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The nature of Merri -May is irrepressible!
What month is this?
- I know, I know already! And February is a really short month too, but I'm stretching January for all its worth till a) I get some more material or b) I'm over the latest mailout.
In the meantime, I promise this is the last shot of Merri-May - seen here (left) throwing a kiss to Ace photographer, Robbo, as we were setting up for the Poolside gig at Thredbo.
Some news about the Seasons of Change DVD. We went to the Forever Young hacienda at Wombat Gully a week or so back and established there was actually footage taken of the concert. Two Spectrum tracks had been chosen, and there is even the possibility of a third - i.e. Sensible Shoes, Right Into You and Jenwah.

Bill, Robbo and Mike savour the cool, clean air at the Eagles Nest, with Thredbo village in the background
Thredbo Blues Festival scene of an unlikely triumph for our dilèttante bluesmen
21.1.04 Spectrum's blues arm, SPTB, (Spectrum Plays the Blues) managed to shine in a veritable galaxy of Blues stars from all over Oz at the 10th Thredbo Blues Festival, held last weekend between the16th - 18th of January. Despite moments of extreme rust, Mike, Bill and Robbo convinced the attentive crowds at their three appearances that, as well as their more diverse and idiosynchratic material, Spectrum could indeed 'play de blues'.
It was an exhausting schedule, made more challenging by the long trip there and back, the seemingly endless bloody stairs, and the uncertain parking arrangements.
The first gig at the Schuss Bar, was probably the most difficult. It had already been a long day as we had left Melbourne at 8.30am, and the Schuss Bar gig started at 11.30pm. Bo Jenkins' band was on before us, the venue was packed with a boistrous, sweaty crowd, and there was just enough room on stage for Robbo's kit and a couple of midgets - which of course, Bill and I ain't. Bill had a few sound problems too, so the sets were a bit edgy anyway, and a film crew shooting some background images for an interview we were doing on the Sunday added to the chaotic ambience.
Jazz & Blues Downunder's Stewart Wauchop gave us a generous introduction, citing Spectrum as influential in originating an Australian voice in popular music - at which we proceeded to do our repertoire of blues covers! Of course, we covered the gamut (from A to B) in the second set, but I thought that was ironic.
As usual, I didn't sleep much at all on the first night, but our host, Nick, at the Silver Brumby, made us feel welcome with a fine breakfast (three poached eggs!), and also solved our parking problems by allowing us to park behind his car at the chalet.
It turned out the next gig at the Kosci Room was to be recorded, with maybe a couple of tracks to appear on the Thredbo Blues CD. After a refreshing (!) trip up the
  mountain on the chair lift at brunch time, we were able to set up early in the Kosci Room, and Brett and the crew made sure we got the best shot at getting an OK sound. The room and the stage were good too, and we actually concentrated for long enough to perform creditably (except when we had to abort San Andreas 'cause I forgot the words!), and hopefully we'll end up with some good stuff to choose from. (I'm also hopeful we'll be able to score a couple of the blues tracks for the No Thinking CD which we're mixing at the moment).
Chain was on after us and we stayed and watched their set. I think they're playing as well as I've seen them at the moment - if you get the chance, catch up with them when they're next in town.
Sunday saw us finally get to do the interview with Merri-May Gill (for an upcoming pilot on Australian blues musicians apparently), and we were all dazzled by this vibey young singer/songwriter/comedian cum interviewer. We made a point of catching some of her performance in the Schuss Bar after our gig, and she captivated the audience (and us again) with her breathless personal anecdotes and humorous reparteé, not to mention her intelligent and, well, witty songs.
Spectrum's last gig was the coveted Poolside gig at 4.30 in the arvo - outdoors, but we were favoured by good weather and a terrific audience. There were some power problems that affected Alice Stuart who preceded us, and it was during one of the power outages I noticed Tim Piper was playing guitar with Alice's outfit and we had time for a few words. (Tim played with me in the Chants back in Christchurch before we left for Australia in 1966). It's a bloody small world, eh?
Anyway, the gig went spectacularly well, (despite surprising both Bill and myself early on with some of my song selections), and we sold a shitload of CDs.
Overall we had a really great time, and caught up with some really fine blues music played by some of the best players around. I hope we get the opportunity again soon.
1) Bill enjoys the chair-lift 2) Merri-May Gill mugs it up with Spectrum 3) Festival co-ordinator, Stewart Wauchop
4) Matt does it in his sleep 5) Phil snatches some zeds 6) The legendary Foreday Riders at Poolside

7) Andy Collins sings about how good home is 8) Tim Piper shows off his Gibson Stereo 9) Jimi Hocking looks forward to going home
Mike has too much fun..
Let's hope this is a sign of things to come in the New Year! Mike is seen here playing Broc's bass guitar during the New Year's Eve festivities held at Broc's place.

Blank Bit
This is a blank bit. Hardly anything newsworthy happened between New Year and Thredbo and so you get this blank bit. Maybe you could reflect on your last year and what you might do differently this year. That's the sort of thing one does at this time of the year. I'm personally hoping to be a little more productive this year...

Incidentally, check out the Thredbo website for more pics and info on the festival, and also check for Merri-May Gill's latest news on her website.



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