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.

So…

  • 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?

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/strange-fruit-history-legacy-1030942/?curator=MusicREDEF

‘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:

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

https://www.instagram.com/newport_jazz_festival_2021/

 

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/83551088146

 

TW

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:
https://www.melbournejazzjammers.com.au/
https://www.instagram.com/newport_jazz_festival_2021/

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/groups/83551088146

The ‘orrible Truth – the future of live music

 

One might say that Madge from Altona is as miffed as anyone else in Refinery Terrace. It would seem that the corner store has run out of Winnie Blues due to some unregulated panic buying, and this year’s Chateau Plonc is barely worth the cardboard box it comes in. But what, you may ask, of the grand metropolis up the road, that once heaving hub of social activity, now ring fenced, locked down and surrounded by squaddies armed to the teeth. There is not a bar, venue, stadium, theatre or dancehall open – and it may not be about to get better any time soon. That is the ‘orrible truth, and here is why:

If you take music venue managers at their word, (and who wouldn’t?) they were either losing money or barely making any profit in the past even if their venue was full. Cut down the allowable punters and ticket prices would have to go up a staggering 400% just to maintain the status quo.

Taking my superseded copy of the Building Code Of Australia as a guide (see note 1), the design capacities could be reduced by between 70% (concert halls) and 87% (stadiums). Bars are even worse. In summary – the greater the original crowd capacity, and the smaller the venue, the bigger the loss of bums on seats. There probably isn’t a venue in Melbourne that could turn a profit. If a venue is losing money, the more music it puts on, the quicker it will go broke, and no musician will earn a living from live performance – not that many ever did anyway (see Note 2.)

Musicians are better off than venue owners. They can all earn $400USD + per month by running up a million plays on Spotify (see Note 3) or… play for the fun of it -or as Venue managers used to say “for exposure”. So Musos dependant on gigs for their income (remember, there aren’t many) must rely on the philanthropy of venue owners, as the others will have gone broke anyway. Industry executives (see note 4) are predicting a downturn from the 2019 industry value of $555 million. How many bars that have closed will reopen?

Unless you enjoy playing so much you will do it for free, it doesn’t look good. Cheer up! – any day now, pigs will fly, the moon will turn blue, and someone will come up with a vaccine. Maybe get a cure for saxophone playing and Little Sunflower while they are at it.

 

In conclusion:

So…A bit heavy on the serious stuff this week, and it is not looking too bright just yet. It will get better. Lots of jammers hunkered down with their ukulele, bagpipes, bolivian nose flutes or whatever. Chops should be sensational. Meanwhile, all the singers are learning the verses to go before the choruses – another first.

 

Festival and Jammers News:

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

https://www.instagram.com/newport_jazz_festival_2021/

 

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/83551088146

Note 1: The figures given are calculated from Table D1.13 of The Building Code of Australia, a 665 page manual so obscure that it was used to burn down several apartment buildings in Melbourne.

Note 2: According to their submissions to government, every musician in Australia has lost hundreds of gigs because of Covid19. Luckily, only around 33% of professional musicians earn their living solely from music.

Note 3: What does streaming pay? Depends who you ask! The second link is a fun little exercise.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxIfuBtppiM

http://www.streamingroyaltycalculator.com/

Note 4: Industry executives: they can be identified by their propensity to call musicians “artists” or “talent” or “profit centres”, or “units”. The figures are taken from the ARIA annual report.

 

Aria Report 2019

The report might be worth a read (link below) but the Bar Chart says it all.


https://www.ariacharts.com.au/news/2020/aria-2019-music-industry-figures-show-5-5-growth#:~:text=Fifth%20straight%20year%20of%20growth,annual%20increase%20from%202018%20figures.

A brief and splendidly inaccurate history of the Blues in Australia:

Reprinted from 12th January 2011

Blues music started in the Untied States of America when Blind Big Willy from way down somewhere else fell into a dumpster and came out clutching a ukulele with three broken strings and a bottle of Drano, which does something to the voice but I am not sure what.

Blind Big Willy could only count to three, so that settled the question of which chords to play. Almost every blues song begins with “woke up this morning”, followed by a litany of daily catastrophes that is so inevitable one wonders if waking up is in fact a bad career move. The Blues should have quit whilst it was still ahead…but instead it developed into a dubious art form, requiring its exponents to (a) shoot a man in Memphis, (b) hitch a ride on the Midnight Special and (c) get done left by their woman on a regular basis, before (d) dying of consumption, a broken heart, and a lifetime of luck, all of it bad….

At this stage it was brought to Australia by a travelling snakeoil salesman, where, in Melbourne at least, it was enthusiastically adopted by Madge from Altona, Robbo the postman from Preston and several people mostly called Eric who saw it as a preferable alternative to paid employment. Disguising their middle class origins with such names as Fat Mama from Altona, Freddie the Frontloader and the blind drunk boys of Upper East Doncaster, they would take it in turns to bemoan their fate and cadge drinks from an unsuspecting public due to the inadequacy of their non specific performing arts grants, received on a weekly basis in exchange for forged documentation suggesting they were actually applying for work in the field of brain surgery or some such.

Eventually I will definitely attend something. Maybe, a jam session. Maybe you should too...
TW

The Jammers Bit

This week Facebook, the Jam Sessions, Rose’s bit and John Hannah is looking at the Castlemaine Jazz Jam – even though it is in the same purdah as the rest of us. And very little else going on at present, which could, of course, be a good thing.

Melbourne Jazz Jammer’s facebook page.

The links are at the bottom of each post. The Facebook site enjoys lots of visitors and POCKOTL regularly signs up new members to… nobody quite knows what. That is half the fun of the site, which features clips from jam sessions, plugs for gigs, contributions from jam session regulars – and at the moment rather a lot of good stuff from Gary Burton’s Berklee Jazz Improv course, which is free, but not exclusively for drummers. Quite a few jammers have done it in the past – check it out.

A quick look through the list of Facebook subscribers would suggest that most of the musicians here are of a better calibre than most of the jammers, only they get to play less; or at least they would if the jam sessions were back on again.. Go figure.

The Jam sessions

When are they back on? At present, I don’t know, the Captain don’t know, the Chief Medical Officer of Victoria don’t know, and you probably wouldn’t bother asking Donald Trump, although he would probably know..

Sooner than some of us fear – you have been warned. Stay safe.
TW

Ed: This post was written in the middle ages CT (Covid Time) and the Melbourne world has shrunk somewhat even in the past few days since it was written and today we had 268 new cases! Stay safe and wear a mask if you can’t social distance.

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.

 

 

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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”

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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..

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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