That was the title on my cheap little laminated sign, that I would display with pride on a tip jar at every show I played for 4 months leading up to the trip to the blues man’s mecca : Memphis.
Without fail, I would smile every time I put the sign up because it represented years of hard work paying off.
I never thought too much about travel in my life because I always believed that if you get good enough, the music will take you places.
So there I was preparing for a trip I never imagined and next thing you know I was on the plane headed for the tip of the heart of the Delta. You know when you walk through airports and there are all those serious voices over the speakers? You know, the ones admonishing you to ‘Not leave your bags unattended!’ or ‘If you see something suspicious, tell someone!’? Well, I can tell you from first hand experience, when I walked through the airport in Memphis, all I heard was the soulful voice of B.B. King and the rockin’ southern sounds of The Allman Brothers ... Two of my favourites!
Now, I won’t kid you, it was cold. And if i wasn’t sure about that, there was a perpetually frozen birdbath out the front of the accommodation to confirm it. But as soon as we stepped into the foyer of what seemed to be hermetically sealed apartments, we were greeted with a depth of warmth that extended well beyond good heating.
It smelt like history.
It smelt like Grandma’s cooking.
It wrapped you up like your favourite jumper and said ‘Breathe easy, you’re home’.
Now, the experience would not have been half as much fun if it weren’t for the eclectic characters that made up the South Aussie contingent. We all spent the entire time getting lost, getting found, loving the music up and down Beale street from B.B.’s to Jerry Lee’s , sharing the food and all of that renowned southern hospitality, but most importantly, having a rockin’ time. All the time.
(Footnote : Of ALL the places you have been in your life and seen neon signs, only to come back years later to find them gone.... Beale street bought them.)
The first night that One More Mile and I played at the Blues Cafe it wasn’t judged. It was just an opportunity for us to dust off after a long trip. Well ... From that moment on and for the rest of the week, all I heard up and down the street wherever we went was ‘The Aussies have arrived! Thanks to a good sound, a really receptive crowd and a tremendous and overwhelmingly positive vibe from the whole ARBA team, we really smashed it that first night and really proved we were meant to be there.
No feeling quite like it really.
I played my heats in the absolute last bar on the strip, it was called ‘Lew’s Blew Note Bar and Grill’, (I knew I had drawn well as Blue Note is one of my favourite labels!), and it turned out that Lew had somehow lost his beer and wine license but kept his hard liquor license (???) so I was forced to perform with only whiskey by my side ... for the nerves of course ...
But Lew himself turned out to be the epitome of southern hospitality, presenting as the classic aged bluesman (although he swears he can’t play or sing a note) he was warm and generous and I especially liked him because he pulled me aside after the first round and said ‘Boy, you gonna win this thing!’
And as sad as it was not proving him right, I learned many things in this competition that can only possibly be learnt ‘on the job’.
The only other thing I would like to make mention of is the great Youth in Blues showcasing that the competition offers. There was A LOT of talent in that pool and we wouldn’t have seen it if the competition hadn’t been so well rounded.
If I may be anecdotal, one particular night stands out in my mind where one Michael Marino, son of Mario ‘The Metronome’ Marino, having waited two hours to get behind the skins for a jam with some randoms, blew B.B. Kings place apart.
I guess Mario knew, but the rest of the people in the venue had no idea what was coming.
Having sat back and grooved it out for the band that obviously mostly knew each other. Having watched them all take solos and backed them with the restraint that is professional courtesy. He was given the wind up.
Which he mistook as his turn to let loose.
One by one the band turned to marvel, as Michael carefully cultivated what was to be one of history’s epic drum solo’s.
Everyone on stage was playing harder, the crowd were reaching fervor and the bass player turned to give him... the wind up.
Which he mistook as his turn to go interplanetary.
One by one the band stopped playing. And turning with mouths agape could do nothing but become one with the crowd in their appreciation and excitement as Michael seemingly flailed with the precision and timing of someone much older in years.
The band then signal that it really IS time to wrap it up and I was sure I heard the faintest whisper of Michael’s mind... ‘sure, I’ll give you an ending...’
It was a double barreled, eye popping, better than classic rock ending that even had a false one half way through.
The crowd noise that came after probably shook loose a few of the foundations and at very least would’ve required maintenance to come back the next day and re-attach the roof.
Thank you Michael. Thank you Memphis.
Thank you team ARBA - From the patrons, to the members and volunteers, to the Semaphore Workers Club, to Mick for encouraging me to try out, to the people that voted for me to go and represent, and mostly to the away team for keeping me cool when I was sure I was going to need a spare pair of underpants.
Long live the Blues!
The Adelaide Roots & Blues Association is proud to announce that the 2018 ARBA Blues Album of the Year, "Tales of a Rich Girl" by Kings & Associates, is a finalist in the Blues Foundation Best Self-Produced CD comp for 2019.
To reach the final 5 in this world-wide contest is an amazing achievement and we extend our hearty congratulations to the band and all concerned!
The winner of this award will be announced at the finals of the 2019 International Blues Challenge, in Memphis, on January 26th, 2019.
The finalists in the ARBA Albums of the Year, announced on the 7th of September at Club 5082 during the Prospect Blues and Roots Series are ...
Winners to be announced and presented at the ARBA Member Muster, October 19.
congratulations to the finalists and to all entrants on a quality field.
To view all entrants and details of albums click on the category links above
So come along, get behind your favourite players and enjoy a top night of jamming!
The evening kicks off at 5.30pm. Only $10 at Trybooking
Or to register your entry to the comp., please contact Alex on 0417883640
51 King William Rd. Unley SA
Day one of Bluesfest 2018
Very wet in Byron Bay but on with the show, with a quick look at the Bali Blues Brothers who despite the corny name played some pretty good tunes, including a tasty version of The Watchtower.
Next up Elephant Sessions, who hail from Scotland and are led by a very capable fiddle player. Actually the whole band was great, which made me question why they needed a whole heap of sequenced material behind it! I know some bands around do it, but it puts me off every time, and for these guys was completely unnecessary.
Rag n Bone Man was the find of the day. Backed by a great band stood this big fella with a voice to match. The songs touched on a lot of styles, but they were all “Big”. What I listened to prior to coming, led me to write him off and we only ended up there by chance. I was wrong and really impressed with his songs and his stage presence.
Gomez. I must admit I am a “casual” Gomez fan and their decision today to play the “Bring it On” album in its entirety fell flat for me. It just felt very lackluster and they said tomorrow’s show was ‘all sorts of different’. I was kinda disappointed as it would have been better suited for hard-core fans, a bad call for a festival audience I felt.
Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real was a mixed bag of almost cliche country to impressive guitar soloing, which would be at home on far heavier genres. I didn’t know what to make of it and moved on.
Leon Bridges received big publicity when they added him to the lineup, and after reading same I was expecting some sort of new Soul Messiah. This wasn’t the case, and while he was a good performer and surrounded by a good band, for me it was just too clean and sugary.
The New Power Generation were today’s highlight. Prince was unforgiving about what he expected in his musicians and it showed. These guys were absolutely killer, not just musically brilliant but they put on a show, a full on in your face show. Just great, Purple Rain to close out was huge.
We were here for The Original Blues Brothers Band in 2016 and tonight was a bonus to be able to see them go around again. Sure the Belushi and Ackroyd parts are a bit cliche but this band is so much more than that. It’s Steve Cropper and Blue Lou, the Stax originals, the band that launched hundreds of hits. A great way to close the night.
In other day one news, my feet hurt. There’s more water on this site than flows down the Murray on a good day and I’m looking forward to a sleep in.
Day two of Bluesfest 2018
I could hear Josh from The Teskey Bros running vocal scales 100 metres away before they started the show with 2000 people in the tent already. Such is this bloke’s commitment to producing an authentic soul voice in a world full of imposters who cover their lack of development with vibrato and other vocal gymnastics. The band was on the back foot with a sick bass player minutes prior but the Hammond player covered brilliantly. A great band, hidden in the back locks of Melbourne for so long and now on a national stage. My only complaint was the horn players had no solos.
We had seen Con Brio before and only planned to do a half set to see Newton Faulkner. Suffice to say, we didn’t get to Newton today as the singer from Con Brio is the love child of Micheal Jackson and James Brown and what a show these guys put on. Con Brio, in musical terms, means “with vigor” and these guys have it in spades. Big songs, big band and big attitude, outstanding stuff.
Canned Heat copped possibly the poorest scheduling and location error today, having been put on one of the smallest stages on the campus. The place was overflowing with punters and the big surprise was the amount of kids under 25. If you’ve played Woodstock, you either fade into obscurity or you get pretty bloody good at what you do. These guys were spot on, good performers having a great time and some top-notch blues guitar solos.
After yesterday we had to return for New Power Generation who put on a slightly different set and included a top version of “Nothing Compares to You” which Prince wrote for Sinead O’Conner. I raved enough about this show yesterday and tonight it was even bigger on the huge Mojo stage. Purple Rain again in the encore was nothing short of magnificent.
A quick venue change saw us catch Jimmy Cliff deliver “I can see clearly now”. I read somewhere this was his last tour, and that’s sad. While not in the same voice we heard here in previous years, people saw past that and enjoyed it all the same.
To close out day two, Robert Plant and the sensational Space Shifters were where we would end the night, as I had zero interest in Laryn Hill. As it turned out, she was 30 minutes late anyway. I will be controversial here. A lot of people bag Bluesfest for the lack of “roots and blues” which is its heritage. They carry on about it and get all purist of the contemporary artists and sometimes it’s fair, often it is not. The sensational Space Shifters are just that, a band that morphs through styles seamlessly and in terms of “roots” there were fiddles, banjos, lutes and all sorts of guitar shaped objects and hand held percussion instruments that I can’t name. The tunes went from alt country to atmospheric metal. It was a hazy journey of folky metal magnificence which morphed in the encore to a very Zepplin “Whole Lotta Love”.
The rain stayed away today, we’ve had another great day and once again, Bluesfest delivers.
Day three of Bluesfest 2018
I planned to laze around this arvo, but we are camped close to the Juke Joint stage and the voice of Benny Walker got me in there early. This guy is a star on the rise, shades of John Mayer, really enjoyed what I saw of his set.
The California Honeydrops were on my list before we got here and did not disappoint. The New Orleans second line is strong in these guys. Two tenor players didn’t step on each other once. The horn lines were flawless and the second tenor doubles on clarinet for some trad washboard tunes until the party starts up again and finished somewhere between Louis Jordan and Allan Toussant. Going back tomorrow, loved it.
Chain are an Australian Blues institution. We had a lesson on the Bo Diddley rhythm and all the songs it has spawned. Phil Manning was in top form on the Telecaster.
We saw Jackson Browne in 2016 and I remarked at the time, his band sounded just like the recordings. There’s something effortless about this band and I suspect it has everything to do with a low on stage mix so they all hear each other perfectly. It’s a masterclass at live performance, watching them play.
I’d seen Dumpstaphunk on YouTube and was looking forward to them, unfortunately two bass players didn’t translate live tonight. The mix was muddy and for funk, you really need clean kick and snare. It sounded loose, and the jam format of some tunes seemed to get lost and then, so did we.
On to Michael Franti and Spearhead who I knew of initially from the MaxTV “Live at the Chapel” series. He started big with his hit “Everyone Deserves Music” which is his signature closer, so I was interested in where he would go from there. Franti writes pretty basic 4 chord tunes a lot of the time which delivered by others might fall flat, but there’s something about this big unit of a man who loves everyone in the room and the way he performs that is a thing to behold.
If Franti was the UN, there would be no crisis in the Middle East or Syria for that matter. He roamed the big Crossroads tent through the crowd only to pop up on strategically placed podiums. He drove security and stage crew alike completely nuts, following him around to spread his unique brand of peace with every single punter. Just when you think it’s over, he brings out Juanes, Valentina Brave and Jackson Browne to do a singalong of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. It was epic stuff with the big man in the crowd high-fiving every person he could while the stage crew couldn’t even give him the hint by rolling the drum riser out.
Did I mention the mid-set wedding proposal? This set had it all. See this guy if you have the chance.
A top day once again, two to go.
Day four of Bluesfest 2018
Sold out, literally tens of thousands here!
I had to have another look at the California Honeydrops today. Not just because they have two Tenor sax players but because there is so much New Orleans in them that every gig is a party.
Also another return was The Teskey Brothers who had their bass player back after a dodgy pizza. His return filled them out nicely and I don’t know if it was my cheeky post on their Facebook page or not, but both horn players got a solo today, good players both of them too.
Next up was Eric Gales who put on a blues guitar clinic of pretty large proportions. Many guitar players I know would have loved this show, I’m sure. They did some Freddie King tunes that ended up somewhere in the Stratocaster stratosphere. Good times and an overflowing Jambalya stage of keen punters.
Someone really should have called in the Sea Shepherd guys, because what I saw of Seal needed some serious rescuing. I had no idea he had such a limited range and for someone who judges others on TV he had serious pitch issues at times. It indeed seems they will let anyone judge those shows!
We had seen Melissa Etheridge on exactly the same stage previously and I raved about her then. Tonight she was even better. Big vocals and significant guitar chops coupled with great songs blew the roof off the big Crossroads stage. There’s a lot of talk about women in music and one all-female band in particular, complains a lot, but they could do well to see Melissa perform. The fact remains that if you have a great voice, big chops and write good songs, your undercarriage is irrelevant. Etheridge demonstrates this tonight to great effect. She is a powerhouse, it was huge.
We also caught some of Sheryl Crow and if it’s your thing, it was good. It wasn’t my thing, but she was good.
Just now I’m listening to Bobby Rush whom at 82 is funking the living daylights off the Juke Joint right next to our camp, when most people his age were asleep hours ago.
Day five of Bluesfest 2018
Hayley Grace and the Bay Collective kicked off our day. This band is good and has the potential to be great. An awkward sound check and ongoing “can I have some more of blah” into the mikes was distracting. Their first and last tunes were their strongest with really good horn lines, but at other times the unison tenor and alto lines stepped on each other and I’m not sure unison clarinets is a good thing. It’s like they need to choose a genre and they aren’t quite there yet. The singer is great, the rhythm section is great, a band to watch.
Walter Trout nearly died a few years ago and had to learn how to play guitar again. Pretty impressive, given he could take it up to most modern day guitar practitioners. Walter presented his songs from his life experiences really well and you couldn’t help but feel everything he has gone through in his songs.
Chic and Nile Rogers blasted a two song disco opener just to get the room moving and then pointed out that the local journo who tagged them as a cover band, was a bit of a dick, as they are all his songs. We had all of the big ones including Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and Daft Punks “Get Lucky”. In three trips here I’ve never seen dancing behind the desk, Chic had them dancing right to the back of the tent, 100m from the stage! The Studio 54 Tribute closed out the set and the spontaneous Madison dance with under 30’s dancers, like what? It was groovy baby. I read afterwards that someone in an article that said something like “in 17 years coming here I have never seen the Mojo tent lose its shit anywhere near as much as Chic’s set”. Indeed lose it they did!
I must confess I was a bit flippant about Lionel Richie, so I wasn’t expecting anything special. He opened with “Easy”, then went into a lot of funky Commodores tunes including “Brick House”. While his voice is not what it probably was 30 years ago, he put on a pretty good show and while he lost points for fake horns on the sequencer, like some cheesy Adelaide cover band, he had a real sax player who was pretty bloody good.
I discovered Morcheeba in the late 90s when I was pretty sick and tired of grunge. Tonight they did all the hits of that 98 album and some new material. Skye was a delight to watch as her dress gave all sorts of photo moments and then some not so much, in her cheeky cockney accent “can you see my bum?” The band were spot on, then, the one in a million thing happened, she mentioned the day she met Nile Rogers and wanted to do a song for him. You guessed it, “Let’s Dance” got another run, on the same day, at Bluesfest. Bowie was big here today, it warms the cockles of a Bowie fan’s heart.
On the way back to camp we dropped in to Rick Estrin and the Nightcats and I am so glad we did. This is what a real blues band should sound like. People who go to jams should be listening to this band, they really are a reference standard. Rick is a master harp player and in a world of “interesting” harp players, shows how it’s done melodically. The guitarist was awesome and I have since been told he has quite a following among guitar players. They were the best blues unit I’ve ever seen, had the place jumping, loved it.
The California Honeydrops are closing out the Juke Joint right next to us, as I write. A fitting end to our third time here in five years. Each and every time a new high bar of live performance is set. It’s inspirational. It’s challenging as a player to watch, and it just makes me want to go and play.
Once again you have delivered Bluesfest, we’ve had a great time.
Loved it, get here if you can, it is an experience that every music fan should get to do once.
Article by Nigel Bourn - An account of his bi-annual pilgrimage to Byron Bay
Photography by Bruce Davis, Lachlan Douglas & Nigel Bourn
“… with my feet ten feet offa Beale” sang somebody some time ago.
Two feet off the ground was applicable to some members of the Steve Brown band contingency who attended the Memphis International Blues Challenge (MIBC) during the worst cold snap in the living memory of a Memphis cab driver (56 years, he said). Snow, black ice and temperatures extending to minus15 created walking hazards for the unwary or inattentive. I was one of them but escaped injury by falling onto the person walking beside me!
Thanks to an exciting international music arts initiative managed locally by ARBA (Adelaide Roots and Blues Association), the Steve Brown Band and blues soloist JJ Fields (Savas Palaktsoglou) were sponsored to perform and compete at the International blues challenge held annually at the world-famous home of the Memphis blues - Beale Street.
Nearly 300 challengers from the US and around the world congregate to compete in a raft of categories; solo, duo, band, best harmonica etc, having won the privilege by competing in a local contest held in the band’s or artist’s hometown or State.
The South Australian representatives compete in heats organised by ARBA in front of live audiences and independent panels of judges. Outright winners are sponsored through many and varied fundraising efforts organised by the ARBA crew.
It is fair to say that the “journey to Memphis” as such begins in earnest once the local winners are announced and there is, from that time on, considerable thrashing of paddles under the water to keep the boat afloat and moving in the right direction. ARBA’s indefatigable Mick Young provided the finalists’ main propulsion for the flotilla from SA to Tennessee while SBB guitar/songwriter David Rhodes ensured the boys fulfilled their obligations for the tour and duties included liaison with ARBA as well as the Memphis competition organisation and the many and varied agencies that have a passing interest in travellers to the US.
Eyes and ears wide open
Beale Street - Peel Street parallel (Tamworth music festival) - is a cacophony of rockin’ blues music with some venues a mere 10 metres apart. Only the cold weather closed doors/windows situation provided some noise-abatement effect. It is patently clear, though, that most of the contestants understand the meaning of “competition”; slackers are given short shrift and the bands that shine do so with their own inner fire and outward enthusiasm. And wailing guitars and harmonicas!
A Blues purist might not find what he/she is looking for unless one lifts every rock and snow drift in and around Beale Street. Some artists “tip the hat” to the blues legends but for many it was simply showtime when the buzzer rang. Glitzy, bright coloured clothes and jackets, persistent, fiery guitars, rehearsed “spontaneous” choreography and crowd-mingling theatrics were best received by audiences and judges. Some of the musicianship and vocal performances on stage tended to leave one’s ego a little deflated and wondering if there was still enough time left to practice a bit more.
While being plainly and often stipulated on the performance regulations as 75% essential, originality was often thin on the snow-covered ground and sometimes embarrassingly akin to “sounds-like” versions - no names will be mentioned but changing the lyrics to an existing well-known blues tune is not very original! (my opinion). And, also in my opinion, more than a few of the acts appeared not too dissimilar to a Convention Centre corporate style blues review. (Claws in, please!)
Some of the solo/duo artists could have been doing their “Jules” blues set. (Claws in, I said!!) But, as previously mentioned, the good ones were talked about way into the wee hours with glowing words and phrases.
By the end of the heats good-ness triumphed and the finals crowd that packed the magnificent Orpheum Theatre were treated to what our mob thought in general was a pretty solid lineup of international talent and well worth the long session - noon till 7-30-ish - and the numb bum that ensued. The “All-Star” Blues review band that covered the sound of the judges quills tallying the results on parchment was a little flat, however, having none of the razz that the actual competitors splashed around the joint - just a bit of old-school talent!
Despite garnering applause, congratulations and hearty compliments, both the Steve Brown Band and JJ Fields did not win a place in the semi-finals - not for lack of trying, though - but then, nor did at least 220 other competitors.
For this insight into an obviously alive and kicking, and lucrative industry, our local participation in the MIBC is eminently worthwhile and should be encouraged. Competitors fly in from around the world and the Americas, friends are made, contacts established (or re-established) and new ideas and performance styles are played out before the eyes and ears of all. It would be a dense or cynical musician who did not take home a bit of that spark which, given the right conditions, could translate into an updated and exciting era in this genre of musical entertainment.
On behalf of the Steve Brown Band and JJ Fields, I extend our thanks and appreciation for the opportunity to see the wide world of Blues in action, up close and personal, and look forward to a future opportunity to get in the running.
Denis Surmon on behalf of the Steve Brown band and JJ Fields.
What a beautiful Summers day, perfect for a music festival!
I headed on through Clarendon past Kangarilla and Meadows, waving to the many father xmas’s along the way, taking in the country air and spirit, to Macclesfield I was bound. Once arrived after my exhilarating drive and parked in front of the historic Three Brothers Arms, I was welcomed by sound tech, Greg Button. I began unloading my drums as we chatted about his sleek line array system and other tech stuff, including where to place the kit (I was to provide the back-line kit for the day). Once set up a short walk through the large white Marquee, past those seated and shaded from the rather warm sun to the outside bar for my first well deserved ale … It was 2pm and already people had begun to arrive and seek a prime spot in front of the stage.
First up after a short sound check was Aaron Thomas and the Human Patterns. Touring ‘Always a Full Moon’, the band features Guitarist Django Rowe, violin and percussion Tori Phillips, drums Kyrie Anderson and double bass, Kiah Gossner.
From the first beautiful note to the last, this fine band of Dark country,folk troubadours had the early crowd (now an easy 120) near spellbound as they settled into their seats and cold beers. I stood at the back in awe of the layered Hi-Fi sound, clear masterful vocals and complex harmonies. Every ping and sizzle of the cymbals expertly teased by Levon Helm-esk drummer Kyrie Anderson. Aaron Thomas and band dynamically taking us from subdued to on the edge with clever and at times complex yet perfectly executed, spacious roots rhythms. From 2/4 Through Memphis shuffles to the New Orleans groove interwoven and softened by mystic strings all underpinned by superb song writing.
This is when all the excited musical conversations began between friends and familiar faces and carried on between amazing band after amazing band the next on the program being great friends and super soulful players,
Kings & Associates. Again the Hi-Fi sound cut and punched, Ange’s voice piercing the solid full groove of this finely honed unit, and I must say my drums never sounded so good! Change overs were prompt, just enough time for some catching up over another cold beer, to check out the drumming troupe on the shaded lawns below or to order from the festival menu. The beef cheek pie was amazeballs!
As the happy crowd steadily built, next to the stage was Telecaster driven Alt-Country all girl outfit Hana & Jessie-Lee. Talking to Hana and complimenting her on her powerful vocals and passionate lyrics, she explained her source of inspiration for a few of the songs. Held up at a desolate NT mine site with a lot of time on her hands, the results documented in their recent album ‘Southlands’. Cowgirl hat atop, guitarist Jessie-Lee is a master of the Bluesy, Country Telecaster twang, weaving and at times bursting through the soul searching melodies all anchored articulately by a tight spacious engine room, with the odd funky bursts from an expertly played 5 string bass. Simply Joyous!
As the sun had thoughts of letting go and dipping behind the river gums, Enter the Hammond B3 a good indication that original Blues organ trio Lazy Eye were about to wow the already pumped festival goers. Unfortunately I had to head off, I really didn’t want to leave … I was having the best time. John told me the next day over lunch, that he was blown away by Evan’s full gut rumbling Hammond and the cut of Erica’s tastefully spacious guitar. A top job done too, by groove master Micky Garcia who was sitting in for Mario.
Powerhouse vocalist Gail Page was in fine form backed by a solid funky unit. Gail will be back to the Three Brothers for their NYE show along with her Big Phat Groove Combo and The Black Diamond Blues Band, under the stars in the magnificent marquee. The very funky Gumbo Ya Ya finished the night to a pumping crowd of 200 satisfied souls as they danced and partied into the wee hours. To top the night off and close the show, the late and enthusiastic crowd were treated to impromptu guest vocalising from local identity Leo Beinke and Publican John Jagt.
At only $28 a ticket and such quality of performers in such a beautiful setting this annual mini festival would have to be one of the best valued in the state. Well run and co-ordinated by John, Julie and crew, it’s a must do on the calendar. Keep an eye and ear out for more great events at The Three Brothers Arms … and experience for yourself the quality entertainment, food and hospitality that this magical, historic hills location has to offer.
Review by Peter Allan
Photography ~ Greg Button
Nestled against the Onkaparinga river and the stunning Southern coastline, the seaside cafe precinct of Port Noarlunga was overflowing with blues lovers on the weekend of 24th-26th of November.
My first taste of the Noarlunga Deep South Blues and Roots Festival was the opening night performances and ARBA awards at the Pt Noarlunga Arts Centre, a fabulous concert venue and gallery. The evening was important to me for a number of reasons, one of which was my presentation of the Paul Hay Award, to this end a long overdue haircut and a new shirt were in order! Another was to see my good friends and respected musicians open such an important festival.
Lazy Eye were first on the amply appointed ‘Rootsy Tootsy Club’ stage. The sound was clean, balanced and full from the first grunt of the Hammond to the clear spacious tones of Erica’s guitar. Between bands, and with the help of touching words and acknowledgements from Chris Finnen and Mary Harrington, the Paul Hay award was presented to a very excited Dave Stoekel. Next up, Kings and Associates, some of the tightest, dynamic funky neo blues you will hear, again the sound was A1. The ARBA Blues Album and Roots Album of the Year were next, going to Nikko and Snooks for Way Back Home and Kaurna Cronin for his roots styled album, Euphoria, Delirium & Loneliness.
Congratulations to all honoured recipients. To close the night, the Streamliners, with their southern stylings. Each song a beautiful journey, soulful melodic meanderings, soaring solos and solid swung grooves. World class acts and all South Australian!
Reports coming back from ‘Harmonica House’ (the RSL) was… it was full of punters and going off! The Bluescasters, the Harmonics and Blue Katz - what a line up! I couldn’t get there myself due to commitments at the afore-mentioned venue (we had our ARBA merch stand located there).
In the mean time the surf lifesaving club (The Delta Room) hosted the women of blues on this opening night with the cream of South Aussie female vocalists, Laura and the Organics, Gail Page band and Zkye Blue.
At concert’s end and after many farewells, it was time for the good wife and I to head home, ready for the big day to come (Saturday) and back to duties at the Arts Centre, manning the merchandise with Mick and catching sizeable chunks of the free workshops and youth performances. Unfortunately Greg Baker was unable to make it to the festival, however our own Bobby Blues held a relaxed and informative insight into tin sandwich art, inspiring me to pull mine out of the drawer (Blues harmonica that is!)
I shuffled through the masses at Bec’s Bakehouse, grabbed a coffee and pie and an ice-cream for my gorgeous granddaughter, Lily, whom I was duty bound to introduce to the blues, found a seat outside and enjoyed Ciaram Granger. We had just missed catching the affable and talented Brenton Manser. The bakehouse was over-flowing during lunch and into the afternoon. What a great atmosphere with families enjoying their tasty complimentary blues treats, finishing off the afternoon with the masterful JJ fields. It was time for me to head back home, load up, freshen up, drop the granddaughter off and head up the hill to the ‘Harmonica House’ at the Pt Noarlunga RSL. My turn to take the drummers seat.
The Jam Jets got the crowd jumping with their ‘rocka-bluesy’ stylings. Double bass, stand up drums, honking harp and rockin’ guitar. Then it was our turn, Shades of Blue. Very happy with the stage sound, much improved from previous outings at the RSL, down to the velvet drapes hung behind us that also added an arty back drop for the bands and further atmosphere to this cool,old school venue. There was a generous crowd that ebbed and flowed between acts as people moved from venue to venue catching their favourite performers with lots of excitement and talk in-between. Many staying to swing along to the masterful Jesse Deane-Freeman and his Rhythm Aces.
I had a great time chill’n out in the wee hours at the Keg & Barrel, joining fellow musos and keen music lovers over a tasty brew or three – lots of laughs! Alan, the manager, was very accommodating, joining in the fun and keeping us lubricated till 3 am! I might add, that I had lunch there that day finding the last seat available in a packed restaurant and tucking into one of the finest pulled pork burgers this side of Texas.
The final day found me again at the Arts Centre for the free workshops, Mojo Webb had me enthralled, although my closest encounter with a guitar is to attempt Stairway to Heaven on a Uke. Mojo’s presentation went a long way in unravelling the mystery that is the much lauded singer guitarist. I found I went away with a far better understanding of the beast. To then witness Mojo Webb and band in full flight at the packed and heaving Surf life Saving club made this fantastic Blues weekend complete.
I wasn’t able to get to all the venues, and heard favourable reports of the hidden gem that was the aptly named Oasis on the Dunes located at the South Port life Saving Club. To get there was a walk across the Onkaparinga River and over the sand dunes, but well worth the journey for those that made it.
I must say the experience and privilege of seeing bands perform more than once in different venue settings i.e. the full concert presentation with exceptional sound and lighting at the Arts Centre, then up close and sweaty at the SLSC or RSL, was a unique insight into the scope of these fine bands. I personally can’t wait till next year, and it will be back! A boon to local businesses and an unparalleled treat in its quality, diversity and beautiful surrounds. I am very confident this Festival will be a must-go on the Australian Blues festival circuit.
Many thanks go to Jeanette Howell and the Port Noarlunga Business & Tourism Association, Festival director Dennis Kipridis, The Blues Festival Committee, all the volunteers and local businesses that helped make this great Blues festival happen … take a bow folks.
“Absolutely fantastic. Book me up for next year. The highlight for me was the Sunday night interplay between Chris Finnen and Phil Manning on stage. The veteran guitar players sounded and indeed were playing off the same page such was their artistry. Just a nod between them and one would take over the lead duties and then the other would back it up in the next phrase Just stunning”.
Danny Ryan 5TCB Radio
Writing the President’s report at this time each year gives me a chance to reflect on the 12 months since our last AGM. It has been another busy year as we aimed for, and mostly achieved the goals set by the committee at the end of 2016.
The year began with The Associates and Nikko & Snooks representing ARBA and South Australia at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, in January. Both acts gave a fine account of themselves and it was exciting to have The Associates become the first South Australian act to progress to the semi-finals of this tough competition. As well as this success at the IBC, The Associates, or Kings & Associates as they are now known, have gone on to have success with their album “Tales of a Rich Girl” hitting number one on the Australian Blues and Roots Airplay Chart and also featuring in the top 20 of the international Roots Music Report charts. It is fantastic to see a local act getting such a great return for all of their hard work.
We continued our association with Global Music Revolution at Klemzig, holding two gigs there as part of the Adelaide Fringe. Both shows were sold out, no mean feat with local acts and a ticket price of $25. Headliners Lazy Eye and Steve Brown Band were respectively supported by JJ Fields and Jesse Deane-Freeman, Peter Allan did his usual awesome Memphis BBQ, feedback from punters was very positive and our aim of promoting the Association and four very fine local acts was achieved. The Fringe attracts a different crowd and therefore is a great opportunity to increase our profile and that of the local musicians featured in our Fringe shows. We will be back at Global Music Revolution with another two Fringe shows in 2018.
In June, at the Semaphore Workers Club, we held the 3rd annual Memphis Blues Challenge. This was another successful, well attended event, and no one could dispute the worthiness of The Steve Brown Band and JJ Fields to represent ARBA and South Australia at the IBC in Memphis next year. Our fundraiser for these two acts, also held at the Semaphore Workers club, was a great evening, but numbers took a hit due to the appalling weather conditions on the night. This, combined with the 33% increase in airfares this year, meant that we did not quite raise all the money required to cover all expenses, but the shortfall was manageable and the acts themselves have organised fundraising activities to cover the difference. Thanks to all who generously supported the Memphis Blues Challenge by attending the event, bidding at auction and buying raffle tickets and t-shirts.
During June, July and August, ARBA aided the Prospect Blues and Roots Winter Music Festival by assisting them with the line-ups for the various Friday evenings of the event, resulting in 10 ARBA member acts landing gigs at this very successful festival, held at Prospect Council’s Club 5082. We are exploring further ways that we can work with the Prospect Council in the future.
ARBA partners with The Gov to present the Gumbo Room Blues Jam, every Thursday night, in the front bar of The Gov. During the year, this weekly event has gone from strength-to-strength, with average crowds continuing to build. Punters love the chance to see a quality host band before the jamming begins. A highlight was the special Hendrix night held on the 31st of August, which saw nearly 100 people cram into the room to witness some of Adelaide’s finest play some of their favourite Hendrix tunes.
On the 14th of October, we held our first Member Muster event, at the British Workingman’s Club. Featuring the Chris Finnen and Dirty Roots Bands, this event was free for ARBA members and saw almost 50 new members sign up. This will see us close the year at an all-time high of approximately 210 members. We appreciate each and every one of them for their support!
At the aforementioned Member Muster event, we also named the finalists for the ARBA Blues Album of the Year and Roots Album of the Year. The winners will be announced and awarded on November 28th, the opening night of the Port Noarlunga Deep South Blues Festival. Also to be announced and awarded on the same night will be the inaugural Paul Hay Award, for services to the blues.
It is worth noting that the album adjudged the 2017 ARBA Blues Album of the Year has already been entered in the Blues Foundation’s Best Self-Produced CD Competition for 2017, with the requisite number of copies sent to Memphis before the November deadline.
Our first ARBA Xmas BBQ and Jam held last December was a great success. This year the event will be held on the 9th of December at Roger Smith’s Woodcroft home, a notice has been sent to all members, hope to see you there!
The one goal that we did not deliver on for 2017 was to develop and roll out an ARBA Youth in Blues program. However, I am pleased to report that we are in the advanced stages of planning such a roll out early in 2018. Stay tuned for details shortly!
On the committee front, 2017 saw the resignation of Heather Pinder, who had given dedicated and loyal service to the Association as Treasurer since the formation of the committee in 2013. Jeff Parham will retire as a committee member, effective from the 2017 AGM. Jeff has also been a committee member since the committee first formed and has been tireless in his work coordinating the various ARBA awards and with raffle ticket selling in particular. Brian Jackson will also be retiring from the committee as of the AGM. Brian has been active in fundraising initiatives and has played a significant role in the fundraising for the musicians travelling to Memphis and in the generally strong financial position of the Association. I thank these three outgoing committee members for their service. 2017 saw us welcome Grant Wilson, who has taken the reins as Treasurer and is already doing a great job. We also welcomed Steve Portolesi on-board as an ordinary committee member.
We will head into the 2017 AGM with around $5,000 in the bank and no debt. This is easily the best financial position the Association has been in since its formation, and gives us a solid base upon which to build. Financial strength is important as it gives us the capacity and confidence to run more events, knowing that if we have a poorly attended event, we have the funds to cover any shortfall. This will be reflected in the 2018 ARBA event calendar that will be released shortly.
Finally, I would like to extend heartfelt-thanks to all members of the ARBA Committee, Association members, volunteers, sponsors, partnership organisations and punters for their support over the course of 2017. I look forward to enjoying more of the same in 2018.
1st November 2017
Lazy Eye are proud to announce the recording of their fifth album will not only be in South Australia, but at the celebrated bastion of live music, the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Thebarton on September 15th. The event will also feature special guests and fellow Memphis Blues Challenge winners Nikko & Snooks.
The critically acclaimed band’s debut album Move Me was released in 2013 and named Album Of The Year at the SA Blues & Roots awards that same year. In 2015 the band was named Duo or Group of the Year at the 2015 Australian Blues Music Awards in Goulburn. 2016 saw them became the first band to represent South Australia at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee where they competed against hundreds of bands from across the USA and around the world. Following the competition Lazy Eye appeared at the fabled B.B. King’s Blues Club on Beale Street.
Off the back of successful international performances in North America and Japan, when asked why the Wheatsheaf, Adelaide Hills resident Evan Whetter explains “We wanted to do this with our home crowd who have supported us throughout the journey”. In reference to the Adelaide music scene the multi instrumentalist frontman adds “not many venues in Adelaide genuinely boast a listening environment for the people and a commitment to live original music like the Wheaty”. Accompanied by Erica Graf, a pioneer among female guitarists in this country and drummer Mario Marino, the three have forged a voice of their own and with appearances at virtually all of Australia’s major blues festivals that voice is being heard loud and clear.
Tickets and more details available at https://lazyeyeband.com/behind-the-8-ball
"I have been fortunate enough to witness the growth of Lazy Eye as a force in Australian blues and as a most worthy representative of South Australian blues music to Memphis. The maturity of this tight unit continues to grow through constant touring and quality recording sessions. As part of the VIP audience at their last 'Pocket the Black' sessions,
I found a well honed band totally at ease with each other and their audience, the resultant album and shows are testament to this. I look forward once more to being part of the unique experience that is Lazy Eye live and in recording mode."
Formerly known as The Associates K I N G S & A S S O C I A T E S are excited to announce the release of their 2nd album TALES OF A RICH GIRL. The album, which was released on July 7th 2017, will be launched with a celebration in the main room at the Gov on Saturday August 26th. The night includes an opening acoustic set by Nikko Kipridis, plus a full reproduction of the album, featuring guests Paul White (Zkye Blue) on organ, Geo Heathcote (Night Owls) on harp and sax, Mitch Rosmini, Greg Jones and Sweet Pete Lymbo. This night marks over 2 years of writing, touring and recording with ten new original tracks recorded in LA, Adelaide and Nashville with some of the industry's biggest names.....but why the name change? With the album about to be released in the US along with a significant marketing campaign via New York and Memphis based companies, the advice was given to change due to the likely confusion with the 80's Brit pop band of the same name..."better to bite the bullet and just rip the band aid off than try and gently remove it over time" says vocalist/guitarist Benny C, "we made the call to follow their advice and go with a full change now as opposed to operating under 2 brands, we felt this would just create more confusion in future".
As for the album, tracking started in LA in August '16 with seven times Grammy winner, Jim Scott as engineer and producer. Scott's catalogue of hit albums and awards include the Rolling Stones, Tedeschi Trucks, Sting, the Chilli Peppers, Foo Fighters, Matchbox 20 and Crowded House. After initially making contact via his management Scott personally reached out to the band to confirm his interest and book the session. Bassist and co-songwriter Steve Portolesi rates this 6-day session in Scott's studio PLYRZ, in Valencia north of Hollywood, as the musical highlight of his career. "Jim is one of the most down to earth guys we've met, and considering his massive list of successful recordings I have to say it was totally refreshing. He knew how to create the perfect environment to get the best out of you both in performance and creativity...but still having time to eat, hang and chat...", Portolesi says. So after a brief 9-day trip across the pacific the album was tracked and it was back to Adelaide to finish editing.
To mix the album KINGS & ASSOCIATES secured the services of Nashville based Vance Powell, another industry legend and multi Grammy winner. Powell's credits include Grammys with the Dixie Chicks and Jack White and he'd just finished producing the breakthrough album for Chris Stapleton. So it was back to the States again to mix the album in Music City… this time the band used the trip to perform live including shows at the legendary Bourbon St Blues Club in Printers Lane Nashville, and a quick fire semi-final appearance at the IBC in Memphis representing ARBA….between tracking in LA and mixing in Nashville the guys had travelled over 34,000 miles in eight months to finish their album.
"Unlike Red Dress where we felt we were finding our feet stylistically, Tales is a lot closer to our hearts" says lyricist and vocalist Angie Portolesi. "This album was written for most from real life experiences…friends dying, relationships breaking up, overcoming personal tragedy, significant life changes, these are all the stories of our lives. These songs represent who we are today in so many respects, they speak back to us like kids, and we can say we're proud of them".
Producing and performing music is not the sole focus or motivation for Kings & Associates. In conjunction with their new album the band continues their relationship with global NGO World Vision. This partnership was birthed from the 2016 Red Dress album which was produced as part of World Vision's #nochildforsale campaign to help raise awareness of childhood sex slavery, specifically in Brazil. Kings and Associates have developed a close relationship with World Vision as a partner artist, the issue of sex slavery remains a driving passion for the band and a huge influence on their artistic direction. "We're not about bashing people on the head with a social message or pointing the finger" comments Angie. "Our time in Memphis and specifically our visit to the site of the shooting of Martin Luther King reaffirmed in us how slavery has been with us for generations and the impact it's had on humanity is something we need to continue to address. It's not about saying "there are the bad guys over there", but for us it's about saying what in my life allows the repressed of this world to remain enslaved".
Tickets for the night are $10 plus booking fee and can be purchased from
Or on the night at the door.
Visit the band's FB site to keep up to speed with all the happenings.
Tales Of A Rich Girl will be available on cd on the night or online via the band's website kingsandassociatesmusic.com.
**The album won't be available on media outlets until the international release on October 6th when it can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon and most other outlets.
**Hard copies of the album will be available for purchase on the night of Aug. 26 at the Gov.
South Coast Sessions is all set to warm up your winter blues with a night of incredible music coming to the Aldinga Institute on Friday 21st of July. South Coast Sessions is a celebration of grass roots South Australian music.
We are proud to present Adelaide’s award winning blues trio Lazy Eye. The band are captivating audiences with their pure style of Blues & Roots, together they create a soul hearted sound that captures the past, present and future of blues music.
In 2015 the won Group of the year by the Australian Blues Music awards, along with a multitude of South Australian music awards. The trio has recently competed at the international Blues challenge in Memphis Tennessee.
The band are very highly regarded in the Australian music industry and are leading the way with their incredible live performances, having played at many venues and festivals across the country.
If you love blues don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to see this trio play live, Evan Whetter is incredible on his original 1964 Hammond Organ and Erica Graf is one of the most talented female guitarists you will see and hear, her performance is absolutely captivating, with Mario Marino on the drums these three, are a cool cat combination of blues brilliance.
Supported by The Cherry Pickers a bluegrass 5 piece that has recently performed in Nashville USA. The Cherry Pickers play all your favourite Australian classics with an entertaining and energetic country twang. Local funk brothers Spirit of Alondray will kick off the evening’s entertainment with their mash up of blues, roots and a touch of reggae.
Friday 21st July at 7:30pm, Aldinga Institute 23 Old Coach Rd, Aldinga. Tickets are $20.00 available at ww.moshtix.com, for more information visit our Facebook page or call Sally on 0432733280.
A Vintage Tama Royalstar Early to Mid 80's.
On the 17/9/16 Dennis Kripidis dropped off a drum kit which has been owned by The Governor Hindmarsh Hotel since the late 80's, early 90's. It was well used, retired and stored at a hotel loft for some time.
I can honestly say it was in the worst condition I've ever seen a drum kit in and I was contemplating my next move, knowing I had quite a challenge ahead of me. Because of the history of the drums at the hotel I understood why this was the first option so I tackled the task head on.
Firstly I dismantled every little nut, bolt, screw, washer, rim etc.... every piece of hardware went through multiple stages of of cleaning, polishing and rust removal.
The wrap was beyond repair so it was decided to rewrap the drum shells with a green sparkle wrap. The old wrap was removed. The wood shells were prepared for the rewrap. Extra holes were filled with plugs made from a donor shell and glued with a strong epoxy resin. Damaged bearing edge was repaired with epoxy glue mixed with wood particles from the same drums. The edges were trued straight and cleaned up. The interior of the shells were sprayed with a paint to match the original Zola coat used by Tama in the eighties on these drums.
Original lugs, rods, brackets and rims were sourced replacing the old or missing ones.
The shells were wrapped and all the hardware was put back on. Pre-used skins were fitted and drums were tuned ready to play.
All period correct stands, pedals and hardware were sourced and Cymbals added.
This Delightful kit is now available to players at the Gumbo Room Jam.
For those drummers in the host band, just bring along your Cymbals, seat and kick pedal, (and snare if you wish)
I chatted to Frank at the bar of Jimmy Dean's about Papa Legba, who I had just seen do a solid, impressive set at the South Adelaide Football Club supporting the Bondi Cigars. He was still catching his breath, it was a little warm. I was fairly complimentary, the sound was great. Frank’s and Sav’s voices were strong and clear above the solid rhythm and superb guitar. We talked about what he hopes to convey with his recent incarnation.
Normally JF is right up front with us. We want the audience to feel like part of the band, up close, like your in a juke joint some where along the Mississippi or deep south. Raw, honest, simple dance hall blues with some tunes you know, others dug from obscurity, a Memphis shuffle here, a tinge of rockabilly, and a touch of Voodoo.
And about the live DVD about to be released?…
In the setting of the finest blues venue in Australia the stage is aligned with Sav, Frank, John and right up front, John on a stripped down kit sets the tone with his beautiful restraint. This is up close, it’s raw and tasty performed by stalwarts of the Adelaide blues scene.
The DVD, 'Feels So Good, Rockin' and Swinging' with Papa Legba' is nicely packaged, with funky art work by the talented Marie Gudic and is finely captured on both film by Derek and Zoom recorder by Frank at the SWC. From the opening track ‘Call it Stormy Monday’ through the standout instrumental of Comin' and Goin", where Sav shines and throughout the whole set, a good natural live sound with some tasty editing by Akaroy Films and at least 3 camera positions with nicely placed close ups and transitional shots. You can almost feel like you are in the band.
We get a cameo from Dave as he encourages the band into their encore, ‘Feels so Good’ and it does, (my favourite track on the disc) and as they release themselves from their instruments amongst applause Dave pipes in “who says old fellas can’t do it!” Well they certainly can!
This is as close as it gets to a Friday night or Sunday arvo at the SWC. There should be a whole series of these DVDs of bands playing the Club, for those days when you just can’t make it down.
Tracks in order and easily navigated through a neat menu are: Call it Stormy Monday, Comin' and Goin', Homework, I had my Fun, Hidden Charms, Let's Play House, Love me Right and Feel so Good.
Two launch dates are planned where you can purchase the DVD for a mere $10
Saturday the 4th. March, at the bluesy Bridgewater Inn.
Sunday the 5th. March at the Semaphore Workers Club.
ARBA aims to keep you informed with anything Roots and Blues. Please share with us and we will share with the whole Blues and Roots community.