The Jammers Bit: The Jam Session Irregulars

 

This week’s breathtaking edition is entirely written by the Jam Session Irregulars, none of whom has attended a jam in months, of course. Much thanks to:

 

 

Alan West    Learning Music

 

Captain Chaos    It is Not Just the Music

 

Mike “carpet” Hirsh    Recording Tips For Vocalists

 

Rosemarie Harvey    The Vocal Chords

 

 

 

 

‘Nuff said. Read on!…..
TW

The Jammers Bit: Whatever Next

Whatever …

You may well ask… seems like we are no closer to resuming jam sessions than we were a week ago… or three months ago.. Conversations with a number of jammers have entirely failed to throw up the sort of sparkling bright suggestions for resumption of play that we might have hoped for. These lockdowns are starting to resemble the English cricket season, where rain falls for seven days out of every five, and every time the umpires walk out, it rains again anyway.

 

So, what, as Hortense might have put it, are the options? And what, as Madge from Altona might have replied, is stopping us. Here are three alternative approaches to the “new normal”

 

The Back to normal option. a jam session at the Tower Hotel, subject to social distancing, and with some limitation on numbers.

 

Downside: if there are too many people, we split into two sessions, maybe on separate days: Nightmare organising that lot. Most Jammers turn up at random times, other than the estimable Miss Smith, who is always late.

 

The Outdoors Option. An outdoor location is inherently safer, and would ease back on the numbers issue. . . Stonnington, Williamstown and Port Phillip are three Councils which might be interested: Stonnington has had an outdoor jazz programme, Williamstown has the Newport Bowls Club and Paine Reserve, and Port Phillip has an open air rotunda/bandstand in Catani Gardens.

 

Downside: Good luck getting that through Council, which would have to approve any use of public space. And it is bleedin’ cold at this time of year, although we would be complaining about the flies by the time it is all in place. And we might need a bit more manpower to set equipment up.

 

The Streaming Option: set up a “virtual” jam session and invite jammers to get involved. The software exists and should be getting better.

 

Downside: we lose the socialising aspects of jam sessions, which almost all jammers nominate as the most important aspect of a jam. No substitute for live and sweaty

 

And… Next

We would like to get some feed back from any of the jammers who are so mind-numbed by the lockdown that they still read the Jammers Newsletter (feeding twaddle to the masses since 2008). Do you have a suggestion for the future of the jam sessions? Let us know

 

Send us an email:     melbournejazzjammers@gmail.com

 

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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 Castlemaine Jazz Jam… John Hannah

The last jam was on Sunday the first of March 2020, so long ago I can barely remember what happened. I do remember we were bursting at the seams with both musos and punters, and a good time was had by all.

Thanks to our very capable team of Gwynn, Jim, Rob and Peter. And of course, to Ken for his support in publicity. You can tune in to him and Ann on Main fm 94.9 for their great show, Jazz Life, 7 to 8 pm on Mondays. And we can’t forget our genial hosts, Anne and Mauro, who provide a free drink to all who perform.

I also remember that since Mauro installed a new PA with a Mackie 32 channel 8 bus mixing desk we had been having sound problems. One of the problems was communication between the stage and the desk (because it’s now at the back of the room). So, I went out and bought a walkie-talkie. But that was just before the lockdown, so I haven’t yet been able to try it out.

It’s now over seven years since Ken and I started the CJJ. Although we never charged entry, recently we started asking punters for a gold coin donation. This has enabled us to buy a drum kit to be kept at the Maurocco Bar, just for the jazz jam. It needed a bit of work and our drummers, Alan, Geoff, Bill and Mike offered to help out.

I should also mention that two of our punters, Cheryl and Paul, very generously put on a BBQ at their country property for all the musos and organisers, all food and drinks provided. We are lucky to have very loyal and supportive audiences up here. They have offered to have another one when we return.

Unfortunately, Mauro is especially at risk so we have had to put off the next jam probably till January…but the way things are going, who knows. Anyhow, I’ll let you all know when that happens, and maybe some of you would like to make the short trip up the Calder for a celebratory opening.

Slim Hope (aka John Hannah)

Notes
1    The Mackie sound system is better than the Melbourne one
2    The walkie talkie will be the next source of complaint
3    It is very much hoped that the Melbourne Jammers will send a strong contingent to the next Castlemaine Jazz Jam, whenever it will be. The sessions are well run, and a lot of fun – just ask Carpet Hirsh, The Divine Miss Smith, Alan Basher Richards, Brian the tonsils, the Captain …or me (TW)

So…Another week, another load of codswallop, although it is getting harder to find the cods, let alone wallop them. Many thanks to all our readers who encourage us to write this tripe. You are all deeply implicated. Toodlepip!

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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

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Jamming in late July??

So there you have it: another week of potted bios and I am indebted to the various jammers, or as we prefer to call them, victims.. , all of whom probably lied, exaggerated, obfuscated and prevaricated …. but did come up with some great stories.

The jam sessions: we have talked to the tower – best guess is now kicking of in late july. – Get up and boogie soon!

Toodle pip!

TW

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

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Recordings, Jam Sessions (not)..

Recordings first . Busy lot, innit?

GandT Jazz, bandcamp release https://gtjazz.bandcamp.com/releases

Those of you with long memories may remember Tina and Gill at the Leinster. Come a long way.

Leena Salim https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qnz9g3cw-0I&t=4s

Have a listen to an energetic singer tackling home recording, and probably reducing her bass player, keyboard player and guitarist to quivering heaps in the process. Really should get out more!

Leena has heaps more on Youtube – search “Leena Salim”

 

Castlemaine Jam Session on hold…

This post from Ken Turnbull’s Facebook page. John Hannah and his crew do a great job on this monthly Jam, with Mike Hirsh, Alan Richards, Brian and Annie Smith amongst the regulars and we will post any update.

Dear friends of Castlemaine Jazz Jam,

After discussion with the Maurocco Bar proprietors, it has been decided to suspend the jazz jam for the rest of 202

Many jazz fans are in the high-risk group, and we feel it is best to wait until a second wave of Covid-19 has been ruled out.

The aim is to start again in January 2021, but we’ll keep you posted if things change.

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

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.

clip_image001
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