Sunday, 24 December 2017

Greetings From London [And Batman]

Now, mixing politics and music can be risky- it cost John Lennon his life. However....  

How is everyone?

A few things about that- you'll probably know that I work in emergency, and the important part of that is actually caring about people, so I followed the Obamacare debate very closely, and was hugely relieved when the healthcare bill was saved. Also, what you might not know about me is that as a kid, I was a huge batfan, and still am [obviously]. One of my acting demos is of me portraying Jack Nicholsons 'Joker' from the original Michael Keaton movie, which is my favourite. You can find it on YouTube. The villains are such important parts of each movie, and give them so much character, hence why I love portraying them. At the supermarket, I got every strange looks from the woman at the next checkout counter recently, as she overheard me practising my Bane impersonation. I just kept calm and acted like it didn't happen.  

I've been in Europe for the last 2 months, both for work and to visit family. I have one brother and two sisters, and they all live in London, as do my mum and dad. I spent most of the time at my sisters place, as mum and dad were hassling me too much about not being married, and I just couldn't handle it anymore. Normally it takes about 48hours for that lecturing to begin, but this time it took just 12. I had to get out of there. No such dramas with my siblings- we all get on famously, and love each other dearly. I took my brother to the Wimbledon ladies final to watch Venus Williams, and helped my sister look after her 2 children, Nathan and Livia. As part of that help, I thought it my responsibility to teach them my favourite Bane quote, and they did pretty well:

I also had a month in Germany, doing a placement in anaesthetics. 2 of my best friends are orthopaedic surgeons in Bavaria, and so I spent some time working with them in their operating theatre. It was a great opportunity to catch up with them and do more anaesthesia. I love mainland Europe, as it's so full of history and culture, and different languages. It was quite funny- I'd introduce myself to the other members of staff, and start talking business, and then a few minutes in, they'd ask me "Wait- how come you're speaking german???". "Oh- I just studied it myself". I'd respond.

No-one cared who I was until I put on the mask....

I remember backpacking around Germany years ago, and I was having lunch in my youth hostel, talking to a girl from Switzerland, and she said to me "Your german's pretty good- where are you from?" "I'm from England" I said. "Well, in that case, it's AMAZING!!" English people are notoriously terrible at languages, so completely understood where she was coming from.  

The town in Bavaria -Erlangen, has an annual ball to celebrate the founding of its university, which is quite a big outdoor dress affair. My friend Lutz asked me if I had a suit, which I didn't, so he directed me to where I could hire one. I called and asked what colours they had. They said black and grey. "Hmm...." I thought. "You wouldn't happen to have purple, would you...?". As it happened, they did, in the form of a pirate outfit, which they modified for me, and everyone at the ball loved it- I was having my picture taken with lots of random people throughout the night. It was still a suit- just the coolest suit in the place.  

Always dress just a little cooler than everyone else....

In the middle of my placement, there was a work conference in Berlin, and I stayed with my friends parents for the week, and as a thank you, I performed a house concert for them, which they loved. I stayed with them ten years ago, and at the time, I'd never even had a guitar lesson, so for them it was a huge surprise. I love small concerts because you get to sit close to the audience, and people listen very attentively. As you know, each of my songs is a story from diary, and I get to share that with people. It's a much more fulfilling experience than playing a large venue when you're far from the audience, and you can't get much closer to someone than being in their living room.

Heading back from Berlin, I remembered that one of my old salsa friends from Wellington, NZ now lives in Germany with his wife who lured him back there. Ramnish and I would always have a great time on the dance floor at many salsa congresses, and we hadn't seen each other for 7 years. What was even stranger was that we'd never spoken german to each other until that point, but it was awesome to catch up again. He and his wife run a salsa school in a small town [Braunschweig] not far from Berlin, and we had a fun night out dancing with his students and other friends :D

Wellington salsa never dies :D

At the end of my placement, I got a random message from my old housemate from Manly, James, who is on a 2 year world trip, and happened to be in Europe at the time, so we decided to meet up in Italy- Venice, to be exact. It was actually the worst time of year to be there, as we found that the summers are perilously hot, but it was still great to catch up with a good friend in a spectacularly beautiful city.

The tour guide called this statue her 'boyfriend'. Concerning....?

Getting back to London, it was a heartwarming surprise to hear how much my niece and nephew loved my last CD. In particular, they love the title track 'This Game':

 I'm back at work now, but look forward to writing and recording my next album at the end of the year, if you'd like to join me on the journey.

Until the next time.  


Friday, 27 January 2017

Trump vs Refugees

I don't know about you, but it's only been 6 days, and I'm exhausted. Keeping up with the chilling actions of the new US administration is both tiring and frightening. Journalists in jail, finding cut for womens health, cuts to the violence against women program, contraception defunded, banning immigrants from muslim countries, scientific researches banned from publishing anything that doesn't fit the governments agenda [read: climate change, effects of marijuhana, effects of guns on violence....], recommencing of building oil pipelines through sacred native american land, cuts to the civil rights division, and the list goes on and on......

As well as every possible civil liberty being threatened, here, one thing really struck a chord with me, and that was the complete suspension of the taking in of refugees. Those of you who've been following me for a while will know that when I first started singing for money in 2011, I nominated the UNHCR, United Nations Humanitarian Commission for Refugees as my official charity, and that any money I made from music, I'd give to them, as I was moved by the work that they do particularly in Rwanda, but also worldwide.

 In the lead-up to the US election last year, I heard a republican senator say that the USA shouldn't take refugees from Syria because of what they 'might be scared of'. "WHAT?????" I thought to myself. 200,000 people have died, and he said that they 'might be scared'.  This inhumanity absolutely made my blood boil. In response, I made this:  
I'm sure you're outraged by Trump, not only for being the person that he is, but also that these regressive policies are certain to harm so many people, including refugees. However, refugees aren't fed or sheltered by outrage. Only aid can do that. And aid can only be brought to them by people who are prepared to take action. As stated in the video, the action I'm asking you to take is to buy this CD, as the proceeds will be going to help those same refugees that Trump and his cronies are abandoning.

For us, it's not a lot of money, but each CD sale can give a weeks food for one person, or vaccinate an entire class of children. You can get yours here: I don't usually mention this charity when I talk about my music, as I don't want to seem too coercive in trying to get people to buy it. However, I don't think our generation has seen times like this before, and so I think it vital that I make it an issue and ask you to take some action for the benefit of those less fortunate than ourselves, while getting 6 great songs for your own enjoyment.  

As a great man once said: you may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you didn't know.  



The link, again, is here: