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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
Baker at the Rainbow
Brian and Ella attract the cameras recording the show (see large
shot) 2) Dave Walker sings
Mark Smith is distracted from the raffle draw 4) Cres Crisp
(right) and Empire drummer Fallon Williams
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..
- for the second time
Daryl toasts to the success of the night 2) the great Gadsby
gets serious widdit
Brian blows up a breeze 4) Les Oldperson smells good vibes 5)
The peripatetic Nicky Bomba at playschool
Don't point that at me, Rudd!
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.
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.
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,
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
and Bill close their eyes and think of Robbo..
takes duo by surprise
- 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..
laughs to see such fun
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.
Eris plays with it 2) Alana rests her head on Mike's bosom
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.
Nimmervoll (left) and Ron Brown play good cop, bad cop
& 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!
Angry refuses to acknowledge me to the Rat's amusement 2) An
unamused Little Goose
Lobby knows he's got that ticket somewhere.. 4) Bill and Phil
The monumental Billy Christian 6) The large-ish Rat 7) Phil
Manning is blinded by his own shirt
The industry-studded crowd looks slightly concerned 'cause it's
already bloody loud..
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..
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.
Brian Baker and The Spoils Of The Empire film themselves for
a later band argument
Brian's daughter Ella keeping a close eye and ear on every nuance
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
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.
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!
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
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!
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.
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
a hole in my bucket..
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 (www.henrylawson.com.au) will be launched at the
same time as the CD
group from the Elaine Benes School of Dancing appeared out of
grand day at St Andrews
- 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!
Daryl and Robbo whisper sweet nothings 3) Robbo and Rob Draper
see something very, very amusing..
Rock & Roll Scars - Mike's not tired.. much! 5) Bill wonders
if that bird's wearing underpants
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.
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.
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
The Steam Packet 2) The Steam Packet's Angela made us a hearty
Mike's brave face after no sleep 4) Bill prepares to shoot up
to get him through the day
sun rises over Bill's shoulder 6) The prepossessing frontage
Fiona Boyes revs up the sugar at Oscar's 8) Hello Mary Lou
Your coach awaits you 10) Mike's breakfast coffee on Sunday
11) The street decorator at work
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
Dettmer and Rick E. Vengeance 15) Bill E. Putt and Pete E Howell
put their heads together at
The Echuca Gentleman's Club 17) Some knobs hobnobbing at the
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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