The Many Faces of Charles Powell


A MEMORIAL for Charlie Powell was held at the home of his beloved Louisiana Shakers, the Clyde Hotel in Carlton, on Sunday 19 August. What a great day and certainly a great tribute to dear Charlie.

Every seat was taken (and there were plenty of extra chairs there) and it was wall to wall standing room of people right back to Elgin Street. Among the musos and fans paying their respects, my friend Bill Liddy noted Steve Grant, Peter Gaudion, John Hawes, Janet Arndt, Bill Beasley, Kim Rushworth, Ron Hayden, George Halliday, Harry Price, Rob Wood, Roger and Ann Beilby, Tony Orr, the entire Peninsula Rhythm Kings band (John Kent, John Roberts, Graeme Davies, Peter Grey, Lee Treanor, Frank Stewart and Kay Younger), “plus many faces I could not put names to, but have seen at gigs. And of course all the Shakers, with Nick Polites back from overseas plus Mike McQuad and Les Fithall.”

My reporter, Bill went on to say “After the formal bits, just about the whole day was taken up with sit ins. It also should be noted how brilliantly Ashley Keating conducted the entire day. What else would you expect from a real pro. like Ashley anyway??

They also had a video of Charlie’s life and his musical career running all day on the wall. There was even one picture of the Nick Polites’ Melbourne New Orleans Jazz Band, with Charlie on trombone, Frank Turville on trumpet and Nick on clarinet. Nick thought that it would have been 1959. On checking my notes from the Oxford Companion to Australian Jazz of course, he was right. Charlie replaced Dave Rankin in 1959 and was replaced by Kevin Shannon in 1960. (I think Charlie went back to England for a few years about this period).

On Swing and Sway on 3CR last Saturday they played a track from The La Vida Jazz Band recorded live at The Limerick Arms Hotel in South Melbourne 1986? (I can’t remember) where Charlie was singing a Jazz version of the old Hank Williams classic of 1952, Jambalaya Definitely in the Charlie “way out there style” that we all loved and will remember him for.”

Here are some photos of Charlie from the memorial brochure, and the program for the day.

And finally, click on this photo of Charlie below to hear the Louisiana Shakers playing The Darktown Strutters’ Ball from their CD “On a Coconut Island” recorded in Melbourne in 2001. Charlie plays trombone and “sings/talks” the lyrics, Lindsay Meech is on trumpet, Nick Polites on clarinet, Ashley Keating on tenor banjo, Andy Ross on bass, and Kevin Bolton on drums.

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2 responses to “The Many Faces of Charles Powell

  1. What a groovy great Uncle Charlie, lovely man he will be missed!!

  2. A fine tribute to Charlie, who kept his mojo working.
    Sadly, my own wobbly mojo kept me from being at the Clyde, but I know a goodly crowd was there.

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