Chris Howlett may sound like someone who plays on the half-back flank for Richmond, but he is actually a cello player par excellence. And at Lina’s wine bar on Sunday night he nailed his time with his bow … hope that’s what you call the stick thing associated with the cello … and got the troops into a musical frame of mind.
He laid on us Bach’s cello concertos … and explained each movement and the why and wherefore of each … it’s sorta like an upmarket guitar break … just so we knew where the hell he was going with everything.
There’s something about listening to someone who can really play the thing they purport to play … and it gets to the point where you get quite emotional about listening … that’s the way it was with Chris.
It’s always made easier, of course, with some wine and food. In my case, it was some French rose and a plate of mussels in white wine sauce with a touch of chilli, tomatoes and parsley … with lots of baguette slices to soak up the sauce.
For mine, it was never enough chilli and I went to the kitchen to tell the chef that next time, perhaps, a tad more chilli would be in order. “Just make a point of coming in and telling me,” he said, “I’ll fix it.”
Mind, a dozen or so mussels is never gonna satisfy the hunger of the large unit that I am … which is why I ordered a cheese platter … a runny, rind-centric cheese, a blue and a hard cheddar-like offering … with some quince paste, grapes, and some fig concoction … and crackers … that filled the gap.
It was about this time that the rose turned into an Australian wine, one that didn’t quite live up to the French version earlier, but no worry. It was OK.
Also about this time, Ben, the manager of the bar decided to sing. He’s done some stuff with Opera Australia …. and as the saying goes … he can play or sing.
Ben has a voice to die for …. he laid on us “Till I hear you sing, Love never dies”, an Andrew Lloyd Webber thing, that brought the house down. What a voice … what a bar manager. Ben, you can play.
A couple of drawings on the paper tablecloth later … OK, it’s to impress the people sitting at the table … they’re cartoon characters that I have down pat (not the people at the table, mind) … it was time to pull the pin, after all it’s a Sunday night and tomorrow is a school day.
For what it’s worth, Chris Howlett is playing with the Melbourne Piano Trio (with Ji Won Kim on violin and Hoang Pham on piano) on June 7 for the Australian National Academy of Music at South Melbourne Town Hall. There’s a wine tasting of Sanguine Estate at 7.15 before the recital at 8pm. The program includes Beethoven Trio in D major Op 70, No.1 Dvorak Trio No.3 Op 65 in F minor and the world premiere of Paul Dean’s Fractured Moments. Tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for concession at m-tix.com.au.
There are worse ways to spend a night, trust me.
ME IN A NUTSHELL
- G’day, I’m Michael and I have two fantastic grown-up kids. I’m a jeans and singlet/T-shirt, cowboy boot, tattoos sort of fella, who knows a bit about this and sometimes a lot about that. I'll have a crack at most things, although having a relationship? ... well that ship has sailed. I'm past my use-by date anyway, so I'm gonna make it all about me and surviving life as I know it ... or make it.