Thursday, September 27, 2007


Tonight I guess was the end of an era. Not some epoch that resonates with the rest of humanity, but the end of some stuff for me. I kind of have a list of bands that I thought could play my venue that I love and I think I saw the last of those bands tonight. And I dropped a fucking fortune on them while I was at it.

Of course despite the lack of punters (we fell about 50 heads short of the guarantee) they were fabulous. Swamp rock ahoy! The guitars were dirty, the rhythms were were by turns fat and off kilter and Tex sang like the Antipodean bastard son of Howlin' Wolf that he is. The Beasts of Bourbon have mined the dirtier seams of Oz rock since the mid eighties. By turns arrogant, misogynist and charming they are the polar opposite of either the polite nu-folk or desperately corporate emo wankers that comprise so many tours these days. Even at their advanced ages stories of of fisticuffs a couple of shows before and dark murmurs of lifestyle issues are rife. Instead of leaving me stressing over numbers in the office Shaun the booker dragged me out into the bar and in between shots of 'bucca and Jack and Cokes I had my own little wake for the way rock used to be.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

beer wars

Like sex, religion and politics, beer can be an emotive issue. Everyone has opinions and like most matters pubwise, everyone thinks they're right. My bar is affiliated with the Fosters group. Nominally Australian, I believe Asahi and maybe Scottish & Newcastle own large chunks of them and they produce the local drop of choice in Victoria, Carlton Draught. Draught is a solid unpretentious lager that wouldn't meet any European standards for brewing but cellars rather nicely and maintains flavour at almost freezing temperatures. Which is exactly what you want out of an Australian beer. When you sign on the dotted line with Carlton you get access to the rest of their range - Vic Bitter, Melbourne Bitter, Boags & Cascade (both lovely Tasmanian drops), Stella, Asahi, Corona, Kronenbourg and the Matilda Bay range of artisan brews. You can also take on their array of shithouse spirits but unless they throw an absolute truckload of cash at you, you'd be ill advised to do so. They aren't bad to deal with in a lot of ways, they aren't nazi about stocking the whole range and will let you keep other breweries lines in the fridge, with one exception - the old enemy.

The old enemy is Tooheys. Tooheys falls under the Lion Nathan umbrella and if Fosters are the crusty old patriarch of Australian brewing, these guys are the schoolyard bully. They mounted an incursion into Victoria in the 90's which almost destroyed the industry and certainly went a long way towards ruining a lot of excellent traditional boozers. Being predominantly British owned, they went for the British industry model and all hell broke loose. They bought literally hundreds of hotels, remodelled them with blonde wood and chrome, spent millions on state of the art beer dispensing systems and proceeded to try and flog their brews to a reluctant public.

This had a number of consequences. Their flagship beer of the time, Tooheys New tastes weird to Victorians. A mate who is a brewer claims this has something to do with hop oil, but brewers do speak a fair bit of shite so I won't swear to this. Anyway, their machinations were deeply unsuccessful and they had to flog all the pubs off at vast losses a couple of years later. Unfortunately this still left a whole raft of the renovated pubs. Horrible places where a steak sandwich cost $18 and and stale Becks came in a schooner (a vile glass that is neither pint nor pot). It also created unreasonable expectations in the punters - they wanted to see frozen fonts, a vast array of beers on tap and a pub would be judged dingy if it didn't look like an Ikea catalogue. So a great many lovely stinky corner pubs tried to emulate them and have either gone tits up or lost their identity in the process.

One interesting aspect of the vast array of beers on tap phenomenen is peoples willingness to be dazzled by them but their unwillingness to drink them. A theme pub not far from my venue who turn over vast sums of money and have literally 5000 heads through a week reportedly took 4 months to empty a keg of Boddingtons. I wouldn't like to have been the punter who choked down that last pint. Or the glassy who had to mop up the ensuing vomit.


The little sister is getting married on Tuesday. Little sister, after years of unsuitable boyfriends (generally my dodgy mates) has decided to marry a man called Rick. Rick is a lovely fella, in truth he's actually another of my dodgy mates but he moved to Melbourne a few years ago and I'd kinda lost contact with him. Little sister ran into him at a few rock shows in Melbourne and bada bing bada boom I've got's me a brother in law that is good company and whose bad habits I'm not only aware of but at one time aided and abetted.

In some ways its Rick I feel sorry for. My family are pretty odd I guess. Parents are both conservative catholic teetotallers, not very social and kind of odd. There's no swearing at home, the telly gets switched off at the first glimpse of boob and I still haven't had that chat about the birds and the bees with Dad. In fact they dispensed with telly altogether for the eighties which was hard to explain at school and has left me a wasteland as far as pop culture goes for that decade. Other foibles included an urge to pray the rosary whenever you had mates out to stay and Mam firing copious amounts of holy water at you every time you went to go into town. My relationship with them is weird too - they didn't speak to me for nearly 3 years when Lize and I moved in together and while we get on alright now we still don't mention the war. Mam's family are kind of big on not speaking and I believe that currently Mam and at least two sisters are involved in some kind of three way embargo. So Rick, welcome aboard mate and good luck.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Shaun the booker has been helping out on the Powderfinger/Silverchair tour that came through Ballarat last night. He's had an intersting time of it, with council dramas, mini hurricanes forcing the show to be postponed and all the hoopla that a major tour creates.

So I copped a comp ticket and wandered over for a look last night. The production was fantastic, it's amazing how lighting and LED screens that were the preserve of bilion dollar tourers like the Stones and U2 are now within reach for acts of this size. There would have been 5000 heads there and whilst standing up the back with my feet slowly turning to ice I realised while I really didn't like either of the bands that much, I was just entranced by the lighting and projection. I snuck off to the pub 3 songs into Powderfingers' set and proceeded unwisely to warm myself up with copious amounts of Bushmills.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I've got on the Facebook. Its kind of fun, lots less spam than myspace and less pornstars and pyramid schemes trying to friend you. Bits of it weird me out. Everyone has seems to have a degree, be either travelling or about to travel, and be rather pretty. I miss out on all three scores but I'm amusing myself anyway. Networking setups like this are I guess a relative of the blog. There's the elements of voyeurism/narcissism/exhibitionism. The constant search for trivia and ephemera.....

Maybe it doesn't pay too think about it too much, but you kind of wonder how much information about each other we need. I worry about the day someone I know reads this, gets upset or angry by something I've said. Having said that I probably wouldn't stop. The fact that blogging forces me to sit down and think about what I've thought and done in the last week is probably a good thing. Even if it is just bitching.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

i got nothin'

Sometimes you don't got anything worthwhile to say. Just a bunch of fragments with little import or humour or consequence. In a small town there can be little variation to your activity or maybe I'm just a boring person. I ended up drunk at the same pub I usually do last Monday. I got stressed about work finances as usual when I went to pay bills on Tuesday. Yet another one of our mates told us he has had to start taking anti depressants. Dodgy business associate offered a deal to get us a share in a melbourne venue that will probably amount to nothing if previous offers are anything to go by. Physically I feel crap. My football side are making me feel nervous. Someone is stealing from us at work. Its incredibly windy outside. Ate Jasmine Thai satay last night - delicious. Like I said - I got nothin'.

Monday, September 3, 2007

A letter to St Paul

Dear Paul

I went to a show you played in Ballarat last night. You've always been a special musician in my life. Darling it hurts, the song you finished with was the first 7" I bought with my own money. The first rock show I saw when I moved Melbourne when I was 17 was you playing the St Kilda festival. The first time (sadly not the last) I smoked pot laced with something nasty was at a benefit you played at the POW. I've seen you play a bunch of other times, bought a bunch of your records and covered a few of your songs in dodgy bands. I even lived around the corner from you in Balaclava for a while. We were on nodding terms or at least I'd like to think so. So Paul as far as fans go I am consistent but not obsessive. I work in your industry, my ears are experienced if a little jaded and I like to kid myself that once in a while I know what I'm talking about. So mate I've got to let you know - you were fucking fantastic last night.

Not fantastic in a hot new thing way. Fantastic in a grown up, sexy, bitter, dry, funny and vulnerable way. My friend you are at the peak of your craft. Your voice has never sounded better. The rhythm section are in the pocket and Dan and Ash are still young enough to mean what they play. But at the guts of it is your writing.

Songs old and new. I love how you can still craft a lyric, construct a story and step inside a character (and sometimes yourself) and drag us with you. Whether its a guy in jail missing the kids, Koori painters, single dads, psycho killers, lonely drunks, hopeless junkie hookers, stuggling couples or any of the other characters that inhabit your work we cry and cheer and ride with them. That is a special talent. Empathy seems to be an increasingly rare quality this century, but you seem to have bucketloads of it. Enough to go round a whole room full of people.

So Paul I walked out of your show a happy guy. I'll probably sit through another 150 shows in the next year. I won't enjoy many of them - I'll be working and honestly I'm not connecting with a lot of whats happening at the moment in JJJ world. But when it's been a tough night, when there hasn't been many payers through the gate or the PAs playing up I'm gonna try to think back to last night when you made me cry and laugh and stamp my feet. And I reckon it'll help.