jim dickson - The I-94 Bar
Hot Tuna - Rialto, Septermber 10
Veteran duo in electric mode with drummer. As heavy as it gets. Jack and Jorma playing with the same fire they had 50+ years ago. At the climax of one of the extended jams, Jack pogoed across the stage. We got right up to the front of the small venue for full effect.
Tom Rush - Ellen Theater, Bozeman, August 31
An unexpected visit by first division folk singer does not disappoint. At 79 years, he still has his voice and nimble fingers. Funny too. 2+ hour show. He manages to avoid playing any of his signature tunes.
Jeff Tweedy - Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back)
Well written and very funny. Tweedy weaves a compelling story about his childhood, bands and years of prescription drug addiction. Plenty of insight into the workings of Wilco and his songwriting. One of the best musician-penned memoirs I’ve read.
So Good I Can’t Take It- Aug 2 Ellen Theater Bozeman
Kirk Leclaire document’s the Montana music scene of the' 70s and '80s. Jeff Ament and Steve Albini figure large in the story. I get some face time too, though I only just make it into the time frame. Donovan’s Brain music is featured. A great story of small town misfits tearing it up and terrorizing the locals. A universal story that can be enjoyed even if you didn’t grow up in Montana. A Donovan’s Brain MK 1 reunion followed the screening.
He mighr be embarassed by it being said, but Jim Dixon is the Grand Old Bass Man of Sydney’s rock and roll scene.
Since dropping in as a member of raw Brisbane band The Survivors at the tail end of the ‘70s to relocating and driving the bottom end for The Passengers and many more, he’s been as much a fixture as cold beer and sticky carpets.
Active duty in London with the Barracudas and then back home to play with the likes of Louis Tillett, Penny Ikinger, the New Christs, the Deniz Tek Group and Radio Birdman, Gentleman Jim is omnipresent as both player and punter. Along the way he’s supplemented his music by working in a record store, running his own curry kitchen and, more lately, bussing tourists around Greater Sydney’s natural wonders.
Step Into The Light – Paul Berwick’s Magnetic Quartet (self released)
At the risk of damning with faint praise, Paul Berwick made an indelible mark with the shoulda-been-huge Happy Hate Me Nots in the 1980s and ‘90s and he and his new band, The Magnetic Quartet, have much to live up to. This four-track EP “Step Into The Light” is a good start.
Sydney’s HHMNs developed from punk-pop to bona fide power-pop contenders over their first existence but never quite broke out into the mainstream. Another run in the 2000s after the sad loss of bassist Christian Houllemare tried but never scaled the same heights.
Berwick is a talented songwriter with a sharp ear for a melody and has assembled a superb band of old hands in Matt Galvin (guitar), Jim Dickson (bass) and Nick Kennedy (drums). Berwick fills out their sound on acoustic guitar. COVID has limited their live appearances to a handful of well-received gigs, so the question was would their recordings do them justice?
Corporate con or well-meaning act of benevolence? History tends to deliver a verdict of the former. for "Lethal Weapons", the 1978 compilaiton album of Australian "punk".
"Lethal Weapons" was a product on an offshoot of major Australian label Mushroom (the same people who brought you Chain, Skyhooks and the Sunnyboys) and it was clearly a cynical attempt to commercialise underground music scenes then burgeoning in Melbourne and Sydney, especially.
Compiled by would-be A & R man Barry Earl, the album was notable for its eclectic cast which included The Boys Next Door (soon to become The Birthday Party), JAB, The Survivors, whose members would go onto Sacred Cowboys, The Moodists, Radio Birdman, Teenage Radio Stars and the Bad Seeds.
Trevor Block went in search of many of the original protagonists in bands that signed to Suicide. We're reprising his article to mark 40 years of "Lethal Weapons", and the decade since its CD re-issue.
Dave Weyer circa 1969: Sought after Hollywood sound architect.
DATELINE 1999 - If you're a regular here at the I-94 Bar, chances are good that you have a more than passing interest in the music of Deniz Tek. Granted, the Radio Birdman mastermind's music has taken a markedly experimental turn over his last couple of albums -- one which hasn't found universal favor among fans of Birdman and his earlier solo work. But give the Iceman his due for hewing true to his uncompromising vision and never failing to make challenging, stimulating music.
Since the "Italian Tour" and "Bad Road" EPs and the "Le Bonne Route" album, a key element in the Deniz Tek sound has been one David Weyer, owner/operator of the studio in Laurel, Montana, which bears his name. As engineer and co-producer, Dave is the man who's helped realize Dr. Rock's prescriptions on tape and disc, and he has a fascinating story of his own to tell...
He's been a musician, inventor, a resident of L.A.'s Laurel Canyon during the frenetic '60s, amp technician to a host of guitar greats including Neil Young and Jimi Hendrix. Over a virtual beer or two, we talked about Dave's facinating past and his work with Deniz on projects past, present, and future.
Dave Weyer bellied up at the bar with me from his home in Laurel, Montana, on Sunday afternoon, October 3, 1999.
Most of us will never be privy to the stories that fueled the songs on this album, but that doesn't prevent it having an emotional payload that's the musical equivalent of an atomic bomb over Nagasaki. Stripped-back and fully exposed, the songs have a quiet majesty, stunning depth and genuine power.
The Passengers of 2007-09 are a much different entity to the original late '70s Sydney band, whose music drew on the wellspring of '60s girl groups and soul. A great single on Phantom and a set of demos (released posthumously on Detroit-powered French legacy label Revenge and re-packaged by Career Records) was their only lasting legacy.
That “Passengers Reimagined” CD is we told you about a few days ago is back in stock and selling here. It’s a limited edition of 200 and won’t be re-pressed.
This special release is hand-labeled, signed and numbered. The package includes the original acoustic album "In the Garden of Good and Evil” and “Reimagined” - the album with electronic instruments and drums added, played and produced by Jeff Sullivan.
It’s a truism that many bands from Europe rock but don’t rock and roll. It’s not their fault, of course, it’s just a matter of cultural conditioning. Rock and roll is not their first musical language and the “high art” the place is steeped in suffocates that "low art", like any other form of musical expression, into submission.
So when you find a Continental band that “gets it”, you better latch on to them, tight.
Some of us are (ahem) old enough to remember a French band called Fixed Uo, who were on Sydney’s Citadel label, and made it to Australia to play and record in the mid 1980s. Rob Younger and Jim Dickson produced an album for them. Soulful garage rock was their stock in trade. They “got it”.
The talent that stumbled out of the late ''70s Darlinghurst scene in Australia was astonishing: a match for anything coming out of London, New York or Los Angeles. But geography and population density is a fucking bitch.
Even scene bosses Radio Birdman are considered an underground phenomena. So what chance is there for the small fry?
Meet The Passengers (if you have not already done so.). Hey. Make sure you find the right ones because there are some dodgy international acts with the same moniker. They briefly graced us with their presence as the seventies clicked over. A gift we clearly we did not deserve because we utterly failed to surrender the charts to them.