dave graney - Moodists-Coral Snakes-mistLY-FEARFUL WIGGINGS

dave graney - Moodists-Coral Snakes-mistLY-FEARFUL WIGGINGS
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About Me

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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.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

review of a Ray Charles bio from 2004

This appeared in the AGE more than half a decade ago. Its a good read if you can find it...

Ray Charles: Man and Music - Michael Lydon

2004- 494 pages.RIVERHEAD

This is a book about a musician and his music.That the musician is Ray Charles and that he embraced the music of a whole charged up country and melded it as he pleased means that this is a big,mother fucking hard covered,historical epic.The writer, Michael Lydon, approaches the story with great gusto and gets involved at all turns. Ray is seen up close as we can get to a creative artist. Ray is of course ,blind and this removes him totally from most of our experience of life.Ray is consumed by music and life. This life is almost totally spent travelling on the road. He walks into hotel rooms and steps out the dimensions and architecture of the space he is going to be moving through. He has a valet on constant call but likes to do as much as he can by himself. Through the writer we see Ray hot and bothered, waving his arms and legs and bumping into walls after shooting up some smack and running his band through his paces like a machine. Ray is hard and unquestionably the boss and emperor of his world.
This might seem like much of the hyperbole that surrounds the strange ,stiff formality that surrounds other black American touring organisations of the era.Think of James Brown and his extended court who all addressed each other with a stiff “Mister” around any of the hired help. Think of BB King touring for half a century in a succession of vehicles, well aware that outside of this well regulated environment he is a poorly educated African American with roots sewn very shallowly,if at all in the actual, mean , business world. In contrast, Ray Charles rules Ray Charles Enterprises in cold , hard fact. As a musician,I sat with my jaw in my lap and then felt like jumping up and cheering as I read the section where Ray negotiates a deal with ABC paramount records in 1959.Ray had been with Atlantic records which was a premier ,innovative black R&B label run by the young Turkish jazz fan,Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler since 1952.They had had faith in his ability to truly find his own voice and come out from his initial overt imitations of his idols,the smooth Nat “King” Cole and the rough and bluesy Charles Brown.Their patience had been rewarded first with “I got a woman” and then “What’d I say “. Ray was not yet thirty and coming into all his powers. At this point he went his own way and signed with ABC. It is a thread running through this story that Ray is his own man. ABC offered Ray a 75% his way deal his and would let him produce his own records. Ray was already producing his own sessions and thought the deal was sweet.At the end of the discussions he casually asked if he could own his own master tapes. This brilliant ,fearless question was eventually answered in the affirmative and to this day,Ray owns all his recordings. Many years later,when his post Atlantic records would be re released on many different labels,all the people would have to deal directly with Ray Charles Enterprises. Ray Charles was in control like few others. This is something to see when you tally it with the images of the boy growing up in the poverty of rural Georgia in the Thirties.The little boy who goes blind at the age of seven and is sent off, walking by himself , to a distant school for the blind. He makes his own way in the world better than so many others who should be able to see so much clearer than him. Ray is on his own from an early age.

As a music fan the glimpses this book gives of that great period just after the second world war when mass immigration of African Americans from the South to the North and the great leaps in technology of recording and playing music produced the shapes of sounds to come for the next half century.The characters involved here are a roll call of icons.Ertegeun and Wexler at Atlantic are complemented by their recording engineer,Tom Dowd, who,after witnessing the nuclear blasts at Bikini Atoll as a young physicist, scores a job at a New York recording studio.(At this stage they wear white lab coats to work!) His enthusiasm for work sees him find ways to record sounds loudly yet clearly, just at the edge of distortion. He invents the “Atlantic sound”.
You also get to meet Quincy Jones as a fifteen year old trumpet player and budding arranger.You think of all the other cats moving around the States at the same time.Duke Ellington,Charlie Parker ,Hank Williams ,Wynonie Harris and Count Basie.The level of musicianship required of all these players would make a modern player afraid to walk down the same street! Everybody had to be able to sight read and music was played and listened to in the moment.Vinyl,long playing records were a new technology. Music was experienced. Ray is once again seen moving through this world as a supreme master of his music, unencumbered by ideas of staying in a particular genre. He more or less invents soul music by singing sex drenched street talk against gospel grooves and then has his biggest hit with a country album.Ray learns to read music by braille. First the left hand with the right hand reading and then the other way around. All of his arrangements for his bands were done ,note for exacting note, in his head. He would shoot up some heroin, lay back on his bed and dictate whole arrangements to his musical director,for each instrument! Every transposition and cymbal crash!

This is a big story and it is a long story.Most of the last century in fact. We leave the book and Ray is still on the road. The delightful fact that his big band still sets up with no microphones on stage save for one for Rays piano and one for his voice is seen as a negative. I would love to have heard that band playing like that!

Ray is also seen in these pages as a junkie,a chronic pants man and a cold, distant bastard to family and friends but when all is said and done,it’s the music that will live on. Like any musician, he put everything into the grooves.

http://www.michaellydon.com/

Monday, April 26, 2010

tasmaniacally weighted stuff/ stuffed

Now if a musician is talking in a public space about what they're doing, you have to bear in mind that whatever they say, its said within a realm where perception is the whole of the law.
I mean if you want "truth" or anything resembling it- you might get a whiff but its all smoke , reverb and mirrors- dig? Shit comes from us coated in primo fairy dust . The cadence is real but its weighted! Because we gotta talk our stuff UP . Its gotta be pointed that way.

So we flew to Launceston, Clare, Stu Thomas, Stu Perera and myself. We were having a backline provided for us at the shows so we carried a few guitars and a set of cymbals and a snare.
Two of us were getting over that persistent Melbourne bug that has taken peoples voices away and given them stuffed heads for the last five or six weeks. The two others, Stu Perera and myself,were just entering into that state. It was wet and drizzling in Launceston. I wore my clothes coz I'd been here before. leather pants, waistcoat and jacket and a pair of ripples.
Before the gig we went and spoke to some "troubled kids" in a youth social work centre. they had a kit and some instruments set up. Talked to them about music and the life. Played a song and got them to strum some chords. One was really good and one was painfully shy and one was a wise guy. i told the latter to be the singer.
The venue was to be in a beer garden so as to let people smoke I guess. It was a tough gig. And if we find a gig to be tough that means most musicians would die as they stepped onto the stage.
I took the Vox amp and Stu took the Fender.
Playing music was, as usual, the easy part. A small crowd including some good friends from melbourne who were in town to pick up a picture one had done for an art exhibition.
We played about seven or eight songs from the Devil Drives (1997) and "the soft n sexy sound" (95) and "night of the wolverine (1993) . Then we stepped off and played a lot of unrecorded stuff and other songs from our two most recent discs, "we wuz curious" and "knock yourself out".
Launceston is a beautiful looking smallish city built on spectacular hills and rises.Compared to melbourne and Sydney, most Tasmanian joints look olden as their has been fuck all development or tearing of old shit UP.
It is also a pretty blue collar scene. Trucks laden with logs of wood pass by at every corner. Guys in fluorescent semi official working over jackets everywhere. the Greens party also had five members elected in the recent election. In Tasmania, everybody rubs up against each other.
So at this gig the venue had a large tv screen in the next room blasting out some video music hits all night as we played and a dj in another room played the worst and the loudest doof type disco prog sludge all night as well. If I was in melbourne I could have made a noise complaint, arguing that I was both a newly arrived resident and that i was the most deserving of heritage listing and so, be treated with all the care and regard that would befit my most elevated status and unarguable importance . If I was in Melbourne. Here, we just had to sort it out. We won in the end. People even danced.
A fellow and his wife approached and asked the traditional Dave Graney question, 'what are you doing HERE?". I replied that I weren't no snob etc. Turns out he is a timber union worker and next time he'll bring a whole crew down. Its almost enough to make me think about visiting Launceston again. Being a genuine blue collar hero. But no.
There was also the noise from the pub across the road which played nothing but bad techno versions of classic rock songs at massive volume all night. I mean until 7 am. In our ears, as we tried to sleep in the rooms above. Conveniently easier for the sounds to swell out and totally envelope us.
We left early and didn't look back. A friend had recommended a bakery in a town along the 200k drive down to Hobart. We walked in and were served by a funny old maid in a bonnet and dress that were straight out of "the old lady who lived in a shoe". The food was less well dressed .Nice and ordinary, though pretentiously priced. I stopped at a supermarket and lassoed some neo wild apples.
The Hobart gig was immensely enjoyable. We played late to a crowd of people who were helpless when confronted with our skills and power. We played the same kind of destroy and step off set. We killed it.
This time I had a smaller , solid state Vox and Stu had a Roland JC 120.
Met many people, none of who were locals. A mature beauty in a Pashmina from Byron , a rich couple all dolled up as if for the Opera from Melbourne , a crew of wild surfers on a safari from Adelaide, a woman from poland. We had slain them all anyway.
Our band is supreme. Though we exist so far off from the known maps of the old music land mass known as rock n roll. We really play it as it should be played. Clare Moore and Stu Thomas lock in on those grooves and their minds and hands are supple from all the shows and gigs they are doing with their own music and with other bands. Stu Perera plays every week in melbourne with a reggae dance act. Everybody who hears him wail is amazed, nobody hears licks like he throws anywhere on the scene. He is a fuckin' NINJA!
When we come together like the wild bunch its an amazing sound. Its funny, the two guitars are getting close to that west coast San Francisco sound I've always loved but always thought was separate from the actual music I was making . Its getting closer and closer now, after all this time.

Probably won't be recording these new tracks until next year. I want to have a period outside of recording world for a while. Playing songs for a long time before putting them down.

Got on the plane to come home. There was a dopey 60s looking young band on the plane. They looked very straight in their winklepickers and cardigans.Like a whole band of Ringos, or Georges.


We felt guilty about leaving Stu Thomas there but he had a solo gig to do. He survived. We are all sitting back in Melbourne , totally wrecked. Tasmania kicks the fuck out of you.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

pioneers! Diggers!

Hey, sorry about that shit that offended you. Whatever it was . Something always does. I was just givin’ one off the wrist, you know, just foolin’ around. I’m often rushing off at the mouth and then feeling like a fool two minutes later. Impulsive type. Hot to exist.
I have noticed , in my movements through the tiny world I am able to access. Make that, as I go about the place - that people are quick to take offence if you gratuitously offer an opinion, or adopt a position which appears to be definitive. People see it is an insult to other people trying to occupy the same area. You are somehow queering the pitch for anybody and everybody if you leave a note ringing in the air. It is always interpreted as an off note. negative. To have an opinion is bad. Its taking some oxygen out of the room. Its therefore cynical and even perhaps bitter. This is, for me , hard to swallow in situations where people talk about music. Basically, you never hear from musicians. You get people who are self appointed experts such as Molly Meldrum or Glenn A Baker or Richard Wilkins or the cast of tv shows like Spicks and Specks or Rock Wiz but you never ever hear from musicians. Isn’t that strange!

Whenever sports is on the pubic tongue the voices most trusted are players or ex players. Same with anything to do with farming, they always genuflect to the guy sitting on a tractor, swiping flies from his face. The one who never moves his lips when he talks. People respect his words though. But don’t you worry about that!

In my case I must proffer a disclaimer, as far as the pompous pop group Queen goes, I hated them way before I could ever twang a note on a guitar. And I still do! The mark of a square! (another is a Kiss t shirt)

I have also noted the hysterical tone that some talk / writing on the magic box (internet) operates at. I guess its the way that it has naturally gone. Like in the industrial touring part of the rock scene where nobody is listened to or respected unless they are threatening violence at any moment. All the language is acidic and crude and nobody hears you otherwise. Its pretty camp to tell you the truth.

Anyway, the talk. It suggests a walk. as in talking the talk and walking the walk. Years ago, I heard that Stephen Stills (Buffalo Springfield/Crosby Stills Nash and....) was talking about his time fighting in ‘nam. While all the hippies were peacing out in SF. Someone had to remind him that this hadn’t happened and that he had been very publicly involved in rock music all through that period. The drugs.
Some people who talk about music suffer a bit from those phantom war experiences. Like the man from the RSL here who had told everybody he was a POW for decades. There are rock’n’roll soldiers who have endured the years of slogging it righteously for the Stooges or the Dolls. They endured the wrongs of history and the cruelty of the pop scene. Eventually, they think they were in the Stooges or the Dolls. Or Crack the Sky or Black Flag. Name your club and get you patch on. Some bands must have had more members than they ever played to.

The magic box , with all its talk and chat, lets all this stuff hang out , dripping wet, for all to see. Its all opinion, like most things in the digital world. It’ll all change soon. I was told , by a person who WORKS WITH COMPUTERS, that soon the internet will be full and they’ll have to start charging people to use it- if they want to use the fastest aspects of it. Whadda ya reckon about that? Will that be inevitable? It sounds plausible. Its a pretty good rumour to start anyway.

I don’t know what I’m talking about so I am a disinterested voice. I mean , I’m not lying.
My friend. lets call him “deep throat”, said that there might be a supercharged , turbo driven type internet available but you’d have to pay more to use this. There would be a public, cheap kind of experience as well but the super dooper one would be there for watching movies ( if anyone is making them) or listening to music (if anybodys making that) . That would be an immediate experience. The public, cheap one would probably be as slow as my current , and probably future experience. A degraded and sluggish taste of something , well not real, but almost so. Kind of like mp3s or music in paddocks (aka rock festivals) or online porn . Perhaps it’ll get people out of the house a bit more when they reject it? Somehow I doubt it. I mean look at football fans, they’ll take anything from the AFL and their clubs. And still they come back for more....

I digress. The talk about music in the rock n roll area is full of dashed dreamers and greatness the public ignored. Its a thing that started happening in the late seventies when another narrative of music was cooked up, a second rail that ran alongside the publicly recognzed one. This one had the Velvet Underground and the Stooges as the marquee acts. Many others have been added to the list since. The ones who were wronged by the times. Instead of the main travelled roads there had been these other, more authentic side roads that had been opened up. And they were more true in their orientation as regarding both the past and the future than that main highway. It was a very beguiling and convincing story.
It was just a story of timing. Those acts still cut through. They just went off later is all. It happened to the French poets of the 1880s- the bomb dropped in the States in the late 40s with the Beats. People are still digging up a few sad zombies here and there. For the most part, everything was released and broadcast up to about 1974 . In My humble opinion! People are zombie hunting because it makes it easier to stomach the fact that the general public doesn’t know about their act who are operating currently. If greatness could be ignored then it could be being missed right now! A comforting thought. It helps to ease the pain I guess. And it helps to stop even trying to push yourself through. Don’t fall for it! Its a scam!



Look out for us in Launceston and Hobart April 23 and 24- Adelaide May 8th and 9th at the Wheatsheaf and my new show "MC BITS- songs that destroyed" at the Butterfly club may 14th and 15th.

Friday, April 9, 2010

"Kind of Blue, the making of the Miles Davis masterpiece" by Ashley Kahn

This is a review of a book that was published in the Age a long while ago....

Miles Davis. He was bad. He was terrible. People want to be down with him even now. Even though he ain't here anymore. People just want to be near him, for him to maybe notice them. His recorded output is so vast you could spend the rest of your life just digging into the surface of it. They call him "Miles' like they know him and his work intimately .Just saying that makes them feel cool.
This is the story behind and around a recording made by Miles Davis' sextet in 1959. It is billed as the best selling album in Miles' catalogue and the best selling classic jazz album ever. The story of the group itself is enough for a book. Each member was well on the on the road to becoming a superstar and Miles was only able to hold them together for a few months. Bill Evans (and Wynton Kelly) on piano, John Coltrane tenor sax, Cannonball Adderley on alto sax, Jimmy Cobb on drums and Paul Chambers on bass.Miles himself had already been on the scene since playing with Charlie Parker in the mid 40's bebop scene and releasing "the birth of the cool" in 1950. He was 32 when "Kind of blue" was recorded and was already making what some people saw as a "comeback". His image was , and still is, diamond hard and brilliant black.
The book is also a glimpse into a lost world. The American recording business of the last half of the 20th century. The recording itself took two sessions , each lasting three and a half hours. The studio was owned by Columbia records and was situated in an abandoned Greek orthodox church that measured 100 feet by 100 feet. The ceilings were extremely high and the control room was set up in the church's balcony. Seven microphones were suspended high in the room (two being close to the drums) , the object being to record the sound in the room and the musicians being expected to regulate the volume of their own playing. The president of Columbia could read a musical score, was a composer himself , frequently worked in the control booth and had a policy of only hiring people for top positions who were musicians or had been musically trained. Artists were expected to release three albums every year. There was also no distinction made between jazz records and pop records and all releases were given the same promotional treatment! What sort of insanity was at work here?
"Kind of Blue" was an immediate best seller and Miles went on to turn the musical world on its head a couple more times. Coltrane recorded "Giant Steps" months after this session and Bill Evans also released his second album , "everybody digs Bill Evans" in the same year. The book is full of brilliant detail and fills in the background and foreground of the music scene at the time so the event of the albums release in 1959 is not seen in isolation . ( The soundtrack to "My Fair Lady" sold 5,000,000 copies for Columbia in 1957 and Ornette Coleman was just stirring the pot with the beginnings of "free jazz" as the album was coming out.) "Kind of Blue" has never been out of print and an employee at Tower Records flagship store in Manhattan (which probably doesn't exist in 2010) is quoted as saying the it is their "best selling catalogue album period. Better than any record by the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, anybody".By 1984 it had sold 500,000 copies in the US. After that, with the advent of the cd and the relentless record company repackaging of their back catalogues, it really took off, selling 5,000,000 by the end of 2000 (when this book was written) .

In a way, it is strange to read a story of those far off days when music was modern. "Kind of Blue" went into record stores where there was no "retro" section and to radio stations that eagerly awaited new releases. There were few "classics" and the live audience was sophisticated and hip to the idea of hearing something totally unexpected. ( Modern hip hop is the only comparable scene) . You feel you are being suckered into another reissued cul de sac. Then you play the album again and wonder at the convergence of ambition and energy that led all those great players together on those two sessions. Thats the beauty of recorded music. It really is a glimpse into a simultaneous dimension.

malcolm maclaren

It was quite a shock to hear of Malcolm Maclarens death. He was always so rude I imagined that rudeness to extend to his health. As they say. I never knew him of course. Just his public face. That was not exactly loveable He was pretty brilliant as a character. And in the story of the Sex Pistols, that was an amazing cast of characters. Resonant and powerful and capable of bending and twisting time and its perception so old things became new and new became old. The Sex Pistols made everything seem old all of a  sudden but at the same time brought out adjectives like “Dickensian” in regard to the look and deportment of the main players . There you had the 19th and 20th centuries in harmony all of a  sudden. Before them it was all just a bit sad and faded denim- like as rock music started to slow down to check itself out in the shop windows all the time. The first seasons of nostalgia. Maclaren was there when the brilliant flash of punk happened.

His greatest role as an irritant was what gave punk its mad spark which still carries a  charge today. 
To all the cries of “its a   scam!” and “its a  fake” he rudely agreed and put more kero on the kindling. No one could ever get teary and sad about punk while he was standing near the grave site, selling t shirts. He stamped it with that great duality that it was probably all a  load of bullshit and flammery as well as being an amazing moment of illumination. Thats what made it so great! Punk Dies!

He kept saying he made the band up and hinted he wrote some of the songs. He seemed to try to claim Sid - up to the point of the MURDER and SUICIDE. Parts of the story were all too real and uncontrollable. He tried to control some of the story. it all got so out of hand though. 

The other players in the story rebelled and walked out of the theatre. Their story was told thrillingly in the Julien Temple film “The filth and the fury”. Malcolms presence in that story was a figure in a  complete body and head bondage gimp outfit. 

Julien Temple had also, with Malcolm, painted his very different side of the story in the earlier film , “the great rock’n’roll swindle”. 

So many contradictions. 

Others have pointed out the effect on Johnny of an intelligent, cultured older mans attention and the encouragement he must have given them all. Young, inarticulate, poor, thieving, skiving, powerless dudes. Perhaps he resonated them first? I mean he was the first audient? The believer? And then he turned from Johnny to his friend Sid and tried to work a new smudged area into the picture himself! And claim it all as his own work! The story will go on forever. 

I have a  dvd of  a “rock n roll revival “ concert from London in the early 70s. In the crowd scenes you see Malcolm and Vivienne selling t shirts outside the arena. 

He practiced his dark arts on the New York Dolls. And fumbled it (Red leather with hammer and sickle flags) and ruined them. 

Some say he saw Richard Hell in a  torn t shirt and stole a generation. 

He crushed Adam Ant and took his band to make Bow Wow Wow. They were great too. So was Adam when he picked himself up again. 

Later he tried Opera and hip hop and square dancing and a film about the great shops along Oxford street

What could you compare him to? Suge Knight? L Ron Hubbard? Gourdjieff? Ouspensky , Master P? Franz Mesmer? Colonel Tom Parker? Dick Clark? John Dee? Alan Freed? Lee Gordon? Don Lane? Graham Kennedy?

Like I said, I did not know the man and I am no expert. 

He is to be buried in Highgate cemetary, near where he was apparently born. Thats real.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

blb playlist 06/04/10

BLB is a show I do every Tuesday on RRR in Melbourne from midday to 2pm with Elizabeth McCarthy.
I was flying solo again and we had no guests so it was all music this week
.

ode to Billy Joe” - instrumental version of this Bobbie Gentry classic by the late Clarence White (the Byrds) on guitar. A string bending telecaster toned wonder.
kneel down at the altar of pop”- Kim Salmon and the Surrealists from the new album “grand unifying theory” out just now on Low Transit Industries.
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”- a 1965 instrumental. Two acoustic guitars played by Bert Jansch and John Renbourn.
MISSISSIPPI”- Bobby Gentry.
Yesterday”- Ruth Brown. Fulfilling our Beatles quota for the week.
Light My Fire”- Julie Driscoll and Brian Augur.
looking through a window”- Wendy Saddington.
I think its gonna rain today”- Dusty Springfield interpreting this Randy Newman CLASSIC.
Harper Valley PTA”- Jeannie C Riley.

I explained that I had had to put all my vinyl in a new cabinet and had been inspired to bring some to the studio.

I busted out some more contemporary stuff...

Old Money”- from an ep by the Hungry Kids of Hungary.
In my fortress”- Lilith Lane. New single from this Melbourne singer.
The hangover”- the Bedroom philosopher. Very funny and very groovy single from this Melbourne cat.

Back to the vinyl for...
Nights On Broadway”- Candi Staton ran through this Bee Gees hit.

Cosmic caveman” - Snog. A track from their “Last of the great romantics” which is out NOW on Hymen records.

Albatross” - Fleetwood Mac. Elizabeth McCarthy loves Fleetwood mac , but only the Stevie and whatsisname years. Some sort of joke I am sure......
you and your sister”- Chris Bell. From the “I am the cosmos” collection. this song features his old bandmate from from Big Star, the late Alex Chilton.
Willie Mae and laura Jones”- Nancy Wilson.
I made you that way”- Nancy Wilson.
mesmerized”- Faith Evans.
my mind”- Jimi Tenor from his album, “Organism”.
It was then or never” - Dave Graney! From “Knock Yourself Out”.
Let it come down”- Mose Allison, from the new album by this 83 year old jazz songwriter.
Fresh Garbage”- Spirit.
see what a love can do” - Grin - featuring Nils Lofgren.
water down”- Native Cats- Tasmanian duo featuring Peter Escott who is suddenly appearing in Melbourne as a comedian!
Funky but chic” - David Johansen from his debut album in 1978.

Monday, April 5, 2010

the tinny halls of state politics

This was published in the current issue of the ADELAIDE REVIEW...

I read in the paper that there was discomfort in the halls of the SA government , not only in the chaffing and discomfort of the premiers raging suit pants but also in regard to the bike race with Lance Armstrong. One of those things silly where the fellow is paid so much more to just turn up than the events prize money pays out. Isn’t it funny how those sorts of things are just accepted as “thats how it is since 9/11” or something along those lines. Victoria paid Tiger Woods six million or so to play here. They are desperate to throw the same amount of cash at him again. Even with his tumescent shame in his hands Sydney paid , perhaps, just as much to Brian Eno for their Luminous festival. Personally I think spending on the arts is more preferable. Not just high end arts though as they soon become just more bread and circuses , just like the bikes and the cars. The thing that was reported about the Tour Down under bike race was Mike Rann saying sagely that they couldn’t divulge exactly how much they paid as their competitors could outbid them. Isn‘t that lame! Its like sitting in a room with two lawyers arguing, and you’re paying. They use that arch, hyped language of steroid powered manners and mock , panto outrage . You want to laugh but the meter is ticking over and its connected to your bank account.
So the competitor is Victoria. Thats it.John Brumby here in Melbourne uses the same tactic to keep the enormous black hole that is the Victorian (formerly Adelaide) Grand Prix out of any public discussion. Jeff Kennett , the former Premier seemed to invent the term they bandy about. “Commercial in confidence”. It is such bad language it must be a derivative of a latin phrase. Nobody has ever asked, thats how docile the press is. Brumby can’t divulge how much they pay for the right to stage the Grand Prix ( let alone how much it actually loses every year) as Victorias “competitors” might outbid them. The competitor is South Australia.
State Governments don’t seem to have much to do. Its a problem. The Melbourne music scene has been feeling the hand of the law in recent months. The large nightclubs in the city have been the alleged cause of violence in the streets. Previously the violence had been more in the suburbs I guess. Its more exposed now. (The influence and power of CCTV footage) So they have been wielding the , until now, rarely enforced powers of the Liquor Licensing regulations to bring some law and order to the streets. Trouble is the big night clubs (up to 1500-2000 patrons) of King and Queen and Prince streets are dark during working hours and the agents started to walk into the little pubs off the other streets. They were being fined for not displaying responsible serving of alcohol certificates and forced to install cameras and two security guards after certain hours. These were pubs with toothless geezers playing banjos on Sunday or hosting live music to 20 or 30 people during the week, The result was the closure of the Tote Hotel which had been an institution for more than 30 years in Collingwood. The state government was unyielding in its stiff upper lip and “would not resile” from its tough stance. All designed to impress voters for the Liberal party in the outer suburbs .Social networks went crazy and 2000 usually quite apathetic people turned up at the corner of Wellington and Johnston streets, Collingwood, where the Tote was, to protest. Quite an amazing and spontaneous event. the next day, a Monday, 26 acts played all day on the very last day the pub opened. the money went to pay off legal fees the pub had incurred fighting the Liquor Licensing commission. The government still played it tough and l kept referring to the particular circumstances of the Tote while all the protesters , well most of them, pointed out their concerns were for the whole live music scene in general. Basically, there is no violence in these venues. And they are some of the few public spaces where a woman can go alone, to see and hear some music being played without being bothered by men presuming she is in a singles bar. The scene is very delicately poised.
Even Eddie Maguire , who hosts a morning show on MMM here, got onto the theme and perhaps it was him who got through to Brumby that it was a live issue in an election year.
Mostly, it has been a series of events that has exposed , for me, how out of touch politicians rare in general. I might have had that as a default opinion before, but hearing them talk about a world that I am a part of, I KNOW they are talking rubbish . From out of their boots. They don’t know anything about the world at street level and they are interfering in it. Music is not just a youth thing anymore is something that should be understood. And filling giant arenas with people to hear Pink or Fleetwood Mac is not really indicative of a healthy music scene. Also, law and order and is okay for the suburbs but a city needs less regulation so things can happen spontaneously . Tidy town awards are for tidy towns where theres nothing much else to do except sweep up the leaves.

Basically I think the whole music scene has been doing fine with no government involvement and they should just leave off. Of course, if they wanted to they could tell Australian commercial radio to play Australian music. That could help.

One of the government suggestions had been that no security was needed before 10pm. At some point I said that it could all be side-stepped if the venues had gigs EARLIER. It was an idea that was not taken seriously at all. Mocked in fact, mainly by people who I rarely see at any shows at all. Not a single musician I spoke to thinks it to be a bad idea to have shows starting after work or in the evening. then people could catch up with each other and chat , rather than being thrown out of the venue immediately.
The coalition of forces that came together for the march was very very good and impressive. As a political movement it could not possibly hold as, for instance, the musicians needs are not always the same as the venue operators. For instance, if security guards are automatically paid on an hourly rate, and without question, why not the musicians?
The march is over, a petition with more than 20,000 signatures is going to be going around several more festivals and events before being tabled in parliament in March. I was told that events are now out of the question at the Sidney Myer Music bowl as LLC has demanded so much security at the site. No promoter can afford it!
Basically, get the politicians away from a cultural area that works very well without their input. Leave them to cultivate bread and circus events they can manage. The venues do not need to be made safe for people who never go to them.

The government is facing an election and this issue has been massaged out of the main frame until then. The Liquor Licensing commissioner finishes up in April. What’ll happen then, nobody knows. The agents are still going around, visiting some clubs two or three times a night. Its another one of those things where the protesters are dismissed, as John Howard was fond of doing as “the usual suspects” or “rent a crowd”. I have a friend who wishes music would go underground and become a clandestine , secret affair. Perhaps it’ll have to. These politicians have no idea on which way to jump. Surrounded by smart guys who poll the wind and the trees, they appear on tv and radio all day, talking about nothing . They have transport, hospitals, bread and circuses to run. The feds want to take over one of them, that leaves the trams and the Casino and the Grand Prix.
Right now, its all highly illogical. Law and order, always a popular electoral truck to roll over everything in sight.
Not much can really obscure how lame and mediocre state politics is though. And we have two house of it in most states.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

playin' the guitars

This is in the current -AUTUMN- issue of Australian Musician magazine which is available at all musical instrument shops in Australia .


Guitars. Great to play, silly when everybody in the room, including the player, has fluorescent earplugs in. I was skipping rope yesterday with the door open, listening to John McClaughlin. He has a great sound on this CTI record from the early 70s. He has great fingers and tone. I’ve heard him do some horrible stuff but guys like him make the world of music go around by going off every now and again for a piss and a look around. They risk looking and sounding stupid but every now and again they come back to base camp with some amazing stuff they had to travel into some goofy places to find.
He does a track on a Mahavishnu Orchestra album (“the inner mounting flame”) called “you know you know”. Its such a great groove in a strange time signature that Massive Attack sampled it. Every now and again John comes in with this incredibly violent , intrusive chord that blows the speaker with its atonal notes and the crudeness of the sound. never fails to thrill me.
I also love that late sixties sound that you hear on early Jefferson Airplane or Country Joe and the Fish albums. Something about the semi acoustic guitars that those guys ( Jorma Kaukonen and Barry Melton) played, or maybe it was their skills that they all learned on folk tunes before getting amped up or maybe it was the big amps they were playing . Perhaps the mics were way at the back of the room and the sound was aloud to swell out properly rather than a mic being shoved right up next to the speaker, where no human ear has ever been. Jerry Garcia had such a great tone in the Grateful Dead too, and he hated recording. (They gave up for a decade and just told their fans to tape them, providing a special platform at their gigs for the bootleggers).
One of my favourite sounds is The late John Cippolina from the Quicksilver Messenger Service. On their second album, they cut a live set as their singer was in gaol on a pot charge. Its a great twin guitar freakout album called “Happy Trials” with one of the most perfect Psychedelic inversions of a wild western Frederick Remington painting on the cover. The tone of his guitar is amazing. Much of it is to do with his freaked out , souped up amp which is in the Rock’n’roll hall of Fame. His guitar was a Gibson SG. Two leads came ot of it. One pickup fed two small Fenders, also connected to some car air horns and the lower bridge pickup went to a giant bass speaker. That generation built their own sound.

Now I love to listen to players with flash and tone. Matt Walker is so great to see do any kind of gig. His skills as a writer and a singer put most to shame but I love it when he steps out on his semi acoustic and whomps a filthy boogie for ten minutes or so. His harmonica skills make me feel bad for bagging anyone for wheezing into those contraptions. In my band, the Lurid Yellow Mist, Stu Perera comes from that ill attended school, Guns ‘n’ George Benson. Danny Rumour from the Cruel Sea had such a great touch and his own aesthetic from surf and reggae players. He has an aura. Mike Rudd from Ariel/ Spectrum has the chops and a great voice. Its great to hear players who’ve been running up that fretboard for decades. I did some gigs with Glenn Campbell and he would just continually step off and blaze with this country picking sound and all these mad jazz octaving flourishes. He’d get all lost as he tried to find a new way from a verse to a bridge and out to a chorus and the look of mad delight on his face was great. It was one of those lessons that you never get to the end of some music.


Now with this festival season there is gonna be another visit by Jeff Beck. I saw him last year and he is a master of tone and whammy and evil touch. Not a pedal or even a tuner on the stage and he beat that guitar around. Bill Frisell at the jazz festival this year was a session with a master as well.Both Beck and Frisell did “a day in the life” from those four plucky proletarians from Liverpool and almost made me like them, for about five minutes. Songs by those mopetops are great when put through the six strings of an adept. Check out George Bensons “other side of abbey road”). People of all schools turned out to see Ry Cooder and Nick Lowe recently . Those guys are not on any real operating radar system but they pulled people into the Palais in Melbourne and from all reports delivered what the people had come for, and more.

Buddy Guy is gonna be around too , he knows how to destroy a guitar! And then Chris Spedding who had the skills of wearing a leather suit, slick back hair and Flying V straight into his amp. (He was with Bryan Ferry for the “in your mind “ period). He’s playing , again, with rockabilly man Robert Gordon.

James Williamson
is back from beyond, if only on Youtube, with his trademark Les Paul violence with Iggy and the Stooges. He’s mean!

Theres also gonna be a visit from them Crooked Vultures and Josh Homme is, like Matt Walker, a master at many skills. He can turn on a dime.
Then theres gonna be a new album from Kim Salmon and the Surrealists. I’ve heard them play it live and its a guitar freakout album that I’m expecting in 2010. The Surrealists are unfinished business for Kim and he’ll be bringin the noise and the pain.

So if music is too confusing and everything is too available, too unlimited,perhaps you could just focus on one aspect. A tiny aperture. Perhaps just one instrument, and then whole different worlds can open up.

http://www.johncipollina.com/rockAmpStack.htm

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