What Have the Jammers Been Up To?

News From the Deep North

Brisbane chanteuse Leena Salim gives an interesting insight to what Melbourne, one time capital of the free world, might look like for musicians emerging from the fog. Brisbane is gradually waking up – but then it has always been so.

She reports that live music is gradually returning to the Big Q, that people are keen to get out and hear some live performance; and that bars and restaurants are charging an entrance fee, which pays the musicians. You generally have to book (i.e. No spur of the moment walk ins). The Brisbane Jazz Club is back up and running regular events (put down the ‘phone Murgatroyd, they are booked for months ahead.)

Some peeps have ste up house parties with live music hired for the evening . In Bris, up to 30 guests are allowed, which is confusing, as the numbers elsewhere are 5, 10, 20 and 50 with a side order of who gives a stuff Melbourne conspiracy theorists who seem to collect in any number they feel like. So what number keeps you safe? The virus doesn’t know, maybe we are confusing it into oblivion.

But I digress: Anecdotally, Queensland musicians are earning less than they were, but our sunny little optimist for all things musical in the AFL capital of the world has a gig booked up, enterprising musos are playing gigs at Ikea. You can see them for free, just go up the stairs, turn right, then left then straight ahead, then make three more turns, through the kitchen section, round the rugs, past the bookshelf bits, back a bit, get another pencil and when you get to the Swedish Cafe, there they are – they finished their set about five minutes ago…

News from the Velinovski quarter (Briiiighton)

Susie is spending her time listening to Lianne La Havas – Bitter Sweet, and is going quietly mental trying to work her way through Logic Pro, doing some separate tracked recordings with a keyboard, voice and bass.

She is planning a jazz recording session (Hirsh, are you paying attention) to put down Black Coffee,
You’d Be So Nice to Come Home to, and Comes Love.


And what, you may ask, of Madge from Altona and the darkly mysterious Hortense?

Well, you probably wouldn’t ask, because not a few people don’t know who they might be, and most of the others didn’t read that bit of last week’s Newsletter. Suffice to say their headlong trajectory along the Hume came to a smoking halt at the lock up garage in Refinery Terrace. The long suffering Kingswood had had enough.

As an aside, that lock up had a colourful history, having been an annex to the Strangled
Ferret before that august establishment burnt to the ground years ago. It was where the Oscar Beetroot Band, Weimar cabaret artistes and sad emigres once held an afterparty without doing the gig first. Madge remembers it well, although Hortense overdid the sherbets on the night and can, as a consequence, remember nothing. Probably a good thing.

After a brief run as a Lebanese pizza shop, the lockup declined, and despite rumours it was to re-open as Altona West’s second knocking shop, it became instead the repository for the considerable detritus brought back from Madge’s disastrous night at the Bairnsdale Working Mens Club. Which is where the Kingswood came in handy, and not for the first time . . .

So, on to the recording of Was I handsome, Was He Drunk and Did Mam Give Me Hell. All the gear was carefully set up, three times, once without the cables, once with the wrong cables and then with the right lines in the wrong holes. The story of Hortense’s life but Madge didn’t care. “We are going to be Artistes!”

And next week, we may find out how it all went, although quite possibly there will be enlightening discussion of the Nineteenth Centuy Balkan conflicts instead; and of their passing effect on the Oscar Beetroot Band.

Or not

More Tales from the Pantry & Other Jam Sessions

Many Centuries past, (Pre Covid) there was a Queens Festival held every year at the Castle. Many merry Bands flocked to join in the usual jam tasting sessions. Each band was given an allotted time and a venue so that the musicians could a get a taste of all the fruit on offer.

There were many Knights of Jazz seen jousting for positions to play. The music of the Duke was heralded throughout the halls.
The usual cool chicks, Henrietta and Cordelia were heard warming up their instruments down in the kitchen ready for the “Bake off.” The celebrated knights were in the main drinking hall scoffing ale and wailing out some great treats.

Sir Roger wielded his mighty sax and blew what can only be described as jam that had so many notes the “bake off” judge was left with a sinus condition that blocked all senses. The waft of honey dripping from his instrument caused the chicks to throw their quills in the air and faint.

Meanwhile out in the backblocks of the Castles Stables, Princess Donna had been given the short straw again. Her tickler of ivories had left her in a pickle.

Then out of blues corner of the stables wandered a dark horse. He was fired up ready to cook up a storm. He was an old hoofer from ‘way back when’. In Grappelli style his “fiddle” did the talkin’.

There was no need to peel his grape. Wine flowed. The sweet sounds complimented Princess Donna’s penchant for exuberant embellishments, especially the finale. The music overflowed her cup and spilled onto the straw floor, turning the performance into a meal to behold. The Judges swooned at the tasting.

Moral of Tale.

The Band that rocks the stable, rules the Weekend, and, there’s many a tasty tune still played by an old Fiddler.



Tales from the Pantry & Other Jam Sessions

In the Kingdom of Jazz land, before ISO, there were places called Clubs that held Song Competitions.
It was a chance for Singers to win money to stave off starvation, and to be given a recording contract that would open the gates and drawbridges of other famous Clubs.

These Competitions were live and fiercely contested. Singers had to arm themselves with ‘Charts’ to navigate the mind stream of jazz musicians who were lined up to play for you. Respect for them was key component of your success. A smile of acknowledgement didn’t go astray in this “dog eat dog” world.
I sat waiting on the bench with my friend “Singalot.'”

I came to provide her with my support and encouragement. She had a beautiful pure voice, but was prone to nerves. It was my job to occasionally give her sips of water and mop her brow with my hanky. A few minutes before it was her turn to go on,”Singalot” turned to me and exclaimed that she needed a cough lolly to clear her throat. Of course it was the one thing that I did not have in my purse.

“I have some.” declared a sweet looking contestant sitting on the other side of her.’ Would you like one of mine’

“Oh yes please!” said ‘Singalot’ who took the cough lolly and popped straight into her mouth.

I could see the look of gratitude on ‘Singalots’ face as the lolly worked its magic.

“Next!’ called the stage manager and up onto the platform went ‘Singalot’. She graciously handed her ‘charts’ to the musicians and took the microphone.
They began her Intro and then, to ‘Singalots’ horror, nothing came out. Her vocal chords had dried out and all she could do was make a rasping sound.

No musician with shining instruments could save her.

Moral Of the Tale:

You can’t have your Cough Lolly and Sing too.



Hortense makes a record with Madge

“Well,” Madge remarked as she barrelled the Kingswood through an army checkpoint, “that went well.” Coppers and Squaddies diving for the ditch, and the evening sky soon lit up with flashing blue lights. Hortense, clinging forlornly to the broken door handle, didn’t think it had gone too well at all.

Of course, Madge had a tactical advantage, as, with all the squaddies facing in the other direction, she was trying to sneek back into Victoria after a lengthy sojourn in NewSouthBloddyWales prompted by reports of cruise liners full of matelots with nothing else to do. She is, anyway, getting a bit old for that sort of thing.

But I digress – the return was prompted by their plan of making a home recording of Lil Johnson’s 1936 smash hit “Was I Drunk, Was He Handsome and Did Momma Give me Hell” funded by newly announced Government funding. A gap had emerged in the market for this sort of thing, and they both thought they should grasp the opportunity whilst the entire Music Industry was wringing its hands and thinking about trousering some of the Government cash on offer. Taxpayers money! Madge was quite happy with this, as she hadn’t paid any income tax since about 1973, shortly after the Bairnsdale Working Mens’ Club debacle.

So… zooming along a deserted freeway in the middle of the night, trying to call up Rotten Ronnie, lately third sax in Trixie La Belle’s Academie de Dance, to see if they could get him to solo for free. Madge and Hortense proposed to share the vocals, and who gives a toss about the drummer…Madge figured they would be a shoo in for the Government money if they put in an application for the Strangled Ferret even though it burnt to the ground years ago.

So, once back in dear old West Altona, the Refinery Terrace garage serving as Recording Studio, away they went and…

Well, you will have to wait until next week to find out.


Links to Newport Jazz Festival and Jammers News:





From Jason Chalmers,

occasional jammer, cossie stitcher extraordinaire, and in his alter ego CaptainSaxMachine, unemployed saxophonist (a tautology, surely?)

Last listened to Hit Me Baby, One More Time – the Jason Chalmer cover of Britney Spears’ song.. Latin version of course, but what did Britney do to deserve this?

I digress. The lad, who distinguished himself by playing on a cruise ship all last year and not bringing the corona virus home, has recorded a Country and Western album, posing in his backyard, whilst sufficiently indigent to make publication of his work a financial impossibility.

Failing, by virtue of his status as a professional saxophonist, to understand a single word of the preceding paragraph, he is resorting to crowd funding. This is the email he sent…Resourceful fellow – go on, give it a go!

So I have been making some fun albums and have two very special ones I’d love to make vinyl. Unfortunately due to the pandemic and me living in Melbourne I no longer have the funds to do so. So I’ve decided to give crowd funding a go. So please check out my campaign. And if you don’t mind share it around your networks. Or you can make a donation if you’re fiscally able…
Check the link below.

I wish you all the very best in these difficult times,
Warmest regards,

Jason Chalmers

Roger Clark – an unusual request, and a classy recording

Last listened to Goodbye Mr Evans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9Dy8vqBOj8

Famous for the Clark rule: If you have played one more solo than Roger, you have played four solos too many. Roger specifically asked that I refrain from the usual scurrilous reports regarding his ancestor, Sir Roger de Coverley. I have never tried that angle before, but will do my best…

Roger was stuck in Melbourne for a while, but eventually received a permit to return to his farm in NSW. I do not wish to speculate on the grounds for objection by terrified sheep that may have eventually been over turned in the process of his getting the permit.

Leaning metaphorically, as it were, on the garden fence, and sucking a straw, Roger reminisced fondly on his trip to Costa Rica, and his lessons with gun alto saxophonist Josh Quinlan. He played every night with Brazilians, Argentinans, Costa Ricans, and occasionally, his saxophone.

He learnt so much from this experience that he has subsequently put out a recording with the Roger Clark Quartet – an album entitle “What A Life” . It is rather good.

Sadly, this could be the last we see of him for a while, as the Victorian Government is threatening to close its borders if he keeps playing “Estate

Well worth a listen! Copy and paste this Spotify link

Home Recording – “Just how good can it get”

By Mike Hirsh Esq, audio engineer at www.mcsrecording.com.au Tel 041738-3583, 9312-7391

Well actually, quite good results can be achieved at home if you have a good quality microphone, and a decent A/D to D/A audio interface. Of course the interface can have one, two or multiple inputs of 8. It all depends on your needs and experience. So let’s imagine you want to just record a vocal, piano or guitar in your loungeroom and put in on Spotify or Soundcloud.

The Interface

Should have at least 2 mic / 2 line inputs, like the SSL 2 & 2+

https://www.solidstatelogic.com/music-and-audio-production/audio-interfaces or the Focusrite scarlett-2i


Both are around the same price and are pretty good quality. They both come with software, but the SSL 2+ has additional plugins samples and loops for your computer to get you started.

However, if you have a friend who gives you software like Protools, or Logic Pro, then that’s a bonus. Note. Don’t buy an Interface and mic bundles. Why? – the mics are usually crap and the sellers want you to come back again and spend more money on a decent mic later. So you have been warned 🙂


I am not going to beat around the bush here, but using your Shure Beta 58 mic is not going to cut it. Why? because it’s a dynamic mic, and what you need is a condenser mic.

At MCS Recording Studio we use a few Neumann condenser mics for vocalists, but unless you can afford a $3,500 to $7000 mic, I’d stick with a good, but under $150 mic like the Audio Technica AT2020. https://audio-technica.com.au/products/at2020/. Or, for under $280, the Rode NT1a http://www.rode.com/microphones/nt1-a

By the way, the Rode is designed and built in Australia and comes with a Shockmount and Pop filter and will last a lifetime. Pop Filter is for eliminating S’s & P’s in ya vocals, so don’t forget it…!!!

A word on Stereo mics, please oh please, don’t bother unless you are at the Opera house recording a bloody choir. Why, because you want your single vocal mixed in the centre of the stereo field. I could go into this in greater technical detail as to why, but that’s for another day.

Suffice to say, I know a singer who recently recorded her vocals with a stereo/mono mic and couldn’t work out why the vocal was not dead centre. The answer is, yes you guessed it, she wasn’t standing dead centre of the stereo mic field.

She was moving around getting into the groove etc, poor lass and didn’t realise she had a MONO switch on her mic as well. She switched the mic to mono and to her astonishment, the phase issue was corrected.

Oh and if you record Bass, or Guitar, please do yourself a favour, always record in mono as these instruments are in MONO. Again, I could explain why, but that topic is a technical issue and it’s boring for some. However, for electronic keys, the outputs are Mono Left and Right (Stereo) so use them mono or stereo, depending on your needs live or studio. Check your keyboard manual, and by the way that’s not Manuel, as in Faulty Towers.

“May Your Efforts Achieve the Success They deserve” – Max Abrams 1907 -1995

This week’s contributions from Jammers with too much time on their hands…

  • What Have the Jammers Been up to
  • Cookin’ on Homemade Jam
  • Dogs, Debts and How to Make money Out of Music

Dogs, Debts and How to Make money Out of Music

Dogs and Debts A conversation with a couple of young musicians and their dog. Corporate gigs – dried up. Regular gigs – dried up. One off big gigs – cancelled. As part of a group of musos, they had sensibly set up a gymnasium business to provide them with a regular income where music has always been a precarious existence. The gym is currently closed, the business owes $100,000, the dog seemed the happiest of the group.

We concluded the following:

1 The sun is going to come up tomorrow

2 And the next day.

3 We all love being musicians, and that is more important than the money

4 The singer is getting into music production, experimenting with media, collaborative recording, electronic sounds. So is everyone else.

5 The dog is always up for a pat and a scratch.

So – how to make money out of music?

In two easy steps. Simple really.

Step 1    Get out of music

Step 2    Go make some money.

What have the Jammers been up to?
Itching for the shutdown to end seems to be a bit of a theme. Can’t imagine why.

Seven Singers, a Drummer and the Editor.



Aimee Everett, chanteuse, has been warbling in her garage studio and running up collaborative tunes with some of her entire Music Department. Listening to Matt Corby I’m in Chains


Yuko Onishi,
tonsil artist from Kyoto, isn’t doing a lot with the lock down, other than continuiung her work as a freelance interpreter. She offers Japanese to english translations, as well as English to Japanese translations. Could be on to something there…and she should be learning some new tunes any day now. She has been listening to a range of jazz standards. Emails will be sent to see if we can solve the problem.


Kay Young has been running laps of her apartment, doesn’t like the lock down one little bit, and should emerge determinedly cheerful and strikingly fit.


Nurul Rahman has two kids and a husband with a broken foot to look after, and remains cheerfully exasperated. Apparently Xavier was showing Ikima how to jump. There is no truth to the rumour that Frenchmen eat snails because they are so unfit that is the only food they can catch.


Katerina Myskova, who is the only jammer I can find who is working full time, has this week off, and a list of new songs to learn. Spends her downtime listening to Jill Scott. How sophisticated.

Rosemarie has been listening to Halleluiah, the Ray Charles version, to cheer herself up. It might be working. Ray Charles had eight children by five different wives,. All the wives were good looking. Seems like a bit of a shame, really.


Annie Smith: still tooling about in the garden, digging up a fresh supply of paving bricks to hurl at the neighbours. Possibly. Listening to a bit of latin. From all of which we may deduce she is fighting fit and ready to go…


Michael Findlay, owner of the finest set of ride cymbals in East Balaclava (I made that bit up, it couuld have been West Balaclava) is contemplating his non existent photography business (aren’t we all?) and not playing much drums. Things will only improve when the neighbours become chronically deaf. Michael provides the Jam Sessions photographs that make every one look slightly more exotic than they really are, and quite a bit more monotonal.

The Ed: otherwise known as Rob McCue, is keen to let us know he is out and about playing tennis. Smug bastard. When pressed, he admiits to listening most recently to Lester Young: admirable choice.

The Jammers Bit: On the subject of Nothing, and other irrelevancies

Nothing happening this week. If nothing lasts long enough, we will all be doing nothing next week as well. Despite this preoccupation, last week’s newsletter got a bumper number of hits – even though we put it out a tad late – or maybe, because …

Festival Breaking News:

The 85th Australian Jazz Convention cancelled.

We have been advised that the Australian Jazz Convention will be postponed to December 2021. This was to have been the 75th Convention – it started in 1946 and is already the longest running Jazz Festival in the Southern Hemisphere. It has retained a strong association with Trad Jazz – more properly, Trad Revival.

So old is this Festival, that when it started, Trad Revival was at the cutting edge of music – and its exponents were seen as the rebels of their day. It is technically possible that some 20 year old muso in 1946, now 94, is still going. Putting it back another year will be hardest on the old hands.

Links to Newport Jazz Festival and Jammers News: