Castlemaine Jazz Festival 2015


By the time you read this, we should have an elected Committee for the 2015 Castlemaine Jazz Festival, with a number of volunteers from the last bash already putting their hand up to do it all again.

If you would like to be involved, and the authorities are prepared to let you out of the Institution for the weekend, we are looking at June 6th – June 7th – the Queen’s Birthday Weekend. Drop an e-mail to

The Umbrella Bar: A class act

This week, Anne Hayres will be singing, accompanied by Daniel Pickard (bass), meself (piano) and the Captain, on an assortment of saxaphones, clarinets and possibly bagpipes.

You may be thinking that Miss H is way too classy for a joint like this, and you may be right, but we are all looking forward to swinging the tits off her favourite toons and generally having a good time.

Which we undoubtedly did last week, when Angela Strickland vocalled up a storm in front of a smallish audience, and Jason weaved some wonderful lines on his tenor. Scarey good!

Anne Hayres at The Umbrella Bar: Friday Night Captain Chaos Sessions: 338 – 340 Glenhuntly Road, Friday 26th September, 7.30pm – 10pm,

Melbourne Sunday Jazz? Nah, Noisy, Footy in the street

Had Hortense got up and danced, as she has been known to do, the odd flamenco on a busted table in the corner, it could have hardly lowered the tone of the Sunday Arvo Ballad Manglers weekly get together, at least for the first hour or two: a succession of cacophonous solos (in saxaphone-speak apparently, that means not less than two of the little darlings competing for attention) followed by some ill-judged attempts at a few jazz standards, with the occasional vocalist thrown to the wolves to liven things up. All metaphorically of course.

A fine day for it, and of the 19 musos  who fronted, at least half were at some stage  standing outside, to avoid the noise and watch the street footy for a while. Apparently there is something in Carlton Daft that encourages grown men to run barefoot in the street, whilst rearranging panelwork with a dusty old Sherrin. But as evening drew near, and the cold forced us all back inside, there was no escaping the dreadful racket. It had not gotten any worse, only louder. By the time Bob and I left things had got a little better, but I am reliably informed they got much better after that, and the remnant crew had a fine old time to well past eight.

Apart from the usual idle banter, malicious gossip, gentle character assassination and occasional social lubricant, it was good to see Peter Cole blowing the rust out of his sax, Kevin crooning, Gerald, Chico and the lads having a dip, Doug Kuhn (wooden bass) reduced to exhaustion, and some lively singing from Cee Jay.

So, we will probably do it all again. Except  the Sherrin bit, a cricket ball is so much more effective. Summer is coming! Yay!


Sunday Arvo Jam Session, The Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood every Sunday, 4.00 until the Captain falls over.

The Sunday Jam Session: Don’t play You Are The Sunshine of My Life until you have checked the weather forecast.

If, as seems very unlikely, Will (guitar), Daniel (electric bass), Bob (piano), Gentleman John Curtis (piano), Paul Phillips and Spike Tiernan (drums), Colonel Taariq (everything),  Chico (guitar), Christine Manetta (vocals), Bruce (drums), Col (chaos), The Divine Miss Smith (vocals), Sonia (vocals, but in French), Chelly (vocals but not in French), Jason (saxaphone and hat), Nicholas (Chilean saxaphone), Tina (piano), Doug (double bass and haircut) all turned up to hear me play piano, they were mainly disappointed, as I hardly got a look in with that lot all playing.

Which was a good thing, because the standard of music they produced was remarkably high, and intermittently consistent…

With one glaring exception: an absolutely splendidly cocked up version of Stevie Wonder’s You are The Sunshine of My Life. People a good deal more sensible than the assembled jammers would have called it a day at about the third bar in, retired hurt, resorted to strong drink and sought medical advice.. Fortunately they persisted, and gave us a most memorable trainwreck. Sheer bliss from start to debacle, and the audience’s collective faith in humanity restored.

Nevertheless, if Jam Sessions were all about good music, this would have been one of the best.

Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Sunday Arvo Jam Session, The Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood every Sunday, 4.00 until the Captain falls over.

The Umbrella Bar: Angela Strickland tries to keep up…

After last weeks Full House (every table booked) for a swinging little night of Kay Young standards, Angela has a task ahead of her. She will be ably supported by Jason Chalmers (sax), Daniel Pickard (bass), Simon Atkinson (drums) and meself and Col trying to keep up.

The Umbrella Bar is getting an increasing number of regulars, and if you feel like a night of vocals ranging through standards, ballads, blues and pop, casual sax and chaos out the back, drop in .’twill all be fun…

Angela Strickland grooves The Umbrella Bar: Friday Night Captain Chaos Sessions: 338 – 340 Glenhuntly Road, Friday 19th September, 7.30pm – 10pm,

The Sunday Jam Session: Four and a Half

Bob and I arrived about half past four, to find Ivan and Andy Moon averaging four and a half strings per double bass, The Captain calling fours somewhere between four and five beats in, the Curtis deftly avoiding the drummers of lesser ilk, Spike, Monty and the Phillips all playing drums with panache, Chico really good on guitar, and Richard taking over the evening keys after four and a half pints. Or thereabouts.

The numbers were, as befits Fathers Day, somewhat down on recent weeks, but by the time Gerald stepped up to the piano, it was setting for a session of some musical deftness. No, Hortense, I said deftness… oh, never mind.

Had the Captain and Ali not sung, all would have been disturbingly good, but character must re-assert itself at some stage, and their vocal performances left the audience remarking on what fine saxaphone players they are. The impeccable Chris Le Bon showed them how it should be done – scatting The A Train in fine style.

I amused myself by booking everyone in sight for a session at the Umbrella Bar – other than singers who were entirely absent (see previous para).

A pleasant afternoon, made exceptional, I would think, by the complete absence of train wrecks. Yard Bird Suite was so good, someone asked for it again. Or maybe they didn’t recognise it the first time, and it wasn’t so good after all?

So, four and a half hours later, they all packed up and went home, suitably refreshed to face another week in the corporate saltmine, or whatever floats your boat.

We will do it all again next Sunday, of course; and it will, of course, be predictably unpredictable.

I may be there. The Captain may be there, We may stick to the black keys (they are cheaper) and you should consider being there too.

Sunday Arvo Jam Session, The Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood every Sunday, 4.00 until the Captain falls over.

Da Festivals is Coming!

Wangaratta Jazz Festival

Avid readers of this august journal will know that, for the last two years, Captain Chaos has organised a “fringe” event at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival (October 31st to November 3rd)- an opportunity for anyone to get up and boogie in a couple of different venues. The Captain, who, sensibly, refuses to learn from past experience, is doing it again. We already have a rhythm section organised and if any jammers (soloist, singers, drummers, whatever) feel like throwing their hat in the ring, send us an e-mail (

The other Festival we should mention is the Castlemaine Jazz Festival, sponsored by the Melbourne Jazz Jammers, with meself and the Captain currently responsible for 50% of the cockups, but in a good way… Queen’s Birthday Weekend June 6th – June 7th 2015. Of which, more anon.

The Umbrella Bar: Kay Young flies in!

Darwin’s answer to some question or other, is in town for the week, and will be singing at The Umbrella Bar on Friday, accompanied by meself, Captain Chaos, Paul Phillips on drums, and I haven’t booked a bass player yet.

Should be either a good night, a noisy night, a fun night and most probably, all three.

The Umbrella Bar Friday Night Captain Chaos Sessions: 338 – 340 Glenhuntly Road, Friday 12th September, 7.30pm – 10pm


Solo Piano with John Curtis

When: 6-8pm every Friday night
Where: The Library at the Grand Hotel, Corner of Flinders Street and Spencer Street, Melbourne

John performs his own interpretations of an extensive jazz repertoire on the Library’s grand piano. If you are in
town on a Friday evening you are cordially invited to come along and enjoy the music and the excellent
bar service in a very pleasant environment. Dinner is also available in the adjoining dining room.

Brief plug for MCS Studio, Mike Hirsh’s dream project out in the wild west… well, Albion just off the ringroad

Sevil Sabah recorded there recently. After a first session bedevilled by technical gremlins, we laid down six tracks quick smart, and got the finished product the next week.

Mike occasionally drops in to drum at the jam sessions, which is always fun, as he invariably disassembles the entire drum kit, and has been known to make Sebastien sound quiet. Great drummer to jam with, he was a stalwart of the Sessions way back in the Dizzy’s days (about 350 years ago) and now runs a purpose built (and very sophisticated) recording studio. Ridiculously cheap prices, seriously good equipment.


“Ere, Mike, what does this button do?…”
MCS Recording Studio
Phone:(03) 9312 7391
Mobile:0417 383583

The Sunday Jam Session: The Captain goes fishing

Experience, according to Wikipedia, consists of knowledge of or skill of some thing or some event gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event. For example, the word experience could be used in a statement like: “I have experience in fishing”.

In the dying hours of last Sunday’s Jan, the highly experienced Jazz Jammers, led by the incomparable Captain Chaos, played for the second time only, an obscure Pat Metheny ballad. No-one, neither the band, the back bar gossip squad, the Eight Ballers out the front, nor Pat Metheny, fortunately, had the slightest clue as to what they were doing.

The preceding Jam was an interesting one, to say the least. We swung through a rep of swing tunes, show tunes, diverted to a lengthy bebop interlude, had some half stride from the venerable Bob, Spike and Monty both classy on drums, Chico ace on guitar, Sam Izzo, back from Italy, engaged at last, in fine form on piano, Sonia and the Divine Miss Smith on tonsils, and an audience that remarked several times on the high standard of music. Amazing things those ear buds.

Experience, within the context of the Jazz Jam sessions, could just as well be defined as “recognising your mistakes when you make them again..” Had we finished half an hour earlier, Metheny could have remained unmolested, and we could have all gone fishing.

This week is Father’s day, so the Jam Session will be packed with confused looking middle aged gentlemen wearing hideous cardigans and clutching power drills. Or not as the case may be.

Should you feel so inclined on Sunday arvo I am sure we can squeeze you in somewhere.

Sunday Arvo Jam Session, The Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood every Sunday, 4.00 until the Captain falls over.

The Umbrella Bar: The Divine MIss Smith aced it

The Divine Miss Smith, having startled all of us by turning up on time without prior warning, proceeded to swing her way through some great toons, pausing only to give Anais (tyro) and Debbie a spot… all in front of very few people. In fact, it was so quiet at the start, we had decided to just have fun for the third stanza. By the end of the night, quite a lot more people had got up and started dancing.

And she will do it all again this week, but with Ivan (bass) Jason (sax) and Spike (drums). We are going to rip the joint apart, and get fired at the end of it. Join in the fun should you wish.

The Umbrella Bar Friday Night Captain Chaos Sessions: 338 – 340 Glenhuntly Road, Friday 5th September, 7.30pm – 10pm,