The Lizotte family

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be back at Lizotte’s: this time for the launch of their brand new cookbook Live & Cookin’ @ Lizotte’s Restaurant.

What’s a cookbook got to do with music I hear you ask? Plenty. Just as Lizotte’s marries good food and good music, so does this book. The traditional entrees and mains are known as support acts and headliners. The recipes offer stories of the bands that restaurant owner Brian Lizotte has cooked for over the years. As a caterer for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elton John, and Nirvana, he has plenty of stories to tell! What music fan wouldn’t want to try the shepherd’s pie Joe Cocker ate after every show, or the char-grilled baby octopus salad Michael Hutchence requested for his 30th birthday dinner? You’ll find them here, and much more.

The launch was a real treat because it brought us those two great indulgences Lizotte’s is known for: great music and that fantastic food. The friendly staff brought out trays of the dishes found in the book’s pages. I can’t wait to try my hand at the yummy macadamia nut chicken schnitzel or the delicious szechaun pepper squid.

While we tasted these tempting treats we were entertained by some of the finest musicians in the country. Up-and-coming talents Karl Broadie and Amber Lawrence warmed us up before Adam Harvey, Deni Hines, and Brian’s brother Diesel took to the stage. The undeniable highlight for us all was to see Brian and his father join Diesel for a soulful cover of Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.” It was truly magical stuff.

I’ve made no secret for my love of Lizotte’s. It’s a venue like no other, and I feel truly spoiled to live on the Central Coast so I can visit regularly. We’re not all that lucky, but now thanks to the cookbook release everyone can bring a little Lizotte’s magic home.

Live & Cookin’ @ Lizotte’s Restaurant is available at good bookstores everywhere and online from Lizotte’s.

Adam Harvey Deni HinesDiesel

Click the pictures to see a larger version!

Image source: own photos

Jim WardFormer At the Drive In and Sparta member Jim Ward is visiting our shores. Now with his new band Sleepercar, the singer and guitarist says the trip to Australia will provide just the change of pace he’s looking for.

“I need a change of pace and a stretch after a long year on the road with Sleepercar, so I decided to end my year the way I started; by getting on a plane with my guitar and heading down to Australia to play some songs,” he said in a statement.

Catch Jim Ward at the following dates.

4 December 2008 – Ding Dong, Melbourne
5 December 2008 – Korova Lounge, Ballarat
6 December 2008 -  BANG, Melbourne
9 December 2008 – Annandale Hotel, Sydney
11 December 2008 – Brass Monkey, Cronulla
12 December 2008 – Hunter Valley Brewery, Maitland
13 December 2008 – Thriller, Brisbane

Image source: Kurt Christensen @ Flickr

Last night I headed to Lizotte’s to catch their Live and Local music showcase. These nights are a wonderful initiative designed to encourage music fans to get out midweek and discover some wonderful new talent. We were lured there by former Australian Idol contestant Ben McKenzie’s slot on the bill, and were delighted to find he wasn’t the only artist worth seeing.

Joe Kalou

Joe Kalou was first up with a set of originals peppered with a few crowd-pleasing covers. This was music at its most basic, and its most pure. An acoustic guitar, some cleverly crafted lyrics, and a sweet voice is all you really need to captivate an audience. His flawless good looks don’t hurt either! Joe had the audience in the palm of his hand, and when he broke into his own renditions of Ben Harper’s “Steal My Kisses” and Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” we were all happy to sing along.

Hayden French

Hayden French followed with his unique blend of pop, soul, and blues. As I listen back to his recordings on his MySpace I remember just how good his music is, but for some reason his performance didn’t draw me in. Technically Hayden and his band were beyond reproach, but right now they seemed to be missing that X factor. Still, with songs this good it’s only a matter of time before it all clicks. Maybe I’d have been a little more receptive if I wasn’t so tired!

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Leonard Cohen Leonard Cohen tours are rare, and international shows are even rarer. So it’s a real surprise to hear the Canadian troubadour is winging his way to Oz next year for some winery and theatre shows.

Promoter Michael Gudinski says fans are in for a real treat.

“The Leonard Cohen concert I saw last month was almost a religious experience. Fans were captivated the moment Leonard walked out onto the stage. His band and backing vocalists are first class, and the man himself can only be described as magical. It’s one of the few concerts that I’ve seen that has kept me in one spot from start to finish – not wanting to miss a moment of what ended up being more than three hours of musical genius,” he enthused in a statement.

Leonard will be ably supported by Australia’s own singing balladeer Paul Kelly. What a double act!

Make sure you check out the Frontier Touring website to see how you can get your hands on some presale tickets for these very special shows!

24 January 2009 – Rochford Wines, Yarra Valley
26 January 2009 – Leconfield Wines, Adelaide
28 January 2009 – Sydney Entertainment Centre
31 January 2009 – Bimbadgen Estate, Hunter Valley
1 February 2009 – Centennial Vineyards, Bowral
3 February 2009 – Brisbane Entertainment Centre
5 February 2009 – Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
7 February 2009 – Sandalford Wines, Perth

Image source: Trevor Haldenby @ Flickr

Kylie X2008 Tour Edition CDWarner Music are cashing in on Kylie Minogue’s upcoming tour with a special edition of her latest party album, X.

All the ticketholders probably have the CD already, but Warner are banking on fans lapping up the remixes on the bonus disc. The album’s big singles “2 Hearts,” “The One,” “Wow,” “In My Arms,” and “All I See” have all been given pumping dancefloor makeovers.

Speaking of that tour, it’s not too late for Aussie fans to catch Kylie’s X2008 show. Tickets are limited, but they’re still available for the December 16 and 17 shows in Sydney and the December 20 and 22 shows in Melbourne.

Image used with permission from Warner Music Australia

With their stripped back instrumentation and folky vocals, Aussie outfit Angus & Julia Stone create some of my favourite chill-out music. Right now I’m digging their latest single “Hollywood.” If you’ve got their brilliant debut A Book Like This in your collection, you know it already. For anyone who doesn’t hopefully it’ll turn you on to this fantastic local duo. The trippy dreamscape filmclip is the perfect accompaniment for this beautiful tune. Sit back and enjoy it!

Madonna performs her Sticky and Sweet tour in TorontoIt looks like Madonna might bring her Sticky and Sweet Tour to Australia after all, and it could be sooner than you think.

Speaking on Sunrise this morning, Molly Meldrum confirmed that two promoters are currently fighting over the tour as we speak.

But it’s just a formality. Now that Mads doesn’t have that whiny Brit of a husband begging her to stay at home, she’s keen to get out and see the world! In fact, we could see her on our shores as early as January!

It’s unknown at this stage whether Madonna will bring the entire stage and dramatic production elements out here, but if she does expect to pay for it with some hefty ticket prices. Although with the value of the Aussie dollar down to around 60c, these seats are never going to go cheap!

Considering that Madonna hasn’t toured here since she brought her Girlie Show Down Under in 1993, I know plenty of punters will pay whatever the Queen of Pop is asking!

Image source: Newscom

Australian Idol 2008 Top 12 Finalists

Roshani Priddis‘ run on Australian Idol has come to an end.

After stellar performances early in the competition, fans could no longer forgive Roshani for some questionable song choices. She found herself in the bottom three with Teale Jakubenko and Luke Dickens, but ultimately her time was up. Personally I thought Roshani did great last night, but I guess the judges knew what they were talking about. And someone had to go!

The greatest tragedy is that we won’t get to hear this pint-sized soul diva take on the songs of Michael Jackson next week. But I can’t wait to see how the other Idols go with this awesome theme!

AC/DC’s Black Ice is sitting pretty at number one on the ARIA charts. It wasn’t just the biggest selling album of the week. Black IceIt’s actually the biggest selling album of the year! In fact, it could have gone number one based on New South Wales sales alone! Who said people aren’t buying CDs anymore?

The boys from Acca Dacca led the charge in a week dominated by Aussie album sales. It’s almost as if the recent ARIA Awards reminded local music fans just how good Australian artists are! Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu’s album Gurrumul shot from number 27 all the way up to number three this week! Also scoring a massive jump, The Presets went from number 19 to number four with their album of the year, Apocalypso.

Six-time ARIA-award winner Gabriella Cilmi was back up at number seven with Lessons to Be Learned, just edging out a stellar debut from Kate Miller-Heidke. Her newie Curiouser is sitting at number eight.

It was a different story on the singles charts though, with Jessica Mauboy the lone Aussie cracking the top 10. When you’re only bested by Kings of Leon and Pink, it’s a fair effort! Jessica’s platinum selling single “Running Back” is sitting at number three.

Click below for the complete ARIA top 10!

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Rain plagued New South Wales last week. But it was almost as if the weather gods knew that I was heading to Jazz in the Vines at Tyrells Winery on Saturday, because those storm clouds disappeared to reveal a glorious day. The sunshine was just the first thing that went right that day.

Adam Miller Band

We arrived with just enough time to set up our deck chairs and purchase a bottle of verdelho from one of the six wineries on hand before the entertainment began. We settled in to enjoy the instrumental brilliance of Newcastle jazz outfit the Adam Miller Band. Adam Miller is a charismatic front man, open with the crowd and keen to share the stories of the tunes he’s written. With an understanding of the meaning behind the melodies, I found myself engaged from the start of his set to the end.

Force 10

The dual stage set-up meant that we didn’t have to wait long for the Royal Australian Air Force band, Force 10. I expected a traditional brass sound as regimented as their uniforms, but was pleasantly surprised at their sense of fun. We happily sang along to big band classics like “World on a String” and “Under My Skin.” There’s a reason why these songs from the 20s and 30s are classics, and jazz fans young and old ate them up. The combination of booming drums, rich brass instruments, a tinkling piano and velvety smooth vocals was heavenly. Needless to say, Force 10 were an unexpected joy.Renee Geyer

I’ve been a big fan of Australian soul legend Renee Geyer for as long as I can remember. I’ve seen countless shows over the years, but for some reason this set didn’t come quite up to par for me. Her sultry voice was in fine form, and she delivered hit after hit including “Heading in the Right Direction” and “Say I Love You.” But her snotty attitude took a little of the gloss off. Renee complained about the cameramen filming her, whining that she wasn’t dressed well enough. The cameramen complied to placate her diva behaviour, and the big screens were promptly switched off. I was close enough to the stage to see Renee, but I’m sure the people perched up the back of the vineyard didn’t appreciate her bitching. Renee could have taken a lesson from the music fans dancing freely in front of her; she really needed to lighten up and just have some fun!

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