Come and enjoy our great Australian music at Australian Songbook, this Sunday at Collingwood Town Hall!

In celebration of Australian Music Month, THECHO!R will present their next sensational concert.  Australian Songbook on Sunday November 19th at 3pm in the Collingwood Town Hall.

Dr Jonathon Welch AM, Artistic Director of THECHO!R explains “this will be a truly special concert of popular, new and contemporary Australian music, with Deborah Cheetham AO and the Dhungala Children’s Choir as our special guests.”

Established in 2009 by Yorta Yorta Soprano, Composer and Educator Deborah Cheetham and pianist Toni Lalich, Dhungala Children’s Choir is an award-winning ensemble for Indigenous children between the ages of 9 and 17.

For thousands of years the Yorta Yorta people have passed down their traditions, language, dreaming and culture through song on their country.  Dhungala Children’s Choir (DCC) is a continuation of this tradition.  DCC gave its debut performance in the SheppARTon festival performance RiverSong and has since become a strong presence in Shepparton, Geelong and throughout Victoria.

THECHO!R was also created in 2009, by Jonathon Welch.  One of Melbourne’s most exciting community adult choirs, it has performed extensively throughout Victoria, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, raising thousands of dollars to support other community related music activities.  All funds from this concert will be going to support Dhungala Children’s Choir.

“I can’t wait for everyone to come together at this concert” Jonathon exclaimed.  “We will be performing such a mix of glorious Australian music.  We will also be premiering Wominjeka Birrarunga – many voices, a beautiful new work by Deborah, commissioned by THECHO!R.”

Australian Songbook on Sunday November 19th at 3pm in the Collingwood Town Hall. Tickets are now on sale, $35 adult and $28 concession and under 18.  Refreshments are available.  Don’t miss out!!!!!

Book through THECHO!R’s website at

BluesTone Part 2 of 2

The Station Hotel is approx. 5.6kms from Flinders Street Station. Built in 1910, people still today reminisce about the Melbourne musicians who played there. By the end of the 1990s, these people had been moved on like flying foxes suspected of carrying the Hendra virus

Dutch Tilders and the Blues Club had a residency on a Sunday afternoon. It was through those Sunday sessions where Alan Stafford proposed an English style blues society. So a group of blues professionals and enthusiasts collaborated on 9th October 1990 forming the Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society. It’s still running today from Flemington Bowling Club and still supporting phenomenal talent – Geoff Achison is the Patron 

Photo courtesy of Lyal 'Sparra' Thomas: Alan Stafford and Dutch Tilders
Photo courtesy of Lyal ‘Sparra’ Thomas: Alan Stafford and Dutch Tilders


I am writing this from my “globurb” house – global suburb – and my house is a 1950s shell now cream-rendered with black window frames. I call it “bland” but it’s what society or real estate agents stipulate 

BluesTone’s questioning centres on valuing our pubs. How “globurbing” our pubs has stripped our Australian culture. No matter what level of popularity is being enjoyed at the time in other countries, local councils preserve their cultural heritage, like Stonehenge

When travelling through an airport terminal, from one country to another, their environment’s are all pretty similar.  I believe that Airport Terminal Mindset (ATM) is now seeping into our cities’ landscape, why is this happening?

Are we becoming culturally uniform?

Why is the character being sucked out of our buildings? 

Pubs are being gutted, commodified and the historical character traded on by real estate agents. They use the word “Iconic” to sell this space as shops and apartments. All of the “iconic” has been stripped out. I believe a building’s character holds the spirit of those people who inhabited the space

Photo courtesy of Stonnington Council: c. 1983
Photo courtesy of Stonnington Council: c. 1983

This is the blurb the Stonnington Council wrote on this photo of The Station Hotel:

“The sculptural installation of the train bursting through the wall was removed during renovations to the hotel in the late 1990s. For several decades prior to this, the Station Hotel was renown as a live music venue, and decidedly ‘down market’ [my italics]. Renovations included the addition of a restaurant”

I am going to ignore that Stonnington Council is making a value judgement on a significant historic music landmark. But it makes you think doesn’t it?

If we could value our pubs, as Londoners value theirs, we will have a much healthier, wealthier and wiser Australian culture.  For me, stripping the character out of the building is like a knife stabbing and murdering our Australian cultural experiences

I believe there are remnants, auras of people and cultures contained in these buildings 

The Fitzroy Tavern in Charlotte Street London WC1 is approx. 3.1miles or 5kms to one of the busiest London train stations – Liverpool Street. The Fitzroy Tavern resonates with me because George Orwell’s aura is in this pub. On the walls there are photographs and plaques dedicated to him

Has Australian society been denied this aura of its history? Yes most definitely

George Orwell’s novels question politics, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four embody the very things Australian culture thrives upon. We do question, we don’t just accept what politicians hand us. Yet we allow Australian culture to be stripped of character through homogenisation embedded in American Cultural Imperialism

American Cultural Imperialism = Globalisation

American cultural imperialism and blues music culture are mutually exclusive 

Australian blues music and blues music culture is informed by those first blues musicians from the Mississippi Delta, Chicago, Kansas, New Orleans, etc. An oppressed and marginalised culture born in America 

American cultural imperialism as Anthony D. King argues in Spaces of Global Cultures: Architecture Urbanism Identity, is “American Globalisation”. The normalisation of global products and practices, like that airport terminal, across the world. I suggest the irony of Donald Trump’s “Anti-Globalisation” rhetoric is that globalisation is the very thing that has made America great.  However, I argue, to the detriment of local Australian culture;
“Emphasising (American) cultural imperialism – American media culture, commodities, fast food and malls are creating a new global culture that is remarkably similar on all continents […] A completely new cultural system, or systems of culture, emerging from the diffusion of cultural values, belief and practices worldwide and which takes on new attributes, and becomes transformed in the process” (p27)

Australian culture is being moved out of our pubs like flying foxes suspected of containing the Hendra virus. King argues for a new cultural transformation but I don’t feel this is an “evolution” of cultural practices. Cultural imperialism or a globalised Americanism is sucking our Australian character out of society to the point where we only identify with an American mainstream culture

Photo courtesy Yblues? c. Dec 2014
Photo courtesy Yblues? c. Dec 2014

See SMH newspaper article “A new look in train for Prahran’s Station Hotel”
Where graffiti adds character and culture, the original character of The Station Hotel has been lost.     The aura of those musicians who performed throughout its 70 odd years has evaporated and replaced by a sterile hospital like building trading on the adjective “iconic”

London’s Councils spruce up the facade – like The Bank in Warragul – and put up blue plaques if someone of historical significance lived in a house, worked in a business, socialised in a pub. The sprucing up plus these plaques, represent past histories and connect with us and our culture. Valuing these things is important because you can feel the aura of these people. You think about their lives, family, loves and their existence because even though it’s a plaque it plays with memory by making those people come to life.  A blue plaque gives a connection to those people just as blues music connects to those blues people of America

The Station Hotel gave the people, who experienced the aura within it’s walls, their strong sense of inclusion. An Australian culture through the music they heard and the relationships they made. While the Station Hotel’s character has been erased in the 2000s, the culture in the minds of those who were there, is valued and still exists.

Chain Awards are the highest accolade paid to our Australian Blues Musicians

In February 2017, Geoff Achison’s album ‘Another Mile – Another Minute’ won Best Album; “I’m Gonna Ride” Song of the Year; Artist of the Year: Geoff Achison – “High Wire”; Duo/Group of the Year: Geoff Achison and the Soul Diggers; Producer of the Year: Ben Harwood, Rob Harwood, Geoff Achison 

How to end? …  “RACK OFF … GO ON!”

BluesTone Part 1 of 2

“Those Things We Value”

The first time I met, filmed and heard Geoff Achison perform was at “The Bank” in Warragul in 2014. The pub is called The Bank because it was the bank in Warragul and has a beautiful 19th century façade. Geoff had written a song “Crazy Horse” and his introduction to this fabulous song resonated with me. Geoff’s anecdote talked of “a guy called Crazy Horse and Red Cloud, it’s about real people and based on events that they might have been involved with.” But the song for me resonated because it seemed to be expressing the very things those people valued – family and love 

Unfortunately, I hadn’t geared up to get great sound so I can’t use the footage but here is Geoff’s official version:   

It’s Monday night at The Windsor Castle. Geoff walks to the bar buys a beer and sits down at a table close enough to absorb Dutch Tilders’ phenomenal finger-picking guitar style. He doesn’t drink the beer because he doesn’t drink alcohol … well didn’t back then. Geoff is in awe of Dutch’s magnificence. From the moment Geoff first saw Dutch play he retracted into his shell. He’d never seen a bona-fide bluesman up close before

Dutch made him realise it wasn’t simply all about playing those hot riffs on the guitar. The blues has such a deep heart felt and important story to tell and Dutch was a master of the art. Dutch was a very rare thing to find outside of Mississippi … and Geoff knew that, being in his presence was the way forward. In some ways, the fact that Dutch asked Geoff to play with Dutch Tilders and The Blues Club, sometime later, was something he never quite believed

Geoff Achison grew up in a little town in central Victoria on the Calder Highway, Malmsbury and according to “Bruno’s Blues” as a child he fell asleep in a cupboard waking up to find a guitar and started to play …

“My earliest memory of being moved by anything resembling blues music was […] when I was around the age of 10. I heard Joe Cocker’s live version of ’The Letter’ followed by ‘Delta Lady’. These two tracks are from his ‘Mad Dogs & Englishmen’ album. Unusual for radio 3UZ to play two long live tracks in a row but they did and I was mesmerized. Joe has a gritty, soulful and powerfully emotive singing voice. The band backed him up with just amazing energy and it sounded like they were having the party of the century. That made me want to be a musician. Much later when I heard Eric Clapton’s guitar with John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers I think I rediscovered that energy. It led me to Freddie King and any number of other great blues, soul and jazz artists. It just sounded like real people and they sounded more alive than I felt in my sleepy, small town environment.”


Geoff’s dad worked at the Malmsbury railway station on the Melbourne to Bendigo railway line. But the thing Malmsbury area is known for is its deposits of bluestone. Victorian Bluestone which is a kind of basalt. Basalt is an igneous rock made up primarily of feldspar and is usually grey to black and fine-grained owing to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet

The most famous bluestones are the prehistoric British cultural icon, Stonehenge. Preseli Spotted Dolerite, found in the Preseli Hills of Wales and Dolerite is of a similar composition to basalt. The term ‘bluestone’ in relation to Stonehenge encompasses around twenty different rock types, including rhyolites, dolerites and ‘calcereous ashes.’ And because bluestone is not found in the area it is debated whether humans carried the stones or whether they were glacial deposits

It’s suggested that the stones were raised from 2400 – 2200BC. Compared to the earliest pyramid of Egypt constructed approx. some 200 years before from 2630BC – 2611BC. From analysis of teeth and bone found at the Stonehenge site, it is estimated that 4,000 people attended mid-winter and mid-summer festivals

Culturally the rituals performed at Stonehenge are believed to be religious and spiritual. A folktale, relates the origin of the Friar’s Heel reference;

“The Devil bought the stones from a woman in Ireland, wrapped them up, and brought them to Salisbury plain. One of the stones fell into the Avon, the rest were carried to the plain.

The Devil then cried out, “no-one will ever find out how these stones came here!”

A friar replied, “That’s what you think!”, whereupon the Devil threw one of the stones at him and struck him on the heel. The stone stuck in the ground and is still there” 

For some, Stonehenge maybe the site of “just another set of rocks”, however it has a cultural heritage value to groups like the Druids. Druids are a people who are a high-ranking professional class in ancient Celtic cultures. The first Neo-Druidic group to make use of the megalithic monument was the Ancient Order of Druids who performed a mass initiation ceremony in August 1905 in which they admitted 259 new members into their organisation

Between 1972 and 1984, the Stonehenge Free Festival was held and the number of midsummer visitors had risen to around 30,000. From 1985, the English Heritage and National Trust closed the site to festival goers. This caused a violent confrontation between the police and New Age Travellers and became known as the Battle of the Beanfield

Photo courtesy Geoff Achison: Just Blues
Photo courtesy Geoff Achison: Just Blues

Geoff had a strained school life and dropped out of high school. He then went on to get a regular job but looking back he wished, and had a little regret, that there had been somebody there that had been able to take the reins and fix things up for him. But the difficulties in school were unbearable so he left and nobody stopped him

Geoff’s secret to a happy life is that if you can find anything that you are good at, even if it’s just one thing, make that your pursuit. The only thing he had was music and with whatever other jobs he tried he just felt like he was the shit kicker. No matter what he did because he felt he had no other talent in life but music. When he picked the guitar up that was something he could do. When he picked the guitar up, people would say “wow you’re really good at that” but if he’d do anything else … he was the shit kicker. All he heard was “O give Geoff the broom to sweep the floor”

“Cos I didn’t take drugs I remember it. It’s never been that kind of scene, everyone that I’ve known that has been into the Blues like we’ve gotten into it, is because of the music. It’s the music that has motivated us. So it’s not been, you know, a desire to be a “star” you know it’s a desire to be a musician to really master how to play this stuff for people”

Dutch Tilders and the Blues Club – “Baby Please Don’t Go”

Chucking his job in, he arrived in Melbourne with his electric guitar and $40 and a burning determination to get a job as a musician and have a future in music

The thing that drew Geoff to Melbourne was a group called Blues on the Boil.
He used to go down to Melbourne maybe once a month save up a bunch of money, probably about $100 bucks – in the mid-1980s that was a fair wad of cash. He’d go to Gaslight Records and buy a stack of Blues records. One time he found this record called Blues on the Boil, it looked pretty good. Reading the liner notes he discovered that the LP was recorded in Melbourne

Geoff was ignorant of the Blues scene in Melbourne. What he had discovered about Blues came from the United States and you’re talking about Chicago, you’re talking about Mississippi, you’re talking about New Orleans and he got most of his information from reading the liner notes on the back of the LPs

“Wow these guys are in Melbourne and it had been recorded like that same year”

Blues on the Boil
 had a residency in town. This was a group led by a guy called Bob Sedergreen, an amazing jazz cat and piano player. Geoff had a jazz background so he really dug where Bob was coming from, the whole band was like all jazz cats but playing Blues. Getting back to the roots and really twisting it and bending it and Geoff loved it. He became such a regular there that he struck up a conversation with the guys in the break

When he found out that Geoff had a guitar, Gordon Pendleton, the drummer said “Man, you play man? …. you got to bring your axe … bring your axe next time and we’ll get you up and play”

That was the spirit of the blues scene. Biting his nails all the week before, he took his guitar along and they let him play. From then on it became a regular thing

That turned into the Just Blues band. Steve Ceprow on harmonica would get up and jam with Blues on the Boil. The amazing bass player called Travis Clarke, who was about 16 years old at the time and Mark Grundin, from Mallacoota, was the drummer of Just Blues. He was another country boy and still plays around the scene

Just Blues played for maybe 18 months or a couple of years around the scene. They used to do a residency at the Swan Hotel it was a $5 cover charge. Geoff used to make about $80 maybe $90 that’s what they’d get each gig. He was living in a big house in Eltham with about eight people all artists … you know singers, musicians and the rent was maybe twenty bucks each

Geoff was doing OK – it wasn’t looking like an actual career but he was calling it that – everyone was telling him, every time they’d do a gig;

“you really need to go and see Dutch Tilders if you’re into the Blues … you play OK but you really need to go and see Dutch Tilders … and to my eternal shame I had never heard of him … I didn’t know who he was”

Photo courtesy Johanna Tilders: Dutch aged 16
Photo courtesy Johanna Tilders: Dutch aged 16

“Tilly Bar” in Bloemerstraat 15, Nijemegen Holland was owned by Dutch Tilders’ father. Dutch was fourteen when he, his father, mother, four brothers and one sister – Johanna, immigrated to Australia. Nijemegen is where Dutch Tilders grew up. His parents sent him to music school where he learned to play the harmonica. Then he went into the Catholic Brotherhood and it was here that he would play a range of instruments. Johanna remembers Dutch using the wooden finger picks to keep rhythm and he was extremely good at drawing. Dutch Tilders may have been about to catch that Blues music wave in early 1950s Holland when his family decided to immigrate

In Holland he’d learned to read and write music. According to his sister Johanna “it came naturally to him.” His father was a tenor, like Mario Lanzo and mother a soprano. His parents both sung in Frankston choir Catholic church. Dutch was twenty when his father was tragically killed in a head-on collision on the Moorooduc Highway aged 48. The Freezer truck was on the wrong side of the road. From then on whenever Dutch performed “Nobody Knows You When You Are Down and Out” it was his personal tribute to his father

cont. BluesTone Part 2:  The Station Hotel, Prahran

Rickie Lee Jones – A Review by Colin Talbot

Rickie Lee Jones
Rickie Lee Jones
Rickie Lee Jones–Me & Ms Jones, there’s a thing going on…She & band played the Recital Hall which is a far far cry from Festival Hall or Rod Laver, thankfully. It is a mature venue, the like of which did not exist in my youth. And I’d never heard hardly anything RLJ had done apart from ‘Chuck E’s in Love’ which did very well around the traps. It is said she was in the sack with Tom Waits, so there’s that beatnik/jazz connection, that staccato thing.
The band was minimal, Ms Jones to you on semi-acoustic & a lead guitar & drums/vibes (both players subtle and excellent but I didn’t catch their names when she gave them out because there was random applause which drowned that out. One can always research it or find some program notes but I didn’t. Ms Jones said they’d all been living and playing in ‘New Orleans Lousiana’ for the past few years) and later in the set she went to the piano.
Her stage craft is cool and wry and polite enough and that’s okay by me. The big surprise was ‘Horses’ which I probably heard many years ago was one of her songs but forgot, and she invited Darryl Braithwaite to come on stage and sing which he did. It was a highlight because, yes, I recall Darryl from Sherbet all those years ago, and he sang well then, but with ‘Horses’ he found a true song for himself. They sang together well, and he was hanging off-stage and it was even remotely piossible they’d encore with it. They didn’t. Anyway, it went over well, very well. and she told the story of how he’d taken her song to #1 in Australia and she thanked her music publishers (why wouldn’t ya?) and Darryl and told the story of arriving in Melbourne into a hotel and turning on the TV (fighting over that with her daughter, about who the song was written 29 in a few days she said, —but ‘that’s another story!’ – and on the TV was a horse race and everybody seemed to be singing ‘that’s the way it’s gonna be’ because Darryl was doing his thing at the Races—I remember that time, I think there was a problem with the timing and the real horses  the song about the Horses were on a collision and a few million $$ worth of horseflesh started shying…Melbourne Cup or Cox Plate, I forget…anyway…back to last night.
So Rickie Lee slowly began to warm up to her best and in the end, tho she was 15 minutes late, went to about 10.15pm and whattya want? I’ve never been ‘into’ Ms Jones but that’s as may be, for she had many many fans there who knew the stuff, which I didn’t. But I did warm to the oblique style and the sparse but critical way the band played and she has a very strong voice that has charm and wit.
She’d been on guitar and then she moved to piano and that’s where her sublime talent at the piano showed. It turns out her grand folks were some kind of performers (circus, tin-pan alley, musicals, I forget) and her father was an accomplished performer & songwriter and in fact her encore was his song written in 1954 ‘The Moon is Gold’ which was a  nice tune that gave Rickie Lee Jones a time to sound a little like Billie Holiday’s phrasing.
 But that was last Friday and I have been thinking…and then from Sydney, Amanda Dweck wrote of seeing RLJ in Sydney… so…
here is that letter from Amanda:

What a treat Rickie Lee Jones must have been in Melbourne with Daryl Braithwaite singing “Horses”. I saw her last night said daughters birthday and I didn’t know that she had written this song for her daughter. But I listened to the lyrics for the first time and was choking back the tears. What a beautiful gift! Rickie’s unique voice was also a gift to us because she had caught a miserable lergy that she could only have caught in Melbourne. Sydney’s Basement was packed in like sardines on the second of two nights. She was simply amazing. I bought her album on the way out and the liner notes revealed that she had to rely on friends support to produce the album.


The thoughtful note we received did not prompt this addition yet it helped me to concentrate the mind, like the hangman’s noose at dawn – or the hangperson as the case may be.

Amanda’s letter mentioned  how she missed Sherbet’s former lead singer doing ‘Horses’ and it got me thinking – was it a ‘special moment’ because it was so good? Or was it such a moment because it was totally unexpected and then well done, so we the audience were generous? Possibly both, as the audience surely responded to the surprise with much more than good grace…and Darryl B with Rickie Lee nailed it, IMO.

Now I mentioned before that when Rickie Lee went to the piano, something of a revelation occurred, as the playing was pensive, dynamic, thoughtful and inherently beautiful all at once. Yet as she said while noodling, (ie: foolin’ around) she said how she had a gift for recalling tunes and songs—once heard, sort of never forgotten. Then she started to recall a tune right then…half under her breath singing ‘smiling faces, badabadabing blah yadda ya traces’ and hung that on us before moving on. Now that really stuffed me up because I could not recall what song it was and I spent the rest of the concert flicking thru my mind’s catalog of pop stuff but I freakin’ could NOT find it. Jeez to heck! No!!!!! Hold back the dawn!! Ye haw, hey jest a minute! Hold on, ’Smiling faces, going places aaah ha’ …And I find it kinda funny I find it kinda sad that I just can’t recall —I mean it were not a couple of things I looked up later that night on Gargle.Cum I really did start to lose it—and I remembered ‘smiling faces going places’ and I realised, like I saw I was in a mad place because it is a mad world—YES!

I had fund the Missing Link. The sog was the soundtrack for that movie where the guy sees a big rabbit. ‘Mad World’. Lots of minor chords I suspect. It had been written by I forget, maybe the band that sang ‘Life in a Northern Town’ maybe not, maybe by The Cocteau Twins –that sort of thing. What a beautiful song (to me), just piano (probably viola or whatever sitting behind so subtle that I don’t know I’m hearing it.) I don’t ‘hear’ everything, I become captured by the song and can no longer analyse it, I’m caught in it like what happens in the song Grace Jones sings, ‘Sometimes the Hunter is Captured by the Game.’ Incidentally on that Grace Jones album from 30 or 40 years ago (Jeeez!!) right there was ‘Walking in the Rain’ by the Easybeats songwriting team. And Grace kills the song so beautifully, who else would ever dare do it? I certainly don’t know, that’s the version I carry in my head catalog. But back to the concert, Amanda.

Then RLJ, after freakin’ me out and leaving me with half a song in my head, began to speak of a group called Left Bank and their album. I never knew they ever did another but maybe they did. She mentioned a song on it ‘Pretty Ballerina’. Now that song , the version by the Left Bank, was used in a movie about bent US Army Police in Thailand, the song playing over a scene where the body of a murdered bar girl is shown…I was not happy but I was happy. Because I loved and still love that song and that version – the only version besides mine that I have ever heard and I’m confessin’ you really wouldn’t want to hear mine.

But I found it most disturbing that in the film (name forgotten -please insert, dear editor and knower of all things) the song was played over an example of the human plague of murder that was kicked off all those years back by Cain, the selfish Biblical metaphor for the bad in us perhaps –unless you believe every word in the Bible is gospel (so to speak) and is the word of God handed down via ‘prophets’ and just guys who wrote stuff down they heard in their heads, and therefore Cain is real history…maybe it is…probably it is not. ASnyway and it is so that all murdering types carry the Mark of Cain — it’s just that I don’t know what that Mark is and so I’ve never been able to identify it—perhaps it is a different mark for each member of that evil fraternity. And I do not class self-defence or the elimination of certain gutter trash  as murder, more as restoring equilibrium (note: some may find the following language not to their taste…you may overlook this paragraph thus: when these cases are come before court apparently the wise lawyer employs what is called the ‘f*cking c*nt’ defence…as in, ‘Your Honor, my client pleads not guilty to murder because he knocked that rabid tosser because he was a f*cking c*nt.’ The judge then says. ‘Oh, sweet, no worries. Case dismissed.’)

Anyway, Rickie Lee having mentioned ‘Pretty Ballerina’, the only singer I have ever heard to mention this song and this band,  she turns to the other song of note on that album. Most would think the Four Tops were the true agents of this song she turned to, but as I recall, it was a Left Bank Original. Rickie Lee talked genuinely of the Left Bank and if she’d done nothing else, that would have won me over. It brought to mind a scene from my ragged life back in West St Kilda when I was a journalist just beginning to learn the amount of alcohol a journalist must consume so as to deal with the absolute horror of this world —of having to meet and write about some of the people who perpetrate the worst acts humanity can dream up —and the worst is really really off. I had been a Pollyanna type, I couldn’t even listen to cautionary tales like Handsome & Gretchen without coming out in a rash. Anyway we’d had a party at my rooms (as they used to say) in York Street and I had intended to clean up, as had Steve and Dennis who shared the (Between the Wars) abode. But it was a busy time with news and newspapers that June. We didn’t have time, honest…sort of. Oh yeah it had been my birthday party and someone had decided I should have a party at my place but they’d forgotten to inform me so when I returned to the house after the evening shift finished at 10pm, and I thrashed the FC Holden home to get there by 10.38pm the joint was jumpin’, yo man it was absolutely packed to the freaking rafters with people I’d never met before all helping me to celebrate my 20th.

Anyway, sometime later, on another day, I woke with a remarkably clear head to find two policepersons standing in my room , regarding me. Fortunately the two girls who had been evicted from the hacienda next door and had sought refuge in our joint were not around, as one of them had decided it was better to sleep with me than to sleep in the room that the house’s owner (we were renting) used to keep his spuds—and he had thousands of them…(It wasn’t until years after I even wondered why he had crates and crates of spuds in this locked room. Odd when ya think about it, which I’m doing now…still odd. Who would have thousands of spuds in a locked room with three journos who were just out of childhood (but not mentally) in the same house. Anyway we’d broken the lock of the room to see WTF was in it. Spuds was the answer. Oh how we dined on mashed potato, roast potato, boiled potato and potato salad (with just potato)…so the de-homed, the de-domesticated. de-domiciled girls could try and find a spot in amongst the spuds after they were evicted. We made a nice level area so they could lie flat on the potatos. But, as I say, one of the lasses didn’t like spuds, and I was a preferred option but believe it or not, sometimes at 11pm after a horrible shift of reporting, chasing some dopey missing figure from the alleged on-the-run Czech consul up in the hills and being told by a local from those hills that my quarry ‘I baint seen him like but he be living a few chain down that ways.’ A chain being a unit of measurement in the Imperial System (which I’d called the Empirical System for a long time until some kid told me I was an drongo, not even ‘a’ drongo mind you), that was no longer in use after WW1, let alone in 1969. That’s the length of a cricket pitch for those of a sporting bent….where was I —oh yeah, sometimes after a bad night reporting a stupid story, you don’t want company in bed, even if it’s a girl, even if she’s a nice person, even if…(redacted dirty bit), even if you are not a terribly bad bloke, you yell out the locked door ‘Stay with the spuds, I’m quite done in.’

The door rattles, expletives are hurled, but you finally hear footsteps tromping off…but it accounted for why I woke up alone with two coppers standing over me.
And they ask a question or two about whatever and then one points to the pyramid of beer cans in the centre of the rather large room with mid-morning sunlight streaming in through the East-facing window —and the can pyramid is tall as a seven-year-old child (either —or these days any- sex) and the copper goes , ‘Did ya’s have a party here last night?’ And I thinks (‘to myself’ as the sports writers say) for a minute or two and I replies through the mental fog —‘Yeah…Nah, I think…yeah, the party was about two weeks ago.’ And they got a frown and a sneer & the hump and turned on their well-polished heels and exeunt.

Well the point of that silly story is that leaning against that pyramid of cans was my Left Bank record. And on that record was the song that Rickie Lee now chose to sing at the piano. And that was ‘Walk Away Renee’. The Four Tops did a great version but for me, it was always Left Bank. And Rickie Lee gave us a beautifully pensive version at the piano. Just so good. Thankyou. And a lover of Left Bank…just perfect.#

31 March – 2 April

joffMaddawgs of Melbourne

This is Joff. He is the kind of guy who rocks two pairs of glasses at a time. He was big in the pottery scene of Warrandyte in the 70’s while also being a deep sea diver erecting (lol) oil rigs in Bass Straite. Joff got married, divorced and hit that mid-life crisis patch hard. But instead of buying a car, he became a firefighter and rose through the ranks over time to Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer with the Melbourne Metro Fire Brigade to be specific. He was often on the color-box giving statements, as he also put out flames at the Big Ones: Ash Wednesday, Coode Island and Black Saturday to name just a few.
Are all firemen shredded muscle gods?
When I joined lot of them were fat-gutted lazy bastards. It destroyed my concept for a few years. But the new generation are pretty good, they’re pretty sharp.
Ok so go for the young ones. Got it. What was a fire you went out to and were like ‘C’mon, seriously?’
Smoke alarms above toasters, seen plenty of those. Thinking back on my 34 years, and without getting in to too much detail, people had a lot of things erm, stuck on themselves. Eventually we get called in. We’re talking saucepans stuck on kid’s heads. There was even a woman who said she ‘sat on the tap’ in the shower, and we had to release her from that. The fire brigade invented a ring-cutter to get washers and other bits and bobs off people’s fingers. The record was SEVEN metal washers on one man’s appendage.
What about..  
Oh, also there was another guy who had an ornate twisted fire-poker stuck somewhere he didn’t want it, he said he ‘fell over’ onto it. We had to cut off the remaining length of it so he could get to hospital to have it removed.
No cats up trees?
Yeah in the 90’s we had a CEO who was fond of cats, and he legislated in our response matrix that we had to go out to ‘cats up trees’ calls. I do suspect that some of the outlaying stations would get them out with a hose.
What was the hardest thing you had to deal with?
Car fatalities were awful. Traumatising. Kids are the worst. Actually, one of the worst things we have found were people that had got into water tanks above ground. Cooked alive in the bushfires.
That sounds awful. Can you…
Oh wait – once there was a guy in Brighton (former Mayor) who was a hoarder. It took us three days to find him in the ashes, because his house was solid with everything from beer to videos to couches lining the walls. Have you heard of a hangi? It’s a traditional NZ style of slow cooking. It was pretty much that with him in it.
Oh, that sounds awful. Don’t you have nightmares?
No I don’t but many of my compatriots have been affected. There is a dark side but there is far more on the bright side.
And now?
I’ve retired from being a firey. Now I’m a cartoonist for a local paper. I also build boats and classical guitars in my spare time. I’m also in the middle of writing a book about a cottage I built on the Gippsland lakes 20 years ago. I’m married to an amazing woman named Cherry who I met when running a pottery class. We were recently crowned King and Queen of Warrandyte at the annual festival. I was dressed as Henry the Eighth, she was Cleopatra, and we rode camels down the main street.

Are you going to the World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards live site count down in Fed Square happening next Wednesday? Kewl, see you there..

This weekend
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival @ Melbs (31 Mar – 9 Apr) –  the time when stuffing your face and being drunk is celebrated by all. Outside of Xmas. And like, weekends in general.
Lord of the Flies @ Arts Centre (5-9 Apr) – Proudly sponsored by Mortein.
Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show (29 Mar – 2 Apr) – follow the smell of lavender, the blur of grey hair and the trail of those boiled lollies covered in sugar dust. You know in those lil gold tins. Yeah follow those.
Fed in French @ Federation Square (31 Mar – 2 Apr) – feed me like one of your French gurrrrrrrls.
2017 Yarra Valley Food and Wine Festival @ Yarra Valley (1-2 Apr) –people will celebrate food and wine in the Yarra Valley for the first time ever. Noooooot.
Otway 300 @ Otways (1-2 Apr) – led by Gerard Butler, 300 of the buffest men on the planet walk in slow motion for two hours straight.
River Graze @ Melb (31 Mar – 2 Apr) – bandage all knees before attending.
The Peninsula Picnic @ Mornington (1 April) – faded salmon chinos for the win.
Shady Cottage Music and Leisure Festival @ Trentham (31 Mar-2 Apr) – Slim Shady moves to the country, then eats a lot of peaches and cottage cheese.
Mr Stink @ Arts Centre Melbourne (1-9 Apr) – Lynx Africa makes its stage debut.
By The Meadow @ Bimbra (31 Mar – 2 Apr) – down by the meadow, beneath the willow tree, lay the most beautiful man, you ever did see. His hurr is long, his dark brown eyes, a huge broadsheet rests between his thighs. A well-read bae is the one to pash, provided, of course, I don’t end up with a rash.
Cerita Anak @ Arts Centre  (30 Mar – 2 Apr) – think puppetry of the peen. But, like, without the peen. And with kids. So actually, don’t think Puppetry of the Peen… like, at all. Gross guys.
Andersons Mill Fest @ Smeaton (2 Apr) – can’t think of a joke, too busy drinking my water out of a wine glass #wednesdays
Melbourne International Coffee Expo @ Melbourne (30 Mar – 1 Apr) – Why are men like coffee? Cos the best ones are rich, hot and can keep you up all night. Thank you, here all night, enjoy the steak.
Bellarine Bounty: Tomato Celebration and Seaside Lunch @ Basil Farms (2 April) – wear sunscreen or risk becoming a tomato that ~isn’t~ celebrated by the seaside.

Eat & Drink by The Sprink

Ben & Jerry’s @ my stomach – I swore I wouldn’t buy anything at the petrol station on the way home. I swore it to my soul, as I pulled up to the pump and filled my red beast full of dinosaur-liquid-fossil-fuel (that is what petrol is yeah?). I knew I could resist as I walked past the ice-cream fridge. But when I arrived home, I found my body had deceived my mind, and a Ben&Jerry’s Cookie Dough has found its way into my hands.
So I ate it.

17 – 19 March

Maddawgs of Melbourne

This is Anna. She grew up in the Western suburbs of Melbourne where her first job was delivering loaves of dad’s bread to all the locals who used to high-five her but as she is Asian she wasn’t nice to them until they had paid.
Everyone in Anna’s family werked and twerked the hospo scene running the original Bahn Mi Empire of the 90’s, back before that dish was kewl. While she loved food and was addicted to that lil white gluten devil, she also loved to draw, and suprised her family when she announced she was going to study architecture at RMIT instead of continuing the business. She went to RMIT and majored in the drawing of buildings and minored in micro-nations because Anna literally has way too much ADD to concentrate on just one thing.
Hang on, what the hell is a micro-nation? Literally a tiny independent country that has it’s own rules and sh*t. And like, hardly any people. There are heaps around – Australia in particular – from Principality of Sealand to Nova Roma to Principality of Hutt River *
Yeah but like.. what.. actually, I don’t get it? People define territory and start their own nation – independent sovereign states with their own rules.
Riiiight well what’s the weirdest one you remember? There was one where the rulers lived on a tiny, tiny island off Australia and they invited people to a knighting ceremony. About ten people flew over in helicopters to watch the king and kween knight their own son and then they all flew back again that same day because there wasn’t any room for them to stay.
I am so bewildered, I can’t talk about this anymore. Yeah kewl.
Anyhoo, so after years of random study, architecture and then slaving for da man, she decided life was just too easy so she opened her own Vietnamese restaurant in Yarraville called Friend or Pho (which she architected). Why back to kitchen? Cos she: 1) couldn’t shake that lil white gluten devil; 2) is a feeder. ‘I’m Viet so feeding is in the soul’ 3) she is a proper WESTY through and through and wanted back into the Wuburbs.
Favourite part about restaurant life? All the old high-fivers of the 90’s come past and say hi to me still –  they are happy that I came back to the neighbourhood.

Violent Femmes @Arts Centre (16 Mar) – Ms Violet Beauregarde has her pick of the snozzberries.
Melbourne Design Week @ NGV (16 – 26 Mar) – the one week a year that Melburnians are invited to wear something other than black.
Top Designs 2017 @ Melbourne Museum (18 Mar – 16 July) – top not bottom. Chillout Festival was last weekend guys.
The Melbourne Tomato Festival @ Northcote (19th March) – Guy Grossi squeezes his fave fruits all over the trams.
Herb and Chill Festival @ Wandin (18-19 Mar) – Herb rubs chilli all over Wandin.
Ararat Jailhouse Rock Festival @ Ararat (17-19 March) – to rock and/or roll. That is question.
Castlemaine State Festival @ Castlemaine (17-26 March) – the new Northcote puts on a party that will raise property prices and make Maldon the new, new Northote. #icalledit
Sharks and Silent Disco @ Melb Aquarium (18 Mar) – there will literally be murder on the dancefloor.
Melbourne Art Book Fair @ NGV International (16-19 Mar) – I went to this last year and I have never felt less like a hipster in my life.
Snag and Beer Festival @ Heathcote (17 March) – I’ll just take the sausage thanks xx
Middle Eastern Food Truck Festival @ Food Truck Park (17 Mar) – I’ll ~definitely~ take the sausage.
Arnie’s Stongman and Strongwoman Championships @ MCEC (17 – 19 Mar) – because EVERYONE can be strong. And run for Governator. And sleep with their house cleaner.

The Bearded Man @ South Yarra – by SAM our social media guy.

Gang, I cheated this week. I’m disgusting, and I hate myself. I’m practically Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman minus the necklace (should have been pearl). 

Hear me out, people. I cheated on my hair dresser. Since moving $outh $ide I’ve made a lot of changed. New coffee joint, new supermarket (aldi4lyf), new train station… and it doesn’t have the new, quick myki stalls either fml.

But there’s one part of my life that’s still North. My hair dresser. She’s 100% bae, and I’d recommend her to anyone and everyone (Eros Hair Lounge in North Melb x). But when I have a day off, or need to nip out for a quick hair cut I can’t because North Melbourne is sahhhhhh farrrrrr awayyyyyy. I might as well go to Shit-ney for a hair cut. Ugh..


Louisa by name, Bae-isa by profession. She was the KWEEN of my hair. She werks at The Bearded Man on Chaps, and it’s a ripper of a place. Fab tunes, fab decor, and on weekdays they have an in house barista.. excuse me but are we in NYC?? #GLOBALCITY

I’d 100% recommend her for all you boiz out thurr that need to gets yo hurr did. 

dan mar13

Note from Dan Austin, our resident sketchie:
Dear Sprank, Here is a new picture. This building is a personal favourite.. includes a stunning City Mart and dusty empty floors. Hard to see, but it’s a gem of a building. Nobody will get this. But as Whitney once said ‘Ít’s not right, but its OK, I’m gonna make it anyway’. Many things wrong with this picture but remember I did it for Australia.

LAST WEEKS SKETCH – was the old music-shop-turned-miso-place in KEW JUNCTION and the KWEEN who guessed it was Mimi West. I will be sprinking her as soon as she recovers from her weekend at Golden Plains.

IMPROVILICIOUS: The Improvised Guide to BFFs

Meet Ben and Cassie – your new best friends. After conquering the internet, high school, and history, our award-winning improvisers are back with their new impro-larious, edu-comical and help-arific guide to making and maintaining best friends forever.

These (possibly) real-life BFFs have created an improvised experience especially for tweens and teenagers about the positives and pitfalls of friendship.

At every show, Ben and Cassie bring a few new besties from the audience to join them on an epic improvised adventure. Get on stage or sit back and watch the made-up-on-the-spot merriment and madness. With audience participation and awesome improvisation, every show is unique!

“Great, honest and wholesome performance for the whole family… sure to tickle your fancy.” Weekend Note

Castlemaine State Festival launches


The journey to the future of things past


This year’s hugely anticipated Castlemaine State Festival—Victoria’s premiere regional arts festival—will blast off on Friday 17th of March. Departing from Castlemaine’s abandoned transport hub, the Castlemaine Goods Shed, festival-goers will journey to The Future of Things Past.


“We are the next stop for Australia’s regional creative industry and the world is travelling to us,” says Martin Paten, director of the 2017 Castlemaine State Festival. “The Journey is the theme for this year’s festival, reflecting the local and international works offered and the ongoing cultural evolution of this remarkable community.”


He describes the energy of the opening spectacular – The Future of Things Past – with more than 200 performers, many of them locals “…what an incredibly engulfing experience for a regional community, their young people and artists from around the globe, claiming their own journey—defying the technological world that demands them to view and consume.”


Opening night creative producer Sam Thomas, an international performer who like many artists, now calls Castlemaine home, says, “Here we are, connected to the rest of the world. Castlemaine is undergoing an artistic and economic transformation from loss of opportunity in industry, and now is laying the foundation for a strong creative industry with schools, artists and the festival.”


The Future of Things Past, as the name suggests, is a story that draws on the history of the town’s working and social life to envision a future explored through the imagination and aspirations of the young people in this town.


Acrobats, dancers, robots, beatboxers, brass bands and circus performers will give opening night audiences a taste of just some of the outstanding international artists who will perform at the Castlemaine Goods Shed over the next ten days, as part of “Circocentric,” the festival’s physical theatre and circus program.


Sam claims, “Like circus folk, the festival is the destination where artists work together, support each other, and take risks together… In circus, there are no losers. It’s all of us defying gravity. Defiance of gravity must equate to flight of some kind, perhaps a journey, or at least a departure from the norm. What better way to do this than accept the enticing invitation of the Castlemaine State Festival Chair Julie Millowick, to “journey to the Future of Things Past with us.”



Friday 17 March at 7.30pm – 10.00pm

Castlemaine Goods Shed, Kennedy Street, Castlemaine


The VIP night is on from 6pm with Federal Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield in attendance as well as Hon Martin Foley, the Victorian Minister for Creative Industries along with representatives from key arts and philanthropic organisations across Australia.


If you or an associate were interested in attending I could arrange interviews with numerous artists and performers from across Australia and from around the world and with notice many of the VIPs in attendance.




Creative team: 4:30-5.00pm

  • Martin Paten – Festival Director
  • Sam Thomas – Creative Producer
  • Robby Graham – International choreographer (UK)
  • David Thrussel – Musical Director


Artists who are performing on the evening: 5.00pm-5:30pm

Other interviews: 6.30pm- 10.00pm


Please Note:

Opening Night is not seated performance event

There will be a night food market and carnivalesque performances, with limited seating available.

Street fair in style, audiences are encouraged to move around the site and view multiple


Windows at La Mama

Directed by Lloyd Jones Performed by Fin Fletcher and Zachary Kazepis

Two kids, two ruined lives. So many fairy tales. Far too many fairy tales. So many that after a while you may not be able to put up with them. But these kids have to, because it is their lives. You are just the audience.

Inspired by actual events, Windows is an original work by Ayse Bayramoglu which is both beautiful and confronting, giving the audience a glimpse into the lives of two very different children, the relationship that they have, and the stories that they share.

Exploring the themes of isolation, poverty and abuse, Windows tells a dark and moving story of survival, hardship and enduring spirit through the friendship of two children, Huso and Esme.

In a town where everybody know each other’s business, Huso and Esme find themselves alone and vulnerable, struggling day by day in a cruel and patriarchal community.

Through the characters of Huso and Esme, Windows presents a poignant examination of the ways in which children suffering from abuse cope and survive in these circumstances; and the ways these situations can ultimately change them.

At La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday Street, Carlton

Opening Wednesday March 15, until Sunday March 19 | Wed 6.30pm, Thurs – Sat 7.30pm, Sun 4pm

Approximately 50 minutes

Available via: | 03 9347 6142

Windows was originally performed by Ebony Beaton and Sam Duncan, as a Rehearsed Reading at La Mama Courthouse, February 2016

The Butterfly Club Presents Lawson Reeves and Josh Staley

Butterfly Club 2 Guys One Comedy
2 Guys One Comedy

2 Guys, 1 Magic Show, No Idea 

Butterfly Club presents Big Brothers Lawson Reeves teams up for unconventional magic show. Lawson and Josh are more likely to pull a hare out of their ass then a rabbit out of a hat.

As the show begins you’ll instantly notice that this isn’t only a unique magic show, but a unique show no matter what the art form. Forget scripts, and don’t worry about a running order, instead the audience is in full control, deciding what happens and when. From what magic is performed, to how it’s performed. When we say ‘no idea’ we really mean it.

This year as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, The Butterfly Club presents 2 Guys, 1 Magic Show, No Idea. “We wanted to create a magic show that made people laugh and have them scratching their heads saying “how the f**k did they do that?””

The pair use their quick wit, sarcasm, dry humour and showmanship to bring audiences a magic show the likes they have never seen.  Their relaxed, easy going approach to magic has their audiences in a false sense of security from the very beginning allowing for a night of the impossible.

Accumulating multiple awards, television appearances, and a Guinness world record, the boys aren’t just all talk, good looks, and sleight of hand. Josh is a former national champion and an internationally renowned performer. Lawson is best known for his run on ‘Big Brother’, being christened the ‘Big Brother magician’, performing weekly for hundreds of thousands of people on national TV. Together they helped, set a record for the ‘world’s longest magic show’, clocking in at 85 hours.

This production opens on the 10th of April and runs for seven nights daily at 5:30pm. Bookings recommended

Show Details: 2 Guys, 1 Magic Show, No Idea

Dates: 10th – 16th of April

Time: 5:30pm

Cost: $25-32

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne