The Other Jammers Bit: Folk Music and Guest Writers

This week, a report on the Newport Folk Festival, and a couple of articles from jammers. Hardly any jazz, but you didn’t want to read about that, did you?

The Newport Folk Festival.

No, read that bit again “Folk” not “Jazz”. Well, I rather liked it.

Previous newsletters have included links to the online streaming of the Newport Folk Festival which probably increased the viewing numbers by about three. The Festival was on Saturday and Sunday 27th/28th June. Obviously, a live event was not feasible, but the live streamed performances audience peaked at around 140. The Captain and meself attended a dinner at the Bowls Club, to watch on the big screen. I also watched a number of other performances over the weekend, and this is what I learnt…

  • Live Streaming is difficult to do well – and every the act got better as they settled in. Technical issues were almost non existent, but there was too much chatter/tuning of instruments that didn’t need tuning.
  • All the performers had made a real effort to tart up their living room/bedroom or whatever, some had had pets wandering about, , and almost all had a cheery little fire going, which didn’t set light to the credibility bookcase…
  • Folk music is at its best when it is personal, political and emotional.

The Newport Folk Festival was comprised of a diverse range of styles – country and western, Celtic trance, folk, and everything in between. There were gun guitarists (Jordan Brodie), neat vocal harmonies (Great Aunt), barefoot musos (hi, Mickey and Michelle) and my personal favourite – Robert K Champion singing stories about his life as a Gubrun, Kokatha and Mirning man now living and making music in Melbourne.

Props to Michael Stewart and his Folk Festival team – this was quite a challenge, well met.

… and that is it from me – the rest of the newsletter is written by Rose and Mike – a couple of keen jammers, and hopefully more to come.

Toodlepip!
TW

https://www.melbournejazzjammers.com.au/

https://www.instagram.com/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…

Toodlepip!

TW

https://www.melbournejazzjammers.com.au/

instagram: newport_jazz_festival_2021

https://www.facebook.com/groups/83551088146/?multi_permalinks=10158403671648147

Who are the Jammers?

First time in Japanese, and a bit more truth

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

メルボルン・ジャズ・ジャマーズ 

初の日本語版ニュースレターです!

なぜ日本語か?

ほとんど誰も理解できないからです。(筆者の私を含め)

まぁ、英語で書かれていたとしても、

「誰も理解できない」のがこのニュースレターの売りです

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 →

The Jammers Bit: The truth…

Jane Little, singer

Kay Young, Singer,

Ivan Sultanoff, bass

Laurie Savage, saxophone

Seems like only 123 years since Adolph S Ochs, then owner of The New York Times, created the famous slogan “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” for that august rag. It is still on the masthead today. We treat it more as an exception than a rule, but it has always been the motto of the Melbourne Jazz Jammers Newsletter, ever since we moved in to Bendigo Towers in three packing cases, a hurry or a fit of pique.

Whatever, now seems like a good time to ring up a few regular jammers, annoy them, and wheedle their life story out of them before they realise they are victims, not guests…What we learnt is that the back story is often quite superior to the sort of racket that the jam sessions can induce..What follows is absolutely true in some cases…

Jane Little, singer


Born an only twin, she first sang at the age of 3 and performed her first gig at the age of 16. Asked for a career highlight, she nominated playing The Lakehouse, Daylesford with 7 piece band Private Practice. This gig ran for years, possibly proving that the clientele at the Lakehouse Daylesford had a high turnover, or short memories, or possibly that the band was quite good..

She then sang Bob Dylan tunes at Port Fairy Jazz Festival in front of around 20,000 people – an extraordinary number even accounting for the fact it probably goes up about 1000 a year….

Little known fact: in her early twenties she was quite a looker. Still is.

She would like to be 36 – a high point in her life from which it has been downhill all the way, but in a good way.

Jane is a confident performer as a regular at the jam sessions although she took a bit of coaxing when she first turned up at the Junktion (0.006 nanoseconds if I remember correctly)– and she secretly likes Diana Krall – so she doesn’t take her jazz too seriously.

Ivan Sultanoff: double bass.

Ivan speaks nearly six languages nearly fluently, goes to Europe every year for the skiing and has a knee reconstruction as soon as he gets back – so he clearly isn’t a very good ski instructor.

He started playing the violin at the age of 10 shortly before Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Russians. Coincidence? You decide.

Asked for a career highlight, he nominated backing The Supremes, and followed that up with the Elton John Tour, John Farnham, and four concerts with Frank Sinatra. Why such a gifted bass player needed Ol’ Blue Eyes to accompany him is a mystery to all of us.

Ivan also nominated the Montreux International Music Festival with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra as a classical highlight; and playing for the three Tenors. Real musos would have had at least four… Ivan reached his peak at 55, and has declined so fast he now plays at Jam Sessions…

The Supremes, on being told Ivan was playing for them:is it me or do they look just a little worried?

Elton John, on being told Ivan was playing for him

                                                   The three tenors, on being told Ivan was playing for Elton John

Kay Young, singer who didn’t set fire to her apartment in November 2014. Lawsuit pending

Kay Young: when she was so poor she couldn’t afford a pair of socks

Started singing at the age of 5, which is before most of us were born. I know for a fact I wasn’t born until I was at least 6…Sang her first paying gig at the age of 18, and nominated her career highlight as singing Garland, Dietrich and Piaf songs at the Sydney Opera House in front of 3,000 people. Pfft! even Joan Sutherland got to sing there…

Kay once flew from Darwin to a shed in Nhulunbuy in a DC3 with a 13 piece band for the Policemen’s and Firemen’s Ball. Half the band smoked weed all night and no one can remember what happened to the Policeman’s ball. She then ate a dodgy prawn or something, got an allergic reaction and ended the night in a Bauxite mine or the local Hospital, although it is not entirely clear (from my notes) which is which.


Kay singing with Bakers Dozen in Darwin.

Kay couldn’t name her worst ever gig – could be any day now… She was on TV in the cast for the last series of the infamous ” No 96 ” and supplied a photo as proof. Fully clothed, I doubt it was authentic.

Preferred age… 33

Has the biggest repertoire of any singer at the Jam Sessions, but a reprehensible habit of converting every tune to a latin number. Probably to upstage Joan Sutherland. Once sang Autumn Leaves in 5/4 at the Grand Hotel. It was appalling…

Laurie Savage, extraordinary saxophone player

Extraordinary because he was 33 before he started playing. Was born in England and didn’t get to Australia until he was 11, by which time, of course, the damage was done.

Age he would like to be: 33 if he could know then what he knows now…

Nominated a Blues Brothers gig at the Club House Hotel in Blainey (NSW) as a career highlight. Half way through the gig the shearers, who were into a bit of biffo, elected to take the fight outside so they wouldn’t interrupt the Band. How respectful!

Worst gig: playing in a paddock up in the Blue Mountains on mid-Winter’s day. Says he had an icicle hanging off his horn. Cool jazz, probably.

Laurie played Castlemaine with Stan Van Hooft in Standing Tall and particularly enjoyed it, but is now reduced to playing at the Jam Sessions.

https://soundcloud.com/laurie-savage/firstlight

So there you have it: extraordinary amounts of talent all round. Next week we will have a look at a few more jammers. Maybe even you.

Go to a Festival… Go to a jam session – Get up and boogie soon!

Toodle pip!

https://www.melbournejazzjammers.com.au/

The Festival Edition

The Jammers

This week’s gambol in the park looks at the upcoming Festivals – fully aware that anyone who says he can see more than ten minutes into the future these days is either a rabid optimist, an habitual liar or quite possibly a politician.

Or, as it turns out, a Jazz festival organiser…Every event organiser we contacted said they were going ahead – subject to any Government imposed restrictions.

Festivals provide opportunities for a wide range of musicians to perform, to network, and to experience different genres of jazz. For musicians at the start of their musical adventure, this is a great way of getting experience and developing your chops.

Marysville Music Weekend: 16th -18th October 2020

https://marysvillejazzandblues.com/

Take note of the name – this has evolved from Jazz and Blues into a more diverse event: Jazz, Blues, Country, Folk – so whatever your musical tastes there is bound to be something you like.. or dislike. First cab off the rank (a month earlier than the next Festival), there has to be some doubt as to whether it will run, but that is true of all the Festivals at this stage.

Applications are open for bands wishing to play.


Wangaratta Jazz and Blues

The 2020 Wangaratta Festival of Jazz will begin on Friday, 30 October and ends on Sunday, 1 November 2020

Wangaratta cancelled in 2019 and needs to dodge Covid19 restrictions this year. The Festival seeks to showcase the best talent, and has had overseas musicians headlining year after year. This is an expensive exercise in hiring bands, and tickets ain’t cheap, but you will get a wide range of musical genres showcased.

https://wangarattajazz.com/media-release-announcing-the-artistic-programming-team-for-2020/

First up, Captain Chaos is planning the annual Jammers foray up the Hume for The Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues. The cancellation last year was due to a lack of funds or committee members or something – but the word is that the Festival will happen this year. It has been the Captain’s habit in years gone by to so outrageously exaggerate the delights of Wang that a number of jammers have pedalled up the Hume to join him for a jam session. We have played a number of “off Broadway” sessions at the Bulls Head, (and they have grown more popular each year) and at the craft market which itself has grown over the years.


The Australian Jazz Convention, Albury December 26 – December 31st 2020 (yes I know it is last year’s logo…)

The daddy of them all, and now the longest running Jazz Festival just about anywhere. Last year was a blast (jammers in attendance included Annie Smith, Yuko Onishi, Mike Hirsh, Dave Taylor, meself, Steve Bray and the Captain, Marion Lustig, Jeff Harris and gawd knows who else, but)

This one has musos from all over and a definite bias towards the Trad Revivalists (the young punks and revolutionaries of their day, but that was in 1946). You probably won’t hear too much cutting edge moderne, but great entertainment.


The Port Fairy Jazz Festival:

12th – 14th February 2021 is given as the start date.

https://www.facebook.com/portfairyjazzfestival/

This link covers reviews, photos and videos of the 2020 Festival. Word is , the Festival Committee will make a final decision in October 2020– but are planning for the Festival to go ahead at this stage.

The Captain, meself, Mac Beshai and Peter Micevski accompanied Jess Dams at this Festival in February 2020 . We also got to hear some familiar and not so familiar bands. An enthusiastic crowd, mainly of older, wealthier types who come from all over. Port Fairy has an abundance of venues, a huge number of bands playing and “something for everyone”.

Now one of the biggest Festivals in Victoria in a very pretty location.


Newport Jazz Festival, Australia 1st/2nd May 2021

https://www.melbournejazzjammers.com.au/

The new kid on the block and the only one in town. This is the Melbourne Jazz Jammers latest effort, deferred from May 2020. Wqe already have 60 bands registered and, thanks to the Covid19 inspired deferral, now have room for up to 72 bands.

Registrations are (technically) open right now, so if you are dead keen, put in an application. Otherwise, the Committee will be reconvening in December 2020, and looking for volunteers for all the various tasks that have to be done to make a Festival work.

Merimbula Jazz Festival

Queens Birthday weekend in 2021 (June 11th – 14th)

https://merimbulajazz.org.au/newsletter/

They have not yet announced a band list for the 2021 Festival, although it is likely to include all the bands that registered for the 2020 event which was cancelled: a pity because we got some very good reports on the 2019 Festival – seems like Merimbula is getting back to its best.

The Festival draws big bands and school bands from Canberra, has the $1,500 Jazz Quest for younger musicians ; and has a loyal base of trad bands as well as more modern jazz – that’s the sort where you might say “Is it still jazz?” but will like it heaps anyway. Six Venues altogether, so if there is a limit on crowd numbers, the Festival may still go ahead, but on a reduced basis.

Castlemaine Jazz Festival: date to be announced

https://www.castlemainejazzfestival.com.au/

All the information on this one appears to relate to the (2020) cancelled festival. Despite most residents of Castlemaine now claiming to be personally responsible for setting it up, this was the Festival originally set up by the Melbourne Jazz Jammers, mainly to prevent Captain Chaos from getting bored… – it worked… John Hannah and Ken Turnbull were the first locals off the mark.

We would expect the dates to be June 11th – 14th
June 2021 (Queens Birthday Weekend). Castlemaine has increasingly had a focus on younger musicians.


Inverloch Jazz Festival Friday 5th March 2021 – Monday 8th March 2021

Inverloch got lucky – they just squeezed in a Festival before the lockdown. They have run three venues for the last few years, and seem to be expanding again – which is good because this gives more opportunity for upcoming bands to get a spot.

Expect plenty of trad, some good more contemporary bands and lots happening in the street.

Go to a Festival… Get up and boogie!

So there you have it – as things stand at the moment. If you would like to play at a Festival, and are looking for a band, start by contacting Captain Chaos, and we will hopefully find you a spot. We will publish updates on all the Festivals as news comes to hand.

Stay tuned, stay healthy, stay 1.5m apart, unless you are American, in which case make it 6 foot. Good luck with that.

Next Newsletter will be the Featured Jammers edition – hopefully the true history of some of the regular jammers.

Cream in our coffee? Cucumber sandwiches on the lawn? No more tea for me, Mama, I’m going to fly my aeroplane…

Toodle pip!

https://www.melbournejazzjammers.com.au/

The Story So Far

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…
TW

Pubs with Pianos I haven’t Played At – an ongoing series

Wall Drug: they had a piano I didn’t play it

It wasn’t until I spotted a sign on Interstate 90 saying “Wall Drug, 782 miles” somewhere in Wisconsin that I understood the signs I saw for years on the London Underground trains – “Visit Wall Drug”.

As I wondered what the sign was saying, (having never encountered a speaking sign before) I came across another sign “Wall Drug 769 miles”. Approximately 250 signs later, I rode my motorcycle into Wall and decided to visit the Drug Store, home of the Jackalope. It is the second most exciting thing in South Dakota, which isn’t saying much.

There was a piano in there somewhere, which I decided not to play. Rashly we ordered coffee and burgers. The American suicide kit – you drink coffee so bad you want to die, and if you keep eating American burgers, that will do the trick.

 

 

clip_image002

 

Those of you who have never travelled I90W, or I90E for that matter- a stop at Wall Drug is highly recommended. Just be careful about the oncoming traffic.

The Ocean Inn, Dymchurch, Kent

Played here twice and never went back

Esmeralda had changed her mind. “Let’s go to Amsterdam.” she said. We were in Dublin at the time, and the map clearly showed several blue bits in between. Ferries. Once we got to Amsterdam, we stayed in the hotel where Chet Baker died, had some ordinary coffee and remarkable cigarettes at a cafe by the canal, and then left the next morning. Esmeralda had changed her mind again. “Lets go to Southampton”

clip_image002[5]

The Chet Baker plaque on the wall of the hotel in Amsterdam

Holland, Belgium, Northern France, then the Chunnel (not recommended on a motorcycle as you stand up the whole way.) Riding back through Kent we went past the Ocean Inn, Dymchurch. I remarked to Esmeralda that this was the pub where I played my first ever paying gig (10s for an hour in 1965) and my second paying gig (£1 an hour a day later). Shall we have a look? “Keep going” she said, so I did..

clip_image004

The Ocean Inn: it is a bit blurry – could be the beer…

Toodle pip!

Next week: Some Festival dates for you to consider. They all say they are happening…
TW

Live Streams, Dead Pubs, the Laws of the Jam Session

Apparently, last week’s article headed Epistrophy struck a chord. I should stop right there, should I not? As if….Thank you for the feedback all the same.

First up, a bit about live – streaming music. We have had time to catch up on comments from the main stream media, or what is left of it. Seems current circumstances are disrupting the model of music streaming.

(See mediaredef-newsletter@mediaredefined.com)

Streaming model businesses have all sought to provide access to every artiste in the known universe, or on the planet at least. And they have all been jolly successful – if you can get it on Spotify, it is bound to be on Itunes, Pandora, Amazon and Tidal. So they are no longer competing on quality or exclusivity so much as on being cheap, easy and available. At 30,000,000 tunes, it would take 79.9 years of nonstop listening to Spotify alone to get through them all.

Going live online: Seems that the current trend is for musicians to create concerts on line rather than in person, bypassing the streaming services as wellas the great unwashed and going straight to social media – Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Whats App and the like. Apparently no-one has yet come up with a more efficient way of spreading viruses than a music festival or concert

Adding fuel to the fire, the current users of streaming services are apparently moving away from new music, and going the nostalgia route. So musicians can now choose between not getting paid much a by a streaming service, not getting paid at all because the gigs have all been cancelled, and not getting paid much by putting on their own concert or getting paid heaps by being dead.

Anecdotally, those jammers who have tried the online caper say it is technologically unreliable, and in particular creates timing issues. All that technology can barely provide a substitute for the live experience, even if it does improve, which of course it will because technology is like that. Should anyone doubt that, I got it from several sources, including a Wiltshire based Ukulele group. So there.

Personally, can’t wait to play live again. Ditto, I suspect. Most jammers…

Pubs with Pianos I haven’t Played At: Somewhere in south western Queensland there is a run down shack called the Toompine Hotel. It sits on the side of the Quilpie Thargomindah Road – a dirt track halfway between nowhere and nowhere else – I had ridden up it on a 1000cc Honda, with no map, not much petrol, and no water, mainly because Thargomindah was closed.

Turns out around 70% of all passing traffic stops at the Toompine Hotel. So I did too. . It is a bit like Wall Drug in that respect except Wall Drug is also closed, and it is in South Dakota. But I digress. There was an Opal rush in Toompine in the late 1800’s, but only the Hotel and the Cemetery and about six street signs got built The streets were called 1st Street, 2nd Street and so on. Probably a saxophone player there somewhere. Dead opal miners made it to the Cemetery. Everybody else packed up their tent and went to Lightning Ridge.

So… parked the bike, walked in for a chat with the landlord. There was a piano at the side of the bar. Who’da thought?. “That’s nothing” the barkeep said, “there’s another one out the back – I’ll show you” So through the back door, and there was another bar, with another piano along side. Who’da thought? Whilst I mused on the statistical improbability of finding two pianos in the outback, he opened a door at the back of the bar, and there, in a dingy room, was another piano, only this one was falling through the floor as the floorboards had been eaten by termites. Turns out there is not, statistically speaking , much between the odds of two and three pianos.

As none of them were in tune, I finished my drink, got back on the bike and went to Quilpie instead – where they had a surf club on the shores of Lake Quilpie. I bought the story and the teeshirt in the Quilpie Cafe.

Next week’s newsletter Why I stopped at Wall Drug, South Dakota, but not at the Ocean Inn, Dymchurch
TW

The Jammers Bit:

Epistrophy…

It has been a lively week at Bendigo Towers, world headquarters of the Melbourne Jazz Jammers Newsletter. First time in ages that we have been unable to report a single bum note played by a single jammer. Try harder!

Epistrophy in the key of what? We are sure there have been some bum notes,, if only because so many of you have been attempting to learn Epistrophy in either Gbm, C# major, or a tearing hurry, depending on your mood at the time.

Why so many jammers are doing this is easily explained. We had occasion to contact quite a number of musos (see the Festival section below) with the intention of confirming their intent to perform in the Second Inaugural Newport Jazz Festival (permits pending). Almost everyone admitted to using the time to avoid doing all the tasks that they had rashly said they would do when they had the time.

Quite a number pounced eagerly on the Epistrophy idea as an excuse, as I said we would play it when we got a jam session together again. By accident, I mentioned the key we would play it in – and am now looking forward to three saxophones playing it in F#, Db, A#minor and B simultaneously, whilst the pianist plays it in Fb mixolydian – and the bass player in A. We are not worried what key the guitarists use, because they always sound a bit naff anyway. And the drummers don’t play in any key, so we have asked them to work up a spiffing little riff in 7/4 instead. This will keep them happy and the rest of us confused.

The noise should be truly appalling, and I encourage you to come along and enjoy the debacle, when we get around to it. Nothing can truly replace live music, can it?

A Trot Through the Archives

Most chardonnays at one session: Bob Vinard, every session. Dizzy’s 2009, 2010, 2011, eventually got banned, came back at the Leinster, and switched to most teaspoons (six usually) of sugar in his coffee, 2015, 2016,

Most insults hurled at a single Drummer Alan White, but only because he asked for them, and got grumpy if we left him out. Still miss him. A dapper dresser – is there stilla Datsun 180B in Moonee Ponds with no seat covers? A natural drummer – never had a lesson in his life. Never missed a beat, never found it in the first place. Eventually learned that a drum stick has two ends. You get the drift…

Longest single tune: Little Sunflower, 16 minutes. The Leinster, can’t remember when, as I only woke up when it was finished. A loose use of the word “tune”.

Earliest known Jammer: Mike Hirsh, by his own estimation. Has played at every one of the venues we have destroyed. Still playing, still waiting for a nice carpet…

Biggest Train Wreck of all time. So many to choose from…Contenders include Gentleman John Curtis for a version of Don’t Explain that defied belief. Actually maybe it was another tune, it was hard to tell. He will claim, quite justifiably, that he was hamstrung by the three saxophones playing in either a different key, a different tempo, or both.

Another memorable cockup was the Annie Smith Leinster debacle of 2015. Again, the name of the tune now escapes me. The chart was to blame. She followed this up with another absolute trainwreck at the Junktion, this time with Sam Izzo on piano and everyone else on drugs probably. The chart was to blame. We did the same song, on principle, the following week and it went fine…

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The Rt Hon Annie Smith

Strange how the Curtis and the Divine Miss Smith (as she was then known), have been generally two of the best performers at Jam sessions in between. Of course it is more fun for all of us when it is the mighty who have fallen…

Loudest singer of all time: And damn good with it… Amy Jaulin at the Leinster. The entire Front Bar stopped playing 8 ball to listen – or was it to look?

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Amy Jaulin, the flying eyelash…

Fours, Fives, who knows… This has been an enduring speciality of the Duracell Kid, latterly known as Captain Chaos. The trick is to leap up in the middle of a perfectly good tune, and call “fours” by which he may mean anything between 3 and 17… after which half the band will ignore him, and the other half stop, whilst the drummer du jour goes berserk in the mistaken belief that we like that sort of thing.

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Captain Chaos at Ramage, just after the Second World War.

November 15th 2013 Jack’s Accident

“And Jack! Long term jammers may remember he was mowed down by a Pajero going backwards, whilst strolling across Queen Street. Jack Morris, not the Pajero. Rumour has it he was playing his trombone at the time. A complete defence against a charge of careless driving. Anyhoo, the crash severely affected his trombone playing abilities, to the extent that he now sounds pretty damn good. He was good before of course, but not pretty.

Taariq: A stalwart of the jams, starting from Dizzy’s. Had a unique feel for what constituted jazz, coupled with an innate inability to blend with almost any other musician. Would then show that he could play, if only intermittently by occasionally nailing a piece.. Sample review:

“Highlight of the day, for me, was Taariq getting the groove going for Feelin’ Good. We agreed at the end that it almost sounded like real music. Not like yer average jam at all really.”

And that is a trot through the archives for now. Several peeps have commented how much they miss the jams. Amazing how you can forget so quickly. Stay in touch, stay healthy, and toodlepip!

TW

The Jammers Bit: The last Tango and looking ahead

Fin de Siecle moment 22nd March – who but the Good Captain Chaos (aka Col Garrett) would organise a Saturday morning freebie outside a cafe in Challis Street – the back end of Newport – for no particular reason that I might be aware of.

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Started at the ungodly hour of 10.30 am, with one coffee drinker and her dog.. but strangely warmed up into a rather spiffin’ little local event, with people dancing in the street, eyeballing the quartet from a passing bus, drinking coffee and generally being nice to each other. By midday it was swinging hard – seemed like most people knew this would be the last hurrah for a while and loved every minute of it. Props to Katerina Myskova for singing her little heart out, to Steve Martin on double bass (we borrowed him from The Newport Gypsy Djangos), The Good Captain playing some easy saxophone, and to meself for turning up and having a ball…

The shop was shut a few days later…

Doom and Gloom … which brings me neatly to the next bit. 99% of the jammers are doing the same number of gigs and earning the same coin as they were before it all went t*ts up and pear shaped. The optimists among us (there are 3) will be looking forward to doing the same number of gigs and earning the same coin some time in the future.

Shutting down the Jazz Festival. We are actually getting so good at this that we might keep doing it year after year…

Support for Professional Musicians

I have received several earnest e-mails asking us all to support a submission to Government seeking special treatment for the Arts sector, because everyone has lost their gigs. Everyone being, in this case, musicians who are so professional they feel entitled… and not idle jammers. Unless people start leaning out of windows and applauding musicians, we probably won’t contribute to this…If we continually plead jazz as a special case, we will only emphasise how non-essential it might have become.

Looking Ahead: Party Party Party!

There is a real risk that any number of music venues will not survive.. We have been in touch with Gina at the Tower, planning a re-opening party even if we don’t know when. And we will go back to the Challis Street cafe to do it all over again. Maybe throw in a few recovery parties for other venues as well. See the bit on the Newport Jazz Festival 2021 below.

Venues we have closed, and other bits of gossip..

Some bright spark suggested a review of all the different venues whose standards we have lowered over the years:

The “old” Dizzy’s: The Friday night sessions featured (amongst others) the Curtis, Hirsh, Marg in the audience, and Bob Vinard on the chardy all night long. Adam Rudegair was a regular, and Celestine terrified us all with her instructions. The POETS day promenade saw some great crowds, particularly when driven by Steve Sedergreen. The musical standard was often high, and this was a great jazz venue for quite a while, punctuated by noisy trains out the back. It closed because the management apparently received an offer they could not refuse. Roger was moving the venue to Burnley Street, aiming to be open in a couple of months – it took over two tears… so we went to:

The Night Cat. This one didn’t last long as a jammers venue, but this was where Margaret the newly named POCKOTL took us. Princess of Cool and Keeper of the List, she had the bright idea of getting everybody’s email address so we could stay in touch. The Johnson Street venue was a barn of a place that needed a huge crowd to make it work, which it never did for us. Sam Cheevers ran a great latin band there on Saturday nights, long gone, but the POCKOTL email list survives – it is now the Newsletter email list for around 550 people who have been associated with the jams over the years.

Scarlette Bar/Onederland. The scruffiest venue (by quite a margin) that the jammers ever played in. Had some great nights there, even if it was a little cold. Memorable rendition of Georgia by Henry Manetta was a highlight. Eventually the bar got taken over and ‘refurbished” with mouldy armchairs; the management probably thought it had potential as a great venue for drug dealers but was too seedy even for them. We left this one just before it went broke…

The Glasshouse, Fitzroy. This pub was a hangout for unsuspecting Lesbians, who took to the jammers like ducks to a crocheting class. What were we thinking? Regular jammers at the time included Bob from South Melbourne. Depending on who you believed, Bob studied philosophy at University, played classical piano, had a severe mental illness, came from a middle class background (his words), had a non-specific performing arts grant and a heart of gold.

Other jammers at the time included the Debster on debut, Julie Stewart, Bronwyn an audience regular, Miriam (from the Dizzy’s days) Anton on bass, and John Dent playing the sweetest clarinet. Jane Elvy on New York State of Mind was a standout. And this was the venue for the famous mass rendition of Watermelon Man.

“Can we borrow the Technics P30 keyboard for a couple of weeks?” Sure, got it back 8 years later.

There were times we struggled to get a quorum, as many of the original jammers faded away, but the chronically underlit Glasshouse had its Byzantine charms. Can’t remember the barmaid’s name, but she could really sing. So could Sarah Maclaine who dropped in several times…

Ramage, South Melbourne. Dreamt up this one as a pretext for not having to pack up the PA after our regular Saturday night gigs at this South Melbourne bar. The first of the Sunday sessions. Harry the manager grew to love the jams as they became his busiest session of the week; and drew in some fine musicians (the seven sax line-up one week was a treat.) Once persuaded Taariq to let someone else have a go by politely standing on his guitar case. Louise (Rogers) was a regular and a good singer. Captain Chaos started with the jammers at this venue.

Ramage folded after 48 weeks.

La Pena This West Melbourne spanish tapas bar worked well for a while. Highlights included putting a speaker out on the pavement for the Errol Street Festival and pulling a fine crowd. Lost count of how many Local Government regulations that one broke…, before we all turned up one Sunday to find the shelves bare and the locks changed. Never did find out what happened, but I think the manager did a runner. The Spanish beer was ghastly.

The Royal Standard North Melbourne. Ah, Dom and Cheryl! Dropped in here to ask the way to another pub, but thought this might do, (it did -for two years) High points included packing the side bar, then running a whole session off the Roland 30w Cube we used as a foldback, when Dom’s expensive PA system failed for the umpteenth time. Eventually we were asked to leave – by Dom, who then pleaded with us to come back. He sold the lease to Frank about two weeks later.

We have been back to the Royal Standard several times – Friday night sessions, and more recently as a stand-by when the Junk folded.

And so to…

The Leinster Arms Hotel, Collingwood Where we stayed for 8 years, without ever failing to get in landlord Glen’s way (he had a vision of punters in droves coming through the door) or keeping the noise down to Glen’s desired level which only went up when Glen was playing. He was a magnificent supporter of jazz…. Cracked the all time record with 7 saxes one week. Memorable contributions from Adam Rudegeair, Rory Clarke, Ade Ish, and even Chelsea Allen came down and played drums once. My personal favourites were Jason Chalmers (sax), Andy Moon and Doug Kuhn on bass, some of the Ruby Rogers sessions, and Amy Jaulin who sang so loud she stopped the pool competition in the front bar. This was the starting point for current jam session regulars Malcolm Hornby, Jack Morris, Alan West, Jeff Harris, Kay Young, Frank , Kevin Roffe and Brian amongst others; and the last gigs for Alan, the 3,473rd worst drummer in the world , nearly, and Bob Vinard.

The Leinster was way too small a venue (there was room for an audience of about 8), but was almost everyone’s favourite at the time.

The pub used to win Pub of the Year awards every year, until 2010, (which was the year we started)…and closed in 2018 – so off to search again.

The Junktion Hotel, Kew: We promised landlord Dave we would get up to 25 musos in every Sunday. In truth, we rarely dropped below 50 people at each session. Started in the corner Bar and moved to the Bistro after a while. Home of the Featured Singer series, and was a high point of Ray Hood‘s occasional world tour (he used to drop in after a La Niche session). First sessions for Carol, and Jane, Fermin (who found the place) hit his straps as a guitarist. Ivan Sultanoff and Pete Micevski became regular bassists. In fact, everyone was good, except perhaps Dave as a venue manager..

Eventually got a phone call on a Friday – would we get our gear out pronto as they were changing the locks. Never heard from Dave again…

The Post , St Kilda If this wasn’t your favourite venue, you should get out more. In the 11 months we were there, we saw over 140 musicians, and despite the most complicated/worn out PA system we ever used, there were some great sessions. Amongst the regulars, Alan West, Laurie Savage, Roger Clarke and Jeff Harris held up the sax department, Alan Richards, Mike Hirsh, and Michael Findlay drummed admirably, John Bell (trumpet) was as good as Peter Dann, and nearly as good as Julian (Leinster) and Jane, Jess, Carol, Yuko, Kay, Annie, and Aimee all had their moments.

We left because they wanted to move the Jammers to an unviable time, and then capture our considerable audiences for a new band in the evenings. Their treatment of the jammers was lousy, their timing was awful, but they effectively got three weeks of an expensive band front of 8 people (we counted) in place of the 50 – 90 folks who used to frequent the Jam Sessions. And so…

The Tower – a work in progress. We have only played here once, great acoustics, posh venue and Gina the Bistro manager as keen as mustard, (she used to manage Dizzy’s) More to come…

Next newsletter – a trot through the archives going back to 2011 – you may be surprised at who did what and with what and to whom…

Stay in touch, stay healthy, and toodlepip!
TW

The Jammers Bit: On Sailing

On Sailing
There is a saying amongst wise sailors that if you even start thinking about taking in a reef, it is already time to do it.

The Tower Hotel Jam Session: launched with a pretty spiffing start. Not full sail, perhaps, but of the 24 peeps who rocked up, all of them said they would come again, most thought the joint fairly classy, and the sound quality was better than ever. Miss Kay even used the cheap Chinese Shure knock-off microphone, which was a vast improvement on what we have been used to.

Highlights of the day included

· A bunch of locals dropping in for a meal, and staring, gob smacked, at the musos performing for them. Several said they would come again – the beginnings of a new crowd, perhaps?

· Calamatta, resplendent in his red hat, playing more than he ever has at a jam before.

· David Lole (piano) dropping in for a look-see, staying all afternoon and playing up a storm

· The Debster, Kay and Ash the only singers, getting plenty of air time

· Saxofollicles from Alan, The Captain, Jeff

· Drums by the Hirsh, and Andre – Andre probably the best on the day, but Mike gets the gong for helping to pack up – much appreciated.

· Garram, Malcolm and meself making up the four piano players for the day

· Ivan, Nelson and Pete taking turns on bass – three very different styles but all good.

· Quite a few people saying the venue was closer for them than St Kilda had been.

All of which makes it so much more of a pity but, reluctantly, we have decided to put the sessions “on ice” for the present. Apologies to Gina (Bistro Manager) but we would like to come back. By which, we probably mean that we will resume the sessions some time around September, but I am not saying which year..

Hopefully, the two (or is it three now) regular readers of the Jammers Newsletter will appreciate that this is being done for all the right reasons which may or may not include the fact that we wouldn’t mind a break anyway, can’t be a***ed to go on writing the Newsletter if there is nothing much to write about, and we would rather everyone went home and caught coronavirus mildly but nicely whilst there, and the Jam Sessions weren’t to blame.

Hatches battened down, and a reef taken in.

Stay in touch, and toodlepip
TW

Off and Running… again

The original Dizzy’s, the Night Cat, The Scarlette Bar/Onederland, The Glasshouse, Ramage, La Pena, The Royal Standard, The Leinster Arms, The Junktion Hotel, The Post Hotel, and now….There has been a fair bit of movement this last week, with Jammers suggesting, and looking at, a fair few different venues. The upshot is…

The Tower Hotel, 686 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn East VIC 3123

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Good parking (free on Sundays), and the Jammers will be in the Bistro – food and bevs available. Go in the door on the left in the above picture. We have organised a 4 week trial to see how it goes, and whether any Jammers turn up, other than Jane who suggested the joint and then arranged a family function for Sunday so she cannot be held responsible. Sensible girl.

The room is larger than the corner bar at the Junk, and a similar shape so the sound should be good. If not okay. Or reasonable. Or ‘orrible in the finest traditions of the previous venue.

Does anyone get the impression that we won’t know until we have tried it? And it has more carpet than Mr Hirsh esq. could have ever dreamed of.

So….Don’t come this week unless you are desperate. We are secretly banking on having just a few peeps there so we can play some half decent tunes.

Oh, alright…See ya there?
TW