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30.5.06 - I was surprised when I went
to the post office box today - there was a bulky envelope
addressed to SPTB care of me. I thought initially that maybe
one of us had left something at the motel, but when I opened
it over my morning jasmine tea, I discovered an intriguing
little black cardboard box inside with a note from Jo at Top
Notch Productions. So, the note is generic, and it's only
a key-ring, but it's a classy key-ring and it's very much
appreciated gesture. Thanks Jo, Simone and Michelle and all
the staff at Top Notch - we had a ball!
26.5.06 - Gary Hall sent this clipping
from the Your Say section in yesterday's (Wednesday's)
Herald-Sun TV guide. My Queensland rel's were of the same opinion,
but I suspect that the song's recent appearance on the One
Hit Wonders episode of the same series probably excluded
it from consideration. Still, a nice sentiment from everybody
more on this subject on the Correspondence
helps Bill with his phone
and Bill go corporate
23.5.06 - Peter Barber (pic) occasionally
braves the unpredictable patrons and the smoke-clogged atmosphere
of the Lomond Hotel just to catch a few bars of Spectrum rummaging
through their musical memory-bag, and was looking for a way
to surprise his international colleagues at dinner last Monday
night, when he thought of hiring Bill and me, thereby killing
two birds with the one duo - i.e. surprising his colleagues
and listening to us in a non-threatening, smoke-free
environment. We don't do a lot of work on a Monday night, so
there was the potential for some sort of senior calamity, but
we made it to the charming Holgates Hotel in Woodend in good
time and fulfilled our charter to general satisfaction. For
our part, we were impressed that this bunch of Spectrum novices
picked up on the Esmeralda routine so quickly, but
Pete pointed out these guys, being consummate international
travellers, were probably pretty snappy yodellers in yer average
karaoke bar. I can dig it.
MD Jeff Burstin tries to freak me out 2)
Wayne Duncan plays the Old Man o' the Sea
Arrival at the French Island jetty 4) Leslie Avril makes us
welcome in the Green Room
The crowd waits patiently - Richard & Mary discuss sandwiches
6) Leslie does her shit kickin' cowgirl thang
Intermission - and the crowd sucks in the subtly nuanced landscape
and the ever-freshening French Island air
The crowd goes apeshit - and Mary revives her Stylist dance
Mike blows the inevitable I'll Be Gone
Aurora Kurth and our host, Stephen May 11) Rain clouds loom
ominously over the jetty after the gig
well that ends in chaos..
24.5.06 - You might've noticed
I don't get a whole lot of solo gigs, and I still manage to
get myself a little wound up when they do come along. Stephen
May mooted the idea for this particular gig on his home territory
of French Island over a meal at Southgate some months back,
and although Bill and I had played there some years ago, I
could barely remember anything about it, except the ride home
from hell on the ferry, which was late and we were cold and
wet to boot, but that couldn't possibly happen again, so I
reasoned that all I had to worry about was the performance
itself, and as I had plenty of time to prepare, I accepted
the date without hesitation.
Richard and Mary picked me up at ten o'clock on the Sunday
morning as planned, and we duly arrived at Stony Point an
hour early, at least partially due to Richard's hundred kilometre
misconception about the ferry's departure point. We had a
snack down the road at one of those curiously soul-less places
that manages to look inviting from the outside, before parking
at Stony Point and getting the requisite ferry tickets.
We clambered on board the ferry without incident, despite
the crewman that welcomed us on board muttering darkly something
about exceeding the maximum load, and safely crossed the narrow
strip of oily grey water to French Island chatting to Wayne
Duncan and Jeff Burstin. (pics 1 & 2) The venue
for the gig was the first building you come to about a hundred
meteres from the jetty, and the weather was sunny, (pic
3) so Richard, Mary and I elected to walk up, rather
than use the courtesy bus provided.
To cut to the chase, the gig itself went swimmingly. The advertised
starting time had to be revised back as the ferry was late
from Phillip Island, but what can the definition of a captive
audience do but adjust to this rustic conception of time and
simply enjoy themselves? Certainly not construe it as an omen
for heaven's sake! Anyway, my instrospective musical ruminations
were received with due concentration and acclamation, for
which I was relieved and not a little grateful, but the mood
needed a reboot, and there was one cowgirl in the room wearing
just the right style of boot-scootin' arse-kickin' boots -
I'm talking about the inimitable Leslie Avril!
And the girl delivered in spadefuls. Even with an intermission
the mood kept spiralling upwards in a dizzying succession
of erratic elliptical loops, until the room pulsated with
people jostling the band for party room and bum cheeks twitching
in sympathy from those glued to their seats. It was fun
I tells ya!
But now it was time to go. The ferry to Phillip Island had
already left and our ferry was due at quarter to six, so,
in fine spirits and chatting happily about the afternoon's
events, we wandered down to the jetty to assure our possies,
just in case the maximum load thing reared its ugly head again.
Of course, the inevitable happened. The ferry was nowhere
to be seen at quarter to six and rain clouds were drifting
towards us through the gathering gloom, propelled by an icy
southerly wind. We huddled together for warmth and played
silly games and sang sillier songs, but nothing could disguise
the fact that we were getting wetter and colder. I visited
the rest of the band members, sensibly and warmly ensconced
in the courtesy bus, to see what was going on, but confusion
reigned inside the bus as surely as it was sleeting down outside,
so I reluctantly resumed my spot with Dick and Mares and silently
rued not bringing my Driza-bone while trying to ignore the
fact that my corduroys and fleecy jacket were soaked and soddenly
clinging to my back and the back of my legs.
The cold was seeping into my skull and my brain was actually
starting to hurt (I should've brought my beanie as well) when
somebody spotted the ferry sneaking over the bay towards us
- and we were saved!
So, we had an adventure. I jumped straight into a hot shower
and thawed myself out after Richard and Mary dropped me off
at home, and everything was back to normal. It was fun,
wasn't it? All I have to do is to try and remember to dress
appropriately next time and everything will be OK. Hooray!
fun for Spectrum Plays The Blues
Crossing the Bolte Bridge in a Melbourne smog 2) Mike checks
in to Broadbeach's balmy autumn temperatures
Geof-with-one-F contemplates a business lunch 4) Mike and Adelaide
expat, Ray Hogan
The well-nigh sated Kurrawa Park crowd smiles and waves for
the camera at set's end
Former Spectrum roadie Jim Murray 8) Mike's T-shirt caused an
airport security flurry
at Blues on Broadbeach
20.5.06 - This gig's been in
the pipeline for some months now, and I've been getting e-mails
from Jo and Simone at Top Notch Productions asking for this
and that and sending me details of accommodation and radio
interviews and the like all the while, so when the day finally
came, I should have been ready for it. Nevertheless, I managed
to have a very broken night's sleep on Thursday night and
was awake well before the alarm went off at 6.30 on Friday
morning, feeling like shit. Melbourne was cold and smoggy
as befits the time of year, so despite my jaded disposition,
it was very pleasant to arrive in Broadbeach with the temperature
in the mid-twenties. The accommodation at the Antigua was
not only very comfortable, it was only a couple of minutes
walk away from the stage we were due to play on that evening
in Kurrawa Park, not to mention the mall where Bill and I
met with the ubiquitous Geof-with-one-F for lunch, where we
discussed the options for a more comprehensive Spectrum return
visit to Canberra in October.
After a bit of a lie-down, Bill and I sauntered down to the
stage, where we were pleasantly surprised to find Robbo already
there setting up (that'd be a first) having flown up with
Lil' Fi and the gang the day before. We had a leisurely sound
check and I had time for a bit of a chat to regular Queensland
correspondent Ray Hogan and Pam Cleary who was in Queensland
on holiday and had brought her mother Nancy along to see the
It must have been the warm weather, but I felt unusually energised
during the set, and got myself quite hot and bothered stomping
about the stage - the born-again Dutch Tilders remarked on
how wet with sweat my tropical shirt was when we came off
stage. We got a great reception for the main part, with the
exception of one wit who requested a Paul Kelly number early
in the set. Only in Queensland..
The Cafarellas naturally arrived late and only caught a few
bars of our last number (the same number they heard on the
LWTTT tour, strangely enough) but were able to hang around
and share a reunion over a meal at a local restaurant. I noticed
at lunch that the service at these establishments seemed to
be fairly, shall we say 'laid back', but my top service moment
was that night, when I suggested I'd like a sauvignon blanc
to my charming young waitress, and she responded with "Would
that be red or white, sir?'
I got back to my motel room in time to catch most of the Eurovision
Song Contest instalment, but couldn't stay the distance, and
after packing and setting the motel radio and my
mobile alarms, gratefully fell asleep. Bill and I walked out
of the motel in the morning just as our shuttle bus arrived
and we had an uneventful trip to the airport. All of the bus
passengers bar two were flying Virgin, so when we pulled up
at the terminal and the driver called out that Virgin people
should disembark, the entire busload trundled out and stood
around waiting for their respective bits of luggage. It was
as he was taking out Bill's and my luggage (first fortunately)
that I asked the driver just where we could find the Virgin
terminal.- and he did the most magnificent double take as
he realised we were actually parked outside the Qantas terminal
- so everybody got back on the bus. Everybody that is apart
from the Qantas couple - and Bill, who decided to walk the
extra fifty metres.
I was wearing a T-shirt that Jenny had brought back from Israel
(pic 8) with the Coke logo in Hebrew, and I suppose
I should have known I'd get singled out for special attention
as a result. I wasn't anally probed mind you, only given the
once over with the explosives wand, but I know it was the
logo that did it. It gave me the faintest hint of what some
people might have to endure on a daily basis just because
Bill arrived in his seat a few minutes after I did, and I
presumed he'd been chatting a bit further with Renee Geyer,
whom we'd encountered just before the boarding announcement,
but he eventually explained that he'd had an incident himself.
When asked to produce his boarding pass before embarking,
he'd pulled out the boarding pass from his journey up - and
realised he'd thrown away the wrong ticket! They printed a
replacement for him on the spot, but I think he pulled off
the Dick of the Tour award with that final stroke.
Hey! It was great fun, and I'm looking forward to another
spot (or two) next year. Come to think of it, a fully-fledged
Queensland tour wouldn't be such a bad idea..
Albert crowd mills around a bit..
prince among gigs..
13.5.06 - There was a point during the
second set I think it was, when I surveyed the smoky chaos before
me and thought to myself, 'I'm enjoying this gig!' I never played
the dark, satanic pubs in Lyttelton, but I imagine they wouldn't
be too much different from this - in fact, I got the distinct
feeling of some spiritual connection. Think the Lomond, but
moreso by a factor of 50% - more smoke, more bonhommie,
less inhibitions. I've never been told so repeatedly and so
insistently that my pockets weren't being pissed in, but to
be fair, everybody was having the best time. Even the band fired
up like a bunch of ruined teenagers and played three blinding
sets, leaving the beer-sodden crowd baying for more. We'll be
8.5.06 - To mark the Broadbeach Blues
Festival, participating artists have contributed a few bars
to be downloaded as ringtones. Spectrum's donated Hey!
Good Lookin' - check
at the Prince Albert this Friday
- Robbo's been raving about this gig that he's been playing
with his 'other' bands for ages, but it's our first time. Nice
to be playing over in the west for a change too - hope some
of you westies can make it..
Spectrum kidnaps Elliot Goblet for the regulation band shot
2) Robbo with Wilson, one of his drum students
Andrews makes a change
It seems the rage at the moment - no sooner had the Lomond added
a stage, than St Andrews does the same. In this case there has
been a substantial change wrought, with the stage being set
back towards the kitchen, leaving the punters with more room
to fraternise and dance, and the band with less risk of meltdown
in their old possie next to the fireplace. While it looks so
much better, the on-stage sound is a little bit of a problem,
but hopefully that'll be rectified the next time we get there
with the addition of acoustic tiles to the ceiling above the
stage. The crowd appreciated the change anyway, and we all had
the usual riotous time. Elliot Goblet (pic) was a notable
addition to our regular crowd - check out his website
if you're in the corporate entertainment game..
Ross' supplementary shots from
The lads enjoy a damn fine meal including the world's best quiche
2) Iain studies Bill's cheating chords closely
De band plays de blues as only Spectrum Plays The Blues does
4) Bill looks mildly interested in something
goes apeshit on harp 6) Hey! Wassamatterforyou? We'll do a friggin'
3.5.06 - Some people don't quit with the
generosity. Iain Ross is one of those people and to that end
supplied the above shots. I'm not kidding about the quiche -
it was about the best quiche you could hope for in your lifetime.
And then there was the '93 Pauletts Riesling - if you thought
quiche and riesling were for faggots, then I'm on fire
and Iain Ross wonder if I've had too much riesling 2) Tony McCarthy
has definitely had enough..
The Astor filled to the gunwales with happy punters about to
get an encore they didn't ask for.. and loving it!
likes a Bossa Nova..
- city of dreams..
2.5.06 - I've come to detest the formula
of having to drive vast distances to ply one's trade, so I wasn't
looking forward to the hike there and back to Adelaide over
the weekend, but I was pleasantly surprised on a number of counts
this time round. We deliberately arrived the day before our
first commission - a fiftieth birthday party being shared by
three blokes and an imaginary friend - so giving ourselves the
best chance of being well rested from our journey. Not a bad
strategy, as it allowed us time to accept a very kind invitation
to head out to the wilds of Gumeraccha after we'd set up at
the Bowls Club, and share repast with Iain and Val Ross and
spend an altogether very pleasant afternoon. The fiftieth birthday
party wasn't at all bad either, and our hosts went out of their
way with cake, coffee and booze supplements secreted at our
accommodation to make us feel welcome. So far, so good.
On Sunday afternoon we'd arranged, through the good offices
of an Adelaide
| friend, Geoff Miller, and his
good advertising friend Benton Bock, to play a speculative
gig at the Astor Hotel in the city. I'd been able to get an
oblique mention in during an interview on The Bald Brothers'
show on 5AN, but otherwise all the promotion for the show was
done through e-mails from this website and threatening text
messages from Geoff and some other friends. Our audience is
pretty elusive at the best of times, but the combination of
these very modern techniques seemed to work pretty well, because
I was stunned to look up just before we started and find the
room was chockers - and even overflowing into the front bar!
As well as this impressive array of punters, there were a number
of musical luminaries present: John Schumann and Mick Wordley
from the Anzac Day show, Rose Tattoo's Rob Riley, The Twilights'
John Bywaters - the list went on and on - well, for about one
name longer.. Anyway, we were chuffed to have an attentive audience
and played accordingly, and we got into that audience/band feedback
loop and it just kept on getting better. Mind you, by the time
we'd finished I was thoroughly exhausted, but quite satisfied.
We sold a heap of CDs and had some lovely chats - it was all
It was after we'd packed up and I went outside to open the van,
which I'd thoughtlessly left parked on the footpath, that I
discovered it wasn't there. Oh consternation! It crossed
my mind that Bill must've moved it, but where? I looked over
the road - and saw the van, with its rear all smashed in! Gasp!
Not the new Mitzy! My mood plummeted - what an absolute bummer
to end the gig! I staggered over the road to check the rego
with my heart pounding - and found to my relief it was someone
else's Mitsubishi. Phew! One of the minor perils of
owning a totally ubiquitous vehicle.
Ever since I've known him, Geoff Miller has been trying to get
us to come out to his place and have a meal with him and his
Korean wife, Ju, and tonight was our very last opportunity to
catch them before they graduate to parenthood. What a treat!
Ju created the most fabulous spread, and we ate and we drank
and we talked and we ate.. And we ate and drank and talked until
we could eat and drink and talk no more. Thanks Geoff and Ju.
One more night in the Comfort Lodge, (the absolute embodiment
of Powell's Court, for those of you who know that famous doss
house), and we were driving back to Melbourne. Even that didn't
seem to be as bad as usual - the new van is a breeze to drive
long distances - and I'm in relatively good shape today. Hooray!
I'm actually looking forward to our next trip over to
Adelaide in June.
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