Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Indie Australia Sampler Vol. 5

It's been a really good year of Australian music, with some great EPs and albums coming out throughout 2014.  Here are some of my favorite songs from this year, which I put onto the sampler CD I make for my cousin each Christmas.

1. Dan Sultan- "The Same Man"

2. The Preatures- "Cruel"

3. Kimbra- "Miracle"

4. Saskwatch- "Give Me A Reason"

5. The Good China- "What You Learnt From The Self Help Section"

6. Vance Joy- "Winds Of Change"

7. Wagons- "Hundred Years Or Six Foot Down"

8. #1 Dads- "For Randy Robinson And Cassidy"

9. Dan Kelly- "Melbourne vs Sydney"

10. The Ocean Party- "Wading In"

11. Holy Holy- "House Of Cards"

12. Millions- "Clementine"

13. Joelistics- "Say I'm Good"

14. The Basics- "The Lucky Country"

15. The Stiffys- "Boogie Boarding"

16. Bloods- "Want It"

17. D.D Dumbo- "Tropical Oceans"

18. Rolls Bayce- "Don't Get Me Wrong"

19. Slow Dancer- "We All Make Mistakes"

20. C.W. Stoneking- "I'm The Jungle Man"

21. The Harpoons- "Ring Ring"

Monday, December 29, 2014

Keith Haring- The Political Line

I was excited to learn that the Keith Haring: The Political Line exhibition would be on at the de Young Museum while I was in the Bay Area, and my Mom got us tickets to attend today. Haring was a well renowned New York street artist in the 1980s who achieved great fame with his recognizable visual art style during his all too short career. The exhibition features 130 of his works including paintings, sculptures and some of his subway chalk drawings, in addition to photos and handwritten journals. Haring was quite active in the fights against nuclear proliferation, racism, apartheid, environmental degradation, AIDS and the excesses of capitalism. The exhibition groups pieces in relation to those themes and is a great testament to his creativity and political activism. If you are in San Francisco be sure to catch the exhibition before it ends on February 16, 2015.

de Young Museum

de Young Museum

de Young Museum

de Young Museum

de Young Museum

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Beach Blanket Babylon

Steve Silver's Beach Blanket Babylon is a San Francisco institution that is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The long running musical revue is known for its insane wigs, costumes and hats as well as political and social commentary. My Mom and I went to the early show this evening at Club Fugazi in North Beach. The show follows Snow White as she searches for love in different cities around the world and encounters various characters along the way.

I was very impressed by the cast and all the quick costume changes they had to make during the hour and a half show. The vocals by Renee Lubin and Tammy Nelson in particular were big highlights throughout the night. As it is the holiday season we were also treated to a holiday themed section at the end of the show, which included not only a huge Christmas hat with a toy train running around a Christmas tree, but also the traditional San Francisco skyline hat. They closed the night with the traditional song "San Francisco." All in all it was a very entertaining show and you can understand why it's been so successful for so long as they constantly update the musical numbers to refer to current events.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Muir Beach and Muir Woods

After an indulgent Christmas dinner it was good to get outside into the fresh air today to see some sights. Leilani came and picked me up for our planned day out at Muir Woods. The park service were not kidding about the limited parking available, and it seems many other people had similar ideas to us as our first attempt at getting in was not successful. Undeterred we continued down the road and went to Muir Beach instead. It was a beautiful and clear winter's day on the beach and great to listen to the waves crashing in. We then decided to hit the trails and started hiking up the Pirates Cove Trail, stopping along the way to rest and enjoy the view. The push to the top of the steep hill was well rewarded with an amazing panoramic view that stretched all the way to San Francisco as well as back to Muir Beach. Thankfully going down was much easier and quicker than going up.

After finishing at Muir Beach we tried getting into Muir Woods again on the way back, but the parking lots and roadside were still full. As we were hungry we decided to head into Mill Valley for a late lunch at The Depot Cafe. It was nice to sit outside in the afternoon sun and enjoy our sandwiches after the big hike.

Never ones to give up we gave it one last try to get into Muir Woods. Although both parking lots were still full, we managed to find some roadside parking and finally got in a bit over an hour before the park was due to close at sunset. The redwood forest is amazing to walk through along the boardwalk paths they have built in the park. The trees are very tall and majestic, and some have their own character due to being hollowed out by fire or having burls on the base or sides that can sprout if the tree is injured. The creek is flowing pretty well due to all the recent rain and we were able to cover the whole walking loop before it got too dark. If we had more time we could have added some trail hikes to the mix- maybe for a future visit.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Dinner 2014

One of the great things about being home for the holidays is that I get to attend the annual Christmas dinner that my parents hold each year. It sort of makes up for missing Thanksgiving. Since my brother was working today it was just us and my aunt and cousins this year. Leilani arrived early as she skipped going to my uncle's house and benefited from listening to her traffic app which told her not to go through San Francisco. Chris and Mei were not as fortunate and it took them over 3 1/2 hours to get through the City to our house due to total traffic gridlock. What a nightmare! By the time they arrived we had already indulged in the hors d'oeuvres, including baked brie, bacon wrapped pineapple bites, shrimp cocktail, and my favorite holiday beverage mulled cider.

After breaking open some sparkling wine for the weary travellers, we grabbed our plates for dinner. Mom had things set up buffet style this year and the menu was as follows:
- Jello salad
- Biscuits
- Roast turkey
- Sausage and herb stuffing
- Spinach gratin
- Goat cheese mashed potatoes
It was all very yummy even though the stuffing got a bit dry due to the longer than expected cooking time (gravy fixed the moisture issue). After eating and chatting in the dining room we went into the living room to open presents before hitting up the desserts. I spent all of Christmas Eve baking apple pie, a pistachio and rosewater cake, sugar cookies and snowball cookies. Thankfully they all turned out pretty good! Everyone was well and truly full of holiday cheer (and food) by the end of the night.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Hustle

It's good to be back in the Bay Area.  My flight over on Sunday was the usual long haul journey, although this time I had to deal with an older gentleman in front of me who made the worst loud hacking noises throughout the flight. I think I would have preferred a crying baby instead (and some ear plugs).  I killed time by watching Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel (every shot in that film is a winner) and season 4 of Portlandia.  Sleep was not really an option with Mr. Hacky.

I seem to have brought nice weather with me as the last couple days have been quite pleasant.  I had most of my Christmas shopping done before I arrived, but picked up the last few gifts on Monday.  Today I got to catch up with my oldest and dearest friend Lynne as we braved various shopping centers around Marin as she finished up her shopping.  We also took advantage of sales and I got myself a pair of pants at Banana Republic for $20 (originally $89)!  In addition, I have been eating a lot of sourdough bread and my Dad made a really yummy dungeness crab cioppino.  With all the food I will be eating in the coming days I think I better start doing some exercise.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Ben Folds And The MSO

Ruth, Danny and I jumped at the opportunity to get tickets to see Ben Folds live with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at Hamer Hall months ago when they went on sale.  This Australian tour has Ben playing with the local symphony orchestra in each city he's stopping in, which must be a huge undertaking to organise.  The evening began humorously as Ben's friend Keir Nuttall came out on stage pretending to be him (they look a bit similar) and started to sing the opening song "Effington."  Ben soon appeared and told him to go before continuing with the number.  The set list contained songs from throughout Ben's career and he told stories about the origins of each one before launching into them.  Highlights of his solo material included "Landed," "Cologne," and the song he wrote for his daughter, "Gracie."

Seeing these songs played with a symphony orchestra was such a special treat.  I was particularly happy to hear some Ben Folds Five tracks, including "Smoke," "Brick," "Steven's Last Night In Town" and "One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces" as the jazz origins of the songs really allowed the whole orchestra to shine.  He even played the first verse of "Cigarette," which was based off of a very long run on sentence in a newspaper article, before launching into its companion piece, "Fred Jones, Pt. 2."  We were very fortunate to get to hear the first two movements of a piano concerto he took a year to write, and he also brought out special guest Kate Miller-Heidke to join him to sing the duet "You Don't Know Me." 

In the encore someone shouted out for "Rock This Bitch," which is where Ben creates a song on the spot.  The audience member gave him the title of "Cheating Asshole" for this one, and as he built the musical parts with each section of the orchestra someone was googling the phrase backstage to find a poem of that title that would end up being the lyrics.  It was amazing to watch it all come together, and Kate even came out to sing along with Ben.  Although they could have easily finished the evening then and there, the official last song of the night was an epic version of "Narcolepsy" featuring a tenor on some of the vocals.  All in all it was a pretty amazing show and really great that Ben feels so strongly about the importance of symphony orchestras that he continues to do shows like these all around the world.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas In The Forest

It was a beautiful day in Kalorama, located in the Dandenong Ranges, for Peter and Mark's Christmas party.  Fran was kind enough to pick me up along the way out there.  It's been quite a few years since I was last up at their house, and this year they held the party on the grounds near their live Christmas tree, which was decorated for the occasion.  As the tables and picnic blankets were set up on a slope it was a running gag all afternoon that we would end up rolling down the hill.  People brought different dishes to share for lunch, and music was supplied through people taking turns picking some vinyl to play.  Instead of traditional Christmas hats Peter had decorated some Fez hats for people to wear.  There were a few musicians in attendance, including Greg McCanish from Skyhooks, Andy White, and Nigel Griggs from Split Enz.  Fran and I chatted quite a bit with Andy, who we saw live last month at The Toff for his album launch.  After eating lunch the presents were distributed, and Peter managed to string up a Santa pinata to a tall tree branch for Rosemaree to hit (not sure Santa with a noose around his neck screams Christmas).  Overall it was a nice afternoon amongst the trees in the forest.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Melbourne Christmas Decorations

Being in the southern hemisphere you can't rely on the weather to signal that it is the holiday season, so it's good the Melbourne City Council does so much to decorate the CBD and get us all into the Christmas spirit.

The best part of the Christmas festival this year is the light projections on the Melbourne Town Hall by The Electric Canvas.  Starting at 9pm each night the Christmas themed show takes you to celebrations around the world in the span of seven minutes.  It's definitely worth sticking around in the city until after dark to be able to check it out.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...