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Call to outlaw fake guns

A 16-year-old was shot by police in 1993 after using a replica gun to hold-up the Top Shop at Waverley.A former Launceston police officer who was involved in the fatal police shooting of a youth holding a replica pistol in 1993, said outlawing such toys could prevent a repeat of this tragedy.
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The retired officer of 20 years’ experience was one of five called to an armed hold-up at the Top Shop at Waverley one night on August 12, 1993.

When he arrived, a 16-year-old suspect was standing in the middle of the Tasman Highway, holding a weapon and had been in stand-off with two officers for about 15 minutes.

“After a while, he lifted up the revolver which was aimed at both of these officers,” the police officer, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

“One of them responded, warning him to drop his weapon. They were less than 20 feet away, both pointing their guns at each other.

“It was when the young guy lifted his gun up further at shoulder-level that he was shot and straightaway fell to the ground.

“We all ran up – two officers went to tend to him but the first thing I saw was the gun which was still easily in his reach.

“When I kicked the revolver away, it looked real and had a similar weight of an older police revolver when I kicked it.”

The injured youth died the next morning in the Launceston General Hospital from stomach wounds.

“At the station the next day, we were all gutted,” the police officer said.

“It was made much worse later on when we found out he was holding a fake gun.

“This guy knew it was a replica but as far as we were concerned, it was real.

“Shooting someone with a replica pistol is the last thing a copper would ever want to do.”

A coronial investigation into the incident concluded a year after the shooting.

Coroner Peter Wilson, expressed concern that replica pistols could reach the hand of immature and irresponsible people but made no recommendations on their use.

Any realistic toy guns found in Tasmanian homes could attract $6000, two years jail – or both – if the owner does not have a firearms licence for it.

This stipulation has been enshrined in Tasmania’s firearms act for the past 15 years.

Other states have only recently moved to do the same with Victoria last year imposing a maximum fine of up to $28,000 and two years jail for toy guns that could be mistaken for actual weapons.

A Tasmania Police spokeswoman told The Sunday Examiner there was no specific definition of an imitation firearm or toy in the state’s Firearms Act.

She said the guiding principle was if something substantially replicated a real firearm then it was subject to the Act’s provisions as if it were a real firearm.

“That includes the requirement to have a genuine reason for possessing a firearm and storage,” she said.

To possess an imitation firearm, the owner had to have a category H gun licence and be a member of an approved collection club or society.

The spokeswoman said the Police Commissioner could grant exemptions to licencing requirements in some circumstances, such as in theatre productions.

“The simple act of carrying a pistol without either constitutes an offence,” she said.

The police officer in this article did not want to be identified out of respect for the officer who fatally shot the youth.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Relax, 3D Tintin’s the goods

LIFELIKE: Likeable odd couple Captain Haddock and Tintin in The Adventures Of Tintin.THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (PG)
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Director: Steven Spielberg

Stars: the voices of Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis and Daniel Craig

Screening: general release from Boxing Day

Rating: Four and a half stars

IN the words of intrepid reporter Tintin, ‘‘Great snakes!’’

How far animated movies have come.

Wearing a pair of 3D glasses at the movies these days is as commonplace as scoffing salted popcorn and enduring the rustling of junk-food wrappers. The sense of wonder felt when watching Avatar in 3D has been replaced with expectation. The ‘‘oohs’’ and ‘‘aahs’’ are becoming rarer.

So, how can a film adaptation of a comic written in the 1940s, based on the adventures of Tintin – a young Belgian reporter – and his faithful canine sidekick, Snowy, hope to compete in the cutthroat post-Christmas movie blitz?

It will hold its own, for two reasons. One, Tintin fans are curious to see their childhood hero on the big screen. And two, The Adventures Of Tintin brings back the wow factor.

This 3D version of Hergé’s classic comic strip is technically groundbreaking, creating a believable sense of time and place as well as edge-of-your-seat action. Director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson achieve this while staying true to the comic’s original charm.

The Adventures Of Tintin fuses three adventures into one: The Crab With The Golden Claws; The Secret Of The Unicorn; and Red Rackham’s Treasure. Clean-living Tintin (Jamie Bell) and the heavy-drinking Captain Archibald Haddock (Andy Serkis) join forces to seek the truth about The Unicorn (a ship), Marlinspike Hall and the Haddock family.

It’s an action-packed rollercoaster ride with a well-executed plot and effects so realistic you sometimes forget you are watching, well, a cartoon.

It is only the exaggerated features of the characters – the bulbous noses of Haddock and the twitty Thompson Twins (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost); the oversized chins and ape-like arms of the mutinous crew of the Karaboudjan; and the narrow-eyed, sharp features of the villainous Sakharine (Daniel Craig) – that remind us that these are not flesh and blood actors.

The settings are equally realistic, and the attention to detail remarkable. A cobbled street in Europe shrouded by fog is so lifelike you can actually feel the sting of the crisp morning air as it enters your lungs.

In the tradition of classic detective movies, clue after clue presents itself, a stranger warns our hero of danger and is shot dead, there are twists and turns in the plot and Tintin has his fair share of lightbulb – and life and death – moments.

He is knocked unconscious, shot at, kidnapped and held prisoner on a ship, stranded in the open ocean, flies a plane which crash-lands into a North African desert, and lands plenty of punches of his own.

Equal part action hero and sleuth.

Incorrigible drunk Captain Haddock is a constant source of mirth. In one scene, a plane is running out of fuel and he merely blows into the fuel tank, his alcohol-drenched breath bringing the engine back to life.

In another, after being rescued by soldiers in the desert, Haddock is dehydrated and – even worse – sober. When handed a glass of water he says: ‘‘What is this peculiar liquid? There’s no bouquet, no palate.’’

As a child I spent hours reading and re-reading Tintin’s adventures, and in one instance was even so bold as to write (in lead pencil) ‘‘I love Tintin’’ on the first page of a Tintin book borrowed from the library. Nerdy? Definitely. A criminal offence? Perhaps.

Tintin, with his ginger fringe reminiscent of a cockatoo’s crest, his three-quarter length trousers, long socks and blue sweater over a collared white shirt, looks as I’d imagined him. He is brave, intelligent and pursues truth and justice in the Belgian way.

This is not a film for young children. There are gunfights, fist fights, references to alcohol and drinking, and exceedingly nasty ‘‘baddies’’.

But Tintin purists will not be disappointed. I wasn’t.

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Coronation Street blog

Today, bloggers, is the first day of my annual leave, and I want to wish each of you, even Adam, a happy Christmas-New Year. Thank you all for being such scintillating company during the year, for being the characters that you are, and for sharing part of your life. I’ve written in the Herald today about the blog, and I’ll copy and paste that here. Tomorrow in the Herald, by the way, I tell how I’m going to become a better person in 2012, and hopefully that process will be underway by the time of my return on Tuesday, February 14. Cheers, and thank you again. Hey, I think I’m going to miss you! Jeff.
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AS a young teenager I was fascinated by the British soapie Coronation Street, and while I was never sure why, I think now it was that the characters were not only credible but that I’d encountered them in my short life.

I’d seen a number of perpetually disapproving women just like Ena Sharples, nervous mousy women like Minnie, stern and sneering Marthas and monosyllabic men in overalls, real characters rather than the impossibly melodramatic characters of American and Australian soap.

And that’s why I sometimes have a sense of Coronation Street when I’m on my blog.

The blog, like Coronation Street, has its own life, a life, like that of a company, that is more than the sum of the individuals who create it. But more importantly in the association with the British series, the blog has credible characters.

Not only are they credible, they’re real, because while blog contributors can disguise their identity they invariably disclose their personality and character over a series of posts. We come to know whether Honeypie is a cranky, intolerant bastard or a kindly person accustomed to being the victim, and that’s despite his best efforts to reinvent himself. Yes, attempts at gender reassignment fail too.

The day’s blog article, a shorter version of the day’s column in the Herald, provides the hook for the day, but running in parallel to the debate or mere discussion are what I like to think of as committee proceedings, perhaps blog respondents immersed in their own argument or exploring an issue that appeals to them both.

Sometimes these parallel proceedings are not as friendly as I’d like – there is no love lost, for example, between Directeur Sportif and The Real Tough Titties. They’ve quarrelled about road rules for cyclists, Newcastle street names, famous Hunter athletes and local history, and next year I’m planning to provoke an argument about the origins of lilly pilly jam.

These combatants have, also, a friendlier life on the blog. We have, for example, been part of the admiring circle as Directeur Sportif became a father for the first time and as The Real Tough Titties married. And Directeur Sportif gives us uncommonly lucid explanations of matters of medicine and science.

This life beneath the surface of the blog has, like life itself, joys and sadnesses, and one heart-wrenching episode was the struggle against cancer and death of the teenage son of the blog’s chaff and oats, who at that time and since has parted the curtains on the life of a parent involved in such an emotional challenge.

We’ve been privy to the highs and lows of life in China of a Coalfields man teaching English at a Yancheng university, of a Newcastle woman’s efforts to balance her roles as a vet and as a single mother, of a first-time Newcastle councillor’s struggle with the realities of politics.

We have a retired policeman who gives a sharp account of why we have so much antisocial behaviour, a divorced mother of adult children who rises at 4am to work a number of jobs to pay for her modest home, an artist who is revelling in being a mother for the first time, an investor and investment advisor who has given us a fascinating insight into his descent into depression and, I’m pleased to say, his recovery, a teetotal doorman at a Newcastle club who does not sing the benefits of alcohol.

There are many more characters on the blog, some who make an appearance in most blog topics, some who come and go, and some who rush across the stage unloading as they go.

Not all like me, and even more disagree with me, which is a relief, but many are ready to spring to my defence, as they did this week against Adam, who wrote: ‘‘You are the epitome of lack of intelligence, understanding, reason, wit and sense. I would love to have a conversation with you. I didn’t bother reading the dribble that is above. I’m sure you have not failed to uphold to the low standard of your usual written slop.’’

I hope we hear more of Adam, and indeed you, in 2012.

Please, everyone, stay safe.

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11 killed in NZ balloonaccident

People pay their respects near the site of the crash.CARTERTON, NZ – Two passengers plummeted to their deaths from a burning hot air balloon as it crashed to the ground in New Zealand’s North Island yesterday, killing nine others.
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Emergency services were at the scene, near Carterton, within three minutes but could not help any of the victims, who had been coming to the end of a scenic 45-minute flight and hoping to land in a paddock about 7.25am.

The balloon hit power lines and the sparks started a fire in the basket, Wairarapa police Area Commander Inspector Brent Register said yesterday afternoon.

Two passengers, a man and woman, appeared to have jumped from the basket, he said.

The fire then flared and the balloon dropped sharply to the ground, killing the rest of the occupants.

The pair who jumped were found 200 metres from the balloon wreckage.

The victims were five couples, all from the greater Wellington area, and the pilot, reported to be Lance Hopping.

The trip was run by the Early Morning Balloons company, which operates in Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa.

Some of the bodies were badly burned and disaster victim identification experts were working through the wreckage to identify them officially.

“It’s a very hard scene. Some of the bodies are very badly burned,” Inspector Register said.

Two bodies were taken to the mortuary at Wellington Hospital late yesterday, while the other nine were to remain at the scene overnight.

No names have been released as police contact next of kin.

It is not known how far the balloon fell.

Police have spoken to five witnesses to the crash so far.

Three company staff – there to retrieve the balloon after it landed – witnessed the flaming crash.

“This a huge, nationally significant event,” Inspector Register said earlier yesterday. “It’s a tragedy as bad as tragedies get.”

Resident David McKinlay could not believe what he saw when he looked up while watering his garden at 7.40am.

“There were flames licking up the basket on one side, up towards the guy ropes of the balloon itself and probably just about reaching the fabric of the balloon,” he said.

The balloon came down at speed and Mr McKinlay ran inside to alert emergency services.

“When I got back out I could just see the mass of flame where the actual balloon was on fire,” he said. “It had completely disintegrated and it was just a long – probably 10 or 15 metres long – trail of flame coming in towards the ground at colossal speed.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Newcastle airport partial sale for growth

NEWCASTLE Airport says its potential partial privatisation does not mean that Williamtown is looking to become Sydney’s ‘‘second airport’’.
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But the airport is hopeful the RAAF will lift the domestic arrival limit from six planes an hour to eight as it chases international connections with New Zealand, Fiji and Asia.

As the Newcastle Herald reported yesterday, Newcastle and Port Stephens councils voted on Tuesday night to restructure their jointly owned business.

If the plan is approved as expected by the Department of Local Government, the councils will be able to sell as much as 49per cent of the operation.

Airport chief executive Paul Hughes welcomed the restructure, but said a partial sale was unlikely ‘‘in the shorter term’’.

Mr Hughes said the restructure would take $18million of airport debt off the councils’ books and allow the airport to borrow more money on its own account.

‘‘There will not be much change from a day-to-day point of view, but it’s really important we have the right structure in place that allows us to grow when we need to, but in a way that’s consistent with the RAAF,’’ Mr Hughes said.

Paterson MP Bob Baldwin, whose electorate covers the airport, said it was time the two councils sold out completely.

Mr Baldwin said the councils had done a good job building the airport ‘‘from a tin shed when nobody wanted it’’ but the time had come to let the private sector take things to the next stage.

Businessman Hilton Grugeon, whose Hunter Lands is planning a major airport-related business park immediately south of the airport, also called for a full sale.

He said nobody would pay good money to buy into the airport while the two councils remained in control.

Newcastle Airport’s head lease is with the Department of Defence and its operations are governed by an agreement with the RAAF. A Defence spokesman said it would not be commenting on the airport restructure until the new year.

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Medal honours Erebus rescuer

BRAVE: David Armstrong receives his medal from New Zealand High Commission military adviser Lieutenant-Colonel Darren Beck yesterday.ONE of only four Australians to help with the recovery effort after New Zealand’s worst air disaster in Antarctica in 1979 has been honoured with a special medal.
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David Armstrong, of Jewells, was presented yesterday with the New Zealand Special Service Medal at Greenleaf Retirement Village.

Mr Armstrong was an air dispatch Warrant Officer in the army helping unload supplies at the McMurdo Base in Antarctica in November 1979 when Air New Zealand flight 901 crashed into Mount Erebus, killing all 257 on board.

The flight was the first commercial route to Antarctica for sight seeing and on its 14th trip when the plane flew into the mountain in total ‘‘whiteout’’ conditions.

David Armstrong and his three men were Australia’s contribution to the recovery effort.

The men, whose day job was directing and unloading planes, had the daunting task over the next fortnight of recovering and identifying bodies and belongings, all in sub-zero conditions.

Mr Armstrong, 74, now suffering Parkinson’s disease, said he developed a stutter and shake because of the stress.

‘‘Nobody was to be blamed and everybody got on with the job,’’ he said.

‘‘You imagined what it would be like if your family was on the craft.’’

The special service medal was approved in 2006 and the New Zealand government has been tracking down those involved.

New Zealand High Commission military adviser Lieutenant-Colonel Darren Beck said rescue workers all went above their call of duty during an unprecedented event.

Those involved have spoken of working 24 hours a day covered in black human grease from burned bodies, warding off circling birds, surviving freezing conditions and finally being stranded by bad weather with supplies running low.

‘‘It was the work of people involved that really made it a little easier for families and brought closure to the lives of their loved ones,’’ Lieutenant-Colonel Beck said.

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The Seabellies to play at home for NYE

The Seabellies.IT will be a return to an old stomping ground when Newcastle six-piece band The Seabellies play at the Great Northern Hotel on New Year’s Eve.
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‘‘We used to do a residency at the Great Northern. It was a venue that really helped us hit our straps. We played there on a Sunday night for a couple of years,’’ frontman Trent Grenell told LIVE. ‘‘But we haven’t played there for maybe four years or 4 years. I really have no idea what to expect, so I’m looking forward to it.

‘‘It will be really interesting. We’re usually away on New Year’s Eve playing a show, so it’ll be nice to be home for a change.’’

The Seabellies formed in Newcastle in 2005 and two years later won the 2007 Garage to V competition, edging out more than 400 bands across the country. The win earnt The Seabellies the chance to play alongside the likes of Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker and The Pixies at Sydney’s V Festival.

The same year The Seabellies took out the major prizes at the 1233 ABC Music Awards .

Many festival gigs followed, along with several local and international supports, including for Evermore, Something for Kate and Augie March.

In 2010 the band released its debut album By Limbo Lake, which Rolling Stone magazine described as ‘‘bustling, widescreen indie rock’’.

Fans also warmed to their indie tunes with sweet melodies and trickling guitars including Young Cubs, Heart Heart Heart Out, Prairie, Trans Ending and Board the Apartment Up.

The six-piece is back in Newcastle ‘‘in full pre-production mode’’ for its next album after stints in Melbourne and Europe to write the material.

The Seabellies spent a month in Melbourne writing and playing shows in late 2010, when the band hit the headlines after a group of thugs attacked them.

They recuperated in Newcastle and played a few east coast festivals before heading to Europe on their own journeys, reconnecting later in Berlin to write.

‘‘We wanted to see how getting away would influence our writing, it was different in Melbourne but it wasn’t quite different enough. We were being influenced by similar things, but we had some different ideas in Berlin certainly,’’ Grenell said.

The frontman said that both a change of scene and exposure to new types of music in Germany helped kick-start the creative process.

‘‘It was a bit of both really, just different experiences from general life. There are a lot of different types of bands and genres of music across Europe,’’ he said. ‘‘It was six months in Berlin and we had access to a studio right in the city, the Eastern Bloc.’’

The Seabellies didn’t play shows during their six months in Berlin. They focused instead on writing and demo-ing songs ready to record next year in Sydney.

‘‘We’d just come off our album cycle and toured five singles and so we all just took off and did our own thing and reconnected in Berlin. We just started getting back into it, it was more of a writing mission than anything,’’ Grenell said.

‘‘It’s been five years of touring so at the end of the album cycle we just took a few months off. It’s hard to schedule six different lives and you don’t have a lot of down time when you have singles to tour, so it was nice to have a little breather. It doesn’t take long before you realise you’re itching to play again; I can’t wait.’’

The new album, which is as yet unnamed, will be recorded with what Grenell refers to as the ‘‘A Team’’: Berkfinger from Philadelphia Grand Jury and Tim Whitten (Powderfinger, Hoodoo Gurus, Augie March).

Grenell said the new material had a link to By Limbo Lake but also marked a progression for the band.

‘‘Melodically it’s not a far cry from what we’ve done before but it’s going into a bit more experimental territory. Essentially we’re a melodic-based band,’’ he said.

‘‘Our first album was written while talking to a lot of record companies so we had a lot of mixed messages and were pandering to a lot of people. It was kind of not-the-most comfortable and natural situation to make an album. But this time we’re completely comfortable and had a lot of support from our publisher. It’s a more natural and organic way to make a record.’’

Grenell said the band had learnt lessons during the six years since forming and is in a good place to record its sophomore album.

‘‘We’ve got the things in place that make it a lot easier for us these days. It’s still a very tough industry, but we’ve managed to get a lot of support for our music and we just want to put albums out and tour and things like that.’’ Despite assumptions that country cousins can face more of a struggle to get into the music industry, Grenell said coming from Newcastle worked in the band’s favour.

‘‘Initially when we started to try and hit the Sydney scene it was a positive. It seemed to work out for us. When it comes to photo and video shoots, people from Sydney love the fact we’re from Newcastle and are always pushing to do things in Newcastle. It’s a different vibe.’’

Sadly, Grenell has witnessed an increasing number of live venues closing in both regional and capital cities in the years since The Seabellies formed.

‘‘Some have closed in Newcastle and Sydney recently. In the last year Sydney has just been decimated,’’ he said.

While the band has no New Year’s resolutions yet, scoring a spot in the triple j Hottest 100 for its song Board The Apartment Up would be a bonus. To vote click here.

The Seabellies will play at the Great Northern Hotel on December 31, with support from The Owls. Tickets at thegreatnorthern.oztix南京夜网.au.

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Pattinson out due to injured left foot

James Pattinson, Shaun Marsh and David Warner celebrate after Pattinson takes the wicket of Virat Kohli.SYDNEY – Australian quick James Pattinson has been ruled out for the remainder of the Test series against India due to a left foot injury.
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Pattinson reported pain in his foot during India’s second innings of Australia’s innings and 86-run win at the SCG.

The 21-year-old was taken for X-rays and scans shortly after the end of the second Test yesterday where he was cleared of stress fractures but it was revealed that he had developed the early stage of stress-related bone trauma on his left metatarsal.

Chairman of selectors John Inverarity said the Victorian right-armer, who has taken 25 wickets since making his Test debut against New Zealand in Brisbane, would probably have been rested for the Perth Test regardless of his injury status.

Pattinson becomes the second young quick to fall foul of a foot injury with New South Wales teenager Patrick Cummins ruled out of the entire summer after injuring his heel in his stunning Test debut against South Africa in Johannesburg.

Queensland paceman Ryan Harris is now all but certain to come into the Test line-up after missing every Test this summer in his own recovery from injury.

NSW left-armer Mitchell Starc, who featured in both Tests against New Zealand but has yet to feature in the Indian series, will come into the squad for the third Test as Pattinson’s replacement.

“This young man has played in four Test matches over a period of just five weeks,” Inverarity said of Pattinson.

“This intention to rest Pattinson has become a necessity after post-match scans have revealed James’s foot injury.”

Australian physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said the paceman would be managed for the “next few weeks” and ruled him out of the remainder of the series.

Pattinson’s omission is the only change from the squad which defeated India in Sydney, with all-rounder Shane Watson still not deemed fit enough to be considered for selection.

Squad: Michael Clarke (capt), Brad Haddin, Ed Cowan, Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mike Hussey, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, David Warner.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Ash Grunwald loves the troubadour life

FREE AS AIR: Provided he’s got that good old guitar, Ash Grunwald’s halfway to heaven.THERE’S a special bond between a blues man and his guitar, whether it is on the road or on stage. Blues and roots musician Ash Grunwald is no exception.
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‘‘I’m so thankful to that guitar for taking me around Australia and around the world and seeing it in that much detail,’’ Grunwald told LIVE. ‘‘I love the one man band format, that’s what I did for so many years. There’s a different purity in just doing a solo set.’’

‘‘I took to the whole touring thing with a lot of vigour. I really do love that about the job. The tough life on the road was romanticised for me and that’s what I wanted, I never even had aspirations to play overseas and now I’ve played over the world.’’

Grunwald has spent the best part of a decade travelling around the country with his guitar in tow and has released eight EPs and albums along the way.

His track Breakout won the APRA Music Award for Blues and Roots Work of the Year in 2010. His album Hot Mama Vibes was nominated for the ARIA for Best Blues and Roots Album alongside the work of Dan Sultan, Jeff Lang, the John Butler Trio and The Wilson Pickers.

As well as critical acclaim, Grunwald has also built a loyal legion of fans who lap up his blues, funk and progressive sound.

By now, he’s well accustomed to playing both as a solo musician and with a band. He relishes touring and travelling alone (‘‘you’re more open to new experiences’’) and casually brushes off perceptions of the difficulties of being on stage alone.

‘‘I’ve got to say, it’s actually a bit of a scam really. People often say wow, it’s amazing how you can hold an audience, it must be lonely up there or whatever,’’ Grunwald told LIVE. ‘‘But if you’re up there by yourself on stage, you draw the audience in as your friends. As soon as you have one harmonica player with you or one guy on percussion, then it’s you and the team presenting to the audience and you’ve lost the link you had when you were solo. So I think its easier to connect with audiences solo for sure.’’

Grunwald also has a following overseas and has played gigs across Europe and Asia. Surprisingly, the blues and roots musician said audiences in different countries seemed to connect with his sound in the same way.

‘‘The most startling thing is a lack of difference. The two most interesting places are probably France and Japan,’’ he said. ‘‘To see those people reacting the same way as Australian audiences is amazing. You think, wow, the power of music and, I’ve been working so hard on crafting these lyrics and they can’t even understand what I’m saying and it’s still the same. There’s probably more we get from music on that animal level than we do on an intellectual level.’’

Next year Grunwald will tour Canada and Europe and play his first shows in New Zealand. Even after years on the road, it’s obvious he still enjoys playing to live audiences the world over, whether it’s in brief sojourns or longer journeys.

‘‘As time has worn on, especially when my touring entourage got bigger and bigger, it became more of those blocks – you go out and do the album tour and that’s it. But then there is more of the blues troubadour in me that just wants me to just keep gigging and stay on the road.

‘‘For me, the road has often been more of my home than my home. It’s where I write my songs, where I test stuff and a lot of my songs over the years have been written as I perform them. That influence has kept me kicking [on with touring] a little bit more than your average camper.’’

This tour is no exception when it comes to road testing new material, with Grunwald planning on playing some of the 16 or so new songs he’s already recorded for the album, which should be finished by April or May.

The tracks were recorded at Grunwald’s home studio – his pride and joy – stacked with vintage gear.

‘‘My studio I am absolutely in love with and as it was being built I was on eBay buying really good gear and I’ve been really happy with the way it has been going,’’ he said. ‘‘I wanted to get stuff to be able to do something absolutely 100per cent record quality so that every time you record something it’s valid.’’

Ash Grunwald plays Lizotte’s Newcastle on December 28. More information and tickets at newcastle.lizottes南京夜网.au/live/.

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Causing no offence

Do I ever regret offending anyone? Of course I do, especially when the offence is unintended or unwarranted! The problem is that I don’t think I’ve offended anyone without intention or good reason this year, and so I’ve been having great difficulty writing my annual column of regrets. To help flesh out the required space, in the newspaper at least, I’ve been reduced to regretting offence that was warranted, although in some cases I could not, despite my need, offer even a fleeting regret.
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My list of possibly regretful columns includes labelling female donkey drivers as jennies and my call a few weeks later to bring back the curtsy. However, even including warranted offence in my regrets list is not enough to express regret for unifying the thousands of pear-shaped Ulysseans and their pear-shaped boilers who spent days wobbling about the Lower Hunter on their ocean liner bikes in March, but there is one teeny little matter. When I suggested that people checking out the Saturday display of bikes might be wise to find out exactly when the 89-year-old Ulyssean with the Russian motorbike would be riding back to Queensland I didn’t mean to enrage him. Not at 89.

As short as I am of 2011 regrets I cannot bring myself to regret the offence caused to some men by my column in May describing their use of public toilets as sex venues as posing a threat to children.

In writing about the monster steak and monster burger eating challenges at Cardiff Panthers and Wests Mayfield in August I offended people of Cardiff and Mayfield by describing those suburbs as epicentres of obesity. This was, I accept, unduly unkind to Mayfield.

And what about my cat’s broken leg! My decision, after careful inspection and consideration, that Tilly would do a fine job of mending her broken leg came under sustained attack from almost everyone, and the fact that Tilly’s leg did mend seamlessly didn’t seem to matter to them. Well, I’m sorry, but I have to say that when I think of the money I saved on veterinary bills I’m not very sorry.

Have I offended you this year? Today’s the day to demand an apology or give me a lashing, or both.

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