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The Maldon Blues Club's break-up do

1) In an unassuming lounge in an unassuming pub, the unassuming locals congregate on a Sunday arvo to party on..

2) Di, Heather and Lyn Trollop braved the floods 3) Viv Hamilton came from Castlemaine all of 100 metres away

4) Kinga Roy spruiks the raffle

gig report
Maldon Hotel Sun. 28.11.10
Act of God fails to stop the Maldon Blues Club party
29.11.10 - The alleged creator of the Universe, Mr God, was moving in manifestly meteorological ways on the weekend, but the gig at the Maldon Hotel went ahead as scheduled. It made a change from listening to the flood reports, the baffling updates on the State election and the Aussie cricketers being systematically dismantled anyway, so a good half of the entire town's population trotted down to the pub to cop a bit of the full-Monty Spectrum, satisfyingly augmented as they were with the addition of keyboardist, Daryl 'Chopper' Roberts.
Our Blues Club host, Kinga Roy, (pic 4) made us all feel at home, but I must see if he can come good with a green room next time - a pub urinal is not the ideal place to change at the best of times, but this one requires holding your breath at the same time and so is particularly demanding.
It was great to see the three Trollops (pic 2) after their scary text messages, and

also very nice to catch up with Viv Hamiltion (pic 3) after far too long, but almost as good was the actual enjoyment we got out of playing - I quite forgot we were due top stop at 6.00 and the set was ominously drifting on to a 6.30 conclusion before the rest of the band had a union meeting and called the gig off.
Howqua Valley vs the Rest of the World

1) Birthday boy Stephen puts on a smiley face 2) Is this alright? The kid plays Bill's Yari

3) Bill advises on publicity pics 4) It was the toddler's birthday too 5) The best fireworks display ever!
gig report
Stephen Taylor's 60th Howqua River Sat. 27.11.10
Steve's birthday bash turns to mud
29.11.10 - Stephen Taylor (pic 1) saw Bill and me performing at Lex Macarthur's birthday party and was mesmerised according to Lex, and so a little while later I received an enquiry from Stephen as to whether we'd like to play at his 60th at Howqua Valley, which is nestled in the rolling hills just out of Mansfield, near Lake Eildon. It had been raining intermittently all day, so we made plans for our exit with Stephen even as we arrived, because the field in which the marquee was pitched, (and where, earlier in the day, the Howqua Valley vs the Rest of the World annual cricket match had been aborted after half an hour ), was already becoming a little, shall we say, sticky. Just as well we did too, as it turned out.
There was a stutter or two while the generator situation was sorted, and then we were under way, and as we played the showers became more and more insistent. Thankfully the rain didn't spoil the special part of the evening, which was reserved for the fireworks display, (pic 5) and I don't think I've seen (or heard) anything quite so impressive in all my birthday-partying years. I would even go so far as to describe it as awesome!
We could only follow it with The Song and then play on resolutely as the audience gradually filtered away until only our hosts remained. We loaded up the van and then bravely made an attempt at driving out - and got just ten metres before getting hopelessly stuck. We hadn't even got to the muddy part yet! Stephen hooked our bull bar to the tractor and pulled us the next hundred or so metres until we reached the safety of the gravel road.
It continued raining most of the night, and the next morning we received word from The Trollops that they were thinking of coming up the see us in Maldon but there were rumours that it might be inaccessible due to flooding. I muttered darkly to Bill that the last time I'd seen so much rain was when Joan Kirner's Labor Party lost office and that it could be an omen. I think I got that right as it turns out.

Mike and Bill's surprise guests, Christian Staehely and his friend Nick
gig report
Churchill Café & Larder Mont Albert Fri. 27.11.10
Surprises abound in Mont Albert
29.11.10 -
The first surprise is that there's a licensed premises of any description in the wowserish suburb of Mont Albert. The Churchill Café is the dream child of Mark Cornehls (who happens to be the Madders' Brenden Mason's butcher) and it was only the second week he'd had music there - Phil Manning played the previous week - so there's a certain amount of suck-it-and-see going on still. For instance, it was raining, so Bill and I had to set up in the café itself, rather than the courtyard, as there's no
shelter from the elements for the musicians - yet. It was a bit of a squeeze inside, and perhaps there was the occasional conflict of interests - i.e. chat vs music - but we eased our way into proceedings and as the evening progressed there were more and more taking notice of us and responding.
As we were packing up, who should walk in the door but Al Staehely's son, Christian. He and his mate Nick are over here playing baseball for the Sandy Royals, and ladies, I can confirm that he's just as sweet a guy in person as he looks. He's keen to catch up with us again at a gig sometime, but of course there's bugger all gigs now till the New Year. Luckily the baseball season's a long one, so there's time yet.

The Station Reunion

1) The Mick Elliott Band is appraised by the crowd that was there in the first place - and found to be exactly the same

2) The musical hits of the arvo, Mason, Stockley and See 3) Anita Monk winds down from the benefit with Robbo

4) Robbo chats with local Tom Spanos 5) Joe Creighton chats with former gonzo journalist, Jenny Brown

6) Interstate visitors from SA 7) Chris Stockley makes friends with a jug o' beer

8) My co-conspirator, Lena Blomfield 9) David Pepperell remakes acquaintances
gig report
Station Hotel Sat. 20.11.10
The Station Hotel reunion finds an audience
21.11.10 - Bill and I arrived outside the Station Hotel just after the agreed load-in time of 12.30, fully expectiing Glyn 'Mother' Mason to be waiting for us impatiently, but instead we ran into an irate little man claiming to be Mark Barnes who vehemently harangued us for being grey-haired has-beens playing the same crap we've been playing for the last thirty years. And your point is? Anyway, Bill and I thought nothing more of it, but he came back again later when the Mick Elliott band was playing, only to storm out minutes later loudly voicing his dissatisfaction. I think he was miffed about something, but most people that I spoke to during the afternoon were delighted about the reunion in nearly every respect. The opening act, the Mick Elliott band, (pic 1) was chillingly authentic and Trevor Young scared the bejesus out of Robbo's drums. I thoroughly enjoyed The Pardoners' set (Sam See and Glyn Mason) and the Stockley, See, Mason numbers (pic 2) worked absolutely fine without a rhythm section and went down a storm.
Glyn joined Spectrum for I'll Take You High and we cheerfully massacred a couple of Chris Stockley's songs without incurring a dummy spit. Michael Bright said his highlight of the afternoon was seeing David Pepperell dancing to I'll Be Gone, but I think everybody had a memorable moment or two. There is talk we should do it again. What do you think?


The Harvey James benefit

1) The Oakleigh-Carnegie RSL or the Caravan Music Club + moon 2) I'm rudely awakened

3) Bill cuddles Harvey's Faye 4) Harv with daughter Alex and Fender's Margaret O’Loughlin

5) Bill wraps up Harv's sons, Josh and Gabe 6) 3 NRG's Andrew Smith was one of many media people in the room

7) John Grant and Phuil Manning having a chat 8) Jimi Hocking has a reflective moment

9) How long since I've seen Jenny Brown? 10) Phil Manning assumes there's a crowd out there somewhere

11) Garth Porter joined Ariel for I'll Be Gone and Launching Place 12) Harv joins in the encore with Faye looking on

13) Part of the crowd with Alana and Chrissie right up front
gig report
Caravan Music Club Sat 18.11.10
Harvey James' night of nights
23.11.10 -
When we got there, Bill remembered going to the Oakleigh RSL (pic 1) back in the '60s when it was a jazzer joint - he thinks the Red Onions Jazz Band was playing there - and being a rock 'n' roller, he didn't go in. As it turns out, it's a wonderful space and the two Anitas got it just right as far as Harvey's gig was concerned. Bill and I were ludicrously early and as a consequence I curled up under a table in the green room later on to rest my weary bones, only to be rudely awakened by Bill and Robbo. (pic 2) (Actually, that's a pretty amazing shot catching Robbo's flash like that).

I had some misgivings about the rigorous schedule of performances Harvey had set himself for the evening, but he coped manfully all night and managed to put in an heroic performance.
I was dividing my time between socialising/resting in the green room and catching acts in the hall, so I certainly didn't see everything, but the performances I did see ranged from honest and heartfelt (in the case of Harvey's Band of Friends with his sons Josh and Gabe for instance), to muscular and electrifying in Ian Moss' case.
It was especially touching to see the Sherberts (sans Darryl) back together again - Garth Porter (pic 11) even joined Ariel for I'll Be Gone and Launching Place Part 2, (which he'd never heard before), and Tony Mitchell borrowed Bill's Precision for the Sherb's set, which might give you an inkling of the camaraderie back stage. A bit different from the old days when the Sherbs were the enemy.
Ariel had prepared ten songs for our part of proceedings, but things were running so far behind by that stage that we cut it back to just the four. The audience had understandably diminished by this time, (it was a Thursday night after all), but their singing in I'll Be Gone was whole-hearted and actually quite stirring - even for jaded old me.
I've had a couple of e-mails from Harv since then. He's truly happy that the night happened and that it was by any measure a wonderfully successful night. Of course, it wouldn't have happened without the support of the musicians on stage and the crew working behind the scenes, but the ultimate kudos are reserved for the Anitas Monk and Sulcs for pulling the night together. It was a huge job on very short notice and I think if you were there you'd agree they pulled it off magnificently.


Mike Powell - you made it on to the Stop Press page!
gig report
The Bay Hotel Mordialloc Sun. 14.11.10
Crudd & Pump at The Bay
14.11.10 -
Bill stayed overnight because the flooding at Strathie made car travel uncertain, so we both had a bowl of Crudd's porridge-to-the-stars for brekkie to start off the day. It's been quite a while since we were last at The Bay, but not a lot has changed. They still have problems with the neighbours, so care has to be exercised in what is a very live room to start with. Matt the bar manager was very understanding being a musician himself, and we managed to sound pretty presentable despite the odd gremlin. Rob Judd rolled up, which was nice to see, and the Drs Sellers dropped in on their way back from a couple of days down at Blairgowrie. The Pump and I enjoyed the arvo too.

Glenn and Yvonne were down from Qld again - hooray!
gig report
Lomond Hotel Sat. 13.11.10
The Lomond
14.11.10 -
The occasional showers from the previous night had morphed into driving rain and cool temperatures by last night and I was thankful for my Drizabone during the load in. There's been a new carpet been laid since last we were there, and I'm not sure whether it was that that influenced the sound or not, but it was definitely more subdued than usual.
Anticipating some of the crowd wanted an early night we swapped the second and third sets and I think the strategy worked - and anyway, by the third set a more boisterous dance crowd had blown in, so we might do that again. One of them wanted to know if we did any Barry Manilow..

1) Marg Bird, moi, Geoff and Kath McClatchy 2) Mike and Bill catch up with Rose from TCS after thitry years

3) Trollop No. 1, Jennie, celebrates with Bill and Mike (Bass)
gig report
Ferntree Gully Hotel Fri. 12.11.10
It was a rainy night in Georgia..
13.11.10 -
I realised just before we left for the Ferntree Gully Hotel that the starting time was actually 9.30 rather than 8.30, so I e-mailed The Trollops immediately - it was Trollop numero uno Jennie's birthday (pic 3) and they'd booked a booth to celebrate. Bill and I got there early followed by the afore-mentioned Trollops in festive mood - to the point that I had to issue a stern 'don't peak too early' warning. I was delighted when the McClatchys arrived unexpectedly with Marg Bird (pic 1) and then amazed when Rose (pic 2) identified herself after the first set as the receptionist at TCS all those years .
ago. She joined the Trollops later on the dance floor - you never know, there could be another Trollops' initiate as a result!
It was a warm and humid night with a bit of thunder and rain, (hence the Georgia reference), the band was hot as well and and the crowd was receptive. As I e-mailed to the agent, Scott Carne, this morning, it was a most congenial night.

1) Harv reacquaints himself with the rep' 2) Faye feeds the bird
Mike & Bill visit Harv
12.11.10 -
I've been in constant telephone and e-mail touch with Harv (pic 1) since he discovered he was stricken with cancer, but it was still a shock when he opened the door of his and Faye's home deep in the backblocks of Olinda. That first impression was quickly forgotten as Harv was in good spirits and chatted cheerfully about the many people who have put their hands up to be involved with next Thursday's benefit.
After watching Faye feed the tame King parrot (pic 2) we worked our way through the repertoire from the Rock & Roll Scars album. It's going to be a big night - it's almost booked out already!

1) Spectrum rocks the Ivanhoe Golf Club (pic Jim Z. Kozlevcar) 2) Robbo and Nik reflect on a splendid Cup Day bash
gig report
Ivanhoe Golf Clubhouse 2.11.10
Nik's Melbourne Cup Day bash
3.11.10 -
The morning's weather was intermittent showers and the afternoon promised more of the same, so Nik (pic 2) decided to relocate from his backyard to the Ivanhoe Golf Clubhouse down the end of his street. This year Daryl was initiated into Nik's Cup Day ritual - a pleasant change from wandering around Flemington with a mandolin serenading drunken racegoers as he did in the '80s.
We had time to scoff some of the fine food on offer before the first set - then there was a brief interruption while the race was run and we were back into it. We had an enraptured audience and I even got some ladies to join me in a conga line later in the day!
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