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Good news, bad news.. Wild Thyme cancelled
3.2.06 - The good news is that I'm leaving January's Stop Press up for one more day. The bad news is that one of our advertised gigs for this month has been cancelled at the last minute. We were to be playing one of our favourite haunts in Warburton today week (Fri. 10), namely the Wild Thyme Café, but the good news is that now we're playing there on Sat. April 15th instead. We'll speak..

1) The White Stripes (honest!) strut their stuff in front of a big crowd at the Big Day Out night..

So, I've got sunburn..
Mike and Robbo sample a Big Day Out
30.1.06 -
Some of you may recall my getting together with White Stripes tour manager, John Baker, round this time last year. (Or was it the year before?) Anyhow, I picked up a call from John on my answering machine on Saturday night, saying that he was leaving me a couple of passes to the BDO performance of the Whites on Sunday evening, and that the passes would enable me to get back stage and perhaps meet the band or even some NZ contemporaries of mine (like Dave Orams!) that John had managed to contact.
I knew that even though he was working in Eltham till 6.45, Robbo would be keen to have a look, so he duly arrived at my place and we hurtled off together in the van to Princes Park .
We got to the main stages as Iggy Pop and the Stooges were mystifying most of the kids as to why the fuck he was on the bill, while producing the kind of sound that can disfigure the sensitive for life, so we wandered round some of the other
adjacent enormous marquees and checked out some of the other acts while we waited for the Whites to appear.
We recognised Cog from the time we were in Sydney on the LWTTT tour, and even though their sound wasn't subject to the vagaries of the breezes swirling outside, it just wasn't as impressive as I remembered them being at the Golf Club.
We'd tried to get back stage, but the security guys wouldn't have a bar of it, so we were condemned to watch the Whites from near the back of large, (and getting larger by the minute), crowd of White Stripes fans, which meant the sound was going to be there one minute, gone the next. What the heck, we could still see OK.
And then they hit the stage. All two of them. The initial impression is that three of the band got killed in a bus accident on the way to the gig, and the remaining two decided to do the gig anyway, but once you get over that, you have to admire the intelligence and discipline that turns, what for anyone else would be a severe limitation, into a logistical and artistic triumph. Well, close enough anyway.
Jack made pointed reference to Meg being his sister, whereas I noticed The Age categorically stated she was his ex-wife, and it's this kind of deliberate 'them and us' tilted obfuscation that shows how much Jack is in charge. He's chosen his patch, he's chosen who populates his patch, and he's filled in all the detail in his own red, black and white hand. 'Now judge me by my own terms', he demands of his critics, and by his own terms, Jack White is irrefutably the best Jack White there could possibly be.
Is that all there is? Well, that's all our four legs could handle, so Robbo and I trudged off with the other antelopes to get home just in time for the end of the tennis, and the cricket. The BDO is based on generational deception, so it's got a few more years to go I would guess, but it's certainly not the best way to see your favourite band. Being a curate's egg kinda guy, I guess you could be exposed to some music at BDO that you mightn't have otherwise seen or heard. God forbid, Iggy Pop might've even collected a couple of new fans..

Happy hungry punters crowd the food bar at Fresh @ Elwood
Fresh comes to life
29.1.06 -
It actually hasn't been a problem that there haven't been large numbers of people coming to my solo gigs at Fresh - I needed some time to work myself out, as I've mentioned - but it was nice to pull a modest number of people today, and get some nice feedback in the process.
Of course, with Spectrum at St Andrews, I'm not going to be at Fresh this coming Sunday, but I'll be there the following week. Keep checking the Gigs page.

1) Kelly Auty with Pete Howell on bass 2) Geoff Achison pumpin' 3) Storm clouds brew overhead

4) The storm breaks and this family says sorry, but they're going home..
gig report
Australia Day at Mornington
27.1.06 -
As we rolled into Mornington I idly speculated to Bill that there were some clouds building up and no doubt a big storm would break just as we got on stage. We were a couple of hours early, so we had a coffee and Bill had a vegie burger before going to the gig, but I decided not to eat, which in retrospect was a mistake. Kelly Auty was playing when we arrived and it was bloody hot, although the cumulus clouds I'd noticed earlier were gathering overhead and we
were getting the odd spit of rain. Daryl arrived while Geoff Achison and the Souldiggers were playing, and Robbo (and Lisa) cut it fine as usual and arrived just as their set finished. There had been a bit of a shower and the temperature had thankfully dropped a few degrees, but it was still very humid. We'd just got our gear on stage and were setting up when a massive gust of wind hit, accompanied by dust and rain. For a few minutes there we wondered if the canvas over the stage wasn't going to be completely ripped off by the gale, and the rain just got heavier and heavier. Nearly everybody had taken shelter, but one poor bloke had come a cropper in the middle of the park, knocking himself out cold and had to be attended to where he lay.
Eventually the wind and rain started to ease, but the PA's amps were still sitting in several centimetres of water under the stage, and it took another few minutes to sort that all out. One thinks of the demise of the Yardbirds' Keith Relf at moments like these, and it's prudent to be fairly circumspect when it comes to the combination of electicity and water.
It was during all this kerfuffle I noticed that I was beginning to feel faint and I really regretted not having something to eat earlier, but there now wasn't any time to waste on grabbing a bite. So, half-an-hour or so after our advertised start time, and with the remaining bunch of optimists sensibly huddled under shelter, we finally graunched into action with I'll Be Gone. I was running solely on caffeine by now and found the whole experience quite odd, but we had some fun nonetheless, and the promoter, Bill Dettmer, seemed pretty pleased the way things had turned out, given all the dramas.

Who's afraid of Liz Taylor?
Yes Virginia, Mike's back at Fresh on Sunday
26.1.06 -
They say it's going to be hot again this Sunday, but I have this cunning strategy in place where I set up inside, rather than braving the elements in the courtyard. So, it's quite congenial, and despite the series' slogan, (Psycho in the City), I don't bite and otherwise behave like a rabid dog, so you can bring your loved ones with impunity, or even the children.
Returning to the third person, next Wednesday night, Mike & Bill do their duo thing at the Clifton Hill Hotel, and on the following Saturday night, Spectrum returns to the Lomond Hotel and, providing it hasn't been razed to the ground, St Andrews on Sunday arvo (with Daryl on keyboards). I'm thinking it'll be quite a homecoming.

Hey, everybody's dancing! Let's take a break..

A hot time in old Moscow
22.1.06 - With nothing but a fan at home to blow hot air over my swollen body, the thought of going anywhere in the air-conditioned Izhmash was appealing, so I thought why not take up on Sonia's invitation and head over to the East Bronski Hotel and catch up with the Moscow Blues Appreciation Society fundraiser? The artificial chill on my arms had already turned to clamminess by the time I'd walked from the van to the front door of the hotel, and my offer to pay over roubles was declined with a serious shake of Sonia's head, so I bought myself a vodka and tried to sink anonymously into the Bronski lounge ambience.
Bearing in mind this was a fundraising night (to send Flora Boyski or somebody to Minsk - or anywhere), it was a disappointing turn up - there seemed to be just the usual nucleus of MBAS habitués in attendance. Franke Caska (the man in the ushanka) dragged an unwilling blonde onto the floor during the Davidov Hoganski and the Chernobyls set, and uncharacteristically stumbled (and nearly fell) when the woman's protestations that she couldn't dance proved all too accurate.
It wasn't the fault of the band that the sound was overly loud. 'If you've got it, flaunt it', should be stricken from the sound engineers' book of retorts, and anyway, the configuration of the room (a box) would suggest the very minimum of sound reinforcement was necessary. Luckily the sound seemed to improve as my hearing deteriorated.
Corina Simski, a Romanian gypsy with enormous silver earrings the size of soccer balls was on next. She had problems with her microphone stand drooping, and made some derogatory comment about an ex-lover, which had at least two men leaving the room red-faced, but then proceeded to crackle and sizzle her way through half a dozen tunes that she and her lumberjack companion on the Norwegian National guitar made sound like they'd never played together before.
Next came Rudi Panski and the Gulag Lovers (pic) who had a bit of a break after setting up to build up the tension, and then miraculously managed to get most of the people under seventy five up dancing to their first rocking tune - and then took another break.
At this point I started getting nostalgic for the Izhmash's air-conditioning, and wished everybody goodnight and headed for the oven that awaited me at home.
At some later date I might discuss the perennial problems that face an organisation like the Moscow Blues Appreciation Society and its sister societies around the world. Suffice to say, with such fine exponents of the genre being so available, it's sad there isn't a more vibrant blues' scene.


Miss Molly asks for more..
Yes, Mike's on at Fresh again this Sunday arvo
19.1.06 - They say it's going to be hot this Sunday - damn hot - but given that Fresh is usually a couple of degrees cooler than even the apartments next door, there's something else besides myself, the food and the organic lasses to recommend a visit. Plus, in an effort to provoke unconstrained intercourse in the Fresh courtyard, I've come up with a theme for my residency at Fresh - Psycho in the City - which I've promoted on a very colourful poster you'll see on the Fresh windows. I might even discuss what I think that means to me on the day, or ignore the invitation altogether at my own discretion. That's the joy of being at nobody else's behest - I make and break my own rules willy nilly, and nobody complains.

1) This is the place then.. 2) Director and exec. producer Ron Brown chats to associate producer, Steve Woods

3) Gary Young, Graham Simpson, Kevin Hillier,Jeff Jenkins, Ed Nimmervoll & Steve Woods

Now And Then TV panel show in rehearsal
14.1.06 -
I'm not sure that it's a good omen being on a rehearsal for a show such as this - it may mean that I'm in the running for a spot when the actual show is being cast, or it could simply be an end in itself. Whatever the outcome, I had a bit of fun on the day, and most importantly, I didn't get a parking ticket.
Now And Then was born out of the making of the Daddy Cool DVD, and involves some of the same people, most notably Ron Brown, Ed Nimmervoll and DC's Gary Young.
The show's format is being adjusted as the rehearsals progress (this was the second rehearsal), but it's essentially a panel show, with regulars Kevin Hillier, Graham Simpson, Jane Holmes and Jeff Jenkins combining with Gary Young and 'rock guru' Ed Nimmervoll to cheerfully interrogate the guest musician, who then performs two or three songs with the studio band, directed by none other than Gary Young.
The show is unashamedly aimed at the baby boomer demographic and so will interest me, at least, and it's sufficiently different to the two quiz format shows currently on mainstream TV not to induce tedium. I personally hope the show gets off the ground and is a huge success - and it would be nice if I can get on it, thereby increasing my TV profile by 100%.


Centrefold of the month!
NT T-shirt hits rock bottom!
13.1.06 -
(Now that I have a second look at it , maybe it isn't exactly rock bottom). I got this pic from George Lummis, a very happy punter in Queensland, who got a free T-shirt with his CD order. (I'm not sure why now - I think it was because it was quite a large order). Anyway, George took the opportunity to say a few nice words about the mailorder service and mention a few other things as well, all of which I've reprinted on a special Feedback page, which can be accessed from the CDs page.
Amongst other things, George mentions the following, which may be of interest to some of you: 'A few years back thanks to the wonders of the Internet I found a site with lovers of progressive music discussing their passion. I have been a member for about 5 years now and entered Spectrum and Ariel in the Artists Directory section a while back. Not many Aussies were members then. Have a look if you get a chance.' Thanks George - if you haven't had a look already, check the CDs page and see how easy it is to buy Spectrum and Ariel CDs. And T-shirts!
Mike's back at Fresh @ Elwood this Sunday 15th
12.1.06 -
Yes, I'm back! Round about the same dimensions and as annoying as ever, me and George, a stool and a fraction of a PA will be back somewhere at Fresh @ Elwood in Ormond Rd between 2.00 - 4.00 this Sunday arvo. Whether in the courtyard or inside is moot at the moment, but I know I shall be served delicious organic food and coffee by delicious organic gals at some stage, and that makes the arvo worthwhile, even if nobody else shows up.
New kids on the block
11.1.06 -
Richard Griffiths, the brother of party-boy Michael Griffiths, sent this rather poignant shot taken by his partner Nicole on Sunday evening - two bands setting up, probably fifty years between them. That the kids appreciate and enjoy the musical currency of our generation is testament to the longevity of the music; that the blokes in Spectrum, puffing and farting in the background, do the same is more of a testament to lucky genes and chronic suspension of disbelief.
Another year, another fab feature..
10.1.06 -
I'm sorry to begin with an apology (oops!), but the January edition of The Bloody Newsletter is late - but only moments away. I've dispensed with the Odd Spot - call me a jaded old 'Net surfer, but the unusual and worthy is too hard to find on a regular basis. So I've added another column to supplement the regular-ish Pith & Wind essay, this time written by my brother Richard (nepotism rules!) called Dick's Toolbox.
The title is totally misleading of course - Richard is never a Dick - and you'll find him an amusing and diverting essayist, I'm sure. Enjoy!

1) Party boy Michael Griffiths welcomes the guests 2) Money For Jam strut their Ruddy stuff

3) Mike with Xavier Rudd's family, Peter, Max, Iggy and Chris

A surfeit of Rudds in new Torquay
9.1.06 -
The first gig of the year was a 50th birthday party - perhaps a sign of things to come. It was for one of that rare breed, a rabid Spectrum fan - or fans really, because Mike's brother Richard was as much into Spectrum and Ariel as his elder brother - and was held at the Sands Golf Club just outside Torquay proper, a brand new building with all the modern accoutrements.
Before we started playing, Michael asked if it would be OK if a local band played a short set. The band (Money For Jam) turned out to be three very young surfer dudes, with Michael's son Sam on percussion and a couple of Xavier Rudd's younger brothers,
Iggy and Max on drums and guitar respectively. Despite being a few personnel short on their regular lineup, they really had it all together, and rocked the house with half a dozen or so instrumentals. (I felt like well-meaning uncle when I helped Iggy gaffer down his drums after they started migrating to the other side of the dance floor). I got to meet the parents, Peter and Christine Rudd, a little later and had a nice little chat - very loving and supportive parents they are too. If that isn't incentive enough to write the Xavier Rudd Is Not My Son song, I don't know what is.
It turned out to be a terrific night, with a great bunch of people enjoying themselves in a great location. Mind you, I'm feeling it today..
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