Moama Jazz Weekend

THE Echuca Moama Jazz Club folded its wings in February 2013 due to lack of local support and membership. But obviously there is still a jazz heart beating in the region.

moama rsk

The Moama RSL in Merool Lane, Moama is holding a jazz weekend on Saturday and Sunday, 29 and 30 November with three very well credentialed bands playing – Maryborough Traditional Jazz Ensemble, Loose Goose, and the Peter Hooper Quartet.

Registration fee is a measly $25 for both days with sessions running from 12 noon to 11.00pm on Saturday and 11.00am to 2.00pm on Sunday. The venue is the very comfortable Moama RSL building with two separate locations operating.

The organisers are keeping things small in this first year, but if it is successful, plans are for a much more ambitious festival in coming years. This is a chance to support a new jazz venture, and have yourself “a good weekend” into the bargain. Contact the RSL for bookings and further details on 5482 6677.

Located on the banks of the Murray River, the twin towns of Echuca Moama are the closest point of the Murray to Melbourne – just a 2.5 – 3 hour drive. A very popular tourist magnet particularly famous for its iconic paddle steamers and other links to the historic past of the Riverina, there is plenty to entertain when not enjoying the jazz.


Leigh Barker and The New Sheiks

LEIGH Barker and his New Sheiks are busy as usual – check out some things they’re doing in November 2014.


First are a couple of great concerts in the Morning Melody series on Monday 17 November 2014, 11.00am and 1:30pm at Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road. All Tickets: $20. BOOK NOW By Phone: 1300 182 183 or on line.

Titled Jazz, Tap, Swing with the Melbourne Rhythm Project this is an innovative collaboration between swing dancers, tap dancers and jazz and swing musicians. Presenting a program of uniquely choreographed dances set to classic jazz, swing and blues tunes, award-winning jazz ensemble, Leigh Barker and The New Sheiks, will be joined on stage by tap dancers and lindy hop and swing dancers to whip up a storm of jazz, rhythm and swing from the 1920s through to the 1940s. Featured will be award winning vocalist and violinist Heather Stewart.

Heather Stewart

Heather Stewart


Second is a new album launch on Saturday November 15th at Bennetts Lane Jazz Club, 25 Bennetts Lane, CBD. $25/20, doors at 8:30pm. Bookings or 9663 2856.

Leigh Barker and his six-piece group, for the last five years touring under the moniker ‘The New Sheiks’ but now equally well known as the musical half of the innovative dance company the ‘Melbourne Rhythm Project’, continue to build on their reputation as one of the most engaging, entertaining and hard-swinging groups currently performing in the Australian Jazz Scene.

Saturday November 15th will see the launch of Barker’s seventh full length release: a CD and digital album titled ‘Flow Like Wine’. Drawn from several studio sources and live sessions during the band’s 2012 and 2013 touring schedule, the album features guest appearances by triple Bell Award winning saxophonist Julien Wilson, piano genius Steve Grant and to top it all off was mastered in New York by the great Rob ‘Wacko’ Hunter, full time sound engineer for all of Branford Marsalis’ various projects. Combined with the regular members Heather Stewart on violin and vocals, Eamon McNelis trumpet, Matt Boden piano, Don Stewart trombone and Sam Young on the drums, this may just be Barker’s most cohesive release to date, says Jason Downes from whose blog I devised, copied, stole! this post. (Thank you Jason)

Clarinet legend Acker Bilk dies at 85

ACKER_BILKPhotograph: Allstar/Cinetext

The celebrated and much loved jazz clarinettist Acker Bilk died on 2 November 2014 aged 85.

The following tribute appeared in The Guardian

Bilk was perhaps best known for his 1961 song Stranger on the Shore and was one of the most important figures in the revival of traditional jazz in the middle of the last century.

“He was vastly important to the jazz movement, he could play the clarinet like nobody else, he had a special tone and vibrato – other musicians would tell you that,” his manager, Pamela Sutton, said.

Sutton, who worked with Bilk for 45 years, said: “His life was music and performing. He only gave it up because his age caught up with him and he couldn’t perform any more.”

Bilk’s last performance was in August 2013 at the Brecon jazz festival in Wales.

Sutton said: “He was a charming person to be with and he was famous worldwide, especially in Australia.

“He was a brilliant musician. He had a great sense of humour in every way. He just loved life.”

She said that he died around 2pm with his wife Jean by his side. “I am very happy that so many people have called [since news of his death broke]. As he was 85, age had just caught up with him. He was in some pain from different things that were going wrong.”

He also leaves two children, Peter and Jenny.

Bilk, who was made an MBE in the New Year Honours List of 2001, had previously overcome throat cancer.

Poet Ian McMillan tweeted: “Goodbye Acker Bilk, creator of one of the great earworms. That shore was strange, but memorable.”

He was born Bernard Stanley Bilk and raised in Somerset, and soon took the name Acker – a local expression meaning “friend” or “mate”.

Bilk’s uniform of garish waistcoat and bowler hat set the tone for onstage outfits for anyone performing in that genre.

He was 18 when he took up the clarinet while in the Royal Engineers during his National Service. Posted to Egypt, he found himself with plenty of spare time in the desert and borrowed a marching clarinet, learning by copying recordings.

Wombats again!!

wombat funWHOOPEE!! After trying to retire at the end of their Elsternwick Hotel residency, the Wombat Jazz Band was inveigled into a final fling at the Rosstown Hotel some weeks ago.

This venture was so successful with an almost full house of 90 fans, that the Rosstown has managed to lure the Wombats out of their burrow for another daytime appearance.

So on this coming Sunday, 19 October, you have another chance to hear this legendary band playing their own special brand of mainly Australian jazz music.

The lineup on this occasion will be the usuals – Bill Kerr, Judy Taylor, Ken Collins, Jacqui O’Neill and Tony Orr – except that Simon VanCam who played with the band for years will be on bass instead of Smithy who is otherwise engaged on Sundays.

Music starts at 2pm and runs until 5pm. The door charge is $10 unless you choose, as many do, to lunch downstairs in the Bistro, in which case the discounted cover charge is $5 on presentation of your lunch receipt.

Bookings are essential on 9571 1033. The Rosstown Hotel is on the corner of Dandenong and Koornang Roads, Carnegie, just a stone’s throw from the Carnegie Station.


Tuba Skinny back in Australia in September/October!

GREAT news for local lovers of Tuba Skinny, the young New Orleans street band who play jazz with artistry, authenticity and a passion which have earned them world-wide recognition: the Skinnies will make their fourth tour to Australia in September and October this year with gigs in 12 locations.

Here’s their Australian schedule, starting on Wednesday 24 September in Perth, and ending at the Melbourne Festival over the weekend 17 – 19 October. In Melbourne they will be performing in the Festival Hub on the banks of the Yarra opposite Federation Square.

24/9, Wednesday. Fly By Night, Perth
25/9, Thursday. Jazz Cellar, Mt. Hawthorn, WA
26-27/9, Friday & Saturday. Wave Rock Weekender, Hyden, WA
28/9, Sunday. Clancys Fish Pub, Dunsborough, WA
2/10, Thursday, at Governor Hindmarsh Hotel, Adelaide.
3/10, Friday, at Mullimbimby Civic Hall, NSW
4/10, Saturday at The Zoo, Brisbane
5-6/10, Sunday and Monday, Caloundra Music Festival, Queensland
9/10, Thursday, The Heritage Hotel, Bulli, Wollongong, NSW
10/10, Friday, at Hotel Gearin, Katoomba, NSW
11-12/10, Saturday and Sunday, at The Basement, Sydney
16/10, Thursday, Theatre Royal, Castlemaine, Vic.
17-19/10, Friday to Sunday, at Melbourne Festival, Vic.

They will be bringing with them their latest album, “OWL CALL BLUES” which you can buy in hard copy at any of their gigs, or from The Louisiana Music Factory. Digital copies are downloadable from the Tuba Skinny blog. You can also keep up to date on their news and doings at the same spot.

tuba skinny legs

The Maple Leaf forever: legendary favourites together again at Williamstown

Bob Whetstone

Bob Whetstone

LOOKING ahead to October, here’s a date to put on your calendar!

On Sunday 26 October the Williamstown Jazz Club will present a rare return to the platform of the Maple Leaf Jazz Band.

Kim Rushworth, the sole surviving member of the original 1974 band, and Bob Whetstone, a very early Maple Leaf luminary(1981) will be joined by some more recent additions to present that special brand of musical delight and mayhem which earned this band the adoration of the hundreds of fans who, during the ’70s and 80s, regularly crammed into pubs like the Canada Hotel,  the Stockade in Nicholson Street Carlton, the Spreadeagle, the Anchor and Hope, the Victoria (Pink Vic) and the Portsea Hotel to see and hear them.

Kim Rushworth

Kim Rushworth

Not only does the Maple Leaf play great jazz, they also entertain, with Bob and Kim doing a highly professional two-man act, leading each other on to taller and taller, and gutsier and gutsier tales.

The line-up on this occasion will be Bob Whetstone, trumpet/vocals; Kim Rushworth, reeds/vocals; Les Fithall, trombone/vocals; John Cox, banjo/guitar; Dan Gordon, bass/ possibly tuba; and Ben Rushworth, drums.

John Cox and Les Fithall

John Cox and Les Fithall

The Williamstown Jazz Club’s venue is the Williamstown RSL, 128 Ferguson St, Williamstown. The band will play from 4pm to 7pm.

Book early so as not to miss out on this special event. Bookings 9397 1885.    $15 entry.

Ben Rushworth

Ben Rushworth

Big Bob and Dan Gordon

“Big Bob” and Dan Gordon

The Wombats re-unite at the Rosstown

The Wombats' final night at the Elsternwick Hotel on 16 December 2013 Bill Kerr, Tony Orr, Ken Collins, Judy Taylor, Ian Smith (obscured), Simon Stribling, Jacqui O'Neill

The Wombats’ final night at the Elsternwick Hotel on 16 December 2013
Bill Kerr, Tony Orr, Ken Collins, Judy Taylor, Ian Smith (obscured), Simon Stribling, Jacqui O’Neill

THERE was much sorrow in the ranks when the beloved Wombats Jazz Band played their final gig at the Elsternwick Hotel at the end of last year, so it is with pleasure that I remind you that The Wombats will come together again to play at The Rosstown Hotel in Carnegie on Sunday 24 August from 2pm to 5pm.

The lineup will be most of the usual suspects: Bill Kerr – reeds, Ken Collins – trumpet, Judy Taylor – piano, Alan Stott – sousaphone, Jacqui O’Neill – washboard and Tony Orr on banjo. Ian “Smithy” Smith has a regular commitment on Sundays so his place will be taken in the rhythm section by Alan Stott who incidentally was an original member of the band and wrote the words for the group’s theme song, The Wombat.

The program will be all the usual Australian jazz compositions for which the band was established: Ade Monsbourgh, Graeme and Roger Bell, Dave Dallwitz, Jack O’Hagan etc.

For all you Wombat fans, this is a rare chance to enjoy your favourite band again, and to revel in their lively and engaging personality and stage presence.

As previously announced, jazz will be located upstairs in the function room with a door charge of $10, or $5 on presentation of a Bistro lunch receipt. Coffee/Tea can be ordered at the bar upstairs as well as other beverages. Doors open at 1.30pm.

Bookings are still essential, however there are no reserved seats. On the other hand, there are none of the obscuring pillars which made the downstairs room so unfriendly for good sightlines to the band.

New Trad Jazz Gig at the Rising Sun

rising sun hotel
A NEW Trad Jazz Gig is always welcome news, so it’s great to hear that The Rising Sun Hotel at 2 Raglan Street, South Melbourne is adding to its existing very successful JAZZ ON THURSDAYS, and BIG BAND on Tuesdays with a TRAD JAZZ RESIDENCY on Sunday afternoons from 2.30pm to 5.30pm.

Bands have been booked up to the end of December 2014, and include Michael McQuaid’s Mike’s Retro 5, The Syncopators, Shirazz, Virus, The Sugarfoot Ramblers, and The Four Scoops (Ben Gillespie, trombone/vocals; Lynn Wallis, drums; Craig Fermanis, guitar; Mark Elton, string bass). Check out The Ramble’s Coming Gigs page for monthly details.

Here are The Sugarfoot Ramblers if you haven’t caught up with them yet.

Daniel Berry, James Macaulay, Jason Downes, Travis Wood, Marty Holubek, Brett Thompson

Daniel Berry, James Macaulay, Jason Downes, Travis Wood, Marty Holubek, Brett Thompson

Changes afoot at The Rosstown

rosstown1SOME changes have been mooted for some time at that good old jazz pub The Rosstown in Carnegie. Well now they are definitely afoot, or should we say “aloft”, because Sunday afternoon jazz sessions will, from the beginning of August, move upstairs to the Function Room. One advantage will be the lack of pillars in this space – always a challenge to get a good view of the band in the Bistro!

Bookings will still be essential, but there will be no allocated seats The music will run from 2.00pm to 5.00pm – doors open at 1.30pm. Bookings 9571 1033

Entry for the jazz will be $15 per head, or $10 if you have had a meal in the downstairs bistro. Tea, coffee and other drinks may be ordered at the bar upstairs.

The bands for August will be:
3 August: to be advised
10 August: Moonee Valley Hot 5
17 August: The Syncopators
24 August: The Wombat Jazz Band
31 August: Shirazz

Another Doyen from the other side of the globe: John Defferary

Lew Green

Lew Green

YESTERDAY’S post inspired Lew Green of The Original Salty Dogs to nominate his own doyen of jazz: clarinetist John Defferary.

(Local jazz fans had the pleasure of meeting Lew and Mary Green during their whirlwind visit to Melbourne in 2011.)

To illustrate his point, Lew drew attention to the following film clip on YouTube which shows John playing with the Trans Atlantic Trio somewhere in Germany.

The Trio is made up of Jeff Green on soprano and bass saxophones (and yes, that’s Lew’s boy), John Defferary on clarinet, and Eric Webster on banjo.

John Defferary was born in London in 1941 where his father ran a pub. Defferary Sr. encouraged musicians to play there, so John was brought up with music all around. By the age of 16 he had started playing along (on the clarinet) to musicians like Fats Waller, Albert Nichols, and Kid Ory.

Barry Martyn (band leader and drummer) asked John to play clarinet in his band, as his reed man had left, and by the time he was 20. John was touring the United States. He spent a month in New Orleans and became influenced by what he heard there, playing with many well-known musicians. In Europe he became a protégé of Albert Nicholas, and they recorded an album together. Later he also took lessons from Barney Bigard whilst in the States in the 1970s.

Before joining Keith Smith’s Climax Jazz Band in 1962, (where he stayed for three years), John had played in the New Teao Brass Band and “Uncle” John Renshaw’s Band. He led his own Creole Jazz Band (1966-1967) and played in John Keen’s New Orleans Band (1968). By now John had also taken up the tenor sax, and often played with Mike Casimir’s Paragon Brass Band in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During the early 1970s he played with Barry Martyn, Pat Hawes, John Chilton, and others. He also depped with Ken Colyer.

In March 1973 he joined drummer Trevor Richards’s New Orleans Trio (the pianist was Bob Barton). The group toured internationally, and played for long periods in the United States. In January 1977 the three members were involved in a car crash while touring Poland, but were able to recommence touring a year later, and carried on for a further four years. From 1981 to 1984, Bob Barton and John co-led “Super Jazz”. They did various tours with American musicians, including Louis Nelson, Alton Purnell, and Freddy Kohlman.

In the mid-1980s John was asked to join Danish trombonist Papa Bue’s Viking Jazz Band. He learned to speak Danish, and stayed for some twelve years until replacing Ian Wheeler in the Chris Barber Band in 1998. In addition to his solo and ensemble work with the Big Chris Barber Band, John was also the featured clarinettist in the re-creation of the original six-piece Chris Barber’s Jazz Band, being heard to advantage in the Monty Sunshine role on such numbers as “Precious Lord” and “Wild Cat Blues”.

John Defferary

John Defferary