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.

August gigs 2010

145. Backwood Creatures, Spencer P Jones and The Escape Committee Labour in Vain 1/8/2010.

My new flatmate and I trekked up to Fitzroy, in the cold winter, only to find the Labour buzzing with a flurry of punters. I take it they were there for the fundraiser for one of The Labour’s footy players, whose leg was broken.Backwood Creatures: people love them, but I just can’t – it’s that brand of white man blues rock.

Spencer P Jones was in fine form, complete with a new drummer, doing a short set. The guy was on fire, with an arsenal of good rock songs, complete with that lead guitar that cuts through his songs. Relatively tight, although he broke a string, this was the kind of pub rock gig that will make you move your head. Here’s what Spencer P Jones does: classic Aussie pub rock with lyrics that tell of a man who’s full of piss and vinegar. Great songs. Whilst witnessing Spencer P Jones, I had a brain wave: he needs to have a tribute CD for his song writing ability. But who should be on it? I wonder….

146. Matt Bailey and The Bulls The Old Bar 1/8/2010.

Matt  Bailey is a shy singer songwriter with electric guitar who wails into a mic, and plays guitar. His songs are short and sharp, but he could do with two things; a dash of confidence and a band to fill out his songs. The Bulls performed their new album they’ve just recorded, in the same order and what can I say? Linda is a powerhouse; a jaw-dropping brilliant vocalist, conviction to boot and a storyteller. Bean is a great guitarist. I can still hear their songs in my head. Whilst they’ve got a mixture of folk, pop, country is the direction Linda should go in. Country is the future.

147. Steph Brett, Skyscraper Stan and Jane Dust, The Old Bar 3/8/2010

Steph Brett did her whimsical charming act, and delights audiences with her jazzy acoustic talent. SkyScraper Stan was tall, thin and funny. Great lyrics, well crafted songs. He plays slide guitar, he croons, he’s self deprecating, but he’s excellent, for I’d say one to watch. Jane Dust did her folky thing. She probably had the smallest audience of the night, no doubt disheartening. But Jane speaks to her audience on a different level, using  a different tone, and taps into a different mood. Some would say she’s boring. I’d say she’s probably too sophisticated for the Tuesday night drinking crowd. Her record Launch for Jane Dust is at NSC with Sir. Not to be missed.

148. Laura Marling The Hi Fi Bar 4/8/2010

English neo-Folk singer with delicacy and twee. It didn’t really grab me, but the young JJJ Mumford and Sons loving audience adored it. I stayed for 4 songs.

149. Ukeladies with Captain Mannis, Toot Toot Toots and The Puta Madre Brothers The East Brunswick Club 6/8/2010

Armed with lipstick, glamourous dresses and ukuleles, the Ukeladies are beautiful – they look like movie stars and their soft sounds gently take you to another place. They even did a cover of cheesey beach boys Kokomo and still make it sound magical! Sometimes the Ukeleles were swapped with miniature piano accordion, or glockenspiel, but they always sounded brilliant. At the very end of their set broad shouldered and moustachioed Captain Mannis jumped up, dressed in Safari suit top, bad moustache and tight curls and sang Harry Belafonte covers. Excellent stuff. I missed the Red Brigade Band, not thinking they probably wouldn’t have to sound check because they’d be so loud.

Toot Toot Toots are a party band with two Go Go dancers, and wear matching blue Indian tops. Why don’t I like them? Their music doesn’t take me there.

The Puta Madre Brothers book interesting line ups, tonight was no exception. What makes them interesting is the kook factor, drawing in an audience of kooks. Puta Madre brothers performed without festive lights, but their music DOES manage to take me there – a bit Mexican, a bit Flamenco,  blazing guitars, a dash of surf, intensity, ludicrous lyrics. Add that to the already insane concept of 3 x 1 man bands! Tonight they were excellent, and they sold their show out, audience members crowd surfed, went wild and generally enjoyed themselves. Excellent gig and I walked home.

150. Pete Ewing Union Club Hotel 8/8/2010

The gig guide said surprise band. That excited me, and I went down to find that it was the same line up as last week. I had to leave due to personal awkward issues. Shame I couldn’t stay because it looked as if James McCann were on afterwards.

151. Spencer P Jones Labour in Vain  8/8/2010

Went to the Rainbow just beforehand to see who was on. It was no good, but caught the second set of Spencer P Jones with the Escape Committee. Excellent work with guitars ablaze.  Great pub rock from a sour man.

152. The Cliffords The Standard  8/8/2010

Alt country rock. OK background music but nothing really special.

153. Dave Graney and the Lurid Yellow Mist The Old Bar  8/8/2010

I love Dave Graney’s banter. Sure he’s a wanker but he was wearing wide legged flares in the age of the skinny jean. I laugh a lot. Clare Moore on drums is surely the coolest muso in town. Stu Thomas on bass seems pretty funny. Their best music is their midnight music.

Their best song was one not recorded – about not fitting it – nobody owns us! About him and Clare.

154. Coralea’s Pepper Teas The Gem 11/8/2010

Sweet, pure  sounds of Coral Farrow playing electric guitar backed by a drummer and Trombonist. Her best work is her rockabilly.

155. Marf Loaf, Quodabe, Joseph Liddy and the Skeleton Horse and Heavy Yolk at The Birmingham 14/8/2010.

Dissappointed by the cancellation of the Old Bar Elvis tribute I searched the street press frantically to find something, then reminded myself that I don’t need to have heard of the band before, to try it out. So I tried something new: Marf Loaf. Simple 2 and 3 chord songs of a decent quality backed up by a pretty good young guitarist, who at times put his Strat on his lap and played slide.

The next act on was Quodabe, singer songwriter also from Sydney who did a Gothic style folk. As mentioned by an audience member you couldn’t understand what he was saying. And when it’s important for him, then it should be important for the audience too. The banter between songs conveyed his wryness and cynicism, and he called himself a white Dennis Russos.

Blues Rock with screamy moments. That was how I’d sum up Joseph Liddy and the Skeleton Horse . It took me  a while to warm to them. They’re young and there’s time to develop. They’ve definitely got style, but their lead singer could have worked on their nuances. Too much scream. But when they were good [especially the last song] I was really impressed. Searching for comparisons? The Drones. Guitarist from Marf Loaf returned on stage, along with a Japanese guitarist, who guitars dueled, lady bassist and strong drummer.

Heavy Yolk – I’d been planning to buy eggs all week, and on the day I did, I saw a band called Heavy Yolk. But it was not my fate to see them. They were terrible. The mix took too long and then it was too loud when it was done. The bespecalled sound guy was under pressure. I left to get home by midnight.

156. Knave Knixx as Elvis imposter with Clinkerfield The Gem 15/8/2010

I daresay I’d never seen the Gem so busy, but it was a whole lot of fun. Logan as Comeback Special Elvis, then later in Vegas Elvis. Jimmy Stewart playing second fiddle, and Chris Altmann on drums. There were a number of vocalists: the bizarrely charming Jimmy Stewart, Molly from the Level Spirits, Chris Altmann at times, but Logan as Elvis was hilarious – really cheesey and a real showman. The crowd was full of Elvis fans- dress-alikes. Dan Sultan was getting into it so much I thought he was about to seize the microphone during My Way. Standing at the sidelines, conducting the group, and singing along with gusto.. Testament that people love Elvis. Heaps of fun!

157. Matt Grimm, Plague Doctor and Graveyard Train, The Old Bar 15/8/2010

Sad to leave that gig, but dearly wanted to catch Graveyard Train at the Old Bar before their European tour.

Matt Grimm did his rough, raw white man blues singing.  Plague Doctor rock my world – Tim Molloy is such a hilarious performer- and he dedicated a song for his girlfriend, which was really beautiful. Their songs are great, their performances are engaging. I adore this band, especially their gospel southern songs which make you want to step out of your seat and testify. But whilst the crowd responded well to Plague Doctor, they were there for Graveyard Train. The Old Bar sold out and Graveyard Train did what they do – high energy, spirited performances by the young men of horror country.

158. Charles Jenkins Labour in Vain 17/8/2010

Lovely Charles Jenkins plays Tuesday solo with a guitarist using pedal effects. Very nice.

159. Miserable Little Bastards, The Junes, Van Walker and Band The Corner 20/8/2010.

Launching his album, Bush League Baird, Van Walker and friends were out in force. Unfortunately the crowd wasn’t, so the gig was pretty empty. Miserable Little Bastards consisted of Clinkerfield with a banjo and fiddle, minus the drums. They sang anthems, slow and upbeat tunes. I liked them better than Clinkferfield – better songs, well crafted.

The Junes are Gleny Rae, Sarah Carroll and Suzannah Espie accompanied by a big burly bass player and drummer[who looks like he’s from the Badloves]. They are a supergroup. Espie plays guitar and Mandolin, Sarah Carroll plays guitar and Uke, Gleny Rae plays fiddle like the devil and squeezebox. Their songs are upbeat and fun. Their banter is hilarious and their enthusiasm is contagious. They’re all great vocalists, sharing singing duties. There’s no time to get bored. I just adored Gleny Rae’s dedication to Coralea, Ramblin’ Girl. Gleny Rae just let loose and what we got was a spirited performance from the heart. They were excellent and These women are FUN!

This was another fine Van Walker gig, consistent with the rest. The difference was he had a full band; Chris ALtmann on pedal, Brother Cal on Mando and guitar, Zane on Bass, Liz Stringer on Piano and Banjo, Greg Fielding on fiddle, Squeezebox Wally, and Jeb Cardwell on Dobro. Nice songs, nothing offensive. My only criticism is that songs were crowded full of instruments. But it was a live performance – a record launch, so it had to be more than just Van. More does not equate to better though… The audience seemed to be regulars; south of the river; Tasmanians

160. Little John and Jimmy Tait, NSC 22/8/2010.

Post election night, everyone on stage and in the crowd looked fucked up. Little John played their set as they do, and included an acappella song. My favourite song is their second last, it highlights each of the band members talents. Sara Retallick is an amazing woman about town, she’s a multi-instrumentalist in so many bands. Jimmy Tait featured Eugene on keys, Sunny on bass, Adrian Stoyles on guitar, an unknown drummer and Sara, front woman. Her songs are as her website describes, richly textured. They rise and fall, and what remains is the steady focus of Retallick. I’d love to see her let loose, but each time there’s a chance, she turns her back to the audience. Perhaps that’s not her style but if she’d share that with the audience, her connection with the audience may be more effective.

161. Midnight Wolf, Johnny Casino and The Secrets, Los Chicos, Buried Horses The Tote 22/8/2010.

I missed The Russian Roulettes, since I was hanging out for the BBQ, only to find that I arrived too late. I rushed to get a 6pm kebab on Smith St. I returned for Midnight Wolf, a band I’d heard about but never seen. They were awesome; 2 guitars ablaze, shit hot drumming and a bassist in a Sun records T-shirt. They played surf guitar, with killer drums, they mixed it up, and I never got bored. Guitarists bounced around the stage, energy fired everywhere to the degree where they simulated sex with their axes. I could have been offended. I loved every moment.

Last time I saw Johnny Casino  and The Secrets, I wasn’t that impressed, this time they blew me away. Tight performance, good songs, and Johnny on guitar. What can I say? This is a man who embodies rock and roll to me. Doesn’t matter what he looks like, he feels it right to the core and it emanates from the guitar, and radiates through to the audience. It’s the desperation to rock out, and he’s the ultimate rock dude. Props to crazy keys player for his over the top key bashing.

Los Chicos had a habit of jumping onstage with all the other artists so I figured I knew what I was in for. Fortunately I was wrong. Spencer P Jones occupied the beginning of their set. He kicked it off with The Bogans. Then he did something else. Instead of raising the rock temperature, he played down tempo introspective tunes with engaging melodies. It was the perfect break for the audience, and called for a different mood and dynamic. It was awesome, even spine tingling and proof that he’s one of the best songwriters living in this country. He was later joined on stage by Los Chicos who felt privileged to play backing band for Jones. And it sounded unreal.

Los Chicos then took over with their wild man antics, hilarious banter, they fell in love with Australia – said they’ve been living a dream for the past 3 weeks. Their style is rock with garage swagger, and bluesy bass, then there’s a bit of cowpoke too. FUN. That’s what they were. The crowd agreed, head bopping, dancing, and smiling. The hardened Melbourne rock crowd were smiling to the Madrid band. Solid heart racing and exciting rock and roll. It was accompanied of the hedonistic beverages; they were drinking jugs; a concoction of the cheapest red wine and the cheapest coke.  A number of times, they walked through the crowd. They even got everyone to sit down, while the band played on, then made them stand up, the tempo picked up and the crowd rocked out. They featured guests, guy from guitar Wolf, Johnny Casino. Casino helped bring them out and it came out he’d actually met them about 9 years ago in Madrid and they’d been friend ever since. They finished by playing a cover that featured John  Nolan playing the guitar lick on My Pal, by God. They felt privileged by the opportunity – saying “you see him walking down the street and you just think oh that’s John , but when we see him walking down the street we say OMG THAT’S JOHN NOLAN!!!  The cover sounded bad but the crowd lapped it up. Julian Wu declared it the gig of the year.

162. Teeth and Tongue, 6’s & 7’s The Workers Club 27/8/2010

Teeth and Tongue do indie pop. 2 boys, 2 girls and the brunette takes lead. Instrument swapping, which leads to delays in the performance. Some songs were in the wrong key for the lead singer, but their best work was performed slow, and their simple and repetitive tracks worked best.

6’s and 7’s looked nothing like I thought they would. They were not new kids on the block, but old indie people who were easily in their 40’s and a younger woman who played trombone.  All their songs were solid pop tracks full of warmth, and melody and they sounded as their album sounded. I was thoroughly impressed with their effort and would highly recommend them to anyone who hasn’t heard of them. This is the brand of Indie pop that Australia should know about. So the question is, why don’t they?

163. Skyscraper Stan Labour in Vain 28/8/2010

Self conscious crooner Skyscraper Stan played a more bluesy set than I remember. I thought he did more pop. But pop is where he excels. He is young, and needs to work on his banter,  but he is good and there’s so much potential for him to be awesome. His band back him well.

164. Nicky Del Rey and the Slowtown Social Club Retreat Hotel 28/8/2010

I went to this gig because Denise Hylands told her listeners today that we had to go and see Nicky Del Rey. I had no-one to go with and didn’t fancy going on my own. Fortunately, I bumped into David Heard at Labour and he came out on this Brunswick adventure with me. He said he promised Nick that he would go at the Geelong match earlier in the day. Originals and covers, it’s country bliss and Nicky sings with a soft tone, his guitar jingles and it’s all very pleasant. Accompanied by a bassist, drummer, but the real highlight is Ed Bates on pedal steel who has a brilliant sensibility for mucking about and making it sound like magic.  Together their sound is divine, and I wonder where the crowd are, since the room was mostly full of middle aged men. Gaudy interior of the Retreats front bar feels so familiar and if you try a little you could momentarily think you’re in Austin.

165. Sideshow Brides Marquis of Lorne 29/8/2010

Two brothers guitar and double bass fronted by two sisters, singing harmonies and wielding guitars. Add drums. To look at, they’re a motley crew, one looks like a bad seed, another from the 90’s both era, the drummer looks like a jazz man and the girls have cute florals and cowgirl boots. Sound wise I heard bent guitar strings blending surf, rockabilly  twang mixed in with a little Holly Golightly. A little sloppy but never offensive. Pleasantly surprised, really lovely, and gosh I’d see them again.

166. Fruit Jar’s Old Timey Sessions The Old Bar 30/8/2010

Meaning to go for this for ages, but had a million excuses; weather, tired; Monday and alone. So it was Monday again and I was alone. I’d missed out on my Old Bar fill on Sunday so I went. And it was lovely. Two violins, guitar, banjo, double bass, and banjolele. It seems that this is merely a jam session, and together and the musicians just show up, bring their instruments and play along to old timey music. There were probably more musicians than punters, but it was quite lovely. Not flawless, but isn’t that how it should be?

167. DJ Windup and Rick Husband The Old Bar 31/8/2010

Imagine my surprise when I walk into the Old Bar on this cold wintry night and find one man  with a top hat on stage, playing 78’s on alternating record players?! Absurd I know. He played Hank Williams Honky Tonk Blues, followed by Dixie Ramblers Waltz by the Dixie Ramblers. Turns  out he’s been collecting for 30 years. DJ Windup is his name.

Rick Husband followed him. This consisted of Selwyn Cozens drumming and a guy on guitar playing dick and love songs. Best song was the last song. Got to hang with Emma Burt which was a delight.

July gigs 2010

123. Archer & The Johnny’s The Tote 3/7/2010

There is no information about Archer on the internet. I knew nothing about him. On stage he had an acoustic guitar, attached to string, he wore brown high pants and his shirt sleeves were rolled up. He had glistening eyes, a booming voice and a theatrical stage presence as he belted out old timey styled music with Australian infusion. Everything about him was so perfectly placed! It was if he stepped off the set of Pioneertown and onto the stage!  Was he an actor? IT seemed a little contrived in the style of CW Stoneking. If he was I guess it didn’t really matter. His performance craft was so polished and the crowd yelled for more!

The Johnny’s – I only went because Amanda and Graham implored me to come, then they didn’t arrive, or couldn’t get in. I was the last payer through the door. It was described to me as cowboy rockers. They donned Cowboy Hats, but it was rock music. The sound of Aussie pub rock. Blistering guitars, driving powerful drumming, good songs, good vocalists. This was the best I’ve seen Spencer P Jones, since he played the worst gig of last year. The band was tight, the lead guitarist was amazing. They played as a BAND not a group of loose individuals. They played with energy and intensity.  This gig was excellent, and I’d say it was one of the best I’ve seen this year. The crowd loved it, and the forty plus set were so excited they even attempted to relive the mosh. It’s enough to make me want to go out and get their back catalogue. Excellent stuff from aging rockstars.

124.Sarah Carroll, Suzannah Espie, Chris Altmann & Matt Walker The Rainbow 4/7/2010

4 stars in their own right, playing a 2 hour set at The Rainbow. It was excellence on stage. Suzannah Espie sings with all the conviction in the world, Matt Walker plays with blues sensibility running through his insides, Chris Altmann and Sarah Carroll, they’re pretty bloody good too. I was transfixed by this gig. By far the gig of the night. But I had to leave early since I had to go to dinner at The Standard.

125. Waz E James The Standard  4/7/2010

It was  a cousins get together on the night of our dead grandfathers birthday so it was  a time for family. Waz E James were late, so we ate. I caught the beginning and the end. They play easy laid back country music, perfect for Sunday. I really enjoyed them and hope to see a proper set soon.

126. Mojo Juju & The Death Rattles The Old Bar  4/7/2010

Mojo has this jazzy thing going on. It’s a little mysterious but it’s full of soul. She played solo with a vintage looking guitar in hand. She howls into the mic. She’s a powerful performer and marches to the beat of her own drum.

The Death Rattles had a double bass, banjo, guitar drums and a lead singer that moved awkwardly. The instruments suggested something else, but what we got was a Cordrazine meets Anthony singer crooning, then aggressively shouting into the mic. Think 30’s styled jazz mixed with pop and a little folk.  I found it a bit wishy washy, but it’s just the first night of their residency.

127. Shannon Bourne The Standard 7/7/2010

Atmospheric, moody slide guitar. Perfect for a Wednesday evening. Shannon added vocals. I can’t say I’m a fan of rolling your eyes into the back of your head whilst singing, but he sounded good. I met Ella and Luke. Joined by Cassie so we headed off..

128. Little John Bluegrass Sessions The Marquis of Lorne 7/7/2010

This was the best I’ve ever seen Little John. I felt compelled to see him after I  walked out a few months ago in an effort to go to The Standard to see Charles Jenkins, leaving behind an audience of 1. He was accompanied by Greg on Mandolin and fiddle. He sounded good. My compadres enjoyed it, and by the end Peter Ewing joined him. Good Wednesday night country music with old an timey feel. Met with Bess and Coral. Coral is playing next Tuesday night in a rockabilly duo. I said I’d be there! Cassie and Ella said they’d be there too!

129. The Peep Tempel Bar Open 8/7/2010

I went to catch The Peep Tempel to see if they were as good as the first time. The equation is so simple with them. Solid drums, awesome guitar, veins popping out of their necks, screaming into the mic, The Peep Tempel are simply good.

 130. The Original Snakeskins Builders Arms 9/7/2010

6pm gigs. I love it. Knock off work, straight to the pub and a band’s playing. The Original Snakeskins play folky blues tunes. Some are their own, others are covers. Guitar, harmonica vocals and a guy wearing an Icehouse jacket [A man of colours] cracking a whip during one song. Actually it was funny because he accidently cracked the whip on himself. It was hilarious, but as a band, they weren’t that great but the slot is excellent for winding down the working week.

131. Rat vs Possum & Richard in Your Mind Northcote Social Club 9/7/2010

Rat vs Possum – electronic, experimental, lyric lacking interesting soundscapes varied tempos.  They’re good at the slow build ups but ultimately they lack a central focus; a hook and it becomes all about ambiance. Some might call it boring. Richard in your mind are 5 indie looking nerds from Sydney who play sweet pop and hip hop in the style of Morris Minor and the Majors. They’re a little bit delightful but that may have had a lot to do with the lays and the holiday backdrop. Nah they were alright.

132.  Romance, The Once Overs, Richie 1250 and The Brides of Christ and The Exotics play The Stone Love 5th Birthday Bash at The Arthouse 10/7/2010.

Smelling of thin BBQ beef sausages, I caught only moments of Romance, Nathan Hollywoods Electronic outfit. What can I say? Stark, disciplined electronic music made by humans, not robots. The Once overs are a garage band with energy to boot. They’re a bit funny, constantly laughing at themselves and the audience. The Brides of Christ is an all-star line up fronted by Richie 1250. Each of the members are in better bands, but together they do white people playing trashy blues rock. The Exotics headlined for a reason. They’re good and they’re fun. The lead singer came out wearing a turban and wayfarers and they were accompanied by a snazzy bassist and Bennie from Bennie from the Flybynighters. Lady drummer totally rocks and they bought the uncrowded house down. The Exotics could be described as Cramps admirers with Aussie twang. Loads of fun.

133. Bullet and Matt Joe Gow and The Dead Leaves Yah Yahs 11/7/2010

Bullet were surprisingly good. Country twang featuring heart melting lap steel. And a great guitar player too. Would have been perfect at The Standard. Wrong venue, and the place was empty. Matt Joe Gow was also a lot better than I imagined. Country styles with heart racing pace. His best song was his most introspective.

134. Cash Savage and The Last Drinks The Death Rattles The Old Bar 11/7/2010

Only caught the last moment of Cash Savage who was on fire. Shame to miss it. The Death Rattles – better than last week, but still not my thing. The place was heaving but it was probably due to the Unicorns win rather than the band.

135. Jacob S Harris and Coral Farrow The Old Bar 13/7/2010

Jacob is a singer songwriter, guitar in hand with a  country and folk influence who played with a drummer. Coral is a singer-songwriter, guitar in hand with a country, folk and rockabilly flavor. Both are young-ish and good. They just need a little more time in the incubator to develop their confidence and find their sound. A good Tuesday night out.

136.  Luke Sinclair and Tracy McNeil The Standard 14/7/2010

Can I count this as a gig because I just saw a couple of songs? Maybe. Luke Sinclair and Tracy McNeil[intendeds] sing duets with a distinctly country feel Luke plays guitar and Tracy sings. Luke’s from the country. Tracy’s from Canada. Did I like it? Ok for background music but it didn't engage me.

137. The Wilson Pickers The East 16/7/2010

Half the band are from QLD. The other half are from Melbourne. When they get together, they play tunes together. They’ve got a strong bluegrass influence but draw from 70’s country rock, some blues and a bit of pop. Guitar, Dobro, harmonica, fiddle, mandolin and banjo. They’re a lot of fun and although the expression on their faces don’t show it, they don’t seem to take themselves too seriously. The crowd of 30-40 somethings loved it, especially the hoedown styled songs! Very Entertaining.

138. Batrider, The Dacios & The Drones 17/7/2010

Batrider sound straight out of 1990’s indie, with their grunge aesthetic. Three piece – guitar bass and drums. The lead singer snarls in an Aussie rock way, and I liked them  until I got bored. Their range is limited. The Dacio’s are a five piece, but it’s fair to say The Dacio’s is Linda Dacio. Her voice booms as she tears through her songs. Amazing vocals accompanied by straight up and down rock and roll. Desperation and despair underpin the performance of The Drones. Gareth Liddiard spits out lyrics with all the conviction that can be mustered. Peter Luscombe plays killer guitar. Bassist rarely acknowledges the audience, but it’s only because she’s playing in so tightly with Mike Noga on drums. The Drones play as a band. They’re together and they’re awesome. Totally enthralling and they give 101% for this promotional gig. It’s plain to see why they’re such a popular band. Authenticity is one word used to describe them and it’s apt.

139. The Cherrywood Guns and Joshua Seymour The Marquis of Lorne 18/7/2010

I billed it as early Cash style rockabilly. What we got were three unwashed boys with poor sound. Percussion consists of a snare placed on a milk crate, played with brushes. There’s an upright double bass. The lead singer of The Cherrywood guns can sing. There’s no denying that.  What he can’t do is banter with charm or charisma. Instead he opens his mouth, says something he thinks is wise, cool or ironic, then puts his audience off. They’ve got catchy songs, but this was a lesson in the craft of amplification and the need for a band to be reasonably organized and  good sound.  The snare overpowered the guitar and bass. Fortunately Joshua Seymour on Mandolin had a moment in the spotlight, sang songs with the band, then on his own. He was good. One to watch.

140. School of Radiant Living Yah Yahs 18/7/2010

To me these chicks are the coolest girls in the world. They play miserable indie pop and draw me in completely. The weather was conducive to the sound. Yes it was bleak, and I find they’re a cool band, rather than a great band. But you gotta admire them. They do what they do with style. Amy on lead vocals was sweet.

141. Van Walker, Jordie Lane, Downhills Home “Welcome to Gippsland” Northcote Social Club 18/7/2010

Van Walker commands the attention of the audience, doing his singer/songwriter story teller thing on stage. He seems to have done it a million times, but still remains engaging.

Jordie Lane opens his set with his most popular song, and takes the audience on journey with more storytelling. His banter is cutesy, but somehow he gets away with it in his signature hat and old man garb. His observations are dark, stories are well crafted, but I had difficulty listening to his Western slant on Vietnamese culture.

Downhills Home – didn’t know what to expect. I’ve seen them a few times, and my reaction has ranged from kinda bored to very cruisy. Fortunately tonight’s performance was closer to the latter. They played songs from their Welcome to Gippsland concept album; interwoven short stories. Stand alone songs, but together they tell a greater story. They commenced with an instrumental featuring violin player. They had an all star line up including Van Walker, Jordie Lane, Liz Stringer, Laura Jean & Matt Walker. I’m shit at lyric listening but Downhills Home really had it together. They play beautifully, drawing the listener in with their good vibes. What’s apparent, when others sing McMahons songs is just how good a songwriter Sean McMahon actually is. As a band, they’re great at build ups, and rock out at the end of their tracks.   Liz and Matt did a couple of their own songs too.

The stage was dotted by tealights. Sound was excellent.  A good gig for such a cold and miserable night.

142. Little John, The Dacios and  Graveyard Train The Corner Hotel 23/7/2010

This was a different kind of gig tonight: a celebration of the Fitzroy sets introduction to a legendary band venue. Which gave you the sense that tonight was a victory for all who performed and supported these bands along the way. Graveyard train were launching their new album, and this was the first gig of theirs in ages. Suffice, this was sold out. The Corner Hotel, Friday night was sold out by locals who cut their teeth in the tiny venues up the road! I walked in to find Little John backed by his band. In the time since I started doing this [roughly a year] his act has gone from strength to strength. His built up confidence, and he’s finding his style. Although it’s clear he’s best when he channels Elvis through wooden, jerkish dance movements.

The Dacios – It was the second consecutive Saturday I saw this band. Linda is a dynamo. Although my gig compadres left me, I find her spellbinding and powerful as a performer. Bean on guitar is pretty awesome too. Actually they’re a tight act and sure they’re shouty, but their pulsating rhythms and simple rock songs made me nod my head in agreeance.

The Graveyard Train do Horror- Country. The horror comes from the lyrical themes and the guy playing chains and hammer. Their songs are drunken singalongs, and over time they’ve really built up a strong following. Country part comes from their range of instruments: Banjo, washboard, guitar chains and hammer, double bass, reinforcement drums and Dobro were the main instruments that night. There was a feeling they couldn’t believe they sold out The Corner. It was the biggest gig they’d ever played, declared singer Nick Finch.

They worked through new songs, but the dedicated few preferred their older songs! The crowd sang along, and the band prompted them to on their new songs. It made me think this band has the potential to become a novelty hitmaker. Shudder. They’ve had a strong run of airplay on community radio. They are a fun live band who put a lot of energy into their performance as a unified band. They’ve got a tour of Europe coming up. They got the Beat album of the week. Tonight was their moment, and they shared the stage with their supports and other guests on the scene.

143. Wash Winters Willies Away with Whisky VI The Tote 25/7/2010

  There was a reasonable flow to the evening, bringing out Melbourne’s alt country crowd. It was a good day for networking. My biggest problem was the lack of female talent on the bill. Although Tracy McNeil was the first act I caught. She had a sweet rounded country sound, but I didn’t actually catch too much.

Next up was Fergus and Adam as Roller one. They’re great because they just play their music, there’s loads of contemplative space, it’s really beautiful and seems genuine.

White Elephant did a laidback pop performance with tinges of country. They’ve got good songs that a listener can warm into.

Little John graced the stage next and delivered another excellent performance. This was confirmation that I think Little John has got what it takes. But it’s not alone-it’s the band that helps him get where he needs to be. They provide the fun, the howls and the confidence to do what he needs to do. The less droning he does, and the more shouting, and bit part singing he does works. His songs are fun but the band really create a raucous energy. Really exciting stuff. The best was the gospel, the rock’n’roll, and the atmospheric second last song.

Que Paso deliver what they do time and time again. Really competent musicianship on stage- two great guitarists. But I always leave, scratching my head- why did I stay around for that?

Clinkerfield, what can I say? Jimmy is a performer and he does it well. The crowd enjoyed it.  The room was packed.

Brothers Grimm. James tells the audience they’re fucked and the audience lap it up. I don’t understand.

144. Silver City Highway The Gem 30/7/2010

After work drinks was followed by Silver City Highway, a band I’d seen many times before but not in this configuration. Violin; Viola, Fergus and Adam and keyboards. It was stripped back and exposed a real beauty of Silver City Highway. Although Fergus struts around like he’s a confident guy, his voice exposes a vulnerability. Piano added a midnight jazz sound. Violin and Viola created depth, structure and intensity. I was totally engrossed. This was perhaps the best Silver City Highway performance I’ve seen.

June gigs 2010

91.    Oh Mercy! Inpress 1/6/2010

Oh Mercy duo played a stripped back set at Inpress for a Coopers presented gig. No free grog, but they have sweet, well crafted pop songs. Talented writers. Decent, yet self deprecating performers.

92.    Woolen Kits, Royal Headache and King Kahn & the BBQ show, The Corner, 2/6/2010.

Woollen Kits do indie clunk really well on a small stage to intimate audiences, but this did not transfer well on the large stage in front of the hipster crowd at The Corner. Too loud, they drowned in the fuzz and their magic was lost. Royal Headache frontman had energy to punch the sky with. Pacing back and forward he sang, sped up pop songs with a band who had their rock posturing well practiced. Not amazing, but not that bad. The venue was packed for the coolest mish mash of rock fans in town. Crowds from The Arthouse, The Gem, Yah Yahs, The Marquis, The Old Bar, PBS,  Off The Hip, The Melbourne Music Club, Pony, The Brunswick set  and beyond… Young and old were all represented! KK & BBQ set performance opened to a backing crowd of Queens we are the Champions. The curtains opened to reveal the topless, gold caped Arish alongside the Octopus headed BBQ. It was a sterling introduction. Together they played mindless garage rock with lashings of surf guitar, doo wop and other stuff. They were fun, but they weren’t deep singing about poo. But the problem with a big introduction is that the band needs to go to the next level to raise the bar. There probably wasn’t much room to increase the excitement factor. Although one song ran into the next, there was a marked lack of energy in the outer regions of the crowd. What followed the climax was the anti-climax. Melbourne audiences are known for their conservatism and this frustrated Arish who implored them to dance. They wouldn’t so he asked for audience participation with singing. This did not work. The crowd thinned out towards the end. But they were entertaining and played an encore.

93.    Geoffrey O’Connor, Belles will Ring and Parades, The East Brunswick Club 4/6/2010.

I thought Geoffrey O’Connor meant just that, but it included a blonde Jessica Says. Fortunately they make a great duo, they’re both so delicate with an indie nerd sensibility it works! But his songs really shone when he was joined on stage by a drummer and bassist. That kid can write!

Belles Will Ring looked the part; great cowboy shirts, good looking, rock posturing, good maraca action. Missing one key ingredient: good songs. It’s not often I’d walk out after 3 songs, but they didn’t have the pull to keep this audience member standing for any longer.

So Parades turned out to be a very pleasant surprise – not simply because the other band was so bad. They had Interesting beats, great guitar moments, really good vocals and effects. Good songs, good build ups, good lengths to their songs, a horn player. They didn’t look as beautiful as the other band but what they lacked in model appearances, they compensated with substance. I was suitably impressed and I’d see them again.

94.    The Sweethearts Soul A Go Go 5/6/10

Can I count this as a gig? The Sweethearts is a gigantic girl group/band who played at Soul A Go Go. All girls are 16, and they played a number of soul covers. I expected I’d hate this completely but they were good in the entertaining sense.

95.    Alex Burn’s Adventures in Paradise Café in Federation Square 6/6/10

Adventures in Paradise are  a 3 piece band, consisting of double bass, guitar and lapsteel. They play covers and are delightful. I expected to hate it, but

Alex Burns is an awesome lap steel guitar player and I just adored it. My only criticism is that his British Blues voice does not suit the softness of Hawaiian music at all.

96.    Litchfield Hallstars Clare Castle 6/6/2010

Their last gig. Sing-along songs, mandolin, violin, lagerphone, squeezebox, double bass. Could have been good but they were out of tune.

97.    Van and Cal Walker The Standard 6/6/2010

Doing what they do. Cal had to leave by the second set to play with Go Go Sapien at The Retreat. Van stayed on and played and played and played…

98.    Store Bought Cool, Jimmy Tait & Plague Doctor The Old Bar 9/6/2010

Store Bought Cool weren’t precisely that. They had a clunky drummer,fiddle, guitars and happy vocalist singing darker edged songs. The fiddle player performed with energy and bought depth to the band. But I felt it was a difficult marriage: happy vocalist singing darker edged songs.Good moments but overall it didn’t work for me. Jimmy Tait’s songs take a slower pace. The result is more space to fill songs, especially with Retallick’s onstage vulnerability. Retallick possesses a melodic voice which packs a punch. Excellent music if it suits your mood. They deliver what their press release promises. Retallick remained on stage for Plague Doctor delivering girl vocals offsetting boy vocals. Richie gave me a long history, but the short one is this: they were a band, lost some members, were put on hold, gained some members and are a new band. Plague Doctor are entertaining, mostly because of its commanding frontman[who performs ludicrous lyrics with amazing conviction], but also because they have good songs. They remind me of Nick Cave, a little Smiths, a touch of the Cramps, and then they’ve got their own thing going on. At one stage they were performing a song about the end of the world and sang about Robots taking over. Another moment they were singing about science fiction, and shredding trash literature, distributing it in the air like tickertape. Bluesy, rocky but also very off the wall and funny. I’d definitely see them again!

100.Los Impenetrables Bebida 10/6/2010

I went to this following the reopening of the Tote, with its old school rock crowd: the who’s who of the Melbourne music underbelly in 2010. I’d planned to see The Eagle and The Worm, but got sick of being a scenester, I fled. Perhaps afraid of the social interactions, opting for the comfort of a cover band. Los Impenetrables were clunky but highly enjoyable and threw in a number of country tunes. I just adored them and so too did the old lady and what looked like her niece. Matt enjoyed them too, comparing them to Pink Martini – maybe a boring album, but very good ambiance music. Afterwards I thanked the band, and told them my friend was a convert. I was asked are you? I said “Of Course!

101.Ceasar Cisco The Rainbow 11/6/2010.

White man blues. Absolutely awful.

102. Jody Galvin and The Tenderhearts The Caringbush 13/6/2010

Jody Galvin’s comedic brand of pop country. Monica Weightman-less, but fortunately accompanied by Garrett Costigan on pedal steel. Cassie remarked on bass players pint holder.

103. Collard Greens and Gravy The Rainbow  13/6/2010

Decent white-man blues with a dirty growl. Good background music attracting a middle-aged blues audience. All it needs is a bowl of gumbo.

104. Chelsea Drugstore Labour in Vain  13/6/2010

Alt country, did covers, featured a pedal steel and suitable Sunday arvo music.

105. Adventures in Paradise Bertha Brown  13/6/2010

Great venue, but the crowd of transients are there for anything but the music. This time, Adventures in Paradise included a ukulele player, and garish Hawaiian shirts. By gosh I just adore this band. Great musos playing that old time Hawaiian music.

106. Mini Bikes The Standard 13/6/2010

So this is Marcel Borrack’s band but just who is Marcel Borrack? Cassie and I didn’t know, but it seems everybody else does. I just adored their alt-country meets pop music. So easy to listen to, perfect with a beer, and just fine tunes, including Marcel Borrack’s continuing lead breaks. I adored this group.

107. Peep Tempel & Toot Toot Toots The Old Bar  13/6/2010

On this day we did country, blues, alt country, Hawaiian and more alt country meets pop. So it was only natural we listen to rock to end the evening. Peep Tempel are a two piece bluesy rock outfit who quite simply rock. I didn’t think I ‘d like them but their performance was mesmerising. They had bogan intensity and covered a Lobby Llloyd track.  Nice work Peep Tempel. Toot Toot Toots were a party band. They had shouty songs, encouraging sing along,  a horn section, go-go dancers. Their best songs were their jug styled country songs that made you want to slap your thigh to the beat. They were good and especially good for the night, given that Monday is a Queens Birthday Holiday.

108. Steph Brett, Kirsten Verwood & Plague Doctor The Old Bar 16/6/2010

Both Step Brett and Kirsten Verwood emanate vulnerability on stage, but the execution of their material was expressed in markedly different ways. Both talented singer/songwriters, the former gave a warm and inviting performance, and the latter gave a defensive performance. Steph Brett has a melodic, jazzy voice that wafts beautifully against her bluesy guitar. Entertaining, commanding, charming, she really does have an engaging presence that makes her personality likeable, and this matches her music ability. Contrast this to Kirsten Verwood who has a darker, melancholy sound. She’s got a great voice but her music does not take you on the journey that Brett does. Rather it stays in the one place, albeit, it’s a strong launching place it goes nowhere. This is exacerbated by the absence of likable on stage personality that Brett radiates. A little bit of maturity and a little less of the prima donna and I’m sure she’s got something worth more than a support act. It will just take a little bit of time. In any case, they were both supporting Plague Doctor. It was the second time I’d seen them and I was not let down. They are fun. They are funny. They’ve got great songs. Great musicians. Tim Molloy has a commanding stage presence. Sara Retallick is a brilliant offside and to me, the band can do great things.

109. Itchy Fingers and Wanda Jackson The Corner Hotel 18/6/2010

Following the live to air from the crazy fun of the Drab Doo Riffs, I should have been psyched to see almost legendary and the very influential Wanda Jackson. Itchy Fingers, a rockabilly band full of middle aged competent musicians played support. They were joined by Andrew King who played keyboard, and wore a matching keyboard yoke shirt.  Richie 1250 played the DJ support, as Rhonda and I got curry, and after the wait, itchy Fingers reappeared on stage along with pianist and MC/pianist Andrew King who introduced Wanda Jackson. She came out in a red fringed outfit, bright lippy, teased up black hair coated in hairspray and large diamonte earrings. Wanda is an image of glamour. But it’s not all about the look. The sound matters, and Wanda smashes through her songs. She’s still got her shrill voice, able to cut through songs. She worked through material chronologically [her crossover from country to rock; first number 1 – Fujiyama], as she did last time, sang some Elvis songs, and added new songs she’d recorded with Jack White [covers to be released in September]. I heard complaints that she was too straight laced, but she’s a performer, with a well drilled act. So what if it’s formatted? She’s engaging, the crowd loved her, especially her country music. The lady from Oklahoma, really impressed, leaving behind a crowd of adoring fans!

110. Silo Labour In Vain 20/6/2010

Prog rock with a lapstring guitar. Drumming by a closed eyes Michael Minutoli.

111. Heather Stewart and Brad Martin The Rainbow Hotel, 20/6/2010.

I’d met Coral and Charlotte at Labour In Vain, and they moved across to The Rainbow to see Van and Cal Walker. I came with them.  Brad Martin is a bearded and fiery hairy singer songwriter, and Heather Stewart is a fiddle player. As far as songs go they were pretty run of the mill, but Stewarts fiddle playing added another warm dimension to the songs, akin to switching a light on.  Really enjoyable and great for background music.

112. Alex Chilton Tribute Yah Yahs 20/6/2010.

The Chromenips kicked off the tribute with a cover of the Replacements song Alex Chilton. It was OK, but I guess, it was just a warm up for what was to come. It was a star studded line up of Melbourne musicians performing Alex Chilton and Big Star songs. Then came The Letter. Highlights: Spencer P Jones; James McCann  and Henry Wagons doing the more psychedelic trip esque and lyrically ludicrous songs. Jordie Lane did a cover of thirteen. Lowlight: Some guy [I’m not sure who] massacred I’m in Love with A girl.  Downhills Home did a nice job. Tim Rodgers did a funny song and accompanied it with equally cheesy dance moves on “what’s your sign girl?” Joel Silbersher and Liz Stringer performed with gusto. The Walkers did too.  Although there were breaks between songs, it was a well organized night, with excellent execution. A great and fun one-off event.

113. Ryan Sterling and the Sister City and Dom and the Deadbeats The Standard 23/6/2010

Ryan Sterling is a pop singer, and has a pop band with moments of country – this possibly has to do with the mandolin. Yes, the mandolin was a nice little touch, they make toe tapping music, but for me, there’s nothing to write home about, although they’re lyrically relevant, singing about being 31 today and 16 tomorrow. Dom and the Deadbeats have a catchy name, and do their brand of slow bluesy rock. To me it translates into white man blues and didn’t really catch me. Maybe they’d suit The Rainbow?

114. Minibikes and The Level Spirits The Retreat 24/6/2010

Following ‘A Drink for Julia’ at The Tote, I met up with Cassie and Ness to see for sure if The Minibikes were any good. Turns out they are. Highly enjoyable. Good songs. But we still don’t know who Marcel Borrack is. The Level Spirits – I knew nothing about them, but later recalled singer Molly works at The Gem. They had a double bass which is a plus, a middle aged quiffed man playing guitar and a hot panted lead singer. I stayed for two songs before I knew it was time to leave.

115 The Twerps and Beaches Workers Club 25/6/2010

Rats! I missed School Of Radiant Living, but I got my fix of indie guitar bliss, first with The Twerps. Young kids, playing jangly distorted indie pop with fuzzy guitar licks. Cute, twee, lead singer hidden behind his bobbed hair. I liked them. They were followed by indie darlings and all girl group Beaches. Beaches have infectious guitar moments, and excellent build ups. I liked it, even if I was surrounded by people almost half my age!

116. If these hands could separate the Sky The Old Bar 26/6/2010

Indie bland that failed to hold my attention.

117. Van and Cal Walker with Liz Stringer on Banjo Labour in Vain 27/6/2010

After community cup Cassie and I managed to catch the second set. On a cold winters night, Van and Cal Walker did what they did to a very receptive audience at LIV with Liz Stringer on Banjo. A really good set. Possibly the best I’ve seen them play and it’s all due to the other factors: the crowd; the night; the audience.

118. Go Go Sapien Yah Yahs 27/6/2010

Go Go Sapien are a funny band. They have a different outfit, more ludicrous each time I see them. Tonight it was white with silver and black sequins. Their lyrics are funny, ludicrous and  they’ve got some good songs. Emily makes an excellent centre for the band. Love the weird sci-fi sounds. Here we met Marcus who just arrived from Canada today. He liked live music, so I took him up to the Old Bar, whilst Cassie called it a night.

119. Yis and Toot Toot Toots The Old Bar 26/6/2010

Yis played blistering indie rock in the style of Sonic Youth. They’re not quite there but their last song was very strong. One to watch. Toot Toot Toots have a hint of ludicrous-ness about them which I don’t find endearing. I left and wished Marcus a nice time in Australia.

120. Matt Grimm and Eaten by Dogs The Old Bar 29/6/2010

Matt Grimm did a bluesy countrified solo set. Followed by adoring fans, he has a booming voice with a strong American accent. But his banter is possibly the most charming thing about him. He talked about his love for his brother and his mates. Eaten by Dogs play to the slow, cold Tuesday night pace. A three piece that focuses on the singer. They didn't capture me, possibly because their songs just did not ring true. The night was made good with the presence of Cassie and Annie. Made even better after meeting Jessie, Madi and Sabrina. It was Sabrina's 21st birthday. They’d eaten bogan burgers at the Napier, and then went to the Labour to drink dark ales in order to win Drones Tix! They’re girls after my own heart.

121. The Bowers Duo The Standard 30/6/2010

The girls who I went with  have a thing for a guy called Liam?

122. Sunny the Masogopher, Mass Suicide Cult & Plague Doctor The Old Bar 30/6/2010

Here’s something else. Sunny does tricks. He was backed by his band Loveless Marriage featuring Sara Retallick, but mainly he did tricks; he claimed it was Magician meets Philosopher hence Masogopher. It was novel and fun, and I still wonder how he made it all happen. Mass Cult Suicide do straight up rock, and have a girl guitarist who can play awesome licks. I still didn’t really love it. Plague Doctor on the other hand rock my world. Although the mix was too loud for the PA system, for me, Plague Doctor have it all. They’re funny, have great songs, excellent stage presence, and they bought it home for me.