carus – songs from martin st

this comes across as the most country, funk and reggae bit of music i have, and i don’t even remotely dislike it. i think he wants comfort in the arms of a woman and has a way of saying so that’s not clichéd. though i think he also likes his share of the wacky tabac! sometimes it’s hard to know which one he’s talking about.

i wear my hair sorta long ever since we finished up. they say you change one thing when you need a new start. or could it be that i look too much like george michael when i wear it short.

i think carus thompson has ended up pretty underrated in the australian music scene – he’s the contemporary of the likes of john butler, ash grunwald and neil murray. i’ve never liked any of them, but carus holds a special place… in part because there’s an endearing self-consciousness and self-awareness to his music, if almost extreme australiana.

he is amongst the small number of musicians to whom i have been in close proximity, by pure accident. and that’s what put me onto his music. this coincided with a love thousands of kilometres away who was in my mind and heart as i discovered it (more on that in future entries).

my friend and i went on the road to do some genuine research for the organisation in which we worked. the first leg of the journey was the flight from adelaide to perth that was mercifully manageable. we got a rav 4 at the airport late at night when we arrived and fanged into town, neither of us having been there before.

we were in perth because our research was inspired by a rather spirited and committed TAFE teacher from there. to pay tribute to her, we did some of our fieldwork at her TAFE. afterwards she invited us to join her and her husband out in fremantle for dinner followed by a bit of local folk music/dancing. as we pulled up to the old warehouse in which they lived, following a long day of in depth interviews about supporting TAFE students with mental illnesses, we contemplated driving away frantically – particularly thanks to the prospect of a bit of a public hoedown!

but we went in. it still felt like a warehouse – concrete sinks like old laundry tubs, massive ceilings, a smell, a certain light. it was the kind of place where, if you paused long enough, you’d see the fine dust floating in the air catching glimpses of sun through the windows. it was november.

before heading out, we met some of the sundry kids and hangers on who obviously called the warehouse home as well. by kids i mean people who were about the same age as us, maybe late 20s early 30s. one of them was relaxed and walking around looking for random bits of clothing, putting on socks while having a brief conversation with us, then looking for the guitar he wanted to take. i thought his name was harris.

“we’ll go down to the pub and watch my son play the guitar after dinner” she said.

we all parted and went to an unusual restaurant – i can’t recall the cuisine, but it was uncommon. the conversation was so open for people we’d only really just met and who’d “taken us in”. we could understand why they were like a mum and dad to pretty much every younger person who encountered them.

we then proceeded to clancy’s, the pub in freo. our hosts got up and had a throw round the dance floor. we shot sideways glances at each other from the fringes. we started to realise they were well known in the community. we also felt a bit out of place in spite of how welcoming they all were.

harris, who i later discovered was carus, came along but didn’t end up playing. i remember thinking that maybe he was just a bit self-conscious. that was until we got back to adelaide and i somehow worked out that he was who he was – slightly embarrassed in hindsight – and intrigued to hear his guitar. turns out his voice is more remarkable…

the trip ended with us vowing we had no interest to return to perth, in spite of the lovely people we spent the time with. and vowing never to hire a car again from the perth airport by default – nothing like a 13cm scratch you get charged for after it’s back in their carpark and we’re on the plane to adelaide. but that’s not what we remember the most.

i’ve been running from thinking about the way things probably are

germans singing along to wide open road? this is storytelling i understand:


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