Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Sounds Of The Bush

A couple of weeks ago I went away for a few days up bush. Fishing. Well, not really up bush. And not really fishing, either. But not in the city. In the country. Okay, okay...we stayed in a Caravan Park. But no one was in the park so it felt like we were all alone....in the middle of nowhere. Except for the cars that went by the main street that we sided onto. At least we had the mighty Goulburn River flowing not more than 10 metres away.

We needed to pack a fair amount of gear, so I decided to take the wagon for a run. No cd player in the EB, so we had to listen Old School, to mixed tapes. Complete with dodgy tape deck, fading left to right, both, right, left, and so on. Ahhh, mixed tapes. One of my most favourite hobbies. Of course, now I have moved on to mixed cd's, or mixed playlists. But they don't have the same ring to them, the same romance, as mixed tapes do. And I have plenty of them. Some excellent ones that have stood the test of time, and have even been updated to cd, or playlists. Things like the Old Stuff series....but you'll read more about them at another time. Some of them were disatrous, such as 'Random 1st Songs.' I'd previously made up a mixed tape of the best '1st songs on the album' and thought I'd replicate the magic with randomly picking up albums and taping the 1st song....with a view to doing 'the best close of side 1' and 'the best of the last tracks' etc, etc... What a disaster!!

So anyway, I set forth from home with my two brothers-in-law, listening to artists such as The Pogues, Van Morrison, Gordon Lightfoot, Ry Cooder, and a few other ones on mixed tapes with titles like: "Yep I Know That Feelin'..." and "This One" or "That One." The titles were very important. That's a whole posting of it's own. There's even one called, "I Don't Know What Happened Here" because what was written on the cover is not what is on the tape, and has never been put to tape. Ho hum. Like I said, so anyway, we had a great time listening to our favourite old songs, no instant skip, no programming; we just listened to each song in total, errors and all. I remember listening to Jim Croce and we were all singing along (it's Jim Croce, you cannot not sing along to it) when the tape suddenly cuts into about 5 seconds of Redgum's I Was Only Nineteen. Obviously the current tape had been taped over something else. Glorious!

At night we listened to a selection of music that we all brought along. Mine were predominantly the Old Stuff series. Joe had a selection of cracking Irish music, and Tony had just recently made his first mixed cd. (Yes it's 2007). Remember when they found Japanese pilots shot down over the Pacific some 40 years after World War II ended, and they had been in hiding, still thinking the war was on? That's Tony. Just replace World War II with Resistance To Computers. Ah yes, a Luddite by any other name...

Well, as it happens, either the cd's were damaged (Not Mine!) or the batteries were going flat, or the cd player didn't like burnt cd's, or the cold, or something. Whatever... We found that towards the end of the cd's the music was repeating and jumping. What were we going to do? Hell, I've been going on the "fishing" trips for more than 15 years, and most times do not even take a rod, but I have ALWAYS had music...

It was a blessing in disguise. For we found this other dial on the portable music device. We found the radio! Not only the radio but a gem of a station shoved way, way in the back, out of the FM spotlight that spews forth what most of us accept 5 days a week. I'm talking about the excellent Upper Goulburn Community Radio http://ugfm.cute.com.au/index.php

I can't remember all of the stuff I heard. It was more of a feeling, a vibe about being really excited about everything they play, about everything they do. I suspect that feeling resounds within most Community Radio Stations. I'm not sure what this station is like during the week, or day time hours, but, man, they entertained us whilst we sat around the camp fire, and had a few drinks, or played a bit of 500. It became a perfect counterpoint to the simmering tensions that are inevitable when you spend too much time with the same people. Our usual three days was extended to five...What were we thinking? (cue 'Insane In The Membrane')

We heard some stuff by the Brewster Brothers (ex Angels). Melissa Etheridge did a knockout cover of a Tom Petty tune. Unheard of on most staions conscious of time, and fast time at that, UGCR even played Neil Young's new 18 minute epic, Ordinary People. But the standout, the find of the year was "Don't Dump Your Lover On The Phone" by The Pigs. Not only is this four piece band funny, but they can really play. A mixture of folk, rock, bluegrass, country, punk, you name it. And they can sing, too! Pardon my ignorance for not knowing them prior. I can just imagine what they would be like live. I'll be keeping an eye out for them. In 2008, they will definitely be on my Badger Creek playlist. Find out more about The Pigs on their website: http://www.thepigs.com.au/index.htm I am sure it's not everyone's cup of tea. But I'm sure they don't try to be either.

Thank you Upper Goulburn Community Radio. I'm sure I'll forget the discomfort of being rained out. I'm sure I'll forget the damn flies that attacked my bacon and eggs. I'll surely forget, at my own peril, that my brother in law is a fascist pig when it comes to playing 500. I'm sure one day I will even forget the serial killer that camped in the tent just fifty metres away, and who came and went at mysterious times (cue 'Suzanne' by Randy Newman). But, I'll never forget to tune in to 106.9 whenever I can pick up the signal.

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