spencer p jones - The I-94 Bar
SCAG, New Vindictives, Dirty Skirt Band, Spencer P Jones, Selfish Gene, Gutterville Splendour 6, The Drones, Nunchukka Superfly, Harpoon
Here's some music i picked up in 2020 that made my year a little more fun! But first, some news.
I've resumed work on the James McCann & The New Vindictives album produced by Rob Younger at SoundPark Studios, Melbourne. We should be doing the finished mix with Rob in February. We are happy to announce James McCann & the New Vindictives with guest Claire Birchall at the Tote Hotel, Melbourne, on Saturday, March 20.
I've recently finished production work on Voluimer One of the double vinyl Spencer P Jones Tribute Album, which i co-produced with Spencer himself over the last six years. To be released on French label Beast Records, it will feature Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds, Adalita, The Drones, Chris Bailey, Violent Femmes, Jim Moginie, Alejandro Escovedo and many more!
Spencer P Jones is a legend of the Australian music scene.
Spencer P Jones is a damn fine axeman.
Spencer P Jones is loved by all the countless bandmates, scattered across the globe.
Spencer P Jones is a mighty fine songwriter.
Spencer P Jones is loved by all his mates, full stop.
Spencer P Jones is also really unwell.
That's why his mates have gotten together in Melbourne to help him.
Spencer with The Escape Committee. Richard Sharman photo.
An emergency GoFundMe account has been opened for legendary Australian guitarist and songwriter Spencer P Jones as he continues his fight against terminal liver cancer.
Spencer's longtime partner Angie has had to take a cut in her working hours in her day job to care for Spencer and the couple are finding it hard to make ends meet. Donations can be made here. More info in our story here.
Living legend Spencer P Jones is seriously ill and in need of your support.
The storied veteran of bands like the Beasts of Bourbon, The Johnnys and many of his own outfits is under medical care and currently unable to work.
Mates James Baker and Tex Perkins have arranged benefit shows in Fremantle (March 20) and Melbourne (April 15) respectively. UPDATE: A GoFundMe account has been opened here for anyone unable to make the gigs.
Dave Faulkner (Hoodoo Gurus), KISStake, The Painkillers, Beautiful Losers, Midfield Legends (featuring members of the Bad Seeds and The Triffids, Soulfisters, Maurice Flavels Intensive Care and more will play the Fremantle show at Mojo’s.
The Drones, Paul Kelly, Tex Perkins and Charlie Owen, Adalita, Renee Geyer, Two Am I, The Pink Tiles and mystery guests head the Melbourne line-up at the Prince of Wales Hotel in St Kilda.
A silent auction will operate in conjunction with the WA gig
Fremantle benefit Facebook event
2018? This year all blurs into one for me , like being a passenger down the river with the occasional stop off to play, talk, refuel and get back on and cruise.
The cruise hasn't been steady, it's been rocky. More than any other time - or for some time.
The boat feels like it lost i's rudder and all the Generals on the field are nowhere to be seen; what would they say, what would they want us to do? I think we all know the answer to that.
So, here is my attempt to make neither head nor tail of the year 2018 so far...
Spencer P Jones. Spencer’s untimely and tragically premature passing was a lowlight of 2018. The only silver lining was the outpouring of love for the man, his music and his unbridled generosity. There will never be another like Spencer.
Beasts of Bourbon, Prince of Wales. Has there ever been a more emotional gig? Brian Hooper wheeled onto stage by nurses from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, plumes of smoke emanating from his oxygen mask. Spencer Jones, frail but determined to accompany his fellow Beast on stage for one last time. It was as sloppy as the Beasts once were, way back in the day. But it was beautiful.
Brian Hooper - "What Would I Know?" Recorded at Andrew McGee’s Empty Room property-cum-recording in Nagambie, Hooper’s reaction to the initial recording sessions was scathing. “It’s all shit,” he told me one day. But McGee saw enough in the recording to convince Hooper otherwise. A mixture of love, passion, pathos, self-loathing, resilience and gusto, this is a record brimming with emotional depth and musical complexity. RIP, Brian.
Jackson Briggs and the Heaters. James McCann put me onto these guys. Grinding country rock jams that should go on forever. They’ve got a new album out. Listen to it. Enjoy. Repeat.
The Breeders, Forum Theatre. It had been almost 25 years since I first saw The Breeders, at the Big Day Out in Adelaide, February 1994. On a Sunday night at the Forum Theatre The Breeders proved their every bit as vital as they were back in the day. I could listen to that riff in ‘I Just Wanna Get Along’ anytime.
I've been to more than 140 gigs this year and the Tote is like an old high school friend you knew back in the day, who you catch up with at the 20-year reunion to find nothing has changed at all.
I've seen more gigs at my stomping ground, the Tote, than any other venue, so here's all the awesome gigs I've seen there this year:
Chris Russell is a lone man and his guitar. He has one hell of a swampy voice - like he's been hit in the side of the head with a lump of Mississippi mud
FLUFF - killer trio that pins the crowd down with a riff and continues to wail in their face
RVG - awesome post punk band, with an incredible singer in Romy Vager.
Heavy and Hammered. The yearly metal and punk festival put on by Melbourne community radio station PBS.
Little Desert: Roman Tucker from Rocket Science on Keyboards playing with an mix of Jefferson Airplane and Desert stoner rock
Spencer P Jones tribute gig: The legend that is Spencer P Jones passed away this year and a whole bunch of close mates had a two-day bender and tribute gig for their mate. Kim Salmon, River of Snakes, Digger and the Pussycats all put on killer sets.
I Won't Bend For You - Brian Henry Hooper (Bang! Records/Incubator)
First, it's a damn good LP, the kind you put on repeat all day when it lands in the letterbox. Second, it's so damn moving you'll find yourself tearing up in decades to come. Third, there are songs here which you'll put on at parties and have people scampering up, eyes wide, 'Who THE FUCK is this? It's brilliant!'
This has been a difficult last few years. The stupidvirus has not, of course, helped, but as far as I'm concerned it's just a gentle reminder of what awaits us all, one way or another. One dilemma which confronts some of us is - how best to remember the creative? A novelist, well; in George Macdonald Fraser's case, because he'd left the manuscript in a very prominent place, his family arranged for his very first book to be published. In a musician's case - what have they left for us?
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.
On what would have been his 65th birthday, the late Spencer P Jones has been paid tribute by way of a double LP of his own songs played by some of his friends. French label Beast Records and Melbourne imprint Spooky Records have released “All The Way With SPJ Vol 1” as a unique international tribute to the New Zealand-born, Australian rock'n'roll cult hero and underground icon.
Spencer died on 21 August 2018 at the age of 61 and was a noted guitarist and singer-songwriter, known for his work with the Beasts of Bourbon and the Johnnys as well as wider associations with artists including Rowland S. Howard and the Drones.
Brisbane’s leading luthier and musical equipment emporium, Tym Guitars, is getting behind fund-raising for the ailing Spencer P. Jones by launching a limited edition fuzz pedal.
A whopping $200 of the $250 price for The Axeman’s Fuzz pedals will go to Spence, who is battling a chronic health condition and is unable to work.
You can pick up one of these monsters via Tym Guitars website.
The musically-challenged of us who can’t use a guitar pedal very well can make a donation at this GoFundMe site.
Croxton Park Hotel, Thornbury, VIC
Saturday, February 23, 2019
I’m pretty sure Spencer Jones is the only member of the Beasts of Bourbon, past or present to have played the Croxton Park Hotel, back in ita heyday. That would have been in 1982, when Spencer was playing guitar in the psychedelic cabaret troupe North 2 Alaskans.
Back in those days The Croxton – ‘the Croc’, to its more familiar patrons – was a bastion of the suburban beer barn circuit. AC/DC played there back in the day, Rose Tattoo, The Angels, Chisel, all the Oz pub rock greats.
The Alaskans didn’t really fit in with the pub rock crowd, but they were as funny as a fit, and damn good musicians too. The Alaskans were, in hindsight at least, a link in the chain that led to the formation of the Beasts of Bourbon.
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.
Michael Halloran is playing upstairs at The Tote with Light Magnetic on Thursday 14 November.
Michael Halloran is busy, but he’s not in a hurry. Back in Melbourne from Mexico to see family and friends and to squeeze in a couple of live shows and some recording, Halloran is taking things as they come – organically, if you will.
“That’s where I’ve kind of got to now,” Halloran muses. “Fuck the whole organising and rehearsing, I’m too old for that – maybe not too old, but I’ve got my experiences.”
Having left Melbourne for New York five years ago, Halloran’s nominal home base is now in Mexico, where he runs a bed and breakfast. Earlier this year, Halloran returned to New York to put down some tracks with long-time collaborator Dee Pop and expatriate Australian musician Rob Mason:
“I lived in New York for about five years so I’ve got a lot of musical contacts and friends. It’s a very strong musical community,” Halloran says. “I’ve had this idea that I’ve wanted to do recently, which is to record with different people at different places. Basically to turn up there, stay for a month, get a feel, get back into the vibe and check some unique music, stuff that’s going on.”
The long-rumoured and exhaustively researched biography of iconic Australian musician Spencer P Jonesis out tomorrow.
Hard on the heels of the James McCann-compiled tribute double album, “All The Way With SPJ”, “Execution Days - The Life and Times of Spencer P Jones” is being published by Love Police and can be ordered here.
“Execution Days” was written by Melbournite Patrick Emery, who whose work has graced The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Beat, The Brag, Time Off, X-Press, Mess and Noise, Faster/ Louder, “1001 Albums You Must Hear” and the I-94 Bar.
Patrick carried out 150 interviews with friends, relatives and bandmates of the late Spencer, as well as the man himself.
With a career spanning over 40 years, Spencer’s resumé is vast, deep and eclectic, ranging from the wild cowpunk of The Johnnys, to the garage swamp of Beasts of Bourbon to the rugged beauty of his solo albums, to cameos with Ian Rilen, Paul Kelly, Maurice Frawley, Rowland S. Howard, Renee Geyer, Mudhoney and Violent Femmes. He also toured Europe with Sonny Vincent’s Shotgun Rationale.
“Execution Days” traces Spencer’s life from his childhood in New Zealand to his evolution as a musician in Australia to his profound impact on those around him. Along the way there are stories of irreverence and excess, of frustration and heartache, of friends loved and lost.
Paul Kelly: The Man, The Music And The Life In Between (Hachette Australia)
By Stuart Coupe
“I hear you like music. Do you like Paul Kelly? I’ve just been reading his autobiography, "How to Make Gravy". I love his music. Always have.”
It was an innocuous and inoffensive simple conversation starter one Sunday afternoon, uttered by a friend of my wife’s. To the extent there was question in there, it was almost opaque, and more likely rhetorical. Everyone likes Paul Kelly. How could anyone not like Paul Kelly? As it was, I fumbled around for an answer, and mumbled something about not having had the chance to listen to any of his music for a while.
It wasn’t as if I didn’t like Paul Kelly’s music. I’d first heard and seen him back in the early 1980s on Countdown with his then-band, The Dots. A few years later Kelly appeared again, this time with a new band, the Coloured Girls, and a batch of songs that would become staples of commercial radio playlists: "To Her Door", "Darling It Hurts", "From St Kilda to King’s Cross" and "Before Too Long".
Execution Days: The Life and Times of Spencer P Jones
By Patrick Emery
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.-Voltaire
"I was stripped of all my dignity, blackest clouds hanging over me, I just waited as the moments ticked away, it was like my execution day..."-Spencer P. Jones
"I thought, hold on, I've got a rock band around here some place!" - Tex Perkins
"Grief felt like fear" - C.S. Lewis
I WAS ALWAYS ON YOUR SIDE
Man I'm a little bit furious that those fucked-up Fascists at Facebook permanently locked me out and I knew it was coming, because I saw them doing all that same shit to all my friends who are antiwar, pro human rights and civil liberties, all us poor suckers who fell hard for all that phony shit they told us when we were growing up about the Bill Of Rights that they covertly dismantled but insist we still have, even though we very clearly do not, or anyone advocating for freedom for Julian Assange.
The bullshit fact checking, accusations of violating their so-called community standards, all that shit. I posted a lot of links to antiwar organizers and truth tellers who've been purged from Mocking Bird mass media. Zuckerbergand his Great Lockstep cronies decided it was better to purge some of us completely, rather than have us actively factchecking the factcheckers and pushing back against their dangerous bullshit police state narratives.
Thankfully, a very thoughtful and considerate friend thought to send me an electronic copy of a book I'd been yearning to read and I guzzled the whole thing down like a pint while I was unable to contact my comrades on social media.
"Execution Days, A Celebration of the Life and Music of Spencer P. Jones"
The Escape Committee
+ Adalita, Penny Ikinger, Sly Faulkner, Phil Gionfrido, Digger & The Pussycats,
The Pink Tiles, Claire Birchall, James McCann, Jules Sheldon, Foggy Notion,
Henry Hugo, The Last Gasp Horns
The Tote, Collingwood, Melbourne
Saturday 9 April, 2022
Photos by Michael Barry
Before we start, a disclaimer: I am a close personal friend of Patrick Emery, the author of "Execution Days: The Life and Times of Spencer P. Jones”and organiser of this gig. So therefore all objectivity is likely to be thrown out the window.
Patrick and I first saw the Beasts of Bourbon in a relatively small venue, Le Rox, in the city of Adelaide in early 1992. After the first few bars of the opening song, "Chase the Dragon", singer Tex Perkins kicked over the mic stand, the band abruptly stopped playing and Tex stormed off the stage headed towards the mixing desk. We were standing roughly in that area as he came charging in our direction and I was genuinely in fear that he was about to wreak some savagery upon us as part of the collateral damage of castigating the sound guy.
In April 2007 I sat opposite Spencer Jones and Greg ‘Tex’ Perkins in a booth downstairs at the Prince of Wales Hotel in St Kilda. The occasion was an interview to promote the release of the Beasts of Bourbon’s first studio album in 10 years, "Little Animals". Having recently arrived back from a short tour of the United States, Spencer and Perkins were weary from the long-haul flight.
Perkins was in Beasts mode – cocky, enigmatic, and just prickly enough to remind you who was the tough guy here. Spencer was, as he always was, just Spencer – the cowboy hat, a faint smile, and a reassuring honesty that defied his decades of service in the duplicitous, ego-obsessed world of rock’n’roll.
A fraught fraternal atmosphere hung over the interview. Spencer and Perkins had been friends, band mates, fellow reprobates and occasional antagonists for the past 25 years. They were like brothers, Perkins once mused, and like brothers they loved and fought. And Spencer and Perkins were the only remaining links to the genesis of the Beasts of Bourbon, an irreverent make-shift band thrown together to fulfil Perkins’ gig commitments at the Southern Cross Hotel, way back in June 1983.
After an extremely emotional final performance with the Beasts of Bourbon, Tex Perkins hit upon the idea of getting all of the band’s members, past and present into a recording studio with no particular agenda other than to do just that.
It was more of a celebratory thing he had in mind than anything. Sadly, bassist Brian Hooper didn’t make it along as he passed away a week after the Beasts’ last show.
Assembled in Melbourne's Soundpark Studio a couple of weeks later were, Charlie Owen, Boris Sujdovic, Tony Pola, Spencer Jones, Kim Salmon and Tex Perkins. They were unprepared, save for some some sketchy ideas, loose ends and a couple of covers. With limited time the band knocked together a collection of jams pretty much true to the crazy modus operandi employed back when “The Axeman’s Jazz” got laid down in that fateful eight-hour session in 1983.