Entries Tagged as 'Gig Reviews'

Devon Sproule @ Smith’s

Devon Sproule @ Smith’s Alternative, Wed 20th April, 2016
by Abbey

Devon Sproule shares with her audience unfaltering beauty and integrity. An earthy, pure appearance – arising from having known the vastness of the world and the human condition – an unimposing strength and wisdom. Tales of childhood, life and loved ones told between songs, each word carefully articulated to eliminate risk of inaccurate portrayal. Gorgeous lyrics of nature, colour, texture and family shared atop a raw yet faultless, clear and ranging vocal. Her guitar or a cappella snapping and stomping accompaniments adding seamlessly to the already rich layers of story and imagery. There are no gimmicks, loop machines, makeup or ego here, just pure and raw beauty and integrity.


OXJAM at The Polo. Friday 21st, Polish White Eagle Club
by Little Dove

Once again The Canberra Musicians Club and The Polo pool their talents and create a party with a cracking line-up of musos. And this one was indeed extra special. OXJAM gigs were organised around Australia during August to raise funds for (duh) Oxfam and their fight against world poverty. Canberra represented well. The crowd were, as is my experience of the CMC/Polo combo, culturally and age diverse. And refreshingly, so was the music.

The programme kicked off with some Canberra stalwarts of indo-jazz who have combined in recent years to become Mohona. It was a pleasure to enter the room to the Bengali sounds of multi instrumentalists Nitya, Andrew and Robin. And they played to an attentive audience. My friend mentioned that Mohona sometimes cover The Face of Love by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Eddie Vedder. Sure enough after they announced their last song, they began that tune and led the room to that place of blissful listening where you feel a crescendo build in your belly before the rise of the sound. It was beautiful only…. Mr McRae cut them off just a few minutes in and they were unable to complete the song. I saw him enter the room, walk on stage and whisper in Robin’s ear, and I was like No, no, Nigel please don’t, there’s magic happening here. But he did. And they stopped. I’ll be keeping ears pricked for the chance to hear the song in its entirety. Of course, Nigel was just making necessary space for the many other acts to follow.

The evening seemed to flow well and conversation flourished in the moments between musical highlights.

The MC was late, his enthusiasm was low and he lacked his usual pizazz. He was actually the main reason that I attended so this was disappointing. But I guess everyone has off days.

Our first information about the Oxjam cause actually came from The Blue Angel and Dr Wiedemann who spoke knowledgeably at the start of their set. The pair brought their usual quirky presence. I really appreciate the risks that these two take in creating something truly unique. The commitment to their dark clown Weimar characters is a refreshing injection into any program. The vocals in each song are drawn and lengthy however, and as someone that struggles to listen to words for too long, I find this challenging. I would like to hear more space between words. But I certainly can’t get enough of the Blue Angel tap dancing.

The Cyrenes Choir of Women was committed in their performance and evidently passionate for the cause.  “We are who we are because of each other – spread that secret” was a lovely sentiment spoken by their leader. That general feeling of love and respect seemed to carry through their set and the room. Plus they did a sing-a-long with the crowd, which is always a winner. Generally a fan of thoughtful costuming, I liked the addition of the blue scarves they each wore.

CHOIR were sensational with their harmonies and enthusiasm. It was great to see a boy girl mix on the stage and everyone carrying their own unique style. I loved their Stiff Gins cover and the sharing of personal stories. Like how the following day a choir member was getting married and that they would all sing at the wedding. It was sweet, and showed the special unity that is essential in a good choir.

Teddy Conrick brought us home with super cool guitar slapping and soulful acoustic stylings. His gravelly vocals were gorgeous afloat his original songs. I really enjoyed hearing this dude for the first time.

The People I Love brought the fresh flavor of a New Orleans kinda Dixieland sound. With a groove and a swagger like carefree days on the Mississippi, Emma Dryden was a Diva O’naturale. And what would a major event in the Berra be, without the musical accompaniment of Mr Cam Smith on trumpet. The whole band was sensational and prepped us well for the finale.

Zambezi Sound System got the whole crowd jumping. If anyone else was lacking enthusiasm, these guys made up for it. Their big smiles, expansive hearts, reggae beats and killer vocals were a perfect fit for Oxjam.

What a combo. What a night. I love how this town bands together (excuse the pun). Yay Oxjam.

Art For Charity

Art for Charity, Polish Club, Canberra. Sat 22nd Aug, 2015

Dear Editor,

The following is my ‘graft’ review of the Art for Charity event at the Polish Club held on Saturday the 22nd of August.

Being a visitor to Canberra, I was unacquainted with the local arts & music scene, so I attended the Art for Charity event at ‘the Polo’ with great interest.

The poetry portion of the night was beginning when I arrived. The first performer, Zoe Anderson, seemed unassuming when she first stood up, but when she spoke her words flowed with a way of drawing you in to the narrative that she was creating.

Judging from his introduction Andrew Galan, who followed, is a local scene institution. The highlights of his set were his riff piece on carpets and the emotionally engaging ‘Enjoying rides in police cars’.

Melinda Smith and Alison Plevey’s poetry and dance collaboration was an interesting combination which I felt gelled together best with the final piece, ‘Red Language’. The use of a parallel dance vocabulary to the lyric content of the poem created something that was greater than the sum of its parts.

The presentation and documentary about the Cisarua learning centre brought to light the work being done by some compassionate people and it was uplifting to hear their story, which was aptly described as “humans helping humans” by Owen Campbell who took the stage afterward. Looking every bit the part, he laid down a slide guitar groove that sounded like there was more than just one player up there.

It was an impressive performance that had a small group at the front of the hall up and dancing along. For me his east/west fusion track ‘Hindu Blues’ stood out among a set full of enjoyable songs, enough so that I was moved to buy one his CDs on my way out.

If this collection of performers is an indication of what Canberra has to offer I will eagerly check out what else I can next time I am in town. Especially if they are at this venue, because that Polish beer was pretty good too.

Tarquin Carlin

Mikelangelo, Cave – Waits – Cohen

Mikelangelo, Cave –  Waits – Cohen. Polish White Eagle, Sunday 16th Aug, 2015
by Stephen Harrison

I’m always in awe of performers. The ability and confidence to get up in front of a crowd of people and belt out songs, not knowing how the audience is going to react, I find extraordinary. Mikelangelo is one such performer: absolutely extraordinary.

To start off: he looks good, snappy suit (reminiscent of Elvis on black and white TV), coif like a wave, and a great mover. Then there’s the voice. I must admit I’m partial to the deep voices from male singers- not a big fan of falsettos. Mikel’s is a deep, rich, chocolaty baritone. The songs he was singing at the Polish club were a great medley of Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Australian Nick Cave. Three of my favourite acts – I never miss the chance to see Mr. Cave, in all his incantations from Bad Seeds to Grinderman and solo stuff, it’s all good. I’d jump at the chance to see the others, too – especially Tom Waits, who hasn’t been to Australia since the seventies (I hear). And Waits has a wonderful version of our Waltzing Matilda, referencing our blood and whisky soaked past, inspired by his visit here: so he should come back.

Like Mikelangelo, these men are brilliant performers, and consummate song writers. It’s so good to hear old tunes like Sad Waters by Cave again – these melancholy old songs really endure. Like an idiot, I didn’t bring a pen and paper to note more songs down, but suffice it to say a nice balance of heartfelt and up beat songs were sung. There’s been a few tragic deaths of artists of late, and Mikelangelo made reference to them, tying them into songs, and giving them added poignancy.

Musicians such as Mikelangelo are who we have in our midst, and we should be way supportive of this world-class act. When you see him, buy a CD, or a vinyl: this ensures we’ll get to see him again. Altogether a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining evening.

The Constellation of Mikelangelo

MIKELANGELO – The Balkan Elvis – Live and Intimate Tour. Polish Club, Saturday 9th May, 2015
by Little Dove 

Mikelangelo's Balkan Elvis

Mikelangelo’s Balkan Elvis. Image by a Lizard’s View

If you like music and you live in Canberra, chances are you know the slick black quiff, hip shaking, heavy breath and deep croon that signify our very own multi talented Mikelangelo. Though he has not been a local for sometime, his consistent gigs here are a tribute to his love of the capital “Canberra, you are beautiful. You’ve got it all going on.” Ever the inventor, tonight he introduces us to Eastern Bloc Rock from his alter ego Johnny Presley AKA The Balkan Elvis. This is the first music gig at the Polish Club since reopening it’s doors after an 18 month hiatus. And it does not disappoint.

In this intimate cabaret style show, Johnny regales tales majestic of a meagre adolescence in Eastern Europe, and his rise to fame in the shadow of his “twin from the Americas”. He and a bunch of friends first saw Elvis when they snuck across town to peek through a window to look at some crazy thing they had heard about – the television. Johnny was hooked on King Creole from the moment he saw him thrusting on the tiny screen.

Mikelangelo cleverly interweaves local references within the stories, and we feel special to be noted. He is funny and self deprecating. One moment when looking theatrically lost as to why we were all laughing, he began a fake laugh, saying in his thick Dubrovnic drawl “I hear you laughing now. And I am laughing too. So I am laughing with you”. It was sweet and funny.

The way he looks is extraordinary, and I often find myself a little star struck in his very large presence and arching eyebrows. From his shiny stripey suit, to his intense stare, to his red suede shoes, this man bedazzles.

And then there’s the music. For the first twenty minutes I can barely move my eyes off his guitar and it’s wielding hands. I am generally entranced and astounded by any musician when they play well. The rolling, tapping, plucking, banging, blowing. It’s frickin amazing. Mikelangelo’s guitar swings and sways in unison like a body part as he moves in ownership of the stage.

His clever reinterpretations of Elvis songs are full of humour and they connect appropriately with the story. His delivery is consistently strong and the air is thick with attention to the breath dense and at times almost operatic strain. Whilst paying respect to The King, Mikelangelo brings his own unique flavour. His rendition of ‘Love Me Tender’ on the squeezebox is beautiful.

Midway through the show he is joined on stage for ‘Viva Dubrovnic’! by some of the talented crew from local bands Brass Knuckle and Moochers Inc. John Gosling on trombone; Thomas Manley on sax; Tim bowyer and Cameron Smith on trumpet; David Abkiewicz on sousaphone; Mark Levers on drums. Their synchronicity is impressive and their sounds bombastic. Man do these guys get around. They play all over town ALL THE TIME and are relentless in their commitment to not only making their own music, but to supporting others. Without rehearsal, they and our serenader are seamless in their collaboration. Mikelangelo is generous in his support as well, shimmying his way around the stage to allow the band their own attention. And we gave it eagerly.

The show ends with a sing-along to ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ followed by a foot stomping encore of ‘Hound Dog’. And finally a kiss good night for every audience member from Mikelangelo upon exit.

“I’m gonna become a big star. I’m gonna become a constellation”. Indeed.

CMC Wednesday @ Smiths, 12 Nov 2014

Obscura Hail, Tom Woodward, Rueben Ingall
by James Kent

As one of only a few electronic artists in Canberra, and the only one I see playing around the traps regularly, Reuben Ingall is a lone wolf, both in the Canberra music scene and on stage. Producing an intriguing mix of shoegazing soundscapes, pensive beats, and experimental electronic glitch guitar, Ingall’s music isn’t for everyone; but sitting there I couldn’t help but be enveloped by the wall of sound coming from the host of electronic toys he had up on stage; one of which I should add, was a hot pink hello kitty themed electric guitar. To my mind at least, Ingall seems to be aiming for the genre of synth looping electronica brought to the edges of mainstream by American bands like the Books, or locally by Sydney producers like Seekae and Stackhat. This is a venture not entirely without success, particularly if you’re listening along on Bandcamp. In person however, I can’t help but feel there’s something missing, whether it’s an extra layer of sound, an accompanying band member, or even just the confidence to make full use of his voice, which is undeniably suited to the genre he calls home.

After a somewhat sombre beginning to the evening, there was a mild sense of auditory whiplash as Tom Woodward took to the stage, bringing his unique brand of swampy white guy roots with him. Rumoured to make his living purely off the back of gigs and busking, Tom is clearly a talented musician, with a dextrously plucky style of guitar and a personal charm that had me hooked from the get go, easily pulling the audience out of their electronica induced funk and into a frame of mind where boot tapping was a compulsory pleasure.

When Obscura Hail first took to the stage, clad from head to toe in black and with a mop of hair that lent him more than a passing resemblance to Cousin Itt of the Adams family, he cut an incongruously gothic figure. And I Say incongruous, because he turned out to sing almost Ben Lee-esque saccharine folk, complete with a love song dedicated to his mum, and, in a final act of mindfuckery, a cover of Kiss Me, by Sixpence None the Richer. Despite the fact that he disappeared behind a curtain of hair barely two songs into his set, Hail was an unexpected pleasure, with a bountiful set list of tracks and a vibe that reminded me strongly of The Shins.

Smith’s Alternative – 8th Oct, 2014

CMC Wednesday @ Smith’s – Darling Mermaid Darlings, Dylan Hekimian,  Alex and Joel
by James Kent

I always feel sorry for the bands that play Smiths on acoustic soup night, because for one night a month the food coop is turned into a veritable black hole that sucks in all the bearded hipster types for miles around, leaving venues like Smiths sadly bereft of both punters and ironically moustachioed arguments over which Jack Kerouac poem is the best (trick question! The answer is always Howl). This is most unfortunate because it means little heard gems like Darling Mermaid Darlings remain hidden. A side project of Pocket Fox lead vocalist Luciana Harrison, DMD heads in a more sultry direction than pocket fox, with songs like On the Prowl and Like a Woman positively dripping with sex appeal and demonstrating vocal and musical talent which can sometimes be lost amongst the Pocket Fox hubhub.

Ever the judgemental type, when Dylan Hekimian took to the stage after DMD in all his dreadlocked and industrially pierced glory I pegged him as one of those barefooted john butler rip-offs who corners you at a party and won’t (for the love of god) shut up about their life changing acid trip and burning man last year. Fortunately for all of us, this was a judgement proven wrong fairly quickly, not leastwise because he was wearing shoes. Dylan is easily the most talented percussive guitarist I’ve seen live, with a unique voice and style that’s well suited to the musical direction he’s heading in. My only possible bone to pick is that sometimes the percussive element can distract from the fact that he is clearly an excellent guitarist of the regular variety as well, and certainly one I’d be happy to see again.

The final act of the evening was the ever understated Alex and Joel, a creatively named local guitar/cello duo who, while not making a name for themselves in a literal sense, certainly seem to be doing so in a figurative sense, with a flawless combination of cello and Xavier Rudd style guitar, which definitely isn’t harmed by the fact that they could also be joint mayors of Babe-town (Disclaimer: not a real town). Try as I might, I can’t find a bad thing to say about these guys, because apparently distractingly good looking doesn’t count, and I sure as hell can’t fault their music, with their song I’ll be Fine one of my favourites in particular. With an EP release date set for the 21st of November this year, this is definitely a band worth checking out.

Devon Sproule et al @ Smiths

Devon Sproule, The Burley Griffin, Dirt Baby @ Smiths, Wed 17th Sep, 2014
by James Kent

I watched Dirt Baby Feat. The Blue Angel take to the Smiths stage with interest, as half (yes only half) were dressed in a way that implied Mojo Juju/Amanda Palmer style cabaret was about to get underway, much to the confusion of the megadeth wearing metal head playing guitar up the back. Occasionally lyrically interesting, and with glimpses of stage presence from the corseted top hat wearing leading lady, this is a band that could go places if only they tightened their sound and got the front woman a less ridiculous moniker/found her the gravitas to pull it off.

After a somewhat lacklustre start to the evening, I was quite looking forward to the Burley Griffin; a local Canberra band I can only hope is named after a muscular mythical creature. Having had the pleasure of seeing them on a few occasions before, its with only the smallest smidgeon of shame that I confess that the Burley Griffin are to blame for my now regular bouts of ‘”loud enough to get judgemental stares at intersections” car singing. While the performance itself seemed a little rushed (did someone forget to pee before going on stage?), generally speaking, the Burley Griffin are hard not to enjoy, with a strong clear vocals, excellent musicianship, and lyrics that hit you right in the feels. A must have for any Darren Hanlon fans and folkwits in general.

Finishing the night on a high note, it is perhaps apt that Devon Sproule’s first song was dedicated to all the people she had met who were effortlessly successful, because this is a label easily applicable to Sproule herself; in the midst of an international tour off the back of a successful stint in Europe that included a spot performing on Jools Holland. Raised in Virginia and currently based in Texas, there’s an occasional hint of country drawl that combines well with Sproule’s unique ability to express vulnerability while still clearly having an iron gripped control over every waver. When the country sounds fade, what’s left is a sweet and pure voice that cuts to the core.

Little Stevies Come to Town

The Little Stevies and Pocket Fox @ Smiths Alternative, Sat 30th Aug, 2014
by James Kent

Born out of the drunken backyard jam sessions of summers past, it will no doubt be a source of much boasting to my grandchildren that I was there for Pocket Fox’s first ever gig at the Pot Belly, back before it was a frogurt stand/bakery/thai massage parlour, or whatever its new form will be.

I can honestly say its been a thrill watching Pocket Fox develop from lecherous backyard drunkards who would get the police called on them for disturbing the adjacent yuppie apartments, to lecherous backyard drunkards who now play on stages and hardly ever get the police called on them. The irrepressibly fun spirit of the pocket fox sound makes listening to their music and not dancing a task not dissimilar in difficulty level to that of sitting still after one has discovered an angry scorpion nesting in ones trousers (a difficult task I assure you). Their tight musical ability is combined with an aesthetic brand of lyricism that makes them compulsory viewing for any Canberra folkheads, and excellent company for the night’s main attraction, the Little Stevies

After arriving (fashionably?) late, I was surprised to find Smiths Alternative packed tight with people who, clearly having heard the Little Stevies previously, were all far cooler than I am. Within the first minute of the Little Stevies’ set I knew I was in a spot of bother, because it’s virtually impossible for me to enjoy a band as much as I enjoyed the Little Stevies, without saddling up my metaphorical horse and galloping full pelt towards cliché town and its adjoining neighbour, boring-high-profile-comparison…ville. Musically excellent, and with vocal harmonies so perfect some sort of spooky sisterly psychic link seems likely, it was impossible not to sing along (which was awkward, because I didn’t know any of the words). The Little Stevies are a truly addictive listening experience that had this reviewer transfixed until it was time to cheer for an encore. I can only say to look them up and thank me later.

Zambezi Sounds @ Smiths

Zambezi Sounds @ Smiths Alternative, Friday 11th July, 2014
by Jacqui Symonds

Let’s just say the Zimbabwean boys and their young drummer (who grimaced somewhat humorously when the gents out front lamented that they were getting old) delivered one hell of a dance fest. Given the energy of the performers, ‘old’ was the last impression they gave! A real mixed crowd were there, many Africans of course, to see the three gents and their toe-tapping blend of Zimbabwean sounds that got everyone dancing. Despite their percussionist turning up late, prompting some rather amusing African-style fables to fill the time, the performance was a feel good rhythmic adventure.  Us Aussies naturally can’t dance, but we sure gave it a good shot. I’ll be going to their next show for sure.

Gender Blender Ball

Gender Blender Ball, Turner Bowlo, Fri 23rd May, 2014
by L Beau

A night of fun and ambiguities that almost hit the mark. It wasn’t clear why Prom put on a cross-dressing concert but they did, and it was a refreshing and adventurous splash on the CMC calendar. It was an interesting and relaxing exercise to look around the room and not be sure who was what gender. It made for a feeling of candid fun in the crowd. I only wish the bands had connected with the audience as well as we connected with each other. Here they are in reverse order…

Danny Wild closed the night with a DJ set full of pumping danceable tunes. Great song selection and tight mixing, but he looked like he didn’t enjoy being on stage. It’s possible the small crowd wasn’t enough fuel to get him fired up, but it still would’ve been nice to see him enjoy himself.

Prom is made up of some of Canberra’s best musicians. Each individually respected and ridiculously talented. And the music they make together is tight, punchy and passionate. But there was something missing. And that was a connection between the lead singer (Nick Delatovic) and the audience. He spent most of the time staring intensely into the distance and striking thought-out poses, instead of looking at us and sharing himself and the music. It felt like there was some intention to the music that we weren’t getting. A through-story or premise that went over our heads. Maybe if we listened to every lyric we could decode it, but if that’s a necessity then you’ve lost most of your audience. Delatovic is a jaw-droopingly good lyricist, but his considered cleverness can get in the way of catchiness and connection.

Pocket Fox are adorable. And over the last couple of years they’ve added to their adorable-ness a big heaping of musical excellent-ness. Their sweet music has become more complex and varied, and in this set their new slick licks wafted over us with feeling and fidelity. But sadly with no connection. They’ve been doing this long enough now to get over any shyness, so there’s no excuse to not be engaging with their audiences. Rarely did they look excited and connected to the music they were playing, and at times they even looked bored on stage.

Chris Endrey was the opposite. He is the king of audience connection. So much so that sometimes you want to say “Okay enough! Switch the wit off and get on with it!”. But when he and the audience are on the same page it’s magic. This particular evening gave us a little bit of both. Always one to risk trying new things on stage, he used his time not only to make music but also to try to make people think about gender. Kudos.

This night would have been perfectly pitched if Endrey had given us a touch more music and less connection. And if the others had done the opposite. (Dear Chris, please run Audience Engagement workshops for musicians.) But it was a fun night that deserved bigger crowds, and I’d go see all those bands again. I just hope next time they see us too.

Lucie Thorne @ Smiths

Lucie Thorne @ Smiths. Wed 18th June
Review by James Kent

I’ll admit it, I came to this gig a little unprepared. After a brief facebook stalk and some skimmed reviews, I wandered into Smiths with only a vague idea of what to expect, and a mild scepticism as to wether solo guitarist lady (also known as Lucie Thorne) would turn out to be worth a quadrupling of the regular Wednesday night door fee.

Fortunately enough in this case, the answer is yes. Although the show was unusually short due to a disappointing lack of local support acts, Lucie had the audience in the palm of her hand from the get go, with barely a whisper from the audience for the duration. Although somewhat lacking in range and variety, Lucie smashes it out of the ballpark, with gorgeous smokey vocals and dreamy lyrics combining with a first class musical ability, filling Smiths with the imagined scents of blackberry moonshine and Aussie bushland and creating an atmosphere I would cheerfully pay to experience again.

Moochers (Inc.) and Flap!

Flap @ The Turner Bowls Club, Fri 13 June, 2014
with Moochers Inc. by Adam Salter

Something feels right when, feeling like a bit of a moocher for having hooked a couple of tickets in return for a potentially mediocrely-written review, the first act you are about to see at the Turner Bowls Club is Moochers Inc.

The Canberra boys, fresh from the Merimbula Jazz Festival, really know how to make you feel a part of the incorporated. From the beginning trumpet solo, through the dirty trombone, between the twanging guitar strings, over the wandering clarinet, around the astro boy beats of the drum and on to the fat ass tuba (I hope not to offend a euphonium player if I’ve misnomered)(I believe it’s a sousaphone – Ed.), the multi-tempo set had the crowd smiling and tapping throughout, with larger and larger numbers letting the rhythm take hold before jiving onto the dance floor.

Right when we were feeling the maximum mooch, these speak-easy entrepreneurs made way for the main act, Melbournite ‘tropical storm’, Flap!

This five-piece, having not long ago toured with a little band called The Cat Empire, were able to take the energy up another twelve notches, with a fast-paced and frenetic fever that only the most die-hard dancers would even attempt to keep time with. But try they did and the ball-busting beats thundered on. Every part – drums, banjo-uke, brass and double bass – was played well. These guys were a tight and polished ensemble, making for an absolute cracker of a night!

Only downside for the evening were some just-too-loud levels scattered throughout. However, every musician that appeared on stage all evening seemed to be enjoying the here and now and brought that out in the crowd.

If only the bar staff had had even a quarter of the energy of the bands and patrons. Or even an eighth… Otherwise – what a kick ass night!

Quarry Mountain Dead Rats – Canberra

Quarry Mountain Dead Rats @ Turner Bowlo, Friday 6th June, 2014
with The Burley Griffin. By Kandy A

Turning up a little late I missed the start of the Burley Griffin, but about 40-50 people had beat the cold and huddled up in the tables surrounding the dance floor to hear these Canberra stalwarts and await touring talents QMtDRs.

The Bowlo is something of a makeshift venue, with a good size room separated from the bistros sports screens and pool tables and…the actual bar from which drinkses are procured, which can be a pain, but does offer a sly glance at the footy scores (suck shit Carlton!) for the sadly sports obsessed. The well lit entry lighting shines off the white bench seats lining the green, reminding you of the clubs raison d’etre; I don’t know about you, but when I grew up the thought that a gig could be held at a bowling club was idle fantasy, but, here we are.

Perhaps punters were hunkering down or perhaps were helpfully protecting the unobstructed view of between band and sound desk, no one likes to be the ass that stands in front of everybody else, so perhaps it was some shy manners, but the dance floor’s emptiness radiated redundancy, like a social welfare program in a budget year, and it wasn’t a good look; thus is the lot of the warm up act.

The Burley Griffin boys, 4 of them, all with mikes and capable of bending the vocal chords together, or independently (even the drummer does a song) are clearly a talented bunch not just picked out because one of them has a banjo. Their gentle folk rock got a few toes tapping, melodic tunes well played, a few slightly off harmonies adding to their easy charm. The Burley Griffin finished strongly with a burly off tempo number and put plenty into it, showing they’ve got more to their range. A couple more of these numbers might’ve moved more than the toes of sedate spectators, I liked it a lot.

Quarry Mountain Dead Rats
Straight up, these guys blew us away. Great music, fun, gig. Hate banjos? You will love banjos. Don’t know about bluegrass? Don’t matter none, you will be jiggier than a bra-less boob at a ho’s hoe-down. Opening with “That’s alright” crowd drifts into the dance space; a mob seeming to have an inkling, wanting to do something but don’t know yet what or how. In a few minutes the void is filled, people start shuffling, toe tapping transmits to knees.

The husky young devils in the QMtDRs play Double bass and washboard behind banjo and mandolin. They play through “if not for you” and put in a smokin mouth harp for “where nobody knows your name” and the crowd have figured it out; jump around, jive about. It’s a good crowd of diverse ages, plenty of switched on youngsters to go with people of a more refined age. All are drawn to wave some body parts about; as the QMtDRs put their heads down, slip another gear and charge through “Hamilton County breakdown”

“Days like these” starts and ends slow but in the middle it’s all go, I suspect I am not alone in discovering how much fun flat out bluegrass is. “Kentucky mandolin” another instrumental keeps the crowd awrigglin, and, somewhat inevitably I feel, the QMtDRs show their colours; a nod to another musical tradition that flavours their sound in “Cactus head” citing Stooges and Motörhead they bring out both, the lyrics are pure Iggy, and I’m thinking of Lemmy in a flannel shirt chewin grass atop a hay bale approving of this rollicking number.

The set washes up with lots of harp, and a lot more fans for this Melbourne based band from the Mornington Peninsula. Since that entire area has practically been turned over to vin-yards can I substitute ‘Pinot-picking’ for ‘cotton-pickin’ ? (No.)

Quarry Mountain Dead Rats manage to exude some Aussie ockerness in this otherwise American genre, heavily flavoured by their rock sensibilities, and it tastes mighty fine.

Flannel shirts:6
Overalls: 2
Hipsters: within acceptable limits.
Good times: 100


Nyash Afrobeat Collective

Nyash Afrobeat Collective EP Launch. Turner Bowls. Friday 25th April, 2014
by F McDonald

The welcome at the door, the atmosphere, and friendly fellow music lovers added to a great gig at the Turner Bowlo last Friday night. Los Chavos opened up and got the dancing going with their diverse sounds. Tha Milmanator held the stage throughout the evening, having far too much fun playing in both bands. Nyash rocked the room with no apologies and a big brassy sound. It was impossible to resist moving to the ska-like pulse. The energy on stage and in the room was vibrant and playful.

A great night.

Thanks CMC.