Saturday, April 19, 2008

Gigues of the weak and the strong



Been a good week for me
gigwise
first a jaunt at the ukulele club
but that wasn’t a gig so much
merely a happy excursion
into a curiously bygone world
the Wednesday night gig was at the cock’n’bull hotel
in bondi junction
this corner pub
with the rather macho sounding name
used to be quite rough’n’ready
yet like most of these sorts of pubs
particularly in these gentrified suburbs
it has been renovated and cleaned up considerably
bodyguards apart of the spivvy furniture
I turn up about 40minutes before I’m due to go on
which is @ 10:30pm
I really didn’t feel like leaving the house that night
it was cool and wet
as the southern hemisphere continues sinking
into wonderful winterdom
anyway I packed my maton cw80
fitted the condom over the sound hole
buttoned up the case
and choofed off
I turn up to watch Bill Beare perform
he’s very good
he used to be in the deadly nightshades
and I saw them when they were doing nick drake tribute nights
showing great respect to a genius songwriter
who died before the world got to know how truly special he was
and at cock’n’bull
I rush in
hurriedly drop my case near the stage
acknowledge bill
and frumpily take up a stool near the stage
listen to bill as I’m perched with a flicker of a slightly taut smile
what am I doing here I ask myself with ironic amusement and detachment
I’m not unhappy to be here
but I look around
and most the crowd here are into footy I’m sure
and I’m reminded
again
of a tchoon from the breakfast at sweethearts album
recorded 30 years ago
1978
the tchoon is chisel’s one-off delving into sub-disco beat
the chorus smooths out a bit into a nice turn of melody
that Don was to nick from himself some ten years later
when he gave ‘Telephone Booth’ to Mossy for his matchbook album
…yet it’s don’s unforgivingly serpentine lyrics that hook me
(don doesn’t mind me spilling off a few of his words here…)

“showtime
hang a guitar round my shoulder
check the vacant drooling faces around the room
another heartbreak battle
and I’m only getting older
jesus help me when I say I’ll give it all up pretty soon…
…second rate musicians
feeding infantile illusions
reading music magazines
to keep their habit satisfied…
…inspiration cauterised by years of useless heartache
every shallow night’s reaction
sounding twisted up and wrong…”
from ‘Showtime’ words & music ©Don Walker 1979

still I examine Don’s words with wryness and detachment
because it conjures up images of rockers in leather
40 plus
and wearing mullets
I don’t relate to it
partly because I’m not a rocker
and mainly because I always put music first
in whatever shape or guise I do it
whether it’s these gunslinger solo gigs
or with beautiful brigette doing eva Cassidy
or just playing bass or keys for whoever wants me
like velvet road
older guys who look it
but we get on and click and enjoy it
that’s all that matters

Bill Beare was a little disappointed with the audience response
I empathise with his disappointment
because he is a very good writer and performer
but these eastie-footy-sydney types make a virtue of not showing any interest
in some One’s deliverance of great art
I think the audience liked him
I vibed it
and their way of expressing it of course
is to lap up the vibe
and ignore the show
no clapping
etc
I’m used to it
I’m good at reading crowds now
I know the audience liked me
I could tell because more people started to mill around the bar
and my antennas picked up much buzz
that a vibe or energy was happening in the place
i sunk into that energy
emanating from my psyche and lower chakras
leaving to rest my conscious mind
plus I had my schooner of heineken sitting behind me
for totem support
I’m pleased that I can just turn up with little preparation
not even a set list
I played and sung quite loudly
for 50 minutes
and my voice held up well
and my playing was solid
I mix o-riginals with covers as per usual
finished with the jam’s town called malice
for all these reasons
it was a success
because if ya a serious musician
who cares about ya craft
you see yourself improving
and thats major ticks
these skills are priceless
when you stumble onto those gigs that actually do matter
a meeting of goodly time and place
and people are digging it fully
it means all these other gigs
the ‘grinders’
have well been worth it

I avec guitar case briskly hustle out of the macho-ly named cock’n’bull
I stumble into cool drizzle
bondi friggin’ junction all around me
I turn around and glance at a ginormous brick coloured monstrosity
it’s coles and Westfield or whatever its called
with twin towers of apartments rising above it all
back in the nineteen seventies
say 1977
that acreage was home to the bondi lifesavers
where bands like cold chisel
were ripping into their primary blend of led zeppelin and ray charles
belting out songs about metho addicts and bums and being on tha road
and a newy about a Vietnam war vet…
as if their entire fucking beings were dependent on this music
a sonic fury of soul-based bluesy rock’n’roll
move on 31 years
bj 2008
and soul is now defined by shopping bags and scowls
of a deadened plastic society
the eastern suburbs “community”

I never saw chisel at the lifesavers
mainly because in 77
I was only 7
leading the most boring childhood
any kid in the western world could’ve wished for
mum and dad were more like gran-parents
sitting like stone in front of the telly
night afta night
never saying A word
but for the pungent gaseous energies
of deep generational unhappiness
and hypernervous anxiety
permeating the rooms
of the sad terrace
across from a drive-in bottlo
jus down the road from the bondi lifesaver
in charing cross waverley

tick over Friday night
at the art- I-choke café in Manly
where they make a terrific artichoke salad
just a boat ride away from downtown syd
I’d transmogrified
from Wednesday night’s lone ranger
effusively and relentlessly yelling off one sawng after another
to the snag playing gentle Eva Cassidy
alongside Brigette
eva and other things as well
some jazz-blues
like cry me a river an’ don’t go to strangers
some nu-folk jazz like norah jones
a version of into tempation by neeill finn
and, uh, utfmw by our favourite Killa
amongst others
these gigs always go well
on the surface it may well seem
that it’s just a singer with a guitarist
but it’s obvious to all it’s much more than that
brig & I have a true chemistry
we play as one
it wouldn’t be the same
with me playing with another singer
just as it is for brig
playing with another guitar player
people want our contact details
we forgot to bring cards
but we’re back there on Saturday nite 7 June
with an Eva Cassidy Acoustic Show
it’ll be heaven

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