Top Ten for 2022: Mark Roxburgh from Joeys Coop and ex-ME-262 and Decline of the Reptiles
10. Fifteen blokes of a certain age in a dodgy bar somewhere.
In the latter part of 2022 I quipped on FB that our (Joeys Coop) lot in life appeared to be to play to the same 15 blokes of a certain age in a dodgy bar somewhere. I got a bit of feedback from some of my musician age peers that I’d pretty well hit the nail on the head.
Now my quip might sound like a bitch about bands with a collective history, but no heritage, not being able to get a decent gig – and to be fair in part it is – but in truth it was also a celebration of the fact that after 40 odd years of playing we could still get a gig in a dodgy bar (my favourite kind) somewhere and we could rely on 15 blokes of a certain age to turn up to support us. That sure beats the fuck out of playing golf, going to fancy restaurants with pretentious retired couples, playing bridge, accompanying the better half to a musical, or other age-appropriate activities.
So, to Keith, Graham, John, Ian, Murray, John, Kev, Dan, Tony, Chris, Ben, Jeather, Henny, Sue, Diane, Adriene - OK that is 16 and some of them are gals of a certain age but you get the idea – we and every other band of a certain age thank you for joining us in not acting our age. We love youse all. You make it all worthwhile.
9. Ten Gallon Head –July 12, Post Office Hotel, Brunswick.
I first came across this band when I discovered they had followed stuff I’d put up on Bandcamp. “What a cool name” I thought. I Google stalked them and found they had released a fantastic album in 2014 of the same name. Killer tunes and killer lyrics. We had a little band bromance and did a couple of shows with them. They’ve been quiet on the recording front since then apart from a couple of excellent singles – "Trouble" and "Alexander Graham Bell". We played with them again earlier this year and they were outstanding. Simply put Ben Mellonie writes a killer tune with lyrics that tell a great story with dry wit. The band is tight and talented. Genre wise they touch most of the bases I love – rock and roll with a touch of country, soul, blues and pop.
8. Hard Ons – March 19, Eltham Hotel, Eltham.
I hadn’t seen the Hard Ons play for about 30 years and given they were in my neck of the woods at one of my favourite pubs I had to go. Tim Rogers as singer provided added interest to the prospect. Rogers is a natural fit. The front man they deserve. They played all the old faves and of course a lot off their excellent 2022 album "I'm Sorry Sir, That Riff's Been Taken".
Whilst I prefer their poppier material the heavier parts of their repertoire are impressive to experience live. Nothing like Blackie's monster riffs underpinned by Ray and Murrays’ pounding rhythms to rearrange a few of your atoms. Lifts you off the ground. It was nothing short of a treat to see a bunch of guys who’ve been going at it for so long still revel in what they do and do it so well. They finished the night off with "Suck and Swallow". The pub moved a few inches on its foundations. Killer performance.
7. Kasey Chambers - Bluesfest April 2022.
Never seen her live but she has been one of my guilty listening pleasures for about six years so the chance to see her could not be passed up. Bluesfest 2022 highlight. Killer songs, killer band, killer sense of humour and killer voice. On the latter, and to her credit, she did a side splittingly funny routine about how lots of blokes find her voice really screechy and only attend her shows to get browny points with the missus / girlfriend. That is humility and self-awareness in one. I for one think she has an amazing voice.
6. Joe Camilleri and the Black Sorrows – Bluesfest April 2022.
Too many musicians get called the hardest working muso in showbiz but this is fact for Joe. I first saw him do an acoustic preview of the Black Sorrows' first album, "Dear Children", at Waterfront Records when it was still in York Street, Sydney, and was hooked. I’d catch them whenever they hit Sydney. I hadn’t seen them play in donkeys and with an all too predictable and underwhelming all Australian line-up for 2022 Bluesfest I knew they’d be the exception. They didn’t disappoint. Joe is a master songwriter and still one of the most energetic performers you’ll see. If you like a bit of blue-eyed soul influenced music he’s your man.
5. Q) Beatles or Stones? A)…
You know how the routine goes so here are my answers.
Q) Beatles or Stones?
A) Stones. Beatles are lame.
Q) Mick or Keef?
A) Charley. Charlie is (was) the coolest.
This has long been my view of the Stones. As much as I love Keef and have come to accept Mick is one of the greatest rock singers ever (not technically an amazing voice BTW just an ace fucking rock and roll singer) Charlie has always been my man. This was further reinforced when I watched the episode on him in the "My Life as a Rolling Stone" series. His taste in music and clothing resonated deeply but more than that the subtlety of his drumming has stood him apart for six decades. So fucking cool. I will go see them again but it will never be the same. Something died a little bit in me with news of his death.
4.. Craig “The Barman” Regan.
OK so this might read like a shameless suck up (for full disclosure Craig did manage the briefly reincarnated Decline of the Reptiles) but has anyone done more for rock and roll of a certain persuasion than anyone else in this country over the past decade or so? He is tireless. I actually wonder whether he sleeps at all or when he finds time to undertake paid employment. If he’s not writing reviews for I94 Bar and commissioning and editing content he’s running gigs at the Marrickville Bowlo. If he’s not running gigs at the Marrickville Bowlo he’s Livestreaming the rock and roll variety show Thursday Evening Gunk with his Facebook sparing partner, Celebrity Roadie Peter Ross – tip: if you haven’t read any of their FB exchanges do they are a pisser. If he’s not running gigs at the Marrickville Bowlo he’s releasing stuff for Mick Medew and the Mesmerisers. And so it goes. All us fellas of a certain age salute the Barman.
3. Bowling Clubs.
Many, many, many years ago I got word that one of my fellow band mates caustically quipped behind my back that I’d end up playing the RSL / Leagues Club circuit late in my career. I’m pleased to say that I have had the last laugh for said fellow band mate probably only plays with himself in his bedroom and while I haven’t quite made it to the exalted heights of the Rissoles and Leagues Clubs circuit, it seems like the Bowlo circuit is a pretty reasonable substitute and I’m still fucking playing what I love!!! Thank you to all the fabbo bowlo’s who have clocked that fellas of a certain age (and their lovely better halves of course) prefer rock and roll than bowls. You have given us all a lifeline. Special mention to the Petersham, Marrickville and Mayfield bowlos. Next stop for my career trajectory is the honey pot that is the retirement home circuit. Look out ladies. Grrrrr.
2. Drugs In Sport - June 25 Mayfield Bowlo Newcastle.
With the best band name in I don’t know how long expectations are set high but like Ben Johnson on roids they blitz the field with ease and muscular grace. From catchy hooks to bouncing heads and a quick musical smack around the chops, these guys rock. You can dance to them, chug beer to them, laugh at the dry wit of the sharply observed lyrics and the equally amusing on stage banter. They are young(er) and handsomer than many of the bands they play with and have more hair to boot. Ya gotta admire silver foxes still rocking. See you on the retirement home circuit fellas. Love your work.
1. Community Radio.
The lifeline for all musicians without a contract or that fit a marketable format defined by some 50-plus-year-old wanker who thinks they know what"‘youf" like. This is where you hear what real music fans like to play and can discover all manner of hidden gems not foisted upon you by an algorithm. Sadly I have crap internet and radio reception where I live and I only get to listen to it sporadically when I am on the road somewhere. The list of great stations is endless but a shout out to a few that continue to support musicians of a certain age. 3RRR, 3ZZZ, 2BOB, 2RRR (Hi Kev!), 2BBB, BAYFM 99.9, 2SER, FBI, FRESH FM, YASS FM.