tendrils - The I-94 Bar
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.
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.
As ethereal and otherworldly as when it came out on CD in 1995, “Tendrils” continues to defy easy categorisation on LP.
It was the first album for the pairing of Joel Silbersher (Hoss, GOD et al) and Charlie Owen (New Christs, Beasts of Bourbon and, again, many more) and married seemingly disparate guitar approaches to restrained vocals against an background of minimal percussion.
By then, Joel and Charlie were two of the so-called underground’s best-known players. Owen was - and still is - a consummate guitar player’s player and had had national success with the Beasts; Silbersher was the diminutive and cocky ex-GOD rocker whose current band, Hoss, seemed poised for much bigger things. He should be internationally lauded to thsi day. Putting them together in a studio was always going to produce something interesting.