Melbourne May 2004
Saturday 22nd May 2004
I was invited down to play by singer-songwriter Tim Reid. He was launching his album and I was looking forward to playing my first Melby show in almost eleven months. It was only going to be a short trip; I packed at the last minute, probably the lightest I have ever packed. I had a 1pm flight. No dramas to speak of. I always get asked how the flight was because a lot of people know that I hate to fly. It gets a little easier I think, but it honestly is still damn scary … and I don’t scare easy. I read about a quarter of the Wayne Bennett biography which my brother David had just given me. Wayne Bennett is the coach of the Brisbane Broncos, and after reading this book I have a great deal more of respect for him than I ever have before. Aside from an insight into being both the head coach of a NRL and State of Origin team, Bennett is a master of quotes and the book lends itself to almost being of a motivational kind. No one is sitting next to me so I try and snooze a little.
At the luggage carousel my guitar is nowhere to be seen; my very expensive Maton guitar. After watching all the luggage disappear, I am worried. Finally, I see a tiny, handwritten note saying “Special luggage” and see my guitar case.
My friend Aaron Reiter is picking me up which I am most grateful for. Whilst waiting for him outside Tullamarine Airport, a nice young gal makes small talk with me. Turns out she’s from Sydney and has heard of me. Small world; makes me smile. The weather is nice and overcast, chilly too. Aaron comments on my new haircut, shows off his new car and we head into Fitzroy for some food. Aaron is a bundle of energy and enthusiasm. His kindness amazes me. We talk and catch up. Eat at the same joint he took me to last time. Brunswick Street. Next to the Poet’s Corner or maybe its Poet’s Cafe? He grabs a sixer of Beez Kneez (I think?) … honey beer. Poor fella, I don’t have the heart to tell him how much I dislike honey! We head to his place and crash in his room. He plays me some new songs which sound really cool; a lot more stripped back than his previous material. His fiance Vi arrives and we head out to Brunswick Street again, where the Rob Roy is situated.
Meet Tim Reid. Lovely chap. Watch his soundcheck, sounds amazing. The promotional talk about him is spot on, a cross between Neil Finn and Elliott Smith. His drummer is Dave from Groundswell and Knievel, another great guy way too talented. Aaron, Vi and myself watch a lengthy soundcheck which is actually really entertaining. The guys from Ruck Rover arrive and I realise that two of my brother’s musical faves are in the band. Rob Clarkson and Squeezebox Wally from Weddings, Parties, Anything. I send him a text message to wind him up. Get rugby league updates. Tigers upset the Dogs.
I soundcheck quickly around 7pm. Aaron, Vi and I head out for some dinner. We get in the car and drive down Brunswick Street, only to find we literally cannot find a place to park the car. In something which resembled a scene from a Chevy Chase movie, we drive back and eat in the restaurant next to the venue. It’s getting close to showtime. An hour earlier Vi was wondering why I wasn’t nervous, and now I was wondering why I was nervous! It must have been obvious because my dinner companions note how quiet I am. I think its because I haven’t played here for almost a year, and I actually hadn’t played a show for a little while anyway.
There is a poster Cam Webb has made in a few spots around the pub. I cannot for the life of me recall the picture being taken, but I have longer hair, a full beard and am playing a classical guitar. Bizarre! Head back to the Rob Roy, which by the way is a lovely little place to both play and visit. CC and Shayne arrive with their buddy Marlon. Laura and Ty arrive, catch up with them for a brief amount of time. Laura is a really old friend of mine.
The show itself is fairly successful. It felt pretty good, and I played to an almost full room as well. I often sing with my eyes shut but I am conscious of it, so I try not to … and when I looked out early in the set I was pleased to see so many punters, especially those down by the stage. They were polite and quiet; I can’t ask for anything else.
The set was something like:
You Better Stop Breaking My Heart
My Friend and a Free Day
Out of the Question
New Partner (Palace cover for CC+Shayne)
House Near Bridge (with interlude of ‘Waltz No.2′ by Elliott Smith)
Rub It In
Boys Don’t Cry (Cure cover)
I dedicate ‘New Partner’ to CC and Shayne. I was supposed to be a part of their wedding ceremony about five weeks ago but was too sick to go. I feel very bad about this; somehow I think a song is going to make up for it. I sing my heart out anyway. Hadn’t played ‘Rub It In’ for years but it’s a fave of my Melby crew.
Immediately after the show, a bunch of people come say hi. Another good sign. Meet Chris from Brokenflight. His CD is great. Seek it out. I actually will leave Melby with a tonne of new CD’s. The loveliest lass gives me six (6) Elliott Smith live bootlegs. Damn! A couple approach me saying their friend from LA told them to come see me play. My buddy Matt Braaten was the friend. So I warmly meet a different American Matt and his wife Tracy. (I am bad with names and faces but I am pretty sure it’s Matt and Tracy). Lovely people, living and working in Melbourne. I explain how I knew Braaten and talk for maybe ten minutes.
I am sweating up a storm so I excuse myself. I head to the other bar and hang with CC, Shayne, Marlon, Aaron, Vi, Chris and Karen from Sydney. It is good to be away from the large crowd for a while. I head back and see some of Ruckrover. I realise I cannot see Laura and Ty. I search for them and then realise I have missed them. I feel so bad. I didn’t really get to have a good chat with them. I hate doing this … head down for a show and fail to meet up with those that I want to. Boo! I text her and I have indeed missed them. I suck.
Aaron and Vi drive home with Shayne and Marlon. I thank them for everything. Lovely people Aaron and Vi. I talk with Matt and Tracy in greater detail in the front bar. She is from Boston. How cool is that! CC and I watch Tim play to a capacity crowd. He is great tonight, as is his band. I meet Tom, a Melbourne fella who promotes Australian music on his site. Finally meet Scotty from Pop Boomerang. These are two guys that I have emailed leading up to the show, and both helped me get onto the bill tonight.
I get paid too much and say goodbye to everyone. CC drives me back to her and Shayne’s. They have a beautiful little cottage type house now. Actually, it looks little outside but it is quite big inside. Marlon is asleep on the lounge, we watch the final minutes of the FA Cup. Unfortunately, Manchester United crushed Millwall. Eat some pizza. My room is actually out the back, in a small little kinda shed/room. A little chilly I must say but I have ample blankets etc. I find it really hard to sleep tonight. A lot on my mind, and I’m not in my usual room in Melby which is C’s old place. I decide not to dwell on it. I just kinda lay there. I was trying to think good thoughts … how good the night was, the nice people I met and caught up with … how my other buddy Aaron (Ace) would be picking me up straight from the airport Sunday to head over to Brookvale Oval to see our Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks play Manly. I end up getting about two hours sleep but that’s okay.
CC wakes me at 8:30am. She and Marlon are watching The Simpsons on Fox. I shower, struggling to find some hot water on a very cold Melbourne morning. Turns out I had to put the hot all the way on and hardly any cold. I had a cold shower for nothing. At least no one can say I haven’t slummed it. Coffee. C has offered to drive me to the airport which I accept and appreciate. Shayne is asleep when we leave. Bless him and his green track pants. C and I have a great chat on the way. Lovely friend of mine.
I call Laura from the airport and leave a message of apology for missing her after the show. She texts me back saying all is cool. Too nice. Only drama flying home is a guy next to me who thinks he can swindle my arm rest. Bastard. I have nothing to read, having packed the Wayne Bennett in with my other gear. I just keep thinking that if we don’t crash, I will be watching the lads play in two hours. We don’t crash but are a little late. At 1pm I call Aaron who is waiting for me, and tell him to sit tight. Unfortunately, my guitar again goes AWOL. This time I ask one of the Virgin Blue lasses. My guitar is over with seven others in a special area hidden to the naked eye but visible to any aspiring guitar thieves.
Finally, I am in Ace’s blue 4WD and we are off to Brookvale. It’s a sweet Sydney day; great Autumn weather. The Sharks win a close one. After a very busy 30 hour trip with a lot of traveling, I arrive home tired but satisfied.
**Thankyou to Tim, Tom and Scotty for the show; Aaron and Vi for the ride; CC and Shayne for the hospitality and ride; lovely Melbourne music fans, and Ace for the ride and football tickets**
Sam – June 2004