Monthly Archives: September 2012

Bi-monthly Piano Jazz @ The Rosstown: Anita Harris guests!

THE bi-monthly and justly famous jazz piano lunch at the Rosstown Hotel, Koornang and Dandenong Roads, Carnegie is on again this coming Thursday, September 27.

And in addition to some fantastic solo jazz piano from a few handfuls of Melbourne’s most talented pianists the special guest this month will be jazz singer Anita Harris.

Anita as a solo artist and with her Anita Harris Quartet is a highly regarded performer at festivals and other venues where beautiful music is appreciated. Here’s a lovely sample from Anita’s CD “Moments in Time”, and yes, that’s father Kim Harris on keyboard. No doubt he’ll be playing on Thursday too!

The music starts around midday and continues until 4.00pm. There is no cover charge but booking is recommended if you want to get a table where you can see the piano! Call 9571 1033 for bookings. And if you’re new to the piano lunches, a courtesy call to Marina Pollard, the organiser of the lunches would be appreciated, and will ensure a name tag will be waiting for you at the door. Marina can be reached at 9781 4972 or mobile 0409 964 753.

Mic Conway and Captain Matchbox: One Thing Leads To Another!

HAVING revisited the Conway brothers’ Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band following my post about Max Tinkle’s forthcoming book on Australian harmonica players, I googled up some more enthralling info, including some magic footage from YouTube.

The website Milesago which aims to document Australasian music and popular culture 1964-1975 has this to say about the Captain Matchbox band:

This crazily brilliant Melbourne-based ensemble played a uniquely Aussie brand of jug-band blues, spiced with jazz, swing, popular standards, cabaret, sideshow alley schtick and vaudeville routines including slapstick, tap dancing, juggling, magic and even fire-eating.

The Conway brothers were born into a family with strong background in music and popular entertainment, particularly vaudeville theatre and opera — their grandfather was an original vaudevillean, and their Aunt Lyla was a dancer on the famed Tivoli circuit.

Here’s a clip of a young Mic Conway and band being interviewed in 1972 by a miss with a twinset and pearls sort of voice asking questions which rather bemused the interviewees, although they treated her very kindly I thought. This is followed by a moody rendition of “Mobile” with Jim Conway soloing on harmonica.

And here Mic sings the jazz standard “Nagasaki”!

And just to prove that inspired lunacy still lives, here the Captain Matchbox Reunion Band plays “Wangaratta Wahine” at Ormond Hall in June 2011.

One band which has been compared with Captain Matchbox is England’s Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band which displays something of the same endearing madness, but to my mind couldn’t be anything but British – a mixture of Monty Python and the Beatles. The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (also known as The Bonzo Dog Band) was created by a group of British art-school students of the 1960s. Like Captain Matchbox they combined elements of music hall, trad jazz, psychedelic pop with surreal humour and avant-garde art. They came to the attention of a broader British public through a 1968 ITV comedy show, “Do Not Adjust Your Set”.

Here’s a clip which will give you some idea of the Bonzo Dog style: “Canyons of Your Mind”.

And here they play their hit single of 1968, “Urban Spaceman”. Love that Neil Innes who composed and sings the song!

Gorilla was the debut album by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, originally released by Liberty Records in 1967. In 2007, EMI reissued the album on CD with seven bonus tracks. It includes “Jazz, (Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold)” which savagely parodied their early “trad” jazz roots and featured some of the most deliberately inept jazz playing ever recorded

Click on the gorilla if you can bear to hear it.

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Frilly Knickers to play at Darebin Music Feast

I KNOW it’s Grand Final Day – Australian Rules Football to those who live across the water and don’t understand these local tribal rites – but some of you might prefer for one reason or another to enjoy jazz rather than The Game.

Girl band, Frilly Knickers will be playing on Saturday 29 September during the Darebin Music Feast which runs from Thursday 20 September to Sunday 7 October with a wide variety of music styles in many venues around the City of Darebin.

The Frillies will be playing at an unusual venue – the Wesley Anne, a former Wesleyan! church at 250 High Street, Northcote. It still retains some of its ecclesiastical feeling as you can see.

Wesleyan Methodist Church, High Street, Northcote

The original church was completed in 1870 and was one of the most prominent buildings in the district at that time.

To give you a taste of the band’s flavour if you haven’t caught up with them yet, here the Frilly Knickers belt out “The Georgia Grind” at the recent Barham Jazz Festival:

Counting from the right, the lineup is Jaz Stutley on vocals and kazoo; Yvette Audain on reeds, then Renee Limenidis on trombone, and Jenny Wagstaff on cornet. You can’t see Lyn Thomas on piano or Jacqui O’Neill on percussion – Chris Farmer is on banjo and Nikola Shaw on tuba.

And here Jaz Stutley, vocalist with the Frillys, gives an authentic version of “Georgia on my mind”.
Click on her picture and listen.

PS. True to this blog’s name, a side ramble which I think is of interest:
An ancestor of Jaz (Stott) Stutley’s – the Rev Duncan Fraser- was the Presbyterian minister for the parish which included Northcote in the 1860s and he preached in various churches/halls in High Street, although not the Wesley Anne. I think there may be a family resemblance between Jaz’s brother, Alan Stott and the reverend gentleman – something around the eyes perhaps What do you think?

Alan Stott with sousaphone. Duncan Fraser with beard

Tinkle progress report on harmonica book

Max Tinkle, aka Graeme Davies

MAX Tinkle reports on progress with his forthcoming book on harmonica players in Australia:

I was Jim Conway’s house-guest in July while interviewing Jim, Robt Susz, Bruce Bongers,Chris Blanchflower, Antero Cheskin, and Ron King.
In Melbourne, so far, I’ve interviewd Kaz Dalla Rosa, Steve Williams, Snooks La Vie and arranged to interview Chris Wilson [part done],Rick Dempster [two attempts], Mike Rudd, Dave Hogan, Ian Collard, Sonny Rehe, Broderick Smith [part done]and Rockbottom James with several others still to return emails plus Doc Spann and other Northern stars

Wonderful names some of these harmonica players have!

A propos Jim Conway, my first sighting of him was when he was playing with his brother Mic in the fabled Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band in the Edinburgh Gardens, North Fitzroy in the 1970s with my then teenaged daughters. Here Captain Matchbox plays my all time favourite track “Wangaratta Wahine”. Although it’s hard to believe, under those rabbit (kangaroo?) ears and false eyelashes must be Jim Conway himself!

Jim is still a very active harmonica player and teacher, and incidentally was the subject of Greg Weight’s winning CITIGROUP PRIVATE BANK AUSTRALIAN PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTRAITURE PRIZE in 2003. Here it is – titled “Railroad Blues”.

Jim Conway photographed by Greg Weight 2003

Here Jim Conway plays with Chris Wilson at the Port Fairy Folk Festival in 2001.

Moe-Latrobe Valley Jazz Club turns 23 on 30th September: Kay Younger & The Rhythm Kings help them celebrate

BRUCE Lawn, President of the Moe-Latrobe Valley Jazz Club, and his Committee and members, invite jazz lovers from all over to help them celebrate the 23rd anniversary of their club on Sunday 30 September.

The band for the day will be Kay Younger and the Rhythm Kings (a slight renaming of the Peninsula Rhythm Kings better to reflect the positioning of the band – I think leader John Kent is the only Peninsulaman, and as John says putting Kay upfront means she will get to sing a few more songs, and we won’t argue about that!).

As you can see from the poster, the lineup is well credentialed – Frank Stewart, Graeme Davies, Lee Treanor, Peter Grey and John Kent, with the lovely Kay Younger singing some lovely songs.

Banjo’s Restaurant on Albert Street, Moe is a bright, comfortable venue with great food. And those Latrobe Valley people really know how to have a good time. To book for lunch before the music starts, ring 03 5127 1007.

So if you feel like a drive in the country with some good music and good company, Banjo’s is the place to be on September 30.

Kay Younger and the Rhythm Kings

No Shakers @ The Clyde on September 16 and 23

SHAKERS’ fans should note that, due to two footy end of season orgies on September 16 and 23, there will be no jazz at the Clyde on those two Sundays.

Normal transmission will resume on September 30.

“Back to the Berg” goes boffola: an annual event?

MY CORRESPONDENT, Geoffery Orr, sent the following report on the “Back to the Berg” bash last Saturday night (September 8, 2012):


Last Saturday night’s big band and jazz special at the 75th Anniversary of the Heidelberg Town Hall was really so much fun, and I really enjoyed myself in great company. Some of the musicians in the 18 piece orchestra I hadn’t worked with in over two decades! Four trumpets, six saxes headed by alto sax man, Kevin Morrow, and including baritone for that rich bottom end in the harmonies, played by my old mate, Adrian Daff. four trombones, including John Buckley on the bass trombone for that rich depth of sound, and trombonist Geoff McColl whom I worked with back in the year 1983. Acoustic bass was very often used, (Leon Heale), and drums played by Alan Smith. Rounding all that out was the pianist Peter de Ryk. He’s a fantastic musician, and an all round nice guy.

The Silver Service Jazz Band played the intermission periods with myself and Patti Lewis singing, John Wanner, Kevin Morrow playing all the reeds. Richard Opat played drums, and Helen & Neil Jowsey played piano and acoustic bass respectively. There was so much going on, the night just flew. The legendary Dorothy Baker also sang with the little band, and she still wows an adoring audience.

Here’s Dorothy in 1962 singing her cover hit “The Girl from Wolverton Mountain”.

Patti Lewis sounded almost in the Billie Holiday style when she sang with the Big Band. It had been more than a decade since she sang with Denis Farrington’s Big Band at the Musicians’ Club in Wellington Street, Windsor.

The Mayor of Banyule Council was so thrilled that he wants it again next year. Over 300 diners/dancers/revellers enjoyed a 5 star night’s entertainment.

The vocalist’s lineup is myself (Geoff Orr), Ben Lee (young singer with JW Swing Orchestra), gorgeous Daina Jowsey (singer/musician Victorian Police Band), John Lidgerwood (showman/singer/entertainer/legend), Patti Lewis (jazz singing legend) and David & Keren Mooney (vocalists with JW Swing Orchestra/graduates of the Victorian College of the Arts).

Portrait shot of John Wanner

John Wanner & Kevin Morrow playing in a latin number for me “I Love You, Don’t You Forget It” (An old Perry Como number).

I was asked by several young people where did I learn to sing as I do. It’s so different. Nearly 60 years of listening to people like Al Bowlly, Bing Crosby and the young Frank Sinatra, back in the Tommy Dorsey Big Band days. Mind you, there were lots of training and reading and practice which accompanied the years out front of a big band or small jazz combination. Nice to know that these youngsters respect the elderly.
Well, over to you.
Geoff Orr

PS. Check “Variety” magazine’s slanguage dictionary for a definition of “boffola”!

New venue for New Melbourne @ The Monash Hotel

ROSS Anderson must be one of the busiest promoters of his band in the local jazz scene. ‘Onya Ross!

The New Melbourne will be playing at another new venue – The Monash Hotel in Clayton – on the first Sunday of the month until the end of 2012 and then the fourth Sunday of the month starting on 27 January 2013.

Ross reports that they will be playing in a great big room with very comfortable seating and able to see the band from all tables. The phone number for bookings is 9544 8011.

So New Melbourne fans, here’s another opportunity to hear your favourite band in action. The lineup looks like being Peter Uppman, trumpet, Ron Trigg, reeds; Charley Farley, banjo and guitar, and Ross on bass.

Harmonica Downunder: Max Tinkle to tell the tale of the harp in Australia

Max Tinkle, musician and music teacher

WELL KNOWN musician and music teacher, Max Tinkle (aka Graeme Davies) reports that he is working on a book which will cover the history and development of harmonica playing in Australia, hiitherto a gap in our musical literature.

This is what Max says about the planned book which is due for completion in late 2013.

The intention is to present personal interviews and photos from each of those players who have had a significant impact on harmonica playing downunder. Blues players, both diatonic and chromatic, will be a central theme though the publication will also incorporate a wide range of styles including country, folk, world, ‘legit’ music and other genres.

As the sixties were the springboard for the blues to move from their African-American roots and enter the world stage, the main timeline will commence from there, yet will also include several items on earlier players such as The Yarraville Mouth Organ Band established in 1933 and The Horrie Dargie Quintet.

Yarraville Mouth Organ Band in earlier days

My background encompasses the jazz and blues worlds of Melbourne and some of the Sydney and Brisbane blues scenes having jammed at various gigs while travelling. I’ve been a part of Bob Sedergreen’s ‘Blues on the Boil’, Tommy McEwan’s ‘Bop Deluxe’, Steve Purcell’s Pearly Shells, and played tenor sax and harp in various jazz / blues bands, including quite a few sit-ins with Dutch Tilders and others. My first harp lesson was from Sonny Terry in the mid 60s.

Sonny Terry’s “Harmonica Blues”

Each player’s interview will be recorded, if agreeable, and the text will be available for final checking and approval before publishing. Photos may be taken during the interview or a stock publicity print can be supplied, whichever best suits each situation.

Artists will be encouraged to share their interests both musically plus any other relevant experiences and relationships that have helped form their approach to music in general.

A discography will be included plus an ‘Up and Coming’ section for those players yet to be recorded, plus a listing of Australian blues organisations.

Helen Jennings

Blues icon and PBS radio presenter Helen Jennings will provide the book’s Foreword and will also assist by sharing her vast knowledge of players, venues, bands and relevant information.

Max Tinkle Mobile: 0418 587 687 Telephone:03-9578 0815

And here Max gives a brief history of the harmonica, and a much briefer lesson in how to play it on Melbourne’s Community TV station C31 on the youth-driven music program, 1700, which is screened weekdays at 5pm.

PS: Here’s Max wearing his other hat (or rather no hat) at the Victorian Jazz Archive with fellow musicians Peter Uppman and John Cox.

Peter Uppman, Graeme Davies and John Cox (photo from the Victorian Jazz Archive newsletter, VJazz Feb 2011)

Ballarat may be cold, but the jazz is HOT!!

I KNOW it’s local folk lore that Ballarat is always colder, wetter, windier, etc. than anywhere else in Victoria, but that’s not strictly true – and despite the occasional snow storm or minus zero temperature, Ballarat as we all know has lots to offer in the way of tourist attractions and cosy accommodation.

Main Street, Sovereign Hill

Well this coming Sunday 9 September the forecast is for 20 degrees and mainly sunny; but more importantly the Ballarat Jazz Club has a great afternoon of jazz with Ray Lewis’s Dixie Heroes featuring New Zealand’s great Lindsay Meech on cornet, and Tasmania’s Paul Martin on reeds for what is announced as being “their last performance together in Australia”. The rest of the band comprises Ray the man on trombone, Richard Mander on bass and David Allardice on piano.

So why not have a change of jazz scene and join the Ballarat jazzers for some hot jazz and Ballarat hospitality.

Here’s a clip of Ray and his lads playing in September 2011 for the Victorian Jazz Club, with the addition of Ron Hayden on drums. The tune is “Jazz Me Blues”.