It was around 11 in the morning last Sunday when the halo around the sun appeared at the Airlie Beach Music Festival. I've never seen anything like it before, and nor had anyone else I spoke to. It was like a scene from Independence Day. People looked up at the sky, and the sun was obscured, a massive ring around it, the edges shimmering in the heat. I texted the festival organiser, Gavin Butlin: "How much did you pay for this?" He replied: "We have contacts..." Obviously in very high places indeed. I was about to do my last gig at the festival with Wanita and her Honky Tonk Bar Dwellers at Nomads. The whole weekend had been an absolute blast. All the gigs with Rockabilly Blues Express had been great, and the gigs with Wanita were great fun, with great musicians.
This is probably my favourite photo from the festival. It was taken by Paully Roxson (as was the one above), in the marquee on the Saturday evening. As I now realised was the norm with Wanita, we didn't have a clue what songs she was going to do, the running order, nothing. I guess it's a good sign when you've a band with that sort of confidence. Again, with Buddy Knox on guitar, Eddie Fisher on drums and Jason Tyler on keys, there's not a lot to actually be too worried about. I was especially happy that Gordon Sheard joined us on guitar, and played a blinder. So nice to see smiles all round when he and Buddy swapped solos even though they'd never played together before. And Wanita was just Wanita. she had the audience in the palm of her hand from the word go.
Earlier that afternoon Rockabilly Blues Express had a great gig too. It was at Club Crocodile, where the rockabilly fans turned out in force, especially the girls from Mackay. We had a blast. Leanne was in fine form, Bill Chambers came along and played some awesome guitar with Gordon, and Rod Collins tap-danced his way through Willy Brown Blues. The crowd loved it, and we did too. Thanks to Margarita Perez for this photo. This festival is going to run and run. The organisation was truly excellent, the crowds were as friendly as you'll ever get, and there seriously was music everywhere you went. Book me in for next year please Gavin Butlin. You're a legend.
Writing this new post is a bit like working with one hand tied behind my back; I'm on my laptop; no mouse and a dodgy keyboard, but I'll persevere. Forgive any typos please. I'm not a big fan of festivals, but this one's the exception. I love it. It was a nine-hour drive from Cairns to Airlie, but worth every minute. (This is the view from where I'm staying by the way.) Yes, I'm doing it tough.
Our first gig was at The Gateway Hotel yesterday just outside Airlie. Rockabilly Blues Express line-up Leanne, Gordon, Rod, Lachie and myself. You know it's going to be okay when the soundman recognises you, has a smile on his face, and nothing's a drama, so a big thanks to Ross. Great gig, great sound and nice, friendly audience. Did the set, then hot-footed it into town to Magnums. Not quite so good; a 20-watt Cube bass amp and dodgy sound, but a great crowd all the same, and a great reception.
I'm also here to do gigs with Wanita, Australia's Queen of Honky Tonk, as well. I was pretty apprehensive about this. Our gig yesterday was the first time I'd met Wanita and the rest of the band. What a band too. Eddie Fisher on drums, Buddy Knox on guitar, and Jason Tyler on keyboards. It clicked from the first bar. There's a lot to be said for working with guys who communicate with eyes and hand signals. It turned out I wasn't the only member of the band who wasn't sure what was going to happen. No one knew what was going to happen, but it sure did. Great vibe, awesome old-school hand signals from Jason, the keyboard player; the whole band knitted from the word go. Today we're on the main stage at 2pm and 6.30, and the Rockabillies are at Club Crocodile at 3. I think it's going to be a blast.
That's all I've time for this morning... just need to say thanks to Leanne for her understanding that I've got to dash from one gig to another. Thanks to Rod, Lachie, Gordon and Nola for acting as my transport managers. I'm having a great time, and my friends are lending a helping hand. I've no reason to expect anything else today. Just to quickly finish, I think this festival is one that will run and run. More tomorrow if anyone's interested, and probably some new photos too. If you're interested in Wanita, just do a YouTube search, or you can see her website at http://www.queenofhonkytonk.com.au
Marquis de Tent? "I'm sure you must mean Marquis de Sade, Chris," you're probably thinking. No, it's the Marquis de Tent. I'll come back to that one in a moment. I'm a grammar Nazi. Yes, one of those infuriating people who take delight in pointing out cock-ups at every opportunity. Take this load of bollocks from this morning's Today Show on Channel Nine. Boarder? Well, there could be an element of mistaken truth in that statement, but it was more by accident than design. Having spent years as a journalist, and then sub-editor, it's my job to be a pedant, and proud of it.
We'll get to Marquis de Tent soon, I promise. Let's have a look at some more rubbish I found on a stroll around Cairns. This bloke's science may be in harmony with nature, but his spelling certainly isn't. The stupid thing is, on the sign above he'd spelt Naturopath correctly, which, if anything, makes this cock-up even worse.
And worse still. "Your bodies own healing power?" You don't need me to explain this one. Unbelievable. This in full view of patients who on a weekly basis walk into the chiropractor spending hundreds of dollars at a time, fully aware that the bloke tells you up front he doesn't cure anything.
To the Marquis de Tent. Luckily the story I'm about to tell you never made it into print, unlike the photo here which I've stolen off the web. I was sitting at the subs' desk at The Sentinel newspaper in Stoke-on-Trent, when I picked up a piece of copy by a junior reporter. It was a diary piece about a group of pregnant women who'd got together for a bonding session at the local reservoir. It had teemed with rain. The reporter wrote: "A group of pregnant women sought shelter under a large marquis after the heavens opened last week." I never, ever berated reporters or other endangered species in public, but this came pretty close. I explained the difference between a marquis and a marquee; the reporter shrugged, and the following week presented me with a piece of late copy where a "man had appeared in caught". Guilty as charged, but nothing was said or done. Working at The Sentinel was not something I took lightly. It was the newspaper I'd grown up reading, but moments like this were happening far too often, I was proud to work there, but Jeez, it wasn't easy.
Be warned, this could be quite a long piece, but I'll try and make it as entertaining as possible, while gritting my teeth at this litany of literary lunacy. Talk about stating the bleeding obvious. This headline writer was either tired, pissed, or working his last shift. This is up there with "Body Found In Graveyard", and "Man Guilty In Violin Case". I do understand what whoever wrote this is trying to say, that there are different factors when looking at earthquake damage, but there has to be a better way of putting it.
One of my favourites. Unique. What a wonderful, misused word it is. How many times have you heard: "It was almost unique" "It's nearly unique." Well, it's either unique or it isn't. "Unique" needs no qualification. It's generally used by wannabe journalists and very often real estate agents, trying to generate enthusiasm about something that's usually extremely boring.
Ah, speak of the devil. Here's our friendly neighbourhood real estate agent trying to sell this insignificant and rather ordinary plot of land. Of course it's unique. Every plot of land in the world is unique. Every plot has it's own map reference which is unique. It goes without saying it's UNIQUE.
Finally for today's rant, let's look at the apostrophe. It's there where it's not needed, and it's not there where it is. First; an apostrophe does not make a plural. I do gigs, not gig's. I play instruments, not instrument's. Cairns Women's Imaging must have spent buckets of money on this. I actually went in and told them. The lady said she knew after they'd spent hundreds of thousands on their branding.
No money spent on branding here. Just another cock-up. Womens? There's no such word. Ever. It doesn't exist. We used to tell the story of the secretary who had a little pot of apostrophes on her desk and threw them randomly at the computer screen. Seems like she's alive and well and living in Cairns. Or is that Cairn's? That doesn't show up on a spellcheck, so it must be right, hey? And yes, I've seen Cairn's in print too.
If you're not sure about the meaning of a word, don't use it. Find another way of saying it. There are also plenty of newspaper style guides online; they're good, and often fun too. My preferred one is The Guardian's. It's here: http://www.theguardian.com/styleguide