24th January 2021, 4.00pm start.

Well, hello 2021. We are starting off the year with a return to the Boogie Man Bar, which is where we finished up 2020. The hope is, some of the jammers who could not make it last time, will get to sample the dubious delights of Melbourne’s premier Chateau di Grunge; and all of the jammers who made it last time will come again, ‘cos it was fun…. You get to park in Vere Street, round the back of the Town Hall, which is so difficult to get to I recommend you use Google Maps, Garmin GPS, and all your smartphone apps to find it. The Bar itself is on the corner of Vere and Hoddle. Easy innit?
Apparently most people don’t read the headlines, so …the Jam Session is this Sunday, 24th January 2021, at the Boogie Man Bar, 4.00pm start, all proclivities (of a musical nature) catered for…

Other music:

And there is plenty: we are running an evening session at the Victorian Wine Centre, 55 Armstrong Street, Middle Park, 5.00pm to 8.00pm every Friday evening, starting 15th January 2021 with Annie Smith and the trio (this week, Alan West, Ted Woollan and Dave Taylor). Drop in for a glass of wine, and say hello…
Then there is the Challis Street Fandango, starting 23rd January 10.00am – 12.30, Challis Street Newport, with Yuko Onishi, and Steve Martin, Ted Woollan and Captain Chaos himself. Still in the running for most bizarre gig location of the year (we have to stop to let the bus go by…) but the coffee/conviv is great.
And the new kid on the block is Cowderoy Street Dairy, Cowderoy Street, West St Kilda, every Sunday, 12.00 to 2.00pm. Last week, Michell Gigliotti sang up a storm, and this week Yuko Onishi takes over, with Steve Martin, Ted Woollan and Captain Chaos (or is that Col Garrett?) squeezing into the corner. Coffee and/or brunch seems to be the go with the locals…
These gigs are quietly generating funds for the Newport Jazz Festival, 2nd/3rd May 2021, of which, more below

The Jam Session: looking for a permanent home

We are still on the hunt for a permanent (well, alright, semi permanent) home for the jam sessions. Several candidates are up for consideration, and we will keep you posted…




The Jammers Bit…

..off more than it could chew, or so it sometimes seems.Rather a lot on

This week:

Victorian Wine Centre, 55 Armstrong Street, Middle Park

Last week, we called up Sevil at very short notice. The session started with a seriously good set from Deborah Salkov, which set the mood for the former jazzjam chanteuse to tear up a storm. Great night

This week, Doug Kuhn on bass, Alan West on sax, meself on keyboard and Yuko Onishi on the tonsils. Looking forward to this one.

Or this one: The Challis Street Fandango, Aimee Everett singing a diverse set of toons – anything between Ma Rainey and Eric Clapton, for the Newport cognoscenti: Chaos on sax, Pete Micevski on bass.

Yuko at Cowderoy last week

Or this one:
Cowderoy Street Dairy, and a second helping of Michelle Gigliotti, singing a range of early jazz standards, Sunday 11.00 to 2.00. Absolute belter of a voice, startled brunchers, dogs, kids, sit out on the deck in the sun, and I am not quite sure who on bass, ruffling the otherwise smooth ambiance of this leafy ‘burb. The food is highly rated…

After which…

We all go to the Boogie Man Bar
for a 4.00 Jam Session replay, Exhausted, probably, but Yay!. (see details: above, below, or wherever the Editor has deemed fit.)


Finding a permanent home for the Jam Sessions

We are still looking.

We are holding a trial run at The Middle Park Bowls Club, off Canterbury Road, on Sunday 31st January. Fer gawds sake turn up, because otherwise we will be spending the arvo wiping egg off our faces. Head towards St Kilda on Canterbury Road, and when you get to the Middle Park Hotel (on your right), turn left through the bridge under the light rail to get into the car park.

As ever, enthusiasm essential, charts a bonus, performance anxiety optional, and competence to be well concealed as a kindness to others.

It has been a while – See ya there?

Newport Jazz Festival News

We stagger from disaster to disaster these days. The helpful folk at the Substation cancelled our provisional booking without telling us and let the venue out for a month. So scrub that one off the list.

The Captain is in negotiation with the Navy to get the RAN Band.

We have put together a reduced Festival structure: 30 bands maximum because we need to comply with social distancing requirements, leaving just 265 tickets a day to be sold – we will shortly put up a reservation system so you can confirm your ticket but you don’t have to pay until just before the Festival (May 1st/May 2nd).

Of course, having only 30 bands means we will have the very best bands available. They are all keen and busting a chop to get out and perform…


The Jammers Bit: We all go grunge

The Boogie Man Bar was a lot of fun, for the twenty or so musos who turned up, tuned up, and made the most appalling racket for quite a few hours.
Despite my misgivings about the joint, the house crew didn’t let us down – smoothest sound man I have met in quite a while, cold beers at the bar, and a pleasant spot for a natter.

The stage proved somewhat dark and somewhat crowded – foldbacks and a huge bass amp for Pete and Dave to play with, and the bass sound in particular was good. Just to help matters along, both bassists decided they were going to play rather well….

There seemed to be a lot of drummers – Bill, Michael F, Alan Richards, John Perri and… Larry Kean the best of them by a whisker.

Rattle and slap they did, behind —- drum roll — just one, read it and weep, one saxophone player – it was, of course, the good Captain, and he got to play some of his favourite tunes – a rare treat. Of course he has been moonlighting at the Challis Street Fandango, and even at the Middle Park Friday night bash, and the lack of cobwebs showed.

Dean, guitarist, played the first set as the lone rhythm instrument (wot, no piano?) and did not disappoint. Played a second set later, and definitely has chops to burn.

And presiding over it all, Mademoiselle Huich of violin fame, who we have to thank for suggesting the joint, who got up and played some neat stuff when not reclining elegantly on one of the stuffed sofas. I think it was stuffed, but it could have just sat down for a rest.

It rapidly became apparent that the day, with its varied delights, belonged to the singers – Annie, Kay, Brian, Kev, Gilbert, Libby and the Debster

Kay:    back from a considerable hiatus, looking fit and happy, singing from her huge repertoire, never missed a beat.

Brian:     sang his usual array of Elvis songs and Blues. Would someone point out to him that he has a great rich voice and could really shake a few jazz ballads?

Kev:    The Roffe showed off his usual versatility. He can sing just about any song in any key.

Libby: still finding her feet (head south from the nose) and is already a good addition to the motley crew.

Debbie: Only fell off the stage once. Her version of Summertime started with an instruction to Perri “play it as fast as you like” , and ended with an impressive sustain over Pete’s funk beat.

Gilbert: torched My Way, and made a coupla ballads sound easy – his relaxed style probably makes him tonsil du jour.

And the irrepressible

Annie: her 3/4 version of When Sunny Gets Blue will not be easily forgotten, but we are all going to try….

So… the Boogie Man Bar is booked out for Sundays, but we could happily go back there sometime. That was the last jam of what has been a truly unmemorable year. We will try and get back to a new venue by mid January – details will be in the Jammers Newsletter.

Stay safe, and thanks for the rabbits.

Jams, Jammers, Festivals: the gossip

The Post Hotel is no more.

Manager Mike posted a sad little notice to Facebook two weeks ago. The Post has not survived the lock down and is permanently closed. It was, at its best, as one of the most enjoyable venues for Jam Sessions that any of us can remember.

The Jess Dams is no more

Chanteuse Jess Dams is returning to the UK and won’t be able to make it for a jam session before she plunges variously into:

  • Permanent quarantine, probably
  • Brexit
  • Deep winter (it is both cold and dark over there)
  • The UK lock down, which isn’t, as yet, as severe as the Melbourne lockdown, which means quite probably that it will be even more severe soon.

Her most memorable singing, for me anyway, was at the one and only Narrawong gig, which raised over $2,000 for the local community Hall. She also sang at the Port Fairy Jazz Festival, and at the last gig the jammers played at the Post Hotel.

The Castlemaine Jazz Jam is still on hold

Spoke to budding impresario John Hannah last week – he is deeply engaged in running the Three Chord Club, a once a month affair at the Guilford Hotel. Jam Session sponsor and Maurocco Bar owner Mauro is, like the manager at the Tower Hotel, holding out until he can have enough punters in the joint to be able to lose money at the usual rate. January 2021 probably.

The Newport Jazz Festival is still on?

That is the Australian version – we are still proposing to make a decision mid December, but I would have to say it looks increasingly likely that we will go ahead om May 1st/2nd 2021, but in a post pandemic format.. We will be putting up an amended (e.g. Covid safe) structure with reduced audiences and bands, and are still struggling with the cost plan.

The Castlemaine Jazz Festival

Received notice of the next AGM this week. Turns out the entire previous committee resigned, leaving the President as the only elected member. He then co-opted a number of people to fill the vacancies, all of whom are now standing for election. Can’t be bothered with that rubbish any more, but it is a sad decline from the original Community festival.

Port Fairy Jazz Festival

John Huf has had to cancel for February 2021, but will be back next year, hopefully bigger and better than ever, but if it as good as last year’s it will be a great Festival anyway!

Australian Jazz Convention, Albury

The lads cancelled some time ago, although it now looks as though the border will be reopened before the Festival was originally due to happen.. December 2020 would have been their 75th anniversary, and we should all look at supporting their return in 2021

Merimbula Jazz Festival

The June 2020 Festival was cancelled, and they are proposing to return in June 2021. This Festival seemed to have taken on a new lease on life, and hopefully the pandemic has not put much of a dent in that.

Inverloch Jazz Festival

Invy probably had the best timing of all – just squeezed in their March 2020 Festival before the lock down, and had already decided to move to an August 2021 date for the next one.

The Refinery Terrace Lockup Debacle

Well, the recording was a debacle. One would have expected no less. The lockup garage door had been firmly closed, with Madge Hortense, Rotten Ronnie Junior, Trixie La Belle and a few desultory musicians inside, and the Altona Constabulary outside . The Vicar, his wife, the French onion seller and the others had, mercifully, gone home to watch daytime TV. You can even watch it at night these days..

So… Trixie, having started by noting that there were no words, or chord charts available, suggested that Was He Handsome Was I Drunk and Did Momma Give Me Hell should be sung in French, to put the others off the scent. Turns out Trixie was the daughter of a Narre Warren gasfitter, and the french accent was a fake – so that was an idea that was never going to fly.

They all opened another cask of chardonnay, and Madge cracked a catering pack of Winnie Blues to take, as she put it, the edge off.

Rotten Ronnie Junior, already three sheets to the wind, offered to sing alto, as well as play with his saxophone. His Alto was a result of the nasty blow in the Ballarat region, of which, the less said the better. Hortense, wistful as ever, misheard the bit about playing with his saxophone, offered to help. Madge, not to be outdone, sat lugubrious with another bottle of chardy and a confused merchant seaman until she could stand no more, though whether it was of the seaman or the chardonnay no-one can really say. She waded into the melee fists and all before collapsing in a heap across the mixing desk. At which point, the dials lit up and the ancient reels started to turn…

They all wondered, (me included) at this point, how the confused merchant seaman got in. Except the confused merchant seaman, who was wondering how he was going to get out.

The dog, sick of being stood upon, lit up a mournful howl. Trixie told the dog to shut up. Ronnie told Trixie to shut up. They were all so busy shouting at each other that no-one noticed the Akai slowly turning. So the whole shebang got caught on quarter inch tape. Which is what one uses when recording in a lockup at the arse end of refinery Terrace. The result? A recording that was variously described as unusual, unique, aurally challenging, and as creating a newfound respect for the original “Was I Drunk, Was He Handsome, and Did Momma give me Hell”.


Georgia White’s 1936 recording:



Madeleine Peyroux’s 1996 recording of the same song:



The Jammers Bit

About the Newsletter

The Newsletter has a proud history of exaggeration, obfuscation, innuendo, insinuation and several other long words that escape the drizzled mind of the Extra 3B Reserve Copyboy; upon whom the Editor relies to provide the typos which he may or may not correct, as the mood takes him.

We have tried reporting facts, but this approach clearly does not work, unless you are a politician in which case facts are an essential part of your reportage. Without them, you would have nothing to distort.

We have also tried writing about jazz. Whilst we know approximately stuff all about jazz, the same is true of readers, of whom there are, when last counted, three – so they cannot be singers as they can’t count that far, and they can’t be saxophonists, as they count to five and often call it six and they can’t be drummers because they can’t read.

The Newsletter started, around 2008, as a serious weekly dissertation on the Jam Session du Jour. This approach continues to this day, the only change being that there are no Jam Sessions.

Seriously recommended!
Some handy links


instagram: newport_jazz_festival_2021


Happiest bit of News this week

Well, this is a line ball between a discussion of when where and how we might reconvene the jam sessions, and how the hell do we think we can propose a Newport Jazz Festival, complete with social distancing in the venues, covid safe routines at the door, and enough moolah coming in to reimburse the musicians a meaningful amount.

More to be advised as the dates for opening up become clearer, but suffice it to say we are actively discussing Jam sessions and Festivals.

What Have the Jammers Been Up To?

John Bell

This virtuoso of the bent brass tube (trumpet division) has been catching up on his technique – trying out a variety of on line courses in all aspects of musicianship. Most recently he has been listening to some Baroque music from Sibelius. Posh.

He has also been writing big band charts (does this explain the run on toilet paper supplies?), and learning a few jazz standards. No one knows what a jazz standard is or is not. Is there such a thing as a jazz non-standard?

John Bell & Rose

When he is not contemplating the Universe and society’s role in its downfall (which, to be honest, is most of the time, if not all of it…) he has been learning a bit of piano, not playing with the Mordialloc Jazz Orchestra, not sitting alongside first trumpet Mick Fraser. He has also not been playing with the Port Phillip Show Band and presumably has stopped paying attention to Jack Morris, Band OberGauleiter.

John is looking forward to his getting back to a Jam Session. The Mordialloc Jazz Orchestra, The Port Phillip Show Band, Mick Fraser and Jack Morris are also looking forward to him getting back to a Jam Session.

The Keefster

Keith Hughes started with the Jazz Jammers in their heady days at Ramage, a South Melbourne Bar and Eatery so enamoured of the Jammers that we were the first to know of their demise. Some piffling detail about more money going out than coming in.

Keith Hughes

Keith had the interesting ability to solo, then solo again over the singer for good measure. All of which detracted from his ability as a lyrical Clarinettist and lively Saxophonist. Since we encouraged the singers to vocal over his solos, he has been getting better and better.

Through Ramage, the Royal Standard, La Pena, the Leinster and The Post he keeps turning up, so much so that he is now considered an essential part of the furniture of any Jam session. Dresser or Wardrobe, you decide.

So the Garage is cleared, Rotten Ronnie is up for it, and Madge from Altona and the darkly mysterious Hortense have to deliver

The effort of setting up all that sound gear, not to mention shop lifting it in the first place, had resulted in both Madge and Hortense, exhausted, falling into a deep slumber, possibly assisted by the 2 and a half casks of Chateau Plonc that they knocked off during the set up process. We have all been there, done that, but the headache stays the same.
They were startled awake by Rotten Ronnie banging on the TiltADor. He had spotted, and recognised the Kingswood leaning against the kerb, and was desperate to get in and hide , as he was being pursued, for a variety of reasons, by the Vicar, his wife, her French onion seller paramour, the local constabulary, and an increasingly irate Trixie La Belle. There could have been others.
The reasons for their pursuit of the Cad were variously

  • Unconscionable consumption of the sacramental wine in the combination bus stop and Gospel Hall
  • Repeated Failure to make good on the Vicar’s wife’s bucket list
  • Repeated French onions, leading to a loss of sales downwind
  • A variety, no smorgasbord even, of indictable offences for which the Altona Constabulary may have to make a rare foray into the wilds of Railway Terrace. Collars may be fingered….

So, we have Madge from Altona, musical director and one time ballerina, Hortense who dressed for the occasion in black with a dash of red, (she dresses for every occasion in the same outfit, sometimes sporting a Mantilla for effect); Rotten Ronnie who hasn’t been the same since he suffered that unfortunate blow in the Ballarat region; and Mme Trixie about whom we know nothing,trying to get in.
The ensemble was ranged and ready to produce the definitive version of Was I Drunk, Was He Handsome And Did Momma Give Me Hell when Mme Trixie pointed out that they didn’t know the words, had no charts and would have to wing it from start to finish. Would it work? Would the Vicar, his wife, the French Onion seller and the boys in blue stop hammering on the door?
All may be revealed next week…

The Jammers Bit.

About the Newsletter

Anyone interested in receiving a weekly newsletter detailing the jam sessions, need only send their e-mail address to melbournejazzjammers@gmail.com and in no time at all they will have to spend nearly ten minutes a week reading all about it.

The online newsletter is free, informative and mostly irreverent, used to have reviews of previous jam sessions, and now never reviews CD’s and gigs any more because, CD’s only exist in the fevered memories of washed up musos, and there are no gigs.

The Newsletter, given to irony from its title on, sometimes contains subliminal messages which may rot your brain or encourage the reader to turn up at a jam session if we ever have one, or both; and should appeal to a varied audience which includes jazz musicians who can (a) read and (b) own a computer.

Highly recommended!

Happiest bit of music this week
Saved this for a bit of cheer. Warning! Imgur is addictive….

Try not to smile…