By Jye Smith Apr.17.2009
In: Commentary, Concerts, Recommended
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I'll fest your blues in a minute.

In the rush to get to the Jambalaya Stage before Toni Childs, there was a frenzied stampede in which four punters were lost.

The stampede to see Toni Childs.

It’s been three days and the post-blues blues are sort of beginning to fade. The 2009 East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival was my first Bluesfest, and proved to be a superb way to pop the cherry and chill out in Byron Bay for a few days.

What was awesome?

1. Blue King Brown – I’ve never seen BKB live before but the energy and mood of their whole set was simply joyous. Natalie Pa’apa’a was smoking in some short-shorts and a leetle black singlet. I chugged two Smirnoff Ice’s and danced the whole way through.

2. Seasick Steve – what a fascinating man. The 68 year old guitarist still looks like the hobo he used to be (and took frequent swigs of whisky from a bottle under his chair in between songs) but his sound is superb and his stories are humbling. Easily the crowd favourite among the smaller Bluesfest acts. Read the full story

By Dan Clarke Mar.4.2009
In: Commentary, Opinion, Other
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Martin Martini - Too Wierd, Too Rare

The Man and his Bone Palace Orchestra

Martin Martini is not a normal musician. Normally if a musician were to tell me that they went over to England recently with the sole purpose of finding a drag queen who picks up one hundred dollar bills with her asshole, I might be a little turned off. Normally I would. When Martin Martini explained this, however, it seemed strangely appropriate. Turns out he never found the drag queen, and he didn’t really like the country either.

“England’s a fuckin’ terrible place to play. I didn’t enjoy it at all. We went to Berlin afterwards and that was really fun. We holidayed in Berlin though, we didn’t play there.”

Everyone I know who’s been to England seems to share one major bone of contention; the cost of everything over there. Martin felt the tug on his hip pocket too.

“We lost a lot of money, put it that way. Even though people really loved what we were doing, we lost a shitload of money. The response was fantastic.”

Since then Mr. Martini has been rocking the socks off of adoring crowds in Adelaide, garnering five star reviews in the local papers to boot. He’s accompanied over there by an eclectic mix of complete strangers.

“They flew over some dude, some guy from the UK who’s two hundred kilos, and black and he dresses up in Lycra and does drag. They’ve got Paul Kapsis in the show as well and they’ve got this really cute blonde girl that kinda looks like Marilyn Monroe from Ireland who sings songs on the uke so it’s sorta all these people I don’t really know thrown into this tent to just sorta do whatever we want really.”

The option to do whatever he wants in these solo performances has prompted Martin to begin incorporating a rather obscure talent. Having learnt to tap dance from his mother as a young boy, he has decided to work it in to his live show through “a sort of a rap song accompanied by my feet.” Again, not something I would expect from a normal musician, but Martin Martini might very well have broken that mould.

“It’s a little bit weird. I’ve got a pair of dunlop volleys and I just chucked some metal plates on the bottom of those and I tap dance in those.”

Martin’s last recorded work was a dark, powerfully ominous affair. He explains that it was reflective of his experiences at the time.

“Yeah, that album, I dunno man, I was in a pretty bad place there. I was pretty sad and this woman fucked me up a bit. Then I drank too much and I got behind the wheel of a car and I fell asleep and then I went to court. Things were going down hill quick. I think it was a wake up call.”

He’s “out the other end now” and is working on a record that’s romantic again. It seems We’re All Just Monkeys was a learning experience, but not one that he wants to replay. The songs have been omitted from more recent performances, replaced by new and perhaps more uplifting fare, ready for his upcoming visit to Sydney.

“I just cut those songs out now. We’re playing a whole new set now that doesn’t really consist of the Monkeys album. We’ve pretty much got a heap of new material that we’ve been doing and I don’t think Sydney have heard much of it so this is pretty much the last time I’ll be coming to Sydney before we lay down a new album.”

The shift in attitude has also seen him concentrate on some athletic aspirations. He’s “fuckin’ obsessed with running” in an interesting experiment at reconciling his physical and mental well being. It’s a move that he hopes will make him a more prolific writer.

“That’s why I’m running, I’m trying to get fitter at writing. To be honest it’s not working yet, but it’s only early days. I’m steadily writing. I still write a song a week but I’m not writing enough. I want to write one every day.”

Most people wouldn’t make the connection between those two pursuits so readily, but Martin Martini isn’t like most people. I guess that’s what makes him so compelling on and off the stage.

For more info, head over to Martin’s myspace page.

Musicfeeds – Tighter than a nun’s schedule!

By Jye Smith Jan.14.2009
In: Concerts
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Ash Grunwald, Gomez & the Black Keys hit the Big Top

On Friday night, I headed to Luna Park to catch a highly-anticipated (by me) gig at the Big Top.

img_0380_24First up was Ash Grunwald, who I’ve been listening to lately but have never known much about. I was surprised by the fact that Grunwald is a one-man show. He does the guitars and vocals and operates a snare, kick drum and toms using his feet. Great plan, in theory, but if you break a string and get flustered (and admit that to your audience), you’ve got no one to hold things while you get your shit together. While Ash rocks at what he does, his feet were half a second behind the rest of him. Get a drummer, son.

Read the full story

By Jye Smith Nov.21.2008
In: Album Reviews, Recommended
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Scott Matthews can pass my stranger any day

Fuck me, this man is brilliant. Scott Matthews hails from Wolverhampton in England and burst onto the UK charts back in 2006 with his debut album, Passing Stranger. You might have heard the mournful single, Elusive, on Triple J and thought you were listening to some previously undiscovered Jeff Buckley. But Elusive is just the tip of the iceberg and barely begins to showcase Matthews’ talent.

Passing Stranger is a collection of beautifully crafted urban folk-rock gems. From crunchy blues riffs to sliding guitars to delicately picked melodies, Matthews has perfected his acoustic sound. Woven into his songs is an entire medley of unexpected instruments to keep you on your toes, including tablas and a French accordian – each track is a magical experiment. Read the full story

By Pete Ross Nov.9.2008
In: Other

A change is gonna come

I was born by the river, in a little tent,
And, just like the river, I’ve been running ever since.
It’s been a long time coming,
But I know – a change is gonna come.
Oh, yes it will.

It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die,
I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky,
It’s been a long time coming,
But I know a change gon’ come,
Oh, yes it will.

I go to the movie, and I go downtown,
Somebody keep telling me “Don’t hang around”,
It’s been a long time coming,
But I know a change is gonna come.

Then I go to my brother and I say, “Brother, help me please”,
But he winds up knocking me back down on my knees.

There’ve been times that I’ve thought
That I couldn’t last for long,
But now, I think I’m able to carry on.
It’s been a long time coming,
But I know a change is gonna come…

Sam Cooke, considered the godfather and originator of soul music, recorded A Change is Gonna Come in 1964, not long before he was killed. Its posthumous release is considered one of the original, and greatest, protest songs of all time.

Forty years ago, Martin Luther King was shot for saying how nice it would be if people were judged on who they were.

Merely ten years ago a young black man was horrifically lynched in Texas. Furious civil rights groups, the NAACP amongst them, heaped scorn upon the then-governor, one George W. Bush, for voting down anti-hate crime legislation and for choosing to not be present at the funeral.

Six days ago, a black man was voted into office as the 44th president of the United States of America.

I wonder what ol’ Sammy would be thinking right now. Or Huddie Ledbetter, or Marvin Gaye, or Otis, Robert or Brother Ray, Billie or Nina.

Sam Cooke, the father of soul

Here’s to ya, Sam. And the rest of ‘em! And here’s to change…