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July remains a month of Zero thinking
13.7.04 -
As intimated in the last edition of the Bloody Newsletter, July has been declared another month of No Thinking. It was the path of least resistance really, requiring no effort at all - a perfect example of No Thinking in fact. The rewarding part of releasing a CD is the feedback we get, and this No Thinking CD has been no exception. Apart from the fact that our fans are simply happy that we've released anything at all after such a long dry-spell, there's been some genuine surprise at our versions of some well-worn not-really-very-bluesy standards, on what, afterall, is supposed to be a blues album.
After decades of pushing our own rather idiosynchratic musical direction, it's easy to forget that the first-up listener can often be daunted by the unfamiliarity of what they're hearing. (A retired fellow musician at our recent in-store in Kyneton said that he had to 'walk away' from our music when we were playing at Latrobe Uni in the early '70s, because of its 'dissonance') They are simply unable to form an opinion as to whether it's worth persevering with.
So, it's with a some amusement, tinged with the teensiest smidgin of chagrin, we hear comments like 'I actually like this!' and 'These guys can play after all!' etc., all because we're doing something recognisable. Look, I'm the first to admit I'm not a virtuoso anything, but I like to think I've got an ability to interpret and arrange, a desire to put things in some kind of coherent order - well, coherent in my mind, at least. I once heard a respected conductor (aren't they all?) explaining about the creative process. 'Anybody can write a song,' he said, (it took a couple of days to absorb this point alone), 'it's what you do with it that counts.'
Once I'd got over the initial shock, I found this to be profound, and I think that's what we do; we do things to songs. Along the same lines, the Police claimed that, (at some moment when they actually got along well enough to write together), if they worked on a song for a certain time and it wasn't happening, they scrapped it and went on to another song. They weren't at all precious about 'the song'.
This is going nowhere in particular. Just more No Thinking aloud. Obviously time to move on to the next project.

PS - The Pith & Wind this month may seem a little melancholy. I'm happy to report that my faith in the bitch music has been restored since though. A friend came over from Adelaide and I suggested we go to the Rainbow on the Tuesday evening to catch Paul Williamson. Of course, Paul plays on a Monday night, so we scoured the streets of Fitzroy on foot, trying to find a bar with some decent music. We'd all but given up, when we spotted a trombonist silhouetted in the upstairs window on the corner of Johnston and Brunswick Sts. We trundled up the stairs to find a jazz trio (drums, bass and sax) augmented with the trombonist we'd seen from the street. The bass player turned out to be Jeremy Alsop, (Bill's choice for No. 1 bass guitarist in the land), and the ensemble played with wit and panache, in the course of which they made a bitter old man truly happy.

- Just go there!

Issue # 9
  Rock and roll is dead - again
Over the years there have been many pronouncements to the effect that rock & roll is dead. These pronouncements are obviously made by people with enough clout to get their thoughts published in the first place, but are usually made at that point in their careers when they can’t think of anything else to get their names in print.
In some cases this view is sincerely held, but I’ve always consoled myself that it’s just their opinion, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the true and objective state of things. I rank it with the sporadic utterances to the effect that God is dead, and then it’s only sensational when the Archbishop of Canterbury expresses the view, (and even then it was only really newsworthy because he opined that God never existed in the first place).
Now I’m having second thoughts about rock and roll. Nobody’s going to publish my
views (apart from myself), but I feel disillusioned and depressed, and ready to argue the unarguable..
Mind you, my frame of mind could be the cumulative effect of the events of the weekend. Allow me to recount my adventures.
That well-known musical and intellectual dilettante, Humphrey B. Flaubert, invited us to TISM’s CD launch on the weekend, and so Bill and I, being otherwise unoccupied, happily trotted down to the Hi Fi Bar on Friday night.
We timed it so we’d arrive as TISM hit the stage, thereby avoiding any problems getting in. The only hitch was that the crowd was well and truly stacked to the rafters in the main room when we did finally arrive, so we elected to watch the show from the upstairs bar.
Now, this is where you might begin to quarrel with my credentials as an audient, but I’ll immediately confess that, as a performer of long-standing, I have a problem adjusting to the role of audient. You see, I don’t want to participate; I want to observe, I want to see what the act has to offer, I want to see how the audience reacts, and I don’t want to become involved in that transaction.
As a consequence, the fact that the upstairs bar at the Hi Fi Bar is glassed in and has an after-thought audio feed from the sound system is not a problem for me. OK, so I’m not hearing the band as is the bulk of the audience, but I’m not being pushed from pillar to post by happily deranged, booze-swilling TISM fanatics either, and I’m actually quite glad of that.
So, our vantage point was comfortable enough, but because of our finely timed arrival, there was no seating available, and Bill and I were compelled to stand. TISM kept us waiting (of course!) and didn’t actually take the stage until 11.35-ish. (Interestingly there seemed to be very little sense of anticipation – the crowd just chatted amongst themselves while underwater versions of songs by Jet and other pop acts TISM savagely take the piss out of, played in the background; meanwhile various roadies and other TISM coterie casually sauntered in and out of the curtains on various unspecified missions, also rather attenuating any potential drama).
When the curtains finally opened, a representation of the Australian Idol set was revealed, replete with a panel of judges. Then the eight TISMs emerged, looking much as they did on the cover of the EG, (i.e. rather like Woody Allen sperm), but with enormous placards on their heads declaring themselves to to be John (x 3), Paul, George or Ringo.
I’ve not seen a TISM performance before, but I imagine they were premiering quite a bit of new material. The audience was totally unfazed; new, old, it was all the same to them. Anyway, I’m not about to critique the performance. (I would, however, like to engage in a discussion with Humphrey about the much-vaunted politics of it all. It seems the thing they most detest in pop music is the success of mediocrity, and so their own success must be an anathema to their ideals). read more

  I'm going down - again!
After an overwhelming response to last months rave re' down-tuning, I will continue on in the same vein. Try this little exercise: put on a CD you can play along with, (it doesn't matter which tuning you are using), and play along. Then change to another down-tuning of your own choice and play along again, (same CD). Repeat the process with any tunings you like playing in, and then change the CD as well. This will prepare you for when you play live, and it won't matter what key the song is in or which tuning you are using, you will be comfortable any which way. Most good blues CDs make for a good training ground. Might I suggest our Spectrum Plays The Blues CD Spill. Most of the songs have three chords,(or less), and are a twelve bar, or a variation of same. Once you can play along with your CDs, that is, without screwing up or inaccurate pitching, you will be able to sit in with anybody and hold your own - read more
  Oh What A Night!!
Hi everybody! Hope you’re all well.Well, the wedding was amazing. Lisa (my wife) and I had an absolutely fantastic time (lots of fun), and judging by the feedback we’ve received, so did our guests. It was truly a magical evening. The music was perfect: the piper, Bill Ogilvie, and the Volcano team, Mike, Bill and Enza, helped create a wonderful mood and atmosphere during the ceremony, stirring up lots of emotion (lots of tingles up the back and tears in the eyes. The very groovy Stovetop sat it back with a cool set during drinks and nibbles. These guys are cool!
Mick Pealing with Gary, Jason and Nigel from Rusty Nails, helped us sing and dance the night away with three sets of great music, good vibes and big vocals. As for the venue…well Montsalvat is just gorgeous; what a lovely place. It’s so romantic, mystical and inspiring. Just perfect! read more

Bloody hell! Robbo's finally got it together! So, where's the Dealer of the Month then? Just might have to be put on ice for the moment while I try and find that missing cabana... Incidentally, check out the Live Reviews link on the Reviews page for an in-depth appraisal of the No Thinking launch - well, in-depth about the venue, anyway..


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