tony pola - The I-94 Bar
The Gov, Adelaide
March 17, 2019
Photos by Alison Lea
It's the last night of the Adelaide Festival and the city centre is abandoned to the tourists, and no doubt some "end of festival" official shindig, doubtless adding anodyne "vibrancy" (one of Adelaide City Council's favourite buzzwords) to the joint.
Meanwhile, Adelaide's finest and most intelligent people are voting with their wallets and pile into the Gov, many having come from miles around. One bloke is here with his wife from Kangaroo Island (more expensive than a trip to Melbourne or Sydney); another bloke flew 300 miles to arrive at 4pm, with a return flight at 8am. There are many happy drunks.
Tonight was the most beautiful gig I've seen in years, if not ever. I cannot remember a more wonderful, cathartic experience.
Croxton Park Hotel, Thornbury, VIC
Saturday, February 23, 2019
I’m pretty sure Spencer Jones is the only member of the Beasts of Bourbon, past or present to have played the Croxton Park Hotel, back in ita heyday. That would have been in 1982, when Spencer was playing guitar in the psychedelic cabaret troupe North 2 Alaskans.
Back in those days The Croxton – ‘the Croc’, to its more familiar patrons – was a bastion of the suburban beer barn circuit. AC/DC played there back in the day, Rose Tattoo, The Angels, Chisel, all the Oz pub rock greats.
The Alaskans didn’t really fit in with the pub rock crowd, but they were as funny as a fit, and damn good musicians too. The Alaskans were, in hindsight at least, a link in the chain that led to the formation of the Beasts of Bourbon.
All photois: Greg Walsh.
Let's start with a jovial reminder of who, Tony Pola, the man really was, in his own words. From one of his social media messages:
PC "culture" is a cancer to freedom of expression.
In the real world, Tony recently died. I believe he was 58. Six years ago he fell off his pushbike and broke a few ribs.
In mediaworld, Britain's Queen's Personal Comedian has also died, aged 99. Two years ago he came out from a local laneway and biffed into a car with two women, causing them "minor injuries".
In April 2007 I sat opposite Spencer Jones and Greg ‘Tex’ Perkins in a booth downstairs at the Prince of Wales Hotel in St Kilda. The occasion was an interview to promote the release of the Beasts of Bourbon’s first studio album in 10 years, "Little Animals". Having recently arrived back from a short tour of the United States, Spencer and Perkins were weary from the long-haul flight.
Perkins was in Beasts mode – cocky, enigmatic, and just prickly enough to remind you who was the tough guy here. Spencer was, as he always was, just Spencer – the cowboy hat, a faint smile, and a reassuring honesty that defied his decades of service in the duplicitous, ego-obsessed world of rock’n’roll.
A fraught fraternal atmosphere hung over the interview. Spencer and Perkins had been friends, band mates, fellow reprobates and occasional antagonists for the past 25 years. They were like brothers, Perkins once mused, and like brothers they loved and fought. And Spencer and Perkins were the only remaining links to the genesis of the Beasts of Bourbon, an irreverent make-shift band thrown together to fulfil Perkins’ gig commitments at the Southern Cross Hotel, way back in June 1983.
Boris Sujdovic, Tony Pola, Kim Salmon, Tex Perkins and Charlie Owen are The Beasts.
The Beasts of Bourbon formed, somewhat by accident, in 1984. If you were 12 today, would you really be inclined to take the trouble to listen to something recorded by a bunch of blokes who started back then?
Well, the hell with your boring old 12-year-old self. The new album by the Beasts of Bourbon's direct descendants, The Beasts, is called "Still Here" and it rates seven (if not eight) bottles (out of five) in my books. It's really simple: "Still Here" is essential if, as you claim, you're a Beasts of Bourbon fan, or if you think of yourself as someone who loves rock'n'roll.
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.
Tony Pola - drummer for Beasts of Bourbon, The Beasts and Kim Salmon and the Surrealists - passed away over the Easter weekend. His wife Katherine Pola made the announcement via a Facebook post.
The West Australian-based drummer (pictured far right with The Surrealists), with bass player, the late Brian Hooper, and Kim Salmon had a reputation as one of Australian music’s most irascible and eccentric characters. He was a founding member of The Surrealists, as well as drummer on the Beasts of Bourbon’s “breakthrough” classic, “The Low Road”.
Bandmate Kim Salmon has launched a GoFundMe campaign to cover the costs of Tony’s funeral. You can make a contribution here. Kim also posted a tribute online: