Saturday, May 29, 2010

Interview with Craig Woodward (Part One of a three part series)

Craig Woodward is one of Melbourne’s premier old-timey musicians. One of the founders of well-known string band Headbelly Buzzard, who held the famed Friday night residency at North Fitzroy’s The Railway Hotel for fourteen years, he has been playing fiddle, guitar, banjo and mandolin for over twenty years. His former bands include: The Cajun Aces, Sandilands, an original, roots based country-blues outfit with song-writer Mick Cameron, and the ACME string band – started with Mick, later featuring: Aubrey Maher (The Brunswick Blues Shooters) and Mick Flemming (Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band). Craig has recorded over a dozen albums throughout his twenty year career and is currently in two outfits: The Flying Engine String Band who play monthly at The Post Office Hotel in Coburg and Woodward and Rough who hold the 10pm Sunday night spot at popular roots venue The Lomond Hotel, East Brunswick.

On Saturday, May 15th 2010, I bought Craig a whisky (straight) and sat him down at the wooden table outside the Lomond Hotel, opposite 3RRR in Brunswick East. Under the hum and whizz of passing Blyth Street traffic, huddled against the cool late Autumn air, whisky in our bellys, we began recording this conversation …

HT: Hi Craig – What bands have you got going at the moment?

CW: Well, we stopped using the name Headbelly Buzzard when Mick Cameron died [in 2008] --who was a founding member along with myself. We sort of kept the band going with a few changes of course but we were playing as The Friday Night Old-time Band and still playing at the Railway. It was a name we were just using until we thought of something else because that’s all we were doing was playing Friday nights; so my current band ‘Flying Engine String Band’ is sort of that line-up. Um, I’m playing banjo and fiddle, and my friend Liam Wratten – who lives up around Daylesford way – is playing banjo and fiddle also, so we swap that around a bit; and Brett, who used to play in the Headbelly Buzzard line-up, Brett Lepik – he was playing guitar with The Friday Night Old-time Band at the Railway but he’s back on the banjo-mandolin like he used to play in Headbelly. And Johnny Wilson – he’s playing guitar.

HT: He’s the youngest in the band isn’t he?

CW: Yeah, by quite a way I think. He’s quite a bit younger than the oldest in the band.

HT: (laughing) Who is who?

CW: (laughs) Yeah, we have Jeremy Hanley playing bass …

HT: Yeah, blame it on him.

CW: … which is good. He is the only double bass player around, that I can think of, who actually listens to old-time string band music very much.

HT: Is that a usual part of string-band music – the double bass? Or is that something you guys do that’s a bit different?

CW: It’s pretty usual these days for a string band line-up.

HT: What about traditionally?

CW: Well, some of the bands on the old records that we listen to from the 1920s do have bass. But often you can’t hear it on those recordings. And still a lot of people record old-time string band music without a bass but when you’re playing live or playing for a dance, it kind of tends to hold things together really well and makes a really obvious beat in the music that, you know, the people in the room can hear – [they] don’t have to think too much about where the feel is when you’ve got a bass panning it out. It’s pretty simple bass.

HT: Good for dancing.

CW: Great for dancing.

HT: So you guys have got a new residency at the Post Office Hotel in Coburg on the first Friday of every month, is that right?

CW: Yeah, that’s right, for now. I think it’ll be good. Things are moving out [north] a bit and there aren’t really any other venues in Coburg so it’ll be great to have a venue there. And for us – I mean it’s been there for a long time – well, I don’t know how long – it’s an old pub.

HT: (laughs) Bikie club, I heard.

CW: (laughs) It’s sort of new, feels a bit new. It’s changed a bit quite recently – it closed down for awhile and reopened. Some of the owners used to frequent the Headbelly gigs at The Railway so when I approached them they said they weren’t ready to make it a live music venue yet but they knew us and knew our crowd so were keen to try it out. And if they do decide to have it as a new venue, it’ll be great. Also we were the first band that’s played there; which was the case at the Railway, when we played at the Railway – we sort of started that as a band venue. And I think maybe even at The Rose Hotel which is where the band started – Headbelly Buzzard, I mean. So, something new and also I can walk home from there.

HT: Craig’s a local. So it’s a good omen then – being the first band at this new venue. Good luck with that. You also play in the old-time/country-blues duo Woodward and Rough – can you give us some insight into that line-up?

CW: Yeah, well that’s Warren Rough on guitar and myself playing mostly fiddle and some banjo-mandolin.

HT: Do you do traditional songs or songs you’ve written?

CW: Ah, no, nothing we’ve written ourselves. We’ve kind of got our own arrangements of things but some you could definitely call traditional and some of it’s a bit more, sort of, period music from the 1920s – old-time with a lot of fiddle and guitar and duet kind of stuff from the 20s. Some of it is old tunes and some of it has a more rag-time feel or a bit more of a blues kind of feel; they sound a bit more – we try to do them as a period thing I suppose. Our first album was very much like Narmour & Smith and other Mississippi duos. We got a good review in the Old-Time Herald, which is an old-time music magazine in the Sates. It was really positive about the musicianship and material, except on the negative they said it sounded too much like the old recordings.

HT: (surprised) Oh … That’s interesting. What were they expecting do you think?

CW: Well, they were expecting we’d make it more unique – change it a little bit or something; which we did and maybe on the second listen they would hear – well definitely some of the instrumentation but also some of the melodies and the words for the songs are different to the old recording that we were sort of basing it on. But we were just trying to, you know, use some of the sort of sounds and some of the style of those recordings – you know, we wanted it to sound like the old recordings but we didn’t straight copy the old recordings. But I guess we don’t really – we’re not too conscious of that when we play now but when we first started that’s sort of what we were doing. And I think it has probably evolved into playing things pretty much our own way rather than trying to get the sound off the old records.

HT: Warren Rough has played a diverse range of music: rockabilly, jump blues, country, psychobilly, country-blues. How long have you been playing together and how did you meet?

CW: We’ve been friends for a long time. I mean we used to go and see each other play for quite a while before we actually played together. Warren was playing in Paramount Trio and I was playing in Headbelly with Mick Cameron and Nicola Hayes. Headbelly sort of sprang out of The LeBlanc Brother’s Cajun Aces in the early-mid 1990s. For a long time before I ever played with Warren he used to play me recordings – sort of a lot of those recording that I was talking about earlier that come out of Warren’s enormous collection.

HT: Which recordings are they?

CW: Well, mostly 1920s and 30s recordings of old-timey string band music. Narmour & Smith we both really like and they’re from Mississippi and a few other Mississippi kind of guitar and fiddle duos; they’re kind of on the bluesy side of white music from Mississippi.

HT: So they were the inspiration for Woodward and Rough?

CW: Yeah, I think Narmour & Smith were definitely one of the inspirations; we took our name from them. ‘Woodward and Rough’.

HT: Oh yeah (laughs) And what’s the collaboration process like, with Warren?

CW: For the first couple of years we got together once a week and did a lot of playing and listening. These days it’s a bit more organic and sometimes we just try something live and see how it works.

HT: What do you each bring to Woodward and Rough, in terms of influences and music style?

CW: Warren comes from a finger-style guitar playing background which is less common in old-time music these days – so there’s a lot more possibilities in regard to the arrangements rather than just the bass-note-strum guitar style that’s more common in string band music now. I also have some background in the bluesier side of old-time fiddling which lends itself well to the finger-picking guitar style.

HT: Yes. So Woodward and Rough play every Sunday night at the Lomond Hotel, East Brunswick. 10pm. You also do other gigs around Melbourne is that right?

CW: Well, we’re trying to get out a bit more. We do that gig every week but it’s not for everybody: 10pm Sunday night – it’s a pretty funny time slot. But we do have some appreciative folks down here that think that’s a good way to finish the weekend. But, yeah, just the other day we did one at the Drunken Poet (North Melbourne) and that seems like a pretty good place for us, being a small act, you know, fairly lively.

HT: Did you get a good turnout?

CW: Yeah, yeah, it was good. So we might be doing some there. If this interview is up in time also next Sunday (23rd May) we are playing at the Fox Hotel (cnr Wellington and Alexandra Parade – it used to be the Tower Hotel) from 5-8pm. So, if that goes alright we might play there sometimes.


HT: Can you give us some insight into your musical history – how did you get into old-time string band music?

CW: I came to Melbourne when I was seventeen and I had been playing guitar a bit. Where I come from (the Wimmera, near Warracknabeal – which is near Horsham) there wasn’t much interesting music on the radio. But I got into country-blues/roots music from hearing it on community radio in Melbourne and I ended up performing at the Melbourne Folk Club and One C One and some of the old coffee shops from the 70s that were still around. I’d probably heard old-timey music before but hadn’t really heard much but I heard some people playing from the High-Times String Band at one of these folk clubs.

HT: Is that a Melbourne band?

CW: Yeah, that’s Ken McMaster who runs the Fiddlers convention.

HT: Are they still playing?

CW: As the High-Times String Band? Um, occasionally. But I don’t know what the band line-up would be; it’d be Ken McMaster on banjo and Norm Adams and Maggie Duncan, who plays the fiddle. They were the first people I heard playing old-time music. So, it was pretty interesting – I liked the banjo style and I wanted to play the banjo. A couple of other people I met through The Piggery – a bluegrass, old-timey kind of thing, and I went there because they had American music on and I could play country-blues there and then through meeting people there, and getting given early recordings of old-time music in particular and also recordings of the older players – the kind of last players that learnt through local tradition who were recorded in the 70s and 80s due to the earlier folk revival.

HT: Can you think of some names?

CW: Tommy Jarrell, would definitely be one of them. A lot of people that play old-timey music these days would be influenced by Tommy Jarrell. He was born in 1900 in a town called Toast near Mount Airy in North Carolina.

HT: What is it about him, do you think, that inspires people?

CW: Well, he plays with a lot of rhythm and the melodies are very simple and mixed with heaps of bow rhythm and it’s the bow rhythm that’s really making the music and that’s what appealed to me. Also, at these folk clubs and festivals, I heard a lot of Irish music; it never really captured me; it’s pretty melodic, you know? It’s good but the old-timey stuff – some people would consider it a strain of Celtic music …

HT: They share a lot of similarities, don’t they? But also a lot of differences. Can you clarify that?

CW: African influence is one of the main things that make it different. They brought the banjo to America and a lot of the rhythms come from that African influence. It’s where it sounds different even in American music styles: the string band music that they play up North – around Boston, New England and up into Canada. It’s sort of the same kind of music but you hear a different rhythm when you hear the southern style of string-band music and it’s the kind of back-beat and the grooviness of it; it’s not quite as diddly as some dance music from Irish traditions. You know, the same kind of thing but it’s got a certain looseness and yeah it’s still melodic but a lot more of the music is coming out of the rhythms, like the bow rhythms.

HT: I’ve heard people refer to old-timey music as trance music. What do you think about that?

CW: Well, I think it’s a pretty good thing to say about it. It works for me.

HT: Do you get into a sort of state when you’re playing it or listening to it?

CW: Yeah, if it’s working – when it’s working, definitely. We play this sort of music just as a social thing as well as performing it. We have a jam session at the Lomond Hotel every Saturday afternoon. A lot of people come along and pick up the tunes – because we play the tunes for a long time – up to twenty minutes, if it’s good – and they’re pretty simple tunes so it makes it easy for people to come and learn them.

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For more information on Headbelly Buzzard and Sandilands, please follow embedded links. Woodward and Rough, Headbelly Buzzard and Sandilands CDs are available from accrosstheborders.com.au

This is part one of a three part series which will be published in weekly instalments. Melbourne Roots would like to thank Craig for his thought provoking and generous responses. Stay tuned for the next instalment!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Impromptu Interview with Corrin Strating from The Beanies Fri 14th May

Last Friday (14th May) Jess and I went to the recently refurbished Post Office Hotel to see Craig Woodward's Flying Engine String Band. (see post under Flying Engine on sidebar)Whilst drinking beer in the bustling courtyard out back, I got talking to Corinn Strating (on right) of Melbourne folk band The Beanies about a new Irish session in Brunswick, the folk music community, and her take on the difference between old-time and Irish music traditions ...

HT: Hello Corrin.

CS: Hello.

HT: You've just started up an Irish music session at a new venue that's opened up on Sydney Road in Brunswick. Can you please tell us the address and name of the venue?

CS: I'm not sure of the exact number but it's on Sydney Rd, just near the corner of Barkly Street -- there's an Optus shop on the corner and it's the next shop down. It's called The Roisin Dubh (pronounced Rochine Dove), which is an Irish name. Roisin Dubh means: Black Rose. (68 Sydney Rd, Brunswick)

HT: Beautiful.

CS: Yeah. It's a really nice little venue. It's really small and I'm not sure if they have music on the other nights just yet but at the moment they definitely have music Friday evenings and Saturday afternoon; they've got live Irish music in there.

HT: What's the decor like?

CS: Um, it's pretty tasteful. It's not, um ... they don't have a lot of that, you know, Guinness ads. or anything like that -- I mean they have a little bit of that but it's mainly just kind of -- they've got nice little leather couches and little tables and it is really, really small. There's some chairs out the front, just some little wrought iron chairs.

HT: All you smokers.

CS: Yep.

HT: Me included. (laughs)

CS: (laughs) Yep. They have a courtyard out the back as well which is really nice and a nice long bar and it's just a really nice place. Even if you're not going to listen to music it's a good place to go for a drink cause they've actually got -- the owner was just saying to me today -- they've got a whole new shipment of local wines and stuff like that so they have really nice wine in there. And they've also got some nice beers -- they don't have anything on tap but you can just go and have a drink there.

HT: Sounds perfect. So in regard to the Irish music how many musicians play?

CS: Ah, well it varies. Um, usually we have three people playing; we have accordion, fiddle and flute. But tonight we had an extra fiddle player and maybe tomorrow we might have some of the band from the Rhythm of the Dance which is the Irish show that's on, because I was talking to someone there the other day, so hopefully we'll have a few people from Ireland coming in every now and then to come and play some tunes.

HT: And is it open to general people to come and play along -- like the old-time sessions at the Lomond? Or is it a set band?

CS: Um, well it's kind of hard to say. None of us -- I don't mind people coming and playing but it is a really small place so the area that we play in can't really fit more than five or six people at the most. So people are welcome to come along but they just might not be able to sit down and play.

HT: You'll have to hang out the window.

CS: Yep. Definitely come and check it out because we love people to come and play with us and if there's no room then it's just a really nice place to come and chill out so ...

HT: Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and go and listen to some tunes.

CS: Yes.

HT: So is it Friday and Saturday nights you're playing? What are the times?

CS: Friday we start at 6.30pm and it goes to somewhere between 8.30 - 9.30pm. And then Saturday is sort of 4 - 7pm.

HT: And that's free?

CS: All free, yep.

HT: Great. Now, can you shed some light on the difference between Irish and old-time music?

CS: Yeah, so it's a really interesting thing because they're both -- well generally they're forms of music that are for dancing so some of the tunes that you find in Irish tradition are also found in the old-time tradition but I guess they were carried there by Irish immigrants to America who then moved to the mountains and started playing the tunes. But for whatever reason they have a different way of dancing and a different way of playing; so the Irish tunes that you find in the old-time tradition are played in a really different rhythm and different style because they have different dances to them than the one's you'd find in Ireland.

HT: And you mentioned before, the instrumentation is different ...

CS: Yeah and that's another really important point because in old-time music, and probably in most of America, the tradition is string-band music; so it's fiddles and banjos and guitar. Whereas the guitar is a really recent introduction to Irish music. So in Ireland -- a really traditional band in Ireland would be: accordion, flute, fiddle and Irish pipes. So it's a really different sound to the sound you get with just all strings cause they've got those wind instruments in there.

HT: Do you think that's been maintained in Australia -- that difference?

CS: Um, I think it has to a certain extent. If you go to see an Irish session or any kind of Irish music gig over here, generally there'll be lots of flutes and accordions and fiddles. Whereas you go to an old-time session or an old-time gig and that's mainly fiddles and a few banjos so you do kind of see that difference over here. I think the main difference here is that there are a lot of people who play both kinds of music and who appreciate both kinds of music whereas in Ireland it's a lot harder to find old-time music because everyone plays Irish. (laughs)

HT: There's quite a strong community here around this sort of music isn't there?

CS: Yeah, it's a really strong community and it's really nice. It does kind of -- it's a really nice -- um, I don't know what the right word is -- but it's sort of like this bed of music that people kind of spring out of and so people do end up crossing over a lot. So, you know, you go to parties and there'll be an old-time session out the back, and then people playing Irish music in the kitchen, and someone's playing jazz in the front room or something.

HT: (laughing) I think I've been to a party like that ... Not that I remember it.

CS: Yeah. I really like that about the scene and the culture over here; it's great.

HT: Excellent. And The Beanies are playing over in West Melbourne in June is that right?

CS: Yep. It's the 19th of June and it's with the Melbourne Folk Club at the Grandview Hotel (47 Pearson Street, Brunswick West) They have a web page (follow link above) and all the details will be up there.

HT: Okay great. And the Beanies music is ...?

CS: Well we started out playing a lot of Irish music and traditional Celtic stuff and over the years we sort of -- we always did a lot of vocal music but now, because that's what we all really love doing together, we sing lots of harmonies, and the three vocals is a really enjoyable thing for us to do. So now we're doing a lot more country songs and American roots music and things like that. I mean there'll still be a few tunes and a few of the old songs we used to do but ... Actually we do some traditional Australian songs as well which we all really like doing. Some songs we've written and also some old Aus. songs. And lots of country!

HT: Sounds like a great mix. We look forward to seeing you there. Thank you very much.

CS: No worries.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Flying Engine String Band, Post Office Hotel, Coburg, May 14th 2010

Craig Woodward's Flying Engine String Band is the latest incarnation of popular old-time string band Headbelly Buzzard who held the Friday night residency at the Railway Hotel for 14 years. Flying Engine comprises: Craig Woodward (banjo/fiddle), Brett Leppik (Banjo-mandolin), Jono Wilson (shoe-string guitar/ and shoes!), Liam Wratten (banjo), and Jeremy Hanley (double bass). The Post Office Hotel has been recently refurbished and is a pub with a Fitzroy feel -- polished wooden floors (great for dancing), rough hewn red-brick walls with crumbling grout, tall tables and a great courtyard. Flying Engine are hoping to play regularly on Friday nights (see local gig guides for details). In the meantime, here's some footage from Friday's gig. I'll be posting an interview with Craig Woodward in the coming weeks.


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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gig Review: Big D Jamboree @The Central Club (Richmond, VIC) May 8th 2010

Saturday night was 50s rockabilly night at Richmond venue The Central Club Hotel. Featuring Melbourne's longest running rockabilly band the Straight 8s, Newcastle's Pat Capocci, Ezra Lee, Danny & The Cosmic Tremors and Echuca's Scott Baker, the night was a rockin', swinging high energy power-house of great songs, booze and dancing. Opening set was Scott Baker, a talented song-writer and performer with a rich voice in a sharp grey suit and pink shirt. He cut a fine silhouette on stage with his Elvis pose and Johnny Cash style singing. I kept thinking he would look totally at home on an old black & white TV. At times the music and strutting came off a bit stiff but the great songs made up for it. Melbourne band the Straight 8s (Victor O'Neil, vocals and rhythm; Dave Cantrell, guitar; Ray Tully, drums; and Atillo Snappy, double bass) were stunning: great musicians and entertainers, obviously old-hands at the genre and still infused with plenty of spunk. These guys perform regularly throughout Victoria as well as interstate and have been playing since the early 80s. Pat Capocci was wonderful, a whooping, shouting kind of singing style, innovative/modern guitar lines (bit of distortion) and super energy. Perhaps at times it felt like the light shuffling beats and syncopated rhythms the Straight 8s did with such panache were missing in this frenzy. The young rockabilly cats, in their 50's greased-back quiffs, folded jeans, check shirts and eye-makeup, loved them though; the dancing was frenetic. It was highly entertaining to see so many people (crowd of perhaps 150 all up) decked out in old-school rock 'n' roll outfits -- the women beautiful in tight tops and full skirts, peep-toes, fur jackets and heavy make-up, the men in suits or leather jackets and polished alligator-skin shoes. What a crowd!

Ezra Lee, more boogie woogie blues and R&B than rockabilly, was impressive and a welcome respite from the supercharged rockabilly (long sets, five bands and loud rockabilly records between) He has a killer voice (Jerry Lee Lewis style -- ladies watch out!) rolling piano lines, sexy songs, and a cool onstage presence. (See earlier post - Ezra Lee on sidebar - for the interview we did before the show.) There were times when the subtler grooves and feel inherent in blues and R&B felt hijacked by the amped-up style of the rockabilly band and the songs felt, frustratingly, like a speeding train at the end of its tracks. There were great solos from Pat Capocci however and the shotgun slap bass (Cal Robinson) and punchy drums (Ricky el Cabron) were impressive. I (unfortunately) didn't catch much of Danny and The Cosmic Tremors (1am by the time we heard them) as I had been hijacked myself for an impromptu lesson in swing dancing by an enthusiastic drunk. From what I did hear though, they were dynamic and fun and the songs were great.

Please see footage below (audio distorts -- apologies) for a taste of the bands at the Big D Jamboree gig and follow embedded links in post for access to band websites and upcoming shows. Then get decked out in your hoop skirts, rolled shirt sleeves and vests for the next Melbourne shows in June/July. Though I'd suggest you get some dancing lessons beforehand -- rockabilly audiences are pros at this stuff!

For fans of 50s rock 'n' roll visit the Australian Rock 'n' Roll Appreciation Society.
They have been around since 1974, produce the quarterly magazine Big Beat of the 50s, and have a radio show: 'shake rattle and roll' - Saturdays 8 - 9.30pm - on Melbourne's 3CR 855AM

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

An impromptu interview with Newcastle's Ezra Lee at The Central Club (VIC) May 8th

Ezra Lee is Newcastle's young and hugely talented 'rock'n'roll piano man'. He plays early rock 'n' roll, R&B, country and blues. Ezra started his performance career as the piano man for legendary blues band 'Johnny Green's Blues Cowboys' where he built a name for himself as a rockin' piano player, playing festivals like the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival and Tamworth. He recorded his first album 'You Can't Stop a Freight Train' at famed rockabilly studio Preston Records in Melbourne with producer Graham Thomas and is featured on compilation 'Across the Valley: Preston Rockabilly' Volume Two. His band 'Ezra Lee and the Hip Shakers' play regularly across Australia and are about to head to Spain (late May) for the 15th annual Screamin' Festival with Newcastle rockabilly acts: Pat Capocci and Danny & The Cosmic Tremors. I spoke to Ezra at The Central Club (Richmond, Victoria) before the Big D Jamboree gig this Sat 8th May. We sat at a tall, round table on bar stools up near the stage, beers lined up in front of us, rockabilly records blaring out into the dingy, club-dark air: "I'm gonna murder you baby. Boom Boom. I'm gonna murder you baby" ...

HT: Can you tell me Ezra: What's the name of your band?

EL: Ezra Lee and The Hip Shakers

HT: And you've come down from Newcastle?

EL: That's right, yeah.

HT: (laughing) I have no idea what to ask next.

EL: (laughs) Fifteenth of the tenth, eighty-six.

HT: (laughing) Okay - what star-sign are you?

EL: I haven't looked into it that far. (laughs) Something good I s'pose. Libra.

HT: Lovely.

EL: Favourite colour: purple.

HT: (laughs) Who else is playing tonight?

EL: Um, we've got the Straight 8s: rockabilly.

HT: Do you know them?

EL: Yeah, we've played with them a couple of times.

HT: How would you describe them?

EL: Really good. (laughs) Um, they're all really good.

HT: They've been around for years and years haven't they? (Since 1980s)

EL: Yeah, definitely.

HT: Have you played with them up in Newcastle?

EL: Um, I haven't played with them outside of Melbourne, but they're pretty cool. Um, but the other guys: Pat Cappoci and Danny (and the Cosmic Tremors) - we play with them all the time up there. Yeah, we play through Preston Music, a sort of rockabilly label here in Melbourne.

HT: Preston Records

EL: Yeah, yep. Been going for a long time.

HT: Are you the youngest out of all the musicians playing tonight?

EL: Yeah, yep. It's pretty cool.

HT: (laughing) Do they call you baby face?

EL: No, they call me Junior (laughs)

HT: And do you guys play in each other's bands?

EL: Oh, well, we grew up playing together and stuff and at the moment we're all getting ready to go to Spain, so ...

HT: All you guys from Newcastle are going to Spain? Is that right?

EL: Yeah, yeah.

HT: Excellent.

EL: But, I dunno, we're trying to um - what am I trying to say? I dunno, I guess: get everything really tight you know. Everyone's doing their own thing.

HT: Yep. And when's the Spain tour?

EL: It's coming up in three weeks time.

HT: And where abouts are you going?

EL: We're going to Pineda De Mar - I think it's called. It's a little place outside of Barcelona, ah, where all these sort of rock-blues cats get together and play music 'till three in the morning - I'm on at three in the morning, so ...

HT: Wow.
EL: So yeah, it's great.

HT: Crazy night life over in Spain. I didn't know they were into rockabilly over there?

EL: Well yeah neither did I you know. It's the last place I thought I'd go.

HT: How did that come about?

EL: Um, I guess they just somehow got a hold of my record and liked it, you know.

HT: So someone contacted you to book the gig?

EL: Yeah. Red Rivers was telling me and Jesse (The Goodtime Medicine Band) about that today, you know, like somehow your record can just get out there and people can react how they like and great things can happen from that.

HT: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, you have a great record that's for sure.

EL: They do like it.

HT: Well good luck tonight and I'll probably talk to you later when you're really drunk and you're gonna divulge lots of secrets for me!

EL: (laughs) Don't press record though - that's the only thing. Alright?

HT: (laughing) I'll be recording it on camera.

EL: All the bands are great; I just wanna say that - just wanna verify that. Cause at ten o'clock at night when I've had a few beers ... (laughs)

HT: (laughs) Excellent. Alright - thank you!

EL: Good to talk to you darlin'.

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Ezra will be back in Melbourne in June, mid-July and again in August (13th-15th) with Melbourne's 'The Goodtime Medicine Band'. For gig dates and venues please follow the links above.
Below is footage taken at the Big D Jamboree, Sat 8th of May 2010. I'll be posting a write-up and live footage (including of Melbourne's longest running rockabilly band the Straight 8s) later this week. H

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Article in today's Age 'Live music not tied to violence'

Hi all, please follow this link to view an interesting article in today's Age quoting both Victoria Police and Melbourne City councillors in support of the music industry's view that live music does not lead to violence. Great to see this in the media again -- certainly the issues have not gone away (in spite of the accord) and it's encouraging to see these opinions expressed and promoted by those in power.

For extensive information relating to the campaign against current liquor licensing legislation or to view licenses, the accord, and other relevant documents please visit the "Music Doesn't Make You Violent" site.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

'The Mick Cameron Memorial String Band' Spiegeltent, 2008



Above is a great You Tube clip of The Mick Cameron Memorial String Band's 'Sail Away Lady' featuring members of Headbelly Buzzard including: Craig Woodward, Warren Rough, Nicola Hayes, Brett Leppik, Matt Ryan and Peter Holmes. I will be posting an interview with Craig in the coming weeks so stay tuned. In the meantime both Sandilands (Mick Cameron) and Headbelly Buzzard CDs are available from 'Across the Borders'.

Also, for those interested, there's an interesting blog from the States called 'The Old, Weird America' that utilises text, image, music, video etc to explore early American folk music. Great for finding out about the history of popular tunes and getting access to different versions of well-known songs. H

Aintree Sweet @ The Lomond Sat May 1st 2010

I managed to get down to The Lomond last Saturday (May 1st) for the second set of contemporary country band Aintree Sweet. Comprising: Elaine Smith, Ali Huish (formerly of Merri Creak), Peter Blackburn, Sue Broderick and Susan Steiner with Jen Anderson on fiddle, Aintree Sweet delivered a set of warm-as-toast pop/country songs with pleasant, four-piece harmonies and simple, but effective, instrumentation. In addition to Elaine's textured, country-style singing and heartfelt delivery, the highlights for me were the intricate and lilting fiddle solos by Jen Anderson who lifted the energy of songs and played to the crowd with flair.

Aintree Sweet are a popular line-up on the local scene and certainly the 40+ audience were appreciative on Saturday. Please see the video below of their version of Concrete Blonde song 'Joey'. And keep your eye out in the local gig guides for upcoming gigs.

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