Monday, June 26, 2017

MUSIC, MAESTRO, PLEASE...



The Old Brisbane Stadium
Brisbane Festival Hall

Mikis Theodorakis
Mikis and Anthony Quinn (Zorba...the wonderful Zorba)!


A word said in passing, or a snippet read, can set off the trigger to a host of memories. Soon you (meaning me in this instance) become lost in reverie.   

The trigger to my present myriad musical memories was the mention of Brisbane’s now no-longer-in-existence, Festival Hall. The building once upon a time proudly sat on the corner of Albert and Charlotte Streets, its open doors welcoming all-comers. 

The iconic hall, after years of putting up with the beat, the screams, the sighs, the music closed its doors and packed up its seating on 28th August, 2003.   

Progress took over and the building was demolished to be replaced by an apartment development, aptly named “Festival Towers”.  Apparently, the seats were sold off in sets of three as souvenirs to those not keen to let go of the memories of fun times had.

The original Brisbane Stadium, a rather unimpressive, unadorned building, was built in 1910.  It was erected to host boxing and wrestling events. The pugilists and their fans cared not about the appearance of the construction. As long as the boxing ring was square and the canvas taut, they were happy. They didn’t wrestle with further emotions.

However, once Bill Haley and the Comets shot onto the music scene, the teenagers of the 50s were more than eager to “Rock Around the Clock”.   

Everyone was ready to shake, rattle and roll...the alligators hang around for later, and the crocodiles were prepared to wait a while...

Others of like mind, nimble fingers, swivelling hips who could carry a tune or two with gusto quickly followed Haley’s trail, wanting to be in his orbit. 

Rock ‘n Roll had arrived with a big bang, not in theory, but practice...and in it’s sights was Festival Hall. 

With the twang of guitars, and rolling pianos played by the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, fevered fans couldn’t get enough of the new kids on the block.

It was during his 1957 tour Down Under Little Richard announced to a stunned public he’d seen the light. He shocked the world when he denounced his flamboyant unpredictability by being unpredictable.   Everywhere lovers of rock ‘n roll were left gasping, open-mouthed.  Little Dick tossed away the trappings of being a rock ‘n roll star to follow a life in the ministry. He handed the “Tutti Frutti” to “Long Tall Sally”, and then yelled out, “I’m Ready, Teddy!”  With no further ado, off he went to spread the word.

The old Brisbane Stadium was demolished in 1958, and before you could chuck a berry, it was replaced by the new, you-beaut Festival Hall.  The new arena accommodated an indoor crowd of 4,000 - a large number in those days (and nights) of the late Fifties.  

Conway Twitty, who was famous long before Twitter tweeted, appeared in a line-up, which included “Mr. Personality” himself, the one and only, Lloyd Price.  They were joined by Aussie favourites, Johnny O’Keefe, Col Joye & the Joy Boys, The Delltones, Johnny Reb and the Rebels, among others.  Teen favourite, Fabian also appeared, causing the girls to swoon – some requiring mouth-to-mouth, no doubt.

In 1960, Crash Craddock and Tommy Sands crashed the scene.  

My brother was in the audience of the above two concerts.  He and a mate headed off to Brisbane to be part of the crowd, and returned home a-brim with stories that made my heart sing.

Festival Hall still hosted boxing and wrestling matches, including the 1982 Commonwealth Games boxing events; but...joy to the world...music won the bout. Nothing could match its appeal. It’s drawing power could not be ignored.

Music bounced off the walls; audiences rocked in the aisles. 

After I left Gympie to live and work in Brisbane, many times I was part of the excited audiences. 

One balmy Saturday afternoon in 1972 I witnessed a very special concert. 

Running a couple of minutes late, (which is unlike me, normally, because I’m a stickler for punctuality) as I entered the auditorium the familiar strains of “Moonlight Serenade”, being played by The Glenn Miller Orchestra, led by Buddy DeFranco, greeted me.  Tears filled my eyes upon hearing the melody.  Happy memories flooded my being.  During my childhood years, along with other favourite Miller tunes, of which there were many, "Moonlight Serenade", was regularly played on our piano by my mother.  Her nimble fingers flew up and down the keys, and the music brought joy to our lives.

Mum introduced my brother and me to so an endless amount of wonderful music...covering all genres from classical to rock to pop and all in between.

On a hot, humid February night in 1973, I was in the presence of “The King of Swing”, Benny Goodman, decked out in a tuxedo and bow tie.  How cool he was! 

An evening in the early 70s, not the “Twelfth of Never”, I became misty over Johnny Mathis. Once the acoustics were fixed, he was wonderful, wonderful.

There was no “Let’s Stick Together” with Brian Ferry, though. Not impressed, we left his lack-lustre performance after two songs. 

Mikis Theodorakis, the great (outstanding/extraordinary) Greek composer (Hint!   “Zorba, the Greek” and the soundtrack to an equally-marvellous movie, “Z” starring Yves Montand) took my breath away; a powerful concert, indeed.    

Theodorakis commanded one’s attention by his stance alone; his presence was all-consuming...and once he began conducting his troupe of musicians and singers...there was no escaping his magnetic force.  Mesmerised, I was a willing prisoner.  His was one concert, in particular, I didn't want come to an end.  He was a force, indeed.

While at Paul McCartney’s “Wings Over the World” concert on 10th November, 1975, my ear drums felt like Gene Krupa had given them a solid work-out.  The speakers were massive, I kid you not.  

Neil Diamond had my undivided attention in 1976. 

Enthralled by the arrogant beauty and brilliance of Rudolf Nureyev as he leapt (read “flew”) across the stage in “Giselle” is a memory that will remain with me forever.   Nureyev was a shining star....and, to make an evening even better than I thought it could ever be...when he was taking his applause, he turned to me, and smiled!   Again, I kid you not...this is the truth.

And in the words of 1935 song written by Ed Farley and Mike Riley, lyrics by Red Hodgson, made a hit in 1936 when recorded by Tommy Dorsey – also performed by the one and only Ella Fitzgerald, and by the American  jazz cornettist, composer, and jazz bandleader, Red Nichols*** ...

”The Music Goes Round and Round”.....

***  If you’ve never seen the 1959 movie “The Five Pennies”, which starred Danny Kaye as “Red Nichols”...do yourself a favour by watching it when it turns up one Saturday afternoon some time or other, on your television screen...you won’t be sorry.  But, be warned...have a box of tissues handy...

Greek Bean Soup: Soak 1/2kg haricot beans overnight. The next day rinse beans; then put into a deep pan with enough water to cover. Boil them, but before they come to the boil remove the froth that comes up to the surface. After they come to the boil simmer for 15mins. Remove beans; drain in colander. Put beans back in pan; add enough quality chicken stock to cover them up to about 2 fingers above the surface of the beans. Add 1 large onion, grated, 2 diced carrots, 1tbs roughly chopped celery leaves, 1 hot chilli, chopped, 1/2tbs tomato paste, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 150ml slightly concentrated tomato juice, 150ml tomato passata and seasonings. Simmer an hour or more until beans are tender.

Maestro Risotto: Boil 1-1/2c risotto rice until half cooked; then rinse under cold water. Bland 10 asparagus spears; then slice into 3-4 pieces. Heat 1tbs butter and 1tbs olive oil in large pan; sauté 1tsp chopped garlic and 1tbs chopped onion, about 3mins.  Add 30g sliced sun-dried tomato, asparagus and 4 chicken breasts, partly grilled, sliced into strips; cook 4mins. Add rice and 400ml chicken stock; stir regularly until stock is absorbed; taste rice for doneness; if needed, add more stock; keep cooking until done; season with salt, pepper and pinch of Italian herbs; fold in 2tbs grated Parmesan at the last moment; serve. 

Sweet Dreams – Cole Porters: Make first layer; beat 6 egg yolks with 140g sugar until light and fluffy; add 70g melted chocolate and 140g ground walnuts; mix well; spoon into well-greased 23cm spring-form pan; level surface. Stiffly beat the egg whites; then gradually add 140g sugar; beat until stiff peaks form. Add juice of 1 lemon; gently fold in 140g ground almonds; spoon over first layer; level surface. Bake in 150C oven, 2hrs, or until mixture leaves side of pan. When cool, cut into bite-sized pieces.  Melt 120g chocolate with 25g copha; drizzle a little over each piece.  Chill until ready to serve.



42 comments:

  1. Theater seats in sets of three, I'd buy a set if I had the chance and the dollars.
    I've seen some around Adelaide. People put them on their front porches.

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    1. Hey, River. You could sit on them and pump up the sound of your music and pretend you're at a concert! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  2. Well that was an interesting trip through musical memory land.

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    1. I hope you enjoyed the trip, Graham...thanks for coming joining in. :)

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Wow, you have seen a lot of performers. I've only seen two bands live back when I was a teen, Skyhooks and Supernaut. Ah, many years ago though, Debbie Reynolds on stage.

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    1. Oh....that's only the tip of the iceberg, Andrew....there are lots more.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  5. I am glad that you have all these memories to hug to yourself. I am aware that I am in the minority, but neither music nor movies do it for me.

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    1. Hey, EC...I can't imagine my life without music and movies playing their roles in it. I love both...always have.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  6. Replies
    1. Thanks for coming by, Annie. :)

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    2. I loved them all, too, by the way! :)

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  7. 'Zorba the greek' movie starring Antonny Quinn and Lila Kordoba and having Theodorakis' music - is one of the greatest and most dramatic memories of people in the world.
    You were lucky to have seen Theodorakis live, in concert.

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    1. Oh, Duta. Theodorakis was awe-inspiring. He was dressed in a dark chocolate-brown "Nehru" suit...his presence not only filled the stage but the whole arena. He commanded one's attention, and kept it.

      He was absolutely amazing as was his troupe....in particular, Maria Farantouri -

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMwxVdDFl_E

      Farantouri was stunning. It was a concert to beat all concerts...one I will never forget.

      I love the book, "Zorba, the Greek"...and I love the movie. I've read the book a couple of times. I've seen the movie a few times (I have the DVD), and I have the soundtrack LP and DVD. As you can see...I love Zorba!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  8. I've never been to a concert or seen a live show...as a teenager I fell in love with the Beetles...since then, I can't say I've had that much interest in music.

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    1. Hey, Delores. It always amazes me when I hear that people don't have much interest in music. I can't seem to get my head around that! I'd be lost without music in my life. :)

      I've been to many concerts over the years...not just those mentioned here in this post.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  9. I've never heard of haricot beans and what is tomato passata ? I went to a quite a few rock concerts in my day but most were too loud for my taste. I did attend The Band's Last Waltz in 1976 on Thanksgiving and it lasted for hours with a full dinner served - one of the best I ever attended with lots of famous music visitors on stage too.

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    1. Hi Linda...Haricot beans are known as navy beans in the US...They are used in the making of Boston Baked Beans.

      As for passata...it's a tomato puree of sorts...

      https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/817646/tomato-passata

      http://www.taste.com.au/quick-easy/articles/make-tomato-passata-pasta-sauce/2HE78Db2

      http://www.taste.com.au/quick-easy/articles/make-tomato-passata-pasta-sauce/2HE78Db2

      With those lovely tomatoes you grow you probably already make passata...by another name. Thanks for coming by. :)

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  10. Oh my gosh, you heard the best of the best. How wonderful. That building must have had an amazing amount of positive energy stored in it.
    Wonderfully written post, Lee.

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    1. G'day Sandra...those are just some of the concerts...I went to many other through the years...at that hall and elsewhere. There's nothing quite like a live concert! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  11. Music ... so much part of our lives, we can enjoy it, it evokes so many memories.
    There are so many different genres.

    I loved reading about your concerts and shows you have seen. Many of the names I grew up with, or enjoyed listening to.

    Haven't been to a concert for a good while now, the last one was when Eric Clapton was playing at the Royal Albert Hall in London ... it was excellent.

    Aren't we fortunate to still be able to enjoy songs and music not only at present but past good tunes too. You tube can be brilliant.

    Lovely post and I enjoyed reading your recipes too.

    My good wishes

    All the best Jan

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    1. G'Day Jan...I love music...it certainly does stir emotions. The last concert I went to was in early 2002....it was Willie Nelson...and he was fantastic! It was so wonderful to see him perform live. I love dear old Willie...always have.

      It would be great to see Clapton. I'm a fan of him, too...and have his CDs among my collection.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  12. I missed out on the concert scene as I was growing up. And I never made up for it in my later years either. Doobie Brothers, Paul McCartney (just a few years ago) and Gordon Lightfoot are all I can recall right now.

    My parents recall though the big dance halls they had in the 40s and 50s here in Michigan. There were lots of big bands back then, and smaller bands like my grandpa's who played weddings and other celebrations. I still lament the disappearance of live bands in favor of DJs now at weddings. There's no substitute for live music in my mind.

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    1. Hey, Dave...music has always been in my life. And as a teenager I never missed the local dances and record hops. We danced our feet off...or tried our best to do so! :)

      And in those days live bands played at the dances. In the 50s, for a time, my mother played piano in a dance band...in Gympie, the town I grew up in.

      As I was driving home just now from a quick trip to the local hardware store Queen's "Radio Ga Ga" was playing on the radio, so I pumped up the volume and sang along to it all the way home! :)

      I'd loved to have seen Queen, with Freddie Mercury, live in concert. Freddie was so great...brilliant!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  13. That was an exciting time for music, wasn't it? And my late parents had their teen years in the 1940s and loved big band music. I was so excited to take them to see The Glen Miller Orchestra a few years ago. Lots of young men in that band who can PLAY!

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    1. Hey Lynn...I hate to sound like an old fogey (to some, I guess I am an old fogey - an antique - almost), but the range of music that was around when I was younger...much younger...the jazz and big band music that was left over from the 30s and 40s - which in turned was joined by the insurgence of the teens and their thirst for upbeat pop and rock from around the mid-Fifties forth, into the incredible music revolution of the Sixties will never be matched again, in my opinion.

      How great you also got to see the 'new" Glenn Miller Orchestra...the sound remains the same as the original...and it's wonderful to see and hear the younger generations playing that music....it's everlasting. A great sound still. When I got to see the band more than forty years had transpired since the original band formed, and to know that the "name" and sound is still living to this day is a terrific thing, I believe.

      I'll be rash enough to state no bands/sounds of today will be around as long...and this refers to the music that came out of the Sixties and Seventies as well.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  14. Happy musical memories. How strange to think that the Glenn Miller concert you attended in Brisbane was forty five years ago!

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    1. G'Day Yorkie...it is strange to think that it is 45 years ago that I saw the Glenn Miller Orchestra...and as I mentioned in my response to Lynn above, when I saw the band it was 45 years or longer after the original orchestra had formed! And the band plays on....

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  15. Mmm...had a lot of greek soups in my travels. Often came with spring onions in a jar of water, sort of as a side dish.

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    1. Hi Cosmo...it's nice to see you, as always. That's a strange side dish...being in water and not in vinegar making it a pickle of sorts. I've not heard of that before.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  16. Thanks for taking me along a ride in this memory lane. :)

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    1. You're welcome to come along on my magical mystery musical tour any time you like, Lux! :)

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  17. Extremely well written. I loved 'Moonlight Serenade'.

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    1. Thank you, Treey...and thanks for coming by. Hang in there...there is a light at the end of the tunnel...it's just around the corner...and soon will loom into view! :)

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    2. I enjoyed reading that. I thought it was written by a professional to be honest. Well done..

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    3. Nope...just lil ole me! Thanks! :)

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  18. You are too young to remember Bill Haley...

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    1. Yeah! Yeah! But that is not so, Mr. Ad-Man! lol

      Thanks for my ego boost...and thanks for coming by. :)

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  19. No mention of The Beatles thank god. The Americans wish the Fab Four were American. I sometimes think they are myself. No, they're from Liverpool. Get over it.

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    1. I was never a huge fan of The Beatles, Treey. My ex was and still is....one of the reasons we went to see McCartney and Wings in concert. And it was a good concert. We had all their LPs, The Beatles as well as Wings...and I didn't mind them, but I wasn't a raging fan. They certainly did bring a lot to the music, one must admit.

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    2. I've been to The Beatles museum in Liverpool. I didn't go to their homes, but I wish I had. It was a good experience for me. There was an Elvis exhibition on. They had the bass that Elvis was playing when he met them. It was fascinating stuff.

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    3. I bet it was, Treey....how interesting and wonderful. Paul McCartney is touring Australia again this coming December...first time in 24 years.

      I gave an illustrated book to my ex a couple of months ago...it was in celebration of The Beatles and the 50 years since Sergeant Pepper.

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