The Subterraneans performing at Sydney University in 1986. From left to right, Peter Coutanche (X, Kamikaze Kids), Marty Willson-Piper (The Church), and James Griffin.
Photo, Kim Sandeman.
James Griffin, onetime inner-Sydney underground music household name now living in Melbourne, is poised to play his first show in living memory in his old hometown of Sydney this month.
Griffin will play the Golden Barley Hotel in Enmore solo on Sunday, May 19, reprising his extensive back catalogue of work with The Subterraneans, The Agents and as in his own name.
A successful poet, songwriter and broadcaster, James Griffin began his performing and songwriting life in the early '70s. Originally an alt-folk/punk-folk solo acoustic artist, he built a successful live performance career around such songs as "20th Century Blues", "I Smoke Money", "I Don't Think I Drink Enough", "I thought It Was You On the Boulevard" and "Australia's Just A Suburb of the USA".
Three years ago, family tragedy thrust Sonny Vincent from being a cult New York punk legend into the role of full-time carer.
Based in Europe for two decades from where he prolifically recorded and toured, he was suddenly pulled back to the USA by a home gas explosion and fire that left his son, daughter-in-law and grandson on life support in a North Carolina hospital.
Sonny’s family has survived but his music is on indefinite hold. Day-to-day life now revolves around his 12-year-old grandson Cayden, still undergoing skin grafts while trying to live the life of a schoolboy. Sonny hasn’t picked up a guitar since that fateful night and has been existing on donations.
The Gov, Adelaide
April 24, 2019
Jeremy Tomamak photos
One of the things that really got to me the very first time I saw the film "Alice's Restaurant" (on late night telly, back in the days when Adelaide only had four stations) was the mutation of black humour, intelligence, and improbability running through the film like a twisted thread of opal.
Not least is the fact that Arlo was (in 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War and the draft) declared by the US Army as “not moral enough to join the army.”
As Arlo told Rolling Stone: "I never thought of “Alice’s Restaurant” as being an anti-war song, but you can’t run a war being that stupid. You won’t succeed in the war and you won’t succeed in other things either. And I think that’s some of the lessons we still have yet to learn, you know?"
And tonight, I wonder what we're in for. His father, underground folk guitar hero Woody Guthrie, died of Huntington's disease (HD), also known as Huntington's chorea in 1967, at the age of 55, and when Arlo was just 20.