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from Two Bob Millionaires 2) Alana Galea and Debonair Dom made
it to Fawkner
Mason hoons it up
Musicland Fawkner Trevor Young benefit
28.2.09 - I drove right past Musicland
the first time - it has a non-descript frontage jammed as it
is between as caryard and a furniture shop just down from the
Fawkner Cemetery. (Gil Matthews said he'd killed two birds and
checked out his plots on the way to the gig). When I finally
walked in, carrying Bill's and my guitars, I felt as if I was
in some sort of Bombay* time-warp, an impression reinforced
by the thunderous mix being given hapless Rocky (pic 1)
and his Two-Bob Millionaires to a small crowd comprising
mostly of wives and girlfriends. Spectrum wasn't due on till
9.10, so I was still trying to work out a set when at 8.50 Rocky
and the boys wandered off and it became evident we were supposed
to be up on stage, rather than Tattoo Rose who were busily setting
up, but who were actually meant to be on at 8.20.
So, I was a bit edgy, and, as a result, concocted a curious
set off the top of my
|head, comprising of early
Spectrum classics like Going Home and The Crab,
wobbling uncertainly onto Having A Wonderful Time and
Louie Louie, capping it off by choosing Albatross
as the penultimate tune, which I managed to cock up ingloriously,
instantly depressing the crap out of me and contributing to
my unique re-arrangement of The Song. Wally Bishop
was hosting the evening and was most welcoming and gracious
and said some lovely things about us, and it was nice to catch
up with the Blackfeathers and everybody, but I left agitated
and depressed. Trevor Young shook my hand fiercely as I left
and said something smokily incomprehensible. I can only hope
the evening helped him in his efforts to conjure up a replacement
kit of drums
Bombay was the love-child of Premier Artists and was meant to
be a showcase for their roster. It lived at the other end of
Sydney Rd from Musicland throughout the '80s. A lot of things
happened there, most of them tawdry
Bucket bushfire benefit on fire!
Achison and the Souldiggers finish off the Love Bucket benefit
night on a high
Blues Love Bucket bushfire fundraiser at The Corner
I got to the Corner early to add my Fender amp to
the backline, but opted to go home again to change and pick
up some bits and pieces I'd forgotten first time around. When
I got back, Fats Wah Wah had just vacated the stage and Bobby
Bright (pic 5) walking in ahead of me, fell over Andy
Burns' keyboards. 'That means we won't have an organ', I thought,
remembering that Rob Harwood had said earlier that Mal Logan
was bringing only his piano. I hadn't constructed a set at this
stage, not wanting to trample on anybody else's set list- it
was touted as a blues Love Bucket afterall - but I
needn't have worried. While I didn't see Fats Wah Wah, of the
rest only Chris Wilson referred to the standard blues' repertoire.
I should mention at this point that I was feeling just a little
seedy, having enjoyed a lunch plus pinot trimmings
with bro' Dick, and so I wasn't exactly bouncing tigger-like
around the green room, but I did occasionally wander around
the main room and observe the various acts desporting themselves
on the ungenerously appointed Corner stage, including the afore-mentioned
Chris Wilson, (pics 3 & 4) blowing up an absolute
storm on harp, his partner Sarah Carroll, lankily referencing
bygone eras on her electric ukelele, the always affable Lil
Fi, who was joined on stage by basso Bobby Bright for
her Johnny Cash number, Jaimi Faulkner and Kerri Simpson, (pic
6) the latter seemingly singing with everybody,
and, of course the stars of the show, Geff Achison and the Souldiggers,
who rounded off the night with a typically punchy set.
Monique Brumby was on before Spectrum - just as I was trying
to get my bits and pieces together - so I didn't get to actually
see too much of her set - just a fragment of the last song with
the ubiquitous Kerri Simpson helping out on additional vocals
(incidentally way out of her usual blues shouter character).
However, I think it could be safely said that Monique departed
from the blues motif by the widest margin of the night..
Our set seemed to go OK, despite the missing organ. All the
acts were allotted twenty-five minutes, so we managed Going
Home and a couple of blues' staples before the inevitable
finale. Max Crawdaddy, who'd been agitating for a twenty-five
minute version of Some Good Advice beforehand, gave
me the thumbs up after we came off stage, so it must've been
Geoff and Michelle Achison are to be commended for this initiative.
While everybody involved gave of their time willingly, the hard
yards in these events are done by the people that pull it all
together. Geoff and Michelle dispensed with the services of
the usual intermediaries and did the whole thing themselves,
which speaks volumes for their dedication and integrity. Bravo!
Jane Clifton and PBS' Helen Jennings rev up the crowd 3) Chris
Wilson gives Shane Bourne the ultimatum
Wilson and uke-toting Sarah Carroll 5) Bobby Bright's just got
Kerri Simpson and Jaimi Faulkner 7) Mal Logan and Roger McLaughlin
guess where Jane Clifton's going next
tale of two gigs..
The guests begin to arrive at the Aherns' 2) Our host, Paul
Ahern, makes a few adjustments to the lighting
The boys drift off during mum's birthday speech
Robbo with drummer Jackson and guitarist Dan
Robbo with Lynne and a couple of handsome blokes 7) Alana's
signed Squier guitar
A fab 50th in Foster followed by the Croydon Hotel BBQ
23.2.09 - Paul Ahern is obviously
a man who knows what he wants, and he particularly wanted
Spectrum to play at his wife Mary Ann's 50th birthday party
on Saturday night - and so that 's exactly what happened.
The Aherns live a few k's out of Foster, (in South Gippsland
about 170 k out of Melbourne), and Paul led us off into the
hills in his green Citroen delivery van after we'd settled
into the accommodation in town.
About ten minutes later we'd arrived at the Aherns' place,
comfortably nestled in the hills and well appointed to party.
(pic 1) We set up around the Ahern boys' kit and
amps, as they were doing a couple of sets before we swung
into action, and ate a splendid meal with the family and some
I wasn't quite sure how to pace the night, but after learning
that the Aherns' had hired Ross Hannaford and Nicky Bomba
a while back, I decided there was enough sophistication in
the room to handle Spectrum as it comes - and that's what
happened. The sound was almost like playing in the open air
and the band had fun working out, the crowd was warm and receptive
- especially at the end of the night - and the Aherns were
generous and thoughtful hosts. There wasn't one even slightly
unsavoury incident throughout - the catering was particularly
savoury in fact - and we left the Aherns' sometime after 1.30
feeling a little worn out, but well appreciated.
We drove straight to the Croydon Hotel from Foster the next
morning to discover that nothing had changed - if anything,
we were another umbrella down since we were last there. (pic
8) It was a warm, cloudless day, and while we made sure
we weren't going to cook, there were only two umbrellas
left for the audience. (A moderate crowd did build up later
in the afternoon, but I found it unnerving watching them stew
in the heat).
Amongst them was my 'niece' Alana Galea, and she'd brought
a Fender guitar along with her for us to sign. (pic 7)
She's bringing it along to The Corner tonight for Geoff
Achison to sign, and then she's going to auction it off on
eBay for the bushfire appeal. Well done Alana!
I like playing at the Croydon, but I hope we can persuade
them to do something about the lack of cover before we play
there next or we'll simply have to set up indoors, which I'm
certain isn't what they were aiming for.
Croydon's beer garden looks deceptively inviting, but where's
the shade for the audience?
Deb and Rory McGrath cheered us up..
A Clayton's night at the Clayton RSL
23.2.09 - It was probably badly
timed, being in the same week as the Mulgrave Country Club in
the neighbouring suburb of Wheelers Hill, but the woeful turnout
at the Clayton RSL exceeded even my low expectations. Having
been there the week before I suspected we were going to struggle
to pull 'our' audience, but a few die-hards did make the effort,
including the McGraths, (pic) which helped brighten
us upa bit.
We also amused ourselves with a few variations on the standard
sets, and it was a luxury having Daz for the second time iin
the one week. Nothing bad happened either, so that
has to be a plus..
The CFA chief gives an emotional tribute to the emergency services
personnel 2) Bill's new Holden
'gathering' at Arthurs Creek
20.2.08 - Bill met me in Hurstbrige and
led me (in his new station wagon! - pic 2) to Arthurs
Creek via the scenic Nutfield route. It was very scenic
too, every corner revealing another postcard rural scene, but
every now and then you'd catch a glimpse of the hills beyond
with their blackened stick forests reminding you of the recent
devastation wrought by the fires.
We were hours early, but it soon became clear that they were
expecting many more than the original 40 - 60 Bill had estimated.
In the event I'd have guessed between 300 - 500 turned up, and
our tiny PA was struggling to be heard over the noise of the
generator, let alone heard at the back of the crowd.
Bill and I played some nylon-string instrumentals before Ron
the emcee introduced the program. Then Joanna, the local school
music teacher, conducted a group of thirty or so kids in a song
that was only heard about three rows back, but the crowd gave
them a generous ovation anyay. The assembled crowd heard (just!)
an emotional tribute from the CFA head (pic 1) and
then were invited to reflect on lost family and friends in a
few minutes silence
Strathie School kids choir poses with Bill backstage
| (apart from the generator).
When Bill and Georgina's daughter Celia and I took the stage,
I think the crowd was ready for something a little cheerful,
and so when Bill gave them a rousing rendition of The Valley
of Ewen they responded rapturously.
It was obvious things were going to go on for some time, with
people re-uniting and hugging and crying and laughing, but I'd
had enough excitement for one day, and so I packed up the PA
and retreated gratefully back to the bosom of Camberwell
hands over the I'll Be Gonz cheque to Petrina
donates I'll Be Gonz cheque to Kids Under Cover
20.2.09 - It's taken all of two years to
nail her down - and in that time she's actually resigned her
full-time position at Kids Under Cover - but I finally caught
up with Petrina Dorrington (pic) at Porgie &
Mr Jones in Auburn yesterday morning (after seeing the
accountants) and presented her with a cheque for $1000.00 accrued
from sales of the I'll Be Gonz CD over the last few
It's not a BIG cheque, but the printing's big. It's quite
appropriate timing too, as one of their foster family houses
burned down in Strathewen, and I was heading up to Arthurs Creek
to help Bill present The Valley of Ewen song at a gathering
of survivors that very afternoon..
celebrated his 54th birthday at the Mulgrave
Mulgrave Country Club
- I don't remember the Mulgrave being quite so much fun the
last time we played there. It might have been the size of the
crowd, but in any case it felt different somehow. The
surprise interpolation of harmonioca player, Coral, leaping
about entertainingly and playing Summertime and St
Louis Blues on her chromatic harmonica was certainly different,
but we had a cluster of people at the end of the night (pic)
buying CDs and demanding we sign them.
Bill fielded a radio interview with Derek Guille after the first
set, and Derek promised to invite us into the studio in the
near future. Now for the Clayton RSL just down the road.
benefits left, right and centre!
17.2.09 - One of the immediate effects
of Bill's Strathewen fire escape was the cancellation without
notice of Spectrum's gig at the Lomond that Saturday night.
Of course, it was unavoidable, but I feel bad about it nonetheless,
so I'm more than happy to plug the benefit they're having there
this coming Sunday from 3.00 - 11.00pm. (see poster)
It .looks like a corker lineup too, so you should pop along.
I'll try and muster the energy but it's a very busy schedule
for Spectrum this weekend and it just may not be humanly possible.
In other Bill news, I'm happy to report that he and Rosemary
have been inundated with practical assistance from all quarters,
and that Pedro the goat, who looked like carking it there for
a while, has undergone a course of treatment and is well on
the road to recovery. Bill has shown me photos of the house
and surroundings, and it's even more evident how cool-headed
he was to save the house under unimaginable pressure - not to
mention how lucky he was. Again, thanks to everybody who has
e-mailed me, texted me and phoned me to enquire after Bill's
welfare. In the meantime, you can show your solidarity with
the victims, the survivors and the emergency services by turning
up at a benefit near you..
the love, people!
The stage in a picnic setting 2) Ross Ryan fronts his definitive
band for a neat set
Wendy Ealey and Jess Evans put in a touching set 4) Shane Howard
being Shane Howard
Bill with Jo Kelly Stephenson and Robbo
Sunday Sounds at the Talbot
15.2.09 - Bill was at my place early
early enough - about 10.30 - which gave him time for him to
give me a précis of his adventures with the fire and
for us to run through a couple of things before the Robbos
arrived. Leticia had texted Robbo to say there'd been an accident
and the Chandler Hwy was blocked, but we got to the site right
on time at 11.30. Ross Ryan, (pic2) with Ken and
Roy, was about to take the stage and, while the crowd was
still pretty sparse, (prompting a crowd-surfing quip from
Ross), the band put in a thoughtful and pleasing performance
- Bill thinks it's the definitive Ross Ryan unit and I think
he's right. Jess Evans and my judgemental friend, Wendy Ealey,
|were next with a short set, and then
we were on stage. We were only due to play for thirty minutes,
so Robbo brought a snare, hi hats, cymbal and jembé and
Bill and I were equipped with nylon-string guitars and my bag
of mouth harps. The set wasn't in the least bit stressful -
Ross and Tina Ryan even jigged conspicuously when we played
Baby Please Don't Go and I'm sad that I don't have
a pic of that - but Bill in particular was just pleased to be
playing after all his harrowing adventures.
Understandably, Bill had to get back to the valley pretty promptly,
so we didn't see that much more - just a taste of Shane Howard
(pic 4) and then we were gone. Keep your eyes peeled
for more bushfire benefits coming your way soon!
Monk and Mike - haven't we seen this before? 2) Clayton revellers
strut their Clayton stuff to The Sub's
Sub's Pete Summers delivers another '60s classic 4) Sub's
bassist Peter Robinson
RSL gig preview
14.2.09 - Mid Life Crisis bassist Peter
Newson is promoting this variation on a theme at the Clayton
RSL, and MLC and The Substitutes pulled a healthy crowd last
night. I popped in to remind folk that Spectrum's playing there
next Friday and, not for the first time, ran into Anita Monk.(pic
Achison with Suzanne from the Leader 2) Chris Wilson, Mike,
Geoff Achison and Jimi Hocking
Bucket of Love Bushfire benefit
12.2.09 - Spectrum doesn't do benefits that often,
(we are still doing the Talbot show this Sunday however),
but when the Souldiggers' Mal Logan e-mailed me about Bushfire Blues
Love Bucket Relief benefit show at The Corner on Tuesday 24th, I thought
we should definitely get on board! Geoff Achison's wife, Michelle,
(pic 1) is doing the hard yards on the organisational front,
and she invited me along to a photo session at The Corner this morning.and
as it seemed a nice opportunity to touch base I happily agreed. Also
having their mugs shot were Geoff, Jimi Hocking and Chris Wilson (pic
2). Suzanne from the Melbourne Leader took advantage of the situation
to grab a few comments from us as well.
Speaking of Bill, I've had so much mail and so many phone calls asking
after his well-being that I've barely been able to tackle anything
else. He's hoping to finally get into town tomorrow, although it's
been the same story every day. He and his partner Rosemary have been
given a generator, so they now have electricity and hot water, and
Bill's got a new phone, which sesems to be working a bit better than
his old one. Today was the first day I've smelt smoke in the air here
in Camberwell, but Bill tells me they've smelt nothing but smoke since
Saturday and everybody's developing persistent coughs as a result.
Bill would like me to thank everybody for their concern, and he's
looking forward to returning to a stage near you ASAP.
Not quite Spectrum at the Croydon Hotel on Sunday arvo
9.2.09 - Only in Melbourne can you go from a gobsmacking
47 degrees one day to 17 degrees the next, but no-one was talking
about how cool it was when we started playing in the Croydon
Hotel beer garden at just after 2.00 on Sunday. Or, strictly
speaking, when I started playing, having elected to
open proceedings on my own with only George the guitar for musical
company. There was even the odd sprinkle of drizzle, as if to
reinforce the suspicion that perhaps Black Saturday never happened
and was just a horrid collective dream. In any case, I prefaced
my set by explaining the reasons for Bill not being present
and I think that the audience donated a little extra enthusiasm
for the rest of the afternoon's fare as a result.
Near the end of my set I noticed Robbo in conversation with
an impossibly young bloke carrying a guitar case, but I didn't
immediately click that it was Grant Cummerford, the bass-player
that Daz had recommended I get in touch with to substitute for
one facet of the 'essence of Putt' as Paul Hester described
it. When I rang Grant on Saturday night he was in Port Macquarie
at the Cassegrain Winery with Ani DiFranco, and he only got
back into Melbourne at midday. His being there at all added
to the unreality of the afternoon's proceedings; afterall, I'd
not heard of or met him before, and I'm pretty sure he knew
nothing about Spectrum other than by reputation. Jimmy Sloggett
though, was my insurance, and as soon as he wandered amiably
into the beer garden where Robbo and I were setting up, I felt
a lot less anxious about the way things might go.
I'd done some charts for Grant that morning, some of which obviously
helped and some others that weren't quite so helpful, but there
was always the blues, and there was always Jimmy's salving sax,
easing away the tension and inviting the listeners to relax
and lose themselves in the music for a while.
At the end of it all everybody seemed happy, so our job was
done right enough. Before he left for his next gig, Grant told
me a funny Jackie Orzasky story, which I'll tell you one day
if I can still remember it. Grant's playing style reminded me
of Jackie - and Harry Brus, particularly visually. It would
be nice to think we could do something with him again sometime.
Packing up was a nightmare. Robbo and I are always the last
to finish, but this time we were really last. I even
turned down an invitation to sample some fine red from Chris
who's back from his Indian adventure. I mean, how tired was
survives Strathewen bushfire inferno - and saves house!
7.2.09 - Bill rang just as I was leaving
to take Chris back to Vermont St - at 4.40 according to my
phone log. He seemed calm enough and said that Rosemary, along
with all the women and children in the valley, had been evacuated
to Diamond Creek, but that he was staying on to switch on
the pumps when the embers started to hit and then he was getting
out. That sounded fairly dire, but he seemed calm enough and
he's constantly telling me how much preparation they've all
been doing so I figured he knew what he was doing and wished
The next thing I get a call from a very distraught Rosemary
saying that Bill hadn't been heard of for a couple of hours,
all the houses in the valley had been razed and she was very
concerned for his safety. I tried to reassure her that Bill
would be OK, but the call unnerved me and I rang Robbo to
let him know what was going on. I then rang Stephan, who books
the Lomond, and told him it was possible that we would miss
the gig tonight and of Bill's potential circumstances as far
as I knew them at that point.
By now the implications of what I'd been told were starting
to get to me, so I rang Rosemary again. She'd just heard that
her house had been saved but she still didn't know where Bill
was. I was pretty buoyed by this news, figuring that if the
house was OK, chances were that Bill was also. That is unless
he'd tried to make a dash for it in his car and got caught
in the fire - Rosemary had also mentioned that a burnt out
car had been found.
Then, at 7.29, my phone rang. At first all I could hear was
panting, but I thought recognised it anyway. And it was
indeed, the original and one and only Mr Bill Puff! Man!
I was so relieved to hear his voice! The fact that he
couldn't get down to do the gig wasn't an issue - the man
I rang Robbo and Stephan - and then rang James at the Lomond
for good measure. Everybody was just relieved that Bill was
Tomorrow arvo at the Croydon is a problem though. Bill doesn't
think he'll be able to get through even then, so we'll either
have to cancel or be a little creative. I've contacted a potential
fill-in, but it's difficult. We do what we do and we don't
really have a lot of covers, apart from the blues stuff. Hmmm..
5.2.09 - I heard from an old friend in Wayne
Reid the other day. He's planning a retrospective exhibition
of his photographs beginning this coming weekend. Wayne and
Helen used to run Rhythm & Views in Northcote,
and Bill and I have fond memories of playing there to promote
the Volcano CD. Anyway, here's what Wayne has to say:
I am about to have my first Photographic Exhibition
in years and I'd like to invite you to come along to celebrate
this with me. This will be a "Retrospective" exhibition,
called "Abstractions, Creations, Derelictions", and
contains work I have done over many years, beginning with my
earlier years in NZ, and coming forward to what I am doing now.
There have been some large gaps in my creative life, such as
the ten years when I had my CD & Record shop, Rhythm &
Views, in Northcote. I loved those years at R&V, and all
the great friends I made through the shop, but all my energy
and time (& money) went into that venture, and I was left
with nothing to sustain my main creative passion, photography.
Now that I am living here in the country near Winchelsea (half
an hour out of Geelong) and working in Aged Care for a rural
Health Service, four days a week, I
|finally have a balance of time, energy,
and resources to put into photography once again; and I'm loving
it! Where we live is close to some beautiful country (the Otway
Ranges, and the Great Ocean Road coastal area) so I have been
busy looking at the inspiring landscape around us, as well as
some of the smaller, more intimate details. Don't know if it
is because of my own aging, or the influence of country living,
but my images also seem to be looking at the old, the weathered,
the "rustic"...appreciating the Japanese concept of
"wabi sabi", the strange beauty that arises when the
processes of nature and the passage of time work on human constructions.
Recently I was invited by a friend, Paul Sanders, who works
at the Augustine Centre in Hawthorn, to use their community
art space/gallery, to show my work. Although the offer was "short-notice",
and therefore I haven't had the chance to work towards it with
a "theme" in mind (hence the retrospective idea),
I jumped at the opportunity, and am preparing the work right
now. It is a great joy to be able to show you what I am up to.
I will be hanging it soon and it will be up for most of February,
with the official "opening" on Saturday 7th Feb.
Creations, Derelictions is showing at the Community Art
Space at the Augustine Centre, 2 Minona St, Hawthorn. 9819 2844.
The gallery is open to the public: Tuesday to Friday: 9.30am
- 4.30pm and on Saturdays 14th & 21st from 11.00am - 4.00pm
not good enough...
delivers his ode to Pedro the goat
3.2.09 - I've had a copy of the first version of
this video for a few weeks, but Bill wanted to upload the
version with Celia co-singing the vocals - so, today he dropped
off the final cut. It'll be up on the site in a minute or
two, so why don't you check it out on the Videos
Bill and I took the opportunity to discuss a few issues over
a cup of tea before I tottered down to see my dentist, Bernie
Smith, to repair some outstanding damage incurred on Christmas
Day. I took the pic of Bill (left) with my new phone,
which I'm still getting the hang of, hence Bill's sceptical
Jenny, Mick Newman and Daryl make a crowd
Something's missing at Moonee Ponds
2.2.09 - Well, for a start off,
a crowd would've been nice! I inwardly groaned when I walked
in - nothing's changed since the last time we were there,
apart from the later start, which guaranteed nobody was still
there from lunchtime. The good thing was I elected to use
our own PA, which meant that it sounded the way we
wanted - it helps to at least feel comfortable when you're
surveying a small crowd spread out over a large room. There
was nothing wrong with the way we were received though, and
the faces were all friendly, if not familiar. Mick Newman
(pic) offered me some of his wedges before the last
set, which probably saved me fainting from loneliness..
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