God Bless Stevie Ray Vaughan

Today I remember one of my biggest inspirations and one of my favourite Texans ever, Stevie Ray Vaughan​. What made it all the more special was that when I got clean in 86 , at 22 years of age I felt my greatest love, Music ,and all the good times it brings was going to be over.

Johnny Winter toured that year on the back of his Alligator Records success, and I went, sober and clean, and it was awesome. There was hope that music could be fun without being out of it. Still have the T-Shirt from that tour, wish it still fit me!

A while later SRV released Instep, I could tell by the lyrics he was sober. I was young, and I just thought it was cool. Not only was he clean, the new record kicked some serious ass! Great feel, addition of keys, brilliant. I somehow took some solace that you can be clean, and be cool, and be creative more importantly. I was in Warning back then playing SRV, Johnny Winter , Rory Gallagher, Buddy Guy songs to name a few, and my recovery worlds and music worlds collided in a wonderful way with SRV.

249855_233951743286406_3784115_nWhen they announced his death on morning news, I was broken hearted, and it was all pre-Facebook, no mass media. I can see that social media allows you to connect in a strange way globally when something like this happens. Seeing he was a bluesman and not universally loved in Australia ,I drove off to work and I felt that as if  there was no one to tell who really understood what this meant. It was a devastating tragedy. Not just to me, but to Music. I rang my bass player, he loved him to. It was good to talk about it, our favourite songs. The times we would drive to gig in the bush, long drives and listen to his albums. Memories that will never leave me.

SRV was our Hendrix, he defined guitar, made the blues modern, he was our Bluesman. When I visited Austin, I would always go to Antones, even though it was a different building, the town had him in it. I took a picture by his statue, it was a pilgrimage. Music helped me understand this world, relationships, feelings, love and hate, pain and joy. SRV was music; just watching him play you knew you were in the presence of greatness. I saw him only twice. Once at the Opera House with the Dynamic Hypnotics, that red suit, my God, he blew me away. Then at the Hordern Pavilion with the Fabulous Thunderbirds. It doesn’t get any better than that.

I went to the Narcotics Anonymous World Convention in San Antonio about 9 years ago, and at the Blues Luncheon Steve E spoke then Kenny Wayne Sheppard played with Chris “Rivers” Layton on drums. It felt like he was in the air.  I felt that when the Arc Angels released their debut album, SRV was there. 29 years into recovery, SRV is still cool, and Recovery is cooler than ever.

God bless Stevie Ray Vaughan.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F73EcycGCO8&list=PL84wasvrcnHl8t8ss2_1WIMoTgbvl2Fp7&index=2

Texas. Got back there as fast as I could!

IMG_0906Sitting here after making it through another USA to Australia flight, I am filled with the exhaustion that comes with liven large for a short time  in a place that just fills your senses, and the excitement of seeing my wife and boys, and all the Family centered chaos of immediate needs that comes with family life.

I tried numbing myself out with movies, American Sniper (love Clint Eastwood, what a talented life he has left, a true master of his art) CAKE (To much like work, and I aint back yet) and Stephen Hawking’s life story. He is an amazing man, he sure made Lemonade.

15 hours into to longest single flight in the world ( Dallas to Sydney), I knew I had to stop hiding, and start facing up. So Sturgill Simpson is the soundtrack to this verse. Every so often I forget, that music always starts flowing from and new and original source, someone comes along like Sturgill, and just blows your boat clear out of the water. He is the next big thing, of this I have no doubt. Seeing him live restored my faith in Country Rock and Roll! The perfect mix of Nostalgia and originality. Man I needed it, with all the replicators out there regurgitating Bro Country bullshit, Sturgill sure is kicking the shit out of that Barn door.
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Coming back from Texas always has me feeling sad, I could live there in a heartbeat. I have felt right driving on the wrong side of the road there for over 8 years now. I love the Music, the people, the food, the way the place feels to me. Usually I am home based in San Antone, but this time around I was the House guest of Ruby Dee and Jorge Harada, from Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers. Finer hospitality you could not have hoped for, and as I get on in years, I am surprised when I make a new friend.

Sitting out on the back porch with Jorge as we shared our smoke of choice, me my Peterson’s pipe with a hometown San Marcos blend, and him, his stogies. Talking music, life, women and the road as only men hitting 50 can. Old enough to have seen dream’s come and go. Old enough to know who you are, and what’s likely to be. Old enough to still harbor fantasies it can be different. Young enough to attempt them.
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Jorge put together the Snakehandlers for my early shows, and AJ Mac on Drums and Dylan Cavaliere on Country Bass were a great fit for Chucks Wagon tunes. Playing my Texas inspired music with Texans always ads something extra to the mix. For the shows that the Snakehandlers couldn’t do I have Stephen James from San Marcos on Guitar and John Duer on bass, with Tony Gloria on Drums. Different feel, same Texas magic.
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This time around it was short and sweet. I was there for my day job, which in itself was inspiring, apart from my time at the Meadows with Master Craftswomen Pia Mellody, I was able to spend my downtime in Texas with John Lee (The Flying Boy). John is a Psychotherapist, Author, Men’s worker and Storyteller. I have been influenced by his work for over 20 years, so to spend so much face to face time with such a man was soul enriching, thought provoking , and thoroughly guidance providing when it comes to my future in that field. Him being a Texan,  well hell y’all, that was just cherry on top of the Pie. My work with John was about finding and living from my King, but that’s a story for another day.

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This trip had many surprises. Getting to see James McMurty , two weeks in a row, at Midnight, watching him get all his new material together, ready to roll put on tour, just standing in front of him, alone, enjoying the moment, like no other existed. When you write songs, and perform them, and then have moments where you stand in front of someone who is just in a different stratosphere, it’s humbling and exciting all at once.

You want to write songs and burn your guitar all at once. That being said on this night I just stood there, admiring, dancing, and belonging. Right place, right time. I wasn’t the only one. There was regulars that come to the church of James. Met another one right up front, never really spoke till after, but we shared a lot in common.

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When she, Andrea, Light worker, Energy healer, asked me up to Willie Nelson’s Ranch to see her son who was making a movie, I just knew you do not say not to an offer like that. I was cool just walking around Willies. One of the original Outlaws. A man who believed in himself, believed in what he could do so much so, he turned his back on it all and did it his way. The rest is history. So just being up there, soaking it all in felt special.

Going to the Broken Spoke in Austin Texas, going early, and learning to Two Step. Getting out of my comfort zone. I really like to dance, but I get to comfortable just standing inside of myself, instead of getting in to the soul of my body, and then getting into the limbs, and moving to the music. It was stressful, it was fun, I was glad it was over, but then you had to practice, otherwise why do, so I did. Now it’s time to learn it with my wife, we need to dance more. It’s that simple.
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I got to see older men, men that have spent their lives building their relationship with their craft. Heybale at the Spoke, seeing those seasoned veterans of the dance halls sending them folks around the floor nearly effortlessly, was amazing. Red Volkart, Ernie Poole Ball brothers in Honky Tonk arms. Seeing James McMurty’s band though was the same, generation or to younger, but grown men in the mastery years of their craft. Was special to watch. Seeing Cornell Hurd and Rosie Flores at Ginnys Little Longhorn was the same, and Casper Rawls with the Legendary Bill Kirchen on guitar was the same. Thankyou gentleman, and for the punters that keep going and hearing good music that comes from heart.

There was those though still keeping Austin weird . Thunderosa, AJ Macs “other” band. Nashville Pussy crazy rock and roll, was fun singing a punk version of Folsom Prison Blues with them.
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When I first came to Texas to play 8 years ago, it was Jeff Smith of Hickiods Fame and Saustex Media that booked me. He still is booking me. Getting to see the Hickiods is always grinning material, Jeff always end up near nude, and when they played at the Women’s Roller Derby, and he could get away with getting a chant of “Whore”, in Mexican of course, going with the whole crowd chiming in. It’s a long story, but let’s just leave it with the Whore chant!
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The other end of the scale was seeing Sturgill Simpson, young, charging, on fire, raising eyebrows, getting people talking. Exciting, humbling, Rock and Roll.

Being at the White Horse and seeing Bar Brawl 3, just rocking out, versatile, on it, people dancing. Awesome. Singing Humdinger with the boys just made it all a better kind of Texas evening.

Being at Luckenbach Texas, catching up with Darryl Magg,  Troubadour, Texas Red Dirt Aficionado. The hours I have spent sitting at his bar after closing as he turned me onto bands and songs I hadn’t heard. Well Darryl got me up on stage on the dance hall with Country Folk artist Kevin Deal. It was a cool as shit, playing Waylon Jennings at Luckenbach. Cheesy, but still cool as shit.
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Still it was playing, seeing friends and new people enjoying my songs. Some new venues I had not played, Ginny’s Little Longhorn, what a legendary place, Giddy Up’s and Moontower, all great shows with the Snakehandlers. Triple Crown was the usual fun, Happy Hour show, but we still played load and proud. Beethoven’s at San Antonio is always a stand out. The worlds a funny place. Why a German beer Halle has taken a crazy Aussie under their wing I will never know, but I love the welcome I get there all the same. Wonderful.
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The same can be said for the friends I have made over the years, whether they be older or younger, Christian or pagan, I have a great time in Texas. Thank you to the beautiful Cliff and Rita Leach and show me that loving lasts a lifetime. Dawn and Stefani Duke who are simply two of the best Texas woman I know. Billy Milano who just lives with a beating heart for all to see on the outside of his chest, love him like a brother. Thank you or believing in me Billy. To Andrea, a light worker, seeker and two step companion, it was a blast.
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To my musical brethren, Chris Rhoades, Tony Gloria, AJ Mac, John Duer, Dylan Cavaliere, and Ruby Dee and Jorge Harada. Thank you for laying down the swing so this cowboy from downunder to sing to. Without it I would be a lonely voice.
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So, one hour to go till this flight touches down in Sydney and life will become all to real to fast, and driving around Texas and staying up all night will be but a dream.  I have had been able to listen to Sturgill and James whilst writing, and now I am onto Absent Father by Justin Townes Earle. Beautiful.

That’s enough for now, I will post this when I get some signal, put my head back into Willie Nelson’s new book, “Roll me up and Smoke me when I die!”  Will let Justin get me home.

See you on the road my friends.

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Tamworth 2015, the road and the Wagon.

Last week a friend said I hadn’t added anything to the blog on the website since the 2013 tour. I thought shit, that would be right. Two Tamworth’s ago as I made that long drive home I didn’t feel to clear on the path forward regarding the band, music, song writing, the lot.

The last show at the Albert in 2013 had left a darkness in me that resulted in what was the end of The Wagon as I knew it. I don’t tell stories after the fact although I had to field my fair share of rumours and concerns from people I had never met, and certainly never had the front to approach me. That time has passed. As George Strait sings, Fool me once shame on you, Fool my twice, shame on me.Last years Tamworth went along way to wiping the memory with Scotty Dogg and Den Hanrahan joining the Hitman and me into relaunching the Wagon the way it should be played.

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Only The Hitman and myself remained as permanent members, and with a new drummer and Den Hanrahan offering to fill in I kept doing some shows even some Outlaws of Country shows, Had the pleasure of playing with Jeff Mercer, of which a finer country feel on guitar you might never find. My heart was not fully in it, but I have never been a quitter. Playing with Den Hanrahan was like a cool breeze on a hot day. Hadn’t had that much fun since playing with Kinnon Holt, the greatest Outlaw Guitar slinger in this great southern land. Hanrahan punches his way through a song, just tears solos to pieces, all with a Larakin grin, infectious love of a song that just carries you along with it.I love this guy.

I was asked after my fathers funeral, by Greg Hirst who is the Brotherhood President, and a biker minister if my old three piece Blues Rock Band, Warning could reform to play the 20th anniversary of the Silverwater Bike Show. It forced me to start back on the lead guitar, and as the show approached, my confidence grew. It was fun playing the old songs, and being with my old band was great. The stories, good laughs with old friends. It was the songs though, Rory Gallagher, Johnny Winter, ZZ Top. BB King, BTO, SRV,George Thorougood, down home rocking blues. The show was fun, and when I got offered a BVH show which was a blow out, I took it and did it as a three piece. I was so use to the extra players in Chucks Wagon I doubted I could do it, but I did it anyway. It was better than I thought,, not as good as I wanted, but the good feeling stayed with me. I did a few that way this year, started even liking the space in the song, it could breathe, the song did the talking.

So, when Tamworth rolled around this year, three of the shows I did three piece, I knew it could work, and it was fun. We once again didn’t have a drummer, Simon Wale , had been playing back with us, but had Festival commitments, so Grunter Bedford lined up Ronny Rhindo, local Tamworth sticks man. I cant tell you the amount of times me and the Hitman have driven towards shows with drummers we hadn’t played with, meeting them at the show, it goes with the territory inbands that dont make good coin. There have been some awesome win’s . Scotty Dogg last year, Jacob Cook to name a couple, but  Ronny Rhindo though , bloody hell, he was simply a delight. Great bloke, great feel, all class. I wanted to bottle him. The shows were fun. The first night we headed to the Crabpot to relax, the craziness was soothing. The second show was better than the first and then me and Harding headed back to Sydney.My Family, my other passion, had to be served. Part of me laying low has been I have had to pay back the money on albums, film clips. my choice. my responsibility. I shook a few hands, my hand shake is good.

We had planned to only do four shows this year , on both weekends. I headed back to Sydney though with a lot of joy in my heart, knowing Ronny would be there the following week and Den at the first show.

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When we hit town again on the Friday, it was with a good vibe. Headed to Nundle to catch the Remains. The anti Tamworth Festival. at Nundle I was able to breath, listen to Mick Daly weave his dishevelled magic Country Rock and Roll with Bones and Scotty Dogg driving the bed the Leigh swaggers all around in. Hanrahan filled in the last set like a glove. He and Daley are brothers from another mother. Chewing the fat with Matt Nightingale, Pete Fidler, Gibbo floating, the adorable Adam Young, effervescent Sarah Carroll, Glenny Rae and Dougie Ball passing through to the show down at the hall. Standing underneath the verandah of pure Australian heritage. I knew i was being rejuvenated with all that was good about Rock and Roll, the real Rock and Roll.

Over the 7 years I have been playing Tamworth I have seen my favourite Blues, Boogie and Country Rock and Rollers run out of town. I have been lucky I suppose. My songs are probably a straighter country than the bands I love, and I write singer songwriter type lyrics. Not good enough to break the big end of town, and not cool enough to brake the Alternative end of town. I know who I am. I am grateful for the work. For the folks that come to my shows , regulars, not many, but they all count to me. You know who you are. I know you to. Thank you

Seeing 8 Ball and Doug Bruce  get Nominated  for Golden Guitars I felt envy and hope.Seeing Luke O’Shea win three years running after winning last year, I felt joy.

I haven’t got an idea right now how to get even close, but I was glad to see their success.

The Saturday show at The Albert Hotel was a good moment in the history of the Wagon. Den was just pumped, new amp, new guitar,  full of love and power. Ronny was  in his groove from the weekend past, and then there was Harding, The Hitman. He is my last man standing, loyal to the cause, a man of few words, plenty of road stories, but few words. He however has told me clearly he believes in the songs.This he has voted with his feet . We go back a long way, and the strength of that connection has been underestimated at times.10915151_999604133387826_3284349863194656921_n

With this behind me I strapped the guitar on, and hit out. Let the songs do the talking. It felt good and right, but what meant the most to me was looking to the back of the room and seeing David Major beaming one of his beautiful smiles at me. I am to sensitive as a man, makes me hard to get on with, hard to get to know.Easy to hurt and anger. A need to be understood, I wrote it out in Wreckless on the first album.. Having people I admire tell me what we are doing counts means an enormous amount to me. I know it should not. I see others that seem to shun it completely. Its a candour I cant muster. That Saturday was what Rock and Rolls about to me. By the time I played Family Man, it moved a room. I’ve been in those rooms, It is the reason Music is my compass, my light, my access to the spirit. It was good to be the co-creator on this occasion. The rest of the day after a gig like that is a breeze, nothing else matters. I’ve seen my surfer friends like that once they are surfed out. Giving and being given to all at once. After a feed , letting the Hipshooters do their thing right in front on my, was amazing, Anton and Billy, crackerjacks, and Ronny literally carried his kit across the street and did another three sets with them. Digging deep, doing exceptional!.

By the Sunday, the last show was a pleasure, lunchtime, , great crowd, singing original songs and some Merle Haggard and others. I was grateful for the shows, thanks Dallas Vee and the Albert Hotel for having us, giving original country music ago. Every year I head back there, new albums to sell, make some new friends, see some old ones. It’s a privilege really, to be able to play. I have fantasies of grandeur, they are elusive, but Tamworth , The Albert, well that is real. The people that make there way there every year , to have fun , hear music, that is real. Thank you for pulling up a stool, and tipping your hat in our direction. I hope we gave you something in return.10929930_1003576229657283_74814406788482607_n 10933838_999603643387875_9187512169680213791_n

Heading back from Tamworth sun going down, Jason Boland and the Stranglers, Randy Rogers Band on the stereo, and then some early Richard Clapton, Mi-Sex, Rose Tattoo , George Strait to get me home. All good, all part of my mixed up musical Aussie DNA.

2015 is just starting, two trips to the USA planned for this year, some cool connections made with Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers on their Aussie tour. Might just take up their offer to back me in Austin, make some more magic. As REK says, The road goes on forever,,,, I pray I am that lucky.

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Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers. 3 gigs, 3 days, 3000 KLMS

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Well, it was a week ago that I drove away from the Brisbane Greazefest as I had to get back to my peeps, to seem them before heading off to Melbourne for a week, and tonight, as I was checking out of the Hotel early, to get back to Sydney to rescue my day gig, I saw some lovely Dames in the Foyer, who looked familiar, and I asked them “where you Gals heading?”, They said “Greazefest Opening Party Tonight! So I am officially the only guy that has driven out of town when everyone else is driven in. Strange, because you know it doesn’t bother me too much. I want to see my boys. I have not cuddled them in 6 days, and I have to work for another week before there’s a break. Its all evidence that Music is squarely on the back burner for the moment. It’s an odd feeling, but family first right now.

But Family life was interfered with when I got the late distress call from Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers. They needed a driver to take them from Sydney, To Bourke! The Brisbane. 3 gigs, 3 day’s , 3000 klms. All part of their whirlwind Australian tour. With all the help that I have been given by Texans, I simply couldn’t say no. I am glad now I didn’t too. What an amazing trip, with four beautiful people, and If I can’t get to Texas right now, I am sure glad Texas came to me.

I met the guys at the Shady Pines gig in Sydney. It was a Monday night, and they needed a driver, as they had worked out the hard way we are the 3rd most expensive city in the world! I had not been to the Shady Pines, and what a kooky little piece of down home it is, and a fitting place for these Lone Stars to play. It was nice to get to know the band, and I bid them good night, knowing that the next time I would see them would be bright an early at Star City after their Rock Lily show. I didn’t go, because I was the only Driver, and we were having to make it to the Glengarry Hilton, an Opal mining town out the back of Bourke! I was going to be a race against time. The Mayor of Brewarrina Shire was going to meet us at Walgett, as he was the reason the band got it in their crazy minds to make it out to the land of OZ. He had seen them at SXSW and said if you ever make it downunder, I will help you out. They did, and he did. So off to the back of Bourke we go. Ruby and the Boys didn’t want to risk driving on the wrong side of the road, so I stay caffeinated and the rockabilly tunes rolled, and the usual crazy band stories and humour flowed.

There was not a lot of time for sightseeing but I did stop at the Garden of Stones Look out up the Mudgee road. It’s a spiritful place, and I always feel close to country there, and I wanted the band to experience it.

Stopped at a good old Aussie Milk Bar for lunch at Dunedoo, and it was good to hear the guys have to order chips rather than fries and deal with the disappointment that nothing is refillable here, except the water. In the states, once you buy the cup and the first drink, they will keep topping it up till you explode!

When we got to Walgett, I could believe that the Mayor, Graham was a bloody Chucks Wagon fan, who would have put this small world together. We had no time to dilly dally so we headed out to Glengarry. As the road got further out there was a lot of wild Emus and Roo’s which was very cool, the Aussie bush turned it on for our visitors. It was a rugged trip out on the dirt road and I must say I wondered more than once, where the hell are we? , but when we pulled into the Glengarry Hilton, it was unbelievable. What an amazing place. A pub made out of tin sheds and cement slabs and a whole tree was the fire for the night. The word had got out that something special was happening, and there was a lively crazy eclectic crowd. Outdoors, Stars Shining, fire Blazing Ruby and The Snakehandlers ripped it up. As with most mainly original bands , took the crowd a while to warm up, but they through in some Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, the by the end of the night the place had well and truly blown its load. Awesome night, great people, and we were pooped, so it was off to bed, bunk style. Been a long time since I was on the top bunk, but I was too tired to care. It was cool waking up to the quiet camp. I got up made a coffee, cleaned up, and then helped the cleaner. It was fun hearing about the town from a fella who just rolled up back in 92, and never left. That day the owner arranged for us all to head underground and see how opals were mined. It was cool as shit, I had never seen anything like it, and the mine we were in had just discovered a four million dollar Black opal only a month before!

It was a surreal experience being under there, but one I will never forget, and a real treat for the band. Thank you Glengarry. So we then rolled over to Brewarrina for the nights show at the R.SL, and ended up at another milk bar, and low and behold , here’s the Mayor and his lovely wife. We ate, drank and was merry before getting rest before the nights show.

It was great to see the band tackle a classic Aussie rissole, and the crowd took some warming up, as I don’t think they had even seen a Bull Fiddle before, let alone heard a band from Texas, but eventually the dance floor got some bods on it, and I had the pleasure of dancing with Media celebrity and Aussie cult Classic film star from Puberty Blues, Nell Schofield, and by the time stumps was pulled, it was bedtime, cause the next day was a 10 hr drive to Brisbane. It was a great day, checked out Lightening Ridge, due to a wrong turn from me, but got the guys to Brisbane on time, and then I was struck with the dilemma, do I go to the show or head home, even though I was pooped, I wanted to head home, so there was the first Greazefest I drove away from. I left the band in good hands, and knew I had made some friends for life. It was fun to follow the shows on face book, and when I knew they had flown off, I felt some sadness, and envy, as they were heading to Texas!

We talked about doing some shows together in Texas, and I must say I was excited at the thought of heading out on the road with the Snakehandlers in Texas. You never know, it could happen sooner than you think.

Homemade Tamales!!! Randy Rogers Bands new album is a cracker

I’ve been obsessed with Randy Rogers Band latest Live at John T Floores Country Store titled Homemade Tamales. This band over the last 10 years has gone from strength to strength and this live album is about as good as contemporary Texas Country Rock gets, I am always aware that my Hank 3 Outlaw friends might think Randy Rogers is simply heading to main stream, and it is what it is, but what it is as far as I’m concerned is first class! I chased him down a few times in my travels, saw him solo with Wade Bowen at Gruene Hall, what a magical night. I stood at his tour bus for so long as I had a copy of Texas , the Chucks Wagon song I mention him in, and his manager came at, he got Randy, we chatted as I fumbled over my words, but tried to tell him how inspired I was by him. As a result of my stalking, the sheriff got to know me, and that came in handy, as it was sold out and even my best Australian accent did not get me in , but the Sheriff took pity on me , and let me stand down the side in the no Loitering section, and I watched the show through the chicken wire, under a full Texas Moon with Randy and Wade trading songs an stories, and all the Texans singing along word for word, I was just transported, to what felt like home. It was a strange and wonderful night. I got the song Dancing with you Tonight from being right there, and it’s on Lipstick and Sin .I was travelling over there with Kinnon Holt and an ex. It was the best and worst of times, best music I ever played with Kinnon Holt, he is an Outlaw!, and the relationship, well, that’s where I got Lipstick and Sin from, everything gives you something. I might not be [laying a hell of a lot right this second, but on this Sunday Morning, with the kids playing in the background and after a great feed of fresh of the grill Pancakes, Randy Rogers is playing live on my TV, and for today, this is as close to Texas I’m goning get.Image!!!

If the House is a Rockin, dont bother Knockin….

IMG_9585Since the Bungendore Country Festival straight after Tamworth, I officially have not done a show, not including one warm up gig for the recent Warning reformation. It has been a long time between drinks. I have been hard at it with The Wagon for 7 yrs, but it just finally got to me, and I needed a break, line up changes, constant money struggles, all led to a lack of direction, confidence and motivation. With that spinning around in side of me, I just put the guitar down, and parked the Wagon in the barn for awhile. Maybe it was the sickness and death of Dad all of last year, same time as having a two year old and a newborn, who knows, but I aint been right , that’s for sure.
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When my father died, there was only one man I could think of to do the funeral, and that was Greg Hirst. Greg was a man that for me and my recovery taught me that Christianity was living the principles, not just preaching them, and he was a preacher, so I was impressed. I was a lost soul, and went to the Street Level Community Church for sometime to unlearn a lot of the crap I got from Sunday school and bad High School information. I was baptised by Greg, in the sea, in the middle of winter, a moment I will never forget. I never stayed at the Church long term, I went back to Recovery and found my spirituality there, but Greg has always been in my heart. He is the president of the Brotherhood motorcycle Gang, and he is a strong advocate for Motorcyclists of all persuasion. One of the ways they got the message out was hosting the Silverwater Bike Show, and this year was it’s 20th Anniversary. Warning, my first band, a Texas inspired Blues Rock Band, played there for nearly the first 10 years in one way shape or form, and Greg asked if we would be interested in playing this one seeing it was a special event. I said I was still in touch with Pietro and Mark, and would see if they were keen. Well as it happened, they were. Pietro’s had been a Shakespearian actor and singer for the last 10 years,and Mark was playing in Cash Only, a Johnny Cash tribute band. When I put it to them, they were up for it, but a few realities has to be overcome first.
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I had not played lead guitar properly, since then, I had gotten into the habit of hiring talented Gun Slingers, (best choice I have ever made!) so getting my chops up to scratch was my biggest fear. Pietro had not played drums since, and even though he had a custom made Sleishman Drum Kit, made by Don himself, it had been stored under his mothers house for 10 years, and bits needed to be found. Mark was ok, although it did take some convincing him to pull out his Leo Fender G&L basses for the occasion, he had been keeping those for his son.
At first practice we met at my place, got out the old tapes and video’s and went through them, it was fun. Hearing the raw passion and drive we had back then in our early 20’s was a good reminder of the power of a young man’s dream. We then had a bit of a jam, and even though it was fun, it was along way from where we would have to be to pull this off.When it was over my wife even asked me , “What did you think?” sort of questions! That’s when the work began. I started each night back on the pentatonic scales, sitting in front of the TV going up and down that next, building the speed, and the organic memory again. It’s like a meditation. we would meet and practice eventually taking it to a studio so we could turn it up LOUD, and it felt better and better. We had a little warm up set for friends, and it was much better than the three of us thought it could be. Our hopes were high.
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As show day approached we felt as ready as we were going to be. It was only one set, it was a bike show, so I played to the Choir , (sorry about the pun!) and kept it to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Winter, ZZ Top, Rory Gallagher, Thorogood, Gary Moore, Buddy Guy, Georgia Satellites and BTO to name a few.
Bike shows are simple set ups. Stage= Back of a Truck. PA= Usually good, , bikers want it loud, and Phil (soundman) had been there for 20 years, he did us proud. Audience= They are there for the bikes and Cars, we are just back ground music, no ones claps, I learnt years ago off Bob Montgomery, lead singer and bass player for Grog and Grumble, to look at their feet, cause if their toes are tapping, then you are doing your job!. It certainly free’s you up to just shut up and play, and that’s what we did. Before we knew it , it was over. Was nice looking out and seeing my wife and boys there. Over this year, while I been taking a step back, being a Dad, is all that has really mattered, and coming home every night to this beautiful family, is a gift I get given daily. It has it’s challenges, but all in all it pumps my blood. At the end of the set, we hung around, shot the shit so to speak, and all just drove off like you do, but we had smiles on our face. Mark Andrew’s, Bass Player has been my friend since we were 16, Peter I met when I was 22 yrs old, and to just be in their company, have a laugh, and make music, loud Rock and Roll, for people who like it that way, well it doesn’t get any better than that.
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Where it goes from here, who knows, but for a moment in May, we were Rocking the House, Texas Blues Style and it was fun. Thank you Greg Hirst and all the good folks at The Brotherhood. The world is a better place for you in it, and last year, when my family needed a Good man , for a good man down, there was no other name that even came close.
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Warning, and a Working Class Man

This weekend has been interesting. Lately I have certainly felt my Mojo has gone missing. I have been fighting the Black Dog, getting up , one foot in front of the other. Last night I had a walk down memory lane, the bands of my youth, from the inside. I sat in the middle of my childhood heroes, the ones that gave it all and made it. I felt proud. A stupid feeling really, but i felt real joy for them. The years of work, and it paid off. The Angels Richard Clapton,Ian Moss, Daryl Braithewaite and Jimmy Barnes all really conquered. I couldn’t stand the people or the crowds, but we got into a beautiful spot to watch Jimmy give a master class on what Aussie Rock and Roll can be. A family man providing, for his kin, and his fans. I felt given to. I snapped a picture of friend Tim Bradshaw taking shots. His music passion is well documented. I understand that passion.

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Today was the opposite experience. I had a personal nostalgic moment. Nearly 28 years ago I got clean in a westie fellowship, my first sponsor taught me guitar. I never had the patience when I was using. Every Friday night I would go to his house, leaving my wife downstairs with his wife and I would go upstairs and play till the early hours, come down , and then wake her , and we would head home. I started a band called Warning. We played original Rock, and then Texas Blues. My sponsor quit the band 3 days before our first show with that line up. I was playing lead in 7 songs, and then night he walked out I had two days to learn how to cover the lead in 23 other songs, well I did it, and didn’t look back. I played with Pietro Desiderio on Drums and Mark Andrew’s on Bass.

Image Well, today for service I played with Mark and Pete for the area I grew up in. All old school songs that people knew. I was fun, and it felt good, and we sounded good. I am grateful that in recovery I have been able to play music in one form or another. I wished I had made it through, I haven’t yet, but man, I wont die wondering, I will be dying trying , giving it all I got, and teaching my sons the power that is Rock and Roll.

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Tonight I saw the future of Rock and Roll…..

ImageLately, life hasImage been a roller-coaster, I get sick of thinking about it, but for Valentines day I got me and Jen tickets to Springsteen, won them off ebay, as money has been tight,they were behind the stage, but I didn’t care. I needed to see him. Again. He is a revival,a prolific magnificent master. High Hopes, his latest album is a cracker, still at nearly 65 pumping them out, enviable, for men a third of his age to write so often, so deep an inspirational. Wrecking Ball was a great record. I just got the Seeger sessions on vinyl, was a cool record. Working on A dream, cool, The Rising, masterpiece. Devils and Dust, killer. I really do feel for any fool that goes to his concerts and hasn’t bought anything since Born in the USA. A wasted life.

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Well tonight, heading the in the rain, we were stuck in traffic, me being my doomsday self, started to get down, and angry, but Jen guided us there the back way, and the concert started late, and as we took our seat, he came on. The first Miracle. For seats behind the stage, they were great, sound was great, and the band, well they are the best in the business and to top it off he had Nils, Little Steven and Tom Morello.. Bloody Hell, Lynard Skynard, sit down.

Tom Morello just brings something else to this already magnificent band. He is amazing on High Hopes, but the solo he does on Tom Joad is out if his world. 

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Then, just like a parent that saves the best present till last at Xmas, Bruce announces that we have never done this before in Australia, but tonight we are going to play Darkness at the Edge of Town, in full. Now this is a big record, a dark , heavy deep record. Racing in the streets, is a song for my soul, a record that gets men through divorce, retrenchment, disenchantment, life’s challenge.

Tonight I need the Faith that saves us, I needed to hear…

Some guys they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece,
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin’ in the street.”

You see my music has always been my “racing in the street”.I have needed to work day jobs to survive and provide for my family. I see this getting discussed these days on social media, musicians telling other musicians what they should play for, how much, whether you professional, semi professional, a hobbyist, and who thinks who is better or worst. Trying to regulate how much you should get paid. Good luck I say working that one out. If musicians can, help the rest of the professions out, get the tradies to all agree on a price to, save us al so bread.

I play, because I am a musician, I write because I am a songwriter. As an originals artist, music has always cost me more than I have earnt, cause I fund tours, I pay my band, I record albums and make film clips. Why? Cause it is inside of me, finding it’s way out, to go ” Racing in the Streets”

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Smoke em if you got folks, play where you can, for what you can I say, cream rises to the top, if you dedicated and any good,if you pull a crowd, and they have a good time, then you will be fine. Good luck to all my musical friends, may the force be with you.

You see, Mr Springsteen gives me faith, that if you stay true, and have a dream, then just maybe the light at the end of the tunnel, could be you.  I do wish I could meet him one day. All I would say is thank you, for having the balls, givin the world such hope, such love, for everything you had to give. God Bless you Bruce. You have saved men like me. Passionate, creative, blood pumping men, and given me a compass. For that, I am grateful.

High Hopes my friend, High Hpoes indeed…

 

I wanna go out tonight, I wanna find out what I got.
Now I believe in the love that you gave me.
I believe in the faith that could save me.
I believe in the hope and I pray that some day it
Will raise me above these

Badlands…

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Ragged Edge of Rock and Roll….

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Well its Saturday night of the Australia Day weekend, the CMAA awards are on, and I’m at home, the boys are all tucked up in bed, even wrote  another song today, that’s two since Christmas. My writing partner was my son Marshal, he was dressed as the Blue Wiggle, apparently, I’m the Brown Wiggle ( Yes, I know, there is no Brown Wiggle! You tell him that.) In-spite of the fact our couch was the Big Red Car Train, ( Thomas and the Wiggles ride together in our house), the song turned out all right. Congratulations to Luke O’sShea for another Golden Guitar

Beautiful man and his.six string machine.

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Tamworth nearly didn’t happen at all this year,as booking took place when the old man was really ill, and even two weeks out I wasn’t set on my lineup, but knew I needed something big to happen. Even if it was just for my own heart. Live music, when people stand and deliver, really only happens when there’s an air of danger lurking about. When in our case four men come together, and they have something to leave on the stage, something that matters. Tamworth can be a car wreck of a place where people just go through the motions, and as the week goes on and they get more pissed, and more hungover, and start to break down, somehow expecting the audience should just accept it as a badge of honor, well personally I think that is Bullshit If a punter has made their way to the front of your stage, you surely owe them more than that. I have played there with no voice, that’s true, but have never not given my all, everything that was in the tank.

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Well this year with Den Hanrahan being with me since last Tamworth, and no one plays with more heart than this guy, and Dodge Dave Harding on the bottom end, it was the drummers stool that once again bothered me. I made a big call two weeks out and left behind Henry who had worked with me all year,  there was no Danger, great guy, never stopped having a go, but no lives could have been lost to the raged edge of Rock and Roll with him there. So the call went out, answered by none other than Scotty Dogg. From the first song at The Albert he was on it, we even played Last Song About Girls, no rehearsal, and slayed it, this is just my perspective, just how I felt, but right now, here , alone, after listening to the Blues all night and watching how the other half lived in Tamworth , it’s all I have. That and the dream for this year.

God I came close to giving up, closer than I have before. This Rock and Roll Fantasy has haunted me sine I first won a pair of Radio Head phones off a G.I,. Cordial bottle when I was in Primary school. I was trying to describe to my wife that it’s impossible for me to be just a punter at any show, I always want to be out there. Don’t get me wrong, I have Springsteen tickets and  I will rock out, I love High Hopes, Wrecking Ball, Man he has written these in his 60’s!

So, this year, with this new line up, something , anything might happen, I am working on songs, I have  new band with Hank in the wings, Warning my first band is reforming, I have two film clips/ singles to come off I Play Country, and I have a Live in Austin Texas full band album in the can for Mastering. The Howling Buzzard reckons we should hit Texas again, he has some guys, I have some Guys, wants me to make sure Hank gets there, man, it’s look classy San Diego.

So 2014 , I put you on notice, and by Australia Day 2015, I will have High Hopes, High Hopes indeed. This Dreamer isn’t done yet, it might have been close, but as Rocky said in Rocky 5, ” Its not how many times that you get knocked down that counts, it’s how many times you get back up!”

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Life on life’s terms, the Road, Family and the Song. Year 2013

 

 

This year was tough, no way of hiding that fact, not from myself, not form anyone else. The first year I didn’t tour Texas, cancelling the shows to be by Dad’s side, there was band members leaving, birth of my second son, and then my father collapsed, and deteriorated over the year, finally passing in December. I kept playing, not as much as I would have liked, but as much as I could of under the circumstances. This is how it played out.

When I was thinking about this year it feels like it started in Brisbane just before New Year’s Eve, we  played there with Mike Errol Jnr and Corn Liquor and headed to Sydney excited for a NYE show at Matraville with Corn Liquor. We had Tex Austin sitting in on drums, and he is one of music’s great gentlemen, a hell of a lot of fun to play with, just sits in that pocket all night.  NYE was ok, but for one of the biggest shows of the year we walked out of there without a cent. That’s another story. That’s Rock and Roll.

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Then there was Tamworth, we had a strong first half of the week gigs wise then a real break till the inaugural Outlaws show at the Courthouse, and a final Alberts Hotel show. Quickly the week turned tough. The Outlaws show was a lot better than I thought it would be, and we used to drummers, Al Fisk and Mark Fairhurst. Two different stick men couldn’t be found, but both made the Wagon their own. Fisk is an uncompromising, live hard, drum harder sort of guy, man we had some fun at Wanita’s on an all-nighter after playing at Shot by Jakes, with Dave Major as well, we nuded up for a pre-dawn swim, it was a hoot. Mark is a more calculated player, worked real hard, and the Outlaws show was a success musically due to him coming up early and doing the work. Thanks man.

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It was the first time I ever ventured into the Crabpot, and Jake and I hit it off, and one night I played a three and half hour set , straight!, into a Tamworth dawn. He did a photo shoot with me. He one of Australia great larrikins, and the Crabpot will always be that weird sort of Star Wars Bar in my heart.

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The vibe went downhill over the week in the band, split loyalties and differences of opinion lead to John Wardle and Dave Turner, The Roadie, resigning. It happens. John was already playing with Benn Gunn at Tamworth, and stayed with him, so be it. He is a great player, and I wish him every success. There’s a lot more to say here, but it stays with me. Something’s are best kept unsaid. It was fun to meet long time hero Jim Lauderdale at the CMC After party!

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Luckily for me the sting of Tamworth was washed away immediately by the birth of my second son Maverick on the 6.2. 12. He was healthy and happy and as I write this he is a beautiful bouncing boy, starting to play with Little Marshal and they have become fast friends, Brothers. He is a bad sleeper though, and man I cannot remember being more tired in my whole life. Never getting a chance to catch up, he ends up in with us most mornings, and it’s pretty cool waking up with him. My mum calls him smiley, and it’s a good nick name. Kids change everything, with two boys now, and providing for them and there mum, and the band being so hard to keep together, I took a serious job, to help with bills, especially for debts I owe from film clips and albums etc. It kills me not having as much time to focus on the band, but after Maverick coming along, and then my Dad getting ill, I just had to bite the bullet.

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Had a Sydney show booked, then some shows booked down the south coast, and we needed a guitar player, and Jeff Mercer stepped in. It was amazing playing with such a talented man, he is all feel, had such an amazing touch, and yet is the coolest guy on earth. The shows where fun. We had a new drummer to, Henry. A friend of Harding’s. He wanted the job, I needed a drummer. It all worked in nicely. However it was on this trip that after setting up in Tilba at the Dromaderry Hotel. It was my mother, my father had collapsed. He had not been well for a while, but this seemed more serious. I took a risk and finished the shows, I have never wanted to cancel shows. As it was , when I got back to Sydney it was his heart and me and mum started our first night together in a waiting room, waiting while he had open heart surgery for the third time. It would not be the last time we shared a space, in over 7 hospitals in the coming 9 months. Each time he took a step forward he seemed to take two steps back. It did seem that the surgery at the time was a success, and he headed to rehab. His balance and memory were effected, eventually leading to a stroke. He recovered from the stroke, but balance and memory were worse, and he would forget he could not walk properly, and he would fall, injuring himself. Eventually he broke his hip, and kept falling, and then the wound split, he got Golden Staff, and never recovered from that. So I slept a lot at mums in the end, especially when we knew he was dying, albeit slowly, and many a night sitting in a hospital, most of the time in the dark, just holding his hand, cause I got there late, as I would come home, help out with the baby, then head off when they were asleep. With Maverick keeping us awake in the early hours and this schedule, I was always exhausted, as I had to keep working. Gigs became a nice distraction, but because we were not rehearsing or playing enough, gigs always were rough. Don’t get me wrong, there were always moments, where we were really on it, but nothing feels as good as a well-oiled working band.

 

 

After the fall out at Tamworth, mate and Troubadour Den Hanrahan said he would sit in on guitar and help me out. He was an angel for me this year. A brother I needed in a time of need. It was always going to be a different sound, but man, I had some fun, and then we started doing solo gigs, and Den started sitting in, and that was something I ended up doing more solo and duo shows this year, and I liked it a lot. He knows the struggle of the road, and bands, and his love for music is the same as mine. I look forward to this year’s Tamworth with Den up there with me. For the sake of a song.

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I even dusted off the slide guitar and did a few shows three piece, one show out at Orange and we played Johnny Winters version of Highway 61, Clapton’s Telephone song, Rollin and Tumblin, it was fun.

Also a highlight was going to the Independent Music Awards for Miss Texas Tonight for country song, and I Played Country for best Video. We didn’t win, but it was a nice change of scenery, and our first night out together since having a baby. Felt a bit human again.

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Just after Dad died, Deadwood 76 called me, Jeff Pope couldn’t make the show, so at four hours’ notice, I filled in. It was a really rough show, but I played some solo stuff, and it was the first time I dedicated Family Man to my father. It was the second single off I Play Country, I released it in September, and planned to get a film clip together for the CMC, but I simply ran out of extra cash, and Dad was really unwell at this time, and that’s when I had to cancel Texas/ Colorado Tour. I was bummed, but I didn’t want to be there worrying whether Dad did while I was away. I was worried about my mother to, as they had been married 60 years this year. How was she going to cope when he went, it was unthinkable.Image

For Dad’s eulogy, I went through a lot of old photos, and I dug this one out. He helped me build a guitar case for a huge Hollow Body I had, I glad I will have it for ever. Its built like a brick shit house!

 

 

So, here I sit, New Year’s Eve, three weeks out from Tamworth. Just a few shows this year, I look enviously at the posters of other bands doing 15 shows in 9 days, As much as it is gruelling as hell, it’s awesome to just take Tamworth on like that. This year, I’m playing the first weekend at the Albert then Im getting the hell out of there. My spirit this year has taken a battering. I need some time to get my head right, get the passion back, revision the dream, at the moment, it’s all lost in some sort of fog. I need to find my mojo, and just battling away on stage isn’t doing it. Den and I talked about doing a record, starting something new, and it’s exciting, and this coming year I am reforming my first ever band for some anniversary shows, so more three piece, and I am excited about that. As for the Wagon, well, it’s likely to go in the barn for a bit. I’m sure it will hit the road again, but until then….

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So thank you to all who came out to the shows, and choose to get some live music Chucks Wagon style. Thank you to all who bought the new album, my heart and soul is in that thing. Thank you to all the D.J’s that played I Play Country and Family Man. I will hopefully get a film clip together in the New Year.

Thank you to Heath Blows and Graham Walsh from Fender Australia. You guys have kept my amp humming. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the support. Thank you to Mark Fairhurst, Al Fisk, Dave Major and Henry for sitting in on Drums. Thank you to Jeff Mercer for the Guitar licks, it’s a memory I will keep for ever. Thanks to the Mighty Den Hanrahan, who stepped into a place I needed filled by someone who believed in the music, and to Dodge Dave the Hitman Harding, for holding down the bottom end. Sorry to my USA fans for having to cancel this year. I know I will be back, be great to see you then.

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Last but not least. Thank you to my lovely wife, who knows I need to play, and sees me off with a smile, knowing she has two boys to deal with as soon as I round the bend. Thank you to all the folks that support through my father’s illness and passing. Mark Andrews, my Warning bass player helped carry the coffin. I look forward to getting Warning back on stage mate. Also to Gary Poulton, who grabbed a handle on one of the most important days of my life.

 

I’m sure I have forgotten something in all this, but to be honest I’m amazed I actually got it down at all.

See you on the road somewhere….

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