What a weird and wonderful month…well it was for me anyway. Some fabulous gigs though and also…new music, plus film, art, comedy – I really am living my best art life at the minute.❤️❤️ And, just because I’m never shy of a word or thousand…this month’s wrap is split in to two parts so I can cover everything. Regular readers are unsurprised, friends are rolling their eyes, only too aware of how I do like to stretch a tale. So, let’s start with the music shall we?
Kicked off on 2nd Feb with Mick Pealing and Nick Charles at The Drunken Poet. Entertaining and witty as always playing new and old STARS songs, and some favourite covers including outstanding acoustic versions of ‘Shooting Star’ by Bad Company and ‘Crossroads’ (Robert Johnson). Mick and Nick featured some new tunes from their album due for release February 21…more about that below! It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday evening, fabulous tunes, fabulous company…my favourite venue! I might just throw in a quick plug for The Drunken Poet’s blog here – The Sneaky Pint. It’s a riotous read worthy of the Poet’s established reputation for irreverence, weird and wonderful characters and rollicking good fun.
It kicked off at 8:30pm with Jules whose set flew and was over way too quickly – this guy deserves a lot more time! Check his stuff out he has a really cool New Orleans Blues-Jazz vibe. Dive Team-5 are instrumental with a pretty reasonable sound, but they needed to interact a bit more with the crowd in my book. It didn’t quite hit the mark for me but they’re a young band, so hopefully they’ll learn.
Horns of Leroy hit the stage, and whoa…those horns really pack a punch!! Great set, lots of energy and dancing to be had all the way through. I’d have liked the horns to be a bit more front and centre, at times they and the vocals (by the superb Thando) were swamped by overly heavy percussion. Nit picking from me though…they have a great sound, great vibe and well worth catching around town if you can. Check their new album out.
Feb 13 Wagons held a Fire Fundraiser in the round at The Night Cat. Supported by James Ellis & The Jealous Guys playing some very fine Merle Haggard tunes. I’d not heard James & Co before, but in that way that often happens when you discover someone new they are popping up everywhere now…go see them if you fancy a little bit of honky tonk and country, they do it well.
Wagons hit the stage and the whole band was on fire, very relaxed and it shone through in their performance. They played two sets, and in between held an auction, the main attraction being an Epiphone Les Paul (see pic below) which raised $2000 on the night. Great work by Henry as auctioneer (watch out Sothebys!) and well done to Andy Gearing who donated this superb guitar and also took some fabulous photos on the night.
Tribute song ‘Willie Nelson’ was probably the one that fired the crowd up most this time round, but honestly every number was stellar, and you will NEVER leave a Wagons gig not hungry for the next one! AND what a fabulous cause they got behind…funds raised (about $8.3K I believe) were donated to CFA, Wildlife Vic and Fire Relief Fund for First Nations.
Next up on Feb 18 – Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets with Jim Lauderdale at The Forum. I’m not sure I have the words to do this justice, seriously. I’m already tipping it’s a top contender for my International gig of 2020…and it’s only February! And I can tell you now…this is who Melbourne musicians go to see…the room was full of our local musical talent…and rightly so!
Jim is lovely, mellow and so talented, well worth seeing on his own let alone with this line-up. Standout was the tribute he paid to the late Robert Hunter, singing ‘Headed For the Hills’ which they wrote together. Also…man does he rock a nudie suit!
Los Straitjackets played some instrumental tunes in between Nick’s sets and wow…you know, I’m not a huge fan of instrumental but when you do it as well as these guys…eh, maybe I am. Have a listen to their great version of Friday on My Mind. Still find the Mexican masks they wear on stage somewhat confronting though!
And the man himself…Mr Nick Lowe? Let me just pick myself up off the floor first. Wow…like seriously WOW!! From beginning to end, he was sublime, and effortlessly so. He is a natural at developing a rapport with his audience, and man he looks good, and sounds even better. From older numbers ‘Cruel to be Kind’ ‘I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll’ and my favourite ‘(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding’ to newer offerings ‘Tokyo Bay’, ‘Love Starvation’ and newest of new ‘Blue on Blue.’ he was brilliant. I can’t emphasise enough…you need to see this guy next time he is here…NEED TO…NOT optional.
Feb 21 – The Basement Discs was host to the first of a trio of launch events for STARS new album One More Circle Round The Sun. The guys were in high-spirits, effortlessly delivering their new tunes interspersed with a few older classics to a packed house. This band honestly never disappoints, playing with the practiced ease of musicians at the top of their craft, and they sounded very fine in the excellent bunker acoustics of Basement Discs. Give the album a listen…Buy it (remember…support the artist buy the music) and whenever you can get out to see STARS live…that’s where the magic happens!
Will And The People (WATP) – I found this band via Sticky Fingers, and immediately loved their music and energy. They were in Australia touring with Sticky Fingers late last year, sadly not on the Melbourne leg but hopefully will be back soon. Originating in the U.K. WATP have loyal followers from all over the world and it’s no wonder…these guys certainly live life large and that energy is reflected in their music . They have recently been in the studio recording and released a new tune on Feb 14 ‘Started on Love’ <–link to a lovely acoustic version here, and check out the official release and the rest of their catalogue as well. You won’t be sorry…I’m predicting a number of their tunes will find their way onto my obsessions list over the coming months.
They have an interesting vibe, hard to define in terms of genre, which can be good a thing I think – doesn’t limit their scope musically. If you’ve listened to my current obsessions playlist you’ll have heard one of their other relative newbies Gigantic (May 2019). A new Album will be out soonish (I’ll keep you posted!), and the lads are touring in Spring, tix and details available through their website and Facebook page if you happen to be lucky enough to live in the UK or Europe! (See how I have to list them separately now…Brexit…jeesh! 🙄) Australia, be patient and immerse yourself in the music…in fact also, give their Started on Love playlist a whirl, a bunch of songs about love, to celebrate the release of the single…nothing but good stuff here!
STARS – One More Circle Round The Sun is shaping up as another stellar effort from these Aussie legends. Stand outs, at the minute ‘Big Wet Long Dry’ is really good and so is ‘Boats and Songs’ and ‘A Little Heaven’ is rapidly becoming a favourite. More are likely to land on my playlist as I listen, and listen, and…repeat. Mick Pealing featured the album on his Country Miles radio program, he and Nick Charles giving listeners the stories behind the songs which just adds to the enjoyment including ‘The Anniversary Trail’ a lovely song about Mick’s early years in Adelaide, ‘Blue Ruin’ – inspired by old English horror movies, and ‘Big Wet, Long Dry’ posing the big climate change questions.
Mick also had Mal Eastick in chatting post launch, this pair have a wealth of stories from their collaboration spanning over 40 years – makes great listening! CD or digital copy is available from STARS official website or a record store near you. Vinyl is on its way…keep an eye on the STARS site, Facebook or Instagram for updates on availability. While you are checking out their various web presences…make note of when they are playing in a town near you and get along…they really are the business live!!
My Spotify current obsessions have been moving about a bit in February…sometimes my listening choices surprise even me! It’s never a shock that Nick Cave or Etta James somehow end up back on there, although Alice Cooper, Traffic and B.B. King were a bit of a revelation. But then again obsession kinds of lends itself to the unexpected I guess. I’d certainly forgotten just how good ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ is, and also one of my favourite Australian tracks of all time ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ by Hunters & Collectors. Take a listen and give me your thoughts, even better, suggestions for new songs to obsess over!
That’s it for part 1 folks. As always, listen to the music, stream, play, fall in love with it…BUY IT! Yes you know my mantra by now…Support the Artist, buy the music! Go to the gigs! They do it all for love, but musicians still have bills to pay, mouths to feed…help ‘em out will ya!
See you soon for part #2
Love & peace