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The pool table proved to be no obstacle at all - they actually moved it!
gig report
Mike & Bill take the sea air
27.6.07 -
On Sunday afternoon last, Bill and I loaded up the van (again) and charged off to the Westernport Hotel in San Remo, (the same gig that proved so fateful for Billy Thorpe). It was a bit of a speculative gig, in that the duo doesn't do bars as a rule, but the Robbos were celebrating their wedding anniversary, so there was no drummer to be had anyway. In the event it didn't go too badly at all. We sold some CDs (to Mick), the crowd seemed to like the songs, and our agent is asking for more dates.
The launch that shipped a thousand CDs..

1) Triple R's Neil Rogers 2) PBS' Hugo T. Armstrong 3) WA's, and now Melbourne's, Ross Ryan

4) Part of the crowd waiting for Spectrum (see large version) 5) Mike with Aztec Music archivist Ian McFarlane

6) Ross Wilson was very happy
gig report
Spectrum and Ross Ryan's CD launch
25.6.07 - I'm nearly over it now, but there are still interviews to do (another tonight for the ABC in Brisbane), and general detritus to tidy up from Friday night. The first thing to say though, is that it was a success - from the venue, (no better place in Melbourne to present a '70's-style show), to the absolutely unique Humania light show, and, of course, Ross Ryan and band, and Spectrum - and YOU. I've had cause to mention more than once in the past week or so that our audiences in the past not only indulged our musical explorations, but happily came on the journey with us - and the amazing thing is, you're still there! So, you're not prepared to sit on the floor and sway to the music like you used to do at the TF Much Ballroom. But you came, and it was good to see so many familiar faces, young and old (pic 4). I'm more than happy with the results produced by our liaison with Aztec Music, and I'm already looking forward to the next re-issue - coming your way soon!
Pre-launch and pre-nups at The Basement Discs

1) Part of the lunch-time crowd (large pic) 2) Ted Lethborg and Gil Matthews watch Mike sign another recording contract
Spectrum Part One released
15.6.07 - It wasn't a bad birthday present as it turned out, despite the extraordinary effort required to make it happen. Given the difficulty in parking, not to mention loading in and out of The Basement Discs, we decided to get there good and early for a 12.45 start. Bill and Robbo met me in Camberwell and we arrived just a few minutes after Daz at round 11.00. Mark Sydow, better known these days as Ross Wilson's manager, was the surprise sound engineer for the day, and between us we were set up in good time.
I had planned to film the set, and bro' Dick had brought his camera on a roving commission, but the plan rather fizzed when the battery on my fixed camera ran out after only a few minutes. Still, maybe Dick managed to capture the essence of the complete performance. I hope so, because although I was using it partly as a rehearsal for next Friday's show - some of the songs we'd not played together as a four-piece before - we did OK, judging by the reaction of the crowd (pic 1).
Aztec Music was represented on the afternoon by Ted Lethborg and Gil Matthews, and we all got together after the set for a mock 'signing of the contract' (pic 2). I guess it might actually happen one of these days, but nobody seems too concerned about this formality at the moment. Maybe when Spectrum Part One goes platinum..
The Basement Discs' Rod and Suzanne were the perfect hosts as as always, even covering our parking expenses, and Pat happily compered the show, reminding everybody, amongst other things, about the official launch next week at the Trades Hall, which I had naturally forgotten to do. I had also forgotten to tell people about signing on for the e-mail list, and as a result got only the one person putting down his name - and he didn't even have e-mail!
We're bound for South Australia

1) Geoff sorts the menu with Mark at the pub on day one 2) Greg Brown put in a surprise appearance at Elizabeth Downs

3) Bill shows a pic of his hero on his phone 4) Geoff displays Andie at the party 5) A balcony view at the Silver Mine party

6) Another view of the band at the Silver Mine 7) The Wordleys' - Bill looks heroic while Robbo smells something funny

8) The band in situ at the Wordleys (see large pic) (Ross) 9) Ginger Wordley tells Mike the paparazzi to piss off

10) Mike with former compatriot Tony McCarthy 11) Mike wakes up and thinks he's gone to heaven.. (see large pic )

12) Mick stokes the OB gear 13) Mike slips into another dimension at the Wheatsheaf (Ross)
gig report
Crossing the border both ways..
13.6.07 - It was a big ask - four gigs in four days, after a month of crouching forlornly in the undergrowth waiting for an edible beast to stray from the herd. To make the trip slightly easier we split the drive there and back, staying the night in the aptly named hamlet of Nhill, but it was still exhausting. This unusual cluster of gigs sprang initially from an enquiry from our old mate Geoff Miller, who had decided to share 50th birthday celebrations with a couple of mates and indulge their passion for things Spectrum. With rare managerial persistence I managed to bracket the birthday party with an appearance at the Elizabeth Downs Soccer Club, a Sunday afternoon folly at the Wordleys, and a Queen's Birthday Monday show at the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Thebarton. This is their story.

Leaving on Thursday evening gave Robbo the opportunity to teach all day, but it was also an opportunity to experiment with the tedious grind that the drive over usually is. Nhill has nothing going for it apart from being approximately half-way to Adelaide from Melbourne, and the accommodation was appropriately perfunctory, but we set off the next morning reasonably refreshed with only five hours of travelling ahead of us.
We got into Adelaide at lunchtime, and after checking in to the Flinders Lodge Motel (the new Powell's Court), we moseyed into town for lunch. I was wandering down Rundle Mall to buy a couple of T-shirts (having left all mine at home), when the same Geoff Miller darted out of the pub I was passing and dragged me inside to meet co-50th birthday boy, Mark. Small town Adelaide.
That night we had our first gig in Elizabeth Downs, a part of town we hadn't visited for years. As it turned out, the Soccer Club wasn't a bad spot either, but of all the gigs we'd planned, this was the one I was most apprehensive about. Estimates were made by the band about the possible attendance, and Robbo's guess of sixty three was unfortunately the closest. It wasn't made any vibier by what audience there was hovering round the bar at the opposite end of the room, but we had a few nice chats with nearly everybody in the room over the night, and our old mate Greg Brown (pic 2) showed up as well and raised our morale by a couple of centimetres.
As mentioned, the centrepiece of the weekend was the 50th Birthday party, and we were delighted when we walked into the venue for the party on the Saturday evening. The first impression was of an enormous old building with a series of enormous lounge rooms, the last of which we set up next to a small Alice in Wonderland-type door. (pics 5 & 6) Apparently this gorgeous old building had been a silver mine in its original incarnation, and the little doorway in question led to a series of underground tunnels from where silver had actually been mined in the 1840s. As for the night, we were totally indulged as to the composition of our sets and were well appreciated, especially by the birthday boys.
The next morning we checked out of the motel and headed up to the Wordleys' home in Hawthorndene, high in the Adelaide hills overlooking the city. I'd rather presumptuously suggested to Mick when I was setting up the weekend's gigs that his place would be an ideal venue for a soirée. Mick enthusiastically took up on the notion and the end result was we had a lovely crowd of friends, (including my old mate from Christchurch and one half of The Baldies radio show, Tony McCarthy (pic 8)), and the Wordleys' neighbours partaking of Mick's home-made pizzas and Spectrum's music to the sublime satisfaction of all concerned.
We stayed overnight at the Wordleys', and I had the spectacular pleasure of bedding down and waking up in Mick's studio (pic 9), something one dreams about in this business, but too rarely has the opportunity to realise. (I realise this is probably just me).
The final gig was at the locally-lauded Wheatsheaf Hotel on the Queen's Birthday Monday arvo/evening. Mick had unilaterally decided that this was the gig to capture as a live record of our visit, and so he left for the Wheatsheaf at some extraordinary hour to set up the equipment with his assistant Evan. Our mate, Iain Ross, brought his son Bryn and a couple of his mates to sell some CDs for us - as he pointed out, I'm my own worst enemy in the selling product dept. - and they did a fantastic job, multiplying sales on tour ten-fold.
I'm not sure the Wheatsheaf was the best gig to record in retrospect - we were all getting a little weary by this stage - but Mick is posting me the results anyway. Immediately after the gig, the last thing we felt like doing was packing up and heading for Nhil, but that's what we did. Many fond farewells were exchanged and we left having had an adventure-packed four days and making a bunch of new friends. Whether this is appropriate behaviour for chaps of our age is another matter altogether.
Going, going, gong..
Eskimo Joe in slow mo
1) Mouse over Eskimo Joe 2) Gus McNeil on a table too far away 3) Tony Naylor laughs to see such fun
APRA Awards night
6.6.07 -
It pays off just hanging around for decade after decade, because eventually you'll score a free invite to the APRA Awards. And if you hang around even longer, they'll come up with a category just for you and you'll be a winner. So, I've got to wait a bit longer then, but at least I scored the free invite. My publisher, Gus McNeil, (pic 2 ), especially requested that I be put on the same table as him, but I got bumped and ended up on a table sitting next to guitar legend, Tony Naylor, instead. Tony and I chatted about collectable guitars amongst other things, and he shocked me with what, for instance, an L-series Strat was fetching these days - multiply my previous complaints by several times over.
Eskimo Joe (pic 1) opened the show, and there followed a galaxy of stars both performing songs and announcing various category winners. My favourite performances were from Colin Hay, Katie Noonan and Augie March, and in the presenters role, the daft duo of Tex Perkins and Tim Rogers was just on the acceptable side of inflammatory.
I was speculating, though, just how long this conspicuous indulgence, sponsored by the various owners of copyright, can go on. And I have to say I was uncomfortable with some of the publishers/managers exulting in the amount of money 'their' songs had earned. Still, I enjoyed the night for what it was, i.e long, and had no trouble turning down Gus' entreaty to party on in favour of going home to a warm bed.

No thongs for Narbethong..

1) Birthday boy, Wayne's brother Jim 2) It looks inviting enough, but it was cold, damn cold..

gig report
Wayne's World defies global warming
4.6.07 -
I seem to remember this happened last time Wayne invited us to play at Narbethong, (go to Healesville and keep on going), so it was a case of once frost-bitten, twice frost-bitten. He did warn me we were playing outdoors, but claimed the gas heater would keep us as warm as bugs in a jockstrap, which was pretty accurate now that I think about it. We got off on a bad foot when Bill lost his mobile phone and grumpily stomped about with a torch vainly searching for it while we set up. He didn't find the phone then - or his good mood for that matter - but more on that later.
We were set up by 7.00, well in time to surprise bro' Jim whose surprise birthday party it was, and everybody settled back to enjoy the evening. Well, it just got colder and colder - there were a couple of moments where my hand disassociated itself from my brain and unilaterally decided to curl up and go to sleep. Neither of my guitars could resolve their tuning, and the steel strings were like ice. Wayne moved the heater closer, but my fingers couldn't tell the difference, and my guitars lost their minds completely.
I thought the guests, warming themselves round the various fires dotted about, were very patient, and I could see some were actually taking notice, (and some were even getting off on our discomfort), with the end result that they wouldn't let us go till nearly midnight, (well, 'they' probably would have, but Wayne wouldn't).
At the end of the night as we wearily packed up, I found Bill's phone in one of my stage bags - I'd apparently mistaken it for mine and put it in a 'safe' place. Bill was all over being grumpy by then and was simply relieved it had been found - just another senior episode for the burgeoning catalogue.

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