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.
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
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.
THE ever popular Peninsula Jazz Club meets on the third Friday of each month at the Patterson Lakes Community Centre in Thompson Road. This month – October 19th – the band on tap will be The Maple Leaf Reunion Band, with some members from the original band and others from various stages in its wild and woolly career.
The band began in 1974 at the Canada Hotel in Swanston Street, hence the name Maple Leaf. Many people have flowed through the ranks since then – remember who turned up at their famous reunion in March 2010.
The band had a number of notable residencies during its roaring days. Amongst them were The Anchor and Hope Hotel (known fondly as the Wanker and Grope) in Church Street, Richmond which was said to be a dangerous place to play – not because there were bad men about, but because it was so crowded, especially after a footy game; The Victoria Hotel (The Pink Vic – but no longer pink) in Beaconsfield Parade, Albert Park; The Spread Eagle in Bridge Road, Richmond and The Portsea Hotel down the Bay.
The legendary Wes Brown was one of the originals. Wes has just celebrated his 90th birthday.
Wes Brown at the 2010 reunion (photo by Barry Wratten)
I believe Don Santin may also have been a founding member.
Don Santin with his daughter Kellie, another talented musician
Perhaps the longest serving members, Bob Whetstone and Kim Rushworth, will be playing at the Peninsula gig:
With Bob and Kim, the rest of the lineup will be: Don Santin, trombone
Tony Orr, banjo/guitar
Joe McConechy, bass
Ben Rushworth, drums
Bob will be debuting his new “Marcie” trumpet, actually a Bobby Shew Yamaha.
They’ll play and sing a lot of the old tunes which were, and still are, favourites with thefans. No doubt some of these will be from the Reunion CD which was recorded in 1986 and released in 2010. One of my favourite tracks on this disc is King Oliver’s “Chimes Blues”. I enjoy the Maple Leaf arrangement more than others I’ve heard, including King Oliver’s, Louis Armstrong’s and Chris Barber’s!
Doors open at 7.00pm, and the music will roll from 8.00-11.00 pm.
It’s a good idea to book because the Peninsula Club always has a crowded house. 9580 2906 or 0422 657 634
HERE we are back home after Noosa, and the real world clicks in straight away – no time to record posts of the last week’s music, which will have to wait until later.
We’ve already been to two gigs:
Thursday 8 September at the Clayton RSL (home base of the Victorian Jazz Club) for an out-of-routine session with Ray Lewis’s DIXIE HEROES, including special guests – Lindsay Meech (trumpet) on his annual pilgrimage from New Zealand, and Paul Martin (reeds) who is now settled in Tasmania, but was a resident of Melbourne and Sydney where he played with such bands as the Yarra Yarras, Red Onions, Frank Traynor and Roger Janes amongst others from the 1960s to the 1980s.
The lineup was:
Ray Lewis, leader on trombone
David Allardice, piano
Richard Mander, string bass
Paul Martin, reeds
Lindsay Meech, trumpet
Ron Hayden on drums, depping for Lynn Wallis who was unfortunately ill.
Ray is sporting (if that’s the word) a short, chemo hairstyle which he dubbed “Geoff Bull’s Revenge”. It’ll grow again Ray! Musos Frank Stewart, Kay Younger and Ken Farmer were in the audience to catch up with old mates.
I hadn’t heard Paul Martin live before so this was a treat. His deceptively simple presentation is a disguise for a masterful technique – no in-your-face bird trills here.
One of the early numbers was a lovely smoky version of King Oliver’s 12 bar blues, SNAG IT. The whole front line did their bit, and David Allardice was splendid on that less-than perfect piano. I video’d their version of JAZZ ME BLUES later in the program which sounded a lot better in real life: I was too close to the drums, too far away from the piano and clarinet, but it will give you an idea of the style.
This was a lovely night of Chicago-style jazz played by a mix of fine musicians who don’t play together often, but who melded well – ain’t it always so with class acts.
Dancers at Caulfield RSL
ON the following night, Friday 9 September we enjoyed Johnny Cox’s MELLOWTONES at the Caulfield RSL.
This is one of my favourite venues – small enough to be friendly, but big enough so as
not to be sitting on each other’s lap. The food is upper-class RSL fare, the staff is friendly, and you can see the band from all points of the room, even when the dance floor is full (which is usually is).
More importantly, the quality of bands is always high since Big Bob Whetstone has taken over programming duties. Bob is not only a great chooser of bands, he is a noted horn player and vocalist, whose band – THE MAPLE LEAF JAZZ BAND – had an ardent following at The Spreadeagle, The Anchor and Hope, The Portsea Hotel and other enlightened pubs during the roaring eighties.
Here’s Bob, with Doug Rawson on keyboard, at a memorable reunion of The Maple Leaf held in April 2010.
But back to the MELLOWTONES: led by John Cox (guitar/banjo) the band includes Mike Edwards on clarinet and alto sax, Bob Venier on trumpet, Dan Gordon on string bass/tuba, and Ben Rushworth on drums. They have been playing together for a couple of years, but all have been seasoned in other groups.
I asked John what was the musical personality of the Mellowtones, and he said, “We just chose tunes the members liked”, but whatever they play, all are totally comfortable in their music, crafty in their musicianship which comes from talent and experience.
Here’s a video of them playing MR SANDMAN at the Matthew Flinders motel last year. They played this on Friday as well, but with a different arrangement.
Don’t you love that tuba! Dan is one of the few tuba players I’ve heard who can carry the melody as well as the rhythm, and how well it travels with Johnny Cox’s swinging, swooping banjo. We are lucky in Australia to have some of the best banjo players around – in addition to John Cox, Peter Hooper, John Withers, John Scurry, Peter Allen to name just a few.
THE MELLOWTONES will be playing again on Wednesday 5 October at the Clayton RSL, Carinish Road, Clayton between 11.00am and 2.00pm as the Victorian Jazz Club’s contribution to Seniors’ Week. $6. Bookings 9553 3850.
And then on Thursday 6 October they will feature in Melbourne’s Greatest Seniors’ Variety Show at the Melbourne Town Hall. 7.00pm to 10pm. Doors open at 6.30pm. Tickets $20. 9560 6144 for bookings.
On Sunday 9 October, they’ll be at the Rosstown Hotel, Koornang and Dandenong Roads, Carnegie. Lunch is from 12.00 noon. Music from 1.30pm to 4.30pm. Bookings are essential. 9571 1033. This is The Mellowtones first time at the weekly Rosstown jazz lunch.
And if you think that all this emphasis on Seniors’ Week means that THE MELLOWTONES are over the hill, here they are to prove it isn’t so!:
Ben Rushworth, Bob Venier, John Cox, Mike Edwards, Dan Gordon. (photo: Ron Jobe)