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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Current album Dave Graney and the mistLY LYVE AT BYRDS. Two albums in 2020, "Dave Graney and Clare Moore In Concert with Robin Casinader" and "Dave Graney and Clare Moore with Georgio "the dove" Valentino and Malcolm Ross". Two albums in 2019. ONE MILLION YEARS DC by Dave Graney and Clare Moore and ZIPPA DEEDOO WHAT IS/WAS THAT/THIS? from Dave Graney and the mistLY. 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 Dickey Betts, John Cippolina or Grant Green - but not in this lifetime, I know.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Generations - Mic Conway . Where Did ALL The Freaks Go?

 

I did a few narrative style shows at the Butterfly Club in the early 2000s. 

It’s a small theatre showroom that used to inhabit a Victorian house in South Melbourne and has now flown into town where it has landed inside a narrow four storey building that fronts onto Collins street between Swanston and Elizabeth. Incredibly, the rent is cheaper in the new address!

There are several bars across several levels. A bit of a carnival fantasy world, all sense of direction is lost as soon as you enter the building, (through an alleyway off of Little Collins street). The building is full of all sorts of bric a brac – books and stuffed animals and old 78 record players as well as board games and posters of everybody from Schwarzenegger to George V.  A great joint. (The owners transported  a lot the items to the new location via the tram that goes straight down Clarendon street into Collins street in the city) 

My third show (Early Folk. It folllowed POINT BLANK and LIVE IN HELL) was an experiment in early opening. A 6pm start and I was greatly heartened by the public’s appreciation of the idea. Big, sophisticated cities need early entertainment options! Screw all that dumb diehard rock’n’roll bullshit! Go to a show and then walk outside at 8pm to decide what to do next! A game of squash? Why Sure?! A sauna? Yes please! Dinner and a late movie? Do it!


The club is still a bit of a secret to people who tread the familiar paths to established venues which operate at regular times. (Not that the club closes early- it has several different shows most nights and loves any kind  late night loosening of people minds)  I mean to say its hard to find out about it and what goes on in there. During my run there I espied a performer of interest to me who was coming down from Sydney to do a rare Melbourne show. It was Mic Conway who, decades ago , entered the straying public consciousness as the long haired but deep voiced singer of The Captain matchbox Whoopee Band. A true troupe of freakish brothers from the wilder depths and shores of underground Melbourne music and performance. they crossed boundaries and all manner of manners as to what an act could be doing and saying. Not that I ever saw them perform- just a mere glimpse of them destroying the joint that was the tv show COUNTDOWN one Sunday evening. Even then , they may have been past their prime, things moving much quicker in the world of entertainment in those days.  (By way of illustration, I heard the drummer of Metallica talking about Creams drummer Ginger Baker in a  film called “beware Mr Baker” and he said that Creams entire career lasted two months less than his bands last tour….) Luckily, I had seen them via an even earlier ABC show called GTK which transmitted their true freakdom to the bush and the far cities in a  very sensitive manner) 

 

So on the Sunday following my own season I sat down with Clare Moore to watch Mic do a show in the same room, on the other side of the footlights.

The Butterfly Club showroom fits roughly 80 people and is run like a small theatre. Very formal. An usher walks through the bars and lounges ringing a bell to signify the show is to start and people take their seats- no latecomers allowed!

Given the room is so small, many performers opt to work without a microphone at all- singing straight into the room. Even though its small, this can be very demanding on a performers pipes and they must choose the material carefully. Mic came out with his accompanist, Rob “daddy long legs” Long, on archtop electric guitar and began the show. He used no microphone. Mic used no mic-  just Mic!

His voice is a classic, rich and deep and sonorous. they began the show.

I once read a book about the legendary star Louise Brooks and she talked about how it was a shame no film ever really captured the comic genius of WC FIELDS because they didn’t show his whole body. She had worked with him a lot on the stage and said he was comic in the totality of his movement. His face and his voice were funny but the whole package was the best. He moved funny.

Mic Conway has this. His clothes are perfectly dusty and the collar all skew whiff and drunk. A cummerbund, a funny hat to begin. His side of the stage was like a shop and he kept diving into the pile of props and bags to bring out another marvel. We laughed from beginning to end. He does magic tricks and tells the corniest of gags and lays it all out, the show I mean, with the ease and timing of an absolute confidence man.

He played a parlour  sized steel guitar with Hawaiian dancers painted on the back and a ukulele. He put a harmonica rack around his neck which included a kazoo, several whistles, a couple of bird calls, and a jug as well as the harmonica. No turn was unstoned.

There were others in his generation, across many countries, who appeared in that counter cultural fog of the 60s and 70s. Tiny Tim and Robert Crumb to name a couple. They appeared among the freaks. People assumed they were put-ons or flim flam artists -  fakes. Time moved on and the freaky crowd settled down and these characters stayed the same. They were for real, that was the freakiest thing!

Robbie Long was the perfect accompanist, vamping on chords and licks as Mic pulled off elaborate sight gags and card tricks, pulled faces and joined in on the mad stories with yells and cries into the room. Absolutely magic entertainment skills. He played a  beautiful old archtop through a tiny Vox amp. Splendidly.

Mic drew on songs from Bing Crosby’s early repertoire “street of dreams” , Tom Lehrer “masochism tango” and Marlene Dietrich “illusions” as well as the beautifully sophisticated and bitter sweet “paper moon”. He played a song called “lets incorporate” and mentioned it was from “the last depression- nobody heard it then – I don’t know why- I’ve only ever liked stuff nobody knows about…” He touched on songs from his Matchbox past with “my canary has circles under his eyes”, explaining it was a song from the twenties when people gave marijuana to their pet birds! 

 

The whole show was a display of skills in every area. Then there was the innate charisma and persona of the performer. It has struck me several times, seeing a player in front of a crowd where they have a sense of him or her in their minds before a word is uttered or a note is played. The performer is already there, walking across their minds. He had us moving with him from the beginning.

Mic moved through all these songs and changes. Hats and clothes and props and tricks. His voice stayed constant. He has an easy smile and world weary, hooded eyes. A light, knowing touch on every note. No heavy trips here. Sometimes he looked like the oldest entertainer in vaudeville, other times, he was a timeless hero from the youth of the known world. He was there with all this stuff before AC/DC and before Cold Chisel. Probably playing in the same joints.  He seriously has the blues. I mean that as the highest compliment. He seemed surprised but delighted this hammy stuff still worked. He liked it!, nobody else was supposed to! He smiled easily, like Nick Cave, from a long way away. 

 

 

They ended with “I don’t want to set the world on fire” and he apologized for the lack of fire eating and flame throwing. Regulations forbid it in the venue. He didn’t need the hell here. He played the room in a supersized, classic, pre electric mode. If you ever see him posterized as to an upcoming visit- see him! 

 

 

https://micconway.com/

 

1 comment:

Wampy said...

I had the pleasure of seeing Mic and Captain Matchbox several times in the 70's. Sadly, I don't recall much of the experience.

Dave Graney and Clare Moore with Georgio "the dove" Valentino and Malcolm Ross

Dave Graney and Clare Moore with Robin Casinader - In Concert

ONE MILLION YEARS DC

Starts with a Kinksy groover sketching a 21st century populist tyrant who coasts in power on waves of public resentment at those on the lowest rungs of the ladder (He Was A Sore Winner). Sweeps across a sci fi terrain with nods to songs in the sand at the end of the world (Pop Ruins) and nods to the ties that bind in the underground communities (Comrade Of Pop and Where Did All The Freaks Go?). Songs about intense, long relationships, defunct technology that didn’t answer back, severe social status definition (I’m Not Just Any Nobody), people wandering through your mind as if it was a garage sale, the anxiety of the long running showman (wide open to the elements again) and ends with a song that’s “a little bit Merle Haggard and a little bit Samuel Beckett”. " Edith Grove! Powis Square! 56 Hope Road! Petrie Terrace!.. The Roxy! The Odeon! Apollo! Palais! Olympia! The Whisky! Detroit Grande!” Pop Ruins!"

ZIPPA DEEDOO WHAT IS/WAS THAT/THIS?

ZIPPA DEEDOO WHAT IS/WAS THAT/THIS? (The title comes from the chorus of “Song Of Life” ) is a classic rock’n’roll album. Classic if you lived through what has become known as ”the classic rock era” as it rolled out new and even broke onto the beachhead and morphed into punk. That’s the direction Dave Graney and Clare Moore have always been coming from. They have spent their lives schooled by and immersed in rock ‘n’ roll culture. Neither attended higher education and they dived in deep and kept swimming. From the Moodists through the Coral Snakes /White Buffaloes to the mistLY This is an album with their band, Dave Graney and the mistLY. Stuart Perera has played guitar with them since 1998 and Stu Thomas on bass since 2004. MARCH 2019 ZIPPA DEEDOO WHAT IS/WAS THAT/THIS? 2019 album out on Compact Disc - available here via mail order...
If you are from outside of Australia and wish to purchase a Compact Disc copy of ZIPPA DEEDOO WHAT IS/WAS THAT/THIS? please use this button (different postage)

LETS GET TIGHT

FEARFUL WIGGINGS

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

rock'n'roll is where I hide/- 2011 "vintage classics/ re recordings" on LIBERATION

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

Keepin' It Unreal-(2006)-minimalist/lyrical vibes,bass and 12 string set - digital or as CD

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

Heroic Blues- "folk soul" set from 2002-Availableas a digital album via BandCamp


UNAVAILABLE ! Completely sold out!

It is written,baby-book released 1997- available $10 via paypal