BACKSEAT BALLADS

"The best places are in your backyard or backseat"

Donut Cravings

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My cravings for particular desserts can be pretty intense at times. I might be kicking back minding my own business when out of nowhere thoughts of things like scones or cake will enter my subconscious and it’s game over from there. For a long time donuts were my main crux: if you’ve ever been to Olympic Donuts in Footscray will understand just how freaken good they are. 

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Words with Friends

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One thing I miss about not working full time is the ability to do things spontaneously. And by spontaneous I mean go on late night cruises to satisfy our late night cravings or simply kill time. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen now but it’s simply become much harder when you know you’ve got work at 8am. Though to be honest, I try not to let that hinder me unless I’m really tired.

In recent times I’ve found myself hanging out with Lynh, Age and Peter going out on our late night Scrabble sessions. It’s something they’ve been doing for awhile now, even when Raye was still here. I’m pretty sure back in the day it use to be Monopoly for them but we all know how intense and long that game can be. No doubt Neil is still traumatised after the last time we played.

Now I’ve only joined this these little adventures but I’ve found myself winning majority of the games which I’m sure would make my dad proud (he’s the one who introduced me to Scrabble). Lynh is always trying to find new places to play Scrabble which must contain two things:

  1. Empty space
  2. Lots of light

This was the second time playing at Fed Square and I think it’s the perfect place to kick back at in the late hours of the night when it’s too cold outside. After midnight it’s practically empty with heaps of tables and seating available to be used. Which begs the question:

Why haven’t we had a dinner party here yet?

~

Huy Le

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HOUSE PARTY @ CLUB LE

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When I made the event page for the house party I was holding, many people asked me what the occasion was. “Nothing really,” I’d remark to them. “Just felt like having one.” I’ve been blessed with parents who are rather easy going and don’t mind when I have our usual drinkups/house parties knowing that they tend to go till the early morning with us singing and dancing to our favourite love songs. Or maybe they’re simply use to it by now.

I’d like to think that with the amount of house parties I’ve had over the years that things would get easier. Not necessarily. I still get the jitters leading up to the event and I find myself still running around trying to accommodate everyone and make them feel comfortable in my home. Plus I still tend to leave the playlist to the last minute.

There were a new faces amongst the crowd this time round which definitely made things much more interesting. Although I love the small intimate drinkups we have, sometimes it’s good to simply invite people outside your circle of friends to spice things up and promote some mingling between one another. Once upon a time, Peter would hold some massive house parties at his place (generally for his birthday) where you’d have people from various groups: our group, his uni mates, workmates, etc… Bonds would be formed over shots and quantities of beer consumed through our trusty beer bong ‘Thomas Jones’. We miss you TJ.

July 5 also happened to be Jamie’s birthday so it only made sense we celebrated this occasion as well. Unfortunately - depending on how you look at it - Jam and some of the boys were still recovering from the previous night of drinking hence there was less alcohol consumed this night. Nevertheless it seemed to be a blessing in disguise as we were all tipsy enough to sing and dance to our beloved tunes without getting too messy. 

That always makes the cleanup so much easier.

~

As I messaged everyone the next morning, a sense of relief overcame me as I laid in bed that morning. Although everyone had left at 5am or so, I still had this buzzing sensation inside of me as though I could still party on. We must have went thro

ugh at least 10 polaroid packs that night with all these snapshots spread over the table. In many ways it reminded us of an Asian wedding - photographer would go around taking various photos, get them printed and spread them out hoping people would purchase them. It just made me smile just seeing people gather around the table and look at these images. Sometimes we’re so consumed with editing photos and uploading to Facebook that it’s nice to just have the physical thing right in front of us. But I’ll expand upon that in a future entry.

Age is having what he reports to be the House Party of the Year next month. He’s been talking it up for so long hence it will be interesting to see if it does live up to the hype. Eitherway it will definitely be a messy one.

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Top Paddock & Scrabble

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The month of June is a hectic one for the Backseat Ballads crew with many people having their birthday’s during this time. Another important date is one many people rejoice when it comes around: Queen’s Birthday. It’s only when I began working full-time that I truly appreciate having long weekends. Funnily enough I feel like workers, especially in the education system, look forward to these public holidays moreso than students themselves. Most people aim to make the most of it through family roadtrips, parties and general relaxation time.

Originally I was planning on doing a daytrip out to Kyneton and checking out some waterfalls. That was cancelled when I got a message from Age and Peter saying that they were going brunch with Lynh instead. So once again, those plans were put on the back-burner.

Which seems to be something that’s happening way too often now. Need to change this ASAP.

'Fuck it,' I thought to myself. I'll go. This would be the third day straight I had brunch with Chez Dre on Saturday and Reverence on Sunday. I had to browse through Broadsheet to see what cafes were opened and we finally decided upon Top Paddock. Initially coffee was all I planned on having but I was persuaded by Lynh to eat. If we're going to be waiting half an hour for a table you may as well get something to eat.

With Scrabble in the boot of the car, we headed out to the Royal Botanic Gardens and found a nice spot to setup for our game. Tea and chips were consumed as we battled it out: the ‘Teachers’ won with Lynh coming in first place (she was escatic) and ending up in last.

Once Queen’s Birthday passes we all find ourselves dreading the weeks ahead until the next public holiday. Melbourne Cup, which isn’t until November. I just hope that within that time I’ll get more opportunities to explore more places and do more things that I like to do.

Which includes this Kyneton adventure I’ve been thinking about for months now. 

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Huy Le

~

Top Paddock
658 Church St
Richmond, VIC 3121
Tel: 03 9429 4332

London Bridge Arch - Portsea

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One thing that I’m still trying to check off our 'To Do List' is to camp out on the beach. Hell I don’t even need a tent, just to sleep on the beach in my sleeping bag would be good enough for me. Now you can blame that on various images posted on tumblr and TV shows such as New Girl.

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Understandably the whole affair would be much more harsher than the photos would make out to be. First of all, you have to worry about high tides. The last thing I’d want is to be swept away whilst I’m sleeping and find myself whisked away into the middle of the ocean. Or on a minor scale, end up really cold and wet in the morning. 

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Our closest encounter was when we camped down the Great Ocean Road at Johanna’s beach. Although we had parked our car at the ‘camping ground’ - just a grassy area near the beach - the idea of camping on the sand did cross our mind. We were willing and even contemplated dragging all our things down the steps to the sand but it was there we realised that the tide would reach us during the night. I’ve been told of other campsites near the coastline where you can along though I haven’t had a chance to check them out yet.

~

As mentioned in previous entries, I came back from my overseas trip with a newfound excitement to do more with my free time. With my new mindset, I was insistent that I had to make of this beautiful weather before Summer slowly slipped away. I had told Peter about my plans to check out the London Bridge Arch down in Portsea, which seems aptly since we had both came back from the UK not too long ago. Some of the others were also planning to go to the beach down in Dromana in which Peter going with them since he couldn’t be bothered going an extra hour to get to Portsea. But with a bit of persuasion, he came along and I think in hindsight he’s much more grateful he did.

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There was a haze permeating the beach against the blue skies and harsh Australian sunlight glistening against the hot sand. Making our way to the Arch, we set up camp - putting our backpacks on the closest rock - and set forth on a snapping frenzy. Although there were visitors popping by every so often, it felt like this little area was our own. As I made my way to the top and soaked in the panoramic views, it suddenly dawned on me:

Wouldn’t it be cool to literally camp on top of the Arch?

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I know, I know. Wishful thinking on my behalf (as usual). Still how awesome would it be to wake up to the sunrise on top of a rocky arc.

Obviously idealised in my head, chances are we would have either plunged to our death from the howling winds and moving around in our sleeping bags or simply not slept at all.

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I watched Peter take out his containers of oranges and sandwiches only to discover they were now soaking in water from the ice block kept in the same esky. He managed to retrieve the oranges but sadly the sandwiches were toast. Yep, I hope you’re proud of me John O’Neil, you punsome man you.

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We made our way back into town and I decided that we needed to treat ourselves with something so decadent yet so tantalising with a wedge of lemon and a dusting of chicken salt. A trip to the beach wouldn’t make sense if you didn’t end up having some fish and chips.

There was one store that was packed with people so instead we opted for the more lonesome one which - strangely enough - sold Asian condiments and essentials. You could tell these were the real deal when even we knew the brands of soy sauce and what not since they were most likely in our kitchens at that very moment.

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As I sit here on this gloomy winters evening, I begin to look back on this entry and question why it took me so long to finally complete it. But the more I think about it the more the idea seems to sink it. A lot of it comes down to general laziness and procrastination but there’s a part of me that can’t seem to let go. Many of us sit around counting the days till the days grow longer and the sense of fun and relaxation take over. Summer is the ideal we seem to strive for but it’s harsh realities can also make us seek the colder days of past.

And like the sun setting on that warm February evening, I think I’ve finally come to terms that summer really is over.

~

Huy Le

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Richard Mercer’s Final Love Song Dedication

After the guys had left on Wednesday after Movie Night, I was kicking back with Law and we found ourselves talking about music we listen to on the radio. I complained about Smooth FM and how I’m sick of hearing the sponsors (Michael Buble, Keith Urban, Robbie Wililams) being overplayed constantly. He told me about hearing 5 Black Eye Peas songs being played in a day on Mix 101.1 which came to the topic of our favourite session: Love Song Dedications.

I had noticed recently that I hadn’t heard the smooth vocals of Richard Mercer on the radio past 8pm on weeknights, which I found odd knowing that LSD started at that time. Abit of googling and the bad news struck us.

Love Song Dedications was no more.

How could this be possible? Driving home on weeknights wouldn’t be the same hearing him console lovers, offer them words of wisdom and send out these dedications for people across different cultures, ethnicities and genders. 

From there, reeling at the fact that LSD had come to closure after nearly 17 years of being on air, I managed to find the last Love Song Dedication session on youtube. And as we both sat there listening to this, you could feel our hearts shatter into a million pieces.

And the song they decided to end it… Man, that song.

Probably one of the best purchases I made last year was getting a Stanley Thermos for only $35 at Costco. It’s only been in recent times where I’ve began to use it during our random adventures and it’s proved to be a winner. Generally we just tend to kick back somewhere and probably get a coffee afterwards depending on how tired we were.

Not anymore.

I’ve told Raye that one of my goals is to slowly accumulate items over the years for my adventure kit, akin to Lynh’s boot. The idea is you’ll be stocked up hence if you were to go on a random roadtrip you’d have all the necessities required. Cup noodles, utensils, picnic blankets and tea… What more do you need?

I took Age to the playground in Point Cook one night since most of the guys were busy/lazy to do something. With hot water in the thermos, tea and some instant cappuccino for him - he says it’s better than Panna’s (Pancake Parlour) - we sat at the top of the playground and made a refreshing brew whilst talking the night away. It’s been something he’s wanted to do again which, to his delight, happened last Saturday with Jam and Peter.

Funnily enough being at a park late on a Saturday night you’re guranteed to see some underage teenagers drinking some mixed alcohol beverages. As we looked on at these teenagers it suddenly hit us: that was us a decade ago. Mind you these ‘drinkups’ usually happened when we had a barbeque at the local park with Cruisers/Bourbon & Cola in stock back when we were twee little 15/16 year olds. Still, that was enough to send shivers down my spines. 

And here we were, sipping tea and coffee whilst they run amuck. Yep, we’re definitely growing up.

~

You can read our writeup about the playground here: Pirates In The Sky

Sugar Hit Melbourne

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Last Friday a few of us (Kat, Jess, Age, Peter & myself) went to Krimper to check out the Sugar Hit Pop Up Festival. All I needed to know was the fact there was going to be dessert and I was down. An old friend of mine Anothai (Nae) was going to be selling some of her work there so I figured it’d also be good to catch up with her as well.

The theme for this month’s market was Thai with Bollywood and JPOP coming up in the following months. With soft Thai songs being performed live - I felt like I was transported into Last Life In The Universe - we waited in line to get some desserts. There was an array of drinks and snacks involved but most of us decided to go with the Thai inspired ice-creams by N2 Gelato & LuxBite. My Lychee one was quite refreshing though Age and Kat weren’t too fond of their one. Maybe it’s abit more ‘gourmet’ but the fact it had fried shallots definitely put them off.

Afterwards we headed down Little Lonsdale Street to check out the bar Horse Bazaar. My list of places seems to exponentially grow with each passing day so it was good to finally see various places on my list such as Cafe Giraffe… only to discover Peter and Raye have already been. With the old school tunes being played in this little Japanese grunge inspired bar, we danced and realised this may very well be a new hangout spot for future outings.

Now if only we could drag the others and get drunk beforehand.

And we ended the night the only way we know how - with jaffles. Well Jaffa’s to be exact from Spot On Kebabs and for $3 each they’re a total bargain.

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Huy Le

~

Sugar Hit Melbourne
http://bernard462.wix.com/sugarhitmelboourne

Krimper Cafe
20-24 Guildford Lane 

MelbourneVIC 3000
Tel: 03 9043 8844

Horse Bazaar
397 Little Lonsdale St 
MelbourneVIC 3000
Tel: 03 9670 2329

McGregor’s Picnic Ground [Mount Macedon]

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A few weeks back when I was catching up with Tish, she told me she really wanted to have a tea party/picnic in the upcoming weeks. Within the next day I had started up a facebook event, gotten a rough idea of attendee’s and got cracking on organising the picnic for the following week.

My goal was to avoid the usual spots we’d gravitate towards - Carlton Gardens, Botanic Gardens - plus we didn’t want to deal with the traffic and parking on a weekend. Going back and forth on possible locales, I finally settled on McGregor’s Picnic Grounds up in Mount Macedon. It was a gamble but I think it paid off when we all actually got to the place. Have to revisit the area again during winter when all the fog starts rolling through.

Majority of the group came and with that meant lots of food, drinks and snacks to nibble on. Nice Guy Chicken was provided that day and although it was our first batch for 2014, everyone seemed to enjoy it. The guys played some footy whilst most of us lounged around before deciding to do the Camel’s Hump hike. It had been awhile since most of us had done any sort of hiking so you can imagine the sweat and pain we experienced going uphill. Jess had never gone hiking or camping with us before so it was great to see she enjoyed it. Yep, we’ve definitely started something here.

Let’s hope the next outing won’t be in a years time!

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~

Huy Le

Human Nature

Ask me a year or two ago who my favourite boy band were and the answer was simple: Backstreet Boys. In the grand scheme of things, BSB have encapsulated that fine balance of having catchy pop songs, memorable dance moves and initiating some unique fashion trends of that era.

With so many boy bands that have come and gone over the years, there’s not many that are still standing strong both musically and successfully since their inception. One group I believe is doing this better than anyone else. And their name?

HUMAN NATURE.

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Cape Otway

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Raye’s Outdoors - Camp #3
Great Ocean Road / Cape Otway
March 2012

Of all the camps we’ve been on, I think our third one down at Cape Otway (Great Ocean Road) tends to be overlooked in comparison to our more ‘eventful’ ones. Sandwiched in between our second camp in Grampians/Great Ocean Road and the pivotal fourth Camp at Mount Buffalo, this camp in many ways was a much more quiet but nonetheless important in the history of Backseat Ballads.

It was a relatively small camp with four participants: myself, Peter, Mark and Age. There’s always that sense of excitement you can feel when someone attends their first camping adventure with us and it was evident when we (me, Thai and Mark) all slept in that morning whilst Age was standing outside all packed ready to go at 7am. With a necessary early morning coffee stop at Torquay, we made our way down the Great Ocean Road where we viewed Erskine Falls and had lunch at a food court in Apollo Bay. Looking back now, this was the first occasion where we ate a meal that would becoming a major factor later on.

We ate fried chicken.

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The second hike was to Beauchamp Falls where we relaxed by the cool stream before making our way back to the car in the blistering heat. Not surprisingly we kind of got lost trying to find Johanna’s beach but that allowed us to admire the views and play a few rounds of OSAKA BANG! Now this was the first and only camp where we didn’t have a campfire but that deter us from having fun.

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Warm summer evenings are best complimented with a cold beer and sadly by the time we realised we wanted alcohol, all the stores would have been closed. I guess we’ve learnt our lesson by now - it’s most likely we’ve pushed it to the limit in recent times. Noodles & pasta was consumed, the glowsticks came out and we held our own little rave party whilst all the other campers were fast alseep. There’s something quite relaxing about camping near a beach with the cool night breeze and soft sounds of the waves crashing in the background.

Still, I remember talking to Peter about how easy this camp felt. Obviously we had to plan and prepare for the most part but it made us aware of how easy it was to simply pack and go on a camping trip over the weekend. And I think that’s something I’d like to do more of this year.

~

Huy Le

Backseat Ballads Christmas Party 2013

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Tish had been gone for a good four months and alot had changed since her departure. All of a sudden we were now cooking most weeks for movie night & having all these dinner parties which were things we’d been talking about doing as a group for some time.

The Christmas party we had the previous year (2012) turned out great though I was in a foul mood at the start. I wasn’t going to let that be the case this year and luckily, I feel more relaxed and control when hosting. We made an extremely nice batch of NGC with many of the guys complimenting it and saying we should really sell this.

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The second main for the night was Neil’s roast pork belly, something he had been thinking about making. Initially I thought he was pulling my leg but I was amazed when he entered with the roast in both hands and the gravy pot on top. But sadly, no graviander this time round. Sure it was a fail in some ways with the extremely hard skin but the meat was nice and tender. It doesn’t matter to me: he said he’d cook it and he did.

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I was extremely proud of him that night.

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And the sides included hand-made dumplings by Tom and Peter’s coleslaw… from Safeway.

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~

It was nice night to just kick back with friends, share a meal together with some drinks and a few laughs. In a way the night did feel incomplete, I felt that some of the others should have been there as well. 

But that’s alright.There’s always next year.

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~

Huy Le

Cheesbuger Pizza Crust & 24 Hour K-Mart

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Anytime something remotely new or interesting comes out from any fast food joint, you can guarantee at least one of us will try it. Whether it was KFC’s chicken pie or Pizza Hut’s hotdog stuffed crust, someone was always willing to be the first to sample it and report their feedback to the others. This time, it was Pizza Hut’s new Cheeseburger Pizza Crust.

Obviously marketing plays a big part and we’d ourselves always salivating whenever we see their promotional images knowing that we’d most likely be disappointed when we get the actual product. This was time was no different. Me, Age and Peter had planned to try it out on Friday and I was hesitant once I read some reviews on it. Still, Age convinced me to try it out, I think it was moreso we didn’t want to spend our Friday night cooped up at home. A few messages later and Neil decided to join in as well.

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And the verdict? Don’t bother. The ‘cheeseburger’ resembled more of a meatball than a patty which ended up tasting like a sausage roll (similar the ones from Pie Face). Furthermore the meat wasn’t even great and having this crust meant less toppings on the base. And the final factor is price. We decided to get the meal deal which included the cheeseburger crust pizza, a large pizza, 1.5l drink and garlic bread all for $29.95. Bloody ridiculous.

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We smashed through it and decided to head off to the 24 hour K-Mart in Werribee since Age wanted to buy cheap hoodies and a picnic rug. By the time we left I was already beginning to feel tired and napped most of the way back. Oh well, I can’t wait for the big picnic we’ll be having tomorrow. Hopefully that’ll be abit more eventful and interesting to read about :)

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~

Huy Le

Me, Myself & I [Aussie Pop]

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A few weeks ago I invited a few of the guys over on an extremely warm Sunday evening. Here in Melbourne we had been experiencing some ridiculously hot days and I thought, why not kick back with the boys over some beers and snacks.

As we sat around outside eating nachos and getting bitten by mosquitoes, I started talking about the Nottest 100 list to Law. Frankly I was quite outraged as half the songs on the list were songs I love. You can tell as these were the songs that tended to appear on the Raye’s Outdoors Mix. We began going through the list and as expected, the guys were also outraged by some of the choices.

I mean, c’mon, Total Eclipse of the Heart?! That’s like one of the greatest powerballads of all time!

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From there we began to youtube Australian pop music videos from the late 90s/early 00. Now anyone who’s watched Video Hits or Rage will know we weren’t always renowned for our alternative indie artists like now. A lot of it was just pure manufactured crap that somehow was entertaining/catchy in their own twisted ways. Funny because as we made our way through bands such as Scandal’us, Mercury 4 and Gabriella Cilmi that’s when it suddenly hit me.

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I remembered at the very moment why I started Backseat Ballads in the first place.

Just that session with all of us singing along and laughing to all these songs reminded me of when me, Law, John and Raye use to do this after our first camp back in 2011. Our love for cheesy ballads and pop songs evolve into what would be known as Me, Myself & I. Yep, another facebook group!

And probably the most important factor would stem from that warm summers night. And our love/obsession has grown exponentially ever since.

~

It’s who we are as humans, it’s in our nature.

It’s why… We sing. 

Oh yeh.

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Huy Le

Michael Bolton – How Can We Be Lovers. (32 plays)

Michael Bolton | How Can We Be Lovers

Raye’s Outdoors Mix: BSB 2 Year Anniversary Theme Song

With the official 2 year anniversary since the inception of Backseat Ballads, I figure it would only seem right if we had a song to commemorate this occasion. I mean, shit, this blog has been running for two years! I can still remember the moment when I made this blog and little did I know how much of an impact this would have on not only me but the others in the group (I hope).

And what better than the smooth intense vocals of our man, Michael Bolton. For a long time I’ve been meaning to write something up for this song and it’s only fitting this should be the case. For it was this song that would usher in a new era. This was the first song on what would be the very first edition of the Raye’s Outdoors Mix

It was on our first camp and we had just left Healesville to make our way to Maroondah Dam. Peter told me to put on my cd and with glee I inserted it in and anticpated the reactions of my fellow passengers (Law and Raye). And once those notes hit, you can hear the sound of excitement fill the car. I’ll never forget that moment and it’s one of the reasons why this song will always hold a special place not only in my heart but the legacy that has come to be since that sunny December day in 2011.