Regular readers may have detected a note of concern in these columns at the general winding down of the live music scene in Geelong. The outer areas, the Bellarine, Otways and Great Ocean Road districts, are not doing too badly. Wineries are good venues, Martians Café, Harvester Moon, the Chook Shop and Saints and Sailors and a number of others.
I’m happy to say that the Geelong situation is being addressed by a number of groups, especially in the folk and blues areas, and with the establishment of new venues such as Pistol Pete’s. We see quite a few national level acts, but a good international act is very rare, and that’s precisely what we have coming up this month.
John McNamara, no minor artist in himself, is taking the Johnny Rieger Band, from Germany, on tour around Australia. Sleepy Hollow has stumped up and booked them to play in beautiful downtown Geelong this month.
Johnny will be playing the Blues Train in October, so this time we have stolen a march on Comrade Hugo and have him right here for September! This also means that unless you booked about six months ago to go on the Blues Train next month, the Sleepy Hollow gig will be your only chance to see them locally.
As it says on their website: “Johnny Rieger steht wie kein anderer Künstler in Deutschland” … However, my great-grandfather was the last one in our family to speak German, so here it is in a bit more mainstream lingo: “Johnny Rieger is like no other artist in Germany for his electrifying ‘new-Generation Blues’, distinctive voice and enthusiasm.”
Together with Matthias Scherer (bass) and Michael Jochum (drums), Johnny Rieger has played more than 300 concerts at festivals and clubs in the US, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France and Poland.
Inspired by classic and modern blues artists, the band has created their own remarkable style, sometimes frightening in its intensity with Johnny’s spine-tingling, soulful vocals. They won the German ‘Blues Challenge’ in 2012 and are widely respected across the world and are seen as trailblazers for the young blues players around the globe. It’s their first time in Australia, and they will be playing the Great Southern Blues Festival at Narooma.
This is the sort of act we need in Geelong to revitalise the live music scene, not because they are massively beyond the standard we have here, but to demonstrate that our artists can hold their own in any company.
Come and see this band, but also come at 3 p.m. and see the jam, our local players, and you’ll get a surprise at the standard we have locally. After this, keep your eye on the gig guide, scope out the local venues, get a few people together and get out and enjoy yourselves.
John McNamara and the Johnny Rieger Band will be playing from 6 p.m. at the Geelong Trades Hall Dance Hall on the 28th of September.
If you can’t make it to Sleepy Hollow, they have another gig relatively close by at Way Out West in Williamstown on the 12th of October.
By John (Dr John) Lamp