this can also be found in the words of another poet Kahlil Gibran: Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. Thank you for sharing this and for inspiring me to reflection.

  3. David Cameron says:

    Hello Mike,

    I’ve just read your blog and new website for the fist time. It looks great!
    I’ve been listening to your music for many years having seen you in concert a few times in the early 80′s. They were great shows you shared with Doug. Like Helen who wrote on your blog on April 9, I too have your live album ‘an evening with MM’. Live music has always been my favourite way of appreciating an artist and that LP remains a favourite of mine. I particularly love your rendition of High Flying Bird, it is fantastic as are the songs you penned.

    I was interested to read you are a fan of John Gorka. I am a fan too since buying his Jacks Crows CD some years ago. I most recently got his CD/DVD “John Gorka, The Gypsy Life” which is a live studio recording and also features lots of other interesting stuff including some other live footage, interviews etc.
    Keep on singing, Mike!
    PS: Come to Port Fairy again :-)

    • admin says:

      Hi David,

      Thanks for the note. I will be talking with the Port Fairy people about 2013. However I may not make it next year as I have several other offers at the same time of the year which we will assess over the next month or so and make decisions about when planning the touring schedule.

      I have just come back from the National Folk Festival where I had a ball. The response was very encouraging and I will write something for the blog over the next week or so after I get through the weekend’s performing schedule.


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