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/

Some thoughts on singing jazz – Rosemarie Harvey

The voice really is the sound of the soul!

Each singer brings their own personality and flair to the vocal aspect of the song.

The voice box reveals the mental, emotional and physical aspect of the person.

You can be moved to the heights of joy and the depths of despair.

In the weeks ahead I will be talking about how the voice works your social confidence and

communication skills especially with other Musicians……Yes! stay tuned.

Ebony Rose x


Practice, practice practice – Mike Hirsh

Here is Mr “Carpet” Hirsh’s philosophical view on how to practice the written music score, the RIGHT way.

There are many WRONG ways to practice as we know, and of course most of the Melbourne Jazz Jammers have already mastered this. So to enlighten and convert the converted, to the absolute flawless strategies on practicing the RIGHT way, here are my undisputed tips for those progressive and inspired musicians! God help us all.

That practice makes perfect is an undisputed fact,. However, what is not so well appreciated is there is a WRONG way to practice. Which is to attempt to play at a tempo faster than your eye can follow the music. If you keep doing this, you will find that you will be stopping and starting, thus losing your continuity and you will NEVER make any progress.

So make up your mind to DISCIPLINE yourself and practice your scales and music the RIGHT way.

The RIGHT WAY is…to count one bar in and play very SLOWLY and in tempo from start to finish. With constant repetition and patience, you will find you are making good progress and your reading will go hand in hand with the speed of your playing.

Remember there are no short cuts to success. The ONLY way to proficiency is to practice with great patience and constant repetition. In this way, you will make steady progress with your reading and playing. Those of us who practice the simple things perfectly ever achieve the skill to do difficult things easily.

With these words embedded in your mind, you are now ready to practice. Remember, none of us were geniuses, we ALL had to start at the bottom of the ladder, do not be discouraged if your progress seems slow.

And a final word from me, handed down from my tutor to you.

“may your efforts achieve the success they deserve”…….. Max Abrams 1907-1995

Apropos of nothing more: piffle and New York

There is a famous quote from a well known 17th century French philosopher, which has almost no relevance to the total lack of things to write about vis a vis the jam sessions. So I thought I would mention it anyway.

And then change my mind. This week’s thrilling revelations (there aren’t any) are to do with the skills required of a musician to succeed in a post pandemic world. And the reported impending demise of a lot of jazz clubs in New York, none of which I visited when I was last over there, although we did run up a bill of 18 pints of beer and a hamburger at Cafe Loup in downtown Manhattan, whilst listening to their regular Steve La Spina trio. Of which, more anon.

Skills required of a musician to succeed
You would think musical chops, determination, the drive to play in public, and a desire to succeed. And you would probably add gainful employment (barista anyone?) and a devil may care attitude to the more boring aspects of adulting.

You would, of course, be wrong. Essential skills are event management, the ability to calculate 15% of everything, and grant application writing. Depending on where you look, there are going to a lot of CD launches amongst the popular music fraternity, followed no doubt by oblivion within three years. Never mind, there will be others to follow…

So… musos amusing themselves with online collaboration, and live streaming, some of which is pretty good chops wise, but lacks the ambience of a live audience.
The real losers in the present circumstances are, of course, the management, because no one has worked out how to live stream management, and it doesn’t pay the wages of an army of technical employees, or the rates or the rent.

So far the feds have put up $250 million to help restart the “creative economy” while the Victorian Government is providing
$49.1 million for creatives as part of its rescue package.

And what of the minnows, I hear you ask?
In May the Vics announced a dedicated Music Industry Support Package of $4 million and was followed up with a $2.2 million fund – Sustaining Creative Workers – which will offer quick response grants for Victorian-based independent creatives and micro-organisations with at least five years of professional experience. Grants of $5,000 will be available for individuals, and $10,000 for micro-organisations and businesses. Additionally, a new Music Industry Liaison role has been set up to advise the government and Bonnie Dalton is in the chair while continuing as general manager of the Victorian Music Development Office.

Where does the money go?
The Spotify shareprice has doubled in three months (heading towards a $50 billion cap.). The music streaming company has moved in to podcasts, on which they do not pay any royalties. So the biggest streaming company in the world makes more money if its subscribers listen to podcasts rather than your music. You work it out…

The Cafe Loup Lessons
Cafe Loup was a literary haunt, where the La Spina Trio did Sunday brunch for years. They were kind enough to let us in on their set list approach.

Lesson 1: How to structure a playing list.

  • First Set: Start with the familiar (we recognised even the intros). Applause
  • Second set: more sophisticated material: we didn’t recognise the tunes until we got to the chorus. More applause
  • Third Set: You have “trained” the audience’s ears – now hit them with the stuff you like as a band. Even more applause.

Lesson 2: Pay your taxes.

Cafe Loup closed in 2019

The Challis Street Fandango:
Mentioned this last week, but had to defer until the Cafe is allowed more than 20 people.

Newport Folk Festival:
Details at the URL below. There is a pretty damn good line up of musos livestreaming for this one. Check it out!

Not a great week jazz wise, but a few snowdrops in the drift, so chin up, and…

…Toodlepip!
TW

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

instagram: newport_jazz_festival_2021

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

The Jammers Bit: It is getting warmer; jammers in the wars

It is getting warmer. And closer, by all accounts. We have consistently (another first) been saying that we will look at re-starting the Jam Sessions when the room limit gets raised to 50. And if you could just stop catching random acts of covid19 that could be either fairly soon, or towards the end of July, or something else. That should cover it….somebody had better warn The Tower.

Jam Sessions: We will have some requirements and protocols in place. So far, we have talked about social distancing, and sanitising microphones, or asking singers to bring their own; as well as recording contact details (which we do anyway, but the venue management may handle this), and banning the playing of Little Sunflower

In the meantime, it looks as though the Captain and meself will be indulging in a re-run of the Challis Street fandango on June 27th, with honeyvoiced Aimee Everett on the tonsils. Assuming the cold, wind, rain, sleet, snow and general neglect and desertedness of the Challis Street shopping strip don’t get to us first…


The Newport Folk Festival. Online: 27th/28th June 2020

The Folk Festival is going to be streamed on line. Copy and paste the following url to get the livestream (only wait until it is active on 27th June). The Folk Festival is in, I think, its 15th year, the brain child of Michael Stewart; and paved the way for a Jazz Festival to follow. This year’s Folk Festival will be streamed live, and well worth a look – the featured musicians are the pick of the bunch. For more info click here.

Amongst the featured acts is Great Aunt, with Chelsea Allen on bass. Chelsea has supported the jazz jams over the years. Their debut CD was a stunner – 3.00pm on Saturday for their live stream.

Inverloch Jazz Festival:
The date in our coverage of upcoming Festivals was wrong, due to the extra 3b Reserve Copyboy’s habit of believing what he reads on the ‘net. In this instance, the internet is misleading, and we have had confirmation from the Inverloch committee. More information nearer the date.

The date for the 2021 Inverloch Jazz Festival has been changed to Friday, Saturday and Sunday 6, 7, 8 August 2021

Jammers Wars: Most jammers seem to be bearing up well under the strain of finding the time to do nothing all day. The Divine Miss Smith is still threatening the innocent with her crutch, Gilbert has been in hospital, but what is left of him is on the mend, if in need of a gentleman’s razor set. Chantelle Riordan has helpfully counted every day of lockdown (64 so far) in her Facebook posts, which have been entertaining. She writes a lot about her cat. John Calamatta has (finally!) moved house yet again. Seems he is in a constant state of downsizing, and at this rate will be taking over half the Altona West Combination Bus Shelter and Gospel Hall any day now. He is not practicing his sax much, but let’s be honest, he doesn’t need to. And Captain Chaos is champing at the bit. Why are we not surprised?

Toodlepip!
TW

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

instagram: newport_jazz_festival_2021

From the Archives

From the archives: a 2011 essay. Not much has changed

THE NATURAL LAWS AND PRINCIPLES OF YE JAMME SESSION

Like all other slightly deviant activities in the  universe, or the back bar, whichever you happen to be in at the time, the Melbourne (*) Jam Sessions are subject to immutable laws, generally empirically derived, and only clarified by the third or fourth round of drinks.

ABILITY The Inverse Law of competence: This states that the amount of time taken to set up and start playing your instrument is inversely proportional to the level of competence subsequently displayed.

IMPROVISATION: The Law of Improvisation states that the number of notes played per nano second is often a clear indication of the complete lack of creativity in any given solo. Or of a devotion to late stage middle age be-bop fixation, which is much the same thing.

SOUND LEVELS: This law states that the louder you play, the better it will sound. It is a crap law, but does appear to have widespread support.

COMPLEXITY: The Law of Complexity states that complex tunes and/or arrangements, must generally be attempted by people deeply unable to master them, and deeply unable to appreciate that they remain un-mastered.. This Law of Complexity is often enhanced by the attemptee indulging in long explanations to other players of the form, intro, outro, key, fifth page repeated three times etc. etc. This leads to the Law of Perplexity

THE LAW OF PERPLEXITY: This states that the extent to which any given musician could not give a rats posterior about the long winded explanation (see above) is exactly proportional to the relative ability of that player vis a vis the attemtptee (see above again…)

THE GADGETS PRINCIPLE: The Gadgets Principle is that the number of gadgets required by a musician multiplied by the number of minutes required to connect said gadgets, divided by the number of tunes that could have been played in the time taken to rummage around for all the gadgets in the first place, then added to the the number of musicians standing around waiting for gadget connecting sequence to be completed… is errmm… a very silly number indeed.

THE COOLNESS QUOTIENT: This quotient can be derived by dividing your age by the number of years spent in studying jazz,. If the answer is between 7 and infinity, you need to stay out of the sun, acquire black clothes, a pork pie hat, a supercilious sneer, thick rimmed spectacles and a goatee beard. If female, you can skip the pork pie hat.

If your answer is below 7, you rock, Dude, probably own at least one skivvy with no writing on it, prefer vinyl to CD, know someone who knows someone who has heard of you but never met, and have travelled extensively in third world countries such as Carlton North and Abbotsford.

Footnote

Melbourne (Australia) is not known as the cultural capital of the South for nothing. It is a city of around 4.9 million people,  who all wear black, know where the best coffee in Melbourne is, and voted for someone else at the last election, so cannot be held responsible…

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

Port Fairy Jazz Festival

And what of the Port Fairy Jazz Festival weekend?

A good time had by all. Quite a few regular and occasional jammers were seen wandering the streets of a windy but sunny Port Fairy. Only their fourth Festival and this is well established on the annual roster – probably the biggest Festival in country Victoria already.

Annie Smith, sporting three broken legs, a suntan, and a cheerful attitude was there. So was the Jess Dams Quartet, Breakout, and surprise hit of the Festival, Jack Morris’ Port Phillip Showband who put up a cracker of a set – acceptance for the Newport Jazz Festival confirmed. Festival regulars such as Ron Anderson, Roger Clarke and Sarah Maclaine all shone. Of course there was some rubbish as well, but we weren’t responsible for all of it…

Jess, Mac, Peter and meself put in a fund raiser at Narrowong on the Friday night – they budgeted on selling 30 tickets and ended up selling 70 – Jess had a great night and they have asked us back.

Jess Dams – fund raising in Narrowong before the Festival

Inverloch Jazz Festival news

E mail below, received from the Inverloch Committee – click on the link to get to their website. Inverloch has a well earned reputation as a friendly and well-run Festival – Jam session attendees playing at the Festival will include Roger Clark, Annie Smith, and a bunch of others. The Captain, meself, and Ivan the bass will be playing for Katerina Myskova

Hello all you jazz lovers,
I have attached some information about next year’s Inverloch Jazz Festival in the hope that it could be passed around to those who may be able to join us for some great jazz over the March long weekend in 2020.All the information jazz enthusiasts need is now on the Inverloch Jazz Festival website:  inverlochjazzfestival.com

Cheers,Carolyn Nield

Inverloch Jazz Festival Committee

Other gigs: Bob gets better and busier

check out http://www.bobsedergreen.com/gigs.html

On Mon, 30 Sep 2019 at 16:03, Rae Sedergreen wrote:

· Hope to see you at a gig soon.

· Checkout Bob’s ‘Tribute to Jazz Pianists’. It’s always a great gig, especially the 6pm early show at The Paris Cat. So, if you know anyone who likes Jazz pianists or just want to find more out about Jazz then this is one not to miss.

· If you know anyone around Merimbula or Canberra let them know about the Ted Vining Trio gigs coming up there at the end of October!

· Or just check any on the gig guide out. There’s sure to be something you’ll love.

Sir Roger . . .

Sir Roger De Coverley not even slightly deceased.

Bit of gossip doing the rounds to the effect that Sir Roger De Coverley had shuffled off the mortal coil. Not so. As soon as I heard the news I called Roger Clark, who knows De Coverley extremely well, and he assured me that everything was still in good working order. Well, he would say that wouldn’t he?