An Australian Performer

Category: Diary

Can I Sleep On Your Couch Part Rome Madrid Paris Berlin: Dog Towns, all.


Hello again, this time from Berlin, where I have now been for about two weeks. LAST WEEK I SAW JONATHAN RICHMAN.


Regular readers of this column will know just how exciting this was. So I won’t say anymore. Except I TOUCHED HIM and IT WAS AMAZING.

Berlin Berlin.. What do you say about Berlin.. Everyone has an opinion. The best advice came from my new friend Tom, who is a physicist. “Don’t try and come up with some generalized theory of Berlin, about why it is what it is or how it came to be this way. You will be wrong.”

Turkish bouzouki player and Justin.

So yeah.. Maybe come and visit. You won’t be disappointed. It’s amazing. It’s also rather hot.. 34 or something today. Also, there are HEAPS of dogs. As a result, the cats keep a pretty low profile. Hardly seen any! Heaps of dogs in Paris, also. It’s great, they’re just seamlessly incorporated into everyday life, on the u Bahn and the s Bahn and at restaurants and pubs. Dogs dogs dogs. All shapes and sizes. Just below where I am staying in Freidrichshain there is even a shop that just sells bones for dogs! It’s called “Bones for Dogs”. Controversial.

There certainly are a lot of Australian musicians here, and I’ve been collaborating like crazy with as many as I can.

Richard Cuthbert, Justin Cusack and Joseph Muller at the Green Dress Social Club

Sydney’s Richard Cuthbert, of Cuthbert and the Night Walkers and Green Mohair Jacket, who I played with in Sydney just before we both left.. Brisbane’s own Paul Donoghue aka Big Strong Brute. Josef Muller of Laneous & The Family Yah, The Well Alrights and many others. Justin Cusack of Black Pony Express. (I’m currently staying with Justin. We’ve established a social club.) Sam Wareing aka Wasp Summer who has also sheltered and gainfully employed me. Tom “The Physicist” Oates. And of course Melbourne rabble rousers Bitter Sweet Kicks.. They’re on your throughout Europe. They’ve had a hell of a time.. They’re all pretty young, it’s their first ever international tour, and they’ve had some MAJOR crises.. they have no driver or anything, doing it all themselves.. But they’re doing an amazing job. When I saw them at White Trash they absolutely tore the place up, it made me so proud to be Australian! (Much more proud than the stupid Olympics. There wasn’t much to feel proud about there, and I’m not talking about the medal count.. The way the athletes carry on is appalling in my opinion. I dunno, I know it must be tough and everything but surely the fact that there can be only one winner must be foremost in their minds? You wouldn’t think so. Anyway.)

But yeah, we booked a studio for four hours, Bitter Sweet Kicks and I, and recorded a few songs which I think are pretty cool. One is called “Better Drunk Than Homesick”, which is something a bar tender said to them in France or somewhere. They’re playing at Meredith this year and I think I’m gonna have to go, the line up is incredible. Don’t know how. I’ll figure it out. Spiritualized! Turbonegro! Hot Snakes! Primal Scream!

I feel kind of bad that I haven’t really engaged with any Berlin or German artists yet but I am working on rectifying that. I’m off to Hamburg for few days on Tuesday, then Copenhagen, then back to Berlin for another week and another show, and a huuuge mega collaboration thing I am planning.. Kind of like a Young Liberals recording session but in Berlin.

Charlie and Johnny from Bitter Sweet Kicks enjoying a bit of classical Don Don at the Bode Museum, Berlin.

Prior to Berlin I was in Paris for a week, which was really lovely. Did a couple of shows, wrote a few songs, went and saw a cello recital, went to a bunch of galleries and stuff.. It was fantastic. What can I say? I am extremely lucky! I pray every day to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Thanks so much to Marion and all her pals, and to Boris and La Feline and La Pergola.

Malo the giant cat, St. Ambroise, Paris.

New friend Pierre the philosopher/alto sax player, Paris.

Prior to THAT, I was in Madrid. I am going back to Spain in September but I had to make a special visit to do a special collaboration.. More on that later. It went very well however. I didn’t have much of a chance to do any touristy activity, but I saw some flamenco, which was amazing.. Met up with Luis who is organizing some shows for me next month. It was a whirlwind four day visit.

Scare Couer Cathedral, Montmarte, Paris

Anyway that’s about it I think, for now. So excited about winning the Best Album award for The Cat.. It’s a huge honour. Also very excited to see HITS on the cover of the Courier Mail. Tomorrow I have to go and negotiate getting my shipment of CDs from German post. Apparently that’s quite a drama.

My Dad came here when it was still divided, with the wall and everything, and snuck into East Berlin, cause he was in the army and could kind of get away with it. Drove around. That’s pretty cool.

Anyway it’s getting toward bedtime.. Even though it’s past midnight it’s still around 28 degrees here at the Green Dress Social Club.. I might try and demo a song before bed.. We’ll see.

Hope you are well and please stay in touch.

X x


The Paris-Tokyo Museum, Paris

I Thank You

Last night “The Cat” won best album award at the Queensland Music Awards! I am so honoured. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported and helped me, lent me money, come to my shows.. To all the people who played on, produced, mixed and listened to the album.. To all my family and friends. And to you, whoever is reading this. Thanks for that too. Respect to all the other nominees and winners. I’m currently in Berlin having a grand time.. Today I collaborated with Melbournians Bitter Sweet Kicks and Black Pony. About to get stuck into mixing our collaboration! While I have been here I have also recorded songs with Big Strong Brute, Tom Oates and Sam Wareing.. Hoping to chase down Richie Cuthbert soon! So busy.

Also went and saw JONATHAN RICHMAN.

More clues coming.

I thank you.



Can I Sleep On Your Couch Part 5,673: Meta Textuality

Truth is always much stranger than fiction.
20120721-041028.jpgTHE ADRIATIC SEA

Just refused to sign the bit of paper.. Normally a formality.

20120721-025807.jpgIL GATTO ALA LOBELLO

Just last week a polar bear was spotted near Akureyri, which is just near Skagastrond… They come over on the icebergs, from.. Greenland I suppose. Or the Arctic. The place I played at up there, Kantrybaer, was Iceland’s first (possibly only) country music bar, started by Iceland’s first ever country music singer, Hallbjörn Hjartarson, some 35 years ago. Upstairs is a radio station where Hallbjorn DJs or programs country music 24 hours a day.


In spite of Ludo and I’s best efforts I still managed to miss my train to Paris come Monday morning, and with it all connecting trains to Lecce, and was forced (the horror!) to spend another night in Bretagne.

20120721-025756.jpgCAT FAMILY, LECCE

Anyway I met one of the stunt women, she seemed nice, all stocky, tanned, toothy and friendly.. she said the movie *spoiler alert* has something to do with astronauts. Also met a high frequency energy healer called Max. She was a sassy New Yorker of about fifty, not a bit flakey as you might expect of someone with her job description. “Are you getting any sort of aura off of me, Max?” I asked, not impolitely. “I’m not here to work honey”, she replied.

20120720-160424.jpgBELGIAN RIFF RAFF

Remember me? I’m the one who had your bayybbeeee nowww.. That’s for you Tim old chum.

Woke up a bus driver.


Along with other new friend Danielle, we climbed a mountain, Spakunofell, where legend says the prophetess Þhordis (Thordis) combed her hair every day with a golden comb. In the 10th Century. Iceland is full of amazing stuff like that. Sagas. Took us six hours to climb that mountain. We got lost on the way up.


In Iceland in summer the sun never really sets. It goes just under the horizon.

20120720-161443.jpgFIELD RECORDING IN LECCE

Now present for two presidential elections.. France, in Lannion, with HITS; and Iceland, in Skagastrond, a small fishing village of about 500 people, right up in the north, where the aforementioned NES artists residency was located. Run by a Brisbane gal named Melody with help from Loppa the dog.

There were other collaborations.. in England.. Before Ireland and Iceland. There was one with Michael Tomlinson. One with Christa Vi. One with Bjorn Baillie. There were gigs, at The Good Ship in Kilburn and at The Ridley Road Market Bar in Dalston. And at the Lazy Bishop festival in Farnham, where John is from. Wandering with Phoebe and Tom around Dublin. Coffee.

Went and saw Aaron and Ben’s band CIVIL CIVIC at The Macbeth in Shoreditch. So good. Instrumental two piece.. Really cool. Japanese noise band first up. A lot of people in Sonic Youth shirts. Am I old, is that what that means? Must consult I Ching.

20120720-184751.jpgRIDLEY ROAD MARKET

I’m writing this bit, now, in Lecce, Puglia, Italy. The bottom of the heel. Outside the cicadas are chirping and screeching and there’s a dry wind from the north east, down from the mountains of Serbia and Croatia, I am told, over the Adriatic and here. I’m thankful for the breeze, as is all of Puglia.. Last week it was 44 degrees. I guess now it is around 32 or something. Feels bizarrely enough like being at my sister’s cattle property on a summer afternoon.


Got bitten by a silky terrier in Binic. Who gets bitten by a silky terrier? I didn’t feel so bad though, because apparently it bites everyone.

20120720-180745.jpgAT CHILAND QUI PASSE

Jonathan Richman. The Velvet Underground. Lou Reed solo. The Go Betweens.

20120721-040947.jpgGARDEN ITALY

I have acquired a new pair of boots courtesy of Tourette’s, as I killed my beloved winklepickers climbing up a mountain. Also got a good hat from Tom.

Iceland unlike France is a parlimentary democracy (like Ireland and.. Some other places) so the President is largely a ceremonial figure (like our Governor General), wheeled out for state dinners and such; however the current President did win the hearts and minds of the Icelandic people by effectively vetoing a piece of legislation that would have required Icelanders to pay back $5 Billion to Dutch and UK investors after all their banks collapsed in 2008.

There must be an I Ching app.

20120720-162803.jpgHOEY THE CONQUEROR

As I had missed the markets I was unsuccessful but I found some dry stuff and also made some kick arse cous cous.. A Moroccan french girl even gave it the thumbs up. Authentico. Butcher was hilarious. A translation impasse attained, I found myself resorting to the time honoured tourist technique of steadily increasing the volume of my spoken English.. “how.. MUCH DOES IT COST?”.. Managed, eventually, to rein that in and go back to hand talking.

20120721-025749.jpgIL PADRINO

Serial cat hassler. Wandering the streets of Europe taking photos of random cats. This blog has requisite Internet approved number of cat pictures.

20120720-161304.jpgLECCE, DUSK

As I wandered up to the bar carriage, I came across a young man playing the ukelele, near the baggage racks.

In spite of this they seem a very agreeable lot. Considering how sexily close it is to the Arctic Circle, Iceland is rather warm, only reaching -15 in the depths of winter and climbing to a very lovely 9 – 22 for my visit. I forgot to mention that the scenery will melt your face.

There was Bastille Day in France, spent partially on a bus between Lorient and Binic. Jubilee, Bastille Day, 4th July. Embassies. Elections.

20120720-160538.jpgDANGER, HIGH VOLTAGE

We were both waiting to use the bathroom, at the embassy. The budget for mini hamburgers was as large as the queue for the toilet was long. The toilet queue was where all the real networking got done.

20120721-035400.jpgYES THAT’S ICE

Italians like to stay up late. Tomorrow night I am playing at a bar on the beach near here.. The thing doesn’t even start until midnight, and it finishes at 7 in the morning.


I went to Ireland, before Iceland, one letter the difference, vive la difference!, which was also grand, green, amazing. Played in Cork, Galway and Dublin, zoomed around on the bus. Saw Ray Davies play in Galway. Met a Go Betweens enthusiast in Cork.. Well, two of them actually. My host, Adam, formerly of Wellington, was a keen exponent of antipodean pop and rock amd we nerded it up big time.

20120721-041014.jpgTHE CASTLE OF OTRANTO

He was a scout, on his way to Turin, for a scout jamboree.
A scout from Belgium, shrouded in mystery.
And AC/DC.

20120721-041000.jpgIT’S NOT A SCOOTER

I have finally stopped listening to Azealia Banks.


They had mini hamburgers, and Samuel Adams’ Boston Ale. Ola would have liked that. Assorted US expatriates present, including some of the crew who’d been working on the new Tom Cruise movie, ‘Oblivion’. The apocalypse continues, in Iceland. Local farmers weren’t happy with Tom pushing everyone around, a sort of ‘We grew here, you flew here’ situation that was for once entirely understandable.


I have already posted about this blog on Facebook but here I am at 3.00am tinkering. That’s the future. No copy control. Tobias’s friend Oswaldo wrote a romance novel! He is also a journalist, and promotes concerts. The Kronos Quartet came and stayed here, when they did a show in Lecce. With Philip Glass. One Ell or Two? One Hell Or Two? Fore di Capo!!

20120720-190208.jpgBASTILLE DAY, BINIC

I took full advantage of it by attempting to record a five track EP whilst I was there. Did four songs, including a cover of “I Heard Her Call My Name” by The Velvet Underground. That’s the fourth Velvets cover I have attempted whilst over here. Pattern Recognition. Still have to do vocals for some others. Iceland… Phew.


Just visited the Castle of Otranto with my wonderful hosts here in Lecce, Tobia Lamare and Cecilia (and Oswaldo and Antoinetta).. Amazing. Cannot explain. Turkish. Battle. Catacombs. Andy Warhol exhibition.


The other wind is the Sirocco, from the south, Africa, over the Mediterranean. It is humid. Sometimes the humidity reaches 90%. It’s all a lot like North Queensland.

20120721-023415.jpgLOBELLO, LECCE

As I drank a beer and pressed my nose on windows to the left and right, gazing out at the jaw dropping alps passing by on both sides, I heard the young Ukelele player pluck the unmistakable riff to “Riff Raff” by AC/DC, a song very close to my heart.


After Lorient, Binic.. Beautiful Binic, and Ludovic Lorre, proprietor of Le Chiland Qui Passe (The Passing Ships). A beautiful little cafe on the marina. Scene of some disgraceful expatriate behaviour on my last visit some three years ago; I was keen to make amends.


L’espirit du e’scalier

20120721-025824.jpgCATS OF LORIENT

Scene also of the increasingly famous Binic Folk & Blues festival, which has played host to a number of Australian bands over the years. This year, Dan Brodie, Jamie Hutchings and Suzie Stapleton are all performing, as are Burn In Hell. Aussie pride. I played four shows over two days, including a cameo at a 50th birthday party, and I think they were all good. I exhausted my supply of CDs in any case.


Seems pretty reasonable to me; as far as I can gather no one in (itl.) Iceland (itl./) got their bloody investments back.


I have written lots of songs.


I got here after 30 hours on trains from St Brieuc via Paris, Milan and Rome. The humidity and heat. It makes everything sort of surreal, as Australians know well. Last night I played outside at an Irish pub.. They have them in Puglia too. They are ubiquitous. I must go.


After Tim and Helen’s, it was on the train to Lorient, a place beloved of many Brisbane and Australian musicians.. Le Galion, and Jean Baptiste, the paratrooper. Had a fantastic couple of shows there.. I stuck around for Friday the 13th and decided to repay JB’s hospitality by cooking him and his business partner Crystal (as well as a few patrons) a traditional lamb roast. This entailed a visit to almost every supermarket and store in Lorient in the quest for fresh Rosemary or ROSMARIN.


One day as I drank beer at Kantrybaer with Tourette’s, the radio station played “The Pub With No Beer” by Slim Dusty. Played a bunch of Slim Dusty. Was it random or did Hallbjorn know?


I read “The Man In The High Castle” by Philip K. Dick. It had a profound effect on me. Truly amazing.. In its portayal of obsession with imaginary (or real?) contemporary cultural ephemera it reminded me of William Gibson, and Antiques Roadshow.. Or Gibson now is like Dick. Of course. Chilling. The I Ching.. I must get a set. The ending.

Tonight I ate fettini di cavallo.



I told Max that I did sense an amazing sort of energy about Iceland, that I kept forgetting everyone’s names and sort of stumbling about in a beatific daze.. Whether that was due to the stunning scenery and fresh air, or to the local spirit, Brennivin, aka “The Black Death”, is another question entirely.


Two embassies (or one High Commission and one embassy, to be precise, as we’re still ruled by England, true story!) ..while in Iceland I managed to sneak in with other ‘artists’ from the NES residency to the 4th of July party at the American Embassy in Reykjavik. True story.

20120721-034454.jpgME N TIM WE DANCED ALL NIGHT

On my iPad I have every Asterix and Tintin comic, scanned (I HAVE BOUGHT THEM ALL SEVERAL TIMES)… Asterix is from Bretagne. Probably somewhere between Lannion and St. Malo or something.

20120721-025736.jpgCATS OF LORIENT

This required a trip back to Cork but Ireland isn’t that big and I was just grateful that crisis had been averted. I spent the next few days giving money to every beggar and busker I saw, which in Dublin particularly is a fairly hefty outlay, but I felt the karmic balance had to be redressed. More on that later.

20120720-160943.jpgON A MOUNTAIN

Anyway they voted the old President back in. Meanwhile I hung out with the arists, a motley collection of printmakers, painters, installation..istas, a Danish collective and a rapper from NZ, Damien aka Tourette’s, who was writing a novel. We hit it off and even did a collaboration.

20120721-023308.jpgSHOW OFF CAT, REYKJAVIK

It was due to the hangover I sustained drinking with Adam and his awesome Irish housemates (on the topic of the Jubilee: “No person should have to bow or kneel to another person.”) that I lost my wallet in the bus station in Cork. Cards, and €80 cash.. Realised, too late, on the bus to Galway. After some frantic texting and what not it was located at the bus station; someone had handed it in. With all the cash in it.

20120721-025710.jpgBETTY THE GOAT

Apparently Þhordis buried treasure up there on the plateau that looks like some strange spongy lunar otherworld. But you can only find it if you’re a woman, virgin, never read the word of God (the Christian one), never had cow’s milk.


One embassy, one high commission, one Jubilee

20120721-023239.jpgSCI FI CHURCH, REYKJAVIK

Whilst in Reykjavik I did three shows, the biggest at a place called Cafe Rosenberg with my patrons, landlords and all round excellent fellows 1860. They have been described as Iceland’s Fleet Foxes which seems reasonable enough to me – I’ve not listened to much of them (Fleet Foxes, that is) but I’ve heard they go alright. 1860 certainly go alright and their back story and general vibe was very reminiscent of The Gin Club’s.. Started as a side project, lots of members, a sort of Indie The Band thing. They organised my gigs and let me sleep in their rehearsal room which was amazing.

20120721-023450.jpgEASY E, TOLWORTH

After Iceland there was a brief layover in London. More shenenigans in Dalston. Having it large, etc. Down the offie. Made my first cous cous. No, that’s not a euphemism.

20120720-160840.jpgTOURETTE’S IN ACTION

I got the ferry from Portsmouth over to Brittany again. Brittany, Bretagne, Breihz. English, French, Breton. From St. Malo to an ancient farmhouse in the woods and a couple of nights with new friends Tim and Helen. Extensive collaborating, soul searching and red wine drinking was done. Tim is an English ex pat who has lived in Brittany for a number of years. He has quite an interesting musical career which I won’t go into here. I will just say that he, Helen, their beautiful two year old Isabella, plus two or three cats, were all tres hospitible.. The same cannot be said for Betty the goat.

20120721-025730.jpgMAY NOT BE ACCURATE

Trendy bars across Reykjavik hummed with the sounds of people quoting Top Gun and speculating as to Mr. Cruise’s choice of sexiness and religiosity, neither of which I am prepared to speculate on here as he just seems frankly like an excellent fighter pilot and an above average assassin. Can also race cars and sell athletes.

20120720-162850.jpgAT HELEN AND TIM’S

Hello again weary readers, whoever you are.. Tolerant, open hearted, kind. Envious, no doubt. I would be. I am one lucky hombre. When this trip began, I would say to everyone, well, it’s not all luck (and here I find the lack of italics in nearly all iPad applications frustrating).. You know, sure, I got a grant, but I’ve been plugging away for so long yadda yadda yadda yabba dabba dooo.. Well, I have abandoned all that. I am lucky, and I am grateful. And that’s it. Here comes this month’s exciting installment, rambling.. Sorry if it’s too long for you but I am too busy doing stuff to write newsletters all the time and besides that gets boring quickly. Go get a cup of tea.

20120721-042153.jpgREYKJAVIK, MIDNIGHT


Lecce, 21st July 2012

Can I Sleep On Your Couch Part 5: Jubilee



So I have now been overseas for over a month, and on tour for over two. Strictly speaking. Although I haven’t really been doing many shows in the UK. When I found out I was coming it was kind of too late to book many shows here.

London is abuzz at the moment. Just had Lil Queenie’s Diamond Jubilee which was all fun and games, so it would seem and so I am told.. I ventured out in the 10 degrees n drizzle to watch a few boats float down the Thames for the Flotilla last Sunday. Absolutely miserable weather but old Greek Phil and Liz stood there stoically for four hours watching the boats roll past. Phil had to go to hospital the next day. I hope he’s okay. He missed the big pageant.

The funny thing was it had been quite pleasant in the UK for the week leading up to that. Then, come the big day.. Rain. Didn’t seem to deter many people. People had street parties in the rain. Bunting. The big concert at Buckingham Palace the following night featuring Gurrumul and Rolf Harris and some people who aren’t Australian (fancy that) was apparently quite mint as well. I wasn’t game to venture in to that. I’m not that fond of crowds. The tube at rush hour is bad enough, ducking your head to fit the curve of the door.. Urgh. A claustrophobes nightmare. I’m not supposed to call it ‘The Tube’ apparently; apparently (apparently, apparently) no one has called it that in London since the 60s. It’s just the underground. Mind you the person who told me that ended up falling over in the street later so maybe take it with a grain of salt.

Anyway, the underground or whatever you want to call it is a miracle, to be frank. I don’t know how it runs at all. Did you know there are a bunch of deserted stations? Abandoned stations? There is also a rumour that the royals have their own special line. Actually The Original Ben Salter and myself wrote a song about it, called “It’s A Miracle And No One Cares”. 20120608-220826.jpgThe Original Ben Salter

I just realized I haven’t talked about The Original Ben Salter prior to this. He is a year or so older than me so he’s The Original. I spent a day hanging out with him while I was in Brighton, met his wife and kids, and we wrote a song and played a gig in this lovely seaside cafe in Worthing. It was just amazing. The song is a cracker too, I think. We were talking about the tube for ages as he had a book all about the abandoned stations etc. Then when we went to write a song I pulled out my list of potential titles that I carry around and one of them was “…Miracle” and it seemed to fit. There’s not a lot of time for debate when you have two or three hours to write and record a song with someone. Pick an idea and go. Anyhow the whole thing was all a bit surreal as we have a lot of shared interests and are of a similar age and what not. AN UNIQUE EXPERIENCE. Everywhere we went, we just couldn’t resist telling people. “We’re both named Ben Salter, fancy that!”20120608-220111.jpgMe n Ben Salter on the beach at Worthing

Anyway, yes. The Underground. It will be interesting to see how it holds up during the Olympics. Just yesterday a burst water man flooded the central line and people had to be walked out. That would be exciting I think, and terrifying, walking through the tube lines. This prompted an almost immediate reaction from the various free London evening papers ranging from the hysterical (“London will be a laughing stock come the Olympics!!”) to the considered (“It’ll be fine”) Anyway that’s the next big thing, the Olympics. Not being much of a fan of the Olympics (with the possible exception of the gymnastics) (ok and maybe the weight lifting) or crowds, I am glad I’m not going to be here when they’re on. There are signs and posters everywhere basically telling people to not use the tube (“Why not walk it?” goes one cheery example) or to leave work later or to just get the hell out of London, cause there are going to be so many people here.

So.. I’ve been pretty busy, apart from four days I spent in Dalston over the Jubilee weekend dancing around my friend Tim’s lounge room and drinking everything in the booze cupboard. If you can’t beat em, join em I suppose.* 20120608-220133.jpg Me n Tim at the Offie.

When not dancing I cooked a lot of food including an excellent roast chicken, a tuna pasta dish and a baked omelette. As well as this, Tim and I constructed a Jubilee themed art piece. It will act as the cover image for the Immaculate CVs album. That’s a band I’m starting. At some stage.20120608-213220.jpgWith apologies to.. Everyone.

But apart from that I have done a few collaborations – the first one was with songwriter Gordon Mills and his partner Lillian Todd Jones, who were just delightful. 20120608-215951.jpg Gordon and Lillian
Gordon has worked with heaps of people including The Bluetones and Ed Sheeran and Newton Faulkner. He was a real pro but also very relaxed and I felt very at home in his studio in the sticks out in Chertsey, which is conveniently not far from where I have been staying in Surbiton. Chertsey is near Staines. Cue Ali G hilarity. Anyway the song is sort of a massed harmony indie rock thing, a bit like Band of Horses or MMJ or something but with me singing and not as good. But I like it. It’s called “Bones Under The Dunes”. It’s quite epic.

The second was with Australian producer Aaron Cupples.. He produced Gala Mill by The Drones and played in Dan Kelly’s band.. He has been living in London for five years and has a band here, a duo called Civil Civic, who I am gonna go and see on Tuesday night. 20120608-220316.jpg Azza
We knocked together a song over one afternoon in his flat in Dalston while I made Pumpkin curry. Upon seeing a Velvet Underground poster on the wall I explained to Aaron that I was obsessed with that particular band at the moment so we set about doing something in that vein, although I think the results are quite different. It was a really exhilarating day actually, a true collaboration; we kept throwing ideas at each other, I hastily assembled some lyrics from bits and pieces and before we knew it we had a finished song that is (I think) much greater than the sum of its parts. The song I did with Gordon and Lillian was much the same.. Really fast, exciting.. All the things I enjoy about writing songs. The one I did with Aaron is called “The Stars My Destination”, which is the name of the book I am re-reading at the moment. I sort of wrote it around “I Heard Her Call My Name” but it doesn’t sound much that it anymore. Anyway I really like it. Can you tell? I wish I could play you all these songs but I think we’re gonna sit on them for a while. I have a tendency to just want to release stuff as soon as I record it.

What else. I did a show with Mike Noga at the Windmill in Brixton; also performed at Cargo in Shoreditch as part of the Aussie BBQ thing, alongside Inland Sea, The Bowers etc etc. Both gigs were good. Mike has an awesome new song. He’s gone back to Australia now, sadly. I had fun hanging out with him.. But I think there’s a new Drones album in the works so that’s pretty exciting.20120608-215933.jpgMichael at Cargo in his striped coat

I spent a week in Bath visiting my relatives there which coincided with a week of glorious sunshine across most of southern England. Everyone in England goes nuts when it gets over 25 degrees, and then complains that it’s too hot. Bath is really beautiful. 20120608-215913.jpg Bath Abbey – looks awful, eh?
The whole place is heritage listed and much of it is constructed of local limestone which is this golden colour that absolutely sings in the sunlight.** My visit also coincided with a visit by the Olympic Torch, which is making its way around the British Isles even as we speak. Bath got very excited by that, bus loads of people turned up to cheer on whoever it was carrying it at that stage. Last I heard it was being carried through the streets of Dublin by absolutely frightful Irish boy band duo Jedward. As Dublin is not part of the UK, I am not really sure what that has got to do with the London Olympics but it all seemed in good fun and indicates a certain lightening of the mood in Anglo Irish relations, as far as I can gather. Still, getting Jedward involved seems odd.*** Although they do look like they come from the future, which is to be encouraged I suppose. Give me Zenith any day. I once met a guy in Auckland who was working on a screenplay for a Zenith movie. True story.

In Bath, as the weather was so delightful, I went busking on several occasions in the mall, which was a great success. I mainly just did old rock n roll songs and a few Beatles tunes; I didn’t waste any time doing any of my own stuff. I was there to make money! Not that the two are mutually exclusive^ but you don’t want to be standing around in the street for longer than you need to be and I am not sure that “Last Night I Dreamt I Was Chasing You” would have gone down as well as “Runaround Sue”. I learned a few new busking songs especially including “Cupid” by Sam Cooke and “Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochrane. Always more fun when you have new songs to do.

As I said I have a lot of relatives in Bath, and a bunch of cousins that I haven’t seen since they were too young to go to pubs with. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover that my cousin Adam is a budding sound engineer/producer. 20120608-220253.jpgCousin Adam
I thought it would be fun to try and record something with him. So we did. I recorded this song I’ve been trying to finish for ages.. I went in with a basic structure and no lyrics and came out with a finished song, which I am really pleased with. The hit rate has been good! Anyway it is called “Parrot Day”, which according to Sunny “The Magosopher” Leunig, is the day after Boxing Day – the 27th of December. My other cousin, Jenna, Adam’s little sister, lives with a really great double bass player. So seizing the opportunity I got him to do some overdubs on it also. He also took me along to a Jazz gig he did in Bristol. I hadn’t ever been to Bristol before; it was lovely. I had a beer on a barge. The jazz was excellent.20120608-215906.jpgGreg keeping it real

Anyway in Bath I also went to a couple of awesome pubs. One, The Star, had a cat named Kernow (Cornish for “Cornwall”, I am told) who, when not nestled amongst the crisps^^, wandered about the place much to the delight of all assembled. Well, maybe to the disgust of some. Not me. I followed Kernow around taking photos of him about half an hour. 20120608-213151.jpgAmongst The Crisps

Another pub,The Bell, had music on almost every night. My cousin Jenna had tried in vain to secure me a gig when I was there but while the booker was fond of The Gin Club he evidently wasn’t too taken with my solo stuff and so I turned up to a special Sat night Jubilee open mic session with a point to prove. I did “Wylde Bitch” acapella, as well as “Atlantic City” by Bruce Springsteen and and “Tracks of my Tears” by Smokey Robinson, and a very drunk Sat night crowd went mildly bananas, which was most gratifying.

Anyway, I want a pub so Stubbs can live amongst the crisps. Bath would not be a bad spot for one. 20120608-225844.jpg

Lastly – I was very honoured to be invited to perform at a Queensland Day function on Thursday night at the Australian High Commission in the heart of London.. Basically the Australian Embassy in the UK.20120608-220005.jpgEmbassy – Exterior
It’s an amazing building, the ballroom where I performed particularly so^^^, all constructed of materials brought over from Australia before World War I. There was quite a crowd of personages and notables in attendance including Her Excellency, Governor General of Australia Quentin Bryce, a pair of very dazed looking Aboriginal artists from Arnhem Land, some of our olympic rowers who had survived the sub zero temperatures in the Jubilee Flotilla, a few heavily decorated military types, and assorted other expatriates, socialites and hangers on. It was great. Champagne, hors d’eurves, and even lamingtons, mini pavlovas and Vegemite twirl pastry things. Unfortunately though, in an almost unforgivable oversight, the only beer available was VB. I mean, honestly. 20120608-220031.jpgGringott’s

But beer crimes aside, it was really special. The Gov Gen gave a great speech, which I am told she had written herself (she’s really something, our Governor General, or should I say, Her Excellency. She is truly excellent, it’s a well deserved title) and I performed alongside fellow Queenslanders Chris Brady, Kristy Clark and Georgia Potter, to the general indifference of almost everyone assembled. Not that we cared, we we just excited to be there. Ken Smith, the Agent General for Queensland and Trade and Investment Commissioner for Europe (phew) gave me a great introduction which invoked the Go Betweens and Gangajang. I was really stoked. I had this Qld centric speech all prepared in my head where I would thank both Ken and the Governor General graciously, pithily lambast the present administration, invoke Mal Meninga and our seven-peat-astic Origin team and generally endear myself to all assembled; however no sooner had the “…ter” in “Ben Salter” been uttered by Mr. Smith than the four hundred or so guests all began conversing robustly again. No matter. It wasn’t about me^^^^, and it was just a real honour to be a part of. Afterwards we went to this pub called The Bank Of England, up the road near Fleet Street. I think maybe it used to actually be The Bank Of England. 20120608-220235.jpgNice Pub

Anyway since then things have been fairly quiet, although last night I went and saw an acoustic Devin Townsend gig in town with my old mate Shakey which was great. He had such a lovely stage presence (Devin, not Shakey.. Shakey’s a miserable sod), was self effacing and funny and looked a bit like Hank Azaria. Beforehand we went next door to the CroBar, where the jukebox is stacks heavy and all the walls are covered in vintage 2000AD comics.
20120608-220922.jpgNB: Slaine

I was pretty happy.

Until next time, please stay in touch.

Warm regards



* I am fairly sure there is an excellent joke out there waiting to be made up with the punch line “If you can’t beat them, join them”.

** Rasta trivia: Exiled Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, lived there from 1936-1940.

*** Apparently after they did their torch bearing stint they did an impromptu performance that including a chorus of the song “Ghostbusters”. *ahem*



^^^ Was used as the set for Gringott’s bank in Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone.




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