TV and Jazz Clubs


Well die we didn’t, in fact we lived on with frightfully good energy. I wont bore you with the details of the following gig except to say it was in an astoundingly classy jazz club. In fact this club had so much class it bordered on the ridiculous and pushed it more towards the cliché of an astounding jazz club. Right up to the point of demanding the band play 3 one hour sets, who has the tolerance to listen to three sets of any form of music…..not me and I was on stage . The club was called “Once In A Blue Moon” which was displayed behind the bandstand in classic blue neon. I think you get my point, lets move on.

A four hour bus trip later we were in a huge TV studio setting up for the Korean equivalent of Top Of The Pops. Now I have been involved in some strange situations , many in this small tour alone, but this one was absurdist. The day was already long, set up was followed by a seven hour wait before it was our time to take to the stage for our one hour blistering set that was to be broadcast to millions of Korean houses. The endurance effort required to wait 7 hours in a TV studio with no one to talk to except the people you ran out of conversation with 3 days ago and little to entertain you except a large plasma TV playing 72 channels of Korean Soap Opera, and 2 small bottles of whiskyis significant. The line up for the show was to include a famous Japanese piano player who had nailed down the less than significant style made famous by Richard Clayderman in the early 80s followed by us and wrapped up tastefully with a Japanese boy Rock out fit, all to be interspersed with interviews conducted in three languages by a giggling Korean teenage host and her staff of interpreters. Perfect, I thought to myself. Why wouldn’t millions of people watch a smorgasbord like that?

Well perfect it was in true asian style. The studio audience was full of screaming teenagers that never let their energy levels drop below hyperactive as the put their heart and soul into mimicking the correct dance steps for the fast numbers, getting all teary on the slow numbers, hopstepping when required. The band played it up realising that we were taking part in some strange miniture reinactment of a Beatles concert. I kept my suit jacket on the entire hour despite the ragging heat being caused by the massive lighting system spraying spotlights and psychedelic colours all over us,thought it would be more authentic to keep it on. I love Sydaney was yelled by many of the delightful audience, no mention of Melbourne which I can understand. And at one stage I heard one of our band members names being called out again and again until he finally looked up to be met with a youngster making a heart like shape with her arms towards him. I can only presume this was to indicate her new found love of his chromatic soloing style.

Asia ….fantastic.

when things go somewhere else

Madness descended on the band last night. It was the second gig of the tour and we were scheduled to perform in the university precinct, naturally this was a lot cooler than the jazz precinct we performed at the previous evening. We were doing a double act with local Korean Ska superstars Kingston Rudi Ska including a number together which would involve putting 20 musicians onstage hopefully overcoming cultural and language barriers (Musical language as well as the normal use of that word) to successfully belt out a cover originally composed by a patois speaking Jamaican.

The Korean band performed a version of Ska which could only be described as Asian including there well known love for all things kitch, colorful and bright, moving into areas that the Western mind can only find psychedelic. The crowd was full of young women screaming at every move of the lead singer as he ran his fingers through his hair and crooned the crowd with his falsesetto. But the group was lead by the trombonist who had all the makings of a trombonist the no mater what country your from or what patois you mumble. He was defiantly left of center, in fact center had become a foreign concept to him (as is the case for most trombone players). As all twenty members got onstage for our preshow rehearsal he grabbed the mike and with the only English words he knew he yelled WELCOME TO OZRALIA KOREA SKA YOUR VELY WELCOME….TONIGHT WE DIE

And we almost did.

Both Sets went to plan many encores were given (Koreans love calling for an encore) the gig finished and the bar emptied quickly, in very Korean style and we were left with Just the bands and a few hangers on.. And thats whenthings started to get interesting. Knowinghow the struggle for successfully dialogue was going to pan out I took it uponmyself to get our trombone playing friend back on stage and peforming. Little encouragement was needed and soon most musos were back up performing the regulatory trance like broken rhythms and jilted bass lines matched with wailing banchee like vocals that can only occur late at night when all musicians have been plied with alcohol and decide to perform on instruments that they aren’t familiar with. I’ve always wanted to be a drummer and nows the time. At some stage of the night a tatoo artist was summoned and mistakes were made. When a post gig session starts this way and is to proceed for many more hours you know death is immanent.

Here’s some video footage from the show last night.



soundchecking


Well things seem to be progressing smoothly not discounting the usual hiccups that occur when you are touring with 11 other only slightly familiar males in a foreign country where hardly any English is spoken. At this stage no rival factions have been formed within the core elements of the band a fact I presumed might have occurred owing to both the large size of the ensemble as well as the lack of any female presence. Seoul itself is an unusually well organized and compartmentalized city. Structures appear to be very important in this place. Every city appears to be divided into zoning regions with the zones consisting of a common theme. Eg, block 1 is allocated to shops selling kitchen sinks, block to is allocated to shops selling light fittings block 3 is allocated to some other home appliance. Block 458 was allocated to bars and it took a little while to find.

I’m presuming tonight’s gig is allocated to bars dedicated to early ska music but we will see.

Yesterday we rehearsed in a venue we play at later in the week. For our rehearsal we were given a full back line (drums bass amps guitar amps) a grand piano full percussion set, music stands, stage, food, drinks, a sound technician who sound checked the band pulling a perfect sound onstage and off, when the keyboardist leads were playing up and electrician showed up to make him new ones…..you get the idea and all at no expense to the band. Melbourne a city that boasts of its love for music has a little to learn in regards to how to treat musicians as well as professional attitudes to presentation….without me launching into a rave about free trolleys at the airport.

Regardless it is a privileged life musicians lead. To constantly find yourself in new environments with new people. To be able to move rapidly over the banality of introductions to strong creative outputs in constantly new environments is an excitement that is addictive.

Touring in Korea

Playing in a Jamaican Ska band full of Australians to an audience full of Koreans. I couldn’t think of anything better to be doing with my days and nights.
Today kicks off an 8 day tour with the band Skazz I have successfully managed to negotiated getting the king size bed while my room mate had to settle for the single bed. Always a stressful but important task to be handled with much care when touring. If handled incorrectly you can create an enemy for yourself for the rest of your stay in that particular hotel. My tactic was to surround the bed with my luggage thus claiming my territory, while still allowing him access to the bed by not actually placing a bag on it. While it would take a brave soul to actually do that they are still left with the feeling that they had some choice in the matter.
There will be many tales which I will tell using the means of this blog but to give you an idea of what this very cool band is about here is a video