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Our Lucky night

“They are a sweet couple, I hope they stay together.”

Hannah was taking about the support act in last night’s concert. Lucky Oceans and friends played at an amphitheatre in a limestone quarry. “There have been some great musical couples” she continued; “Rita Coolidge and Kris Kristofferson, Sonny and Cher, James Taylor and Carly Simon. ... Wait, they all split up.” She broke into Brand New Key by Melanie Safka.

The concert was my birthday treat. We took low fold-up chairs, finger food and a bottle of wine and sat on a grassed tier closest to the stage. We don’t drink wine at events, but it was my birthday and I had two glasses. For the benefit of our son William who loves food and complains that he grew up underfed, we ate olives, fancy cheese, an avocado dip with biscuits, and half of the half-cheesecake we bought that day.

The concert was a one-off: Lucky Ocean’s country music revue. Lucky is one of those people: when you hear their name you want to stand up and cheer. We are blessed that he moved from the US to Australia and stayed. Linda googled: he is 73, from Philadelphia, his wife is from Perth, and his name is not Lucky Oceans. (Lucky Oceans is a cool name but query: if he is given an honorary knighthood, will he be known as Sir Lucky? A politician we knew from the 1970’s, Vic Reith, was knighted as Sir Ranford Reith. No one addressed him formally with a straight face).

We had followed Lucky Oceans a bit before we moved to the bush 18 years ago. He and the Zydecats did regular gigs at the Claremont Hotel and Clancy’s Fish Tavern. He has always been Fremantle-centric, one of the reasons the port city is a musical hub. Lucky, among other things, plays pedal-steel guitar. He is renowned for it around the world. Pedal steel guitar is the instrument that looks like a mechanised knitting machine and produces the country sound you never knew the source of. (In that sentence I put the preposition at the end which is usually a practice up with which I will not put (Churchill)).

He and the Zydecats played at Blues at Bridgetown last weekend and my mate Les said they were the best thing about the festival. Last night I told him so; I went to the front of the stage while he was fussing about with his pedal steel and told him. He was pleased. I shrugged off Hannah’s concern that I could have been taken as a security risk: it was a mellow old crowd.

Lucky’s band was a team of star musicians, I couldn’t believe they had rehearsed only once. Onstage Lucky was as amazed as we all were, “It sounds like a record.” He had three guest singers.

I was unfair on the guitarist. He was a scruffy-looking article, as my Irish-speaking grandmother would say.He turned up late and missed the sound check. He proved to be the best country guitarist I have seen or heard; live, on a record or a screen. He sang one song; s Hank Williams’ Love Sick Blues, and nailed the yodelling. The crowd roared.

A concluding point. We fed our son well; our grocery bill nearly bankrupted us. Hannah kept two chickens in the fridge. He was ravenous and fussy. In Hannah’s recipe card box, the card bearing her recipe for Plum Chicken bore his handwriting, “Don’t make this, no one likes it.” He dismissed soup, “Soup is not a meal.” William is six foot two inches with an athletic frame but his friends stand six foot four and taller. Goodness knows what they ate.


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