Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December gigs 2010

258. Howl at The Moon, Felicity Groom Workers Club 1/12/2010
Howl at The Moon did their usual set of darker intense indie rock-pop, fronted by Lady Dee who's almost perfected the art of frustrated, longing vocals with a touch of desperation. Soundwise, it worked well in this bandroom. Felicity Groom is a Perth artist who takes risks. Backed by her travelling band[including an emerging music DJ from RTR, bassist from Jebadiah and drummer who moonlighted as a Melodica player], she played a varied set, traversing folk, rock and pop. She has a strong stage presence dressed in black, and a stronger voice. She played a multitude of instruments including acoustic guitar, electric guitar, percussion instruments, and auto harp. Sometimes these were accompanied with violent movement, dramatic pauses. Dark themes and a dry sense of humour always remained. The better songs included boy/girl vocals or the auto harp. My problem was, I found it hard to connect with her songs - perhaps it was that I couldn't hear the lyrics or I wasn't familiar with her material. It didn't grab, me but it seemed to grab the ex Perth crowd.

259. The Rechords, Frankie Alibi and the Fugitives The Bendigo 3/12/2010
Tonight was the big night. The name was changed, the costumes were made, the band rehearsed because it was Frankie Alibi and The Fugitives first gig ever! The Bendigo was packed with a mixed crowd of the rock'n'roll set, curious onlookers and loads of chicks. The Rechords warmed the room with their Rockabilly set, looking adorable in their nudie-esque shirts and quiffs. Hepcat played rock'n'roll tunes for the dancers and everyone was in the mood to party. Frankie Alibi and the Fugitives are a 12 piece R & B band which includes all the regular rock instruments, keys, horn section, 3 good looking backing vocalists - with dance moves taught by Anna Go Go. They play covers of obscure R & B songs, and they do it well. The first song, was house band style, then Frankie Alibi and the Fugitive backing singers made their way to the stage, one dragged by the neck with a fake noose. Frankie, with his high quiff, dressed as a Reverend, launched into Down Home Girl, with swagger and verve. He's got the look, he's got the moves, he's got the band, and singing into the faux vintage mic, his voice doesn't carry the song. His screams are good, but his voice lacks strength. It's not the end of the world. After all, Nick Cave can't sing. But what he can do is entertain. Frankie's strengths lie in his ideas, quirk and stage craft. Banter between songs were sermons read from a bible in a boyish voice about Elvis Presley and James Brown. He's cute, and for me, he's got the potential to be a pin up boy for the strange and unusual. In the meantime, the band can compensate for any shortfalls. By the end, Frankie was hauled offstage by two scantily dressed lady police officers. All in the name of fun. There was so much attention to detail that made this a fun night. Instead of a stamp in, the door was taking thumb prints. It was a good night, good vibe and if Frankie can choose the songs that best suit his vocal ability, I really look forward to seeing how he develops.

260. Heel Toe Express and Cherrywood, Roy Orbison Tribute night Old Bar 4/12/2010.
Post work Xmas party. Heel Toe Express, did more of what they did last time I saw them but also had a double bass. Young urban people playing old timey country music around one mic. Cherrywood, there’s a lot to like – their sound, once they get started. But there’s also a lot to dislike – lead singer lacks onstage charm. Wily youth of today or just obnoxious twat? Roy Orbison fans may be a bit disappointed. Not all songs were tribute songs to Roy Orbison. It should have been tagged as ‘Roy Orbison theme night feat. loosely associated songs and tenuous links’. This night didn’t pull numbers. Was it too hot, was it the bands or is it that people just don't know how cool Roy Orbison actually is? After the DJ was Bowlofdick/Matt Stabs who kept us on the dancefloor.

261. Que Paso Labour in Vain 5/12/2010
Following BBQ at CERES, I caught Que Paso doing their thing on a warm Sunday arvo. This gig was organized for Alysha’s dad who was in town. Loud and decent with some questionable lyrics doing their southern rock- leaning towards country style.

262. Moosejaw Rifle Club Standard 5/12/2010
Wanted to see them because I’d never seen them before. Three piece [guitar,banjo, mando] singing men, doing country style music with a strong Australian sound and an air of niceness to them – as in they seemed really nice. Perhaps too nice.

263. Danny Walsh and Adam Redfern and awesome fiddle player The Standard 8/12/2010
Ballad singer Danny Walsh, tells big stories to country and 50’s style rock and roll songs. He plays guitar, mando, harmonica, and is accompanied by Adam Redfern on electric guitar, and an awesome fiddle player who adds so much to the spirited performance. She is an asset.

264. Dozers, Barbarion and Jeff The Brotherhood Pony 9/12/2010
It was boys rock night at what I’d consider to be a boys rock bar. Pony’s not my scene and men outnumbered women, boys outnumbered girls. I thought I’d be frightened out of my comfort zone. Instead three rock bands, from different subgenres played good sets. Dozers kicked off the night, no strong hooks, but some good moments, heaps of energy, tight neo-grunge.
Barbarion, a 7 piece ludicrous metal revival-esque act, dressed in their middle ages garb meets cavemen, meets homo erotic attire and no shoes. The exception was one singer Frank who teamed his Ancient Roman toga with white cross trainers. Duelling singers, excessive guitar solos, choreographed moves, face paint, Barbarion had it all. Another really tight act, but they had a skull on a stick, with red eyes, shooting out smoke, and pyrotechnics. Totally entertained by something I’d never really consider.
Jeff The Brotherhood are young good looking rock guys who play good music, who sound as if they honed in their skills playing in their bedroom and they transfer it to on stage. Two brothers [guitar and drums] from Tennessee with simple mesmerizing songs, with good build ups, unafraid to get fuzzed out, but can bring it down too. They played song after song, sometimes breaking it up with The Ramones’ Rock’n’Roll Radio. There’s a little crowd interaction, when one brother walks though the crowd with his guitar. And no encore. Merch was available and the crowd were pretty pleased with the performance. I was too.

265. Spencer P Jones and The Escape Committee, Chris Russell's Chicken Walk, Labour In Vain 11/12/2010
I spent all day trying to wake up by doing stuff, when the key was to simply walk into the Labour In Vain, and catch Spencer P Jones and the Escape Committee spit out those bittersweet rock songs. Today's set was taken mostly from Sobering Thoughts, and they played to a third full venue [Meredith is on]. The final song was a new song. Spencer P Jones is so great when he's good. So good I bought the vinyl even though I've already got the CD. Chris Russell only got to play 4 songs. It took me a while to warm to him playing blues guitar. After two songs he told us we were witnessing something illegal, so he put his guitar down, then did something different. He sang acapella gospel songs, which got the crowd engaged keeping time. In doing so, it was evident that he genuinely has a great deep, booming voice. By the last song, he was walking and singing - and then he walked out the door, Spencer following him, and the crowd laughing.

266. The Rechords The Gem 12/12/2010
Another Rechords Gem gig made memorable by some good songs. I'm assuming Felix wrote one, then got down because a mother with child left during the song. It was also made memorable for the two ladies dancing - Ilana rockabilly scene queen and the stocking twirling birthday beauty, who kept unusually interesting time with her clap and foot stomp technique.

267.Conway Savage, Little John, The Old Bar 12/12/2010
I was prepared to be bored, thinking it was going to be another adult contempo pop show and it was. This was so good, that it forced me to rethink that midnight piano music can be good. It partly had to do with the dark songs with moments of humour and songs of despair could ironically pull anyone out of misery. Conway played keys, Fox played percussion, keys and piano accordion, and they were accompanied by guitar. Every member played beautiful, outstanding parts. Nothing was wasted. A class act at the Old Bar. Conway was selling his CDs for $10.
There was quite a crowd at Little John tonight. When Little John commenced, he debuted a song just two days old. Then his band joined him, and they played their country set, changed the song order - building in contrast. Effective, but I sensed by that time the crowd wanted big happy songs. I was about to write how great, the mando, fiddle player is, but then what about guitar, etc, but it needs to be said, Little John are a good band. John couldn't do it so well without his players.

268. Reverend Horton Heat Gershwin Room Espy, 14/12/2010
25 years together, and the Reverend Horton Heat is a polished performer, who puts on a show to the one third full crowd at The Gershwin room. Dressed in a Nudie esque jacket, and donning a sharp hair cut, The Reverend Horton Heat looks like a Christian from a 1950's movie, sings songs about sinning, and plays guitar like the Devil. The drummer thumps with raw power, twirling the drumsticks in between, and Double Bassist Jimbo, well he's just charming. They're a tight act, never tired, playing songs from over the years, and including 4 songs from their most recent album. Admittedly I was knackered and had to catch the last tram home, leaving 11:50, but felt fortunate that I got to see that awesome mix of country, rock'n'roll, rockabilly, psychobilly, Spaghetti Western, frat anthems and a bit of swing. Engrossing, high octane old dudes. It sure was a psychobilly freakout!

269. Archer The Gem 16/12/2010
Testament that Archer needs an audience. He sang his old timey songs in the front bar, to a murmuring crowd of eaters. To shine, Archer needs a spotlight, and all eyes gazing. This didn't happen so he didn't shine.

270. Harmony and New War The Tote 16/12/2010
First gig, hyped to the hilt featuring an all star cast. What it boils down to is a slow burn rock three piece - guitar, bass and drums with three front stage backing singers. Everybody sings for their lives, and the rock rips through it. Singers seem to have problems with hearing, but still continue to belt it out. Will be good to see how it develops.
Someone in the crowd described New War as drum and bass – pretty accurate but not in the way you’d think. In addition to the d&b there was also a Kwai keyboard as well the jittery and camp lead singer. Drums pulsate, sassy bass, would sound stark, except for the relentless echo of the energetic singer. Good support act.

271. The Lost Ones, Off The Hip All star band, Off The Hip party 17/12/2010
The Lost Ones are a three piece garage band, lady bassist from the Shimmy's, hat wearing guitar player, and young dude on drums. Fun. Next band? All those faces from Music Club and others on stage and rocking out - Two guitars, two bass's, two drums, three singers doing garage and rock'n'roll covers. Everybody put in 100% and it was excellent fun!

272. Jeff The Brotherhood & Those Darlin's The Gershwin Room, Barbarion front bar The Espy 17/12/2010
One quarer full. I was surprised because Puta Madre Bros were the first band on. This gig was at the wrong venue. Had it been Northside, I reckon it would have sold. Jeff The Brotherhood did more of the same energetic rock with psychedelic and fuzzed out moments. Hypnotic songs and they encouraged stage diving which was downright dangerous, since barely anyone was there. The kids had fun. Those Darlin's - I like their rockin' sound with country moments. All gals play guitar, and bass and sing lead and they swap it around. There's 3 rock belters, but the singer who stands out for me is the one who broke her arm. She possesses this raw sex energy and has the ability to turn on and terrify. She sounds like she lives hard, and she appears it too, chugging back the Melbourne cans on stage, telling the boys to shake their dicks, then laughing at them. I'd love to see her do a solo project because she's sheer excitement with bad manners on stage.

273. Twang III Live To Air, Triple R, 18/12/2010
Live music radio show featuring live reads from Tim Thorpe. Starring artists included quiffed Cali-Texan Bear[of the Essentials], Que Paso, Those Darlin's, The Cartridge family, Bluestone Junction, The excellent house band. It was a tight show. Well done Triple R for pulling it off again!

274. Old Timey string session The Lomond 18/12/2010
Memories of Maldon - just a bunch of people who play old timey music, pulling up to The Lomond with their instruments in hand. A couple of leaders, and everyone else plays along to the repetitive style. Fiddles, guitars, autoharp, banjos, and a Uke. My mate counted about 22 muso's at one point. Easy listening on Saturday afternoon.

275. Erotica Exotica featuring The Royal Galah and Apocalypso Now Anytime Place 18/12/2010
With respect to the operator, I won’t say too much about the venue. What I will mention is it’s fun being at a party with tokens. A party that has the feel of a freak-show where individuality and ostentation is celebrated in style. Drink out of jam jars, Blue Hawaii Elvis Presley projected onto the background. Brand new dance floor, revolving cocktail bar, birdcage to go go dance in and Everybody dressed up. Honorable mentions Gold face man; girl in white bird suit; girl on roller skates; lady in red lycra flared suit; girls frocked up, boys in dresses… it goes on. Visually it was a sight to behold. So audibly? When I arrived Steph Brett was already singing in her band The Royal Galah doing big Calypso numbers, with a full band including horn section, and percussion section, it sounded like a wildly fun party from the 1950’s. She shared singing duties with Paul Dorneau. Genuine frivolity, loads of fun, exciting and delightful. Between acts, circus-esque male/female performers did a plate spinning act, complete with coconut shells on boobs, funny accents, and a little camp man pulling funny facial expressions. Later the music feel shifted to 70’s cruiseship, mainly because Apocalypso Now had vibes. Nara Demasson dressed up in Hawaii shirt, a lei and a sailors cap. I feel like I’m on the set of Loveboat. Had to leave because I had other business to attend to. But gee it was fun….

276. Bear and The Essentials The Lomond 19/12/2010
Caught only a moment, but Bear plays guitar high, wears cowboy boots, blue jeans, and slicked back quiff – playing with the Benny and The Flyby nighters. He got his name from Native American Indian heritage. He comes from California and lives in Austin. Playing country and rock music – sadly had to leave as friend wanted to go to The Standard….

277. Charles Jenkins The Standard 19/12/2010
Charming Charles, wowing the Sunday evening crowd at The Standard trapped inside on this rainy night.

278. The Beat Disease and Jeff The Brotherhood The Old Bar 19/12/2010
The Beat Disease - not great rock band. Jeff- seen 'em before –Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Sunday. Ace stuff in packed out Old Bar.

279.Dan Kelly's Dream Band Rooftop 20/12/2010
Missed Those Darlin's, and nothing could make me enjoy Dan Kelly's dream band so sweetly, even Paul Kelly's daughters doing backing vocals or Dan Kelly's in between song banter.

280. Miserable Little Bastards Labour in vain 22/12/2010
Upbeat, drinking music setting the scene

281. The Bastard Children The Standard 26/12/2010
Upbeat, piratey drinking songs played men singing loudly into a mic, featuring a piano accordion.

282. Fourteen Nights at Sea, If These Hands Could Separate The Sky, The Old Bar 26/12/2010
Lights off, light ball, delicate and looped atmospheric sound scapes with crescendos. The slowness was just as you’d imagine 14 nights at sea. Thought I’d be bored, but I found this totally refreshing.
ITHCSTS was another case of experimental music featuring slow build ups to rocked out endings.

283. Chris Russell’s Chicken Walk and Skyscraper Stan The Old Bar, 28/12/2010
After Xmas, before NYE and I felt gig starved. Fortunately the Old Bar saved me. Chris Russell did his brand of finger picking blues, delivering at his drawn out pace in order for maximum effect at built up moments. Skyscraper Stan was accompanied by the Commission Flats tonight who were good – Ruben on guitar is excellent. Part of Stan’s charm is his self consciousness, but it’s also slightly annoying when he’s constantly pulling himself up. Then when Stan lets loose, SS is really good indie pop guy who fuses 1920’s blues, jerkish hand movements, teenage angst, light crooning, and storytelling. My friends hate him, but I like his style. Hurricane Gemma performed a song with them, skipping her cues, but returning to the mic with gusto. She’s a singer who’s brutally exciting on stage, and wildly unpredictable, adding to the excitement. I want to see her in a foot to the floor rock and roll band. Not a bad way to spend Tuesday night.

284. Cherrywood, The Retreat, 29/12/2010
The ad said Fingerbone Bill. But on stage it was Cherrywood minus the double bass player who was at the Public Enemy gig. High spirited, rockabilly inspired, 3 piece act – Mr. Mandolin - JC Seymour, Chris on drums and that guy with the glasses. Sounds fine to me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November gigs 2010

231. Wayfaring Strangers Yah Yahs 1/11/2010
Cup Eve. So tired. Siesta then gig at 11pm. Glad I got up. I saw this band 3.5 years ago, at the Good Shepherd Circus Pie, liked them then, but forgot they existed. The Wayfaring Strangers features the bass talent of Jeremy Smith, 1 blistering lead guitar, a guitarist moonlighting as a banjo player, drums, then the unpredictable hilarious entertaining talent of its energetic lead singer. The laughter commenced when the data projector packed up, and we could see the day job desktop icons on stage. Then it continued – but it was intentional - Smoke machine, torch effects, shadow puppets, ridiculous dancing to match the lyrics[Kangaroo & running], shirt-swapping, seat Cossack dancing, impersonations of Gen Y people, a Wagons cover, funny banter. My favourite was the song about the feral cat, during which, an audience member wore an oversized cardboard Feral cat head on that tiny stage, and danced to the tune. It all got a bit ludicrous. Wayfaring Strangers are a fun and funny band.

232. Cup Day Kaos The Retreat 2/11/2010
Cup Day Kaos was a rock’n’roll extravaganza on Cup Day. In 2010 it was resurrected as an alt country gig. Booked by Jen of The Retreat[7th birthday], it featured Suzannah Espie and The Last Word, Brothers Grimm, Abbie and Jeb Cardwell, Pete Satchell band, Liz Stringer and Van Walker and Spencer P Jones. This was the first gig that I’ve ever worked at. Yes, I was an ‘assistant stage manager’. The day revealed that you need to be a certain kind of person to stage manage, and I’m perhaps not the best person for the job! I’m bossy – which is good, but I’m shy - bad. The brief was to introduce self to bands, get bands on stage and off, let them know when they’re broadcasting. This was a cross over from regular fan to working at the gig. For all fans considering crossing over, be aware that it makes what is usually fun work. It can be stressful. There were some moments of brilliance I got to catch – Liz Stringers vocals, likewise on Susannah Espie, Spencer’s riffs, etc. All the bands sounded excellent but poor Abbie and Jeb only got to play a short set because the power in the DI was drained. Spencer was miffed as he didn’t get to play his two best songs due to the live broadcast.

233. Mikelangelo and St Clair, Abbie and Jeb Cardwell The Old Bar 2/11/2010
So after Cup Day Kaos, I was seeking the chance to watch a band and really enjoy it. The Old Bar were celebrating Dia de los Muertos and had face painting. My understanding of dias de las muertos is that you celebrate the lives of the ones you’ve lost, by doing things they loved doing – it’s a celebration. Mikelangelo was painted, standing next to St Clair, also painted with JP Shilo, and together they performed brooding, morbid gothic songs. Some might call it sound scapes. To me they didn’t really capture the feel for DDLM. I thought all the bands were finished, only to find Abbie and Jeb Cardwell on stage, performing their act, as they did at Maldon and Cup Day Kaos. The brother and sister twang act lifted the mood of the room. Graveyard Train members had alternating DJ sets; a solid reminder that a party DJ and people who like music are two entirely different things.

234. Los Romanticos Upstairs, 47 Easey St Collingwood 4/11/2010
Awkward is one apt word, when you go alone to a party full of beautiful surf skater people and stick out like a sore thumb. Fun is one word to describe the evening band. Whilst the beautiful people were sipping back their Agua and Red bulls in fake goon bags, I was enjoying the sound of Los Romanticos. Back ground music for most, the main event for me. Los Romanticos are a mariachi branded band, all members wearing full costume, playing traditional mariachi instruments including a Guitarron. The guy who booked the band used them for his wedding, and the band played party tunes: La bamba, Tequila and so on. But they were fun, and upbeat, and by midway through the set, the kids were dancing. There's a Mexican shortage in Australia but there was one Mexican wearing a white Charro. A couple of guys were from El Salvador and Chile, and the others were local. I liked it, then bumped into the fabulous Cass Scott.

235. Pops & The Murdered Birds, Delaney Davidson (NZ), Brothers Grim & The Blue Murders, The Old Bar 4/11/2010
I just caught a couple of Pops and The Murdered Birds’ songs: tonight the group consisted of two members – let me get this right James and Pops? James on Mando. Pops on guitar and they played twangy strings both fast and furious into one mic with an old timey style. Brothers Grimm admitted they’d been drinking for 4 days, and launched into set, still managing to attract curious onlookers. Delaney Davidson was a curio to me. The ad mentioned something about ‘self decapitation’, the pic looked bizarre, and he was from NZ. Enough reasons to attend. Delaney Davidson plays a bluesy twang guitar. He sings twisted lyrics into an old hand held vintage mic[is that a green bullet?] that distort the voice. He taps on his guitar, providing his songs with the rhythm. He plays harmonica. All the while, he tapes his parts, then loops them to create an onstage wall of sound. Then he plays live to this backing track he created 2 minutes before. He encouraged the audience to participate by repeating his lines, and dancing. In fact while his tracks were looped he got Melbourne audience members to dance, by dancing with them, then finding them partners. He is creative, confident, impressive and quick witted. His appeal is that he is unusual. But can you believe my favourite song he performed was his most pop song - a self confessed quiet song, featuring the lyric: ‘You gotta have something of your own inside’. It was the song that contrasted with the rest of set and gave the audience the chance to enjoy the space in the song, rather than marvel at the multi-tasking. That said, Delaney did something different and it was refreshing. Thanks to D Heard for this gig.

236. Melbourne Ukuelele Kollektive, Sophisticated Hulas and Mysterious Mose, Edinburgh Castle 6/11/2010
The song and costume theme was plucked from the 1920's-30's and it appeared cult-esque on stage, but the Melbourne Ukelele played upbeat - good time music. They are a collective of people who play Ukelele, some sing, who meet every Wednesday, at the Edinburgh Castle. They play in unison, and their enthusiasm is infectious. They just seem to have so much fun, which makes the audience have fun. MUK look like a colourful bunch of Ukelele wielding weirdos, and maybe they are. I know that when it all gets too hard, I'm gonna escape and run with the collective.
Sophisticated Hulas are Oscar's mum Betty France, who looked divine, another lady, also looked lovely and Betty's boyfriend. They all play UKE, and sing. They've got originals and sing covers to the UKE, and although they joked about being a sophisticated UKE outfit, they are. Sounds good, very entertaining, looks sophisticated. They're real pro's. Esp. Betty France- who's dance,dress, facial expressions and playing are bang on. But the country UKE tracks are my absolute favourite.
Mysterious Mose - I couldn't find anything on the internet about them. But they feature some members of The MUK. Instruments are different. Banjo, guitar, double bass, Slide guitar, Kazoo, jug, saw and of course the Uke. Is this what they call a junk band or a jug band? The costumes were excellent, there's even a man on stage wearing a Fez to go with his curly moustache. They're kooky, have originals, they admit they've forgotten some of the songs, but something a little different, and a lot of fun. I'd definitely hire them for a party.

237. Sal Kimber and The Rollin' Wheel and DJ Gram, The Retreat 6/11/2010
The last gig had a crazy, cartoon-fun vibe to it, so comparatively, this was slow burn sedate, but over the course of the songs it built up. I only caught the 5 last songs of her set but Sal Kimber has a rootsy flavour to her pub rock. Add a twist of country, when she's playing the banjo. Sal sings and played guitar, and her band consists of guitar, double bass, drums keys, and tonight a cameo from their reluctant birthday tambourinist. Together their sound had a JJJ or festival vibe to it. Sal is modestly beautiful and commanding storyteller. The kids at the Retreat dug it.

238. Hobsons Choice, The Gem 7/11/2010
Hobsons Choice is an all male, highly skilled three piece string band, consisting of double bass, guitar and banjo. They play country styled music, and sing harmonies. They're a talented outfit - no hacks here. Toe tapping front bar music.

239. Sime Nugent and Alice Keith The Gem 10/11/2010
Sime Nugent played first set solo. He’s a singer songwriter with guitar, and possesses some good songs, and his set took off towards the end. Alice Keith joined him for the next country heavy set, singing harmonies, playing banjo and guitar, and adds beauty and lightness to his heavy performance. She’s got an emotive vocal style, and executes with a touch of joy. Together they're a contrast act. He's intense and serious. And she looks like she's having fun. I’ll be looking out for Alice Keith.

240. Chris Altmann and Joe Pug, Northcote Social Club 12/11/2010
It was a night of singer-songwriter style but my frame of mind was not aligned with the mood of the evening. Solo Chris Altmann sang and played tunes on the guitar, and at times his band shouted backing vocals from the crowd. Joe Pug is an American singer-songwriter with a folky rock style slightly reminiscent of Springsteen meets traditional Irish songs. He has a unique singing style which is very genuine, and easy to listen to. But I found I didn’t understand his lyrics, as this is the arsenal of the singer songwriter- well it should be. Every time I tried to really listen to the lyrics and understand the story I’d zone out trying. His guitar sex face didn’t help me focus. However he did three excellent things to engage the audience further. One: he asked the room to move forward & close the gap between performer and stage early on. Two: his banter with the audience was charming, and agreeable, acknowledging what town he was in and sharing travel stories. Three: at the end of his set, he switched off his amp and stood away from the mic and sang, once again engaging the audience, who by that stage were talking. Joe Pug seems like a pleasant singer song-writer, but an even better strategist. Not a great night, but alright.

241. Clinkerfield, Little John Northcote Social Club 13/11/2010
My new cousin Paul and his partner kindly gave me a lift from the black and white party in Eltham, and I burst into the bandroom to find Clinkerfield belting out their up tempo brand of pirate/sing along tunes. They looked like they were having fun, banging on their instruments, intense eyes Jimmy telling stories to the crowd. Girls dancing in the front. Room generally merry. I caught their last 2 songs. I realized one of those dancing girls was my flatmate who remarked “Fitzroy must be empty because everybody’s here”. She was right. It really did feel that way. This was Little John’s album launch, and on the first song, he was nowhere to be seen. Blue light flushed the stage, and his band played dramatic atmospheric noises: guitar; fiddle; bass; drums. Then midway through noise, wiry John walks on stage, white flower attached to fitted black suit jacket, skinny jeans, pointed boots, white shirt and quiff, and launches into song. Building anticipation was well executed. That was the beginning. What followed was Little John’s repertoire, gospel, rock’n’roll, country which the audience lapped up. At no stage did I look at watch, it was all fun. Just over 1 year ago I remember seeing him in The Old Bar, struggling to capture a crowd on his own. Tonight, it’s visually a full room. The band colour his songs in and give them character, John’s set list provides enough contrast to entertain, but mostly – and I could be wrong, but John seems to be on a mission to achieve continual performance improvement. Maybe it’s confidence blossoming or self improvement. Who knows? As written before, he keeps getting better and better each time I see him. Encore was an Elvis cover[always hard to do well], and a gospel acapella.

242. Damo’s 40th Birthday featuring Charles Jenkins and Davey Lane, Animal Johnson, Even, Chris Russell’s Chicken Walk, Spencer P Jones and Reigning Men – The Reigning sound tribute band YahYahs 14/11/2010
$10? Annoyed. The print and internet ad’s both said free. Poor gig etiquette on behalf of the venue right? I was ready to have a go then see a sign. It read ‘all money goes to bands’. How can you argue with that? You can’t.
I’d heard so much about the Reigning Sound tribute band, Reigning Men that I felt I needed to see them, since they were a one off [over four weeks]. This coincided with LIV’s Damo turning ‘40’, he organized a night and his friends played. Charles Jenkin’s kicked it off, playing new and older songs, but all pretty good songs. Davey accompanied him on a shrilling guitar, hardening out the soft edges. They only played a short set, and it seems everyone else got to play a full set. The key word tonight was excess. What should have been a tight evening of showcase entertainment ended in a spralling loose night, concluding too late for most. Animal Johnson, are a two piece [drums and guitar], playing bluesy rock. Even performed the hits, playing that brand of 90’s power pop that seems so tired - but I still like their songs & a Big Star cover. Chris Russell is a guy with a guitar who never wanted to be another honky playing African American music. But he said one time he went to Tennessee with his wife on a honeymoon and learned to play blues guitar from African Americans. Every year since his honeymoon, he’s returned to work in a guitar store and continues to learn. So he plays blues guitar solo and sings. Spencer P Jones played his best songs, but ruined his go by staying on stage too long. Words can’t describe how much I love the songs of Spencer P Jones, but the stagecraft could be improved. The aim is to leave them wanting more. By the end of his almost hour set, people were looking at their watches, or worse, already out the door. Finally Reigning Men came on. Surprised to see it looks like GoGo Sapien minus Emily and 1 guitar, add Van Walker, and a drummer and a short guy with energy, screaming into the mic. So they deliver the songs from an album Reigning Sound, and this was impassioned rockin’ out and fun, but it all came a little too late for me. Not quite the cavalcade of showcased talent I was hoping for, but it was real.

242.5 Bonniwells Rock Trivia Grace Darling Tuesday 16/11/2010
60's inspired, garagey rock complete with a sense of mayhem, with a touch of 90's amateurish raw indie rock. Add adolescent bad attitudes. They were supposed to play 1 song, they played 3 or 4 waiting for the trivia host to return back from smoko. I liked the sounds these kids made and I would go to see them.

243. Jane Dust and Heel Toe Express The Old Bar Tuesday 16/11/2010
The first time I saw Jane Dust, I was at Mario's pizza place on Johnston St. In a weird coincidence I ate here tonight. It's the cheapest dinner around town if you split a large. What can I say? I love Jane Dust. I enjoy her folky meets flamenco meets country music. She's got a tonne of influences and they shine through her songs. I like her lyrics, and I like her voice. She played on her own tonight. She's one cool lady.
Heel Toe Express interested me because of the name, I had done that dance only a few weeks ago at Maldon Folk Fest. The young band consisted of banjo/singer/Kazoo, guitar/singer, fiddle and double bass. They played around one mic and they sounded loose, but good. It was a country meets bluegrass affair with a bit of singer-songwriter in the mix. A mix of originals and covers. Enjoyable music. My only concern was fiddle could have been louder. Was it an issue of confidence or logistics? Visually, the main barrier holding fiddle player Ruby back from the mic was the guitar next to her.

244. Spencer P Jones The Gem 18/11/2010
After deciding to lay low and have a quiet one, I slipped into The Gem to catch Spencer P Jones play solo. It's a little bar for such harsh guitar, and bitter storytelling lyrics. But Spencer Jones' songs shine through for me. He played his usual set including my personal favourites -mentioned in previous Spencer P Jones reviews. Almost finished on that Thanks song, where he catalogues the good times in substance abuse, and played two more, after being told there was only time for one. Concluding the evening he said "If you liked me, I'm Spencer P Jones. If you hated me, I'm Tex Perkins!"

245. Damon Smith and The Quality Lightweights Labour in Vain 20/11/2010
Alt country band with keys, guitar, bass, drums, and Damon Smith on vocals and guitar. A front bar alt country experience with very talented lead guitarist who did tricks with a slide and can sing the style well.

246. Buried Horses and Midnight Wolf Old Bar 20/11/2010
In the past, I've found it difficult to really get Buried Horses, because they start so loud screamy, there's nowhere to go -no room to travel in their songs. To me, Buried Horses have so much potential. They've got angst, brooding, and churn out some good sounds, but tonight I discovered what they need. And I only discovered it on their last song: a cover of Ghost Riders in the Sky which they did really well. They need good, simple story telling songs. I feel they try to do so much with their tempos and their noises they forget about the basics. To the songwriter: start observing the complexities of life and put it into a simple song. You've got everything else you need in the band to make it work really well. Tonight was the Johnston Street fiesta, and in a tradition [built up over 2 years] Midnight Wolf played their third year in a row. I love Midnight Wolf. They play rock and roll music with psycho surf twang and sass and they do it bloody beautifully. I've previously written about the duelling lead guitars, ridiculous, fun and anthemic lyrics, onstage antics, pounding drums, tight bass. I could go on... At the end, in Midnight Wolf style, they dismantled the drumkit and crossed the stage for some audience participation. If I ever held a party and required a band, Midnight Wolf would be first on my list meeting the criteria - rockin' fun time band.

247. Van Walker and The Cracked Country Lips The Retreat, 21/11/2010
Reluctant to go to another V Walker gig this year, but my flatmate was going, so I surrendered. I was told a stellar cast of muso’s and one mic. I had to see it. Held in the packed out beer garden, the one mic novelty made a quiet impact. Chris Altmann played fiddle, Matt Quinn sang along, brother Cal Walker on mandolin, Zane on double bass, Flora B Smith on piano accordion, Liz Stringer on banjo, Van on guitar and Simon Bruce guesting on a couple of songs. They played covers of Louvin Brothers, Stones, Warren Zevon, Van Walker song and more. There were loads of enjoyable moments during the performance. Flora Smith has a voice that can break a thousand hearts. So yes, I’d seen Van what felt like a million times this year, but this gig was a bit different, and it had to do with the feel of it. Imagine you’ve been invited to a party where a sing along breaks out, and everyone is invited to join in, but only if you sing with all your might. That’s what this gig was like.

248. High Horses The Standard 21/11/2010
More country on a Sunday afternoon. Melody was key and Roz Girvin sings like she feels every lyric, but she doesn’t try too hard, which makes her very easy to listen to. Husband Greg, played fiddle and Mando. High Horses also featured keys, drums and lead guitar. A mix of covers and originals with a strong country flavor and a gospel bent. Standout track for me was of course Gillian Welch’s Orphan Girl. The real magic of this band, is the onstage husband and wife combination, fiddle and mando were outstanding, and complemented Roz’s own performance without overshadowing. Perfectly suited to the pub, the night, the weather, and highly enjoyable.

249. Kim Salmon The Old Bar 21/11/2010
Kim Salmon is a legend of Australian rock and roll music. One day he may even be entered in an Aussie rock’n’roll hall of fame. Due to stuffing my face with Tamale, I missed the first set, but caught the second experimental set. Kim was accompanied on stage, with a man playing guitar in his lap. Kim started playing the Strat with a slide. Instead of looping tracks through a pedal, he recorded them on cassette tape – he had two recorders around his neck, then he played the sounds back, and manipulated the speed. He did this over the course of the gig. Meanwhile, his friend on stage made noises using the guitars harmonics and body. It started off as a more traditional music sound, then became a series of connected noises. I spend all week listening to music at work, then I go out seeing bands. In between that I listen to my Ipod, or play Uke for fun. There’s no doubt about it. Salmon’s performance was a challenge for the ear. It cleared half the room. But music does not have to be all about good times. Salmon created a aural landscape of contrast and it was a reminder that music does not have to fit a certain mould. Hard to enjoy, but it'll make you think!

250. Pieta Brown Northcote Social Club 24/11/2010
A friend said she was good, so I attended Pieta Brown without knowing too much about her. Fortunately her in between banter consisted of enough stories about her to develop a dossier. Pieta Brown was born in Iowa. Home was a shack in a paddock, with an outhouse. She comes from a musical family. Her parents divorced when she was young, and she was raised by her mother. Later they moved to Alabama. Brown is a self confessed rambler, and moved to NYC, working a regular job during irregular hours. I later learned she is the daughter of Greg Brown.

Onstage at NSC Pieta is dressed modestly [indie low rent] since her pictures indicate she's breathtakingly beautiful. Accompanied by Bo Ramsey on electric lead guitar, she plays acoustic rhythm and sings mostly love songs. It's a folky-country-ish-blues meets pop singer-songwriter style. Her vocal delivery can be described as Dylanesque, with Lucinda's attack and Angie Hart's strength in fragility. Does that make sense? It took me a while to warm to this gig, but Pieta Brown does have good catchy songs. They seem to be the kind that you need to listen to a few times. But judging by the clapping when songs commenced, the audience were very aware of her work. It must be mentioned the gig was only about 1/4 full with a number of sitters, who let’s face it were older [think Rhythms readers].

I love NSC for its sound quality, but since sales weren’t great and the room wasn’t full, I’d recommend setting up tables around the front of the stage. Thereby creating a club atmosphere, making the room feel fuller – and help build the ambience. And it forces the rest of the punters to stand, and allow for greater movement to the bar. That’s my 2 cents for singer songwriter gigs that don’t sell well...

251. Waz E James band The Gem 26/11/2010
All month I'd been hanging out for this Sideshow Brides gig at The Gem, only to find they cancelled. The replacement: Waz E James band who created a really warm country laid back vibe for a muggy, rainy spring Friday night. Although they have none of the youth, sass or beauty of The Sideshow Brides, they did possess fine musicianship & were very easy listening which made them a fitting replacement band.

252. Johnny and the Johnny Johnnies Bar open 26/11/2010
Imagine it's the 1960's, you walk onto a movie set the a bunch of kids of white college kids are wigging out to a psychedelic tinged surf rock band in a beach party luau. That's what it was like walking into Johnny and the Johnny Johnnies last night. Only differences being: there was no beach and the white kids crowd, seemed a little more like black sheep people; my favourite; outcasts, and this was no movie set. Big drum beats, perfectly calculated surf twang guitar, chunky Hammond, pulsating bass, J&JJ's were tight. And this was the kind of music that motivates a conservative Melbourne audience to let loose and partake in frenetic limb shaking. I've seen J & JJ's a few times, at different venues, but they're best suited to the bohemian vibe of Bar Open and hence it was the best show I've seen them play.

253. Eaten by Dogs, Brothers Grim, Cash Savage and the Last Drinks The Tote 27/11/2010
Victorian State Election night. The gig I really wanted to see was The Dunhill Blues at The Retreat. But the rain fell thick and constant, and in such conditions, Brunswick seems a million miles away, so the gig I went to see was just down the road at the catalyst for the save live music campaign.

Eaten By Dogs were on stage as I arrived. Setting the mood the three piece bluesy act played a tight set, which the crowd appreciated. They did a couple of songs with a girl named Gemma singing, whose voice has sweetness, toughness. Does she have her own band? And if she does, I’d want to know who are they and when are they playing next?

Next up, Brothers Grim performed their brand of bubbling below the surface blues-rock. Though their music doesn’t really take me to another place, it must be said they put everything into their work, delivering high spirited, energetic performance. Joined on stage tonight by Viola player Jason Bunn and “international bluesman” Dave Morris on harmonica, they belted out their sinful tales of hard living. They really got the crowd moving, especially when they picked up the pace. I’d love to see these guys do foot to the floor rock. Lead singer James a frontman, sculled pints and excreted them out, visible from his sweat drenched shirt. He declared he was an egomaniac, saying how when he “first saw Cash Savage at the Public Bar, I fell in love. She sung like me: but she was a girl!”

All acts built the intensity in the night, and pointed to the main one: Cash Savage and The Last Drinks album launch for Wolf. Cash held a guitar and pulled back the pace, launching into a slow burn set, which set ablaze as the night wore on. This had to do with her band. The Last Drinks, featured Nicky BeDashing on keys and glee club-esque badahs, Josh Crawley on Banjo, Kim on Double Bass, two drummers[whose names I missed] and killer guitar by Joe White.
Cash represents herself in a way that spells a certain toughness. Tonight, the measure of time is not a wrist watch, but wine glasses of whisky. Banter in between songs is no- nonsense. With Cash, what you use is what you get. Onstage, she has a serious setting. Themes are about broken hearts, lost love, bitterness and so on. When she sings her stories down the mic, arms flair, fingers point, she posters, and this all contributes to her conviction. Her raw gravelly vocals easily make way for a powerful vocal assault. As the whisky went down, she started to let her tough guard down. We learned she’s an Aries, favourite colour is red, and she can’t dance-well not like that on stage during her launch, whilst she’s introducing her band. And the seriousness is balanced out with a dry sense of humour which makes her more charming. Cash acknowledges those who’ve helped make the album including Danny Walsh on Mando, John Hopkins I mean Dickson on Harmonica and they joined her on stage for a couple of songs. And she did a duet with James Grim.
My standout song of the night was Loveless Marriage Blues which featured hooks a plenty and had a guitar arrangement featuring a Melbourne Bitter midneck as a slide.
The crowd danced in the pit. The entire room lapped it up, and on the last song, she asked the crowd to dance with each other. This act of audience participation paved the way for more audience participation during her encore: a singalong. It was The Old Bar Unicorns Theme Song [of which Cash was the coach of that Renegade Pub Football League team], and audience members sang with ferocity. After all this she said she was going up to The Old Bar.... This was a good party night for this young urban country-ish crowd. All that was necessary was to loosen the belt, kick of the heels, let the hair down and allow yourself to have fun.

Thanks to D Heard.

254. Idle Hoes Caringbush 28/11/2010
Today is was a stripped back three piece, the two singers and Nick O'Mara on mando and resonator who seemed to satisfy the middle aged meets family crowd. One singer had a jazzy croon and the other had an Aussie bush twang sound. Hanging with Nat and Sean rocked - those Labor guys are awesome.

255. Rechords The Gem 28/11/2010
On this project I find that bands often project and image, and attract a crowd based on their projection. The Rechords are one. Quiffs, frocks, skinny jeans - it's hipsters meets retro rock kids and country people at The Gem. Walking into the pub midset, the crowd was closest to band were dancing, rockin' rollin', shaking to the Rechords. The crowd at the back were appreciating the dancers and the three piece rock a billy outfit, complete with attire, who suit The Gem perfectly. Note Felix seems to have swapped his rock quiff for Gene Vincent style hair. Good move.

256. Kim Salmon plays The Scientists The Old Bar 28/11/2010
The gig that I really wanted to go to this weekend, and I arrive late. Sign says FULL HOUSE, and I wait until one person leaves. Only problem is that Salmon is playing the songs of The Scientists and no-ones going anywhere. Eventually the bouncer kindly lets me in. The Full House sign was there for a reason. It was a full house. A wall of people at the back, and front, and there was no view. Half the time was spent on the stairs peering through the Tshirts, and the encore was spent in the bandroom where you could feel the music go through you. A good reviewer will tell you about the songs, who was on stage, and I can't do any of that. All I can say is the ageing rock crowd really dug the electrifying intensity of that Aussie indie rock and roll sound, then most went home.

257. Town 'N' Country, Fee Brown, Buffalo Boy (Dirty York) The Old Bar 30/11/2010
Last gig of the month and I missed Buffalo Boy. Fee plays country style guitar and has a warm voice with its own set of vulnerablities. Combine this with her honest love travelogue tales, rich personality she's a compelling performer. She was supported by the exquisite Jason Bunn on Viola most songs and a Mando player. In a former life, Town and Country is a shoe store in Scone NSW. Tonight it's a three piece - two guitars, and one lead singer, three stools on stage, and a whole lot of hair. Bluesy screamy rock done acoustic style with a feel that would suit an outer suburban pub. Not for me. Mark Campabasso was on sound.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is Steph Brett one of the most interesting artists around town at the moment?

I'd say yes. I'm a late comer to this lady, I've tried to catch her at as many gigs as she's played since I first saw her belting out a song about a tomato at a Puta Madre Brothers gig earlier this year. Why is she interesting? Listen to her projects, the 60's girl group choir here, or check out her lead guitar stylings here.
Or you could even listen to the Anytime Place Radio shows recorded for Fringe fest 2010.

And this summer, look out for her new Calypso band....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October gigs 2010

198. Terry McCarthy Special The Gem 1/10/2010

Do I count this? I’m not sure, but I experienced it. TMS playing that brand of country meets reggae frontbar, background sounds.

199. Jules Sheldon Jess McCann and bassist Fernandez, The Brian Hooper Band, MJ Halloran Grace Darling 1/10/2010

Jules Sheldon is a well dressed, nicely coiffed boy with an acoustic guitar who sings songs beyond his maturity.  Accompanied by Jess McCann on piano accordion and a young lady bassist, whose name eludes me, I didn’t love this boy. But his front and his camp speech prancing suggest he was born to be on stage.

I wanted to like the Brian Hooper Band. Brian Hooper, suited, only complete with walking stick and white loafers. Once upon a time he was a young handsome man and he looks weathered.  But there’s still a fire inside. He sings, plays guitar, backed with a guitarist and keyboardist. Unfortunately it’s just not very good. I later read he was the bassist in Beasts of Bourbon, and producer to MJ Halloran.

MJ Halloran had a great press release,and sounded decent on his CD so Amanda and I thought we’d give it a go. MJ sings songs about girls and life, I supposed. But it all turns out a little creepy. After all, he’s a guy who looks like he’s in his 50’s, hair combed over and hanging both off his head,  and out of his shirt, singing love songs about a 19 year old girl. Maybe [name deleted]’s strong opinion of him swayed my own. His bassist and drummer were good, be he just was not likable. Maybe it was because he demanded the keys to go down mid performance, offending both soundie and keys, forcing them to laugh at the star. It was all a serious affair. The saving grace was Spencer P Jones guest performer, whose blistering guitar was enough to nod the head. Yes, tonight was the real show was to witness the difference between amateur and truly talented. Spencer P Jones, can be the biggest let down, and the loosest canon, but when he’s good, he’s fucking great. MJ Halloran hmmm. Probably enough said already.

200. Steph Brett Builders Arms 2/10/2010

Beautiful bookish Steph Brett, playing to an audience consisting of the bar staff, Scrabble players, a lonely guy at the bar, and me. She’s not good, but bloody awesome and it’s a shame that not more people were there. But then again it was Grand Final Day, and Collingwood won.

201. Crystal Thomas and Skritch  Labour in Vain 2/10/2010

The worst performance of CT I’ve seen. Sloppy, she seemed bored playing her songs. Skritch: OK songwriter, better songwriter than singer. CT should start singing Skritch’s songs.

202. Steve Axel B, The Gem 3/10/2010

French, violin, bass, guitars, vocals and cleavage. Didn't really grab me, since the songs weren't brilliant.

203. Waz E James with John Beland The Standard 3/10/2010

Country band, St Kilda singer, lashings of pedal steel and Flying Burrito Brother John Beland on guitar. Laid back and perfect for Sunday arvo, evening. Really good stuff.

204. Skyscraper Stan and Plague Doctor The Old Bar 3/10/2010

Walked into the Old Bar to find D Heard standing there, and slide guitar twanging. Stan, tall and thin, singing into the mic, finger pointing to the audience. The Old Bar is the place for Skyscraper Stan. It just works.

As per usual, Plague Doctor bring the house down with their arsenal of catchy, funny songs, boy/girl vocals. Great guitar, great piano. They added a couple of new songs and by the end the 3/4 of the crowd inside were dancing. Yes dancing at the Old Bar on Sunday night. Was it the band? Was it the weather? Who knows? But to me, they were great.

204.5 Angie Hart and Georgia Fields Rock’n’roll Trivia at The Grace Darling 5/10/2010
Angie Hart is breathtakingly sweet. Where others were annoyed at her for being twee, I always liked that about her. She sang the cover of Bizarre Love Triangle, and one of her own. Truly captivating, she’s a real talent. Georgia played Uke, and even got to sing one of her own, in a breathy tones. After Angie finished, Mick told me “I think I’m in love with Angie Hart”

205. Rich Davis, Little John Duo and Alysia Manceau and John Builders Arms 7/10/2010
Rich Davis is a Scottish guy who moved to Melbourne 10 years ago. His singing style is reminiscent of an 80’s pop belter. The rest of his sound is placed in a dark pop zone. He admits tonight he has the flu.
Little John tonight consists of bass player who moonlighted as a Uke player for one song. John does his usual repertoire, and his songs do stand out strong.
Alysia Manceau is described as folk noir and it’s pretty much on the money. She finger picks her way through her set, switching between acoustic guitar and electric. Accompanied by tall John in his high set jeans, they do winter songs. And it suits. It’s October and it’s still bloody cold. Songs to drink mulled wine to.

206. Fingerbone Bill The Gem 8/10/2010
Fingerbone Bill followed after work drinks. Double bass, acoustic lead guitar, banjo and harmonica, they perform old time country sounds and they do it well. Songs showcase the talent of the players. Everyone gets a moment to shine in this band. On the flipside, no one really stands out. They're all good. Nothing new but highly enjoyable drinking music. Met a guy named "Lucky" who survived the bushfires. Left Amanda who later went to the Tote.

207. Roller One Workers Club 8/10/10
Weird. First thing I see is Alysia Manceau standing at a CD sales table. Walking in midway through their set, I find Fergus onstage sporting a Beatles haircut, Adam in his usual chic getup. It's a pretty good turnout for a couple of guys who play every Monday night without fail. There's not a lot of bad going on here. It's just that stripped back sound, creating space in songs which is where the beauty lies. It's all about simplicity of sound. Sometimes it feels as if songs end before they should have. Supported by a handfull of local musos, and a room rull of good ears, they'd have to be happy with this turn out. Missed out on Fatti Frances and Romance.

208. Spencer P Jones Yah Yahs 8/10/2010
Following incidents that occurred weeks ago, I was extremely reluctant to walk home feeling vulnerable. So I enlisted the help of D Heard and his mates, who were at Roller One, and planned to head to Yah Yahs. I had every intention of going home, but the door charge was finished, so naturally I went in to check it out. I can only assume SPJ played a long set because I think I saw 30-40 minutes. Tonight he was good. Not great, but good. Standout songs are his saddest and slowest songs: ‘Between The Raindrops’ and that killer Monkey off my back song. As written previously his guitar rips through songs, and just when you thought the song couldn’t get any better, it does. Sobering Thoughts is an excellent album and he played many tracks off that. I really like how he can turn a bitter rant into a song-hear The Bogans. Chris remarked that Spencer IS rock royalty, but sadly audience numbers don't reflect this. The venue was far too empty-even if he does play a number of gigs a week.

209. Steph Brett The Builders Arms 9/10/2010
Delightful and whimsical I can’t get enough of Steph Brett. Interestingly as she sings, her face is awash with what at times seems to be an anxiety ridden expression. She snaps out of it, and then becomes all smiles again. A slightly larger crowd, and she draws the attention of the Scrabble table, but it seems the timeslot 4-6 is too early. Matt and Grace came too, and I thought she was good. Grace said dress her up and this place would be full. Talk afterwards reveals she’s been playing for about 8 years. Shy, alone and sad, she picked up the guitar in foreign country [Japan]. The point was doing things you wouldn’t ordinarily do because you’re overseas. Although playing in front of people was not a problem since she’s always been a singer. All very interesting.

Sideshow Brides Marquis of Lorne 9/10/2010
I didn't count this because I only caught one song. They sound better than last time and one sister has a Veronica Lake fringe cut. Exciting twang from this rockabilly set of siblings.

Jonneine Zappata East Brunswick Club 9/10/2010
A strange one. Arrive as Teeth and Tongue end, and there’s a note on the counter that the lead singer has lost her voice and will only be playing an instrumental set. This was the answer to my problem as I had two gigs to go to. Tram back to Melbourne.

210. Mulatu Astake and the Black Jesus Experience The Order of Melbourne 9/10/2010.
Admittedly I knew nothing about Mulatu except he played some arty festival earlier in the year, and I had some of his work from an Ethiopiques compilation. Crowd were older jazzy white people, a few hipsters and the chick I was standing next to was on her Iphone all night. She shouldn’t have. Mulatu is a legendary Ethiopian Jazz percussionist and tonight he was good but not in a way that you’d expect. The DJ’s did their best work to amp it, big songs, loud music, buzzy vibe. There was a lot of waiting around, then finally the band came one, then more waiting. As the anticipation built to a peak, Mulatu comes out then starts banging away at the xylophone with class and restraint. It was cool because he really set the pace. The backing band were super enthused to play with a legend, and annoyed the crowd didn’t match their own enthusiasm, and Mulatu exudes cool: and has a less is more style. This understated style of music has an effect: it lulls you into another state. For me it lulled me into a sleepy haze, which is not a criticism. I just found this is how the music functions. Afterwards Richie remarked it would be good music at home to get stoned to. I agreed. Even though I know nothing about those things.

211. Emily Ulman, Roller One, Van Walker and LIZ Stringer Pure Pop Records 10/10/2010
Cassie suggested this be the introduction to Pure Pop Records I needed. So we went and it was lovely. I can’t believe I’ve never been there before. Emily Ulman did her style of singer/songwriter folk, Roller One were glorious. Van Walker and Liz Stringer good too. What I really like about Stringer is she’s a straight shooter. Her lyrics, her style comes straight from the heart. Ace arvo. What a great venue: excellent sound and you can smoke and drink whilst listening to music. Props to the sunshine. This was the first warm day in months. It’s been such a long winter!

212. Bones Blackwood, The Jacks and Molly and The Level Spirits The Old Bar 10/10/2010
One man band; Bones has a drum kit, guitar and mic and sings bluesy rock. The Jacks are a three piece, playing punky rock that I don’t dig. I find Molly confronting because she oozes sexuality and I get unnerved – says more about my prudish fears than her unique stagecraft. So I sat in the front bar and listened. I liked them. The Level Spirits are bass, guitar and drums and altogether they play bended notes rock and roll. Jemma was DJing and included some classic tracks like Who wears Short Shorts? And Rock A Hula. What a way to start the working week...

213. Ladyfingers, Hailey Cramer, Girl Brigade, Syreneyiscreamy and Pash Order of Melbourne, 14/10/2010
Tonight was a night where I was forced to throw my personal biases out the window. Hip hop, and electro. I really thought they're not my thing at all. An all women night? Is it passé? Is it necessary at all? I had no idea what I was in for. Tonight it's Pash's night and Pash is launching her album. By the way, Pash, PBS announcer has a show named Very Necessary, the aim is to highlight women's voice in hip hop.
Ladyfingers, the all female, youth DJ collective played Latino music to warm things up. The first act on stage was Hailey Cramer, a singer in Blue King Brown I'm told. She had a guy on a Mac, and two back up singers. Although she only played two songs, she had a strong soulful voice and the ability to get the attention of the almost empty room.
Girl Brigade were a two piece electro indie outfit, playing mashups with a serious Yacht rock influence. Not taking themselves seriously, they were serious fun. Really different. At the end of their set they invited Pash up, who rapped in her yellow jump suit. If this was a sign of things to come, I was destined to stay.
Solo Syreneyiscreamy has a booming voice and amazing ability to scare and captivate with her talent. Combination of singing and rapping and electro.
Then Pash came on stage. She had a costume change, wearing all black. She was accompanied by a cool chick on a Mac and her sister on drums. Pash then launched into song, and she was confident, cool, and had real spunk. Pash is a real star. I was suitably impressed.
This was a showcase of fine talent. After going to gigs as frequently as I do I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of any of these acts. By the end the room was still fairly empty, but enough people were into it, to make it good fun. A scan around the room showed an audience of young, hipsters, camp guys, women, arty types and some of Pash's family. Important to note, this edgy cool crowd was precisely the crowd that Rampage is lacking. This was perhaps the coolest PBS event in a long time. There was some amazing talent to behold, from voices that are continually marginalized. It’s a timely reminder that Feminism is not a dirty word. Well done to Pash for organizing an excellent, diverse and entertaining evening.

214. Matt Dwyer Band The Gem 15/10/2010
Blandish 3 piece[electric guitar, drums, double bass] 50’s styled background music rock’n’roll. Suitable soundtrack to Friday drinks.

215. Steph Brett Builders Arms 16/10/2010
Steph did what she does, this time accompanied by a an acoustic Guitar/Dobro/Uke player named Nara who plays for Wikimen, Vulgagrad and other bands. Another good afternoon session.

216. Luau Cowboys Labour in Vain 16/10/2010
I was asked why would you want to see them? They’re men in their 60’s? That would be precisely the reason I’d like to see them: they’ve had time to learn their instruments and work out what their sound is right?] Luau Cowboys are 4 men in their 60’s[Double bass, guitars, Dobro or banjo] who play a cowboy songs or Hawaiian classics. Had some difficulty listening to the songs as the lead singer is not a great singer, but the band are excellent musicians, and the instrumentals were good. Could incorporate more Hawaiian, but good front bar music.

217. The Break and Dengue Fever The Forum 16/10/2010
The Break are a surf rock band who include members of the Violent Femmes and Midnight Oil. They speed through their songs, play with energy, fervor, and power. It gets whacky at times, by the inclusion of the Theramin, but here’s four guys you can trust to make the sound track of a trashy party. Why didn’t I like it? Songs went too long – they were epic: at times it felt really self indulgent. The essence of The Break is this: created by a bunch of guys who wanted to relive their youth. Cool projection by Robin Fox? Head was not in the right place. After all, I really wanted to see Dengue Fever. Even though I’ve got some of their records, I don’t know too much about Dengue Fever except they’re from the US, and the singer is of Cambodian descent. She sings Cambodian style, with an American accent. On stage, there’s a bouncing bassist, a guitarist who can sing, a sax player who plays flute and trumpet, a keys player who makes shrill noises with his instrument, and he sprays the drummer with Glen 20. Centre stage is Chhom Nimol, the Cambodian looking and sounding singer. She’s beautiful. She’s dressed in blue. But it’s her voice that absolutely captivates; a Cambodian style of inflection that is so unusual to Western sound. She gives the band the point of difference. They’re a tight band. They incorporate 60’s Cambo pop into their sounds, in addition to weaving grooves, a bit of rock and drama. They’re prepared to entertain, they’ve got good songs, and they’re better live possible because they’re excellent. They performed one encore, and the almost full forum were gushing with thanks. Interestingly, some were members of the local Cambodian community, of varied ages. My only criticism is: I would have liked to have heard more Nimol solos. Note: My secret hero Julian Wu was at this gig. He was tired.

218. Lisa Salvo and Chad Mason The Standard 17/10/2010
Lisa Salvo is a the tiny lady who sings with her whole body. Big gasps before singing, she reminds me of Joanna Newsome minus annoying moments. Very sweet sound. Chad Mason is a guy in a cowboy shirt with a guitar playing alt country-rock tracks. Each track was studded with a sometimes excessive lead break. Not the greatest, but sturdy Sunday evening front bar music.

219. Eaten by Dogs and Level Spirits The Old Bar 17/10/2010
Eaten by Dogs performed as a two piece and it worked well. Molly was more sedated and demure tonight in movement and attire. She must have channeled that energy into her singing because her voice boomed tonight.

219.5 Leena Grace Darling 19/10/2010.
Leena is a young singer songwriter from Fremantle, who moved to Melbourne two years ago. On a recent trip in the US, she was dumped. She is beautiful, her sound is sweet, rougher moments a little M Etheridge. She sang 4 songs. 2 covers[Joelene and Atlantic City], 2 originals which pulled glimpses of her life. Nice voice, lacks confidence but this is sure to grow in years. Pleasant but not mind blowing.

219.7 Twoks at The Rainbow 21/10/2010
On stage these kids look like an NMIT school assignment. As my mate said, everyone looks like they’re in a different band. But their soundwise, they had some good pop songs, with a front woman who appears to have been coached in the art of performing from a young age-her R & B flavor and sings with a smile. Only caught them for a moment, but the kids are alright.

220. Chelsea Wilson Toff in Town 21/10/2010
Chelsea Wilson is a jazz singer who has been influenced by the retro styled releases of the Daptone label. She honed her craft, singing on cruise ships and around the world. Tonight she was singing songs from her EP Bitterness. Backed by a white man soul band, 3 backing singers, Chelsea was dressed in a gown suited for a young diva. The sound was large, Chelsea worked the stage, told stories, entertained the crowd, and everyone had fun. Not strictly my thing but kudos for Chelsea for making it happen, in the well packed room.

221. Pikelet and Low, The Forum 21/10/2010
My mate called me earlier in the day to try and offload this ticket. I had no intention of going to this gig, but found myself here. I always struggled with Pikelets songs – that electro indie twee never really reached me, so on the big stage, I felt it was merely an amplification of what I wasn’t fond of to begin with. Low: I was told they started in 1994 as a joke band, to contrast noisy music trends of the time & they’ve released 12 albums. It’s Thursday night, I’m slightly exhausted, and before the packed out crowd of hipsters at the forum are 3 people on stage; guitarist, drummer and bassist. What they do is strip back songs, create space, interweave male and female vocal arrangements and harmonise. It’s beautiful: like lullabies for indie kids and indie oldies[dressing like indie kids]. Although some might find this boring, the crowd were transfixed. Leading me to believe this was a gig perfectly pitched to the mood of the evening. Testament that music does not have to be endless lead breaks, amazing drum rolls, etc to have an impact.

222. Goodtime Medicine Band, Coral Lee’s Pepper Teas and Liz Stringer Band The Old Bar 22/10/2010
Goodtime Medicine band are 5 members strong including a fiddle and double bass player. Their name describes what they do; up tempo front bar music to booze to. Coral was launching her album tonight. Curiously, she was second on, which ended up working really well. Liz was the big name that helped draw in a larger audience for Coral. The Old Bar was suitably full and Coral was relaxed on stage as she played mostly up tempo songs. The band played well and it was an excellent performance. Her mum said she couldn’t be prouder. Liz Stringer is a singer song-writer who performs with genuine intensity and authenticity on stage. It’s easy to see why people like her so much.

223. Steph Brett Builders Arms 4-6 23/10/2010
Steph on vocals and guitar, accompanied by Nara playing guitar and Dobro. Together they play that kooky brand of jazzy, country pop love songs. On paper it doesn’t sound as if it works. In real life it does. Steph has a voice that sounds fragile, but in actual fact, it’s got strength in FEEL-purity and honesty in her delivery. Last song was a cover of Phil Spector’s He’s a rebel. Never heard it minus wall of sound. Stripped back as a song played by a guitar with slide embellishments, it was breathtakingly exciting. Testament that Spector’s an amazing songwriter, and Steph is a true talent, delivering the song with conviction and style. Why oh why does she not have a cult following?

224. Sideshow Brides Marquis of Lorne 5-7 23/10/2010
Two sisters[country] and two brothers[rockabilly] + a drummer: finally caught them, and they were very pleasing with their understated harmonies. The loudest instrument in the band was the guitar, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since he keeps bending the notes – and I love that. But maybe the guitarist could balance it out a little bit more, since he’s in control of the mixing desk.

225. Ukeladies, Eagle and the Worm and Mariachi El Bronx Forum 23/10/2010
Good timing. Walk into the Forum and The Ukeladies are on stage: two ladies who play the Ukelele. One is dressed in a gold 60’s cocktail dress. The other in a Blue shoulderless, yet collared blue spangly dress. Yes they have dressed up, and for good reason. They’re playing the Forum. Clare Moore was playing vibes and xylophone, with a gaudy green 70’s frock that reached the floor, and the men – Dan Luscombe on slide guitar, and Phil Kekulas on double bass were also dressed up. Captain Manus, on drinks wore a Captain’s suit. Apart from the Uke’s, there was a strong Hawaiian theme – an island back drop, Lei’s, flowers on shirts, and behind the ears. Ukeladies sang beautifully, each musician added something special to the performance, I loved every moment of it. Their songs are lovely. Their execution is great, a Ukeladies gig is no ordinary gig. It’s an experience for the senses and it’s hugely entertaining. Captain Manus played some percussion sometimes, and backing vocals. At the very end he sang Angelina which was a real crowd pleaser. People love the guy with the moustache in the Captain suit.
Sound like a wanker but here goes – in my work, I remember asking Eagle and The Worm what do you sound like? They had difficulty saying because there are 9 people in the band with different influences and all kinds of contributions. After this performance, here’s what I reckon: Eagle and the worm are a 9 piece EPIC indie pop extravaganza with a swag of good party songs with a vibe to match. Excellent stuff.

I took a punt on Mariachi El Bronx because I heard they played their music Mariachi style. It seemed novel. It could be a laugh. What I found is they play their hardcore music Mariachi style. It meant that as a cohesive sound, it didn’t quite work for me.
This performance was parts exciting and horrible. The instruments they bought out were traditional Mariachi style - excellent. But the vocals did not work. It was that whiney 90’s US punky sound that I did not dig, and did not work in the style of Mariachi. It made the gig tiresome and by the end I was sitting up the back with the oldies. To be fair, they were very appreciative of the Melbourne audience, and said so frequently. Their last song and their encore were their best moments – last song- best song and encore they stood in a line, and played with a more mariachi flavor. Disappointed but I should have done my research. Ukeladies were the standout for the night.

226. Rusty Pickers, The Fox, 24/10/2010
It was The Fox’s 3rd birthday and the smell of BBQ filled the rooms. Three piece [double bass and two guitars] middle aged men, playing an assortment of country, blues, pop and jazzy songs with some serious twang. When performing covers, of classics, I love it when singers respect the melody. In order to put their own stamp on things, sometimes this got lost. Gig highlight: 3 girls clapping along, dancing to the beat and drinking soft drinks.

227. Adventures in Paradise Bertha Brown 28/10/2010
Vintage Hawaiian covers played by an excellent band including great guitar, uke, double bass. What really makes the sound magic is the lap steel played by Alex Burns. Incidentally the same man who makes the songs beautiful dulls the impact with an unsuitable blues rock smoky voice. This band needs a crooner. Instrumentals are divine. This is the kind of music where, if you close your eyes and you could really believe you’re on an exotic isle, in a time long gone.

228. Maldon Folk Festival 30th-31st October
MFF is in its 36th year and it doesn’t for a moment try to be cool. It’s a little folk festival that takes over a quaint country town. Acts appear at different venues, for example, a library, a heritage listed school building, town churches, local pubs and the camping grounds. Arriving midday I had fun at Uke workshop hosted by Rose Turtle Ertler, followed by another Uke workshop including an Open mic. The highlight for me was the Pacific Island brothers, who couldn’t play Uke according to reading music, but they played it by ear. They got up together, one singing in an Adam Sandler song, with Craig David R&B flava, the other played slide Uke in the background, using an empty pot glass. Next caught a bit of Abbie Cardwell, accompanied by her brother and Ash Davies on drums. Then there was the céilí dancing with many members, about 4 of which were accordions. It was lots of fun, but felt weird about touching strangers hands. Caught Hillbilly Heaven, who played at the Baptist Church who actually are a Christian country band with about 10 members. Then caught Appalachian Heaven who aren’t a Christian band but played Appalachian inspired tunes. Sadly the rain came down – good for the dams, bad for the festival and it was a wash out. So camping was out the question, but fortunately I got to stay with my lovely friend Hannah and her husband Tom. The Sunday was a little bit of a non event. Lost the program, checked out the Maldon Hotel, where a man was singing about the Hurstbridge train line. Can you believe nothing really appealed so we just wandered around town. But that in itself was extremely fun because the Morris Dancers were dancing, and the string bands were on the street. They seemed to be the kind of makeshift bands, where people just bought their instruments and started playing, and they blended into the crowd. In fact Cassie laughed since one man looked as if he was playing the meat pie. At times it felt like a senior citizens festival, it poured and it wasn’t cool at all, but Maldon was Fun. I’d go again.

229. Strine Singers Builders Arms 31st October 2010
2 girls, 2 guys playing indie pop, at times with a slide guitar. Vocals were layered, and the girls sang harmonies and in rounds - but the room could have done with a soundie since the players were out of any kind of balance

230. Gun Ballads, Howl at the Moon and Brothers Grimm and the Blue Murders 31/10/2010
The mix was LOUD, but what I could tell was this: Gun Ballads kinda reminded me of a 90’s indie guitar band. Howl at The Moon – quality lead singer. Probably one of the better performances I’ve seen them – they just packed more energy into it. The Brothers Grimm painted their faces in Kiss styles, and had a banjo and viola player who added more listenability – is that a word?- to the group. Band room, beer garden & bar were all heaving, and it was one of those nights that says – The Old Bar is THE place to be on Sunday night.

September gigs 2010

168. Fergus McAlpin and Jimmy sings in spring, Jimmy Stewart/Clinkerfield Labour in Vain 1/9/2010

Caught the last song of Fergus McAlpin, singing solo with guitar. LIV was packed full of the familiar faces.

Jimmy Stewart brings ludicrious to a whole new level. It’s wintry cold, and here he is wearing shorts, strutting around sleeveless,  a colourful sombrero, and a dramatic face to match. He is hilarious both intentionally and unintentionally. He is a performer, singing in his natural voice, then in falsetto, bringing songs up and taking them down. He did covers, originals and some banter. When I watch him, I see a guy who should be in musicals. He’d take on the role as the villain or scoundrel. Or a brickie on home and away. Easy to write him off as just another scenester, but he really is a charming and likable performer.

169. Cherrywood The Old Bar 1/9/2010

Cherrywood are The Cherrywood Guns including JC Seymour on Mandolin and another guy playing a little piano accordion. They’ve got early Elvis rock energy, and pretty decent songs. There’s a couple of problems though. They’re a little bit soul-less. I guess they can develop this in time, because they’re young. The central problem with this band, is the singer. He’s an obnoxious wanker.The rest of the band are likable, but I was unsure of the snot-wiping on the drummers shirt. That was gross.

170. Idle Hoes The Gem 3/9/2010

Local country  act with two singers, fiddle, mando and Dobros. Backing band to Marcus’ birthday drinks. I said they sound nice, but I get bored after a while. Selwyn said there’s gotta be a point where you get go, as a performer.That was the trouble with the Idle Hoes-  they didn’t.

171. Redfish Bluegrass, The Exotics, The Rechords Estonian House, 4/9/2010

Cassie and I arrived embarrassingly early only to find we were some of the first few there. Sparse crowd, big room. Awkwardness overcame me. Estonian House was  a theatre built in the 1920’s, with generations of renovations. It’s current art in brown and yellow looked circa 1950’s to me, but it could have been 70’s. It was something like a town hall meets theatre, had a kiosk, dysfunctional toilets,  seats all around at the rear, and parquetry for dancing at the front.

Redfish Bluegrass started on time, and performed their repertoire. They didn’t sound so much bluegrass to me. Moreover they were Brothers meets bluegrass. They have 3 good singers, and one which was excellent. Harmonica player floundered with miniscule parts. Dobro’s  mic was not properly directed and it could not be heard. Fiddle was exceptional. That one mic technique is indicative of the difficulty in balancing the  sounds of the instruments. Although not flawless, highly enjoyable.

Tedesco was djing.

This gig attracted the rock’n’roll set, and the fashion parade was excellent entertainment in itself. Women dressed to the nines, gents looking dapper, and brilliant dancers, but it was all pretty tame.

Then The Exotics came on with their trash rock style, freaking out the trad rock’n’rollers. Benny’s guitar which blistered and made my ears prick up. He is truly awesome the way he bends that guitar, and they are such a tight unit with really loose moments. The lead singer has those trademark sunglasses, ludicrious hip shaking dance, snake charmer turban and maracas.  His drumming wife has her own awesome timing and sway and the bassist held it together. The Exotics are so much fun. They are a band of weirdos and I just adore them.

Next up was a family band, young teenage boy maybe 13 on drums, dad on double bass and teen sister playing guitar with some cool lead parts, singing. They played hillbilly and rock’n’roll. It seemed the parents may have greatly influenced their children to the point of being hideous stage parents, but the kids were great. And the rock’n’roll dancers agreed.

Finally The Rechords came on and did their Brothers style hillbilly music. A lot of it sounds the same, but it was lovely, and they were rapt the crowd came to watch them on stage, with their hay bales, wagon wheels and fake catctus. They dressed up, although not matching and they played their hearts out. The Rock’n’roll crowd danced – excellent oldies, chicks dancing with other chicks because there weren’t enough blokes.

The kiosk sold out of stubbies, so in the end the punters were swigging out of longnecks. Everybody had a good time. This was perhaps my gig of 2010.

172.  Mike Noga and the Gentlemen of Fortune, Clinkerfield, The Eagle and The Worm, The Gin Club, YahYahs second birthday 5/9/2010

Mike Noga delivers his brand of rock with aggressive attitude that made it difficult for me to like his songs. Those boys may be good looking rock dudes, but show us some personality, please. Clinkerfield have no trouble with this, as the personality seems to emanate from the ego of lead singer Jimmy Stewart.  To like Clinkerfield, you must like Jimmy.

The Eagle and The Worm were excellent. Every song was good, every song had great moments, excellent solos, change of sound. They even had a song which had a taste of Hawaii. I just adored them, and could kick myself for missing them before on so many occasions. I left to go to The Old Bar.

The Gin Club – I just caught a couple of songs: soaring indie rock with a cello.

173.  Chelsea Drugstore Marquis of Lorne 5/9/2010

It got awkward for me at Yah Yahs so I left and went to Marquis. Unfortunately Chelsea Drugstore were playing – perfect 70’s country rock sound for the dad’s on fathers day. Not really what I was feeling like.

174. Mojo Juju, Jimmy Hawk and the Endless party, Matt Joe Gow and The Dead Leaves, The Old Bar, 5/9/2010

Mojo was on fire, Jimmy Hawk and the Endless Party was a surprise revelation. Good indie songs with a dash of the bittersweet, excellent guitarist and sometimes he played slide which was just divine. Matt Joe Gow just does not do it for me.  Good hair. I saw about 5 songs and I only liked one; a sparse country song about walking home.

175. JC Seymour The Old Bar 8/9/2010

Mr. Mandolin sang 40 minutes of love songs and spoke with an Irish accent – which was strange since I’m sure that when I had a word with him, he had a full Australian accent. Must be a front. Although I had my head in the weekly gig guides, he sounded pleasant.

176. Mike Noga The Retreat 9/9/2010

Judging by his banter,  Mike hates himself which kind of makes him un-charming.

177. Unknown and a guy from The Wildes at The Rainbow 10/9/2010

Unknown singer songwriter- horrible, but playing for his mates. The guy from the Wyldes was a better singer-songwriter.

178. Oscar’s Band, 5 Frederick Street Northcote, 11/9/2010.

Guitar, bass, drums, and keys. Kids whose parents are from the indie pop generation. Oscar’s band was better than a lot.  The first track I heard was Lonely girl, to which they laughed through the lyrics. Sister System was a great track which featured dueling keys and guitar from lead singer and keyboardist. The bassists voice had broken and the drummer was drinking mini cans of Coke. The ages range from 13-15, Oscar the eldest. This was all held in Betty’s studio in Northcote. It was excellent, so good that afterwards they went to IGA to get lollies! Most adorable gig of the year.

179. Spoonful Labour in Vain, 12/9/2010

Spoon full of shite. Left as soon as I could.

180. Peter Ewing, James McCann, Dave Ong and Gemma Rowlands, Marquis of Lorne, 12/9/2010.

Ewing was accompanied by Viola and Pedal. Sounded good. But when McCann performed with the same musicians, it bought out excellent highlights to songs I already loved. I must have been really lucky because he played Bound for the Blues and Sweet Casualty two of my favourite songs of his. Dave Ong and Gemma Rowlands played pokey country songs, and they did them really well. Enjoyable gig.

181. Jane Dust and the Giant Hoopoes, NSC, 12/9/2010.

Jane Dust in a leather mini, batwings and green eye shadow, accompanied by  The Giant Hoopoes, a string and horn section. It worked. It was excellent, perfectly pitched for my state of mind, singing songs of love and hope. Every moment was enjoyable, and afterwards I got to tell Jane Dust, how so. I love you Jane Dust you give me hope when I thought it was all dashed.

182. Fruit Jar The Old Bar 13/9/2010

Repetitive old timey music with some vocals. The first set is the band Fruit Jar.  The second is Fruit Jar plus others who bring their instruments. A nice way to usher in Monday night.

Grace loved it, amped up for dancing.

183. Jimmy Clinkerfield Stewart The Gem 14/9/2010

Boom! Shake The Room!? That’s what was playing as I reached the Gem. Jimmy had cheerleaders with pom poms delivering crap rap which was entertaining and unusual. That’s what he does – he’s an entertainer. The Gem was packed, the menu was full of bogan foods for Jimmy’s 100th show at the Gem. It was full of all the regulars. Jimmy sang straight songs, then at the break a rock’n’roll piano player played rock’n’roll on the piano. Then Jimmy made a speech with his best friend interviewing him as if he was on the boundary line. It was a fun night for Jimmy.

184. Streams of Whiskey Royal Derby 17/9/2010.

Grace made me do it… no she didn’t really but I thought it could be a good night out..seeing an Irish classics cover band doing mostly Pogues covers. And it was fun. The band were tight, and the gangly singer did his best Irish singing accent. Mandolin, Banjo, tin whistle, guitar, drums and tambourine. They were talented, fun, and it was extremely entertaining.

185. Jack on Fire The Old Bar 17/9/2010

Brooding, energetic, last song had the fast western cowboy sound that reminded me of Sixteen Horsepower.

186. The Cartridge Family, The Wildes, Que Paso The Thornbury Theatre 18/9/2010.

The Cartridge family consist of Sarah Carroll and guitar and Uke, Suzannah Espie on guitar and Mandolin, Rusty on banjo and a guy on electric guitar. As I Walked in they were playing Single Girl, Married Girl. Another one of those gigs I think I was mean to be at. I mean why would I want to be married? Or have a serious committed boyfriend? It would just be a noose right?! The rest of their set was old timey folk and country music, and they played more songs that fitted that thematic vain with a strong feminist slant. It was because of this, I liked them.

The Wildes are by no means stylish or cool in the slightest. They say they’re from Frankston and they look like they’re from Frankston in the 1990’s. They’ve easy to listen to country flavoured songs with strong pop sensibility and they’re nice.  Not amazing, but they are pleasant and down to earth and I think the singer/songwriter is a real talent. Interestingly though, it seems they’re not in that Fitzroy club.

Que Paso started off doing bluegrass styled music all around the mic. The first time I saw them they did that, and that was my favourite type. Chris Altmann plays so many instruments. He’s very musically talented but is he hammy?  Chris and Alysha did so much to make the evening: the decorations, lightshow, it was really nice, and all their friends were there.  It was actually a really fun gig, and after their two bluegrassy songs, they had their big band of Southern Rock with 3 back up singers, a horn section and added keys. At one point, Chris’ dad came on stage and played piano accordion. It was a great evening, I just wished more people had have come since so much work was put into it.

187. Miserable Little Bastards Labour in Vain 19/9/2010

Here for Cassie’s birthday drinks, MLB were upbeat, uptempo drinkin’ music, fronted by J Stewart. A good laugh and the best band I saw that night.

188. Sons of Lee Marvin The Standard Hotel 19/9/2010

sub standard rock and roll.  No great hooks, but pretty good quiffs.

189. Falloe and Matt Joe Gow The Old Bar 19/9/2010

Eew not my thing. Falloe have this rootsy pop thing going on. I don’t for a moment deny the talent of each of the players but their sound had a very limited appeal to me.

Matt Joe Gow seems to try, but he fails to deliver excitement. Some songs are decent, and others I find really easy to tune out of. I look forward to the end of that residency.

190. Pops and The Orphanage The Old Bar 22/9/2010

Pops  looks like an old fashioned man with his good posture, well fitted attire and hair slicked back. Pops can’t sing. But what he can do is play guitar and banjo really well. He’s accompanied by Mando player and together they perform in brothers styles complete with harmonies. It’s enjoyable mostly. The Orphanage are a full band, and Tom Woodward has his nonchalant wail. They do that brand of dark brooding rock, but fail to really capture me.

191. Brothers Grimm and Charlie Parr East Brunswick Club 23/9/2010

Brothers Grimm play with intensity, putting everything they’ve got into an aggressive performance. Lead singer Matt or James cuts through with his unpredictable communication style that leaves audiences wondering is he going to kiss or kill?  I’d like to like them but I just don’t. Charlie Parr came dressed in jeans, a flannel shirt and Cons. Guitar and Banjo were his instruments, and he finger picked his way through his set which was mesmerizing at times. Other times I found myself drifting, but perhaps that was because it was difficult to see if stood anywhere other than the front row.

192. Betty France and friends La Niche  24/9/2010

Oscar’s mum Betty played covers with friends on the Uke. She played down her singing but she can sing, and I can tell she’s a born entertainer. I loved it, and the first song I heard was Revelator. Even Bee Gees songs sounded good on the UKE to me. I bumped into Andrew who I’d met at Radio Festival and he was going to see Bombay Royale: he'd heard they did live Bollywood music, it was free and it was up the road. This I had to see...

193. Bombay Royale Bar Open 24/9/2010

Bombay Royale were described to me as being a live Bollywood band. So it was worth checking, and it was free for fringe festival. Horn section, guitar, bass drums, Korg, extra exotic percussion, and two singers, male and female. The latter danced up a storm, and they went through their songs. The first song was voiceless, and became white man funk. Before I could back away the singers sang in Hindi, and it sounded good, but again, very hard to keep my attention. Am I jaded? This band would be excellent for an outdoor festival type event.

194. Murderball, Once Overs, Midnight Wolf Yah Yahs 25/9/2010

Grand Final day and I was music starved by 5pm. So Yah Yahs it was. Murderball are the band who seemed to form as teenagers but never grew out of it. Horrible originals, horrible covers and very bad hair. Once overs had good hair, a ton of energy and play tight rock, have good bass lines but they don’t have good songs. Midnight Wolf have good hair, good songs, great stage antics, and play straight up and down rock and roll and I love them. Midnight Wolf are rockin’.

195. Owl Eyes and The Orbweavers NSC 26/9/2010

Owl Eyes is one man with a guitar and keyboard. Stark stuff, not my bag on a Sunday arvo. The Orbweavers do dark styled country indie pop and make it work. The lead singer, guitar and violin player shares her anxiety ridden thought processes with the audience in such a way which is charming and relatable rather than annoying. But it’s the music that really speaks, dark, dense and irresistible. The Orbweavers were excellent and worthy of recommendation. Standout track- The Silkworm song and their last song on their encore.

195.5 Spencer  P Jones at Grace Darling 28/9/2010

Spencer P Jones sang songs from his newest album in between trivia rounds. I’m counting this one because compared with the other  hosts, he was the most together, most organized person. Does this say something about the hosts?

196. Melanie Pain and Emilie Simon Prince Of Wales 29/9/2010

Dressed in purple, eyes glittered, Melanie Pain, pounced, danced and charmed her way on stage. It started off as ho-hum performance, but it was her highly skilled and versatile band that helped her greatly. They did very bad barber shop, played Uke amongst her breathy pop style set. I was hoping for something a little darker and sadder, but it was mostly up tempo Frenchy pop.

Emilie Simon is beautiful. Dressed in a sweetheart dress with a robot arm, she certainly was striking. But her music was aptly described as Tori Amos meets Alison Goldfrapp. The electro beats did not appeal.Rarely do I walk out of a gig before it finishes. But I did this time.

197. Special Awards showcase Yah Yahs 30/9/2010

Missed Glavobones. Unsure of who I saw next? Didn’t care for the following act. Ran out of tolerance. Have  I seen too many gigs this year? Poor Grace, I invited her here to try and make up for the bad gig the night before. Plan backfired. Boring experimental indie.