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Hard Way To Go..
29.3.05 - I was fumbling round in the dark
at 8.00-ish yesterday morning trying to find News Radio when
I heard the news about Paul Hester's death. I've had a day to
try and absorb the fact that he's gone and the circumstances
of his going, (which got more bizarre as the day wore on), and
in the end I simply concluded the world is a darker place without
the Hess. As readers of this website will know, Bill and I had
a brief musical association with Paul in The
Fez a few years ago, and we also spent some hilarious 'gentlemen's
evenings' recording at his home studios. Paul was a generous
and effusive host, and obviously had real affection for 'Ruddy
and Putty' and what we represented as '70s rock music pioneers.
(His favourite Ariel song? A Hard Way To Go - the lines
'Simulate experience, synthesise emotion' in particular held
some fascination for him). The Fez signed off in style on the
final episode of Hessies Shed and our paths subsequently diverged.
Paul was a restless soul and wore his emotions for everyone
to see - the Foxtel replay last night of the Crowdies last concert
demonstrated that - and, as anybody who was close to him can
testify, he was constantly pricking and probing trying to extract
the maximum from every living moment. That he should end his
life this way is disturbing and confronting for his family and
friends, but his fans can take some comfort in the archival
legacy that Hess, the irrepressible, irresponsible, ever-romantic
larrikin has left us.
Frankston Guitar Festival stuff
- These fine shots of Bill and me were sent by Gerard
Anderson, who is a photographer who seems to specialise
in music shots. Why not check out his website
- you'll find he's got heaps of fine shots from festivals and
gigs around Melbourne.
Dettmer goes ape on radio
- Bill Dettmer is well known to Peninsula-ites
in particular as a mover and shaker in the music biz, and he's
just written to me about a new radio show he's hosting. He's
extended an invitation for us to appear on the show, so I'll
keep you informed.
Bill says: 'In three weeks I am back on radio with a show all
about LIVE music. The Roar of the Crowd (I like that)
or Hot and LIVEly with Bill Dettmer (I'm still
trying to figure out the best name). It's on 97.1FM
(MDR) 1.00 - 3.00pm Wednesday arvos
Yes, it's in the hills, but with good signal across town and
a high listening audience. Featuring LIVE recordings, LIVE in
studio performances and interviews. Also: what's happening this
week in LIVE music around town, all the LIVE news about living
with music in Melbourne, all the touring artists talking about
what they're doing, where they're playing and what's HOT and
going down in the LIVE scene. I'll feature local, interstate
and international players plus some of the great live
concerts on CD and vinyl from my personal collection.'
Any artist wanting to do a live to air should call Bill on 0425
792 691 or email Bill at: email@example.com
Send any live show material to PO Box 1481 Frankston
vintage David Porter shots discovered
22.3.05 - In the endless boredom, not to
mention global dimming induced anxiety, I almost forgot. David
Porter sent me a copy of this pic (left) of
Spectrum when I was letting my beard go on its own personal
jihad. He also sent a proof sheet of a very famous
session when Spectrum did their version of the Last Supper in
drag. My son Chris stars on a potty under the table. Check
Ned Evett (see larger
shot) 2) Robbo looks happy enough
Frankston Guitar Festival
- I didn't realise we were the last act on the Festival, so
I thought we were a little bit naughty doing an encore. But
no-one chastised us - in fact, we could have probably played
all night as far as the audience was concerned. The sound was
a bit woofy, but otherwise it was an enjoyable experience, and
a bit of a preview of things to come - inasmuch as we played
a real Spectrum bracket with Daryl on keyboards.
An fascinating character played a solo set before we took the
stage - Ned Evett (pic left) sounded
a bit like an American Billy Bragg meets David Gilmore, and
played a glass-necked guitar with live sampling just to be really
different. check out Ned's
third of Spectrum at Port Fairy..
tries to hide behind Fiona Boyes
Robbo finds another end of the candle
15.3.05 - Gerald McNamara has sent in this
pic which he assures me shows Robbo on stage with, from the
left: Jan Preston (piano), Jim Conway (harmonica), Rory McKibbin
(gtr), Arnie Hanna (of Jim Conway's Big Wheel, gtr), Jam Hostess
Lil' Fi, (Robbo), Fiona Boyes (gtr), Dirk Dubois (bass), Chris
Wilson (harp),and Lucky Oceans (pedal steel). Don't tell me
he's not a bloody legend!
Frankston International Guitar Festival
14.3.05 - Spectrum will be making one of
their all too rare appearances with a keyboardist at this week's
Frankston Guitar Festival. The affable Daryl Roberts
will be our guest on keyboards, and we hope to make up for the
sound meter madness of last month's gig (see Feb's Bloody Newsletter
and Stop Press) which threatened to damage Daryl's delicate
Some people don't think Spectrum is really Spectrum without
keyboards, and I tend to agree with them. It's rather ironic
we've chosen a guitar festival to make this specially
augmented presentation, but there you go. Let's hear it for
appearance at the Frankston International Guitar Festival is
on the evening of Sunday the 20th between 7.00 - 8.00.
cards cometh, the cards taketh away..
14.3.05 - The guy from Hungary
desperately wanting a copy of Spill clinched it, but
it's way overdue anyway. I'm trepidatiously pleased to announce
that we are able to cater for those who would like to purchase
CDs via the website. I've hooked up with PayPal
(a division of eBay) and this should mean a fairly
easy and secure process for purchasers. Check the CDs
page, and if you encounter any problems, please get back
to me on firstname.lastname@example.org
the last LWTTT tour shot..
think of your favourite band..
10.3.05 - And then, magically, all the lights
went out - except the one highlighting Mike, Bill and Robbo..
Well, that's how I remember it anyway. Pam from NSW just
sent me the evidence - I think it's the only shot we've got
of the whole cast. See how many stars you recognise. A free
T-shirt goes to Pam for her fab shot. check
Horror Story #442
6.3.05 - I got an e-mail a few days ago
from a Peter Gordon who'd just recently discovered this site.
He wrote: I have a red strat that I bought in the early
80's from a music store in Boronia (i think...possibly Bosnia).
I was in the store at the time and told the guy he had a crap
array of guitars on offer, with which he said "check this
baby out". In almost the same sentence he said it was previously
Mike Rudds guitar.
To be honest i nearly laughed at the sight of this thing, it
had all that Roland synth stuff built into it (it was the 80's)
and had a teak neck.
I plugged 'Ol Bluey' in....and was staggered by the sound.
|Not the synth..the
guitar. It still sounds awesome to this day. It has
had a significant overhaul...in fact I have spent $2,700 on
her. New neck, rip out the synth gear and god knows what else....but
Unfortunately when I took it in for the rebuild Jim and Merv
Cargill thought they would do me a favour and repaint her for
me....and replace the pickup covers and guards. I hate them
However, I have always wondered
if it was in fact one of Mikes. If not, I am sure he probably
wishes it was. Whats more he no doubt doesnt give a rats.
I thought I'd remember if I had ever owned a red Strat,
and told Peter so. But there's a twist to this story. You'll
remember Spectrum played at the McWilliams Winery a couple of
weeks ago. I didn't mention it at the time, but Paul
Murphy approached me at the gig with a DVD of the Mushroom
Evolution Concert. The Heaters played a couple of numbers at
the concert, including a version of I'll Be Gone (what
else?) with Ariel's Harvey James and Glyn
Mason as guests. For some time now, Paul has been attempting
to put together the definitive pictorial history of Spectrum,
Ariel et al. There's quite a bit of it around, but
it's difficult to pin down, and some eras are pretty light on
for images. The Heaters aren't particularly well represented
and Paul thought the footage from this concert would fill in
the last major gap. (Hopefully I'll have more news on Paul's
I put the DVD in my gig bag and promptly forgot about it - that
is, until last night at the Nighthawk Blues gig when I rediscovered
it. So, this evening I put it on - and bugger me! There was
I, as large as life and hirsute as anything, playing a red Strat
with a teak neck !! (pic)
The Roland synth stuff I'm not owning up to, mind you. But,
given that I'd completely erased the red Strat from the memory
banks, anything's possible.
So, I'm calling on all you guitarists out there - give me your
weird and wonderful guitar stories and I'll print 'em right
here on this website. I'm sure I've got a few more stories myself
- if only I could remember them..
The first story has
arrived - and it involves another of my guitars! Check
benefit goes off!
Phil Manning tunes with forking smile 2) Pig Morgan thinks
of a pastie he once ate
Billy puffs up - It is the year of the Rooster 4) Paul Christie
towls off the Rat in anticipation
Bill pops up behind Phil Pappas and Alan Howe 6) The crowd
rocks happily to Daddy Cool
The wizards of joyful music, Daddy Who? Daddy
Cool, that's who!
Thorpie shakes the Bowl's foundations 9) They were recording
the show - so watch out for it sometime on TV
Shane Bourne, Wilbur Wilde, Jane Clifton and Phil Manning
- again 11) Billy storms off stage on a high-ding
Chisel do the Chisel thing with Wilbur blowing his horn
enlargements of 6, 7, 8 & 12)
28.2.05 - Yesterday (Sunday) I was preparing
to do the BAS in a leisurely fashion for a change - I usually
leave it till the day on which it's due - and was having a
light lunch with management on the banks of the Yarra when
the mobile rang. It was Bill. He said Thorpie had rung and
asked if we were interested in appearing with the Aztecs that
evening at the Tsunami benefit. (When I got home, I found
Billy had left this
message on my answerphone). Actually I wasn't, but I could
hear the barely restrained anticipation in Bill's voice and
so I thought better of grumpily saying 'no' and grumpily agreed.
'Bugger', I thought, 'there goes my quiet afternoon doing
the bloody tax.' The only consolation was that Robbo was at
the Bowl enjoying the show and we might be able to surprise
him with our little cameo.
As we arrived we could hear Farnsey doing The Voice, but he'd
finished his set by the time we checked in to the Aztecs'
green room and Daddy Cool was preparing to rock the house.
We watched them from back stage as they
wove their old black magic all over again, just as though
there'd been no indecently long interval at all between drinks.
Hanna looked truly spectacular of course, and Ross was, well,
Ross, but it's the musical combination of the four original
members that feels so natural and un-manufactured. I hope
we don't have to wait that long again before they 'come back
again' - well, we simply can't!
Then it was Thorpie's turn. Apparently he's been playing
'our' tune since the LWTTT tour, but it's a measure of the
man and his passion that he thought to invite Bill and me
to join the Aztecs on stage to perform it with him. I was
astonished to discover before the show that he had no set
list, and I mentioned His Bobness' propensity to spring songs
on his band. Billy had witnessed this particular idiosyncrasy
of Dylan's at close hand when he was living in the States,
and knew a couple of accomplished guitarists who had been
reduced to quivering wrecks working on the Dylan tours.
Anyway, all anybody knew was that I'll Be Gone was
to be the third number. Thorpie was going to play the opening
harp line and I was going to echo it from off-stage. That
sequence would be repeated and then I would wander on stage
and somehow we'd navigate through the rest of the song.
Well, I suppose that's what happened - roughly. (check the
news review) And, speaking of rough, what was that smooch
about at the end of the song? Before you entertain thoughts
of kissing me again young Billy, make sure you shave off that
Then came the Chisels. A truly unique and very Aussie band,
with their celebrated 'subversive' approach to pub pop/rock
music. That they're able to carry off hook-laden pop songs,
gut wrenching ballads and furious guitar propelled rock with
equal conviction says a lot about the combination of talents,
but an awful lot more about the musical focal point of the
outfit - Ian Moss. I should take a little space to expand
on this guitarists' guitarist, whilst never forgetting that
he has voice to die for as well.
My first guitar playing idol was Eric Clapton. When I heard
the Bluesbreakers' Beano album for the first time,
it was a revelation. I'd never really heard of, let alone
listened to the black players that Clapton had digested -
all I knew was that Eric was doing something that connected
with me right then and there. And the tone.. the combination
of Gibson Les Paul, (later stolen), and ambiently recorded
30 watt Marshall combo amp, served both the intention and
the technique and made it a seamless whole. However, the latter-day
Clapton has embraced the Fender Stratocaster - and, frankly,
he seems to be a bit lost on the instrument.
In absolute contrast, Ian Moss makes the Strat speak so eloquently
that even young girls, who haven't a clue who is playing what,
go weak at the knees when he plays. As anybody who has played
a Strat knows, (i.e. me), the temptation is to muck
around with its single pole-ness using tone settings and effects
to try and mask technical inadequacies. Where the Gibson humbucker
fudges and sustains, Fender pickups can sound thin and feeble,
at the same time painfully reproducing every wayward slur
and overwrought bend. Ian Moss is a Strat Master - his sound
is loud but honest, and as 'Strat' as you will ever hear,
and I just can't think of a better player in the pop/rock/blues
genre - anywhere. And, as I said, he sings gorgeously too.
Anyhow, back to the Tsunami concert. Although I'm fairly reclusive
at the best of times and can honestly do without the 'Hail
fellow, well met' scene, it was good to see the LWTTT crowd
again, but especially good to see DC back on board - they're
one of a kind - and to see the other acts we caught still
at the top of their game. And if that was the Melbourne Whatever
Festival, then it was really good to see it at the Bowl, as
opposed to the tragedy of Jeff's Shed, and out of the unwinnable
competition with the St Kilda Festival. Now all it needs is
some individual character. Let's pretend that that was the
PS - My favourite moment of the evening was Wilbur's
second spot with the Chisels. The moment came and Wilbur timed
his arrival at the mic to perfection, casually played his
first note - and Barnesy yelled at him 'Piano solo!'
out a correpondent's review of the concert - and Alana
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