AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS STORY APPEARS IN THE CURRENT ADELAIDE REVIEW...
Adelaide has presented many faces to us but we had never experienced the likes of the Semaphore Workers Cub. What a pleasant surprise it was too. Semaphore is some sort of a fading rose of a seaside idyll. In its late bloom. I went there only a couple of years ago and was charmed by the wide streets and the sleepy country town tempo of the place. How such a joint had been allowed to be accessible to anyone but the super rich was a conundrum. It is beautifully down beat and genteel. Old world. (Even though the smart people have obviously already gotten involved and put in a lot of confusing traffic diversions in that beautiful wide main street leading to the beach. It wont be long until this late bloom is over and the harvesting of real estate dreams begins) On this trip we were to discover it had an even richer and stranger inner life.
The Workers Club has no signage outside as they “ don’t want any passing trade”. This alarmed us as we musicians have been bashed and narrowed in our thinking to be completely commercial at all times. We drove the short distance from the delightful hotel to the club. Inside it was all high ceilinged wide ambience just like those old dilapidated former embassies people used to live in in St Kilda.
Walls absolutely festooned with banners from Communist groups the world over. Images of Che and Ho and various Euro Reds looked over the proceedings. We were told that the phone had been ringing hot which sent our hearts low as that usually means no one will bother to actually come. We finished the soundcheck and were enjoying game of pool on the full sized billiard tables as the people started coming in. Apparently there had been a queue around the block . They charged in and lined up at the bar. A totally blue collar, brawny, rough hewn , up for it bunch of party people the likes of which I didn’t think existed anymore. I thought they'd all been domesticated. This was not a crowd from the prissy world of indie rock music or Sunday colour supplement stories of the best bars/coffees in whatever sad city you live in. This was a real underworld crowd. There were music clips being shown on one wall, “howlin wolf” and “sonny boy williamson” and “etta James” all bawling the blues. Mesmerising in its lost worlde class.
Stu Thomas did a set with himself on his orange baritone six string bass/guitar hybrid style of playing along with sunglasses,white jacket and Clare Moore on drums and vocals. They played for about an hour. (They had already played a set the night before at the Grace Emily).
Then we got up and did an hour long set ourselves.Two guitars,bass and drums, all keyed up by the crowd and the blues in the room.
The gates were closed and no one else was being let in.
I always say “hello Comrades” at shows as a fellow once said it to me at Trades Hall in Melbourne and I felt so great I took it on. In Brisbane, opening for Glen Campbell last December I said it and half the audience walked out. They hate “commies“ up there. (Commies being interchangeable with “from melbourne” which I had also informed them was the case) . Here, everybody was addressed as “comrades and fellow workers”. I felt I was at home.
At the break I walked off the stage towards the door and a fellow stopped me to say hello. “You don’t remember me do you?” I said I was having trouble and he told me his name. An old friend from the country. I’m not the hugging type but I felt kind of emotive and we embraced. Probably because I knew him at that time in your life before the retrograde sets in - when your were just a kid. He used to dink me home from footy training. Anyway, something was troubling me, something I was supposed to remember. Then it hit me, this fellow had been involved in a double murder- of his parents. I didn’t know him when that happened, I only knew him from an earlier, untroubled period. Can you shut things like that from your mind? Should you? Sometimes its easy to talk to people you haven’t been in contact with for a while. I said “So, you’ve had an ....interesting life...”. He agreed and alluded to his parents. No smiling at all from either of us here. He introduced me to his girlfriend. Later, I felt I had to ask about the time I had referred to as “interesting”. He just looked at me and said, “madness , Dave- madness” and we talked a little more in that crowded room, touching lightly on very heavy areas. It was a difficult conversation to have and a difficult place to try and have it in. I knew I had to go back on and do another set. Sometimes, being a musician, going onto the stage or taking care of your gear is a good way to take your leave from people and situations that get to be a bit too chaotic. I enjoyed running into him though and wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid talking to him again.
We got up and played for another hour. The joint was jumpin’!
As we walked off “the Internationale” was played at a rousing volume. We sat around and talked to people , those attending the show and then the people from the club. What an amazing place! So connected to history and the local community.
You also get the greatest critiques in places like that. A guy apparently left saying, “Dave Graney! Like the sixties with a hard on!”
The fellow who books it talked of being sent by the PARTY to Cuba to attend a conference. Lost worlds.
The next day we got up at midday and played for an hour on the foreshore at Semaphore. A different crowd and a different sound. Blasting sunlight and strong sea winds. Guitars went out of tune and I couldn’t see the led lights of my pedal.
Then we drove to the Wheatsheaf and played for an hour at 4pm. This set was gonna be soft and conversational. It was , for about two songs. My watch stopped somewhere along the way and the second set stretched out for another one and a half hours. This was Grateful Dead style playing. Clare Moore and Stu Thomas eventually played for seven hours over three days.
After the set a white haired woman bailed me up and bawled at me for not lowering the door price while I was on stage. She flounced off still yelling at me for being up myself. I went to talk with some friends. A tripping barfly came up to give me some shit about my moustache, yabbering about a 60s movie with Shirley Maclaine he had seen. “Jimmy Edwards” I said, referring to the moustachioed British comedian who was in the same film. “Fuck off! How can you know who I’m talking about!” he yelled. I begged off. he came back to talk of an Adelaide musician called Benjamin Hugg. I said I had that album, the one with the cover shot outside of Trims from the late 70s. He shook my hand. He said I should listen to the record. I said I would. He said "Fuck off! I don’t give a fuck what you think!”. I said “sure” and bade my farewells to friends. He followed me yelling about how I should do what he said and every time I agreed he told me to “fuck off”. A difficult character to engage with. I escaped to pack up my gear.
We were still staying in Semaphore. the next day we loaded the van and paid the hotelier. He had been a pretty taciturn character- a busy weekend. Things were a bit quiet now so he spoke more freely. Learning we had been to the workers club he talked of his own father who had been a radical communist and union man. Eventually blackballed from a lot of employment. The publican himself had gone to Moscow to attend a student and workers conference in the 70s. He had enlisted into the armed forces but had had his papers stamped “commie” after a day. He said he didn’t talk about his past to many people as they accused him of being “things like a... traitor”. He laughed, saying he was a “Utopian now”. Whatever the hell that is.
Semaphore was beat. Blue collar. Totally downbeat and beatific. They’ll have to ruin it.
We drove to the bustling wide spot in the road known as Bordertown and engaged an innkeeper for a room for the night. A morbidly obese woman sold us some parcels of indeterminate food material soaked in concentrated animal fats. Bear Grylls would have recoiled at this stuff but we did the right thing by somebody or other and ate a few mouthfuls.
In Melbourne we made camp for a couple of days before blowing town in separate directions. Clare to Hobart and myself to Mt Gambier. I had some personal stuff to take care of.
I stayed with a cousin on his farm about 35ks toward a fishing fleet town. I was wearing leather pants, shirt,waistcoat ,tie and jacket as I was also gonna have my photo taken near one of the mills down there and couldn’t be arsed packing anything more delicate. I was kitted out ‘end of the world” style.
I found myself standing out in a paddock with a herd of shitting, spluttering, pissing cows a couple of times. Being no help but looking cool (in my world). Brando out bush. In spite of the crowd I was hangin’ with. The neighbours will be talking about it for a few years. My cousin was driving across the fields, herding the cows from one field to another, Black Sabbaths “paranoid” album blaring on the cd player. You find out what has endured out in this sort of a map reference. I said , through the noise of the music and the car and the cows, that Ozzie was a bit sad now. My cousin said that he was always a bit of a tool and that Tony Iommi was the brains of the outfit. That is wisdom. In the straight world, people follow along with the idea that Ozzie was a wildman- just like a herd of cows. The man can hardly move , let alone talk!
We sat in his old Cockys farm house, that he has renovated- to make it SMALLER - and listened to the Who on his handmade stereo and ate pasta and chocolate. The sea and the weather happening eternally outside and the cows adding their very ephemeral sounds to the nightly fields .I learned some country wisdom. He has a friend , who has rarely saddled up, though he has a female he is smitten with who “narrows him up a bit”, whose view on marriage or co habitation was , when pressed, “ why give half your tucker away to get the other half cooked”. I guess you could take that to the bank to see what they make of it. As a fellow cheapskate , it made a lick of sense to me.
- dave graney
- WORKSHY - 2017 memoir out on Affirm Press. Let's get Tight - 2017 CD with Clare Moore. Moodists - Coral Snakes - mistLY. I don’t know what I am and don’t want to know any more than I already know. I aspire, in my music , to 40s B Movie (voice and presence) and wish I could play guitar like Charlie Christian or Grant Green -but not in this lifetime, I know.
2014 solo album from Dave Graney. *****"If I've learnt anything in my years of writing about music it's that if you are going to do anything of worth in this tough game, you better have your own thing. Today's generic is easily replaced by tomorrow's. And yet you need to be flexible, to follow wherever the songs demand. In the case of this, only the second credited as a solo album among 30 or so Graney releases, it's a curious yet welcoming lane he walks you down, with acoustic guitars, not much percussion, vibes, smooth sounds. At the end of it you feel like you've awoken from a strange yet pleasant summer's dream. As shot by Luis Bunuel. It ranges from off-kilter reveries (A Woman Skinnies Up a Man, The Old Docklands Wheel) through to the softly seductive (How Can You Get Out of London) and the downright arch (Look Into My Shades, Everything Is Great In The Beginning.) This is music that is neither folk, nor blues, nor country, but it's all Graney, somewhere out to the left field beyond Lee Hazlewood's raised eyebrow. It's astringent on the tongue but sweetens in the telling." Noel Mengel Brisbane Courier Mail
you've been in my mind
June 2012 super high energy pop rock album - blazing electric 12 strings - total 70s rock drive. Greatest yet! available via paypal - $20 pp
SUPERMODIFIED - August 2010 remixed/re-sung/re-strung//remastered/replayed comp via PAYPAL
also available as a digital album
Knock yourself (2009)-first ever dg solo set-filthy electro r&b-available via Paypal- $20
available as a digital album too
We Wuz Curious (2008)-blazing R&B jazz pop album available via paypal-$20
UNAVAILABLE-COMPLETELY SOLD OUT!!!
AVAILABLE AS A DIGITAL album
Hashish and Liquor (2005 double disc by Dave Graney and Clare Moore) available via Paypal $25
UNAVAILABLE-COMPLETELY SOLD OUT!!!
Single album HASHISH available as a digital release