spencer p jones - The I-94 Bar

A night to remember as mates rally in Melbourne for Spencer P Jones

spencer poster smSpencer P Jones is a legend of the Australian music scene.

Spencer P Jones is a damn fine axeman. 

Spencer P Jones is loved by all the countless bandmates, scattered across the globe.

Spencer P Jones is a mighty fine songwriter. 

Spencer P Jones is loved by all his mates, full stop.

Spencer P Jones is also really unwell.

That's why his mates have gotten together in Melbourne to help him. 

Appeal launched as Spencer P Jones fights on

spencer p jones 7Spencer with The Escape Committee. Richard Sharman photo.

An emergency GoFundMe account has been opened for legendary Australian guitarist and songwriter Spencer P Jones as he continues his fight against terminal liver cancer. 

Spencer's longtime partner Angie has had to take a cut in her working hours in her day job to care for Spencer and the couple are finding it hard to make ends meet. Donations can be made here. More info in our story here.

Bandmates rally to help a seriously ill Spencer P. Jones

spencer benefitLiving legend Spencer P Jones is seriously ill and in need of your support. 

The storied veteran of bands like the Beasts of Bourbon, The Johnnys and many of his own outfits is under medical care and currently unable to work.

Mates James Baker and Tex Perkins have arranged benefit shows in Fremantle (March 20) and Melbourne (April 15) respectively. UPDATE: A GoFundMe account has been opened here for anyone unable to make the gigs.

Dave Faulkner (Hoodoo Gurus), KISStake, The Painkillers, Beautiful Losers, Midfield Legends (featuring members of the Bad Seeds and The Triffids, Soulfisters, Maurice Flavels Intensive Care and more will play the Fremantle show at Mojo’s.

The Drones, Paul Kelly, Tex Perkins and Charlie Owen, Adalita, Renee Geyer, Two Am I, The Pink Tiles and mystery guests head the Melbourne line-up at the Prince of Wales Hotel in St Kilda.

A silent auction will operate in conjunction with the WA gig

Fremantle benefit Facebook event

BARFLY TOP TEN: James McCann of James McCann and the New Vindictives

james mccann emmy etie2018? This year all blurs into one for me , like being a passenger down the river with the occasional stop off to play, talk, refuel and get back on and cruise.

The cruise hasn't been steady, it's been rocky. More than any other time - or for some time.

The boat feels like it lost i's rudder and all the Generals on the field are nowhere to be seen; what would they say, what would they want us to do? I think we all know the answer to that.

So, here is my attempt to make neither head nor tail of the year 2018 so far...

BARFLY TOP TEN: Melbourne music scribe Patrick Emery

patrick 2018Spencer P Jones. Spencer’s untimely and tragically premature passing was a lowlight of 2018. The only silver lining was the outpouring of love for the man, his music and his unbridled generosity. There will never be another like Spencer.

Beasts of Bourbon, Prince of Wales. Has there ever been a more emotional gig? Brian Hooper wheeled onto stage by nurses from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, plumes of smoke emanating from his oxygen mask. Spencer Jones, frail but determined to accompany his fellow Beast on stage for one last time. It was as sloppy as the Beasts once were, way back in the day. But it was beautiful.

Brian Hooper - "What Would I Know?" Recorded at Andrew McGee’s Empty Room property-cum-recording in Nagambie, Hooper’s reaction to the initial recording sessions was scathing. “It’s all shit,” he told me one day. But McGee saw enough in the recording to convince Hooper otherwise. A mixture of love, passion, pathos, self-loathing, resilience and gusto, this is a record brimming with emotional depth and musical complexity. RIP, Brian.

Jackson Briggs and the Heaters. James McCann put me onto these guys. Grinding country rock jams that should go on forever. They’ve got a new album out. Listen to it. Enjoy. Repeat.

The Breeders, Forum Theatre. It had been almost 25 years since I first saw The Breeders, at the Big Day Out in Adelaide, February 1994. On a Sunday night at the Forum Theatre The Breeders proved their every bit as vital as they were back in the day. I could listen to that riff in ‘I Just Wanna Get Along’ anytime.

BARFLY TOP TEN: Melbourne's most avid gig goer Mark Ireland

mark ireland 2018I've been to more than 140 gigs this year and the Tote is like an old high school friend you knew back in the day, who you catch up with at the 20-year reunion to find nothing has changed at all.

I've seen more gigs at my stomping ground, the Tote,  than any other venue, so here's all the awesome gigs I've seen there this year:

Chris Russell is a lone man and his guitar. He has one hell of a swampy voice - like he's been hit in the side of the head with a lump of Mississippi mud

FLUFF - killer trio that pins the crowd down with a riff and continues to wail in their face 

RVG - awesome post punk band, with an incredible singer in Romy Vager.

Heavy and Hammered. The yearly metal and punk festival put on by Melbourne community radio station PBS.

Little Desert: Roman Tucker from Rocket Science on Keyboards playing with an mix of Jefferson Airplane and Desert stoner rock 

Spencer P Jones tribute gig: The legend that is Spencer P Jones passed away this year and a whole bunch of close mates had a two-day bender and tribute gig for their mate. Kim Salmon, River of Snakes, Digger and the Pussycats all put on killer sets.

Collaborators and friends give Brian Hooper's posthumous album a St KIlda welcome

brian hooper charlie marshallIt was the sort of rock’n’roll crowd you would have expected to find in St Kilda. Weathered old punks, redoubtable rock dogs, wandering spirits from a bygone era. Lots of black, some punk rock bling, a room full of fading memories of lost nights and wasted days.

And so much love. Love for rock’n’roll, and love for the late Brian Hooper, whose new album, "What Would I Know?" was being launched, with a cast of his loyal friends and rock’n’roll family.

The obligatory "I missed the opening act" apology: It’s a long hike across town by public transport, especially when there’s a connecting bike ride in there as well. The fact that my household was engrossed in a compelling episode of "Peaky Blinders" rendered it inappropriate for me to spirit out of the place in time to see Joel Silbersher and Charlie Owen revive their Tendrils project.

Serendipitously, but sadly, the last time Tendrils appeared on stage was at Brian’s fundraising gig. Everyone I spoke to said it was, as always, memorable. Hopefully next time Tendrils play it will be free from the spectre of tragedy.

Fuzz it up for Spencer

axemans fuzzBrisbane’s leading luthier and musical equipment emporium, Tym Guitars, is getting behind fund-raising for the ailing Spencer P. Jones by launching a limited edition fuzz pedal.

A whopping $200 of the $250 price for The Axeman’s Fuzz pedals will go to Spence, who is battling a chronic health condition and is unable to work.

You can pick up one of these monsters via Tym Guitars website.

The musically-challenged of us who can’t use a guitar pedal very well can make a donation at this GoFundMe site.

He Gets Up Again

brian and the angelsBrian Henry Hooper being attended to by his angels, his nurses. Carbie Warbie photo.

Four weeks ago Brian Hooper lay in intensive care, surrounded by family and his closest friends. The tumour doctors had found on Hooper’s lung just before Christmas was preventing Hooper from breathing without medical and mechanical assistance. Specialists suggested the even Hooper’s short-term survival was in the realm of miracles.

It wasn’t the first time Brian Henry Hooper had been told to fear the worst. Just over 14 years ago Hooper was told by specialists he may never walk again, after the balcony he was standing on at a gathering in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula collapsed, sending Hooper crashing to the ground, his back mangled from the fall.

Over the next 12 months, Hooper pulled himself back from the edge of permanent paralysis. Hooper’s resilience and psychological strength astounded all around him. In late 2004 Hooper limped back on stage with the Beasts of Bourbon for a gig at the Greyhound Hotel. Towards the end of the set, his battered spine unable to withstand the trauma of standing any longer, Hooper lay on the ground. His bandmates, save for Tony Pola on drums, followed suit, three battle-hardened rockers lying prostrate on the stage in sympathy for their comrade-in-arms.

Still living, The Beasts emerge with an album and a tour

beasts still living

After an extremely emotional final performance with the Beasts of Bourbon, Tex Perkins hit upon the idea of getting all of the band’s members, past and present into a recording studio with no particular agenda other than to do just that.

It was more of a celebratory thing he had in mind than anything. Sadly, bassist Brian Hooper didn’t make it along as he passed away a week after the Beasts’ last show.

Assembled in Melbourne's Soundpark Studio a couple of weeks later were, Charlie Owen, Boris Sujdovic, Tony Pola, Spencer Jones, Kim Salmon and Tex Perkins. They were unprepared, save for some some sketchy ideas, loose ends and a couple of covers. With limited time the band knocked together a collection of jams pretty much true to the crazy modus operandi employed back when “The Axeman’s Jazz” got laid down in that fateful eight-hour session in 1983.

Sydney to turn it on for Spencer

SpencerPJonesByCarbieWarbieSydney’s music community is rallying to get behind much-loved rocker Spencer P Jones in an hour of need.

Spencer is battling serious illness and fund-raisers have been popping up all over Australia. Sydney is responding with its own show, The Axeman’s Benefit, on Friday, June 24 at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville.

Died Pretty is headlining a heavyweight bill which will include Spencer’s old band The Johnnys (with guest vocalists), the Hoodoo Gurus (playing a mini-set), home-grown garage up-starts Straight Arrows and psych-punk veterans Young Docteurs.  The Johnnys will close the night.

The killer line-up will be augmented by a bevy of guest musicians including Jim Moginie (Midnight Oil), Simon Day (Ratcat), Jack Ladder, Murray Cook, MC Anthony Morgan, Jason Walker, Peter Fenton (Crow) and Kane Dyson (Spurs For Jesus.) FBi’s Jack Shit will be lending his DJ talents.

All of the acts have played alongside or recorded with Spencer in some capacity.  Died Pretty is fresh from a summer of sold-out A Day On The Green and club shows and is re-convening especially for Spencer.

Although his career has been mainly under the mainstream music radar, Spencer P Jones has been a tremendously influential figure in Australia.

Arriving in Australia from New Zealand in 1976, Spencer came to prominence with hard-drinking cowpunks the Johnnys and then inner-Sydney swamp supergroup the Beasts of Bourbon, he’s also played with the Gun Club, Renee Geyer, Chris Bailey, Rowland S Howard, Nick Cave and Paul Kelly.

In recent years he’s been recording and playing with his own solo bands as well as members of The Scientists and The Drones.

Tickets for The Axeman’s Benefit went on sale last  night and are here. A substantial number have gone already so don't delay.

The richest of musical lives that enriched ours

spj square carbieSPENCER P. JONES
1956-2018

In "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", Robert Pirsig interrogates the very nature of quality through the lens of motor mechanics. Care and Quality are internal and external aspects of the same thing. A person who sees Quality and feels it as he works is a person who cares. A person who cares about what he sees and does is a person who’s bound to have some characteristic of quality.

Spencer Jones knew a thing or two about quality - especially musical quality. Born in 1956, the Year of Elvis, Spencer wanted to be a working musician as long as he could remember. Spencer’s family moved from the regional town of Te Awamutu to Auckland in 1965, the same year the British invasion swept through New Zealand, with tours by The Rolling Stones and, infamously, The Pretty Things.

Spencer’s grandfather was a gifted musician; his mother, too, was born with a natural ear. Recognising Spencer’s musical abilities, Spencer’s elder brother Ashley recommended his parents buy Spencer a guitar.

Carbie Warbie photo

Tombstone N Bones - Chicken Snake (Beast Records)

tombstone n bluesWe were in a diner eating breakfast in downtown New Orleans about 25 years ago, labouring through the aptly-named "Hungry Man’s Special" (eggs, toast, links, bacon, and enough salt to saturate the Mississippi Delta), when a couple of locals at an adjacent table heard our accents and started up a conversation.

“Where y’all from?” they asked. Geo-cultural introductions completed, the discussion strayed onto the social, economic and political idiosyncrasies of New Orleans.

“Y’all know why the roads are all so bad ‘round here,” we were asked rhetorically. “It’s ‘cause Washington said we couldn’t have any money for roads until we raised the drinking age to 21! So we said ‘Fuck you! We’d rather have our beer than decent roads!”

Tragic news as Spencer P Jones wrestles "inoperable" cancer

Spencer Jones by by Steve FordMuch-loved Australian rocker Spencer P Jones is terminally ill and may have months to live.

Spencer’s wife, Angie, confirmed the news on Facebook about 5.30 this afternoon. In a statement, she wrote:

First of all Spencer & myself would like to thank everyone in the community for all the love & support since Spencer was struck down with illness in 2015, rendering him unable to pursue his creative musical career.

For the past two years, we have been under the wing of the wonderful peeps at Royal Melbourne Hospital. Unfortunately after another scan in March this year the doctors found a cancer tumour in Spencer's liver. 

In short , as a result Spencer has now been diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer.

Rumours that Spencer’s health had hit a new hurdle had been circulating for weeks. His Beasts of Bourbon bandmate, Brian Henry Hooper, passed away on April 20, just days after a benefit show for him while he fought cancer. 

Vale Spencer P, Jones, Australian music legend

spencer by carbieAustralian musical legend Spencer P Jones has passed away in Melbourne following a long fight against cancer.

The news broke tonight with outpourinfs of grief breaking out all over social media. Spencer is survived by his wife, Angie. 

A member of Beasts of Bourbon, The Johnnys, Paul Kelly and The Coloured Girls, Hell To Pay, Chris Bailey and The General Dog, Maurice Frawley and The Working Class Ringos, and Sacred Cowboys and a solo artist with 10 albums to his own name. Spencer was one of the Australian underground music scenes's leading lights.

Born in Te Awamutu, New Zealand, in 1956, Spencer moved to Melbourne in the mid-'70s and played with Cuban Heels among others before a shift to Sydney where he joined cow punks The Johnnys.

Carbie Warbie Photo

When giants strode the earth: Gun Club at the Strawberry Hills in 1983

jeffrey leeCelibate Rifles singer Damien Lovelock once said to me that the Sydney music scene between 1978 and 1985 was as strong as anywhere in world, at any time.

When a city’s musically on fire, it becomes the rock capital of the world…especially for the people that live there. It could been New York City in the mid-’70s, London in 1966 or San Francisco in the late ’60s. Sydney was right up there with them.

I remember I was out seeing bands every night of week. It could be every Wednesday with the Triffids’ residency at the Strawberry Hills Hotel, upstairs at the Trade Union Club for the Laughing Clowns, or some punk band down at French’s Tavern. You could finish with Paris Green at 3am in Kings Cross.

There were so many gigs that stood out: the Birthday Party, Scientists and X at the University of NSW Roundhouse, the amazing New Year’s Eve gig with the Celibate Rifles at the Trade Union…and The Gun Club at the Southern Cross, later re-named the Strawberry Hills Hotel.

The Strawberry Hills Hotel in Surry Hills was OUR pub. We were still aged in our late teens and we virtually lived there. There was cheap (or feree) beer and amazing music every night of week. I actually lived in a cheap shared house, a few blocks down the road.

One night in 1983, the publican told me to turn up on Monday. He said that “a Yankee band, The Gun Club, are playing.”

Yesterday's Town - Suzie Stapleton (self released)

Yesterdaystown"Yesterday’s Town" is huge. You think you know where she’s going, but she doesn’t take you there. The lyrics are like a stripped-back novella. Suzie really nails the slow/uptempo dynamic with her romantic guitar and sweet and smoky (by turns) voice.

Suzie’s been going about her career the right way (photos, film clips  bios and downloads here.). She's moved from Melbourne to London and is building a profile. Her production on "Yesterday’s Town" is superb, and the song itself begs for mainstream airplay, and I can only assume the majors are scampering with intent toward her right now.