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Who's that knocking?

Mike just makes it to the stage for the Johnny Be Good knees-up at Ringwood's Karralyka Centre
gig report
Fri. 17 Frankston Arts Centre Fri. Karralyka Centre Ringwood Sat. 25 Geelong Arts Centre
The Rick Price tour winds up
26.7.15 - The Rick Price From Tamborine Mountain to Tennesse Sky tour wound up last night at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre, but there were a couple of other stops previously on the tour that remain unreported, namely the Frankston Arts Centre (Friday 17th) and Ringwood's Karralyka Centre (Friday 24th). As regards my part of the show, my right-hand man Pip Joyce and I got tighter and more relaxed every performance. Pip's brimming with ideas both vocally and guitar-wise and it would be an opportunity missed if I didn't take the combination further, perhaps in the recording studio?
Up till now I haven't mentioned Greg Champion. Greg's an intelligent performer and can respond to audience moods with an endless variety of droll observations - mostly on football as you'd expect, but that's his trade after all. He told me last night he has to come up with eight new footy parodies a week (!) for the Coodabeens, (only over the winter months but still!) and still finds the energy and desire to keep coming up with non-footy songs ('babies') of his own! Anyway, I'm hoping to be inspired by Greg's example..
Rick Price's performances were amazingly consistent and I'm still of the opinion his voice is one of the very best in Australian pop. His warm, slightly self-deprecating relationship with his audience surprised me - for some reason, perhaps the serious trajectory of most of his songs, I found the humour unexpected. His singing and playing were both impeccable on all the shows. He obviously loves performing and I feel he could actually go on for longer than an audience might be prepared to bear..
I particularly liked his wandering into the audience to sing a song armed only with an unamplified ukulele, and that he had a couple of guys up on stage to sing a song with him - one in Bendigo and one last night in Geelong. It turns out they were the winners in his crowd-funding exercise for the album. Just as well both of them could sing OK I guess. I wonder what would've happened had they not been good singers?
There has to be at least one stupid Mike Rudd story, but actually there's one plus a bonus half. The silliest was on Friday night at the Karralyka Centre, the first instalment of which was when I had to knock on Rick's dressing room door before his set and inform him that I'd left my D harp at home and that we'd have to play Johnny Be Good in the key of G (He was very good about it, incidentally).
As if that wasn't bad enough I was sitting in the auditorium with Maria when Rick introduced Jennifer Lee to the audience and I suddenly realised that that was my cue and that I was supposed to join Rick, Jen and Pip on stage for Johnny Be Good which was coming up next.
I didn't want to be unprofessional and rush up to the stage from the audience, so I darted out to the foyer and found the back-stage door.
It was locked. I scuttled uncertainly outside hoping to find the door we'd come in when we arrived. I found that I'd left from a different entrance and was on the wrong side of the building and didn't recognise anything.
I went to the right. Nothing. I trotted over to the left. There was a door, but it wasn't the door I remembered.
I went up to it more in desperation than hope and turned the handle.
It was locked. I stepped back in despair and panic consumed me.
The door opened. It was Daniel, half of the on-stage team of Daniel and Jordan.
'I think they're waiting for you', he said and I could hear the Rick and Pip on stage in a Johnny Be Good holding pattern, which apparently they'd been doing for the past couple of minutes.
I grabbed my harmonica and marched onto the stage, my arm raised in triumph.
I wonder if there's CCTV of me charging around in the cold and dark in an absolute panic?
Moments like that aside, the tour was a breeze and a chance for me to engage with some new faces as well as reacquaint myself with some old ones. I've got to thank Dynamic Entertainment's Gavin Nolan for including me on the bill and for Rick Price (flying back to Nashville as I write this) and the rest of the team for putting up with me and my occasional forays into Seniors' World.

Post Script - Oh yes, the bonus half stupidity bit. It seems I left my pair of Aldi special long-johns at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre last night. That's going to be an interesting recovery project.

A Concert for Ross Hannaford

1) Ross Hannaford and Ray Pereira 2) Mike appears late in the evening to do his party trick - again..
gig report
Sat. 18.7.15 A Concert for Ross Hannaford The MEMO Acland St St Kilda
Hanna's 'do' goes into infinity
19.7.15 -
Maria and I were the first to arrive in the room. It was 7.30. It was cold. We found our way to the band room backstage where there were fruit and drinks laid on and waited. The whole cast of A Concert for Ross Hannaford must've assembled in that tiny room over the course of the evening, although the room was only big enough for a dozen at a time.
Hanna was spirited to the side of the stage just before 8.30 resplendant in his orange jump suit, matching beanie and gold boots. The show was due to start at 8.30 and Brian Nankervis announced to the packed room that Hanna was going to open proceedings. Hanna ambled uncertainly onto the stage and said a few grateful words and was joined by Ray Pereira (percussion) and Russell Smith (keys and trumpet). There were a good few minutes of Hanna setting up his various pedals when you could've heard a pin drop in the expectant hush - and then he began his first loping reggae, which happened to be a love song he wrote for Lorraine when they were holidaying together in Bali.
Everybody held their breath when Hanna lurched to his feet in the second number and started swooping around the stage like some demented orange beanpole in slow motion, and even though he didn't stagger or fall we collectively felt the effort must've taken it out of him.
It was a beautiful moment in time - and then he was gone, spirited away the same way he arrived. The show proper then ground into action and it became increasingly clear that the estimated time of my contribution was going to be put back - and back, which I suppose you might expect at such an event. It was close to 11.30 by the time I took to the stage, but I got a rousing reception anyway.
Whatever you thought of the entertainment, the indisputably good thing is that these two MEMO shows are going to raise much-needed cash for the irreplaceably singular man and performer that is Ross Hannaford and hopefully give him an extra lease on the life that we would all like him to share with us a lot longer.

Rick Prrice and Jennfer Lee's duet continues in Bendigo's classic Capital Theatre
gig report

Thurs. 16.7.15 Rick Price tour at the Capital Theatre Bendigo
Rick Price in Bendigo
17.7.15 -
I drove up to Bendigo with Pip Joyce to find the Capital Theatre was the very imposing building that looks more like museum than a theatre next to the Art Gallery that Maria and I visited not so long ago. Needless to say the stage area was very chilly but happily for the audience the auditorium was quite cosy by contrast.
Rick was having some problems with the sound guy when we arrived and Pip and I had an indifferent sound check ourselves, which I took as a good omen in the 'bad sound check, good performance' mode.
Greg Champion and I had a bit of a chat backstage about Ross Hannaford. I think Greg is considerably miffed not to be invited to appear the weekend's benefits as he worked with Hanna for a number of years in a couple of outfits. I'll try to remember to pass on Greg's best wishes at the shows.
During the interval Rick told me there was a 'hard-core' Rudd fan in the foyer, but after I finished chatting to him and a couple of other enthusiasts I found the door back to the stage was locked so I went and had a listen to Rick from the comfort of the auditorium. This just reinforced my impressions from the Warragul show of his abilities as a performer. The major variation was his inviting a young bloke on stage to sing one of Rick's songs (unrehearsed) - I wondered if I'd ever manage to be able to do the same thing with one of my songs. I doubt it somehow.
Thankfully I was able to get back to the stage for the Johnny Be Good rendition which allowed Pip and I to leave before the show finished and we were back in Melbourne just after midnight. Frankston tonight!


Mick & Broc and a barrel full of monkeys at the Winelarder on Sunday
gig report
Sun. 12.7.15 Mick & Broc at the Winelarder
Winter in Brighton
13.7.15 -
In one respect it's good to know that winter can give even Brightonians pause for thought - but when there were only two people in the room (and one of those was Maria) when we began our first set at 5.00 I have to admit to being a little concerned. Uncertainty about the starting time might've had something to do with it because by 6.00 the place was looking pleasantly filled and the audience was responding well above its weight, singing along when required and
applauding enthustiastically - and suddenly the winter chill seemed to evaporate..
After the show we wandered over the road with the Drs Sellers and Rackman CEO, Martyn Sullivan to a Greek restaurant where Maria was doted on by the management and we all enjoyed a slap-up meal as a result. Hooray!
Somewhere in Gippsland a man is singing his heart out..

Rick Price invited Jennifer Lee on stage for a duet in Warragul
gig report
Sat. 11.7.15 West Gippsland Arts Centre with Greg Champion
The Rick Price tour kicks off in Warragul

12.7.15 - The much-heralded cold front was nudging its way into Victoria as I took to the Monash for the uncharted territory of Warragul - I don't think I've ever played there over my extended career on the road. I arrived at the appointed hour just as most of the crew and Rick himself arrived - that is a good three and a half hours before kick-off at 8.00. Rick refreshingly eschews foldback and so when it came time for me and Pip to soundcheck we tried a similar approach at his suggestion - and it worked!
Ever the professional, Greg Champion arrived a few minutes before his opening spot and predictably had the crowd in the palm of his hand and equally predictably in stitches. Pip and I opened with Xavier Rudd is not my Son which I think lost something by comparison so we might try opening with Jamaican Farewell next time, which despite its recent history (see Spaz attack gig report below) works well with Pip's complementary guitar work.
The set went OK and the crowd joined in the appropriate parts in Esmeralda and I'll Be Gone despite being slightly bemused about who the hell I was. Rick was very generous in his comments about my place in Aussie rock history during his set so hopefully there'll be a couple of his fans taking the time to Google me today.
Rick spent a very generous two hours on stage and although I was intending to stay anyway I had no choice in the end as I'd lent him my guitar stand. He's probably the most accurate singer I've heard in the pop field and clearly enjoys singing hugely. I wasn't expecting the moments of self-deprecating comedy but it lightened the mood when it was needed. His guitar playing was rhythmically agile and again accurate and his piano playing opened up new melodic possibilities - I think that's where his hits were generated.
He said on the Conversation Hour that his home was now Nashville and there was a perceptible American burr in his patter and an American slant in the presentation of his music, neither of which detracted from the show as far as the fans that had ventured out on such a chilly evening were concerned.
Jen, Pip and I joined Rick for Johnny Be Good but there was still another thirty minutes to go, including the encore. If you're a Rick Price fan or simply want to catch an Aussie expat at the top of his game before he returns to Nashville you should make an effort to see his show. Check out the Gigs page for dates.

Mick and Rick outside the Arts Centre before grilling

Rick Price tour kicks off this Saturday
10.7.15 -
The first step was meeting up with Rick and promoter Gavin Nolan this morning at the Arts Centre before toddling down to the ABC for an interview at 774 with Leon Compton, who's filling in for Jon Faine while he's in Greece. Rick's pretty easy to get on with and we had a bit to chat about, there and at the studio.
Mark Seymour (and guitarist Cameron) chatted and played a song from Mark's new album, Mayday, and Mark sat in while Rick played Tennesse Sky from his new album of the same name. Then the three of us chatted with Leon and his Double J offsider Jacinta until midday, had our photos taken and then headed back out into the brisk outdoors.
First show tomorrow in Warragul and I'm looking forward to hearing Rick's solo set. His preference is performing solo and he's obviously very comfortable in that role. Check out the songs and the interview on the Conversation Hour.

Squirt! Splat! Mike gets it right, sadly after the night
gig report
Wed. 8.7.15 Clifton Hill Pubbrew Acoustic Sessios
Spaz attack spoils the fun
9.7.15 -
I was half looking forward to this one. The Clifton Hill can feel like the gig you have when you haven't got a gig, which is mostly true of a Wednesday night anyway, but I was in the mood to experiment with my trusty Canora nylon-string acoustic in place of George Martin whom I find can be a little prickly.
I'd decided to do the original version of Jamaican Farewell second up and had just launched into it when I realised I couldn't see the dots on the guitar neck in the gloomy light and started to miss chords left, right and sideways. I nearly stopped. Probably should have. So today I touched up the dots with a white-out pen.. (pic)
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