midnight oil - The I-94 Bar
Guitarist with Moonlight 5, Waxworks, Dwarfthrower
I-94 Bar reviewer
I am sure many will say the same: This has been a shit of a year. Even so, I included much more than ten. Who cares !!
The passing of Greg Sawers
One piece of news hit me in the guts: Greg Sawyers’ death. What more can be said about this real local legend and complete old school identity. He could be fit equally well at the Marrickville Bowlo or Annandale Hotel (R.I.P.) or the Wentworth Park dog track with his working -class dreams and love of supporting pure rock ‘n’ roll. Band manager Greg Sawyers took over when God got drunk. For Ian Rilen, Louis Tillet, Steve Lucasand Steve Balbi, he was their minder and advocate. He always had a couch for those in need and was willing to cook up his bacon and eggs when they woke sometime after midday. Greg was all heart and part of a Sydney music scene that is now gone.
It's almost 2019… and the world seems to be going mad. But the big question I ask myself… is rock dead?
I see alternate styles of music like rap, hip-hop and commercial pop dominating youth culture. I wouldn’t recognise Drake or Flume if they dropped their USB sticks in front of me. In closeted rock’n’roll enclaves such as the I-94 Bar dirty rock’n’roll seems to be thriving, but one by one icons are dropping off the perch. How much longer can it survive?
The benchmark I’ve been looking at is guitar sales. Electric guitar sales have slipped 22.7 percent since 2008… the price of guitars is rocketing, yet it appears that the acoustic market is on the up… Something like a 15 percent increase over the same period. Although insipid, whiny vocal sounds have probably been tied to the same trend.
The trend that parallels the increase of Ed Sheeran wannabes is the rise of vinyl sales. I’d guess that pot smoking hippies, listening on their Technics SL1200 to Bob Dylan re-masters trying figure out how to play protest songs while avoiding the dreaded F chord are to blame.
Despite my sense of foreboding I did manage to catch some quality rock’n’roll but I put that down to confirmation bias. My personal faves:
It’s renowned as one of Melbourne’s most spectacular rock and roll shows and it hits Sydney’s Factory Theatre at Marrickville on Saturday. Epic Brass is the brainchild of Hunters and Collectors horns man Jack Howard and employs a stellar cast of underground stars to showcase the songs of the Saints, X, Laughing Clowns, Painters and Dockers, the Hunnas and Midnight Oil.
Former Sydneysiders Ron Peno (Died Pretty), Steve Lucas (X), Penny Ikinger (Wet Taxis) will join Jack Howard and Fiona Lee Maynard, with John Archer (Hunters and Collectors) on bass and Ash Davies on drums. Tickets here.
If you’re of a resident of Sydney’s Inner-Western Delta, you won’t have far to catch two sideshows before and after Saturday. Steve Lucas plays a free solo show at the Golden Barley at Enmore from 8pm on Thursday night with Penny Ikinger backing up at the same venue at 7pm on Sunday, also gratis.
Lightheavyweight 2 - Jack Howard (self released)
Trumpet player. One of the guys in the Hunnas horn section. And The Horns of Contempt.
Who's been playing with Midnight Oil a lot over the last few years. Special gigs with X, a few with Hunnas, but... you know. Day job, kids... who has time to be creative these days?
Jack can't let go of the creative bug. In between all those suburban things, he's been doing solo material, working with the band Epic Brass (a sight to behold)... good, God, there are 15 releases on his Bandcamp page!
Jack Howard’s Epic Brass has already blitzed hometown Melbourne and he's taking it north to Sydney's Factory Theatre on June 2 with an all-star cast.
Jack Howard’s Epic Brass is a celebration and an exploration of the great horn hits and hidden gems of Australian rock – from Hunters and Collectors and the Oils to The Saints, The Laughing Clowns and Wet Taxis, the show features an incredible set list of killer brass tunes.
The Epic Brass band features a mighty four-piece horn section. Jack is joined by a terrific cast of guest singers and players – Ron Peno (Died Pretty), Paulie Stewart (Painters And Dockers), Steve Lucas from X, Penny Ikinger (Wet Taxis) and Melbourne sensation, Fiona Lee Maynard, who bring their style and energy to this uniquely powerful show.
This is not a real Top Ten list as such. Just a list of personal highlights that were beacons in what was another shit year for most of us.
The passing of Johnny Nolan (Bored!, Powder Monkeys, Powerline Sneakers) did not help. After his death, I read through al private messages we exchanged over the past decade. Johnny was a man of passion and so much love for music a genuine lovely bloke with his bands. R.I.P.
The Sonny Michaels Show
This shambolic pisstake on the bad ‘70s TV host has equal parts Norman Gunston and Don Lane. We get two hours per month. It is so funny. Paula and Mike Brown are a talented duo and the Sonny Michaels character is world-class. They also present at least 15 artist videos who would not normally get viewed outside their YouTube channels .Great work.