Bats get a bad rap. They’re part of nature and humans – some of the stupider members of the human race, at least – feel an idiotic desire to tame nature. Nature will always win; unlike humans, nature plays the long game.
There’s a local politician whose electorate covers the poor, marginalised and disenfranchised inner-eastern Melbourne suburbs where the local population can barely rub two four-wheel drives, a private school education and an annual ski trip together. He doesn’t like bats, probably since he had an involuntary bowel movement after reading “Dracula” at school.
He wants the bats out of the trees in Kew. Dirty, filthy, disease-ridden pests, he reckons. Plus, they might have conspired to unleash COVID on the world, working in cahoots with devious foreign governments, copies of Mao’s “Little Red Book” stashed under their wings…
It was the sort of rock’n’roll crowd you would have expected to find in St Kilda. Weathered old punks, redoubtable rock dogs, wandering spirits from a bygone era. Lots of black, some punk rock bling, a room full of fading memories of lost nights and wasted days.
And so much love. Love for rock’n’roll, and love for the late Brian Hooper, whose new album, "What Would I Know?" was being launched, with a cast of his loyal friends and rock’n’roll family.
The obligatory "I missed the opening act" apology: It’s a long hike across town by public transport, especially when there’s a connecting bike ride in there as well. The fact that my household was engrossed in a compelling episode of "Peaky Blinders" rendered it inappropriate for me to spirit out of the place in time to see Joel Silbersher and Charlie Owen revive their Tendrils project.
Serendipitously, but sadly, the last time Tendrils appeared on stage was at Brian’s fundraising gig. Everyone I spoke to said it was, as always, memorable. Hopefully next time Tendrils play it will be free from the spectre of tragedy.
A few weeks ago at the Factory Floor in Sydney, I caught The Nice Folk supporting Harry Howard and The NDE and The Holy Soul.
The Nice Folk (for me) were a cross beyween early Captain Beefheart Magic Band and Pere Ubu. I wrote that they could "pull out a slow, sleazy blues song and switch to early Beasts of Bourbon-like sloppy and swampy excursions". What really struck me that night, however, was that they captured a spirit of an Australian music scene from a long time ago.
In the ’80s, pre-Nirvana, pre-Ratcat. pre-corporate festivals - and the boozed up smashed bogans with Southern Cross tatts thinking they are cool one day of the year going to the Big Day Out - there were bands like The Nice Folk. These bands knew they were never going to capture a place in the commercial charts. They were truly underground.
This let to music that was free from attempting to be accessible. It was about the band and music first and not getting them “Suck-cess”. Bands like the Laughing Clowns, Lubricated Goat, Box The Jesuit and the early Wet Taxis. Which is why I really liked The Nice Folk. They had a similar attitude and devotion to their music.
On 20 April, 2018 the world of rock’n’roll lost one its most charismatic and talented soldiers, Brian Henry Hooper. Best known for his work in the Beasts of Bourbon and Kim Salmon and the Surrealists, Hooper’s resume extends to stints with Charlie Marshall’s Body Electric, Rowland S Howard and Andre Williams.
When he was diagnosed with lung cancer in November 2017, Hooper was mid-way through putting the finishing touches on his new album, What Would I Know?, one of two solo records he'd recorded over the previous two years at Andrew McGee’s Empty Room Studios in Nagambie.
Another year with nothin' to do....!! No gigs to speak of though we did manage to fit in one Black Bombersshow just before the years end to blow away the cobwebs..!! Top Ten? Mostly reissues but here goes...
Bored – “Back For More” (Bang!) A UK Record Store Day release. R.I.P. John Nolan
Endless Boogie- “Admonitions” The Boogie is indeed endless.
Brian Hooper at last week's Melbourne gig. Carbie Warbie photo.
Much-loved Beasts of Bourbon bassist Brian Henry Hooper has passed away peachefully in a Melbourne hospital.
Brian’s wife Ninevah Hooper made an announcement on his Facebook page earlier today:
Brian’s ship peacefully sailed this morning. I was with him during that departure. It’s the hardest thing a partner could ever do but to say good bye.
I told my three year old twins that mummy and doctors could no longer bring daddy home. Daddy was flying away like s free bird in the blue sky.
Ava, Charlize, Matthew, Nina and Lana are all grieving the loss of their beautiful father. The Haddad and Hooper family are also experiencing their pain.
Cinzia Cozzolino and Michelle Rowe also cherish their memories of Brian.
Thank you for the support.
Hooper had been fighting lung cancer. Just a week ago, he appeared at his own benefit concert in Melbourne, playing with a reformed Beasts of Bourbon. Brian was accompanied by a team of nurses and breathing through an oxygen mask.