Archive for the ‘Tunes’ Category

Surf rock legends The Atlantics are coming to Sydney this weekend! They’re playing Friday night at The Vault in Windsor, and Saturday night at Coogee Diggers. Check out their website www.theatlantics.com for more info.


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The dictionary defines serendipity as ‘the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident’, and that’s exactly what happened to me last week. I was flicking through the local paper on Thursday to see if the ads I’d put in for work made it, and the entertainment section slides out onto my desk with Ash Grunwald on the cover. Now I’m a MASSIVE Ash fan, his take on classic blues tunes as well as his original stuff is right up my alley, and his live shows are simply amazing. Quite simply he’s my favourite muso. A quick check of the guide reveals he’s playing just up the road in Windsor on Saturday night – fuck yeh! Needless to say I was right onto the blower, credit card in hand, to grab some tickets!

The venue was Vault 146 in Windsor (www.vault146.com.au), which I’d never heard of before. The place is an old bank, the original vault is behind the bar and is now used as a wine cellar! I’ve got to say I scoffed a little when I read on their website where they claimed they are fast becoming one of  western Sydney’s premier live music venues. I mean that’s a pretty big kind of call to make. I was more impressed with their philosophy on food though, everything is cooked from local produce which is delivered daily – that means fresh in season ingredients and cash for local farmers. Very cool.

Well I’m stoked to say the venue more than lived up to their claims. The tickets I got included mains, and by luck we scored a table right at the front near the stage! Service was good, atmosphere was great, and the food was fantastic! My steak was perfectly cooked and the sauce on it was so good I struggled not to lick the plate clean. My girl got some chicken and it was tender and succulent and had a great flavour to it. The crème brulee for desert was a winner too! In terms of a gig venue it was great, small enough to feel intimate but big enough to get a great atmosphere. One of westernSydney’s premier live music venues? You fucking betchya! I’m a fan, and I’ll be back for sure.

I’ve found support acts are always hit and miss. So when Ashleigh Mannix took to the stage, well I wasn’t sure what to expect. What we got was an awesome solo artist with catchy acoustic guitar riffs and a voice like the American Honey bourbon I’m sipping right now – silky smooth, but with an undeniable kick which takes your breath away. She had a great stage presence and won over the crowd from the first song – no easy feat for a support act. If you like your music with a bit of a folk/roots vibe to it, check her music out at www.myspace.com/ashleighmannix. She impressed me enough I handed over some cash for a CD, so yeh I liked it.

So with Ashleigh having made a bunch of new fans, it was time for Ash to take the stage. I love the way an Ash gig starts. He takes up his place on his stompbox (imagine a timber crate with a drum kick pedal hooked up to it), grabs a guitar and slowly starts jamming, getting his rhythm and getting into his groove. Every one of his gigs I’ve been to (and there’s been a few!) has been different. Some hark more to a traditional blues sound, some to more of rock vibe, and some just have an undeniable groove to them that makes you want to dance. He never has a set list, he just plays what feels right at the time. And last night it was blues. Glorious foot-stomping-rocking-blues.

Now a proper journalist would rattle off the set list in order, and make intellectual comments about the dynamic evolution of blues music. Well I’m not a journo. I’ve got to say my priority was knocking back a few bourbon and cokes and immersing myself in the music, not writing down song titles in a notepad!

Having said that, I paid enough attention to remember some of the songs. The Ash originals such as Skywriter, the Dolphin Song, Take the Drop, and Walking all went down a hit. A definite highlight of the night was when Ashleigh Mannix came back on stage to provide back up vocals for Ain’t No Sunshine (Bill Withers), with Ash doing his signature jazz-style jamming throughout the song. They complimented each other fantastically and I really hope they record it! Another highlight was Rosie, which is an old prison work song. No guitar this time, just Ash slapping his stompbox by hand and belting out the vocals with raw emotion and power. Capping off the set were some stomping covers, such as Headin Out West (Tom Waits) and finally Smokestack Lightnin (Howlin’ Wolf), which was the encore piece. Fucking aaaaawesome!

And with that we spilled out into the cold and foggy streets of Windsor to find our way home, ears ringin and souls buzzin. So what was that definition for serendipity again? ‘The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident’ – yeh, that pretty much describes the whole night. Now to check out what other gigs are on at The Vault and where else Ashleigh Mannix is playing…

Subnote: Okay so I’ve written this whole post and quite simply words do a piss poor job of capturing a muso like Ash. So I’ve included some youtube clips below so you get a taste of his style. If you like it do yourself a favour and check out his upcoming gigs on www.ashgrunwald.com and get your ass front of stage, you won’t be disappointed.

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We Fall, We Rise

Ricki Wood posted his new song ‘We Fall, We Rise’ on our facebook page, and we just had to share it with you guys. Ricki, who’s lived in New Zealand for most of his life, started to pen this song just 4 days before the quake hit Christchurch.

“‘We Fall We Rise’ really hit home for me with so many good friends living in Christchurch”, he explains. “So I recorded the song asap and am now releasing a 5 song EP on April 3rd. 50% of profits of all sales up till July 31st will be donated to Flood and Quake Relief funds in Australia and New Zealand to help those in need. Your purchase will be greatly appreciated as together we can all make the change in peoples lives.”

Check out the song below, we just love the gutsy bluesy sound, and it suites the sentiment of the song to a tee. For more info on ordering the EP check out www.rickiwood.com. If Ricki’s name rings a bell, he was the frontman for legendary rockabilly outfit the Voodoo Kreepers – their album Fistful of Voodoo gets a high rotation on roadtrips!

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The better half and I have been meaning to get to some rockabilly dance lessons for a couple of years now. Lets face it, the guys and gals dancing at gigs look like they’re having a blast, and we wanted to get involved. It didn’t hurt that some mates of ours have been doing it and loving it too. Well on the weekend the time finally came – we headed along to a beginners lesson with Limpin’ Jimmy and the Swingin’ Kitten.

Now from the start I’m the first to admit my sense of rhythm leaves a LOT to be desired, and I wouldn’t say I’m exactly James Bond when it comes to smooth moves. So it was with more than a hint of nerves that I walked into the dance studio in Annandale, wondering how big a fool I was about to make of myself. It didn’t help my nerves when we got inside and we were the first people there!

My fears, I’m glad to say, were unfounded. Jim and Margie (Limpin’ Jimmy and the Swingin’ Kitten) were fantastic teachers, and their love and passion for dancing was only too apparent. The pacing of the lesson was just right, enough so the slow guys (like myself) had enough time to start to feel comfortable, while at the same time not being too slow to frustrate the folks who were picking it up well. The lesson covered a handful of basic moves, basically enough to get you started but not too many that your brain will self implode.

If you’ve been thinking about taking up dancing, I’d definitely recommend this class. You’ll walk out completely knackered, but at the same you’ll want to crank up some tunes when you get home and get in some practice. It’s also a bargain at a measly $30. For more info check out www.limpinjimmyandtheswinginkitten.com.au

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There’s no doubt that Ram Jam’s film clip to Black Betty is simply one of the most awesome clips to have ever been made – but did you know the song actually pre-dates the tyre smoking rod in the clip?

While most people are familiar with the versions of Black Betty by Ram Jam and Spiderbait, the song actually was first recorded back in ’33! It’s likely its roots are older than this, but this is the earliest known recording.

So who or what was Black Betty originally? Well the jury is still out on this, but the leading theories are it was a musket, a bottle of whiskey, a whip, or  a prisoner transport vehicle. All of these have been referred to as Black Betty at some stage or another during this period. Listening to the original versions any of these could fit! It’s been covered by more than 20 acts over the years, but here’s a few to check out*:

Iron Head, 1933. This is the earliest known recording, led by convict James ‘Iron Head’ Baker. It was recorded in a State Prison Farm in Texas by a couple of musicologists for the Library of Congress!

Lead Belly, 1939. Black Betty is often credited to Huddie ‘Lead Belly’ Ledbetter, which appeared on his album Negro Sinful Tunes. While his is the most well known ‘original’ version of the song, it’s not known if it was actually around before the Iron Head recording done in ’33.

Ram Jam, 1977. Arguably the best known rendition of the song, it netted Ram Jam number 18 on the US charts and into the Top 10 here in Australia and also the UK.

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, 1985. Here the song is incorporated into a 3 part medley that starts with Looky Looky Yonder and concludes with Yellow Women’s Doorbells, which appeared on their covers album Kicking Against the Pricks.

Spiderbait, 2004. Spiderbait’s rocking cover was good enough to see it take out the top spot on the Aussie charts, no doubt helped by the amazing film clip. The amazing film clip which the record company doesn’t let anyone post on youtube…

Soil, 2007. Black Betty with some metal inspired guitar licks thrown in.

Some Random Bloke, 2009. I’ve got more than a softspot for blues played on a steel guitar, love this sound and it harks back to the blues roots of the song .

Another Random Bloke, 2010. The vocals let the team down, but the cigar box sounds awesome!

*and consider yourself lucky we didnt include the Tom Jones version!

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Without doubt Midnight Oil was the band that sounded like Australia – raw, powerful, gritty, haunting and staunch. Just hearing the opening chords to an Oils song is enough to prompt visions of endless dessert highways, or summer roadtrips to the beach sweating your ass off on a cracked vinyl seat. That harmonica riff at the start of Blue Sky Mine still sends shivers up my spine.

So what’s happened now that Pete is off playing the mug’s game of national politics? Well drummer Rob Hirst along with guitarists Martin Rotsey and Jim Moginie have teamed up with Brian Ritchie (bass player from the Violent Femmes) to create The Break. The result is a sound that has an undeniable surf rock geneology to it, as well as that undercurrent of energy that characterised the Oils.

Rob Hirst described their first day of recording “We arrive on day one with neither songs nor sandwiches, but with a distinct sound pounding in our ears – that of tortured tremoloed and warm valvey amps – their reverb springs on 11 – riding a rythym section that roars like a monster set thundering over a reef”.

The Break have their debut album ‘Church of the Open Sky’, and no doubt with the combined souls of the Oils and the Femmes you just know they’re going to put on one cracker of a live set. Check out their website and facebook page for more info.

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Upcoming gigs

Hot on the tail of the Reverend Horton Heat coming to town (who kicked ass by all accounts!), there’s news of even more awesome bands heading down under! Soon to grace our shores are the Cherry Poppin Daddies from the States and the Horrorpops from Denmark.

Buy your tickets from the venues for each gig. Tour dates and all that kind of info at each of the links below:
Cherry Poppin Daddies Tour Info
Horrorpops Tour Info

And some youtube goodness to get ya in the mood!

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