CELIA CURTISVocalist for White Knuckle Fever and Stone Cold FoxSydney, NSW, AustraliaCelia Curtis’s Top20 of 2020!
The gigging landscape undulated wildly in 2020 but it was by no means barren. The absence of the annual stagger to (and from) River Rocks Festival in Geelong definitely stung a bit, but there were some corker live gigs and streams in 2020. Here are some of my favourites I was lucky to attend/ play:
1. Jan 4 2020, PUNKNATS, The Old Canberra InnDue to raging fires and road closures, Crapulous Geegaw, Tweekers and Grim couldn’t make it. But you just can’t stop the rock. Lucifungus, Oaf, the Dirty Sluts, Minor Surgery, rooted, Hymn, Herxhaim, DuShkanu,White Knuckle Fever and(my personal faves) Thee Cha Cha Chas all went hard.
It was 44 degrees Celsius in a tin shed. Literally the worst air quality in the world. A late southerly that brought out the p2 masks and a blanket of apocalyptic Orange smoke. But fuck it was a great day. Milly, Tilly and Outtaspace Presents did a top job organising once again and The Old Canberra Inn was as hospitable as ever.
Proby And Me. A Howling Tale of a Falling Star – MJ Cornwall (BookPOD)
The label doesn’t lie. “Proby And Me” is a runaway train of a story, a rollicking saga of a disastrous “tour” down under by the trouser-splitting, UK-exiled Texan-born ‘60s pop star who was, briefly, as big as the Beatles.
The context: Ex-publican Brett Stevens (aka Brett Eldorado) and former Hoodoo Guru Clyde Bramley had lured the man to Sydney - and he barely made it past the front door of the Hopetoun Hotel.
By 1990, Proby’s currency as anything but a cult item had well and truly faded. He was plucked from a housing estate in the north of England where his performing stocks were low, his live appearances limited to a circuit of scrappy workingman’s clubs and seaside summer resorts.
Proby’s would-be promoters flew him to Sydney, put him up in a Bondi hotel and paid his considerable bar tabs. At least his food bill would have been minimal. PJ sounds like a graduate from the Eating Is Cheating School.
Attempts to match Proby with a backing band were fraught - his preference was a full orchestra - musicians who “read” - and his promotional appearances in media were sporadic and booze-sodden. A warm-up gig in Newcastle and an inner-city stand at Paddington RSL that sparked a mini riot were the only shows.
Author Mark Cornwall tells the story through the eyes of Eldorado - or should that be ears as Proby never shuts up. It’s 321 pages of staccato chatter and patois - delivered like machine gun fire in the style of James Ellroy.
It’s a story that’s exceedingly well told, with grim humour and massive swathes of colour.
Proby namechecks everybody from Jimi Hendrix to The Doors, Marc Almond to Elvis and Kim Fowley to Jimmy Page, in recounting a storied life mostly spent clutching defeat from the jaws of victory. What’s more, the yarns have all been verified to be true, and their common denominator is that when it turned to shit, it was always somebody else’s fault.
The "Stoneage Romeos" line-up of the Hoodoo Gurus will reunite for this year's Splendour In The Grass festival in Byron Bay on Friday, July 25.Clyde Bramley and James Baker, original members of the Hoodoo Gurus - post the bass-less line-up which went under the name Le Hoodoo Gurus - will join the band for part of the bracket.
Here’s the first (blurry) photo of the original line-up of the Hoodoo Gurus, deep in rehearsal last weekend for Friday’s Splendour In The Grass festival appearance in Australia. It's courtesy of the band's Facebook page and is the first full reformation of the line-up since drummer James Baker departed in 1984.
Dave Faulkner, Clyde Bramley and Brad Shepherd with Baker (crouching) will play a warm-up mini-set at the Beresford Hotel in Sydney on Wednesday night under the moniker The Wayback Machine. Tickets have now sold out and the bracket will part of a full set by the current line-up. The original members are also recording - along with Roddy Radalj and Kimble Rendall, members of the preceding line-up Le Hoodoo Gurus - for a planned EP.
Let Your Hair Down – The On and Ons (Citadel)Short on time? Here's all you need to know in fewer than six paragraphs:
“Let Ya Hair Down” is album number five for The On and Ons and finds them exploring new sonic textures and invoking a slightly tougher approach. The hook-laden song-writing, lockstep playing and uplifting harmonies remain intact, but there’s a sense of the band pushing fresh envelopes, too.
Let’s say that thing that every band hopes/strives for, and declare, without hyperbole, that it’s the best thing The On and Ons have recorded.
If you don’t know already, The On and Ons feature singer/songwriter/guitarist Glenn Morris, his brother Brian (drums and harmony vocals) and bassist Clyde Bramley(bottom end and harmonies). The band is based in Sydney and their combined pedigree includes recording and touring internationally with Hoodoo Gurus, Screaming Tribesmen, Kings of the Sun, and Paul Collins Beat.
The debut episode of "Monday Evening Gunk", the streaming InIernet TV offshoot of the I-94 Bar and MoshPit Bar in Sydney, is now viewable at your leisure. We air every Monday at 7.30pm Sydney time from the MoshPit Facebook page and the show is courtesy of Zenn streaming, City of Sydney Council and Coopers.
Author Mark Cornwall and "Proby and Me".
As a child growing up in the south-east South Australian town of Mount Gambier, Mark Cornwall recalls seeing an American singer performing on the Beatles’ television special, “Around the Beatles”.
“He had a pony tail and this was 1965. This weird stage outfit, buckled shoes, singing “Walk the Dog’,” says Cornwall.
The artist was Texan-born James Smith, known better by his stage name PJ Proby. Proby had first come to public prominence with the top 10 hit “Hold Me” and would go on to generate and foster a mixture of popular interest and media controversy over the course of the rest of the decade.
It’s shaping as a Blink And You Might Miss It Moment: Star-studded Sydney band The Stepfords are reforming "for one night only" on April 11.
The gig will coincide with New York-based singer Monica McMahon being in Australia and guitarist Jon Schofield (ex-Paul Kelly & The Messengers) celebrating his 60th birthday.
The Bat and Ball Hotel in Redfern is the venue and fittingly so - it was one of The Stepfords' favourite haunts.
Steven Danno photo
The thing with nostalgia is that it never gets old. Like sand through an hourglass, reunions of storied bands are an inevitability. Some are great, some barely tolerable.
The verdict is in on the return to duty by three versions of the Hoodoo Gurus, as a warm-up for an appearance at the Splendour In The Grass festival a few days later. This was a championship-style triumph rather than a chore.
Back For More – The On and Ons (Citadel)
Regular Barflies need no introduction to The On and Ons. They are Sydney’s finest power-pop exponents. Their catalogue of two prior albums and a mini-album since 2015 is as much a testament to the songwriting abilities of ex-Kings of the Sun and Screaming Tribesmen guitarist Glenn Morris as the grooves and harmonies provided by bandmates Brian Morris (drums) and Clyde Bramley.
You can judge the quality of a pop album by its earwig-ability and album opener “Vanishing Act” sticks in the brain like a dose of dopamine. Wrapped in a simple, uncluttered ‘60s sound with carefully arranged three-part harmonies, it’s punctuated by finger-clicks and Morris’s parrying guitar.
The On and Ons Glenn Morris and Jon Roberts with guest guitarist Murray Cook . Shona Ross photo
At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, this was a night of three contrasting but not dissimilar bands when The Smart Folk, Loose Pills and The On and Ons weaved their guitar pop web over Marrickville Bowling Club. It was also the album launch for The On and Ons' wonderful CD "Welcome Aboard".
These sorts of night are infrequent in Sydney these days. Ones where the bands on the bill complement each other and the venue doesn't turn people off, so they turn out in good numbers.
You’re here to read a live music review? Hang in there. There's a bit of preaching to go through, first...
Glenn Morris of the The On and Ons.
The On and Ons+ The Amazing WoolloomooloosersMarrickville Bowling ClubSunday, 12 December 2021Photos: Shona Ross
Sometimes things are just obvious. Like using the term “pop music”.
It’s an archaic phrase and more than a little quaint, with its origins way back in the mists of time. Probably severely devalued, too, due to its prolific over-use in modern times.
According to the The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, it originated in Britain in the mid-1950s as a description for rock and roll and the new music styles that it influenced.
Last Sunday afternoon-evening at Marrickville Bowling Club in Sydney’s inner-western blues delta was an occasion for pop music fans. And whether it was a breaking of the lockdown drought or an appreciation that this was an album launch, they turned out in their droves.