Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Alan Meadows 40th anniversary in Oz party

My brother-in-law, Alan Meadows, flew in from Hobart last week with my sister Elida to host his '40th year in Australia' party! Alan, 61, came to Australia from London England in September 1968, and save for two trips back home in the intervening years he has comfortably made Australia his home. At 21 years of age and having landed himself in Bondi, Alan was an aspiring musician. With a great love of jug and blues he mastered mandolin & harmonica and has worked as a pro and semi-pro musician for most of his adult life here.

The party was held at the Balmain Rowers Club, right at the edge of the shore overlooking the waters from Balmain Cove, on Sunday 21 September. I provided the p/a and did the sound duties.
Alan jamming with Greg's blues band. He still plays a mean mandolin. Balmain, Sydney. Windy streets, Victorian terraces, charming cobblestone & weatherboard cottages of all shapes and sizes, located on a peninsula on Sydney's inner-west overlooking the harbour on its eastern side, the north-shore and Birkenhead point on northern side and Pyrmont & Darling Harbour on the southern side. By the late 1960s the suburb had begun to divest itself of its rough, working-class reputation so that by the 1980s Balmain was quickly attracting new money and yuppie gentrification, replete with new restaurants, the refurbishment of many pubs and conversion of old factories into spivvy residential dwellings, a process that continues to this day. In those glorious years between, during the heyday of the 1970s, Balmain was a vibrant and creative hub for artists, writers and musicians. Balmain village thrived on a burgeoning blues scene and pub blues, folk & rock was to be found everywhere. It was in Balmain/Rozelle that Alan lived throughout the 70s and 80s. His best band was the Hokum Ensemble who produced an EP in 1979 that is a bone-fide classic!! I'm urging Alan to digitise the thing quickly quickly! The band were doing well and if it wasn't for one loosely-minded member stuffing things up for them (always the way!) they would have gone places. There is one song on that EP called 'Doreen in the Nude', sung by Alan and written by Al Ward (also in the band) that I believe to be one of the greatest Australian songs ever written. Al Ward actually performed the song on his acoustic guitar on the day of the party and I was fortunate enough to film it, to be posted soon. Al, the writer, performed a sonorous laid-back acoustic-guitar version of his jug-blues gem whereas Alan's 1979 EP-take was a masterpiece of comic theatricality. I can't wait to get my ears on a copy of this music again!!
Alan's son Charlie, a professional jazz guitarist, vamps with the boys. Cooking up some jazz vibe and warm, musical atmosphere.

Alan Meadows, Charlie Meadows, and my sister Elida.
Alan & Elida (right) with some boys from the current blues band.
My nephew Rafael and his dad, my theatrical big bro.

On the deck of the Rowers Club.

Mick Conway playing a saw and Phil Donnison playing the ukulele. I'm a bit of a fan of the ukie myself.

Alan is presented with a gift from, um, Dame Edna Everage??
Alan vamping on harp with the blues band.

Brigette sings Orange Colored Sky with me on acoustic guitar.

A lovely portrait of Alan Meadows and Charlie Meadows. Two brilliant men.
Alan, I imagine that coming to Australia and particularly Balmain was one of the highlights of your life. You have met many great people (including my sis! ;), and have made some sterling musical connections, and music of tremendous heart & flavour. Good on you Al!!
Too bad we had to cut the party off by 6pm. This soiree should have continued into the wee hours!! Oh well, next time! When you move back to the mainland Alan & Elida we'll do this again...every f***ing day!!!!

This is the life...!
Until next time, r.

8 comments:

The Knitting Songbird said...

Looks like you all had a wonderful time. It's great how your whole family is very artistic and very close.

And yeah, it would be nice to have days like this every day...

God bless ya all!

Take care and have fun,
TKS

Korki Buchek said...

Wow Ross, looks like you had a great time! Catch up soon mate.

Polydora said...

Wow! Happy 40th to Alan! I love all the photos... looks like you all had a blast. Love the short hair on ya, too, Ross. And, is that the real Dame Edna?????

p.s.: Alan looks a little like the actor Geoffrey Rush.

Say hello to spring for me!

ross b said...

Dame Edna?!! Actually an apprentice Dame Edna was more like it! ;)

Alan does look like Geoffrey Rush actually...and particularly in his earlier days even more so with his thick black hair etc.

The family has become closer over the years which is nice even though Elida's moved to Hobart. I miss her.

I must say, it was a blast! Heaven to me is having an eternal party in Balmain. Let's do it!! ;)

Thanks for the kudos AM, it is nice to have a photo blog as it retains the memory and flavour of the day for future reminiscing. And I'm happy to swap places...I'm a big fan of Fall!! ;)

Have a great day all, kind regards, Ross.

Jojangles said...

Congrats Uncle Al. I still listen to your record. Lots of love, Joanne Pilley xxx

Anonymous said...

Wow guys, you had a great time!

It's Sylvia (Alan's sister) and her son Danny in London about 6 months later just stumbling across the pages and the photos. WISH we could have both been there.

Email me (Danny@Danny.co.uk) for the photo of Alan just as he was leaving for Australia in 68, dfound it on the laptop today

ross b said...

Thanks so much for the comment Sylvia!! It was an honour to be a part of it, I love Al very much. I'll let him know you posted a comment and I'll email you with my address for that photo!!

Kind regards, Ross

Malcolm John said...

is this the alan meadows who lived in queensbury middlsex and went to kingsbury county grammar school from taffy john e mail maljohn1@hotmail.com

Al-Anon

enjoying a bevvy Awakening to the ‘good’ in our lives and to the fulfilling sense of gratitude which follows often comes to us via ...