Sunday, 17 May 2015

Live Review: The Queenscliff Blues Train 16 May 2015

The Blues Train Engine
I've been meaning to get to the Queenscliff Blues Train for a little while now and yesterday I finally got around to taking the 2 hour drive from Melbourne to check it out.
I had seen/heard 2 out of the 4 Artists on the line up (Jimi Hocking and Andrea Marr) so I knew I was going to enjoy at least half of the acts that were playing, but I was hoping that I would learn some new names that I could also look out for around town.

Once again I needn't have worried as my (high) expectations were met in spades. I started off in carriage D which is known as the dancing carriage seeing as there is no seating. As the train took off for the journey Andrea Marr and her band kicked things off with their brand of funky soulful blues sou
nds which had the small Carriage D crowd shaking their booty's to the tunes. A pocket rocket who's sassy vocal stylings were are perfectly suited to what is expected of Carriage D riders. Special mention has to be made of the guitarist in the band (who's name I can't remember) who despite his amplifier playing up and cutting out halfway through a guitar solo managed to keep his cool get it sorted and then continue playing.
Andrea Marr

After the 1st stop and the opportunity to top up my drinks bucket it was onto carriage A where Brian Fraser and Wayne Jury were playing. After the boogie worthy performance that Andrea Marr delivered on Carriage D it was good to have the opportunity to just sit back and enjoy the music. Performing a mix of well known Blues classics as well as some slightly lesser known numbers intermingled with some originals it was an absolute treat to see these guys up close in such an intimate setting. Being a big fan of the slide and resonator guitar sounds I was on cloud 9 watching these guys do their thing. The interplay between them was just brilliant and Wayne's singing was perfectly suited to the what they were delivering. As the train came to it's 2nd stop for the night I heard someone comment that it would have been worth the price of the ticket for Brian and Wanyne's performance alone and I couldn't agree more.

John McNamara
Onto carriage B to catch John McNamara another name I had not heard of before. John was the 2nd of the 4 performers on the night that I had not heard of before and once again I was keen to find out what he was all about. Performing solo with one acoustic guitar and a couple of effects pedals I was completely blown away by John's playing and singing. As everyone was boarding and taking their seats I was watching John noodling away and thought to my
self "this is definitely going to be good."
Just before the train took off again we were advised that for this part of the journey it was recommended we all remain seated as it's mostly a downhill ride and the train picks up quite a bit speed as it's travelling. Unfortunately not everyone heeded this advice and one woman who decided to stand up in the tiny empty space in front of John ended up losing her balance and falling on him and almost knocking him off his feet also. After picking herself up with a little assistance from security John managed to carry on unfazed (how's that for professionalism?). Highlights of this performance would have to have been his version of the Etta James classic Damn Your Eyes. I couldn't help but grab a copy of his CD as the train once again came to it's final stop for the night before the end of the ride.

Onto carriage C to catch the inimitable Jimi Hocking and his Blues Machine...
Jimi Hocking
Well what can I possibly say about Jimi that has not been said before? A veteran of the Australian music scene sinc
e the 80's a Jimi Hocking performance is something that is guaranteed to be entertaining. With a sense of humour to match the best stand up comedian and nimble fingers that are enough to make any budding guitarist seriously think twice about pursuing their chosen profession, Jimi is the ultimate rock 'n' roll nice guy. Quite simply if you are a fan of rock music and a fan of the blues and you have never caught a Jimi Hocking show then you are doing yourself a disservice and should waste no time in catching one of his gigs around town.
Overall the night has got to go down as one the highlights of my 2015 gig going experiences and there have been many already!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Thank You's

Of course each and every person on staff at PBS has been great to deal with and have helped me in some way shape or form. However some of those people I deal much more regularly with so... in no particular order these are the people I have had the most frequent interaction with and who have helped me get a regular slot on the grid, helped me keep it for the last 6 months, helped in the production of the show and just been generally available to answer questions etc

• Owen McKern and Steve Passiouras for championing the Connections show idea

• Chelsea Wilson, Amy Chapman and Bethany Atkinson-Quinton for many and various things including but not limited to: allocating music for the show, booking interviews, helping with general music library stuff

• Mara Williams for helping out with studio bookings to record interviews and many and varied other things also

• Kylie Auldist (yet again) for keeping true to her word and signing up as a performer member

• My Co-Host/partner in crime Sasha Brookes who once told me he had no intention of ever hosting a radio show. Thanks for all your hard work in promoting the show, producing the show, for your tolerance (I probably would have snapped me out by now) and too many other things to mention.

I could probably go on and on with plenty more names but I won’t and will leave it at that. Feel free to get in contact via or tune in on alternate Mondays @ 2am to listen to the show and get in contact with us then.

There might or might not be future blog posts, only time will tell. So in the immortal words of Bugs Bunny...

Highlights and Footlights

The last 6 months or so have been a wild ride and a hell of a lot of fun. It’s been a lot of work and a lot of hours have gone into producing the 13 episodes of the show so far (and the making of this blog also!) but it’s been worth it. Being involved with PBS has afforded me the opportunity to meet and work with some great people. It’s also opened up doors to other opportunities with much greater ease than otherwise would have been possible.
Of course as with anything there’s ups and downs. Admittedly the downs really have not been very down and the ups have been fantastically up. There’s been laugh out loud moments, whoopsy moments, OH SHIT! moments and downright strange moments some of which I’ll try to now tell you about.


• Getting to interview Chris Robinson, Michael Franti & Jeff Martin.

• Chris Robinson was the 1st interview I did with a well known international artist. Add to that the fact that the debut album from The Black Crowes is still one of my most favouritest Blues Rock albums and you can understand why this experience rates as such a highlight. Picking up the telephone and hearing a voice on the other end that I had previously only heard coming through the speakers of my Hi-Fi system was surreal to say the least.

• Receiving a phone call from someone 5 minutes into the 1st episode to say "congratulations on getting your own show" was pretty cool for a multitude of reasons.

• We've all heard the term "They only come out at night" but it wasn't until I started doing an insomnia shift show that I fully came to realise why this saying exists. In the wee small hours of the morning you have all types of people calling up. One of my personal favourite calls was from somebody asking me to track down a particular album for him so that I could play it on air. In and of itself this is not necessarily a strange request. The strange part was that this person wanted me to email or call him to let him know once i've tracked it down and when I would be playing it so that he could record it!

• Just before starting up the regular fortnightly show that is Connections I did a fill in for Wendy on the Metal Genesis show & received the following SMS

• In the same week that i filled in on the Metal Genesis show I also filled in for Matt Frederick on a Sunday afternoon for The Juke Joint. Now this show has a large number of regular listeners and when I was planning the show I thought rather than clone what the show is usually like I'd try something different. Well there were quite a number of people that liked it but there were also quite a number that were not happy that I would be so bold as to try to do anything different to what they are used to hearing on their beloved Juke Joint radio show and were not afraid to let me know. In the space of roughly 10 minutes during the show I received 4 text messages and 2 phone calls. Each call and SMS alternated between telling me how they were enjoying hearing something different and telling me in no uncertain terms that I should never fill in for the show again. Oh well, you can't please everyone!

• Getting the opportunity to DJ at the Sunday Soul Sessions at the Retreat hotel in Brunswick


• The one "oh shit!" moment came the day that Sasha and I had planned to show our performer member Kylie Auldist some love by playing some of her tunes. As always I thought I'd get some shut eye before heading into the station to do the show. I set my alarm and turned off my phone and off to bed I went. When I woke up and saw the sun shining outside I knew something was up. The clock said 6:15am (15 minutes past the show finish time). After freaking out somewhat and realising I had set my alarm to 1pm as opposed to 1am I managed to get in contact with my good mate and co-host Sasha who assured me everything went well and not to worry. Lesson learned!!

• Forgetting to hit record until halfway through the Chris Robinson interview and only recording the
less interesting portion of the interview

• Leaving the studio to make a cup of tea and not realising we had not set the CD player to play continuously until after roughly 10 minutes of silence. eek!

Live Review: Women Of Soul Album Launch

                                                Women Of Soul @ Shadow Electric
                                                          Saturday 11 Apr 2015

Wowzers! Just... Wowzers! What can I possibly say about this night? I knew this was gonna be a good show but... goddam this was a GOOD show. This is not the 1st time I have been to a Women of Soul gig (and it will most certainly not be the last) . Each one I have attended has been no less than great but they really outdid themselves this time around.

For the uninitiated a Women Of Soul show is a revue style performance whereby each vocalist sings 2 or 3 songs backed by the same group of musicians. Christina Perfection of the Perfections kicked off proceedings and practically tore the roof off the venue with her banshee like vocal stylings. Once everyone was whipped into a frenzy after Christina’s performance you could be forgiven for thinking “how the hell is anyone else going to follow THAT?!” Well the great thing about a W.O.S. show is that each singer has their own distinct style which all tie in perfectly with each other so there’s no need for anyone to try to top or compete with the previous performer.

As with the Women Of Soul album the show was the perfect balance between funky and danceable numbers and heartbreaking ballads and it was great to see/hear these songs come to life in a live setting. Any attempt at pointing out highlights from the show would be an exercise in futility seeing as, with a production of this caliber, the whole show is a highlight. Each and every one of these singers is a great talent in their own right which is proven by the fact that they each lead their own bands.

It should also be mentioned that the band backing the singers on the night were seriously smoking. Made up of some of Melbourne’s finest they were one finely tuned machine playing the songs as if they had been playing them for years. 5 years on and things are only just getting started for Women Of Soul. Big things are afoot for these ladies catch them now while you can and before they start selling out major venues around town.

Live Review: Nyawlins Piano @ Huey Long’s

Performed by: Adam Rudegeair (Piano) & Daimon Brunton (Trumpet)

Ever wanted to know what the music would have sounded like in prohibition era New Orleans but don’t have a Delorian automobile with a flux capacitor? Well wonder no more, all you have to do is catch a gig by Adam & Daimon & you will very quickly be transported to back to this very era. 

The highest compliment I can pay these guys is that seeing them play once was not enough I had to catch multiple performances (3 in total from memory). From the very first tinkling of the ivories to the last note of the muted trumpet you can see that these guys have lived & breathed & studied this music & understand it as very few can. Throughout the two 45-ish minute sets performed you could almost imagine what it would have been like in the Storyville red light district saloons of the crescent city. Adam plays stride style piano (amongst other styles) on the resident upright piano like he was born to do it. 

The honky sound of this piano, it has to be said, lends itself perfectly to this style of music also. It would be difficult if not impossible to imagine Mozart/Beethoven/Chopin etc being played on this instrument. Further adding to the whole New Orleans feel & atmosphere was Daimon’s whooping, stomping, hollaring & thumping on the Bass drum sitting on top of the piano (which was later wrestled to the ground). Throughout the performance the small crowd in attendance were loving the performance. 

If you’re a fan of New Orleans style jazz check these guys out & while you’re there order yourself a Catfish Po’ Boy. I can assure you, you wont regret it.

Live Review: Roy Ayers @ Bennetts Lane

 Roy Ayers @ Bennetts Lane (3rd show) Monday 23 February

It had been a mighty long time since I last attended a gig at what is probably the best known Jazz venue in Melbourne, Bennetts Lane. I have always been a fan of Jazz even though I have never really actively sought out Jazz recordings or listened to Jazz on the radio. That has all changed recently and the more I hear of the genre the more I want to hear. So when the opportunity presented itself to see one of the modern Jazz greats in an intimate setting I jumped at the chance.

The crowd was lining up early to get prime position in the small club. Once inside and the band took the stage it did not take long to realise that we were going to be in for one hell of a show. To quote one Steve Wonder "Just because a record has a groove. Don't make it in the groove. But you can tell right away at letter A When the people start to move." And move they did!

The band were seriously in the pocket, to say they were tight would be a serious understatement. They played with the type of feel that only comes from years of playing and learning your instrument inside out. It was also vividly obvious just how much they were enjoying themselves which in turn seemed to infect the whole crowd. The music ranged from the smoothly sublime to the downright funky and even though my personal taste is more towards the funky scale I loved every second of this show. There was a strange “Danoz Direct” type segment during the middle of the show which was somewhat cringeworthy but thankfully that did not last long and the band were soon back to playing at their white hot best.

Special mention has to be made of the rhythm section who I feel stole the show. The drumming especially was just crazy good. At the end of the night I left the venue smiling from ear to ear as I'm sure just about everybody else did also. The only thing left to say is if you are a jazz music fan you don't know the name Roy Ayers then learn it!! In the meantime I'm off to track down his back catalog.

Live Review: Zevon and The Werewolves of Melbourne

Zevon & The Werewolves Of Melbourne live @ Yah Yah's

2nd January 2015 

I had been looking forward to catching a show from this band for a short while now and even more so after catching a live set from them on the radio (which can be heard here.)

Once Zevon & his Werewolves took to the stage the energy in the room lifted to a whole other level. Each and every one of the players in the band are seasoned veterans of the Melbourne music scene so I was expecting alot from their set. Needless to say

Zevon & The Werewolves of Melbourne
they did not let me down. Kicking proceedings off with the Freddie King classic Big Legged Woman. Zevon's guitar work blew me away, he knows how to strike the perfect balance between flair and playing for the song which is not an easy thing to do. Also showing that he's not only a great player but a great showman as well his command of the stage was fantastic cracking jokes throughout the set while encouraging the crowd to get into the tunes. Perhaps my favourite "stage move" of the night (which although is nothing new still works perfectly) was the use of a beer glass as a slide towards the end of the show. Their high octane brand of Bluesy Rock 'n' Roll is right up my alley and something that I will be looking forward to seeing again. Once again my faith in the Blues has been restored and I can't wait for the next show.

Album Review: Flame - Queen Of The Neighbourhood

Artist: Flame

Release: Queen Of The Neighbourhood

Style: Blues Rock

Well hot diggity damn! how did this one escape my notice until now? This is about as Rock n Roll as Rock n Roll music gets, it's 70's Rock n Roll the way it should be played. If you like your music loud and guitar driven with a definite blues flavour (which I most definitely do) then this release will be right up your alley.
Flame is a band that could've, would've, should've been the successors to the 70's Rock throne held by bands like Aerosmith, Alice Cooper and Kiss before them. Unfortunately it was not to be for whatever reason and the band broke up after only 2 albums (Singer Marge Raymond says "Flame would have been a huge band if not for all the BS behind the scenes that had nothing to do with the band"). Time seems to have forgotten all about these guys which is a downright shame because the 2 albums that they did release in the late 70's are nothing short of brilliant. Produced by Jack Douglas who worked extensively with Aerosmith in the 70's and featuring Jimmy Crespo on Guitar (who would later go on to join Aerosmith) their debut album is a statement that this band can stand toe to toe with any other headline act of their time and easily hold their own. In fact given the state of the
aforementioned bands in the late 70's I'm sure Flame would have blown them off the stage.
Jumping out of the starting gates with the galloping shuffle that is Beg Me this is an album that immediately grabs you by the scruff of the neck and demands you pay attention. Marge Raymond with her husky, gravelly, whisky soaked voice and an attitude reminiscent of Suzi Quatro and Janis Joplin delivers these songs in a manner that shows she knows what Rock n Roll is all about. She is certainly no amateur and in fact is quite possibly the quintessential female Rock n Roll vocalist. Never reissued in any form these albums are just screaming for the deluxe reissue treatment, preferably with an extra disc consisting of the recordings Marge did post the break up of Flame with Jimmy Crespo and Joey Kramer of Aerosmith, if someone knows how to make this happen then you
would have one very happy radio show host.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Album Review: Women Of Soul

Artist: Women Of Soul (Various)

Release: Women Of Soul

Style: Soul

OK so this is by no means a new discovery and it’s been reviewed by others before me but this album will almost certainly be in my top 5 2015 releases at the end of the year so…
I had been eagerly awaiting this release since I heard about the project in late 2014. I have heard each of these singers previously doing their own thing and so I knew roughly what to expect but hot damn these tunes are catchy! The album starts off with the Candice Monique tear jerker “Beautifully Broken Heart” who up until very recently I was not overly sold on. I’ll now say I am not only sold but am left wondering how I could have previously thought she was anything other than awesome.  The 1st half of the album continues along the same lines with mellow tunes delivered with some serious soul that will have you swaying to the groove the deliver. Sassiness is the name of the game for the 2nd half of the album delivered in inimitable style by Christina Perfection, May Johnston & Rita Satch that will get you up out of your chair and dancing around the house while singing into a hair brush (or whatever else is at at hand). This is a great collection of tunes from some of Melbourne’s finest female singers and hopefully this is just the 1st of many more to come. Credit also has to be given to the band backing the singers who are top notch and without who this album would most definitely not have been of the calibre it is. Once again what I am essentially getting at is that if you don’t have this album in your collection already then you should waste no time in getting it. 

Preview 2 songs from the album and purchase it from: