Apropos of nothing more: piffle and New York

There is a famous quote from a well known 17th century French philosopher, which has almost no relevance to the total lack of things to write about vis a vis the jam sessions. So I thought I would mention it anyway.

And then change my mind. This week’s thrilling revelations (there aren’t any) are to do with the skills required of a musician to succeed in a post pandemic world. And the reported impending demise of a lot of jazz clubs in New York, none of which I visited when I was last over there, although we did run up a bill of 18 pints of beer and a hamburger at Cafe Loup in downtown Manhattan, whilst listening to their regular Steve La Spina trio. Of which, more anon.

Skills required of a musician to succeed
You would think musical chops, determination, the drive to play in public, and a desire to succeed. And you would probably add gainful employment (barista anyone?) and a devil may care attitude to the more boring aspects of adulting.

You would, of course, be wrong. Essential skills are event management, the ability to calculate 15% of everything, and grant application writing. Depending on where you look, there are going to a lot of CD launches amongst the popular music fraternity, followed no doubt by oblivion within three years. Never mind, there will be others to follow…

So… musos amusing themselves with online collaboration, and live streaming, some of which is pretty good chops wise, but lacks the ambience of a live audience.
The real losers in the present circumstances are, of course, the management, because no one has worked out how to live stream management, and it doesn’t pay the wages of an army of technical employees, or the rates or the rent.

So far the feds have put up $250 million to help restart the “creative economy” while the Victorian Government is providing
$49.1 million for creatives as part of its rescue package.

And what of the minnows, I hear you ask?
In May the Vics announced a dedicated Music Industry Support Package of $4 million and was followed up with a $2.2 million fund – Sustaining Creative Workers – which will offer quick response grants for Victorian-based independent creatives and micro-organisations with at least five years of professional experience. Grants of $5,000 will be available for individuals, and $10,000 for micro-organisations and businesses. Additionally, a new Music Industry Liaison role has been set up to advise the government and Bonnie Dalton is in the chair while continuing as general manager of the Victorian Music Development Office.

Where does the money go?
The Spotify shareprice has doubled in three months (heading towards a $50 billion cap.). The music streaming company has moved in to podcasts, on which they do not pay any royalties. So the biggest streaming company in the world makes more money if its subscribers listen to podcasts rather than your music. You work it out…

The Cafe Loup Lessons
Cafe Loup was a literary haunt, where the La Spina Trio did Sunday brunch for years. They were kind enough to let us in on their set list approach.

Lesson 1: How to structure a playing list.

  • First Set: Start with the familiar (we recognised even the intros). Applause
  • Second set: more sophisticated material: we didn’t recognise the tunes until we got to the chorus. More applause
  • Third Set: You have “trained” the audience’s ears – now hit them with the stuff you like as a band. Even more applause.

Lesson 2: Pay your taxes.

Cafe Loup closed in 2019

The Challis Street Fandango:
Mentioned this last week, but had to defer until the Cafe is allowed more than 20 people.

Newport Folk Festival:
Details at the URL below. There is a pretty damn good line up of musos livestreaming for this one. Check it out!

Not a great week jazz wise, but a few snowdrops in the drift, so chin up, and…



instagram: newport_jazz_festival_2021


The Jammers Bit: It is getting warmer; jammers in the wars

It is getting warmer. And closer, by all accounts. We have consistently (another first) been saying that we will look at re-starting the Jam Sessions when the room limit gets raised to 50. And if you could just stop catching random acts of covid19 that could be either fairly soon, or towards the end of July, or something else. That should cover it….somebody had better warn The Tower.

Jam Sessions: We will have some requirements and protocols in place. So far, we have talked about social distancing, and sanitising microphones, or asking singers to bring their own; as well as recording contact details (which we do anyway, but the venue management may handle this), and banning the playing of Little Sunflower

In the meantime, it looks as though the Captain and meself will be indulging in a re-run of the Challis Street fandango on June 27th, with honeyvoiced Aimee Everett on the tonsils. Assuming the cold, wind, rain, sleet, snow and general neglect and desertedness of the Challis Street shopping strip don’t get to us first…

The Newport Folk Festival. Online: 27th/28th June 2020

The Folk Festival is going to be streamed on line. Copy and paste the following url to get the livestream (only wait until it is active on 27th June). The Folk Festival is in, I think, its 15th year, the brain child of Michael Stewart; and paved the way for a Jazz Festival to follow. This year’s Folk Festival will be streamed live, and well worth a look – the featured musicians are the pick of the bunch. For more info click here.

Amongst the featured acts is Great Aunt, with Chelsea Allen on bass. Chelsea has supported the jazz jams over the years. Their debut CD was a stunner – 3.00pm on Saturday for their live stream.

Inverloch Jazz Festival:
The date in our coverage of upcoming Festivals was wrong, due to the extra 3b Reserve Copyboy’s habit of believing what he reads on the ‘net. In this instance, the internet is misleading, and we have had confirmation from the Inverloch committee. More information nearer the date.

The date for the 2021 Inverloch Jazz Festival has been changed to Friday, Saturday and Sunday 6, 7, 8 August 2021

Jammers Wars: Most jammers seem to be bearing up well under the strain of finding the time to do nothing all day. The Divine Miss Smith is still threatening the innocent with her crutch, Gilbert has been in hospital, but what is left of him is on the mend, if in need of a gentleman’s razor set. Chantelle Riordan has helpfully counted every day of lockdown (64 so far) in her Facebook posts, which have been entertaining. She writes a lot about her cat. John Calamatta has (finally!) moved house yet again. Seems he is in a constant state of downsizing, and at this rate will be taking over half the Altona West Combination Bus Shelter and Gospel Hall any day now. He is not practicing his sax much, but let’s be honest, he doesn’t need to. And Captain Chaos is champing at the bit. Why are we not surprised?



instagram: newport_jazz_festival_2021

The Jammers: A propos of nothing

It is a bit colder than usual in the lower reaches of Bendigo Towers, world headquarters of the Jazz Jammers News. Apart from the chill high country wind blowing through the gratings, the extra 3b reserve copy boy, lowest of the low, has been tasked with writing this week’s load of tripe. And tasked by no less than Editor McCue, terror of the twelfth at the Bendigo Krazy Putt Mini Golf Course, and Gauleiter in Chief of this august organ. Lift the readership, he said, in a terse missive borne through the window by a terrified and underfed homing pigeon. We haven’t paid the phone bill for quite a while. You may be edified if so inclined as you sit back in your floral print chesterfield, sipping Prince of Wales tea from a bone china cup – or whatever it is you do in lockdown, without a care in the world.

Being an enterprising lad, the E3BRCB has sought the advice of some of the most medicated followers of the ongoing saga of the Jam Session – in abeyance but poised to create an appalling cacophony as soon as the shutters are up. The advice, as ever, was irrelevant.

Madge from Altona: There was a particularly fierce singer at the Helston Folk Club, every Wednesday, 5 shillings to get in, about 1967. Brenda Wootton, click here who toured the county (Cornwall) looking for opportunities to sing, with her companion John the Fish click here who was a fine guitarist, skinny, with a splendidly unkempt beard. Brenda terrified the compere who wore leather patches on his tweed jacket, and everyone else, who didn’t. The two of them acted like minor celebrities, which they would later become. John acquired the soubriquet Father of Cornish Folk Music. Brenda ended up being recognised as a poet and singer – a cultural icon for the Cornish although she was born in Ruislip or something. Madge has never heard of either of them.

Hortense: spanish, quiet, quietly desperate. Brenda McSomething lived in a dismal university share house with five disreputable students. Smarter than all of them, she excelled at cards, which is how they all passed the time when the pubs were shut. They drank a lot and studied little. She ended up in Wales, possibly. Should have gone North and married a lugubrious curate, only Paddy got there first. Hortense is quite like her, but they never met…

Rotten Ronnie Junior: briefly notorious for his ill advised fling with Hortense, otherwise a bit of a cad anyway. Since securing the fifth saxophonist spot at Mme Trixie La Belle’s Academie de Danse in Altona West, he has gone mercifully quiet.

The Vicar: not to be confused with his bicycle. Hangs out at the Altona West Combination Bus Shelter and Gospel Hall on the off-chance of I am not sure what. Do not mention the Vicar’s Wife.

There has been a consistent theme amongst the Jammers – they all miss the Jam Sessions. Thanks to the lockdown, you have clearly forgotten how appalling the jams can be. We are hoping to rectify the situation by the end of July…




instagram: newport_jazz_festival_2021


Who are the Jammers?

First time in Japanese, and a bit more truth

Read to the end for some news on the Jam Sessions.







Bet you didn’t see that coming. Bloody foreigners… Yuko, Ayako, Risa, Mihoko, Kozue and the other .jp readers may understand, the rest of you can choose your own translation below:

Version 1:    Three dim sims some teriyaki and a Crown lager please.

Version 2:    I don’t know much about jazz, but I know what I like and this isn’t it.

Version 3:    This car is equipped with a handbrake, a steering wheel and an incomprehensible manual. Thank you so much for choosing it.

Version 4:     This newsletter is written in Japanese which will not affect most readers understanding of it, because the English version is just as incomprehensible.

So… on with the potted histories: Got a few positive responses to last week’s exquisitely crafted histories (hah!) of some of the more prominent (well, regular anyway) jammers. The next selection includes regular musicians and singers, as well as the Late Miss Smith, who would struggle to turn up by six o’clock on a good day, but to her credit supplied her own sentencing material.

  • Carol McCarthy: crooner
  • Gentleman Malcolm H, pianist
  • Alan “slapper” Richards: drums
  • Alan West, saxophonist
  • The Divine Miss Smith: Raconteur

Carol McCarthy, crooner.
Comes from a long line of crooners and typos, mainly called Carl. She started singing at 27, and within two years was getting paid. My notes do not make it clear whether she was getting paid to start singing or paid to stop. An early memory was singing at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney as part of her singing course.

She was born at an early age in Brunei and claims to have been kissed by a killer whale in Toronto. … Not the old Toronto killer whale saga again, surely…By 2004 she was fronting the Diamond Valley Big Band, on their world tour, which consisted of the Banyule Winter Festival and not much else.

Carol admits to having sung to backing tapes in her distant past – a filthy habit which we are all glad she has quit.

She started with the Jammers at the Junktion Hotel, and says she sometimes sings quietly so as not to offend the punters, and only in the key of C, F or Bb because the jammers struggle in anything else.

Carol looking spiffin with green highlights

I can’t think who she is referring to – something in F#m or Dbm coming up….

Malcolm Hornby, gentleman piano player
One time rock and roll idol, now reduced to playing jazz covers for the jammers., most of whom are musically challenged anyway. Never gets out of bed before 4.00pm.

Started learning piano at age 5, and played his first gig at 20 playing pop covers. His best gig was at Moorabbin Town Hall – the band had a support act, and even a roadie to help Malcolm lift the piano lid or something. When asked if they had a Green Room, he described a disused cupboard full of rubbish, butt ends and half eaten sandwiches, so the answer is yes.

His worst gig was at a pub in Newport, with a door deal. Two people turned up, and the band’s door manager let them both in for free. Maybe they should have charged on the way out

Malcolm is a mainstay of the jams, and moonlights for Breakout on the side.

MH in contemplative mode

Alan West, saxophonist
You know, the big bloke that plays sax sitting down…started on drums aged 10, didn’t pick up the sax until he was 21, although he misspent his teens playing guitar for all the usual reasons. Given the choice, he would go back to being 23 again.

Nominated his best gig as Thailand, NYE with a band called The Disasters in front of 10,000 people; and his worst as a gig in Melbourne, where the entire band were substitutes. Also played in New York, Miami, San Francisco, London and Paris. Alan picked a Vince Jones dummy spit and no-show at the Tankerville Arms as his worst gig – the venue charged full price, got the punters in, and then announced VJ was not appearing.

Alan is one of the calmer and more experienced jammers, and loves to play his own creations – Josephine et al.

Alan, saxophonist to the stars

Alan “slapper” Richards
Started playing drums in Primary School marching the entire Year 4 into detention or something. One wonders how many drummers started this way – certainly quite a few. Alan played in a High School Rock and Roll Band and despite not becoming a rock legend, can’t remember his best gig. He recalled but one of the worst gigs was for manager Dennis Farrington who booked him for three jobs a night and ran up to a hundred bands at once.

Alan has vague memories of playing clarinet as well as drums, and is quite happy to be his present age. He “sat in” (I suspect he is being modest) on sessions in New York, LA, San Francisco, Vietnam and Japan, and now hardly ever plays in more than ten bands at a Festival…

Alan doing what he does best

A regular at the Jam Sessions who gives off a sense of really enjoying playing. Just a big kid really…


Annie Smith, raconteur

As is her way, the crutch wielding diva supplied a detailed account of her career so far. Unfortunately the editor deleted all of the triple exclamation marks (of which there were many), and then blanked out the bits he saw as slight embellishments, or exaggerations. He followed this by deleting the dad jokes, grandma jokes and other deviant wordplay, as well as the potentially actionable, libellous, scandalous paragraphs.

The detailed account now reads

Anne Smith
Says it all really, but if desperate, you can read the full debacle here…

Continue reading →

Jamming in late July??

So there you have it: another week of potted bios and I am indebted to the various jammers, or as we prefer to call them, victims.. , all of whom probably lied, exaggerated, obfuscated and prevaricated …. but did come up with some great stories.

The jam sessions: we have talked to the tower – best guess is now kicking of in late july. – Get up and boogie soon!

Toodle pip!



instagram: newport_jazz_festival_2021

Recordings, Jam Sessions (not)..

Recordings first . Busy lot, innit?

GandT Jazz, bandcamp release https://gtjazz.bandcamp.com/releases

Those of you with long memories may remember Tina and Gill at the Leinster. Come a long way.

Leena Salim https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qnz9g3cw-0I&t=4s

Have a listen to an energetic singer tackling home recording, and probably reducing her bass player, keyboard player and guitarist to quivering heaps in the process. Really should get out more!

Leena has heaps more on Youtube – search “Leena Salim”


Castlemaine Jam Session on hold…

This post from Ken Turnbull’s Facebook page. John Hannah and his crew do a great job on this monthly Jam, with Mike Hirsh, Alan Richards, Brian and Annie Smith amongst the regulars and we will post any update.

Dear friends of Castlemaine Jazz Jam,

After discussion with the Maurocco Bar proprietors, it has been decided to suspend the jazz jam for the rest of 202

Many jazz fans are in the high-risk group, and we feel it is best to wait until a second wave of Covid-19 has been ruled out.

The aim is to start again in January 2021, but we’ll keep you posted if things change.