Captain Chaos goes bush


Ben the Bouncer in full swing – Michael Findlay and Peter Ryan
are hiding in this photo, but they were still guilty…

And some of us fall for it… so there we were, at Captain Sensible’s bidding, dragging the dusty out of a motley collection of shooting brakes, charabancs and pickup trucks, taking over a muddy old corner under the trees at the Stables. Which is, as you would expect, an open air pizzeria in Malmsbury, set back from the old Calder, these days little more than a Boulevarde of broken drains…

Quite why Stan the Man (bass) , Peter “smokem” Ryan (guitar), Michael the drums and meself would fall for this rubbish escapes me, but we set up and, under The Captain‘s guidance, launched into our very own arrangement of Killing Me Softly before the locals had time to realise what was going on and book into the pub two doors down…

Actually, it all went rather swimmingly, and before long just about every table in the joint was occupied. Hostess Gina was amusing herself by terrorising the guests into ordering more food than they might have thought sensible, whilst a couple of local serving wenches whistled plates around in no time. At least I assume they were local. They can’t have been from Colliwobble as they were at least 16 and still had more teeth than children…

Turns out the locals are somewhat appreciative of a bit of jazz, notwithstanding our persistent efforts at disguising familiar tunes to, if not beyond, the point at which they might not be recognisable, and ourselves charged on summons for fraudulent conversion.

Coupla ace singers got up – Kevin Rolfe called for a latin version of Teach Me Tonight, which shows he hasn’t lost his sense of humour, Pete’s friend Danielle sang Call Me, and a version of Summertime that had surely been to the vet. Ben the bouncer from the wedding up the road chipped in with fine versions of Route 66 and Georgia . They do things different in Malmsey.

And to round out the balmy evening, Costa stopped making pizzas, and took a fine spell on the drums, before we all packed up and went home, none the wiser…

All Bashed Up…

A spiffin’ little light luncheon followed by no less than 40 musicians getting in on the act – making this the busiest jam session since the mid 19th century Balkan Wars, or possibly even before that., I wouldn’t know.

How sensible of Il Duce to arrange some nice weather so we could sit outside, gossip over an occasional social lubricant, and completely ignore the annual Bash going on inside. And there was plenty to ignore – 40 musicians got in on the act,

Due to the usual misunderstanding, about 39 of them appeared to be behaving quite inappropriately by playing music that could be misconstrued as jazz, if you weren’t paying attention and had more pressing matters on your mind. Splendid!

Highlights included Annie Smith handing out silly hats, wearing one herself and behaving decorously, as she always does…

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and the Captain in fine form – he managed to ring the changes so smoothly all afternoon. And the rest of us just had fun. Hopefully…

It is hard to sum up the Bash – certainly the biggest so far, and musically one of the best yet – but the music isn’t only what it is all about. Perhaps it is worth considering that there were at least seven people there who attended the original Dizzy’s Friday night sessions 22 years ago – The Princess of Cool and Keeper of the List, Rod, Bette the stateless one, Mike H the world’s quietest drummer, Gentleman John C, Col T of the Fourth Light Punjab Horse (retd) and meself.

The First Jam Session of 2017

We are planning to start up again on January 15th 2017…. by tradition, nobody turns up for the first session, so about five of us get together and have a ball. Feel free to rock up and ruin it for us…. or make it even better.


The Year in review: stop laughing, this is serious

It has been, as ever, an interesting 12 months – started brightly with several good jam sessions, then hit a sour note with the passing of Bob Vinard, although the session with so many of his mates was a beauty. Several jammers went to Inverloch, Halls Gap, and Ballarat for the Australian Jazz Convention. The extra 3B copy boy (ed: aka Ted)managed to join the cardiac club and we had to give up the Laika residency. Colonel T (retd) took the newsletter in a somewhat surreal direction for a while. Gill and Tina started to sound good. The middle of the year saw us all toddle off to Castlemaine – the usual suspects, plus debutante G and T sounding very good. Katerina singing up a storm, Il Presidente Doug on top of everything and still managing to play sessions, the Captain grinning from ear to ear all weekend as he should.

Come August, the newsletter fell in a hole as both Editor and extra 3B reserve copyboy went to Europe, and we had our smallest ever session with just 8 peeps turning up. About 8 weeks later, we had our second biggest session ever… and I seem to recall some hot sessions with the Clark mob, Ade Ishs and a few other monsters after that.

So …

The Most Indefatigable Award: Colonel T for playing a whole session – twice. We also considered him for playing the same solo more times than anyone else – 16 bars single note, 16 bars playing in octaves, and pull a face on arrival: played over bossa, bebop, swing, blues, and in every time signature and tempo.

Most Improved Drummer: Bruce. Have you been taking lessons?

Most Improved Singer: Katerina, but only because Annie was already good

Biggest Train Wreck: close run thing between the Curtis/Chaos Round Midnight debacle, and Annie Smith for whatever that godawful tune was. We’ll wait for the drug tests and award this one later.

Noisiest Saxophone: Laurie’s is bigger than Tony Wharton’s, so maybe this one goes to Laurie by a whisker. I am sure we will be able to enjoy Tony’s solos once he gets to Bangkok. At least they both play damn well.

And a big thanks to whoever gets all the gear set out, and also packs it up at the end of every session, along with wrangling the pack in between. I think his name is Col.

Precocious Brats, Ageing Reprobates and All Blues…

Things are getting out of hand – The good Captain collared a coupla kids, aged about 5 and minus 3 and a bit, and had them playing the drums before we started. Their sister, we were told by Proud Mum, was dying to play the piano. Naturally we agreed on the usual condition Continue reading

The more things change . . .

A pleasant little toot up the Hoddle Strasse, followed by the sounds of a Bavarian Brass Band playing Moanin’ as I wandered into the Gold Street Gossip Shoppe and Ladies Tea Roomes for yet another afternoon of indulgence.

Or so I imagined. Quite by mistake, I fronted first and had, instead, the fun of setting up the various bits of hardware, sackbutts, viols, contrabassoons, contrafagotti, cromornes, double bassoons, fifes, fipple flutes, flageolets, flugelhorns, funk band instruments, hautboys, heckelphones, hornpipes, and spittoons that are apparently the necessaries (see note 1) of a jam session. Continue reading

As I recall:

20 musicians descended on the Leinster Arms on a wet stormy Sunday afternoon to keep the bar staff busy. John Curtis called the early tunes and challenged the early comers to play some seldom heard titles at the jam session. African Flower by Ellington and Jobim’s A Felicidade were examples of these. Continue reading


It was always a feature of the Oscar Beetroot Band’s performances in the 1930’s that there would be no soloist, such prominence being unwelcome at a time when loud-mouthed demagogues were apt to assist a performance by hurling carrots at the stage. Why carrots? Nobody knows… Continue reading

A busy week in music… meanwhile at the Lunatic Soup Lounge Jam Session

Well, a busy fortnight really, as we have had musos away last week at Halls Gap for their “new” festival, and this week at Wangaratta Jazz Festival, as well as various goings on in downtown sunny Melbourne.

Last Sunday’s Jam session was certainly different – Don stepped up to the plate to run the session, and I got there late, sat back and enjoyed some great playing.. well, there might have been a bit of rubbish in there, but certainly not from the Don, who played two hours straight and confessed to enjoying himself. That is the idea… He played immaculately throughout. Continue reading

Why Bother?

There has been some discussion on the purpose of the jams of late, and your opinions are sought –

As a reminder, here are some random thoughts on what we are doing:

Joining In: How many musos have turned up with very little experience of playing with a band, joined in and had a ball. (if anyone is wondering, around 40 new faces turn up each year – close to 1000 since the jams started.)

Learning on the Gig: Steve Sedergreen, jazz pianist and educator, who started the Friday night sessions at the old, old Dizzy’s, is big on this one: theoretical studies, plus practice don’t cut it – the third wheel is getting experience of playing live. The Jam Sessions provide this opportunity.

Musical Excellence: As in not pursuing this. The pursuit of excellence is what the Schools of Jazz are for – you will notice not many students turn up at jam sessions. If the aim was solely to achieve excellence, we should have given up about 24 years ago. Not all musicians want to follow someone who is clearly better than them.

Three specific criticisms need to be discussed:

· Criticism of beginners, hopefully well intentioned. This came up a few weeks ago. We should never forget just how terrifying it is to get up and perform for the first time (or the second, or the hundredth…) Newcomers to Jam sessions need all the positive encouragement they can get.

· Criticism of the Jammers playing a Friday night session and depriving professional musicians of income. This has been raised by several people and has some validity. In defence of the Jammers (who have just done four weeks on spec at the Royal Standard, using 13 different musicians) the pub only started having live music because we originally approached them and suggested it; the “income” of the professional musicians was an insulting 34c above the legal minimum adult wage, and the Captain Chaos Quartet is reportedly pulling substantially more people into the pub than the bands tried before.

· Some musos have turned up at a Jam, sat around, and left before we can get them a spot. We have had this happen three or four times in the last six months, generally because we have been too busy, occasionally because individual musos tend to hog the spot and a couple of times because the standard was scary high.

Have Your Say!

I would suggest comments to the management of the organisation, but there isn’t any (*)… your thoughts on the Jams, however, random, are sought – email to:

* Footnote: There isn’t any… management or organisation, take your pick.

The Jam Session last week – got it wrong again…

As I was saying only last Friday, “And next week? Probably no one will turn up. Unless you do.. ” How wrong can you be! At least 33 musicians must have heeded the call, two of them, possibly, as a direct result of reading the newsletter and realising that attending a jam was marginally less painful. To put it in perspective, this is now the second busiest Jam session we have recorded since 2008 (the busiest was 35 musos for the Captain’s birthday bash).

The early warning signs were there (4 saxophones with -ists attached by 4.30) and by about 5.30 we were out of control… But what a great afternoon it turned out to be. Continue reading

Jam Session goes off at the Colliwobble Chop House and Basement di Bossa

It is always best not to think, but if you did, you might wonder why we can never assume that many people, some of them musicians, some delusional, most both, and the rest in search of social lubricant and light but essentially malicious gossip, will turn up on any given Sunday.

The Vicar’s sermon must have run to a few extra pages at Matins, because we started with very few in the Gossip Shop, and it stayed that way for quite a while. Then, as can happen, they started pouring through the door, all deserving of extra playing time and getting it – until we could, as is now habitual, entice Glen (Il Duce to those in the know) from behind the bar to tell us to turn it down. In anglo saxon.

So . . . Continue reading

Ballad Mangling 1.01: blow by blow account of Jam Session debacle

I still haven’t got over this one. Midway through last Sunday’s jam session, The Divine Miss Smiff pulls out a chart for a song called Dreamer or something – simple enough, latin (we can cock that up, no problem), ABC form with an intro and a coda – should be easy, let’s roll!

So… we started, as you do, with the Intro. 16 bars, but the Divine Miss S decides to sing the A section over the second eight, on the grounds that she never does the intro but forgot to mention it. Not surprisingly, this doesn’t work too well, but as it is a Jam Session, no-one really minds. Except Peter Da Bass, who is actually reading the chart and is therefore, a priori, lost forthwith. Continue reading