The Venue Menu – places we have destroyed
I am deeply indebted to some of the longest surviving jammers for their thoughts on the various places we have played – particularly Mike Hirsh who hasn’t let his failing memory or love of carpet diminish his thoughts. I must confess I thought the winning venue would be a lay down misere for the original Dizzy’s, but the various aforementioned jammers saw all sorts of advantages to the other joints. The fact that they are all now shut in no way detracts from our considerable efforts in sending a few of them to the wall ourselves.
So, to the Venue Rating Stakes:
POCKOTL, audience: The original princess of the cool and keeper of the list. Known for her occasional propensity for dancing on the tables clutching a gladioli and waving a hand thrown green porcelain jug, in defiance of the vague requirements for propriety that is the bane of all licensed establishments.
Favourite: The Glasshouse. POCKOTL recalls, quite rightly, evenings when the likes of Adam Rudegair and Anna Gilkison showed us how it should be done…
Least Favourite: The Night Cat
Gentleman John Curtis, piano:
A late starter for the Stakes. A mainstay of the jams over the years, whose piano playing has become increasingly sophisticated, particularly after being sent to the Jazz school in France for bad behaviour or something.
Favourite: old Dizzy’s in Swan Street – great setup with grand piano on stage, bar at back and audience space. Intimate, best acoustics and convenient location. First experience of jamming.
Least Favourite: Night Cat – Too large, not suited to jazz, very reverberant , poor layout, awkward location.
The Phillips, drummer: surprise runner, so modest we almost missed him.
Favourite: Picked Dizzy’s, and why not – the only venue with a grand piano, some surprising talent over the years, the original and best, where Paul got back to jazz as a drummer, after a 30 year hiatus, and has been going downhill ever since.
Least Favourite: Asked which was his least favourite, his reply is:
“Very difficult to think of a “worst” as any room with a bunch of people playing jazz, fuelled by alcohol, is going to be OK.
Carpet Hirsh: had to be prompted to get out of the stalls, but came up with a detailed assessment on mature reflection:
Dizzy’s Swan Street (old Post Office)
My fave of all time. On any given Friday night 6pm till 8pm was always packed with memories of some great talent. The musicians who ran the jam had no constraints on the instruments used, time on turnaround between sets, or the amount of alcohol that could be consumed. The more we drank the better we sounded, thanks Roger ..
Night Cat, Johnson Street
Went there once, but not then the jazz jam was on..
Scarlette Bar/Onderland.Smith Street
Great location as there was a lot of passing punters, problem was they never came in they just kept on passing.
The Glasshouse, Gipps Street
Loved this venue as Taariq always insisted on doing Frank Zappa tunes at ridiculous tempos, and obscure time signatures, which most of the musos couldn’t handle (or didn’t care to?)
Ramage, Park Street South Melbourne
Ummmm don’t remember. Editor’s note: Apart from the jams, Mike actually played a gig there – could have been pissed at the time, which may explain the memory lapse….
La Pena, Victoria Street North Melbourne
Vaguely remember – as do we all
The Royal Standard Hotel, William Street North Melbourne
Had some good Jams there, loved the way the bar was situated between the jammers which was a buffer and safe haven from any train wrecks Can’t forget the way overpriced beer. Beer was always an issue in the Dom and Cheryl days
The Leinster Arms, Gold Street, Collingwood
Will never forget Glen (the drummer landlord) Was he a drummer? Ummm… He had a knack of always saying the jammers were too loud. Problem was he was always louder than anyone else, and had this crazy idea that all drummers had to use his toys. Mind you we had some well attended Christmas do’s and some fine after jammers dinner dates.
This venue ran for eight years (longer than any other) so it must have had some redeeming features. Best pre Christmas bashes. Surprising how many of the long term jammers remembered it more for its shortcomings.
The Junktion Hotel, Kew Junction
The layout was s**t house, the sound was “boomy” and does anybody know what happened to my carpet ? (see The carpet Chronicles below) . Was this venue the one with the worst house red, or was it the Leinster Arms?
The Post Hotel, St Kilda Road/Inkerman, St Kilda
Great venue for musicians and punters alike…and cool and hip bar staff (Mel, Toby, Devon), giving out free drinks, much to the delight of the jammers who suddenly realised that this was too good to be true. Which, of course, it was.
Nobody ever got on top of the PA system ; its technical deficiencies compounded by the endless feedback, and constant failings of speakers, leads or mics not working or not plugged in.
(Some of the mics worked better when they weren’t plugged in)
We were finally abandoned by yet another misguided management.
The Carpet Chronicles:
These came about after years of watching the Hirsh (and other drummers) slap the drum kit across a slippery floor. On occasion, there might have been an uncharitable thought as to where the drum kit might slide to. Once he got wind of this cunning scheme, young Mike insisted on a carpet to hold the decrepit kit du jour together, and so far we have been through about six manky rugs, filched from various corporation tips.
The carpets provide a modicum of sound attenuation, and a soft landing for the dummy…