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'.


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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