johnny casino - The I-94 Bar
Penny onstage with Dimi Dero, Vinz Gulluliy and Johnny Casino at Andoaingo Rock Jaialdia in Basque Country.
In no particular order:
1. GUITAR WOLF (Japan) and Mach Pelican at The Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne
Ah! Guitar Wolf! Boy, can these guys fly! Liberating and exhilarating to listen to and watch. Every now and then I go to a gig and get a guitar lesson for the price of the entrance fee! This is the second time I have seen these guys, and there I was, right up the front again, with my comrade in arms, Julian Wu, protector of rock ’n’ roll women in volatile crowds.
2. CHARLIE OWEN at The State Library of Victoria, Melbourne
Charlie melded instruments - electronic, electric and acoustic - in a way only Charlie knows how. Situated in the Reading Room of the State Library of Victoria, a tremendous building built in the gold rush era of the 1850s, the setting was opulent and reverential. Charlie had his very own pulpit/stage so to speak and kept us spellbound for an hour or so.
Adiso Amigo: Johnny Casino is moving with his wife to Spain and there are just three chances for Australian fans to say goodbye.
The longtime solo artist and former guitarist for Asteroid B612 is playing send-off shows with his interchangeable band, The Secrets, in Sydney and Melbourne.
April 8 finds him at Newtown Social Club with The Secrets (Mark Horne and Ben Fox) and sharing a stage with touring Spanish party band Los Chicos.
On April 12 he’ll be in solo mode from 5-7pm followed by a Secrets bracket (Michael Evand and James Saunders) at The Labour In Vain in Melbourne.
Johnny’s final stand is Sunday, May 10 and a solo show at The Midnight Special in Enmore, Newtown from 6pm.
The Downtown 3 are (from left) Carrie Phillis, Craig Jackson, Scott Nash and Johnny Casino. Emmy Etie photo.
During some lean times for rock and roll in Sydney, two staples of the live scene have been Johnny Casino & The Secrets and the Booby Traps. Casino (aka John Spittles) is a guitar toting veteran of hard-hitters Asteroid B612 and a variety of bands also much of his own making, The Secrets being the most durable (and essentially a two city collective with bases in Sydney and Melbourne) playing rootsy but righteous rock. The Booby Traps were a wonderful collision of fuzzy garage pop and girl group pizzaz, fronted by fetching songstress Carrie Phillis.
He’s been out of sight but not out of mind since quitting Australia for love and moving to Spain, but Johnny Casino has been busy. On March 1 he notched up a birthday and launched a new album, “Time and Time Again” on LP and CD.
The album was recorded in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, Gandia and Els Poblets, Spain and was mixed in Spain and London, England, starting its life more than four years ago.
Instead of condensing the recording sessions into days or weeks at a time, Johnny was more content to simply only record when the moment or the feel of each song was right. That’s why the record was recorded in five different cities in three different countries.
The star-studded crew playing on the album includes Carrie Phillis (Boobytraps), Adam Pringle, Stew Cunningham (Leadfinger), Jodi Phillis (The Clouds) and Warren Hall (The Drones, Datura4, The Volcanics) as well as Spaniards Julain Marco, Isidro Rubio and Actor Ochoa.
The blurb says: “ ‘Time and time again’ is equal parts dangerous rock´n´roll, homespun rich melodies and sweeping cinematic views and was recorded with a roving cast of Johnny's musical brothers and sisters.In Johnny's words,” No reason to doubt it, but listen for yourself (and buy) at Bandcamp.
Recorded in fits and spurts across four years and multiple countries, “Time and Time Again” had a drawn-out, trans-national gestation and birth. That’s fitting because it’s an album with a spirit that doesn’t need a visa to work in any place that’s receptive to spirited, heartfelt rock and roll.
It’s been said before but bears repetition: Johnny Casino’s been a moderately well-kept secret in his birth country of Australia since he struck out under his own name in the ‘90s. With Easy Action and then The Secrets - the former a US-spawned crew, the latter a rotating cast of members in various Aussie state capital cities - he’s built a formidable body of work without bothering mainstream taste arbiters.
Johnny Casino albums are a treat for the converted and a revelation for those less fortunate. If you’re one of the latter, “Trade Winds” is as good a place as any to start.
It’s been way too long between records for Johnny - both this album and its predecessor "Time and Time Again" are old recordings woodshedded for later release - but well worth the wait. The big fella from Sydney’s Northern Beaches makes Spain his home these days, where he plies his dual trades of tattooing and playing music.
“Trade Winds” was recorded before he emigrated a couple of years ago with a crack band in North Fremantle, Western Australia. Drummer Warren Hall (The Volcanics, Datura 4, The Drones), a longtime Casino sideman, joined with Martyn P Casey (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds /The Triffids/Grinderman) played bass. That’s as fine an engine room as you’ll find.