Sunday, May 26, 2013

Music I Grew Up With

I think I first became aware of music in the early 1950s, probably around the age of six. My mother was a amateur musician (she played the piano by ear) and a great fan of American musicals.
I was taken most Friday nights (and sometimes Saturdays as well) to the cinema and indoctrinated with musical films of the 1940s and 50s and even 30s. They must have been the first feature (remember when cinemas showed a newsreel, a short, previews, some cartoons and a B movie followed by interval and then the main feature?), as I was always asleep during the second.
It is a constant source of amusement for the co driver (and the daughter) that when watching old musicals on TCM or Fox Classics and the like, I know the words of most every song and the order in which they come. Gotta love Jerome Kern, the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Rogers and Hammerstein (or Hart) and Cole Porter.
The Bee Gees (Click to watch)

In Australia, Hit Parades in the early 1950s were dominated by American artists and the music was generally in the gentler style.
Perry Como, Dina Shore, Bing Crosby, Debbie Reynolds, Nat ‘King” Cole, Patti Page and Tony Bennet, to mention just a few, were household names. Even bands like Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians and Percy Faith had hits.
Then in mid 1955 came a song called ‘Rock Around the Clock’.
And the music scene began to slowly change.
The Australian Hit Parade was still predominantly American artists but the style of music was different. The Platters, Johnnie Ray, Paul Anka and the Everly Brothers were making inroads with more upbeat tunes.
And then along came Elvis Presley.

Olivia Newton John (Click to watch)

In the mid 50s American entrepreneur Lee Gordon started bringing out major acts from the USA like Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry as well as the more established traditional stars.
Meanwhile on the ‘home front’ young local musicians became inspired to try their hand at this new form of music.
“Bandstand” (a copy of the American version) started on TV in 1958 only two years after this medium was introduced to the country and was aimed directly at the teenage market. Regulars included Col Joye, Judy Stone, Little Pattie and the soon to be internationally famous Bee Gees and Peter Allen (one half of the Allen Brothers) and a little later Olivia Newton John.
The Allen Brothers (Click to watch)

A year later the national broadcaster, The ABC, began “Six O’Clock Rock” hosted by the ‘wild one’ Johnny O’Keefe. He was a bit of a loose cannon in what turned out to be a sadly short life. While he generally behaved himself  on TV there were no holds barred on stage.
Boy! Those live shows were wild.
Our parents despaired at the behaviour of both performers and audience.
Our generation was going the hell in a handcart.
But we survived.
J. O'K (Click to watch)

Other popular acts of the time included Lonnie Lee and the Leemen, Dig Richards and the R'Jays, Digger Revell and the Denvermen and New Zealand's Johnny Devlin and the Devils.
Lee Gordon used these local acts as supports for his international celebrity concerts and their popularity started to skyrocket.
Soon the locals were more popular than most of the imports.
The first wave of Australian Rock had begun.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Weed Control

Autumn is weed spraying time.
The growth cycle is coming to an end and the leaves are in full flush. This and still active growth are important when using systemic herbicides.
Plants absorb this type of herbicide through their leaves and translocate it through their system to growing points.
When they have stopped growing due to colder temperatures in winter or are stressed by drought or water logging translocation happens at a very slow rate and spraying will most likely be ineffective.
Our two problem pasture weeds here are native tussock and bracken. A distant third is snake vine but it is nowhere near the problem of the other two.
For tussock we spot spray with glyphosate, more commonly known as Roundup. Since Monsanto's patent ran out on their product in 2000, there are a myriad of equivalents on the market, many from China. As a result the price has fallen through the floor.

Glyphosate inhibits an enzyme used by the plant in the synthesis of essential growth components.
It takes around a week for the evidence of  'a kill' to become obvious so it is easy enough to do a second sweep to take care of tussock missed during the first.
For bracken we use metsulfuron-methyl more commonly known as Brush-Off made by DuPont. Again their patent has run out and what used to be a hellishly expensive chemical is readily available from many other suppliers at a quarter of the price it used to be. I guess when I say expensive it's worth noting the application rate is only 10g/100L so a little bit goes a long way.
It is a systemic compound with foliar and soil activity, and it works rapidly after it is taken up by the plant. Its mode of action is by inhibiting cell division in the shoots and roots of the plant.
It is very effective on weeds that include bulbs or tubers. Bracken grows from rhizomes.

The major problem is it takes a long time for 'a kill' to become obvious. The first symptom is the upward curling of leaves about two weeks after application but many weeks before browning off occurs. As a result you have to concentrate on getting good overall coverage the first time around which is not always easy when in a big patch. I have tried dye markers in the spray to show me where I have been but always ended a lovely shade of pink on the face which takes a long time to wear off.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Date Day / Mogo

About forty minutes drive to the south of us is Mogo. It's just past Batemans Bay.
The town was established with the discovery of gold in the 1850s in the Cabbage Tree Creek area and, at its peak in the gold rush days, had several hotels and churches, many shops and a public school.

The boom, however,was short lived and Mogo gradually declined to become a sleepy backwater.
In the 1980s the town became home to a small group of artists and craftspeople, some of whom still operate in town today.
Mogo’s architectural heritage has been maintained with shops and dwellings being built to compliment the surviving miners cottages.

These buildings are now galleries and specialty shops offering traditional and modern art, exotic and unusual artifacts, jewellery, home decor, books, ceramics, collectibles and antiques.
And there are also a few cafes.

The surrounding area is home to the Mogo Zoo, the Eurobodalla Botanic Gardens and the Original Gold Rush Colony
The quality of the shops there have tended to wax and wane over the years so we don't visit very often.
This time however we found a great variety including a kitchenware shop that would compare with any in Sydney or Canberra.
The co driver had had a hankering for some hokey pokey ice cream for some time. She believes the best is available at the Mogo Icecreamery.

Hers, of course, is the smaller one. We enjoyed these sitting in the late autumn sunshine and then looked through some of the shops before heading back to 'the Bay' for some groceries and sewing supplies.
This is a great time of year on the south coast of New South Wales. Warm sunny, virtually windless, days after a cold start in the morning followed by cool evenings.
We have started to have a fire at night.
Winter is just around the corner.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Vintage 2013

What started as a promising year turned out to be a bit of a disappointment.
Without going into a lot of detail, the Pinot Noir never really recovered from the 'battering' it took during the number of extreme high temperature/strong wind days we had during summer.
The resultant raisining of the fruit made it not worthwhile picking.
Despite continuous spraying against botrytis during the entire season, not just at the recommended growth stages, the Semillon succumbed to this fungal disease very quickly after a week of rain just before the potential harvest date.
We decided against picking and sorting through the limited remaining crop.
Makes you wonder what you have to do to keep botrytis out of this variety in this climate.

                  The Tempranillo was light on crop from the start and despite the good quality of fruit on the vines there simply was not enough to make it worth while picking and it had ripened too early to include it into the Cabernet Sauvignon harvest.
The Cabernet Sauvignon was also a little light on crop but of excellent quality.
Surprisingly we had a bush rat 'attack' towards the end of the season which reduced the crop even further but we managed to bait them quickly enough to prevent any major damage.
This is a first for us but other local vineyards have reported similar incidents over the years.
So the Cabernet has been picked and fermented.
Baume was 12.5 deg and pH 3.8.
We are letting it macerate on the skins for a week or so before pressing to extract as much colour and tannins as possible.
Acid adjustment (to pH 3.6), malolactic fermentation, settling, racking, fining and maturation will follow.
It will be a lighter style with just a hint of French oak.