2017...the year that was...and yes I have Sinatra's ''It Was a Very Good Year'' going through my head. Actually, it had its ups and downs but I'll focus only on the ultra good, in no particular chronology.
My musical year started with a performance with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra as my backing band at The Tivoli. in Brisbane. We played my most recent album “Lost Cities” in its entirety, as well as a selection of material I did for the “Last Cab to Darwin” soundtrack, plus earlier solo and Laughing Clowns tunes. “Ghost Gum” and “Collapse Board” were real high points for me.
Richard Davis conducted and made the transition from the garage to the concert hall for me not only possible but an enjoyable experience. Robert Davidson did the orchestral arrangements and brought the songs to life in a context I'd often dreamed about doing but hadn't actually heard.
Richard Wenn put the whole thing together. It would not have happened without him. His enthusiasm for bypassing the “greatest hits” approach and general tenacity made it work. Thank you, Richard.
We did the show again in Cairns a little while later, this time with a slightly trimmed-back orchestra (even flat-stacking them, there are only so many orchestral musicians that fit into the back of my ute.)
This was also great and quite different due to the smaller orchestra. The whole thing has been a great learning curve for me. Thanks, one and all.
The next thing I went on to do was what was announced as my last ‘’Solo and By Request'' tour, this time taking in all those out of the way and rural places I don't get to that often. The idea for these shows started in 2013.
Chasing Chocomel – The Celibate Rifles (self released)
Don’t let the fact that these are cassette dubs of live-to-air radio recordings deter you. A bit of compression never hurt anyone. This posthumous 22-track collection from Europe and Australia is prime-time Celibate Rifles from the “Roman Beach Party”/“Blind Ear”/”Heaven on a Stick” period, and it burns like a kerosene spill on a barbie.
As a fan of the Rifles from the get-go, I thought it was “Roman Beach Party” that showed they’d really come to grips with the studio. Foot-to-the-floor Rifles got the crowds shaking live, but sometimes the wry observations were buried under all that Sturm und Drang. You had to listen hard to appreciate what they were saying on the early records too. From here on in, you could hear Damo’s words - loud and clear.
Dave Kettley and Rob Younger marshalling the New Christs at Marrickville Bowlo on Saturday night..
Sydney, you’re such a contrary beast with this live music thing. And you fucking know it.
A year ago, this same bill of the New Christs and Melbourne’s James McCann and The New Vindictives pulled close to a full room at Marrickville Bowlo. This Saturday night, the place isn’t empty by any means but the head count is much lower.
Was it the cold weather? HTFU! It’s winter. Maybe a spot of fatigue with great rock and roll shows seemingly happening weekly? For sure, we’ve been spoilt. It was also the third New Christs appearance in these parts in as many months. if you were one of the waverers that stayed home, it really was your loss.
By the time you read this, Ed Kuepper and his new favourite band The Aints will be ensconced in Phil Punch’s Sydney studio, recording their new album.
“The Church of Simultaneous Existence” was previewed on the recent runs of Aints shows across Australia, and will consist mostly of old songs intended for a fourth album by the early (definitive) version of the Kuepper-Bailey Saints.
The Aints lineup is Peter Oxley (bass), Paul Larsen (drums) and Alister Spence (keys) with Kuepper on vocals and guitar, backed by a three-piece horn section. The photo at right of Peter Oxley in the studio yesteday is courtesy of Feelpresents.
Last Friday night at Sydney's Marrickville Bowling Club, The Aints played a bracket of the album songs in their entirety. They backed up that blistering show with an appearance the following night at the Gumball festival in the Hunter Valley..
Did we say recording “a new album” (singular)? The Aints are also recording a new Ed Kuepper album - with strings.
It’s the same “electric trio” configuration that appeared with Ed and the Nonsemble Strings at Leftys Old Time Musical Hall in Brisbane in December 2017.
No release dates have been announced for either album but mixing sessions have been scheduled, so watch this space.
Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers famously played “rent parties” at the turn of the ‘70s when they’d finished living in the UK and were back home in New York City.
What proportion of the proceeds from their sporadic gigs went towards keeping a roof over their heads was purely speculative. There were other activities to feed and audience members used to throw loaded syringes onto the stage.
Things were a world removed at the Manning Bar in Sydney on Friday night, where the audience threw two bouquets of flowers at Ed Kuepper.
We’re drawing a very long bow here, I know. This was the first leg of a modest two-city run (the next one in Melbourne on March 23) by Ed’s band The Aints. Chances are, the most popular drug in the room was Lipitor. The objective here is not to pay the rent – shit, Ed Kuepper now has a Brisbane park named after him so he can always live on a bench there - but to fund new recordings.
If that’s not exciting news, you’re in the wrong bar.