Neil Young sang, "I used to be in a rock and roll band, but they broke up..." This song got me thinking recently about all the bands I've played in. From the early days of blues and rock covers with Mr. Walker, the original indie pop of Lovesmudge, Oz rock stylings of Push Grunt Shove and of course the Gothabilly chaos that was The Dark Violence of Beauty. They are all very, very different to what we do in Junk Sculpture. The thing is, all of those bands were (and Junk Sculpture still is) heaps of fun. I can see that every band allowed me the opportunity to learn new things, try new sounds and play with musicians who were a lot more proficient than me. At our most recent show in Coonabarabran I had a terrible time for the first set because I couldn't hear my own guitar very well (luckily DJ Guz worked his magic and all was well in the second set). There were bum notes everywhere and I totally murdered the intro to one of my favourite songs. Maybe it's time to invest in some "in ear monitors". When I think about all of the songs I've played live I know that either my memory isn't as good as it was or that we just do more challenging stuff; certainly this is the first band that I've ever used a cheat sheet with. There are so many changes and variations in some tunes that I just can't quite get them to stick in my mind and a prompt every now and then is a real relief! Last night I was practicing the riff from Neil Young's "Powderfinger" for an upcoming gig. Plugging the guitar into my phone and rocking out through headphones is pretty cool. You don't bother anyone with volume and there are tons of different sounds on tap to muck around with as well. My rambling message here is if you play an instrument get out and play with other people. Don't worry too much about how good (or not in my case) you are...just have fun.
Neil Young - Buffalo Springfield Again - https://youtu.be/JL1OtfCTqnc
This is episode 369. I got a bit confused with some lyrics a few weeks ago and almost played this song. But now the number is right...I'm sure you'll work it out.
The Belle Stars - The Clapping Song - https://youtu.be/8A2u5vMBcEo
DJ ZedBoots has been in Oslo, Norway this week. After surviving a cyclone, rats eating her shoes, Air Vanuatu flight scheduling dramas and the Italian train network you'd think she'd be pretty robust; and she is. However, ZedBoots managed to fall out of a tree and end up at the hospital. All is well and we assume that the Norwegian hospital staff now refer to her as that "Crazy Tree Hugging Australian girl!"
Cold Chisel are an iconic Australian band. Arguably one of our best. I was interested to see them play live recently on the TV because, well, I have their most recent live DVD and it's a bit pedestrian in places. I was hoping for something special. Given that they only got to play 3 of their big hits I thought that they did a great job. At this point DJ Will "still sorry for running you out in cricket" pointed out to me that Chisel have a new album. So I had a listen and I must admit my expectations weren't that high. Wow! I was so wrong. It's a great listen. The band sounds energetic and focussed. The songs are the right mix of Oz rock and rockabilly that you might expect and the production is first class. Well worth a few dollars and another listen.
Cold Chisel - Alone For You - https://youtu.be/FLY3YC2q4Yw
This weekend DJ AB and I are out at the Scott 24hr Australian Mountain Biking Championships. We're not riding but will be providing commentary and music for the entire race. In effect that means we'll be talking for probably around 28 hours straight. We must be mad. If you're in Canberra please feel free to come out and visit us...especially in the middle of Saturday night when we might be struggling! It should be a hoot. We've doubled our appearance fee from the last two year's overnight shifts. It was $0.00 to start with and it still is. It's a great event run by a fantastic crew of volunteers. I think they feed us...I hope so! If you're located close to Stromlo try tuning in on 99.5 on the FM dial.
Elvis Costello - Radio Radio - https://youtu.be/pG-Lq6Kc-rQ
Queensryche have a new album. This is the version of the band without the original lead singer but that includes pretty much everyone else. It's complicated. The album sounds really good. If you liked Queensryche pre-Empire then this is for you. Great guitar work, soaring vocals, interesting lyrics and of course the classic almost prog-metal sound and feel.
Queensryche - Guardian - https://youtu.be/Ra1TSmmUY90
Staying with Heavy Metal just for a moment, Death Dealer have a new album out as well. I had a listen to it yesterday as I drove to and from Goulburn for work. It's an interesting band made up of players from all over the world including an amazing Sydney guitarist called Stu "Hammer" Marshall (no relation but I'd love an ounce of his talent!) Very much for fans of classic metal bands like Manowar, Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force and Iron Maiden. It's on Spotify so have a listen and then buy a copy. I believe they are touring here in early 2016 so keep an eye out.
Death Dealer - Break The Silence - https://youtu.be/LyZmHD3hqAM
In band news, we have a show in the works for New Year's Eve at Vivaldi's so watch this space. It'll be a little different but a lot of fun and I've got a ton of new songs to learn.
The Beatles - Mean Mr. Mustard / Polythene Pam - https://youtu.be/lpGbx7nwWBw
When I saw this old cover of a Creedence track pop up in my Spotify "Discovery" list I was pretty sure I'd hate it. I was wrong...
Hanoi Rocks - Up Around The Bend (Creedence Clearwater Revival cover) - https://youtu.be/iEYtUcIKHTM
I try to call my "brother" Michael in Vanuatu once a week. Michael was Zoë's host father at Level which is where she was during the cyclone. I am able to have email and snail mail contact with our family at Atavtabanga but for Level it's the phone or nothing! Today we had a good line for the first time in ages and Michael and I could actually almost understand each other. The fantastic news is that we're going to be able to help out sending his eldest daughter to secondary school in 2016. Education in Vanuatu isn't free and for secondary school a large proportion of students have to board. When Alison and I were trying to work out the best way to help people in Vanuatu in a long term sense we thought about education and this is our first step. We don't intend to set up a charity or anything but helping in this small way just seems like the right thing to do. Hopefully I'll be able to hear all about how school is next year when I return. I'm saving up my pennies and my leave days!
Rock on Brothers and Sister,
<intentionally blank, like my stare>