Monday, March 29, 2010

The Brunswick Blues Shooters Gig Review March 27th 2010

The Brunswick Blues Shooters are alive and kicking. This Saturday March 27th The Blues Shooters performed at a quiet Fitzroy pub in an afternoon of great songs, low-key dancing, beers and chat. There was an old man in a white vest doing the chicken shuffle, a long haired woman in a red maxi and librarians glasses doing the twist, her arms stuck out like a strutting bird; there were kids scrambling past my knees as I filmed, people chatting, laughing, appreciating the live music; people out to have a damn good time.

The Brunswick Blues Shooters are a Melbourne blues/country/American roots band who have been playing around the roots scene since early 2003 performing regularly at the Lomond Hotel, Barzooka Bar on Sydney Rd and their famed four-year Thursday night residency at the Italian-owned family pub The Railway Hotel – known for its great homestyle traditional pub food and authentic roots music acts. Of course this has all changed since the implementation of reformed legislation regarding liquor licensing laws (under the jurisdiction of Director Sue MacLellan) and The Blues Shooters (as well as fellow Railway acts Headbelly Buzzard and The Goodtime Medicine Band) were, as far as I know, the first in Melbourne to lose their gigs. In the process, what the government have overlooked is not only the impact on the musicians themselves – on their livelihoods and ability to find new work and reach new audiences - but the terrible impact on the communities that already support these gigs. I’m talking about the locals; the sociable old bachelor out for yarn; the young families with bright, creative kids who are already picking up instruments and joining in the local old-timey sessions; the 50s rock’n’rollers decked out in quiffs and hoop skirts who light up the dance-floor; the clusters of people looking to escape the mundane with great music and strong community. These are the people that were out at the S.L.A.M. rally to protest against the ill-conceived and irresponsible linking of violence to live music. These are the people who are still fully aware that there is much to do in the way of reversing the damage that has been – and is still being - caused. Thank goodness there are strong efforts by those affected – publicans, musos, audience members - to keep these communities alive.

In the coming weeks I hope to publish short interviews with roots musicians who have been affected by the liquor licensing laws and perhaps members of the music-going community who want their voices heard. In the meantime, here is some footage from Saturday's Brunswick Blues Shooters gig of the song ‘You Don’t Love Me Baby’ (Junior Wells) (video below). Let's see for ourselves - are these communities violent? There's Aubrey Maher in his short-brimmed 40s hat hunched over the microphone, Rick Dempster trilling out wild harp-lines in a red button up shirt and black slacks, and Melb’s renowned rhythm section: Paul Pile on double bass and Harold Frith in an ‘Honorary Cajun’ t-shirt, face crinkling into the embarrassed grin of a 10 yr old boy as his drum solo receives thunderous applause. And there is my daughter, making patterns on the table with red lemonade that has spilt from the glass with a curious two-year-old flick of the straw. And there is the famous railway blackboard and fish-tank gleaming in the pallid afternoon light. Fish don’t remember much, apparently, and perhaps they don’t know all the lyrics to ‘San Antone’ – but we do; we remember what it is to be human.

The Brunswick Blues Shooters will be playing at The Lomond Hotel on Saturday 10th April at 9pm. For more information visit

Sunday, March 21, 2010

'The Peckin' Order' support 'Whitetop Mountaineers' @ Penny Black, Brunswick

On Thursday 18th of March Melbourne band 'The Peckin' Order' supported American duo 'Whitetop Mountaineers' as part of the 2010 Brunswick Muisc Festival. The gig was held at 'Penny Black' (formerly 'Don't Tell Tom') on Sydney Rd, Brunswick and was a sold-out event. 'The Peckin' Order' comprises Clint Dylan O'Gradey (Off the Wall), Cat Moser (Devilish Mary, The Beenies), Pete Holmes (Headbelly Buzzard) and Matt Ryan (GIT, Headbelly Buzzard). Showcasing a range of tunes from traditional old time mountain songs to folk ballads and homegrown originals, they brought to life the beautiful harmonies and intricate rhythms of traditional folk music. 'The Cuckoo', 'Banjo Pickin' Girl', and 'Little Bird of Heaven' (see video above) were personal favourites. Cat and Clint looked gorgeous; him in his open-necked black cowboy-themed shirt and her in a strapless red shift and ubiquitous cowgirl boots. Their on-stage rapport was a real joy to watch and lovely to hear. To follow their progress, hear songs or check upcoming gigs visit:

Headline American act 'Whitetop Mountaineers' were absolutely stunning. The rhythms and counter-rhythms, versatility on their instruments (some of which are handmade by local craftspeople/musicians in the Appalacian mountains, West Virginia), evocative story-telling and soaring vocals had the audience enthralled. Their performance was spirited, heartfelt and flawless. Martha is also an incredible high-steppin' dancer (see video below). Her and Jackson had a bit of a Johnny Cash/June Carter banter onstage which was highly entertaining. This is their first visit to Melbourne. Go and see them at the festivals (if you can) or visit their website at:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dan O' Connell Pub facing closure due to strict liquor licensing laws

More bad news re. the future of live music in Melbourne. This is an urgent issue. Please follow the link (embedded in title of this post) to read the article on The Age Online.

Please note: S.L.A.M. and Fair Go 4 Live Music are still campaigning for amendments to the liquor licensing laws and need your support. For more information or to sign the petition please visit

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mick Cameron All Star Tribute Gig - Sun 14th March @ the Lomond Hotel

Sunday night was the much anticipated tribute gig for Melbourne songwriter & musician Mick Cameron who sadly and unexpectedly passed away in March of 2008. The event was a great success, one that brought Mick's famous songs out into the warm, social air of a Melbourne autumn evening and had us all beaming, emptying our glasses, tapping feet on worn carpet & singing along to the well-loved tunes. And of-course by the end, in true pub fashion, there was the deafening clamour of a hundred people clapping and wolf-whistling and yelling out for Mooore! and Tanya dancing barefoot in front of the stage, her toes painted red, her face aglow with memories of Mick. And Horse is doing push-ups on the floor (?!) and there are six people clambering over me to get to the dance floor.

The song of the evening that stole my heart was 'Very Slow Train' sung by Barb Waters, Aubrey Maher on guitar, Craig Woodward on Banjo, Jono Wilson on fiddle and Tony Hargreaves on accordian. This beck and call, duet style song was like slow sex in the morning, voices subdued, sweet and just a little gravelly. Barb Waters was stunning. There were, of-course, many more songs and line-ups that were beautiful and fun and a joy to watch. Cat Moser playing banjo in her grey cow-girl boots and pony-tail; Clint Dylan O'Grady on guitar & Peter Holmes on banjo; Andy Reid on washboard, Craig Woodward and Warren Rough, Tom Mangan and Jesse Lawrance of the Goodtime Medicine Band, Pete Fiddler, Katie Reid, Karina, Corinn and Nicola Strating, and quite possibly others who I may have forgotten (apologies). I have posted a video (not great quality I'm afraid - just a cheap digital camera record) of 'Old Car Died', eleven musicians on stage and the crowd mad with dance and singing. I loved this moment of the night and I'm so thrilled it will be available on-line.

On remembering Mick:

Mick has been a well-liked and respected figure on the roots music scene since he arrived from Adelaide in the late 1980s, performing in the Cajun Aces, Headbelly Buzzard, the Acme String Band and his own, uniquely Australian, Sandilands, a trio comprised of himself, Craig Woodward (of Headbelly Buzzard) and Tony Hargreaves of Melbourne's folk scene. Sandilands produced three records: 'Waterhole' (2003), 'Cookin' Crabs' (2005), and 'No Time to get High' (2007) all of which are still avaliable online from

Mick died a week or so after my daughter was born and we took her, two weeks old - a porcelain doll in muslin cloth, full of sleep and life, to Mick's memorial at the Railway Hotel. What a bitter-sweet offering it was- this strange irony of life - that birth can sit so innocently beside the death of a friend. Although I did not know Mick especially well, he always had a shy smile for me in that laconic and quietly intense way of his and I would always find myself beaming back at him as if he had lit me up like a lantern with his thoughts. He was attune to things, I guess; a song-writer.

I can still picture him in his dark shirt and thick black hair, hunched over his dobro on stage at the Lomond, singing these laconic, drawling melodies with a twinkle in his eye. I remember Ron in the audience, arms crossed over his chest, spectacles gleaming under the baseball cap pulled too low over his forehead, heckling Mick in that booming voice of his: 'You're a terrible singer, Mick.' Then, eyes bright, with a proud tilt to his chin: 'I'm a Taurean. We're good singers, us Taureans.' And Mick had that half-smile on his lips. And so did half the pub it seemed, but I don't know, maybe that was just the swell of twenty voices singing full-bellied along with 'Old car died, middle of the road; old car died, I couldn't get home,' faces beaming in the dim pub-light. Two years have since passed and my daughter is about to turn two; she is still porcelain skinned though she shed the muslin cloth when she ceased to be a baby, and time has moved on.

There are many of you out there who knew Mick and Mick's work and contribution to Melbourne roots music a lot better than I did (or do). Please feel welcome (and encouraged) to comment on this page and share your own stories, memories or tributes to his life and music and keep the history of Sandilands alive for the future.



Lyrics quoted from:

'Very Slow Train'

"I wish I was on a very slow train, rolling real slow across a barren plain. Rolling real slow down a mountain track; rolling real slow till I get back.

I don't want no fast train. I don't care about your manly pride. I don't want no fast train. I just want to enjoy the ride ..."

Mick Cameron