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:


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…

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

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.

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

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: The Music Edition. Good Grief!

It has come to my attention that many of you are coping rather well with the stage 4 lockdown. This is to stop at once – we have Government regulations against that sort of thing.

We understand that Jammers have been surreptitiously listening to music *(see below) and making ISO recordings on the sly, and posting them unnecessarily to Facebook. This sort of behaviour could break the internet, or at least clog up the Facebook part of it. We must ask that you wipe that smug grin off your face, or maybe not as you are probably wearing a mask anyway. There are consequences for such irrational attitudes and it must stop at once.

Examples of the moral decline of civilisation as we know it might include the demise of Lipstick Manufacturies, the demise of the Flu season, the status of Free Victoria as the only state which hasn’t shut its borders to anyone, the discovery that home percolated coffee is just as good as a cold cup from a half shut Barista, and you do not need bread anymore as Marg is baking it for you..

And, for Godsake, will someone kindly go out and catch the flu – seems almost no-one has this year and it is playing hell with the statistics.

What a lucky life!

What have the Jammers been listening to?

Jeff Harris: last listened to A Night in Tunisia, and is so bored he has taken up piano.

John Curtis is locked up in South Bank, as he should be, and has been listening to a French CD he bought years ago – so obscure that he cannot remember its name, although I am sure if he could he would pronounce it with an appropriate French accent. Grave probably

John Curtis

Cardinal Calamatta has been listening to Argentine tango called Nostalgias, by a composer called Pablo something or other. He has had a break from saxophone, lost his embouchure, and is now getting it back – sweetest tone of any of the regular saxopholologists.


POCKOTL (Marg) has now pruned everything in her garden to approximately ground level, and is baking bread while it all grows again. She has been listening to some Jimi Hendrix. Rock chick…


Deborah “have you been listening to the Republican National Convention” Salkov has been learning Orange Coloured Sky and listening to Lady Gaga who she thinks is rather good.

Gina (Tower Hotel Manager) has been swanning around Queensland, but promises to come back and re-open the Tower. Bopping around to Beyonce at the moment.

Doug “haircut” Kuhn last listened to chanteuse Patricia Barber and seems to have got the lockdown two step down pat.

And finally, Captain Chaos hasn’t been listening to his phone as he hasn’t answered yet. I am reliably informed he is well and listening to Trains – the Blue Note Tokyo All Stars Jazz Orchestra. He has also been practicing and accidentally played a hot solo last week. We have told him to have a Bex and a lie down…

Captain Chaos

Festival and Jammers News:
Sad news from Port Fairy- the Jazz Festival has been cancelled for this year – not a great surprise as the much bigger Folk Festival was cancelled about three weeks ago. We will do a ring round and get an update on all the Festivals soon. It is going to be ugly…

Click on the links for the Festival website etc. Etc.


The Jammers Bit: When do we open a jam session?

Due to the complete absence of any positive news vis a vis the Jammers, this week’s Newsletter is looking at the story of Rob Petrie, Gelignite and the Cessna 206, Heritage architecture, and why you never have two clocks in an aeroplane. All of it true, of course, and almost exclusively irrelevant. Finishing, as you do, with hopes of a Jam Session.

Petrie was a lunatic, but a big, likeable bloke. Invariably dressed in a faded uniform with the obligatory Blundstones,. He had a heart of gold, a tatty Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife career, an enthusiasm for arresting mutton birders, and a penchant for big explosions. I first met him sitting in an overloaded Cessna 206, with my feet propped up on a box which the pilot had put forward to help balance the weight.

The Cessna 206 It was a 20 minute flight to Maria Island, and its grass airstrip with notorious winds off Bishop and Clerk making the landing interesting, as you had to buzz the strip first to chase off the kangaroos and Cape Barren geese, then turn around quickly and land before they wandered back. There is a.100 foot drop off the cliff at the end of the strip into the sea.

A Cessna 206 on the “runway” at Darlington air strip.

check out the landing conditions!

Gelignite: About 10 minutes into the flight, I turned round and asked Rob what was in the box under my feet. “Gelignite” he said. Lovely stable stuff and quite inert until it goes bang. There were no vehicles on the island, so Rob was going to use the gelignite to shift some rock.

About this much…

About an hour after we got to Maria Island, I was moving around the old convict settlement, photographing and surveying the original buildings, as heritage architects do… I had to stop for a while as Rob wanted to blow out some rocks to put in a drainage pipe. Quite safe, he said, and promptly blew a rock through the roof of the Coffee Palace at a range of about 75 yards.

Heritage Architecture: He also managed to blow a crack in the end wall of the Men’s prison, thereby revealing the original doorway to the Mess Hall which was mentioned in the Diego Bernacchi records, but had never been found. Unusual survey technique, made my day..

Petrie’s drainage pipe later worked a treat as well, so it was a pretty productive effort all round.

The clock: On the return trip in the Cessna, we flew off the end of the cliff, and climbed steadily. The dasboard had two of everything except the clock. Nick the pilot explained that a clock was an handy navigational tool, and you either had one and hoped it worked, or you had three. If you only had two and one was, say ten minutes out, you wouldn’t know which was which, where you were and when you would fly into the mountain. There were only two things that Nick didn’t like when flying – cumulo nimbus and cumulo granite. Best to avoid the latter.

The Jam Session: I don’t know where Petrie is now – or Nick for that matter – it was a long time ago, but the clock concept is relevant to Victoria today. We had a first wave of pandemic which seemed to go fairly easily, that is one clock. But then a second wave which, hopefully, will subside but that is only two clocks. – but you can tell better how the pandemic will behave when you get the third wave, because it becomes more and more predictable. Only then could you even contemplate opening a jam session safely.

Just a thought…


Festival and Jammers News:




The Jammers Bit: And another thing

Greets. The emails we are sending out have resulted in lots of correspondence with a whole lot of jammers. – a common theme being, “can’t wait to get back to the jam sessions” – for a whole lot of reasons, not all of them entirely musical.

This week’s codswallop includes a couple of links – copy and paste, people! Huich’s session at Bar Ousso is good, and Ivan’s diatribe on bass players (the Bass Rabbit Hole) is addictive once you get started.

Madge has, reportedly, been up to her usual shenanigans, although she is finding the curfew somewhat hard for a tired old tart who tries not to get up before 8pm anyway, and has spent the best years of her life on a park bench at 5am in the morning. Madge has always been a bit of snob, and considers the merchant seamen of her acquaintance somewhat beneath her. Well, they were on the park bench.


  • Ivan Sultanoff on bass players
  • Ebony Rose on relaxation
  • Huich’s Bar Ousso jaunt


Let’s start with a Rolling Stone link to a history of Strange Fruit Well worth a read – find out at the end who the “last racist” might be. Have we ever covered this at a jam?

‘Nuff said. Stay home, stay healthy and stop roaming the streets at night, For those of you still practising your reading -something to amuse…Read on!

Festival and Jammers News:





The Jammers Bit: Have the Lunatics Taken Over the Asylum Yet?


After last week’s slackathon, which required me to write about six lines, more articles from the jammers – in addition to which, meself and the Captain have racked up around 40 responses to the emails we sent last week. If you haven’t checked your spam folder for a while, it could be in there.

So we have articles from:

Debbie Woodroffe: Deb’s Rant

Luis Chacon: Confessions of a Chartaholic

Jack Morris: A Career

Pete Micevski: What Day Is It?

‘Nuff said. Now that we have all stopped roaming the streets at night, something to amuse… read on! Better still, pick up a phone and talk to a fellow jammer – nobody is finding the second wave easy…

Festival and Jammers News:


Breath meets the larynx and this is ‘Vocal Attack’

One of a series of articles on singing, from Ebony Rose

The vocal chords are living tissue and need to be used carefully. ( Avoid sudden shouting or gravel sounds as this causes strain). Hear the sounds mentally before you release them….


Inhale expanding the lungs……when breath goes through the larynx and vocal chords energy, vibration, sound, and pitch come into play. We are also using our resonators (air cavities, throat mouth nose and sinuses.


When a guitar is played you strum the strings.A Vocalist must find the power and know where to resonate from in the facial cavity. Fasinating really as no teacher can show you exactly how to do it!


It is something we must feel and learn…


Remember that moment when you found the tone and pitch resonating in the right part of your face, forehead and at the same time you are using the diaphragm to control the depth and resonance…..the sound is so much better!


Stay tuned for the Vocal Chords!


All Love Ebonyrose xx