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Don Morrison: This Could Be Big

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Singer-songwriter Don Morrison’s show at the Wheatsheaf Hotel was quite an intimate one, though he wryly observed that the crowd was nonetheless bigger than at AC/DC’s initial London pub performance in the ’70s – and he should know, since he was there.  It’s this kind of tale that signalled how the night would proceed, interweaving music with engaging memoir.

In combination they highlighted Morrison’s new book, This Could Be Big (subtitled Thirty Years at the Dag End of the Australian Music Industry), and a compilation CD of the same name. The humorous autobiographical stories kept on coming, from his childhood initiation into music up to his current gigs and occupation as a luthier (that’s a maker of stringer instruments to you and me).

The whole was peppered with a choice selection of tunes from various incarnations of bands in which Morrison has played. For example, he was a key part of the great Bodgies group formed with his brothers in 1979, and his bands have maintained family connections. On this night he had sons Eddie (wonderful on upright bass) and Jake (guitars and keyboard) on board.

On all songs, Morrison played his own hand-made resonator guitars or ukulele. He can produce real attack when he wants it, and subtle inflections when those are called for, building moods precisely with a quick wash of sound or lingering slide note, for instance. Expectedly, slide guitar came to the fore on numerous tunes, notably Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom”. The full-on Boogie magic of “Whatcha Doin’?” was irresistible.

Morrison revealed that he is an accomplished blues harpist, too, adding beautiful passages to the lolloping “Casey Whistle” and a mournful air to the chugging foot-tapper “Pat Malone”. “Bob Dylan was Born in Adelaide” was a history-twisting giggle.

Between the anecdotes and tunes, it was a full and rewarding night out from a continuing talent in the Adelaide music scene.

Don Morrison’s This Could Be Big was a one-off Fringe gig at the Wheatsheaf Hotel.

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Click here for all InDaily’s 2014 Adelaide Fringe stories and reviews.

 

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