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26 July 2010

Ray Charles Live At The Leeuwin Winery (1988)

On or just before either 6 February or 7 March 1988 Ray Charles performed at the Leeuwin Estate, in the  Margeret River region (West Australia). This source describes a 67-minute video of the concert. Listening to the voice over at the end of the tape, it was simulcast on ABC Classic FM and ABC-TV in a series titled Sunday Stereo Special. Ray played with The West Australian Symphony Orchestra. The story goes that the winery first "[...] tried to get the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, couldn't and asked blind singer and pianist Ray Charles instead".

The show was directed by Stephen Burstow. Ray brought his own rhythm section: Kenny Carr on guitar, Joe Harris on bass guitar and Paul Kreibich on drums. The orchestra was conducted by Dobbs Franks.

Paul remembers how "A Kookaburra bird starting laughing during a ballad and Ray stopped the orch[estra, and  m]ade them try to catch the bird out of the tree!" This incident, unfortunately, did not make it to the TV program, but seems to haven been part of a documentary item (see below).

I've seen the complete video of the show (coming to me in fragments), which started with a rather cool scene where you see Ray arriving at the estate by helicopter. The concert is cross-edited with interview sequences taken from the Omnibus documentary from 1986. The only, but exquisite, surprise on the track list was a soaring rendition of That Lucky Old Sun, but the Australian audience also loudly appreciated the bawdy version of #9:
  1. They Can't Take That Away From Me
  2. If You Go Away
  3. It Hurts To Be In Love
  4. Georgia On My Mind
  5. Eleanor Rigby
  6. It Ain't Easy Being Green
  7. Take These Chains From My Heart
  8. That Lucky Old Sun
  9. Lay Around And Love On You (All I Wanna Do Is --)
  10. For Mamma
  11. All I Ever Need Is You
  12. Yesterday
  13. Outro
The Channel 9 archive has shelved a 3 minute news item dated 7 March  ("Reece Whitby reports"), showing how Ray "[...] is given a huge reception by the wine sipping guests". He "[...] held 7,000 guests enthralled with his music". Source here. And there's a 2 minute item dated 6 February 1988 (shotlist: Night: stage, crowd, wine in wheelbarrow, kookaburra in a tree, Charles singing). I have a hunch that the second tape's date should be 6 March (source here).

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