The power of the Power Trio

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Chuck Loving the Blues

ImageLast night for the first time in maybe 7 years I played with Chucks Wagon as a three piece band, in fact I have never played just as a three piece in Chucks Wagon! I cut my teeth on lead guitar in a Texas Style Blues band called Warning in my 20’s, but I was always a much more enthusiastic player than skilful. ( Pentatonic Scales and Modes learnt by route got me through.) Loved Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Early ZZ Top, Rory Gallagher ( I know He is Irish!), Robben Ford, the list went on. Once I started to slowly drift from Texas Blues to Texas country, I realised it was always in me. My father was a Johnny Cash fan, and my mother a Banjo player, but I rebelled against when I was a kid. Found my own way into music, so it’s interesting the effect of those earlier influences and how I have ended up back worshiping at Johnny Cash’s feet. It was that pure power and emotion of Johnny Winter and force that a trio can become that always impressed me. The way Highway 61 ripped in , made you forget Bob Dylan even wrote the song. Johnny owned it now. Then there was that boogie that ZZ Top cooled on in with, La Grange, Tush, Just got Paid Today, Jesus just left Chicago, amazing, but then when I first saw the Cold Shot video by Steve Ray Vaughan, well ,well ,well, that took it all another notch up. These guys are why I started Warning, and I was an unashamed fan, so folks, I was in love….

When I started Chucks Wagon, I just wanted to focus on song writing, singing, and being a front man, and hire great lead Guitar Players,and it has been an amazing bunch of guitar players I have had the pleasure to play with, I’m not lying when I say that there has been some Legends among them, but that’s a story for another day.

So last night , at Harbord playing with our friends the Chickenstones, I simply couldn’t get one of the regular Wagon Guys, so Friday night, out came the Harmonica’s, and I tweaked the effects for lead , and just went through the paces out at Dodge Dave’s place with Henry on sticks, workman on the tools, sounded ok, all sorted, lets go for it. Saturday played at home going over the harps songs, Little Marshal set up his make shift  drum kit, went through the songs again with him counting in , One Two Seven , Six! ( he is 2 1/2!), and that was a lot of fun. Then it was off to the show.

Nice winters night, cosy crowd, and hit off with San Antone, and first solo, tube screamer pedal volume on 0, so clean it was, after that it was smooth sailing. Henry’s still picking up the songs being new, but there was the space you can find as a three piece. Letting rip in I Play Country, Burn It Down and Texas, well that reminded me of my old blues rock days. All in all job done, not to stressful at all, and fun to boot. Hanging with the Stones is always fun because they are all good men and gentlemen. They had a relatively new drummer and he was fantastic, really suited the band, and they are simply going from strength to strength. Always thought having the Stones in their name was apt, as like the Rolling Stones, it’s the weaving the guitars do that makes their sound, that and raw energy both Keith and Ronnie have , makes the two of them mightier then the one could ever be. The Old Doc and the Preacher pull the same thing off in Chickenstones, infectious foot tapping rock and roll, played cause they love it to people who come cause they simply love the boys. I stayed out the back the whole night, under the starry winter sky, shooting the shit and feeling good about playing again for the first time in awhile. My guitar was the thing that was suppose to get me out of the Bronx, give me a different life, well on that night, I was along was from where I started out and it felt good.

 

When the alarm went off on the Sunday, the morning after , there was no time to fiddle about, apart from go get the 2 year old ( we already had the 6 month old in bed, ) Heat up a bottle, watch a cartoon, then head off to the Country Road’s Radio show on 2RRR with Ronnie Boy. Ronnie has been very supportive of the Wagon, and it was a pleasure to be on the show promoting Family Man, our latest single, and he played the first single I Played Country and Miss Texas Tonight. Love the pedal steel and fiddle in Miss Texas. Tommy Detamore just makes that song. Early show, early home, and it was an awesome Sunday with Family, friends. To be honest it’s bath time right now, and I have to go and help out , bye for now folks. See on the road. Love the ones your with folks, they needs it to.

Chuck

 

 

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Tilba, The Dromadery Hotel, and Rock and Roll

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Well Folks, I haven’t written for a while, I am fickle like that, ever since Tamworth I have had the wind knocked out of me. With the release of Family Man, I have seriously thought about calling it a day, “Chuck takes the Wagon of the road and becomes Family Man!” It has a certain ring to it. Having two small kids latter in my life has been a magnificent gift, one that just keeps giving. I have never missed being away more than I have when I go and play. If that makes me soft so be it. I heard Townes Van Zant say once that he was aware of the moment were he thought he could actually do this music thing, but he realised he would have to leave everyone behind to pursue it. When I started Chucks Wagon, it was my grumpy old man policy. I knew I had another shot in me, and that I wouldn’t be satisfied if I didn’t give it a royal old go. The rough plan was to do three albums in five years and then a live one to finish off, and then see where the lay of the land left me. Well it’s been 6 years, I’m three albums in and there’s the live one to come. I don’t count the Live in Austin, Texas, as it was an acoustic record, even though doing that tour with Kinnon Holt will remain with me till the day I die. That man is a true Outlaw.

The trouble is I just can’t seem to give it away that easily. We have Family Man out on the Radio tonight, and off this record, I Play Country, I know there are at least another single or two off it.

Tony Leach who did the film clip for I Play Country, has sent me the treatment for Family Man, and I know I have to do it.

Keeping a band together, when you don’t earn a lot form shows is one thing, keeping it all together , when you want to make records and film clips, and the band don’t earn much is a whole other story. When I got home from work my wife stated that she rang a budgeting company that advertises on TV to see if they would take us on, and after she explained were we are at, they were not interested. Now I earn money, good money, I had to take a day gig to keep the band moving forward, but now with dependants, spending all my money on Rock and Roll, well, that simply just can’t keep happening, so therefore I have to get myself out of this hole. So one last film clip, a farewell tour of the USA, and one last Tamworth and then I will have a good think about it. Well that was the plan.

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans” John Lennon.

Chucks Wagon has had more drummers then Spinal Tap, and nearly as many guitar players. You can’t have that many players go through a band, and blame anyone else but yourself, so the buck stops here.  After Tamworth, when major changes happened again, it was hard to keep moving forward.

“ It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, just matters how many times you get back up” Rocky Balboa- Rocky V

But, it’s not in my nature to give up, so forward it was. My buddy Den Hanrahan said he would fill in, and before him I had the pleasure to play with the wonderful Jeff Mercer, a true gentleman with a master’s touch. Den, did finally get the call up. I have been a Den Hanrahan fan before; I actually knew I was a Den Hanrahan fan. I played the very first Ben Hall Biker Ball at Forbes a scary amount of years ago, and it was in a shearing shed, and I still remember this guy soloing, and it was Den, and the band was Saddle Rash. Den these days is a consummate Troubadour, a slave to the song, and it’s his passion that impresses most folks, you simply can’t take your eyes off this guy. He put’s everything he has into his music. I still think when he plays Ft worth Blues, Steve Earle turns around somewhere and says “Hang on a minute”.

Before the show’s on the weekend, we had played two shows as a band, both ok, some hit’, some miss’s, no use lying to yourself. On Saturday we played the Gerringong Bowlo, and I love it down that way, but, country music aunt everybody’s thing, and let’s just say Gerringong didn’t have their Cowboy boots on that night, not to mention that the local supermarket got held up with a Hammer just before the show, and the cops were everywhere, including the club. It was a cold night. As with music though, after the show, the Wonderful Sue Corbett had booked us into some accommodation, about 60 klms towards our next show, we found it in about 2am, and it was an oasis of the heart, in the bush, up against the lake, two stories of country lovin. In a band the most time you spend with each other is off the stage so the hang time is important. There’s not much to it, some beer, (in my case coffee!), some tunes, and some shit talking about some other gig, some other time, some other place. Tunes keep coming, beer runs out (everyone drinks coffee now) sun comes up, people go to bed. This night seemed just what the doctor ordered. When we did get up to a beautiful winters morning, Dave and Drummer Henry went off to get some Fry up, and after Mr Harding finished his cooking duties, we sat round working the tunes up, Den on Guitar, Dobro, Banjo, Henry on brushes, and Harding playing the  bass. It felt god, timing was right, and off we headed to Tilba Tilba.

Now this truly is Paradise on the South Coast. The Dromedary Hotel is a special place, frequented by music lovers, they listen, they dance, they buy C.D’S, they dance some more, and when the nights done, everyone is stoked. Music is a funny thing, and for no apparent reason, tonight, the line up kicked out the jams. No more worrying about getting it right, amps got turned up (told by the publican to play load!)I think is the warm atmosphere, we were amongst friends, and just let it rip. Mr Hanrahan was on fire. Harding and Henry were in the zone, all I had to do was whip out the songs. Easy! When finished a bunch of encores, and the fires were dying down, it was nice to relax, and feel like we turned a corner. It was less than 24 hours before this that I was sitting on the front steps of the Gerringong Bowlo, in between sets, thinking why I do this to myself.

What a difference a day makes…

Straight after the show, I packed up quick, and decided to do the five hours back to Sydney, easier at night. Just got to watch out for the roo’s, wombats, Hanrahan said he even saw an Emu. When I was driving through Gerroa, there was a white owl sitting in the middle of the road. Good Medicine.

Family Man’s last verse sums up why I went home. Mum and Baby Maverick were sick, and mum was getting exhausted. Even though staying and waking up at Tilba would have been good for the soul, my heart belonged at home.

So, where to from here? It’s at this point a Mystery. It was good to feel the music again, not worry, and be playing it with good men, on a mission. Film to come; looking forward to seeing what Tony Leach comes up with this time. Sydney Launch at the Botany View first week of September, and next weekend we are playing with our good friends the Chickenstones.

Texas, well Big John Duer’s booking that as we speak. Looking forward to a chicken fried steak at the County Line, trying to catch Randy Rogers in between shows, and then it’s getting ready for Tamworth. Hopefully one of these singles makes something out of the Band, but there will always be a night in Tilba Tilba were four men, balls to the well tore the house down!

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