Sonically speaking, there’s an awful lot going on here. It's like a bowl of musical ramen.
For those not in the know (that’d be most of us) Masami Kawaguchi is a underground legend in Japan, playing with a string of bands (Miminikoto, Haino Keiji's Aihiyo) and touring the USA and Europe numerous times. He sings, plays guitar and occasionally holds down the bottom end on bass.
There is an Australian connection: Tokyo-based Masami toured and recorded with Penny Ikinger and Deniz Tek in Japan a few years ago. He plays guitar in Penny's latest album. His solo record, the quirky and earthy "The Mad Guitar Sings”, came out in Australia a year or more ago, and he played some solo shows.
Backstage at the Festival of Sue with (from left) BILLY POMMER JR, CLYDE BRAMLEY and ROB YOUNGER. EMMY ETIE photo.
GUADALUPE PLATA (Donostia, Basque Country) GUADALUPE PLATA are an innovative 3 piece comprising (1) vocals and guitar (2) washtub bass/guitar and (3) drums. The play an eclectic and exotic mix of rock, blues, jazz and rockabilly. I saw them perform live after my solo show in Donostia, Basque Country this year. Pedro’s guitar playing reminded me of my own, at times, demented approach to guitar playing.
KELLEY STOLZ, (Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco). KELLEY STOLZ is a singer, songwriter, musician from the USA. His music has been compared to that of BRIAN WILSON, VELVET UNDERGROUND, NICK DRAKE and LEONARD COHEN. He played an awesome show with SARAH BETHE NELSON as support. Kelley is an all- rounder – a singer, musician and song writer. The real deal.
“A FESTIVAL OF SUE: THE JDS ARE ON YOU” (The Factory Theatre, Marrickville, Sydney) Friends of SUE TELFER banded together to pay tribute to this much-loved Sydney lady with proceeds going to Support Act. A line-up that included myself (with special guest BILLY POMMER JNR on drums), X, the NEW CHRISTS, THE JOHNNYS, KIM SALMON, THE CRUEL SEA (instrumental), FRONT END LOADER, THE MIS-MADE, THE HOLY SOUL, & THE ON AND ONS. Having BILLY POMMER JNR on drums certainly gave me a run for my money. Highlights for me included the NEW CHRISTS, THE CRUEL SEA, THE JOHNNYS and X. Unfortunately, I did not get to see all the acts. Too busy chatting with my friends. It was such a great turn out from Sydney folks! After my trip into the city, seeing so many old buildings torn down (which caused me a lot of distress), it was great to see that Sydney folks still have a heart – a very big heart!
Number 1 February 2 at The Lyrebyrd Lounge, Ripponlea: The Lyrebyrd Lounge was the first of seven shows for me in Melbourne this year. It felt like coming home; what a marvellous club - run by my buddy Leon Storch. This show also featured Penny Ikinger and would turn out to be the start of something good.
Number 2 Late January marks the birth of my special new friend '' Arthur Robert Collie''
Number 3 Stephen Cummings at The Triffid on April 4:
An unlikely choice for my Top Ten but when you are hot you are hot. This was the gig of the year, no doubt about it. Clare Moore on drums and Sam Lemann on guitar.
Hot Tuna - Rialto, Septermber 10 Veteran duo in electric mode with drummer. As heavy as it gets. Jack and Jorma playing with the same fire they had 50+ years ago. At the climax of one of the extended jams, Jack pogoed across the stage. We got right up to the front of the small venue for full effect.
Tom Rush - Ellen Theater, Bozeman, August 31 An unexpected visit by first division folk singer does not disappoint. At 79 years, he still has his voice and nimble fingers. Funny too. 2+ hour show. He manages to avoid playing any of his signature tunes.
Jeff Tweedy - Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back) Well written and very funny. Tweedy weaves a compelling story about his childhood, bands and years of prescription drug addiction. Plenty of insight into the workings of Wilco and his songwriting. One of the best musician-penned memoirs I’ve read.
So Good I Can’t Take It- Aug 2 Ellen Theater Bozeman Kirk Leclaire document’s the Montana music scene of the' 70s and '80s. Jeff Ament and Steve Albini figure large in the story. I get some face time too, though I only just make it into the time frame. Donovan’s Brain music is featured. A great story of small town misfits tearing it up and terrorizing the locals. A universal story that can be enjoyed even if you didn’t grow up in Montana. A Donovan’s Brain MK 1 reunion followed the screening.
Greg Sawers & Penny Ikinger - photo by Loene Carmen
PENNY IKINGER Siolo artist and ex-Wet Taxis and Sacred Cowboys member Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
2020 started with a bang! I was treated to an ear-splitting performance from X at their Bushfire Relief Benefit show at The Spotted Mallard. in Brunswick, Melbourne. It was like travelling through a time warp littered with gritty rock n roll riffs and howls. The ones that X do best. They’ve still got it!
I was taken on another spin by a stellar line up of Guitar Wolf (Japan), 5,6,7,8’s (Japan) and Rocket Science at The Tote and also saw Japanese band The Jetboys at the same venue. Guitar Wolf and The Jetboys, arguably two of the best punk influenced rock bands of this day and age, are brutal. They play loud & fast with utmost conviction. Whatever it was they were singing about I was sure it was sacrilegious. It felt that way and that’s what counts.
The Schizophonics (USA) also performed in Melbourne (The Tote again!). This relatively youthful three piece exploded all over the stage and reassured that rock 'n' roll is not dead. Not that I ever thought it was, but that’s what ’they” keep telling me…
Tickets for The Festival of Sue, the tribute to late Sydney music booker Sue Telfer, are now on sale here.
X, the New Christs, The Johnnys, Kim Salmon, Front End Loader, The Mis-Made, Penny Ikinger, The Holy Soul and The On and Ons have been announced in the first wave of bands on the bill.
Proceeds from the October 20 show - featuring a dozen bands over two stages at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville, Sydney - will go to Support Act, the charity for music industry members who have fallen on hard times.
It's a dazzling line-up with more names to be added and will run from 2-10pm. It will sell-out so don;t delay.
Boutique label Fantastic Mess Records are indulging their romanticism with vinyl singles once again with the release of a split double A side 7” featuring Melbournes staples Penny Ikinger and Baby 8.
The single will be launched at Th Old Bar at Fitzoy in Melbourne from 6pm on Sunday, December 8. The first 30 punters receive a free copy of the single. Support will be riot girl goths Plaster of Paris..
Sonic chanteuse, guitar ace and primal mistress of pop, Penny Ikinger, covers her favourite Oz rock song of all time, the Divynls classic “Boys in Town”, which she christened with a live outing at the rcent “Boys in Town‘- A Celebration for Chrissy” event to mark the occasion of what would have been the late Chrissy Amphlett’s 60th birthday.
Proceeds from this event were donated to the Olivia Newtown-John Cancer, Wellness and Research Centre.
Baby 8 is a hard hitting power-pop five-piece band creating quite a rumble. A recent support to Gang of Four at The Croxton Hotel, Melbourne, left their audience wanting more. They play with strength, passion and attitude with some seriously powerful riffs and tunes reminiscent of the 90’s riot grrrl era.
Baby 8 features Kat Karamitros on vocals, Katie Dixon (Powerline Sneakers) on guitar and vocals, Jacqui Brown on guitar, Maureen Gearon on bass and vocals and Matty Whittle (ex GOD) on drums.
Penny onstage with Dimi Dero, Vinz Gulluliy and Johnny Casino at Andoaingo Rock Jaialdia in Basque Country.
In no particular order:
1. GUITAR WOLF (Japan) and Mach Pelican at The Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne Ah! Guitar Wolf! Boy, can these guys fly! Liberating and exhilarating to listen to and watch. Every now and then I go to a gig and get a guitar lesson for the price of the entrance fee! This is the second time I have seen these guys, and there I was, right up the front again, with my comrade in arms, Julian Wu, protector of rock ’n’ roll women in volatile crowds.
2. CHARLIE OWEN at The State Library of Victoria, Melbourne Charlie melded instruments - electronic, electric and acoustic - in a way only Charlie knows how. Situated in the Reading Room of the State Library of Victoria, a tremendous building built in the gold rush era of the 1850s, the setting was opulent and reverential. Charlie had his very own pulpit/stage so to speak and kept us spellbound for an hour or so.
Penny with her Japanese band the Silver Bells at her "Tokyo" album launch at Melbourne Museum. Pic by Gary Hallenan
Album: “What Would I Know”, Brian Henry Hooper (Bang! Records) This posthumous album release is startling in its beauty, rawness and poignancy. Songs about romantic and filial love and songs about death are delivered in Brian’s signature kicking against the pricks style.
Mick Harvey's production appears to form a bridge between the states of life and death. This leaves the listener unsure whether our bard has in fact crossed the River Styx to Hades; while the instruments, like bellows, breathe life into a raging fire. Are they all bellowing from the Underworld or are their feet still firmly planted in the land of the living?
Like Orpheus, the musician, poet and prophet (armed with an electric golden lyre and a distortion pedal) performing in front of Hades, God of the Underworld (clad in a black leather jacket), in the hope of retrieving his ill-fated bride Eurydice, Brian Henry Hooper sings songs to make gods weep.
Penny and her trademark Ikinger Pennycastor. Carbie Warbie photo
1. Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds at The Caravan Club, Melbourne - Wow!!! What a band!!! It was like being given a music lesson!
2. Radio Birdman, Max Watts, Melbourne. A really diverse and powerful set of new and old classics.
3. James McCann and the New Vindictives - James McCann’s new band is truly awesome - punk meets well crafted songwriting with a good strong dose of youthful & invigorating mayhem. I have been guesting as vocalist and guitarist at their live shows singing a Spencer P. Jones song and another I co-wrote with James for their soon to be released album.
In a parallel historical universe the vast southern continent now known as Australia might have been conquered by France.
While France was still a functioning monarchy at the time Captain James Cook invoked the now discredited legal fiction of Terra Nullius to claim the territory on behalf of the English throne; by the time Arthur Phillip lobbed into Botany Bay in 1788, France was starting to buckle in the face of rising bourgeois unrest, and had bigger internal fish to fry (or heads to lop, as the case may be).
Laughing Up a Storm - Baby 8 b/w Boys In Town - Penny Ikinger (Fantastic Mess Records)
This is a double A sided single from two of the best female-fronted/dominated and/or comprised outfits in Melbourne town.
First to Baby 8 and “Laughing Up a Storm” which is brassy and bold, over-the-top pop. It’s immediately appealing with its rambunctious three-part harmonies with sax and trumpet parts kicking up a storm.A lick of synth casts an oddness into the soundscape that befits this vengeance song. There’s a sharp lyrical turn that’s like the twist of a knife and Kat Karamitros sells the vocal like she means it. Wonderful. Don't cross her.
The late Chrissy Amphlett was a mentor to Penny Ikinger and she brings plenty of conviction and feeling to her cover of Divynils’ “Boys in Town”. Three guitars give it more crunch than the radio-friendly original single, with Penny’s guitar howl leaking through the more conventional attack of Julian Heid and Sam Billinghurst-Walsh. Not content to sound just like the original, Penny and Co have bent the song out of shape, just so.
It’s the usual Fantastic Mess run of other clear-spattered or ruby red vinyl in a limited pressing. Grab it here.
Crticial acclaim for their recent run of solo shows together in Melbourne has prompted Penny Ikinger (ex-Wet Taxis, Sacred Cowboys) and Mick Medew (ex-Screaming Tribesmen, Mick Medew and the Rumours and currently in Mick Medew and the Mesmerisers) to do it all again in Brisbane with a one-off show at The Junk Bar.
Mick and Penny will play the Sunday Night Dream Card show on January 12. They'll play sets of their own material - and music of bands they have been in - and duet on some slected tunes.
The Junk Bar has limitd capacity so pre-sale tickets are the only way of guaranteing a spot and they can be bought here.
She’s been called “fuzz queen, sonic chanteuse and primal mistress of dark folk” and Europe is getting a brief opportunity to come up with more superlatives for Melbourne's Penny Ikinger and her unique brand of rock and roll this Northern summer.
Penny is promoting a CD single “Gin No Suzu” b/w “Ride On Cowboy” (that's the cover art at right), from her forthcoming album with a short series of dates in Spain and France, the peak of which will be appearances atAndoaingo Rock Jaialdiain Spain (June 17) and as part ofFete de la Musique at Petit Garagein Paris, France (June 21.)
All roads lead to Sydney's Factory Theatre on Sunday for the Sue Telfer Tribute concert aka Festival of Sue. The Ons and Ons open procedings at 2pm and X will close it at 10pm. In-between you can catch the New Christs, The Johnnys, Kim Salmon, The Cruel Sea (instrumental), Front End Loader, The Mis-Made, Penny Ikinger and The Holy Soul. MCs are Terry Serio, Bill Gibson and Tony Townsend. Ten bands over two stages with proceeds going to Support Act, the fund for music industry people in need of support. It's tracking to being a sell-out but you can buy pre-sale tickets here.
In musical terms, Melbourne's James McCann has traversed more miles than that ditzy blonde travel agent chick from the local Flight Centre. Unlike Sharon, however, McCann hasn’t done his miles with the benefit of industry junkets and a staff discount. In short, he’s paid his own way.
Back in the ‘90s, McCann co-founded The Drones in Perth, before moving to Sydney where he played with Harpoon, Lowdorados and an early version of the shape-shifting Nunchukka Superfly. Relocating his voice and guitar to Melbourne, McCann’s played under his own name or with his own bands, like The Dirty Skirt Band and The New Vindictives. The odd foray to Europe has kept his passport stamp collection growing.
Brian Henry Hooper being attended to by his angels, his nurses. Carbie Warbie photo.
Four weeks ago Brian Hooper lay in intensive care, surrounded by family and his closest friends. The tumour doctors had found on Hooper’s lung just before Christmas was preventing Hooper from breathing without medical and mechanical assistance. Specialists suggested the even Hooper’s short-term survival was in the realm of miracles.
It wasn’t the first time Brian Henry Hooper had been told to fear the worst. Just over 14 years ago Hooper was told by specialists he may never walk again, after the balcony he was standing on at a gathering in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula collapsed, sending Hooper crashing to the ground, his back mangled from the fall.
Over the next 12 months, Hooper pulled himself back from the edge of permanent paralysis. Hooper’s resilience and psychological strength astounded all around him. In late 2004 Hooper limped back on stage with the Beasts of Bourbon for a gig at the Greyhound Hotel. Towards the end of the set, his battered spine unable to withstand the trauma of standing any longer, Hooper lay on the ground. His bandmates, save for Tony Pola on drums, followed suit, three battle-hardened rockers lying prostrate on the stage in sympathy for their comrade-in-arms.
An EP with a generous serving of guests, “Of The Sea” is nothing if not true to Howling Threads’ Detroit-via-Darlinghurst musical roots. Which sits just fine around these parts.
If you don’t know already, Howlin’ Threads is a trio whose members are located in and around Canberra and Wollongong. Dylan Thomas (guitar and vocals) and drummer Adam Fermo were in notable Newcastle band The Fools in the ‘90s while bassist Matt Houstonwas briefly in Tumbleweed.
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.