the veritable history of the Velvet Road

where to begin, where to begin.... October 1998, me, a 28-year old fresh-faced lick-wounder carries his technics p50 didji piano caveman style to the excelsior hotel in surry hills for a chancy singer-songwriter night and meets a chessboard of players who would determine his next decade's moves and beyond with paul the nice but loopy mcgowan and vee nee vesna who was making a film and i had it on vhs and now it is lost and ahhh and the egghead guy from the blue mountains is there and yawnly interviewed and pennie lennon who's now on the other side of the mountains discusses women and age and rock and she's still wonderful and i find out later she had an album produced by the bass player of the church and i go ga ga and james was pres and he was long haired and audaciously rocked who leads me to a fetchingly passionate guy who's slightly balding and overweight holding pen'n'paper to write the same reviews for the same ol axe-wielders and he's an editor of a great lil songsy newsletter and he has this slightly odd and self-directed manner about him buts lotsa heart'n'soul and likeability an' girly friends behind him doing the butterly dance including the now mizz classify tells me he likes my stuff and i liked his gutsy earthy vibrant bluesy blurts too actually so we said howzabout a jam and i thought nothing of it as i glide into new year and have hole days in new zealand where my inner soundtrack is crowded house and arrive back to find peter day the bass player in tow who's tight an' prissy and a christchurch kiwi himself and amazingly gav runs into the bees nest of serendipity at the x again when he pops out to see his fave band the flaming barstools with those three verbally whipped brothers out front and 'dad' on drums and 'dad' introduces gav to his drummer-slash-chiro mate pete thompson who joins us and is sensitive and fits like gloves in snareskins and remains a great friend of ours and he and gav share legion stories of nights at the pub particularly blues night on australia day in 2000 where we're talkin' kegs-worth of piss and gav surfing the santana thing blind on booze and it's obvious from day dot we're a beer band and nothing else but i'm mostly the observer not participator but gav pulls his spanner trick and invites hana in 'for a jam' and this was a replay from the decade previous and i know what happens when the lead guy brings in a woman in a band just cause he likes her but anyway hana had a deepish voice and sometimes got called a guy and even i get confused with her but her songs are great and we try to name the band and gav likes the word road because "we're going somewhere" and hana clips 'velvet' in her svelte czech accent and so there is born velvet road and we're just the first of dozens of friggin' 'velvet' bands that cropped up subsequently not necessarily the best but some may argue that certainly not me and hana tells stories of escaping the czech prior-to-republic on her brazen knees burning the grass to avoid the barbed wire and rifles pointed in every angle and direction her way and this accounts for her euro-toughness so she flies back in march '00 never to return bar once and we enjoyed it all with seeing wendy sussems play the x late one friday and jamming and meeting lots of new people and it was kind of a magic time really 1999 and gav telling me he got a call from sarah b who was really upset because i approached her to do one of her songs and felt dejected because she was a honey singing this song about donuts and closer to home having cops cumma knocking on the door of gav's cloisted kensington pad to have them find a bunch of farts jamming in the living room as they look embarrassed with their blue hats 'n' uniforms and jaws dropping and this happens twice so some schmuck in another apartment is calling cops for a nighttime's entertainment not letting them catch the real ones and i scrape my car against the bumper bar of the studio truck that's parked at that cursed st peters studio in mary street and the bumper bar is peeling like banana skin and wrenching like the monkey's cry when reversing and i do a runner on my scraped wheels as these alien looking people approach but they were just shimmering with my heightened aura of fear in a bad evil place for i've had bad luck there 3 times and i'll never set foot in that twisted psyched studio & surrounding lots ever again and we nearly lost pete tee to a choking fit mixed with the whooping cough at a steaky dinery called the black stump so musta been bad methane kow-karma but the gigs are bouncy and coming from our regular wynard spot to bigger things like cat'n'fiddle in balmain and my piano keyboard skills rapidly improve coz there's only one way to go and that's up baby and gav's inspired n writing songs like the sweat is dripping from his glistening guitar strings and they're all classics from 'hello' to 'horny' and those seven he wrote at the beach somewhere upa da coast in one weekend sometime in july 2000 with 'evening sky' and 'in too deep' and 'the beach' but pete 'day' decides to call it just that and moves back to christchurch and gets married and grows a garden and continues to work in government department of mental health where he never worked harder than me just earned twice as much so we audition bass players and i don't like the guy we chose and i find that none of us do as he just ain't our type as his ear is good and his playing is fine but cold like pvt wire for he's a smart electrician and no-nonsense big-lad big-face country boy with that slight tinge of aggro menace where he's always fucking right about everything and was great at telling others how to do things particularly gav even though gav wrote the songs and the electrician didn't and he could sink a case of beer with the ease that i'd conversely struggle with for 3 drinks but he was cool'n'respectful with me until late in 2002 i told him i just bought a 30-watt bass amp and we're at a gig and he tells me why on earth would i waste my money on a 30-watt bass amp and i upped and stormed out and signal the guys to come out and i tell 'em he's out and so he is and i still use that 30-watt bass amp most fruitfully to this very day you silly cunt and now with no bass player the table becomes quite obviously distended as four corners becomes three and i pick up the bass after a long period in the bear-cave and take my piano to the cleaners and grow to love the bass more than ever and we spend 2003 going down to pete's pad in coledale to rehearse every second weekend where we're flanked by sea and mountains and we really enjoy it and we have own little rock'n'roll enclave in that place avec swimming pool and we need the leisure for gav's bro died in aug 02 at the same time i was diagnosed with the diabetes that i've since hopefully bashed around the belt and pete was stumbling into the divorce era and we gig and we work on the album we've been at for years and years and it's done and by late-2004 i'm pushing gav & pete and they're getting tired gav particularly and then in 2005 i decide i want to play acoustic guitar and do eva cassidy songs with a singer and the whole thing of lugging amps and arguing about transport and who owns a fucking car and who aint and setting up drums and equipment and worrying about sound and about perennial bums on seats gets to us and me big time so i say i'm out and on 11 feb 2006 i trade-in my fender mexi bass for a maton 325 and that's it buckeroos and gav and pete wished we could've made another album oh well i got mine to do now and that's priority until gav invites us to do darling harbour in 2007 which was almost 2 years after the volcanic split that could be felt on the leaves of a couple of trees in the papua new guinea highlands and i couldn't have faced the band any earlier than late '07 and it was great to play again and hear that bass rumble in my lower chakra yes i felt my balls move under my bass on that warm day at darling harbour palm grove stage and now we continue to play acoustically with minimal fuss and only when it suits us and it rocks out with acoustic guitar and d.i. box for bass and djembe drum and we have fun in pubs and it appears as though so do the audience, depending on who's watching...

10 years, longer....where does the time go? our way of answering that??? click of beer glasses! ;)


Chuckles said…
Great Blog Rossco! You're so versatile!
Ross said…
Thanks!! I did ape this totally though from a Cold Chisel inner-sleeve to 'Teenage Love' (1994) which was unreleased tracks of the band...Don Walker did a one sentence spiel including the beginning, 'where to begin, where to begin...' - i feel embarrasingly humbled to say his story's a lot more interesting than mine..:)
Thanks for the read! ;)

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