Wow! Last weekend’s Sleepy Hollow double header was bigger than the proverbial Ben-Hur! The double header was unusual for the Club, but may well get a rerun, given the interest. The event turned out to be standing room only right from Chubby Rae and the Elevators kicking off, through to Sweet Felicia and the Honeytones winding up.
Speaking of Felicia, she ran into some financial trouble while touring in Europe last year and it looked like she’d be forced to sell her 1972 Fender bass, signed by B. B. King, and played by her since 1979. The Australian blues community rallied and donated so that the bass was redeemed and is still being played by her. A truly wonderful gesture of admiration for a great artist.
Blues has been around for a long time, and is one of the lasting genres of popular music, along with jazz. Because of that, it is often portrayed as “old peoples’ music”. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Many of the older of the fraternity did not come to blues music because of an interest in musical history, but because there were high profile musicians playing it during their youth, and making the charts.
In the late 1960s and 1970s there was a who’s who of Australian popular music who owed their success to blues. Many of these players are still here and still playing. Some names from back in those days include Doug Parkinson, Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, Russell Morris, Daddy Cool, Blackfeather, Wendy Saddington & Copperwine, Chain, Renée Geyer, Spectrum, Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, Matt Taylor, and the like. A couple of years ago a double CD of material from this time was released under the title Boogie and it can still be found in shops or on the old faithful eBay.
Today there are just as many young bands making a name for themselves, and their fans are probably none the wiser about the bands’ blues heritage than I was when I first came across this music.
Ash Grunwald is an example who always pulls a crowd. Blue Eyes Cry is another example, and they will be playing at Sleepy Hollow on April 27th. Other bands include Catfish Voodoo, Dallas Frasca, Dreamboogie, John-Luke Shelley and High Speed Steel, Josh Rawiri, Luke Watt, Mia Dyson, Mojo Corner, and the list goes on.
Josh Rawiri and Dallas Frasca often play mainstream venues such as the Barwon Club, as well as blues venues. Dallas has recently returned from a big overseas tour, playing to huge crowds. I’ll bet many who have heard these people at mainstream venues had no idea they were getting into blues.
There’s one local youngster I’d like to mention, and that’s Alister Turrill. I first came across him in 2012 at the Apollo Bay Music Festival in their talent competition and I immediately knew this was an amazing sound. In 2013 he was in a main venue at Apollo Bay, and he’s got a CD out and is regularly gigging around, including on the Blues Train. He has a great sound, and draws a big crowd.
Next time you see Alister, or one of the other bands mentioned above, come along and check them out. It’s young people’s music, too.
Written by Dr John Lamp. Presented by The Sleepy Hollow Blues Club