Thursday, May 31, 2007

Beachhead benefit . . .

This should have been put up ages ago. Better late than never! There will be wall-to-wall musos at this so get there early if you want to beat the 200-head limit!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Belated Happy Birthday Townes . . .

. . . who would have had his 63rd birthday yesterday if'n fate'n other things hadn't blocked his troubled path on New Year's Day ten years ago.

Initially, I had a lot of difficulty listening to Townes Van Zandt singing his own songs. After persevering for a couple of years, something clicked within ME and he's now become one of my most cherished and played singer/songwriters.

A biography, To Live's to Fly - The Ballad of the Late, Great Townes Van Zandt, has recently been released and, by all accounts, it's a damn good read. If you feel like chasing an out and out enigma around the spiked musical sphere he lived in, this could be for you. Here's a brief review:

To Live's to Fly
The Ballad of the Late, Great Townes Van Zandt
by John Kruth

The first-ever biography of the elusive and influential musician
whose tragic life became the stuff of legend. Includes 40 rare photographs. To Live’s to Fly is the bracing, fully authorized biography of singer-songwriter-guitarist Townes Van Zandt (1944–1997), who wrote such classic songs as If I Needed You and Waitin’ ’round to Die

Born to a wealthy oil family in Ft. Worth, hounded by alcoholism and unshakable depression, Van Zandt pursued an often nomadic existence on the fringes of society. Along the way, he composed a striking body of work simultaneously heartbreaking in its beauty and terrifying in its willingness to go to the darkest of places. His songs were covered by such artists as Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard (who scored a No. l hit duetting on Van Zandt’s signature tune Pancho and Lefty), Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, Nanci Griffith, the Cowboy Junkies, Tindersticks, and Mudhoney.

John Kruth has interviewed nearly everyone who was close to Townes Van Zandt, including his best friend, songwriter Guy Clark; musical colleagues like Steve Earle, John Prine, Rodney Crowell, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Jerry Jeff Walker; as well as his ex-wives and children. What emerges is the portrait of a tremendously intelligent and charismatic man with a warm sense of humor and a generous nature...and an unstoppable inclination toward self-destruction. Van Zandt lived life on his own terms - and died of a heart attack on New Year’s Day, the same day his idol, Hank Williams, died forty-four years earlier.

To Live’s to Fly is the compelling story of a generation of truly outlaw country artists, one that captures all the humor, hijinks, poetry, and heartbreak of this most revered of songwriters.

“A fervent tribute to a true legend of American songwriting. John Kruth has tracked the back
story of Townes Van Zandt like a manic bloodhound without spoiling the mystery of the man.”
-- Sam Shepard

“...[a] detail- laden yet very readable book that well might revive Van Zandt’s memory.” --Booklist

About the Author:

John Kruth is a songwriter and musician with eight albums to his credit. He is the author of Bright Moments: The Life and Legacy of Rashaan Roland Kirk. He lives in New York City.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Some upcoming gigs . . .

It's been a while but here's another likely looking night out at the Erskineville Bowlos Club:
. . . and here's Rob Luckey and the Lucky Bastards' gigs for the rest of March:

Thu 8 Mar 2007 8:30 P
Royal Hotel, Leichhardt Sydney

Thu 15 Mar 2007 8:30 P
Royal Hotel, Leichhardt Sydney

Thu 22 Mar 2007 8:30 P
Royal Hotel, Leichhardt Sydney

Sat 24 Mar 2007 9:00 P
Bald Faced Stag, Leichhardt Sydney

Sun 25 Mar 2007 5:30 P
Riverview Hotel, Balmain sydney

Thu 29 Mar 2007 8:30 P
Royal Hotel, Leichhardt Sydney

Hunter & Suzy Owens

Here's the contents of a mail out from Hunter & Suzy:

Howdy Music Lovers...

Well, we are finally getting the music up and going this year...just like Jake and Elwood Blues we are "getting the band back together again" (thanks for the allusion, Brian!) and will be doing a string of monthly gigs beginning this weekend. So sharpen your pencils, get out those diaries and please take note!

Friday 9th March at The Windsor Function and Entertainment Centre (on the corner of Macquarie and Dight Sts, Windsor). We are headlining and will be supported by Tall Timbre. The doors open at 7:30pm and the show kicks off at 8:30pm. Tickets are $20 at the door and $15 for a table of 10 (contact 4577 9399 for info). We know it is a long way to go and expensive for you inner city dwellers, but we are told the venue is a lovely refurbished old building with a great dance is something a bit different for us anyway, and the sound will be done by a dedicated sound person on a big system, so it will be punchier than usual...if you make it, great, otherwise you can catch us the following night...

Saturday 10th March at the Gladstone Hotel, 572 Marrickville Rd, Dulwich Hill, 9pm-midnight. This is now a non-smoking venue with a decent dance floor, all of which suits us just fine! Hope you can make it.

We will be playing both gigs with what we call our "A-team" lineup: Doug Bligh on drums, Jake Lardot on electric guitar, Tomi Graso on pedal steel and, of course, us truly.

We look forward to seeing you at either one or both of these gigs (we know that some of you are truly suckers for punishment!). And one more thing...we have some copies of a new-look, limited release edition of our "Honkytonk Angels" CD...if yours has been lost, stolen, given away, or is just plain worn out, this is your opportunity to get another one of those live recordings, currently very rare. And yeah, yeah, yeah, we know that a new CD is long overdue...we have the songs but not the time...your patience will be rewarded.

Peace and Love to All,
Hunter & Suzy

PS Our blog:

H&S Band info on Gladstone Hotel website:

A reminder that Limpin Jimmy & the Swingin' Kitten's gig guide (out now!) can be accessed either here or via the link at the right of this page.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Dale Watson . . .

. . . is back in town . . .

. . . and playing the Bridge Hotel in Rozelle tonight and tomorrow night (Friday & Saturday). There's a cover charge but this guy is well worth it and remains one of country music's finest troubadours of our times. Don't miss!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I'm sick of death . . .

Yet another death in our music lives. Thorpie went out with a big bang - same as he played his rock music - no doubt just the way he would've liked. Will remember him mostly for all the schmaltzy ballads he sang before he found a new voice and loud, loud music. Never caught him live despite all the opportunities. Never really clicked with all his music but, like many things from the 60s and 70s, he and his music had a huge effect on our society and, sometimes, our personal behaviour (a sorta coming out of Australian music). Rock on Billy Boy!

Billy with the Aztecs (top) and the sorts of crowds he was playing to at Sunbury (bottom) in the early 70s.

Gig Guide:

Limpin Jimmy and the Swingin' Kitten's Gig Guide and Newsletter can be access via the link of that name to the right of your screen under Country Music.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sad times . . .

I can't remember exactly when I first met Steve but it would have to have been at a Sydney music gig. Could've been at The Layabouts, could've been at the Thursday late-night jazz sessions at the Bald Faced Stag Hotel in Leichhardt or it could have been at one of the many jazz or blues gigs in and around Sydney or the Inner West in the 80s. Wherever, it was most certainly at a music venue of some sort. Steve was a rock-solid supporter of Sydney's music scene (especially the Inner West), even to the extent of bank-rolling at least one prominent 80s Sydney band to record what would become a cult hit.

A master of his crafts - carpentry and fitting out of sound and editing studios in the music, television and movie fields, Steve was equally adept at house restorations and was forever in demand in whatever field he chose to follow at the time.

After many years living in Sydney, Steve moved back to Melbourne about five years ago. He had just completed a computer graphic design course when he was tragically diagnosed with a brain tumour. An operation and many months of after-treatments later, Steve never fully regained his full health and eventually succumbed to the lingering effects of the disease on Thursday February 15 2007.

A person who had only good things to say about others and an admirable propensity to help anyone who was down and out, Steve was a jovial bloke who enjoyed his music to the full - as well as a night around a pool or snooker table. Steve was a great and loyal mate for many years.

Travel gently, my friend, and may the music forever be with you.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

It's with deep sadness and a heavy heart I post of the tragic death of one of the true gentlemen of the Australian music industry.

Les Scott passed away after falling ill at his Sydney home on Sunday February 11 2007.

Les was one of the most under-rated musicians in the country music scene and he was sought after by his peers as a guitarist, bass player, back-up vocalist, music producer, sound manager and anything else his serene nature could come up with to help the people he worked, played and lived amongst.

Les was an integral part of country music bands such as Mary Heard's Midwest Obsession and the Murray Hillbillies, among many others. He was also forever willing to fill in and help new and struggling artists find their feet.

Edit: When I realised this was being linked over at the Tamworth Rage Page tribute, I thought I should add some more of my insights into Les the person. Trouble is, Les was such a private person (and unbelievably modest) it's almost impossible to for me to add anything beyond mere speculation and a gut-feeling for his persona. I'm proud to say my private feelings and insights to Les (the person) have all been mirrored by Mary Heard, Leslie Avril, Jason-Lee and Greg Williams on the Rage Page tribute.

These were some of the people who knew and worked closely with him and they have all remarked at the generous warmth and unquestioning friendship Les projected to all who knew him. He was also able to convey a sense of confidence and well-being without opening too many doors on his deepest and most private thoughts.

To have known and admired Les as a true gentleman and an above-average musician is good enough for me.

He will be sadly missed.

"Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of you."

- Bob Dylan

UPDATE Tuesday February 13

Les Scott Memorial Jam

An open invitation to all who knew and loved him to come along and share memories in story and song.

Cooks River Motor Boat Club from 3pm Sunday 25th February

At this stage funeral arrangements are unknown. We will let you know when information becomes available.

Please pass this information on to anyone who may be interested.

Update Thursday 14th - 6.00pm

The funeral arrangements (thanks to Helen Shields):

Dear All,

The details for Les' Funeral are:

Monday 19th February,10.15am

Macquarie Gardens

Cnr Delhi Rd and Plassey Roads

North Ryde

(the entrance is opposite the Channel 10 Studios - see map - it's slightly left of the centre circle)

Please check the Sydney Morning Herald for details.

A small photographic tribute to Les playing with the Murray Hillbillies and various guests

(Photo courtesy Mary Heard)

(Photo courtesy Brian Robson)

There's also a wonderful and daily-expanding Les Scott Tribute over at the Tamworth Rage Page

The Funeral Service:

A large crowd of family, friends and fellow musicians gathered at the Macquarie Gardens for Les' funeral service on Monday morning. Appropriately, there were many familiar faces from the local and national country music scene. His workmates also gathered in strength to pay their respects. The below images are from a wonderful memorial programme of the service made up by David and Jack with help from Marie. We thank them for their thoughtfulness in providing this memento of our beloved Les. Unfortunately there were just not enough for every attendee (such was the crowd) so, hopefully, my sloppy scanning and small images (Blogger's fault!) will go some way in showing how the service was presented. If anyone would like full-scale scans at higher resolutions, please send an email address to

Most of the mourning party then moved across to the Ryde RSL Club where a few beverages of choice helped to lighten what was an intensely sad morning. Stories and yarns were flowing hard and fast and it was surprising to find just how little we knew about the unassuming character who played in so many bands and who was party to many a fine jam and witness to some shenanigans which will be better relayed by one of Les' oldest friends from Port Moresby and Townsville, Neville. I do hope Neville follows up with his promised composition of favourite Les times in his very young days when guitars had just begun to play an important part of Les' life. More later.

PS: The above is a very telling picture of the man most of us didn't know.

The Memorial Jam:

An overcast Sydney Sunday afternoon certainly didn't deter a couple of hundred of Les' family, friends and fellow musicians from turning out for what became more than just a memorial jam at the Cook's River Motor Boat Club. First, mention must be made of the organisers of the afternoon, Gary Brown, Mary Heard, Mary-Anne Burton, Dave Hibberd and Dave's fiancee. There may have been many others but the above appeared to be the up-front crew. And let's not forget the sound man and the staff of the CRMBC. It was an almost perfect memorial/wake to a beloved musician mate - relaxed, friendly, sincere and more. Thank you all!

Unfortunately, I missed the first set by Mary Heard, Mary -Anne Burton and Gary Brown, whose grief must have been doubled by the fact that Sunday should have been the debut of their new group, Quite Contrary, which would have included Les as guitarist and musical mentor. I believe it may have also been the launch of their first CD which Les appeared on and also produced (along with Gary Brown), although the CD may have been rushed along so that Les' many friends could go away with a CD on which his musical and vocal talents were clearly evident.

There had also been a couple of oral tributes to Les from some old pals from his Port Moresby and Townsville days. My disappointment was soon relieved when Rob Luckey and his Lucky Bastards stepped on the gas with some stirring honky tonk songs. Contentment turned to delight when the marvellous Ms Leslie Avril joined the band on stage for a couple of numbers, including a heartfelt I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You duet with Rob. It was feared Leslie wouldn't be able to be at the jam after she returned to Melbourne late last week after spending several days in Sydney following Les' funeral. But, like the true trouper she really and emphatically is, she flew back into Sydney on the weekend in time to share the stage and friendships triggered by the loss of her soulmate, Les.

The crowd included a who's who of Sydney's country music scene and it would be silly for me to think I could remember everyone who either appeared on stage or on the floor enjoying the jam but, apart from those mentioned above, some who made the stage were a new band on the block, Size Does Matter(?), Bryen Willems' band and crew, including Nicki Gillis. Buddy from the Cartwrights, Phil Coulson, Kitty Adams, Big Bob and Murray Hill. There were cameo appearances from many others along the way, all with a story to tell of Les and his passion for music. Some of Les' fellow musicians made up the backing bands for the afternoon and included Jeff Mercer, Phil Coulson, Phil Cole on guitars; Bronny Stephens and "Smithy" on bass; Nick Summers on steel, Doug Bligh and Phil Skelton on drums and many, many more whose contributions were fully appreciated, even if this ol' brain can't remember their names two days later!!

I do remember watching in surprise as a former partner of Les sang a country song - most of us didn't know about that side of Les' life, such was the modesty of the man and his desire to keep separate his completely disparate lifestyles. For instance, it seems the majority of Les' workmates in the public service had no idea he was such a loved and talented musician. They knew he headed off to Tamworth every year but didn't realise his total commitment to and involvement in his many bands and projects. And many of us music bods always thought Les made a living as a full-time muso - go figure!!

The highlight of the day came almost at the end of the evening when Mary Heard, Mary Anne Burton and Gary Brown took to the stage and started a most mournful rendition of the Stanley Brothers' Angel of Death. If the song itself wasn't enough to bring a tear to the eyes of everyone in the room, the surprise inclusion of Les singing a taped verse certainly did - a most eerie feeling indeed! It was, on reflection, a fitting way to start Les' memory on its long and lonesome journey with everybody feeling his strong spiritual presence but knowing this was the final spiritual act. The last song I heard was, appropriately, A Closer Walk With Thee from Bryen Willems and his band (which was another band Les played an integral part in).

I think I can say on behalf of all the non-musician friends of Les Scott his musical mates put on a memorial jam that will linger forever in all our minds. All who took part should be proud they put together such a fitting salute to a good mate as his spirit ventured into another life. Congratulations to you all!

This was an event which maybe should have been videoed - or at least taped such was the extent of the turnout of musicians which may not happen in Sydney again. Unfortunately it wasn't and this contributor also forgot to take spare batteries for his camera and has not ONE photograph for the archives. I believe both Wendy Broome and Brian Robson (Edit: Fourteen of Brian's pics are now viewable here. Brian apologises for there being so few. His camera decided to have a hissy-fit and threw most of his shots out of focus) took a heap of photos so I guess they'll all appear over at the Tamworth Rage Page Les Scott Tribute sooner or later. (Helen, if you're listening, I'd love to publish that photo you took at the end of the night if you could email it over. R.).

In conclusion, a witty comment from Mary Anne Burton at the end of the evening (a quote spread, I believe, by the inimitable Helen Shields) ". . . the the irony of the whole shebang was all of us trying to be happy and celebrate Les' life by singing a whole lot of sad country songs!"

Too true. But perfect for the occasion.

Keep on pickin' Les.

Limpin' Jimmy & the Swingin' Kitten's Gig Guide and Newsletter can be accessed via the music link on the right of this page.

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