Mike Rudd's
Stop Press
April issue #203

live gigs
see current gig guide
Spectrum does Bluesfest 2022 14.4.22
The Double Bill + Brod Smith slay the crowd at The Golden Vine pub in Bendigo Sat. 16.4.22
Bren and Mike humming from the same Hum book
The Sunbury 50th anniversary shows still have legs - all the way up..
- I seem to recall that one of my bands might’ve been booked for the Golden Vine pub in Bendigo sometime last century, but I’m fairly certain that I’ve never actually played there. I’ve barely played anywhere in Bendigo, which is a shame as I know there’s a healthy blues scene there, but I’m pretty sure the addition of Broderick Smith to the usual Double Bill suspects of Spectrum and Madder Lake would’ve enticed a few diehard blues aficionados to this Golden Vine gig.
We arrived in broad daylight and on initial inspection the pub looked very tired. Once the sun went down though the well-worn atmosphere in the entertainment room felt quite welcoming and it looked like all the tables had been booked, which boded well for the vibe in the room when the music started.
After we’d set up on the tiny stage I encountered Broderick and his guitarist Shannon Bourne in the beer garden. Their food looked so good so I ordered myself the calamari - and a G&T.
At last I had the opportunity for a bit of a chat with Brod and, amongst other things, he remembered being impressed by my first band, The Chants, playing at the Catcher back in 1967. Nice to hear even after all these years - the Chants broke up a short six months after arriving in Melbourne due to perceived and actual indifference.
Brod and Shannon took the stage for a performance that was noticeably more relaxed than the last gig we shared at the Brunswick Ballroom. Shannon played gritty electric guitar through a vintage-looking amp and Brod played his arsenal of harps through a little amp as well. The room would’ve no doubt drowned them out if they’d opted to go acoustic, but on the other hand I think the electric approach might’ve worked just as well in the more concert-like conditions at the Ballroom.
Then it was Spectrum’s turn. The lack of space on stage was a bit inhibiting and a massive contrast to our previous show at Bluesfest - I had to be careful to avoid Bren’s guitar when moving to and from the mic we were so comically close to each other.
The sound was in everyone’s faces too, but it wasn’t at all nasty and despite the restricted movement we enjoyed a fun set.
I was surprised when Sunbury author Peter Evans and ARCA’s Adrian Anderson presented me with a framed original Sunbury poster marking the 50th Sunbury anniversary. (Somebody in the audience immediately offered to buy it from me, but I thought that might seem a little ungrateful).
I managed to persuade Brenden to bump my Badlands song appearance up the Madders’ set list, which meant Broc and I got to leave before the end of the Madders’ set and get home at a respectable 12.30.
As far as I know that’s the last time that Sunbury’s 50th anniversary will be used as a pretext for a Double Bill gig this year. However, I’m reminded there were four Sunburys so we may yet see you again next year for the 50th anniversary of Sunbury #2.
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The Spectrum chaps find their way to Byron Bluesfest and manage to have fun for more than a few minutes - Thurs.14.4.22

Spectrum delivers in front of the Ellis D Fogg light show

19.4.22 -
At 5.20am on Wednesday morning my phone alerted me to a message from my travel agency.
Our Virgin (flight number whatever) departure time had been changed to 7.20am. I suspected it probably wasn’t our 11.00am flight, but it was a nerve-jangling start to what turned out to be an epic day of post-COVID air-travel.
The airline's advice was to arrive at the airport a full three hours before take-off, so, there we all were assembled in the departure lounge at 8.30, blearily considering the next two and a bit hours waiting for our Bluesfest flight to be announced.
Our flight was originally a direct flight to Ballina (Byron Gateway) but it had been annoyingly modified by Virgin with a two hour layover in Sydney. The sitting-around-waiting hours soon start stacking up.
While I'd booked the flights early enough, I'd left my accommodation and transport run way too late and there was none of either to be had anywhere in the vicinity of the festival.
Luckily Broc has a musician friend from his days in Canberra living in the Byron area and you can picture the relief on the faces of our dishelvelled crew waiting in the drizzle at Ballina airport with assorted hand luggage and equipment stacked on a couple of trolleys when Tony Dwyer (he prefers 'Ant') arrived in his burnt-orange Subaru and we all managed to squeeze in with the three back-seat passengers nursing Broc's bass guitar on their laps.
Then we were off to Ocean Shores, a small township north of the festival site, where Ant put up Robbo and Broc for the two nights and Bren and I were billeted with Ant's friend Georgina (Georgie) just down the road. There we were treated to sumptuous welcoming BBQ that continued on into the late hours.
It rained overnight, (in my limited experience it always rains at Bluesfest), but the morning was sunny enough. The problem of getting us all to the festival site was solved by the Ant and Georgie tag team who got us there in good time.
Once we got all the formalities sorted we had time to get a bite to eat and mingle with the growing crowd and have a look around.
(The performers were compelled to wear masks and we were happy to be compliant, but there was hardly anybody in the crowd bothering and we actually copped a bit of hostility from a couple of people for wearing our masks).
It's hard not to be impressed with the set-up at Bluesfest. The scale is enormous - some of the marquees must be four storeys high - the stages are big and well equipped with helpful and patient crews ministering to our every need.
So, there we were setting up on the Delta stage for our 5.00 - 6.00 slot. We had a leisurely thirty minutes to accomplish this, so leaving my pedal board in our dressing room (requiring the genial Pat to come and rescue me in the performers' bus) was easily accommodated - in fact, the rest of the band was oblivious to my mini-drama. I can't remember the year Spectrum last played at Bluesfest, but I think we had ten rather than thirty minutes to set-up so this was luxury.
The hour-long set went more or less as planned. I inserted one of our emergency songs (Real Meanie) late in the set when it looked like we were a number short and perhaps the end was a little rushed as a consequence.
The crowd had swelled dramatically from the fifty or so that watched us sound check and so a vast sea of heads sang along with gusto and nearly blew us over in I'll Be Gone.
It wasn't till I saw Georgie's clip of IBG filmed from the audience that the full impact of the vaunted Ellis D Fogg lightshow became evident. (We were actually billed as 'Spectrum with Ellis D Fogg's Liquid Light Show'). I have yet to see the footage that Daryl's wife Debbie (now nick-named Tripod) shot for Bren, but I'm guessing the images behind the band for the rest of the set will look just as effective. It's a pity we don't get to see it while we're playing - in fact, as previously mentioned with Hugh McSpedden's light show, we're struggling to see anything on stage.
After the set we packed our gear and vacated our dressing room and considered what to do next. We wandered back to the Delta tent where Tamam Shud was wrapping up their set. It was neat to meet up with Tim Gaze and Nigel Macara again and Tim mentioned he'd like to chat about possibly touring together, and with not a lot on the gig horizon that sounds pretty intriguing.
We had a bite while listening to Ross Wilson's set - interesting to hear Love is the Law and Woman of the World again - and caught some of Joe Camilleri's Bob Dylan revue before taking in some of The Cat Empire's 'last' show. A wonderfully varied all-Aussie start to the festival.
I've been telling anybody that I think might be interested that this will be my last Bluesfest, which sounds like I'm accustomed to being invited - which, of course, I'm not. This year's invitation from Peter Noble was entirely unexpected and I was very chuffed to be considered, no matter what Peter's actual motives might've been for inviting the band. The experience was almost entirely positive and served to remind me that human kindness is always on hand when things are looking uncertain. It was fabulous to be so well received by the audience - I'm sure not everybody in the tent was our vintage, so it's nice that the curious youngsters in the room chose to stick around and enjoy what we threw their way - Roger Foley's light show probably helped no end.
Then there's the band itself, putting up with the occasional indignities that are accorded bands of our station with good humour and patience and then putting their best foot forward when it comes to those vital few minutes in actual performance. Peter 'Robbo' Robertson, Daryl Roberts, Broc O'Connor and Brenden Mason I thank and salute you as friends and fellow musicians representing the spirit of Oz music from the '60s and '70s.
Anyway, we'll try and get a vid or two from the show up on FB ASAP.

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