Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 75 — music and memories

In June I posted on hearing of the passing of a lovely talented woman The Albury Piano Bar — my second lounge at one time… Sylvana Bonnaci.

I knew her best from the Albury Piano Bar, but she sang at many other venues including Paddington’s Unicorn Hotel, another place I used to frequent in the late 80s and early 90s, and also the White Horse in Surry Hills. Not to mention her career on cruise ships.

At The Unicorn — 1990

Imagine my joy to discover a whole treasury of Sylvana on YouTube thanks to someone called dajen123. Here are just three. I went into a total time warp listening to all of them!

The Julian Lennon song “Salt Water”.

We are a rock revolving
Around a golden sun
We are a billion children
Rolled into one
So when I hear about
The hole in the sky
Saltwater wells in my eyes

We climb the highest mountain
We’ll make the desert bloom
We’re so ingenious
We can walk on the moon
But when I hear of how
The forests have died
Saltwater wells in my eyes

That one captures the feeling of the Piano Bar beautifully.
Oh yes!

And here is a whole show! This time at the Midnight Shift, also now just a memory… But what memories!

Clearly post-2000, probably post 2010. But what a voice, what a show!

So thanks, dajen 123, whoever you are! I suspect we must have crossed paths…

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 60 — it’s the Moon Festival

I see I posted on this exactly eight years ago — twice: 19 September 2013 and 20 September 2013.

Here in West Wollongong in 2013 the Autumn Festival moon looked like this – except that it was spring of course!

One of the gains from my years with Michael Xu is an enjoyment of traditional Chinese music – truly beautiful.

The Chinese Dulcimer or Guqin — which is what you hear in that second video.

Of course in recent years the politics has just gone totally bananas! But let us not focus on that right now. There is nothing I really can do about it — it is just sad, and very dangerous. No, let us just see the beauty of this festival right now.

The next video comes from the past day or two, from Henan TV in China. It feature the wonderful Zhou Shen, that counter-tenor we have met before — an enormously popular figure in China now. Genuinely.

We don’t need to know Chinese to enjoy the artistry of that.

The story behind the Moon Festival follows:

A bright moon rising above Tian Shan Mountain,
Lost in a vast ocean of clouds.
The long wind, across thousands upon thousands of miles,
Blows past the Jade-gate Pass.
The army of Han has gone down the Baiteng Road,
As the barbarian hordes probe at Qinghai Bay.
It is known that from the battlefield
Few ever live to return.
Men at Garrison look on the border scene,
Home thoughts deepen sorrow on their faces.
In the towered chambers tonight,
Ceaseless are the women’s sighs.

Li Bai (李白) or Li Po — 701-762

Li Bai

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 58 — time for more music

While by international standards we have been pretty lucky, the news yesterday was quite depressing.

Drilling down to our local area we had record numbers:

For the 24 hour period to 8pm Friday, 17 September there were 75 new COVID-19 cases recorded for the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District. Details are as follows:

47 cases who are residents of Wollongong Local Government Area (LGA) – 10 are linked to known cases and investigations are ongoing for 37 cases

17 cases who are residents of Shellharbour LGA – five are linked to known cases and investigations are ongoing for 12 cases

9 cases who are residents of Shoalhaven LGA – six are linked to known cases and investigations are ongoing for three cases

2 cases who are residents of Kiama LGA – one is linked to a known case and investigations are ongoing for the other case.

Then there was this news story, followed by a similar one in another CBD apartment block.

Health services in Wollongong have launched an emergency response to a COVID outbreak in a housing complex that supports some of the city’s most vulnerable people.

Five people in the unit block on Keira Street have tested positive to the virus.

The Wollongong Homeless Hub is a tenant of the building, leasing 30 of the 84 units, and there is a community of residents who move between apartments and use communal areas.

Homeless Hub President Bill Simpson says all of his clients are caught up in the situation.

“We’ve got up to 30 people in there,” he said.

So let the music play!

First, my favourite German/Spanish pianist and composer, Michael Andreas Häringer, turns 20 on 26 September. He has a FB event happening to raise money for his projects. I wish him well.

Next, you may remember Jack Vidgen, who won Australia’s Got Talent in 2011 when he was 14. Well, he is all grown up now at 24. He has just released a song of his own composition — not the first one — which is rather amazing, raw and personal. Here it is. Judge for yourself.

In case you might wonder after that, Jack really is looking healthy as this just posted in Twitter today shows. Note the very professional make-up mirror…

Jack Vidgen September 2021

The next is a Kazakh singer with the most amazing voice you will ever hear! Dimash Kudaibergen gained significant popularity in Kazakhstan and other post-Soviet countries in 2015 upon becoming the Grand Prix winner of Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk, Belarus. He rose to fame in China with his participation as a “wildcard competitor” in Hunan TV’s Singer 2017 (Chinese: 歌手2017) finishing second overall.

Truly amazing! Next a complete change of mood — the Chinese dulcimer, with the upcoming Mid-Autumn Moon Festival in mind. Also with recent regrettable political developments in mind I said on FB: When you are feeling threatened listen to this…

And I am looking forward to Woolworths delivering my food supplies today, but that is another story.

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 52 — more playing with photos

It gets worse and worse here with COVID — but more of that at the end of this post! Let’s look at more of those tinted pics I have been posting on Facebook, and then a touch of music before the bad news. Yes, I know that here in Oz today is 11 September, but given we are on the other side of the date line we experienced all that on the 12th. I have however already noted something on FB which I may share tomorrow.

In fact it appears the first hit at the Twin Towers was at 1.00 am Australian eastern daylight saving time 12 September.

Shellharbour December 1921 — colourised. Is my father (aged 10) one of the boys here?
Shellharbour 1950. Every chance I was there sometime… That little boy in the foreground could be me, except the girl is not my sister. Could be a cousin though… I had blonde hair when younger…
Shellharbour 1959 colourised. That year I accompanied my mum and dad, and Grandpa Roy Christison, to Shellharbour Public School for its centenary. Grandpa Roy was the oldest surviving headmaster.
Shellharbour pool 1959, shared in black and white earlier — after the 1972 Olympics it became Beverley Whitfield Pool in honour of my cousin Max’s daughter! But yes, I was no doubt there in 1959. And I like to imagine this could be me! It MIGHT be!

Colourisation is so-so and the original quality is not great. But it suits my nostalgia! And the way the man is standing reminds me of my father. He does not have tatts — that is just a weird thing the colourising did.
And is that our dog behind him?
I was certainly in Shellharbour in 1958 — and before, and after! When I recall it as “small” (but perfectly formed!) I am not kidding myself am I?

The Church of England spire really does stand out!

Michael Xu and I have been sharing music, but following our having somewhat of a contretemps in the politics department on FB Messenger — my fault as much as anyone’s — we at the moment do this via email. One of the singers he shared yesterday is this incredible voice from Kazakhstan, here seen on Chinese TV in 2020. Strangely, it is not my first encounter with his voice, the first coming via Louise D’Arcens who, as you may recall, now lives in the house in Sutherland that was my home from birth to age 8! Weird what the internet can do, eh!

What a voice! What a touching video too! Yet another reminder of our shared humanity!

The COVID news yesterday — our Premier is giving up regular daily updates. Can’t say I blame her. Clearly Gladys does not want to be visible when the sh*t hits the fan even more than it already has. But quite understandably her withdrawal is not being well received.

38 are from Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD. 28 in Wollongong, 8 in Shellharbour, 2 in Shoalhaven.
Even more depressing than that are many of the comments that appear on the WIN page for this and the live press conference — strengthening the sad truth there is no vaccine against stupid. Fortunately there are sane comments too. I never comment myself. I suspect I am not alone, so that a higher proportion of dingbats appear in the comment thread. Probably better to turn off the comments, WIN! What purpose does it really serve?

Various lockdown hacks and escapes — 49 — playing with photos

It really is all the fault of James O’Brien!

James O’Brien is not only a fellow blogger (whom I have also met in real life) and Surry Hills person, he is also on the wireless! Do tune in if you are in range. His blog is responsible for my current addiction to colourising (I am a conservative speller) old photos. The results have pleased many friends and relations on Facebook, so I thought I would share a few today and maybe on Monday and Tuesday. Yes, I have been busy….

And to find out how it’s done, visit James O’Brien’s blog.

That was in May last year, and especially on Facebook I have been indulging ever since. After running the photo through the free Colorize Photo app on I then modify it using a free photo editor, Photoscape, which I have been using for years now.

Here is the latest one, which really pleases me.

Farm, Bass Point Shellharbour NSW — 1946

The original, published by the Facebook group Shellharbour History in Photos, was captioned “1946. A local farmer tending his fields in the paddocks beside the old Blue Metal Works at Bass Point. MLnsw.” I said: “Yes, I was alive when these were taken, and almost certainly in Shellharbour at times — but I turned 3 that July! My Mum and Dad would have known whose farm this is.”

Now, without their originals, a couple more examples:

Crown Street Surry Hills, 1930s
George Street Sydney at the time of Australian Federation, 1901

Finally, in a gloriously politics-free post, some beautiful music: