26 July 2011

1981: I want you to be happy

Just a quick reminder- sign the petition and/or make a submission to prevent the sale/closure of Radio 1. Needs to be done by Thursday. My previous post (and rant) tells why I think you should- check out their site for more coherent stuff about what is happening.

1981 was pretty weird times in NZ, with politics at it’s most obviously ugly. Rob Muldoon exploited the Springbok Tour and ran a hideous “Law and Order” campaign to get re-elected. It seems odd to think it was 30 years ago this week that protestors invaded the pitch in Hamilton to force the cancellation of the match there. I remember reading something from Desmond Tutu years later, saying how there was dancing in the streets of Soweto when the game was cancelled. In this doco he described it as “like the sun coming out”.
(Graham Reid’s excellent “Elsewhere” site has a piece on one song of the time, “1981”, by Riot 111. I made a comment below the piece, and it is worth checking the clip I mention)

In the midst of the tour, a more positive sporting occasion occurred. A strong Dunedin City football team came second in the National League (losing out on goal difference to Wellington Diamond United), but won the Chatham Cup 3-1 over Mt Wellington- a team containing a few New Zealand players, including one Ricki Herbert who was part of the All Whites team to qualify for the World Cup the following year. The League was great- competitive, and with plenty of NZ representatives (including Steve Woodin for City around that time, but not in the final).

I remember being sick in bed, listening to the game on my transistor, (which was by that time held together by sticking plasters). I don’t know who did the commentary, but in my mind’s eye, I can still see Mike Glubb receive the ball with his back to goal, swivel, turn and shoot- his second goal in the final helping City to a 3-1 win. (And, 30 years on Caversham are through to the semi-finals after a quarter final win on the weekend).

Aah, sport, music, politics. Gotta love 'em.

In 1987 I saw Brownie McGhee play at the Dunedin Town Hall- a fantastic experience. Sadly, Sonny Terry had died the year before. In 1981, Sonny Terry was with him when they played Nambassa. Being 14 at the time, and not there (possibly listening to 4XO on my transistor at the time) I have no idea what they played, but this track (and video!) is fantastic. (Sonny Terry, with his song “Fox Chase”, provided the soundtrack for Len Lye’s “Colour Cry” in 1953. Great clip, but dodgy quality on You Tube)

Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee- Hootin’ Blues

Perhaps their anthemic “There is no Depression in New Zealand” was a more fitting 1981 song, but this has always been a favourite- ever since the unusual pairing of Blam Blam Blam with the Netherworld Dancing Toys on a live album- “The Blam Blam Blam Story” (one side for each band)- after they had toured together.

(I have never met anyone called Marsha- only one I ever knew was on the Brady Bunch. And she spelt it Marcia.)

Blam Blam Blam- Don’t Fight It Marsha (It’s Bigger than both of us)

Alas, never saw them live. Probably would have frightened a 13 or 14 year old. Christchurch’s finest- the Gordon’s. Latterly released on Flying Nun, but originally on Failsafe Records. (This video is available on the excellent Flying Nun “Very Short Films” compilation.)

The Gordon’s- Adults and Children

Possibly scary in it’s own way to, it is time to revisit Vol. 9. One of only two NZ tracks on the album, it is probably hard to find a bigger difference between Bunny Walters “1970’s cabaret” styles, and this New Zealand Glam-classic from Alastair Riddell’s Space Waltz. Fantastic.
Space Waltz- Out on the Street

5 July 2011

Radio One- Nostalgia for the future

A few weeks ago, Molly and I bumped into Ryan watching football on a Saturday morning. Never knew Ryan was a football fan- but was pleased he had popped to our place to see if Isaac wanted to come down as well, only to be refused because there was vacuuming to be done. Not sure if that was Isaac’s like of following parental instruction, or dislike of sport- but hey, the couch was cat-hair free when I got home.

Ryan, saying kind things about this blog, also said “It’s a kind of nostalgia thing for you, eh?” Ouch- made me feel old (not that being my age is a bad thing at all!),  but also reminded me that I have not touched on anything at all from this decade.

Recent events in Dunedin have evoked both feelings of nostalgia, and a heightened awareness of needing to be involved in the present and plan for the future.

Radio One has been, and continues to be, hugely influential on the music I listen to and enjoy. I also had the thrill  of being news reader and “acting news editor”;  voiced a few ads (with my radio voice, short run campaigns were best); I have had my own show (in 1988, the “Hydro Surf Dawn Patrol”- hilarious  really- I know I can barely swim, let alone surf (poor upper body strength, as the whanau will all attest!) and suspect the same of my co-host of the time) and various shows- both regular and irregular until about 1993 or 1994.

There were lots of laughs. I remember doing a show from 11pm till 1am one Easter, and ending up drinking whiskey and Stones Ginger Wine with the very dapper, but slightly dishevelled, station manager who stumbled in having completed playing organ at one of the Cathedrals in town for an Easter service. His usual attire included a knobbly woollen jersey, and gumboots- one white, one black. Arriving around midnight at the station, in his formal tails and bow tie, I was pleased to see he was still wearing the gummies, and wondered how they went on organ pedals.

I remember the hilarity  of reading the news (which at that stage was often just lifted from Teletext), and realising that each sports story one particular morning was so laden with sexual innuendo, that neither I nor the show host could complete a sentence without cracking up, and had to finally cut to music when it all became too silly. (legend also had it that the station was the first to broadcast the news of the first Fiji coup, beating the state radio station by about 20 minutes)

While the station has professionalised a lot since those days (generally for the better) all those experiences were wonderful for me, and led to some great friendships and experiences.

But far more important is the role Radio One has played, and continues to play, in the social, cultural and political fabric of Dunedin and beyond. A diverse news and political perspective; a broad exposure of the arts – local, national and international; and a constant exposure to an exciting and often exhilarating range of new and not-so-new music- all combine to make the station an escape from the usual drudgery and depressiveness of most other news and/or music stations available in the city.

And it is all under imminent threat because of a proposal under consideration by the Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) to sell the station they have owned and operated since 1984.

I think this would be a tragedy for those who have benefited from the station- musicians, artists, performers,  and students (as well as OUSA as an organisation). And most especially, listeners who are continually exposed interesting, exciting, challenging, and provocative music. I also think it would be a betrayal to those students who over the past 27 years and more put in time, effort and money to create such a vibrant radio station.

If in any way you value “the arts”, and share a love of music, wherever on the planet (or beyond!) you live, please get involved in the campaign to save Radio One. Regardless of any views you have on who or how the station should be funded, please take the time to check their websites, facebook pages, and offer support and suggestions.

Via Radio One, Dunedin city has nurtured many local acts (The Verlaines; Die!Die!Die; Del Girl; The Puddle; 3D’s; Haunted Love; the Clean; Alizzarin Lizard; the Suds; TFF; Cult Disney; Hannah Howse; Sonic Smith; and many, many more) by giving them airplay, interviews, promoting gigs etc, some of whom have gone on to great things, and some of whom have brought joy for only a short time. Radio One has also done the same for national and international acts that exist outside the mainstream (wanted to avoid that godammed word!), and who have had the opportunity to be exposed to Dunedin and New Zealand audiences without being financially or artistically crippled in the process- to the benefit of both artist and audience.

The loss of Radio One could be the start of the creation of a cultural wasteland, where it is hugely difficult for music beyond the dictates of Australian radio programme directors running commercial stations to get any broadcast exposure.

The very thing the station was created to rebel against.

The following tracks are of relatively recent stuff I enjoy, and which I first heard on Radio One.

This one- well, it is just a very cool song off an excellent album. And I am a bit of a sucker for a duet. (One of my all-time favourites- Rae and I used to be able to do a pretty good rendition- is Duet, by the very wonderful early 1990's band Mink - featuring among many other notables, Dermania Lloyd and George D. Henderson)

Princess Chelsea- Cigarette Duet

Unfortunately no video with this one, but this is a great psychedelic pop track from Ruban Neilson's new band, Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra- Thought Ballune

Just love this, and the "lyrics" have become a bit of a throwaway line with me and the kids. The song is a few years old now (2008), but still gets a bit of deserved airplay. (As does other stuff from Sonic Smith- a fine local exponent of electronica)

 Sonic Smith- Condensation 101

I heard a lovely interview with this artist on Aaron Hawkins' breakfast show a few weeks ago- on, of course, Radio One. Unfortunately could not get out to Chick's Hotel in Port Chalmers to see her when she was here. Stunning song- gorgeous and original voice, great guitar playing.

Tiny Ruins- Little Notes