Monthly Archives: May 2013

New Ultrafox residency @ Claypots Evening Star bar, South Melbourne Market

PETER Baylor’s gypsy jazz band, ULTRAFOX, is starting a residency on Tuesday nights from 7.30 – 10.00pm down at Claypots Evening Star at the South Melbourne Market, Shop 101 on the corner of Cecil and York Streets, South Melbourne. There’ll be plenty of Le Jazz Hot and songs, plus great seafood fresh from the market slab, drinks and atmosphere.

The Market is easy to get to by car (plenty of parking) , bike, walking or public transport (light rail #96 from Bourke St or trams #109 or #112 from Collins St).

Renan Goksin

A sister operation to the iconic Claypots Seafood Bar in St Kilda, Claypots Evening Star is a Teppanyaki-style seafood restaurant, with dishes ranging from snacks right up to seriously noteworthy dishes at “market prices”.

Open for a bit over 12 months, Claypots Evening Star offers a whole new dining experience – seven nights a week. Renowned South Melbourne identity, owner and chef extraordinaire Renan Goksin is at the helm on this culinary journey, where you can enjoy the spectacle and great taste of seafood fresh off the Teppanyaki grill, as well as some great music at least on Tuesday nights. Phone for info and bookings: 9645 5779

New Orleans street bands: alive jazz carrying on the tradition

(photo: Ron Jobe)

RECENTLY I was talking to Nick Polites, venerable (i.e. worthy of reverence!) clarinetist with The Louisiana Shakers, about the future of traditional jazz in Australia. Nick was pointing to the recent and growing American phenomenon (post Katrina) of young street bands in New Orleans which play the old tunes in the old styles.

An entertaining article in the New Yorker magazine of 8 May 2007 focusses on one of these bands – THE LOOSE MARBLES – but it could apply to many others currently playing in the streets and bars of New Orleans.   Click here to read the article.

There are some common elements between most of these bands. By and large they are not New Orleans born – (the modern equivalent of running away to sea or to join the circus) – they are white, often classically trained musicians, their repertoires show evidence of delving into the archives for “new” old material, and dancers are welcomed as a legitimate response to the music. And perhaps most importantly their music/message/influence is spread worldwide almost in real time through the medium of YouTube etc. Will we see a flow on to young musicians in Australia?

Here THE LOOSE MARBLES play in 2007 “When I Get Low I Get High” with their vocalist at that time, the amazing Meschiya Lake.

The MARBLES don’t seem to be together any more, but the founder/trumpeter Ben Polcer has another group (Ben Polcer and the Grinders), Meschiya Lake is also still very much part of the scene, as well as expanding her horizons overseas, and Barnabus Jones the tuba player now plays trombone with TUBA SKINNY.

Here BEN POLCER AND THE GRINDERS play “Lily of the Valley” at one of the popular jazz venues in Frenchmen Street, the Spotted Cat Music Club. And I think that’s Meschiya Lake singing in the audience. (She’s the one with the tatts).

Here’s Meschiya with her own band, MESCHIYA LAKE AND THE LITTLE BIG HORNS : “Everybody Loves My Baby”

Another version of “Everybody Loves My Baby”, this time by SMOKING TIME JAZZ CLUB

One more offering from the SMOKING TIME JAZZ CLUB. Sarah Peterson on vocals belts out “Percolatin’ Blues”, with dancers.

Marla and John Dixon originally formed THE SHOTGUN JAZZ BAND loosely to pay tribute to the music of husband and wife duo of Billie and DeDe Pierce. Here we see Marla Dixon on trumpet, John Dixon on banjo, Ben Polcer on 2nd trumpet and Robin Rapuzzi on washboard. The film cuts out before the end but I couldn’t resist it.

Here’s nother SHOTGUN JAZZ BAND video with Marla Dixon doing a lovely job on “Love Song of the Nile”.

Here’s another Ben Polcer band, ORLEANS 6, playing at the Spotted Cat on Halloween night 2012.

It wouldn’t be a list of New Orleans street bands without TUBA SKINNY which now has a worldwide following. I’ve limited myself to 3 videos – there are hundreds on YouTube and I’ll leave you to make your own choices.

The first is TUBA SKINNY with Erika Lewis singing “Egyptian Ella”. Erika has recently added drumming to her skills!

Then we have TUBA SKINNY at the Spotted Cat with Shaye Cohn on piano.

And finally, Erika Lewis (vocals) and Shaye Cohn on piano perform “Some of these days”.at Preservation Hall with Norbert Susemihl on trumpet, Gregory Agid on clarinet, posibly Jason Marsalis on drums. I’mnot sure who’s on bass.

I’ve gone on far too long, but it’s obsessive once you start. Rather like genealogy – you find one person or group which leads on to another, and another, and another. Haven’t even included such bands as THE CANNIBALS, ZUGDIDI, STALEBREAD SCOTTIE AND THE KITCHEN MAN, YES MA’AM, or NEW ORLEANS MOONSHINERS. I’ll leave those to you to explore!

Shiny Stockings Ball: a celebration of the life of Lindy Hopper, Frankie Manning

THE legendary Savoy Ballroom in New York’s Harlem was the mecca for dancers in the 1930’s and onward where 4,000 dancers nightly lindy hopped to the swinging music of the likes of Chick Webb and Count Basie.

Located on Lenox Avenue, the main thoroughfare through Harlem, the Savoy Ballroom was owned by two white entrepreneurs, Jay Faggen and Moe Gale, and managed by African-American real estate business man Charles Buchanon. Buchanon sought to run a “luxury ballroom to accommodate the many thousands who wished to dance in an atmosphere of tasteful refinement, rather than in the small stuffy halls and the foul smelling, smoke laden cellar nightclubs. . .” (Barbara Engelbert: Swinging at the Savoy).

Unlike other ballrooms at the time – such as the Cotton Club – the Savoy always had a no-discrimination policy. Patrons were judged on their dancing skills, not on the colour of their skins.

One corner of the ballroom was set aside for the professional dancers who gave impromptu exhibitions, demonstrated new steps, and fiercely competed for prizes. One of the leading dancers at the time was Frankie Manning, who with his partner Freda Washington, performed the first lindy hop “aerial” (a flip over the back) in a contest at the Savoy Ballroom in 1935. Manning went on to perform with a professional troupe of dancers for whom he was choreographer, toured widely and appeared in several films. At the age of 72 he cane out of retirement in 1986 to teach the “rediscovered” lindy hop. Frankie Manning died in April 2009 but his achievements as a teacher, dancer and ambassador for the lindy hop are perpetuated by the Frankie Manning Foundation and The Shiny Stockings Ball.

This year the Shiny Stockings Ball will be held in Melbourne on Saturday 25 May in remembrance of Frankie Manning and his contribution to the world’s current obsession with swing dancing. This grand occasion will be held in another stylish 1927-built building, the Thornbury Theatre at 859 High Street Thornbury. Andy Swann and his Savoy Stompers will be playing Frankie’s favourite swing songs all night long, so here’s a very special chance to dance, and to wish Frankie a happy 99th birthday. (born 26 May 1914).

Andy Swann’s all-star, one time only, world class, Savoy style line up of musicians will blow you away….

Eamon Mcnelis, Trumpet/Vocals; Michael McQuaid, Reeds; Jason Downes, Reeds: Stephen Grant, Piano/2nd trumpet; Mark Elton, Bass; Craig Fermanis, Guitar; Andrew Swann, Drums/Vocals.

Doors open at 7.30pm. 8.00pm screening of “Frankie Manning: Never Stop Swinging”. 8.30pm to midnight Andy Swann and his Savoy Stompers. Swing DJs to take the night home.

Tickets: $33 + booking fee pre sale, $45 at door. Bookings
All proceeds from The Shiny Stockings Ball are going to The Frankie Manning Foundation, which runs various programs spreading Lindy Hop around the world along with Frankie’s legacy.

And here to take us out, Chick Webb plays “Stompin’ at the Savoy”.

Simon Vancam Trio has new gig at Prince Alfred Hotel, Richmond

IT’S always good to hear of another “permanent” gig for jazz – alas there are all too few these days, so we need to patronise as many as we can and with great enthusiasm.

The latest is a trio led by “Slappin'” Simon Vancam which is playing on the second and fourth Sundays each month at the Prince Alfred Hotel, 619 Church Street, Richmond from 2.00pm to 5.00pm.

The May gig is on Sunday 26. In June you’ll catch them on Sunday 9 and 23.

The Trio comprises Simon on bass, Frank Stewart on clarinet, and Ron Scott on banjo. The group has been together only since late last year, and had one of their first gigs at the Stud Park Shopping Centre in December 2012, although of course Simon and Frank have played together for many years as members of John Morrison’s Moonee Valley Jazz Band. Here they play the classic ballad, “Nevertheless” at Stud Park.

Simon is also a sousa player, and can be found playing in many different music styles including Boogie, Rockabilly, Bluegrass, Swing, Covers, and of course Jazz. You can find out what else he is doing at his website:

And if you’re wondering why the nickname “Slappin'” Simon, here’s a clip of Simon playing with the Moonee Valley Jazz Band at the Rosstown Hotel In July 2912.

Globe Cafe and Stonnington Jazz Festival

THE Globe Cafe at 218 Chapel Street, Prahran will be very, very busy during the Stonnington Jazz Festival, which opens tonight, Thurday 16 May. Here’s the fantastic program @ THE GLOBE over the next two weeks.

Thursday 16th May 8.00pm Rita Satch
Friday 17th May 8.00pm Tamara Kuldin with Paul Williamson
Saturday 18th May 8.15pm Rebecca Mendoza and Joe Ruberto
Sunday 19th May 5.00pm Mandy Meadows & The Honeytons
Thursday 23rd May 8.15pm Diana Clark & Doug DeVries
Friday 24th May 8.00pm Julie O’Hara and band
Saturday 25th May 8.15pm Fem Belling and Joe Ruberto
Sunday 26th May 7.00pm Joe Ruberto & friends (finale night party)

All of these programs should be great, and everyone will have their own favourites, but if I had to choose only one, I’d go for Diana Clark and Doug DeVries, both incredible interpreters of Brazilian music.
Here they perform “Corcovado” with Stephen Grant making up a trio on piano accordion.

For full details and bookings visit the Globe website . Bookings are essential for this intimate venue which quickly sells out!

For the complete Stonnington Jazz Festival program and online bookings, visit the Stonnington Festival website –

The Louisiana Shakers @ a refurbished Clyde; and memories of Maurie Fabrikant

THE dear old Clyde Hotel in Carlton has had a facelift, but not so severe as to hide all the character lines or frighten off the regulars! There’s even a piano on the band dais which adds a touch of class, but I understand that it needs some loving care and retuning before it can be part of the action. Any cheap piano tuners out there with an interest in jazz?

We had lunch there yesterday, 12 May, to hear the Louisiana Shakers – and incidentally had one of the best ever dishes of roast pork belly and apple sauce from the Specials Menu.

The Shakers were at their usual relaxed best with the regular lineup of Derek Reynolds, trumpet; Nick Polites, clarinet; Ashley Keating (leader) on banjo; Nat Garbutt on bass; and Kevin Bolton on drums. Taking the trombone chair (which has not been filled on a permanent basis since the death in August last year of Shaker’s foundation trombonist, Charlie Powell) was Doug Holbury.

I last saw Doug Holbury a year ago today playing at the Victorian Jazz Club’s Motor Neurone Disease fundraiser in honour of Maurie Fabrikant, who died on 16 May 2012. Very much missed, dear Maurie. You could have done something useful with the Clyde piano!

On a more cheerful note, here is a clip of the Shakers playing the New Orleans standard, “S’il Vous Plait”. (The lighting certainly has improved!)

As usual there were a slew of experienced musicians with instruments wanting to sit in: surely a sign of a juzz-conducive atmosphere.

In case you need reminding, The Clyde is on the corner of Elgin and Cardigan Streets, Carlton. Doors open at 12 noon for meals. Music starts at 2.00pm and runs till 5.00pm.

Mother’s Day Stop Press

A LATE addition to your jazz options on Mother’s Day – May 12:

Yvette Johansson’s Vintage Pearls (James Clark, Michael McQuaid and Sam Lemann) will be bringing joy to the Flying Saucer Club, Caulfield RSL, 4 St Georges Road, Elsternwick from 3.00pm to 6.00pm.

To book on line:

A special Mother’s Day Lunch is offered between noon and 2.00pm. To book for lunch, phone the RSL on 9528 3600

Syncopators Bon Voyage Bash: their 16th European tour!

IN 1984 when Chris Ludowyk put together a band for a one night stand at Athol’s Abbey in St Kilda Road, Melbourne who would have thought that 29 years later that band would be about to set off on its 16th European tour! Certainly not Chris.

The band (originally The Society Syncopators) actually had an extended residency at The Abbey, and has gone on to be recognised world wide as one of the best jazz bands that Australia has ever produced.

In preparation for their next tour in June, (when they will play in Finland, Germany and Switzerland), The Syncopators are holding a Bon Voyage/Fund Raising bash at the Bentleigh Club, Yawla Street, Bentleigh on Sunday 19 May. Their special guest star for this event will be that super singer, Hetty Kate.

Doors open at 12 noon, and the party gets underway at 12.30. Tickets are $60 which includes a two course lunch, tea and coffee, prizes and surprises. Drinks at bar prices.
Bookings 9531 7551 or 0408 993 786.

This is a chance to enjoy international class jazz without having to renew your passport or worry about what to pack. Here’s a sample of The Syncopators swinging in Stuttgart on a previous tour:

Here Hetty sings “Almost Like Being in Love” with Leigh Barker and Marc Meader in Dresden, Germany in 2011.

Mothers’ Day, if that’s your bag

SUNDAY 12 May (the second Sunday in May) is designated as Mothers’ Day, so if that’s a significant date on your calendar, here are some jazz events which you might ask for if you’re a Mum, or which you might select for that important lady instead of a new vacuum cleaner or cordless drill.

The Amora Riverwalk Hotel at 649 Bridge Road, Richmond is offering a special Mother’s Day Buffet Lunch of three luscious courses plus a complimentary glass of bubbly for $59, with children under 10 for $20. Click here for a look at the MENU.    Bookings 9246 1200.

And of course this is where the Riverwalk Trio led by the indefatigable, inimitable and impeccable Ian Smith provides live jazz from 12.30 to 3.30pm every Sunday. Ian is just back from a well earned world jaunt and holiday, so should be in fine form. The lineup of the Trio varies from week to week, but is always made up of some of Victoria’s finest musicians (with an occasional overseas visitor sitting-in).
Here locals Ian and John Cox play with UK clarinetist, Eric Newton in January 2013.

The Royal Hotel, 1208 Burwood Highway, Upper Ferntree Gully will present the New Melbourne Jazz Band, led by Ross Anderson, with music from 1.00pm – 4.00pm. Bookings are essential because of the popularity of this legendary and much loved band, and after all, it is that Day.    Phone: 9758 2755.

The Clyde Hotel on the corner of Elgin and Cardigan Streets, Carlton is of course the current home of Melbourne’s fabled New Orleans style band, The Louisiana Shakers. Doors open at 1.00pm for lunch (don’t expect silver service, but the food is plentiful, affordable and appetising),. The music meanders on from 2.00pm to 5.00pm. I don’t think they make any special arrangements for Mum’s Day, but you could ring and book if you were planning to take a large party. 9347 1874

The Pinnacle Hotel at 251 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North advertises itself as helping to keep live music alive. And so it does on a Sunday afternoon between 4.00pm and 7.00pm with jazz in the Beer Garden. (a bit chilly in the winter time so dress appropriately, and the music is hot!) On Mother’s Day the band is The Four Scoops, an exciting mix of four musicians from very different musical backgrounds: Ben Gillespie, Leader/trombone; Craig Fermanis, guitar, Mark Elton, double bass; and Lynn Wallis on drums. At the moment the Four Scoops are playing alternate weeks with The Shuffle Club.

The Emerald Hotel, 415 Clarendon St South Melbourne is the Sunday night magnet for lovers of that superb group, Stevenson’s Rockets.
Dr Jo Stevenson leads this group of world class musicians who meld together with the ease of long collaboration and comparable very high skill levels. (The lineup is usually Jo on reeds, John Adams, paino, Chris Ludowyk, bass and Ian Smith on drums.) Dinner and show are from 6.00pm. Bookings, if you’re lucky,
9690 4719.

As reported earlier Shirazz will be launching their latest CD, “Re-Wined” at The Workers Club, cnr Brunswick & Gertrude Streets, Fitzroy Doors open at 7.30pm. Music starts at 8.00pm with THE NYMPHS, a great 4 girl singing group, and Shirazz will kick in at 9.00pm. Tickets at the door. $10.

Popular festival “Girl Band” Frilly Knickers Jazz Band will be performing at the Open Studio, 204 High Street, Northcote From 8pm – 11pm.
Open Studio is a live music venue, bar, and crêperie, on the hill opposite the Northcote Town Hall. A number 86 tram stops across the road. You can follow the Frillies’ fortunes on Facebook: or contact Jaz Stutley for info on other gigs at

AND if you’re still going – or indeed just starting – what better way to do it than with Peter Gaudion’s Blues Express at The Dogs Bar, 54 Acland Street, St Kilda. 9.00-11.00pm. 8534 3020.


BUT the Rosstown Hotel does NOT have jazz on Mothers’ Day!