Top Tens for 2021: Melbourne musician Penny Ikinger
Adalita - Melbourne Town Hall
Adalita performed in the magnificent space of the Melbourne Town Hall, with J.P. Shilo playing the four storey-high Grand Organ. They were accompanied at various stages by Adalita's band, plus backing vocalists Charm of Finches and The Letter String Quartet. Adalita's emotive and well-crafted songs were driven home by her powerful guitar playing and the brooding sound of the swirling organ. A contender for one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen in my life.
Ed Kuepper and Jim White - Rising Festival
Ed Kuepper and Jim White opened the ill-fated Rising Festival in Melbourne at the Comedy Theatre and what a show it was. It felt pretty exciting to be at a gig in another iconic building. There was also an element of fear - in this seated though crowded space, was I going to get out of there virus free? All in the name of rock ’n' roll!!!
The Rising Festival had an eclectic, artistically challenging and ambitious programme of events but unfortunately was closed down on the second day due to you-know-what. Another one bites the dust.
Liz Reed photo
Claire Birchall "Running In Slow Motion" album launch at The Old Bar, Melbourne with Kim Salmon and myself as supports.
Breathtaking solo performances from both Claire and Kim, who played nylon string guitar on some songs and, boy, did it sound beautiful! It’s never easy to pull off a solo performance and both acts commanded the full attention of the onlookers.
Smash It Up live event at P.O.M.E. Richmond, Melbourne.
Matty Munster and Co. interviewed the known and lesser known of Melbourne's music and arts scene, often with a few surprises in store. It was a real treat to be privy to their prying and teasing out of fact from fiction, not to mention the close up and intimate performances of the guest artists.
They really helped get me through Melbourne’s lockdowns. Some fabulous shows were performed by Stewie Cunningham (Leadfinger); and Dave Graney and Clare Moore who clocked up in excess of one hundred livestreams in 2021. The performances and on-line banter of both acts made my world a bigger, better and brighter place.
“My Rock ’n’ Roll Friend” by Tracey Thorn
A candid account of the unconventional Go-Betweens drummer Lindy Morrison's life in music and beyond. It’s also a tale of the friendship between Lindy and the author Tracey Thorn, who was also the singer /song writer from Everything But The Girl (U.K.). This book is so beautifully written it is hard to put down. It’s an important addition to the conversation about Australian music history, a story so often told from a male perspective, as it fills in many of the missing gaps. In the Go-Betweens' era no route had been established for female musicians in Australia, so Lindy was a trailblazer in this regard. This is a story that needed to be told.
“In My Own Time” – the story of Karen Dalton
A portrait of the unique blues and folk singer Karen Dalton, who performed in the 1960s in Greenwich Village, New York. Struggling with depression, addiction and poverty she still managed to leave behind a rich and unique musical legacy. A glimpse into the world of a poetic outsider.
"I Am a Cliché" – the story of Poly Styrene
Fascinating look into the life of X-Ray Spex singer and song writer Poly Styrene. The Anglo-Somali punk singer was also a key inspiration for the riot grrrl and Afropunk movements. A true individualist & rebel, she forged a new path for women and for people of mixed race. Like Karen Dalton, her life was tumultuous and short lived, but her music lives on.
Yassville Skyline, Yass FM
Listening to the radio was a real game changer for me during the extensive Melbourne lockdowns. We are spoilt in Melbourne with Triple R, PBS and 3CR radio as they deliver some awesome programs. Tuning in to Yass FM on Saturday nights was an unexpected but rewarding turn of events. Thanks to Yassville Skyline for their dedication to the rock ’n’ roll cause.
Hard Ons - "Lite As A Feather”
I love the song and I love the controversy it generated.
Raising Ravens - “Malaise”
A classic rock Anthem.
Ron Peno and the Superstitions - "Everything Has Changed”
Another soulful and elegant lesson in how to mature gracefully in the world of pop music.
Jupiter 5 - "H - Bomb”
It’s a hit!
Leadfinger - “Nobody Knows”
A classy affair!
Amyl and the Sniffers - “Security”.
They keep nailing it, again…and again…
The On and Ons - “Vanishing Act”
Oh, so cool and catchy!
Grindhouse - " Do It All The Time"
Stooges-infused irreverence at its best.
Matt Walker - "Head Up High"
Exotic, evocative, dream pop.
Mallcolm Hill - "Robin Bird "
Cute 'n' quirky.
So that’s my Top Ten for 2021...
As for me, I released a cover of The Saints song "(I’m) Stranded", which is out now as part of Kirsten Krauth's "Almost a Mirror" podcast soundtrack. I was joined by engineer/producer Richard Andrew (Underground Lovers, Black Cab etc) on drums, percussion, bass, keyboard. Yours truly on vocals & guitars. I took a few artistic liberties with my interpretation of this classic Australian punk rock anthem. You can download it here if you feel like contributing to the cause.
The "Almost A Mirror” podcast features interviews with Chris Bailey and Ed Kuepper plus Tex Perkins, Jeffrey Wegener, Jim Dickson and Ursula Collie Medew, Jodi Adams and Phil Stafford, amongst others. Listen here.
Epic Brass - "Live At The Gershwin Room"
Recorded live in the Esplanade Hotel's Gershwin Room in March 2021. to an actual room full of people, Jack Howard and his band Epic Brass played a classic bunch of great Aussie horn tunes. I sang on a couple of songs backed by this mighty band and played guitar on The Birthday Party’s “Nick The Stripper” with Tex Perkins on vocals and Mick Harvey on guitar. You can listen here.
Sacred Cowboys - "Cold Harvest"
Another 2021 release kicked off online - the fourth Sacred Cowboys album "Cold Harvest". 'Things to Come', was the original title of this album. It was released in July 1996 by Shock Records and was also released on Bang! Records. It’s a fabulous album in so many ways. "Cold Harvest" was re-released on Spotify, iTunes and almost everywhere else. The line up on 'Cold Harvest" is Garry Gray, Mark Ferrie, Terry Doolan, Stephan Fidock, Spencer P Jones, Nick Riscbieth and myself. Stream it here.
Towards the end of 2021, I was appointed a Director of the Board of Music Victoria, so 2022 is already shaping up to be an interesting year ahead for me. Music Victoria have been introducing some important initiatives on behalf of the music community. I am looking forward to advocating on behalf of the musicians in Victoria. There would be no music industry without the musicians!
Sadly, French music journalist and radio presenter Vincent Hanon passed away in 2021, after a long battle with cancer. He was a dear friend and a huge supporter of Australian music and will be sorely missed all over the world. Vincent was a music journalist for French magazine ‘Rock & Folk’ and was one of the presenters on the Sonic Trip radio program on Aligre FM (Paris). He was also a regular co-host with Pauly P and Nereaders Digest on Livewire, Triple R radio (Melbourne).
The ultra- talented singer, song writer and visual artist Anita Lane unfortunately passed away in 2021. She was possibly one of the most brilliant artistic souls I have ever crossed paths with. A true original!
The ingenious guitarist John Nolan from The Powder Monkeys, Bored!, Hoss, Spencer P. Jones & The Escape Committee, and more recently, the Powerline Sneakers, also left this mortal coil. As did the powerhouse drummer extraordinaire, raconteur and loveable rogue, Tony Pola. Tony played in The Beasts of Bourbon and with Kim Salmon and the Surrealists. I would have seen both bands countless times and consider them to be up there with the greatest rock bands in the world.
Never take for granted our own unique Australian rock sound and the musicians who create it. Nor should we take for granted those who support our world of music in any which way they can.
That means YOU! Thank you! Let’s dream big in 2022!