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Hale the king!
29.8.05 - Some of you may be aware of my trying to catch Gerry Hale (pic) and band at the Terminus Hotel, (A Separate Reality), so will be relieved I've been at least partially successful this time around. Well, I got the night right, anyway. However, I did manage to get there a bit late, not noticing that they start at the very sensible time of 7.30. Ah well, next time. I had time to knock back one solitary G&T and hear maybe four or five numbers, including a couple of Uncle Bill staples, Concrete And Clay and I Scare Myself.
I gather the guitarist and mandolin players were first-nighter stand-ins, in which case they acquitted themselves admirably. Gerry is doing the right thing by surrounding himself with young gals, in this case on double bass and harmony vocals, and it's a ploy which I could do well to emulate in my less interesting phase of visual decline. Check 'em out next Monday - at 7.30 of course..
Brian Baker at the Rainbow

1) Brian and Ella attract the cameras recording the show (see large shot) 2) Dave Walker sings

3) Mark Smith is distracted from the raffle draw 4) Cres Crisp (right) and Empire drummer Fallon Williams
Another CD launch at the Rainbow
27.8.05 -
I was facing the prospect of watching the cricket as my sole form of entertainment last night, when I remembered the Brian Baker Prague Radio CD launch at the Rainbow. My clothes still stank of tobacco smoke from Wednesday night, so my clothes at least were in the mood, and I eventually got to the Rainbow about ten minutes into the band's first set. The crowd was fairly subdued at this stage, and staring fascinated at the band, who were in turn being visually interrogated by a couple of cameramen, as well as assorted other photographers. All the preparation the band has put into the repertoire was paying off, because, despite all the distractions, and the handicap of the material being totally unfamiliar to a large percentage of the audience, the band was able to inject the music with the confidence and warmth needed when being scrutinised by cameras - even if they are your own.
It has to be said the Rainbow PA is in dire need of maintenance, not to mention being set up in such a way that the band can unwittingly blast the bejesus out of the patrons, but Brian and the team had anticipated all the traps and never meandered above an extremely listenable level. Indeed, the crowd that had been so subdued when I arrived, was now chatting at such a level as to overpower the band on occasions.
I'm hypnotised by the interaction between Brian and his daugher Ella. They not only harmonise vocally, their movements are perfectly in harmony too. They are far more a duet live than on record, where Brian is the sole focus, and Ella is a seductive visual complement to Brian's more ascetic, (while cheerful), demeanour.
My reverie was interrupted by the unexpected appearance of Cres Crisp, (former MRQ keyboardist), and later his partner, Riley Jordan. Cres lives in the hills and is a neighbour of Brian's, and was there as a gesture of good will and support - and he happens to like the music. We had a bit of a chat, and then Cres introduced me to Fallon Williams, the Empire drummer (pic). Fallon's a bit of a software hustler apparently, and has introduced Cres to a dazzling array of new programmes. We agreed that we both like to keep it simple, and then I drifted off to try and get a photo of the Empire guitarist Mark Smith (pic) while the raffle was being drawn.
The band started playing again, but I started to fade at this point, and walked out into the chill night air, reeking of smoke, but buzzing happily from another enjoyable night at the Rainbow - not to mention a couple of G&Ts..
Three - for the second time

1) Daryl toasts to the success of the night 2) the great Gadsby gets serious widdit

3) Brian blows up a breeze 4) Les Oldperson smells good vibes 5) The peripatetic Nicky Bomba at playschool

6) Don't point that at me, Rudd!
Three successfully re-launched at the Rainbow
25.8.05 -
We don't get to the Rainbow too often, so it was kinda nice to have an excuse to mix with the natives and have a bit of a blow, too. The occasion was the re-launch of Hey Gringo's latest opus, Three, on which I'm quite conspicuous, along with Ross Wilson and Kevin Borich et al. I chatted briefly with Rainbow meister Chick Ratten about health matters, before making a couple of gratuitous appearances on guitar, (Paul Gadsby is more than adequate in this dept.), and then reappearing with Bill and Robbo for a shambolic rendition of You Know What I Mean and I Wanna Know. Thankfully, Ross Wilson brought things back to a professional level with his couple of co-written Gringo songs. His harp playing (that's 'mouth-organ' in Ross-speak), is masterful and his presence is reassuringly authoritative. (He is the Boss).
I managed to extricate myself (and gear) before the end of the evening's events with Daryl and Alana's help, but I'm sure they got along quite OK without me.
Hey Gringo at the Rainbow this Wednesday
21.8.05 -
'So', you say, 'what does this mean to me?' If you're looking for more Spectrum gigs this month, then it means you've got this one last opportunity, 'cause Mike, Bill and Robbo are trekking down to the Rainbow this Wednesday night (the 24th) to lend their support to Daz as he re-launches the Gringos' Three CD. Ross Wilson will be there too, so it promises to be a fun night for the 'Oooh, look how old he looks these days' brigade.
Brian Baker CD release this coming Friday
21.8.05 -
The Rainbow is the venue of choice for CD releases it seems - Brian Baker and his band of Empire loyalists have chosen the historic Fitzroy watering hole to present their latest recording to the public at large - or simply loitering in the area - this coming Friday the 26th.
You can read my thoughts on the band below somewhere, but I recommend you go and check them out. You'll be pleasantly entertained, I warrant.
You've just missed Louie Louie weekend..
22.8.05 -
I love the Net. You get all sorts of useless tidbits - or even useful ones, but too late. One such was an e-mail that arrived from the Louie Louie site yesterday. Eric Predoehl writes: 'It was on Friday, August 19, 1983 that very big things happened for songwriter Richard Berry. Invited as a special guest to a "Maximum: Louie Louie" marathon up at KFJC Radio in Los Altos Hills, California..' I dunno. If you're that interested, check out the site

Mike and Bill close their eyes and think of Robbo..
Daryl takes duo by surprise
18.8.05 - OK, I'd almost adjusted to the fact that you didn't make it to the Clifton Hill, when Daryl reminds me that even he turned up with no prompting, by sending me this photo he took with his fab new night vision camera. I'll be seeing Daryl tomorrow arvo when we put a couple of keyboard overdubs on the new Spectrum album we're recording at the moment. Apparently Daryl's connections got him the camera with minimal loss of life. It's obviously a great camera - given the lighting at the Clifton Hill it's a miracle you can see anything at all..

Tim Gaze laughs to see such fun
Tim Gaze turns the screw
18.8.05 -
It's been two days of relentless interrogation - first it was Nimmervoll and Brown, today it was ex-Ariel guitarist, Tim Gaze. The surroundings were top-flight rock & roll, a bit of a change from my back yard. Tim's playing with Jimmy Barnes at the Palladium and we were on the twenty-second floor of the Meridien Promenade, no less. I was probed mercilessly for a couple of hours and was found later, dazed and confused, in the Crown carpark.

1) Eris plays with it 2) Alana rests her head on Mike's bosom
Clifton Hill gig a hit - even though you weren't there!
18.8.05 -
Don't say I didn't warn you! The gig at the Clifton Hill's traditional acoustic sessions last night was an absolute treat. I managed to catch a couple of numbers from an enterprising duo called Caravan Park, before the already-mentioned-on-this-page Eris O'Brien gave us a sample of his subtle and cunning songwriting. His songs can sound deceptively simple, but that's only when they are. The rest of the time he just plays with your expectations - in the nicest possible way, of course. He's heading to the States soon, and I know he'll bowl those songwriter dudes over.

Ed Nimmervoll (left) and Ron Brown play good cop, bad cop
Mike & Bill answer some tough, probing questions
18.8.05 -
Yesterday arvo I was visited by hard-hitting investigative rock journo, Ed Nimmervoll and cinematographer, Ron Brown, to answer some questions about our (Spectrum's) perspective on the Daddy Cool phenomenon. Phew! Just in time, guys! As it turns out, so much for sarcasm, 'cause it appears that DC are currently in the studio recording an Eris O'Brien tune to be released in time for Christmas - which is just when the DVD featuring DC's Tsunami concert performance and bits of this interview are slotted for release. Daddy Who?
A big night at the Corner Hotel - and you weren't invited!

1) Angry refuses to acknowledge me to the Rat's amusement 2) An unamused Little Goose

3) Lobby knows he's got that ticket somewhere.. 4) Bill and Phil Manning's son

5) The monumental Billy Christian 6) The large-ish Rat 7) Phil Manning is blinded by his own shirt

8) The industry-studded crowd looks slightly concerned 'cause it's already bloody loud..

9) THORPIE (check large pic)
Aztec Music goes to the (industry) people
16.8.05 -
Gil Matthews pulled out all the stops to launch whatever it was he was launching - I'm sure he told me at some stage. Chain was there, Bill and I were there, Angry was there, Lobby and his Balls were there, big, bustling Billy Christian was there, Warren Morgan was there - but most of all, Billy Thorpe was there.
There was a proliferation of Bills there when you think about it, but only one Thorpie. Thorpie is a master of the moment as well as a master showman, and I'm sure he despairs of my throwing moments away. (I can't help myself - it's almost axiomatic that the bigger the occasion, the more retiring I become - my best shows have been to three people and a dog).
Anyway, the band very kindly made room for Bill and me for the inevitable rendition of 'the song', and I'm certain it was just as loud as everything else - except Thorpie, of course..
For Pete's sake! A story of courage and endurance
16.8.05 - Some of you will know Peter Dawkins personally, so perhaps will be acquainted with his story, but for the rest of you, Peter was Ariel's producer in the EMI and CBS years, and apart from a couple of other virtues, saw something in what we did musically, whence all others had fled the burning bridge. Anyway, Peter's has had quite a cross to bear over the last godknows how many years with the onset of Parkinson's Disease. He and his wife, Penny, have borne it with as much courage and fortitude as two people can in these circumstances, but the last time Bill and I saw Peter his condition was clearly deteriorating - even though the spirit was willing etc.
'We slipped out of contact' is a euphemism for not knowing how to respond intelligently to another human being's travails, let alone a friend's, and I plead guilty to all of that, so I was delighted after sending out our last generic interstate e-mail, to receive a feisty response from Peter, which went partly as follows: 'Thought I'd better drop you a line and share the news with you. It would seem that after being abandoned by my last neurologist my fortunes seemed to improve. Another medical team assessed me and agreed to operate. One catch which was the cost of $35,000.00. To cut a long story short the industry have come good with the funding (gasp) and here I am - three weeks later like a new man! No bull shit boys. I'm one grateful son of a bitch.'
There are plans to release a CD of Pete's greatest hits, (For Pete's Sake!), in time for Christmas, and if Peter has anything to do with it, (which ain't guaranteed, of course), Ariel might squeeze a track on there alongside Dragon, Farnham etc. Pete also has plans for wife Penny to re-write his biographical novel - but, one thing at a time, Peter! It's just great to hear you're up and about and smelling the roses.

1) Brian Baker and The Spoils Of The Empire film themselves for a later band argument

2) Brian's daughter Ella keeping a close eye and ear on every nuance
Brian Baker on a lazy Sunday arvo
14.8.05 -
A month or so ago I received an unsolicited e-mail from a Brian Baker. On investigation it turned out that this particular Brian happened to be a fellow NZ'er and a fellow muso to boot. So, today I took my son Chris up to Upwey and we spent a very pleasant two and a half hours listening to Brian and The Spoils Of The Empire at the Burrinja Café. I bought a copy of Brian's CD, (Prague Radio), which I'm listening to as I write. Very pleasant listening it is, too. I'll keep you informed about future gigs..Website
Piledriver gig
13.8.05 - You'll remember I wrote not so long ago about venturing into the industrial wastelands of Cheltenham and getting aurally belted by Status Quo tribute band, Piledriver? Piles' bassist Andrew Forrer informs me of the following: 'An event not to be missed is occurring on Thursday the 25th of this month at the Dream Nightclub, 229 Queensberry St, Carlton. It is a special tribute night featuring three tribute bands - Twin Lizzy (Thin Lizzy), Piledriver (Status Quo) and Stormbringer (Deep Purple). He didn't say to BYO earplugs, so I have.
Gerry Hale back at the Terminus
13.8.05 -
I can remember going down to the Terminus Hotel in Abbotsford every Tuesday night a few years ago and being delighted by Gerry Hale's bluegrass outfit, Uncle Bill. Well, he's back - this time with The Bystanders - and on Monday nights. I guess I'll be heading back there on Monday nights. Hooray!

Mike & Bill at the Clifton Hill pub
15.8.05 -
Rod Claringbold is in it for the duration, but it's nice to get a good crowd every now and then. You could say that Rod's responsible
for getting Bill and me back on the road again - we'd been inactive on the live circuit for about ten years when Rod called to see if I was interested in doing a solo unplugged gig. I wasn't into the solo thing, but we did it as a duo and the rest is history.
So, this Wednesday night we're down at the Clifton Hill Hotel on its traditional Wednesday acoustic night. Eris O'Brien has pulled the seniority card, so Bill and I are doing the graveyard shift at 10.45 - 11.30. Be there or sleep, you bastards!
Bill's Twang tracks on Demos page!
11.8.05 -
I suspect there are quite a number of you that are itching for the release of Bill's first solo CD, Bill's Twang. While there's no immediate news on the release date, we've stuck a couple of sample mp3 tracks up on the Demos page. Scroll down to Bill's favourite number - number 9 - (and 10), to get an earful of the kind of music you could be getting yourself into. Bill would love to hear what you think, so have a listen and send us an e-mail. I'll try to get another one up in the next few days.
Paparazzi alert!
10.8.05 -
Rob Draper snapped me in all my balding magnificence (left) at the St Andrews' gig the other day, blissfully unaware that he was in turn being shot! Hah!

There's a hole in my bucket..
The Lawson Project - a progress report
8.8.05 -
I received this report the other day from John Schumann, who you might remember, employed me, amongst a cluster of real luminaries, to interpret the odd verse of Hank's that he'd put to music.
'The CD has been mixed and mastered by Don Bartley at 301. Everyone who has heard it professes to be very impressed The artwork and booklet have been done, and the release date will be either 18th or 25th September. Mike and Corey Piper have edited and finished off a twenty two minute doco on the making of the album, and have also put together a presenter featuring the stills from the sessions to an edited version of To an Old Mate. The Glass on the Bar clip to be shot between 7th and 9th August with Russell Morris and Broderick Smith.' (Hey, that's today - I hope they had fun shooting that!)
The website ( will be launched at the same time as the CD

1) A group from the Elaine Benes School of Dancing appeared out of nowhere
Another grand day at St Andrews
8.8.05 - We haven't had much opportunity to play as a four-piece recently, so it was fun for all when Daryl Roberts joined us on for the traditional Sunday arvo bash at St Andrews. Something even more magical than usual happened - we'll credit Daryl for the moment - and the band and the audience cosmically united in a musical trip into the stratosphere, I kid you not!

2) Daryl and Robbo whisper sweet nothings 3) Robbo and Rob Draper see something very, very amusing..

4) Rock & Roll Scars - Mike's not tired.. much! 5) Bill wonders if that bird's wearing underpants
Andy Baylor's back!
6.8.05 -
Well, firstly I didn't know he'd gone, and secondly.. there's no secondly. But, anyway, he's back, and from the US of A, so it behoves you and your friend to whistle off down to the Rainbow this Wednesday evening and check out Andy's accent, at least.
Speaking of accents, I popped down to (the new) Capers last night and checked out the Wolfe Gang and Bob Sedergreen flirting with the jazz/blues thang - and got roped into playing harp on a couple of tunes. Stuart Beatty was there taking a few photos - I'll see if he's got one of me and the band.
Caught in the act
3.8.05 -
Peter 'Stan' Stanley was one of the interested spectators last Saturday in Echuca when Bill and I spent a lazy few hours busking outside Carters clothing store in Hare St, and he sent in this shot taken by one of his mates of us in full flight. You'll notice that I've joined the stool brigade these days - a totally appropriate move for a bloke of my seniority.
The Echuca Winter Blues Festival
1.8.05 -
Robbo was gadding about in Qld with L'il Fi and so it was left to Bill and me to carry the Spectrum Plays The Blues flag to the annual Echuca Winter Blues Festival. Actually, until Bill Dettmer got in touch, I'd never heard of the festival, but apparently it's been around quite a few years. For some reason I'd assumed that Echuca was a long way off, being on the NSW border and all, but it only took three and a bit hours to get there, so after we'd checked into the Steam Packet Hotel, we went for a bit of a wander through the 'heritage' part of town in the gathering dusk. It was quite charming too, just like walking through the pages of back issues of the Australasian Post. Unfortunately, I had my typical first night on the road sleep, (i.e. none), and rose hardly refreshed for a 9.00 am start plunking away to shoppers in the main street outside Carters clothing store. In any case, the weather was quite lovely and made for a pleasant morning's busking.
Being the blues' dilettantes we are, we were a bit hesitant about the reception we might get, and while I'm sure we did annoy some of the more puritanical blues enthusiasts, we got mostly favourable raves - and sold a swag of CDs. Anyway, that afternoon we played at Oscar's Wharfside to a healthy sized crowd, and then took the evening off. We were both quite exhausted by this stage, and although Chris Wilson was playing at Oscar's that evening, decided to retire early, not even lasting into the second half of the Wallabies v. Springboks game. read more
Echuca by numbers

1) The Steam Packet 2) The Steam Packet's Angela made us a hearty breakfast

3) Mike's brave face after no sleep 4) Bill prepares to shoot up to get him through the day

5) The sun rises over Bill's shoulder 6) The prepossessing frontage of Carters

7) Fiona Boyes revs up the sugar at Oscar's 8) Hello Mary Lou

9) Your coach awaits you 10) Mike's breakfast coffee on Sunday 11) The street decorator at work

12) Mike had to get a hat, it was so hot at the Bakery 13) The kids bolt down pies in a hurry watched by Petie Pie

14) Billy Dettmer and Rick E. Vengeance 15) Bill E. Putt and Pete E Howell put their heads together at Oscar's

16) The Echuca Gentleman's Club 17) Some knobs hobnobbing at the Club

18) Bill's last Echuca breakfast
Sunday is the traditional festival day, (the addition of Saturday is a recent innovation), and the good weather brought the expected big crowd. Bill and I tinkled away under the Beechworth Bakery verandah for the early part of the day, broken only by a pie-eating competition, then popped down to Oscar's briefly and saw Billy Dettmer and Rick E. Vengeance, before finally decamping and heading down to the venerable Echuca Gentleman's Club, where there were speeches, (in which we got an honourable mention), and nibbles and drinks and general hobnobbing. Bill and I played a bit, then Billy Dettmer got up and played a couple of his songs with us, until we wearily pulled down the gear for the last time and headed back to the motel.
I forgot to take my camera, so it was just as well I had my phone with me, but it means the quality leaves a little to be desired. Sorry about that. As for the festival - well, it was great fun, but next year we'll cancel all leave and do it with Robbo.
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