Quick synopsis

The AMA interview:

Recent recordings:

Maple Leaf Rag:

I Put A Spell On You

not Only but Also:

Send ‘Em All To Hell

the Hunter

the Iron Crown

Thanks for watching!



Post Jambo/Pre Summer

Hello folks

Where was I?  I seem to get very distracted these days and neglect my blogging.   What a bad modern citizen I am.

So let’s do a quick recap:

Film Score gig for State Library.  What a hoot that was!   One of the best, nicest gigs I think I have ever played in Australia.  Over an hour of solid concentrated engagement with a listening audience who forgot I was there.  This makes a change form the usual Australian audiences, who are by definition a drinking, NON-listening audience who IGNORE that you are there.  But it was very challenging to get it right, especially with no accompaniment to hide behind!  At the end the staff at the library were so kind and many people in the audience took the time to thank me personally for, and I’m quoting one of my favorite quotes of the night here “creating the difference between seeing a film and having and experience!”  Yeah….good times, as Matt McKenzie from Stompdog would say!

Ok, next item in the minutes – The Guildford Banjo Jamboree – another great effort from Jan and the crew.  I don’t think I have ever been to a jambo so utterly sleep deprived as i was.  But now i know I can play a lot of songs without the need for consciousness.  I’m sure this is a skill I’ll need later on down the track.  my workshops were well appreciated…or so i was told.  It did seem a bit quieter than other years and I noticed a lot more contemporary folk players more so than trad ones this year.  And that’s both a good and a bad thing.  But I had a lot of fun!  Met some great crew from around the traps and as far away as Mornington Peninsula.  Oh, and I completely wussed out on the River challenge.  If I get any younger next year I’ll have another crack at it.

Then we went off on that holiday.  Was there any surf?  Well, yes.  But there was also a great big shark swimming around about ten feet from the shore.  I was going to hassle him for waves.  And that was on the only day we had with surfable waves!  Still, good fun and we had many, many encounters with possums, kangaroos and Lace Monitors.  (That’s what the Herpetologists call goannas.)

Ok, so that brings us to the great and fleeting NOW.

The Australian Musician did an interview on me!  Here’s the link….

Rex Hardware at Federation Uni Live, otherwise known as Live On Lydiard 53 has got some clips of me playing solo.  I can provide a comprehensive list of all mistakes i made upon request.  Just so you are prepared when watching the links.  Here they are:



So what’s coming up?  Zeptepi gigs are being locked down for next year.  Also, stay tuned, because the band that never existed – the BLACK SWANS OF TRESPASS has new phantom line up and will be debuting this Sunday at Cowrie Market!

I’ll be in touch.  Watch this space.  Keep on plucking.


Film scores and Workshops

Hello there,

Just a couple of things –

Tonight, being Thursday the 18th of September (that terrible anniversary of the death of Jimi,) I will be performing the live musical score, on 5 string banjo, to the film “Blind Justice (1916)” at the State Library in Melbourne.  Starts at 7pm.

here’s the film, including the score by Neil Brand that I will be working from loosely:

And here’s some info on the chap that wrote the music:


So that should be fun.

THEN on Saturday at 11am, at the Cricket Pavilion in Guildford I’ll be holding my patented workshops on Jazz chords for the 5 string banjo as part of the Guildford Banjo Jamboree.  This year will certainly be different from the previous years, with a more casual, conversational approach focused on the beginner player.


After that I am going surfing at a secret location for a week.  But I’ll be back with more banjo after the holidays.

Bye now!

Is there anything sadder than a dead blog?

Well, perhaps. Lost puppy? Fry’s dog in Futurama? Losing community TV?

Ok so dead blogs maybe aren’t the saddest thing humanity has to offer.

nevertheless, I am re-invigorating my blog with blah with the idea that it might become a regular thing.

It’s been a while and there’s been a massive shift in focus and energy for me personally. Lately I have been playing for Zeptepi (See here – http://www.zeptepi.info ) and we’ve been very busy.
Also, I am now teaching, like, for a living, at A&B Music (See here – http://www.aandbmusic.com.au ) and I have been fairly sedentary in recent years.

So stay tuned for many bloggy adventures. I’ll try to make them brief, action packed and entertaining. Or failing that verbose and vitriolic.

Mmmm words….

Oh one last thing – September 19-21 2014 – BANJO JAMBOREE at GUILDFORD!! I’ll be doing a workshop on Jazz chords and theory on the 5 string banjo. this year it will be a bit more casual, conversational and much simpler with less content and more focus on chords.

See you there!!

STOMPDOG album Songs For the Dead out now!

Hello readers!  I’m pretty excited just now.  I’ve been listening to the new Stompdog album since last night.  I’m on it!  So forgive my indulgence just for now.  (Keep a vigilant eye on it though.)  But right now it’s totally appropriate, because it’s possibly one of the best albums I’ve been involved in.

Now, I really, really should put up Stompdog on my bio, but I have been in a retrogade eMercury period recently.  I needed to work on some actual bonafide roots into some nourishing soil for a bit.  And look!  I gots a fruit!  This album!  I’ll post up the Stompdog bio in a few days.  (I pormise Louise!)  but in the meantime, here’s a brief introduction.

Stompdog is the work of Matthew McKenizie and Lousie Nicholas.  Matt writes most of the stuff so far, and he and Louise (on bass) arrange really great harmonies.  Peter O’Shea is a veteran fiddler savant from around these parts, and then there was me for a while on Banjo.  Unfortunately I got too busy to keep up with their rapidly expanding schedule, and was over-committed with another band that also has a release out this year.  But that can wait for a another blog! 

Nevertheless, I made the Album with them and I’m so glad I did. 

The album is definitely hill billy, with a strong Australiana feel all through it.  Matt’s originals are incredibly well written, with local scenery of Victoria prosaically framing stories of intense drama.  And they’re extremely well crafted too, with full harmonies and intelligent, soulful changes. 

But there’s also some proper good Aussie trad arrangemenst too.  Songs like lachlan Tigers and Ryebuck Shearer – complete with kicking bluegrass solos on banjo and fiddle.  if you ever wanted to hear proper trad Aussie songs, by proper trad Aussies presented in a homogenous and contemporary bluegrass way, this album should be in your reference library.

I’ve been lsitening to the album all morning.  I had to steal one off a friend because it’s so fresh I haven’t even got mine yet!  And it has this crazy charm to it.  It rollicks, and you think it’s Saturday arvo and you’re on the farm and there’s dogs and chickens and rolled-up jeans and rolled-up grass and cabbage moths and cockies sqawking in the distance.  the sun is shining and the weeds and veggies are bolting for the sky.  Then, without warning, the album just turns it’s head for a moment, it’s smile flickers for a second and suddenly you’re a long way from home, and it’s dark, and there could be something out there.

The album is like a billy cart ride.  You hurtle down the Dead Grommet Hill, and it even hits bumps and bounces into the air, as though the album is trying to steer the thing without crashing.  but then it has these moments when you get out of the cart and drag it up the next incline in contemplation.

I’m repeating myself now.

Anyway, check it out.  you can buy it online, or in stores, or if you have trouble with that email me here and I’ll sort it out for you.



The long time between drinks…

Hello readers. I hope you haven’t forgotten me! It has been a very long time since I blogged, and much overdue. but frankly, there isn’t that much inspiration in Australia to write. It’s pretty bleak.

To give you an idea about what you’ll face in my country if you try and play music, hear this anecdote –

While in the USA and doing lots of terrific gigs, I tried, with the help of a few supporters, to line up some gigs when i got back and do a bit of promotion. Unfortunately, the venues I had once had a great relationship with had changed bookers, and they simply wouldn’t reply to any emails I sent. So, I had to actually phone, from the USA, these venues and speak directly to their managers and once again attempt to by-pass their bookers. Unfortunately, they put me back into the hands of their bookers.

I had to ask Serge at the Edinbrough Castle what the deal was with their booker, as it had been 3 months of solid emailing with no response. But the reality is it’s been YEARS trying to deal with their various bookers.

I remember when the EC first opened, and the Black Swans of Trespass had a gig there. We held the record for a LONG time for attendance. The booker, Louise at the time, actually did the door. That means she sat there the whole gig, she saw how many people came in. Now at the end of the gig, when I asked her for another gig, she actually told me to drop in a demo and “we’ll see.”

I was very surprsied and confused by this. Nevertheless I did what she asked. I dropped in not one but several. I emailed her. I phoned her. I got completely ignored. That was the last gig i did at the EC under my own steam. I have played there many times since, always as a session or support.

But that’s the way Melbourne works.

So I had to reluctantly say goodbye to my relationship with the EC. The same sadly was true of the Wesley Anne. Once, we had a great relationship with the Booker there. We did great work for them. We pulled reasonable crowds and did MASSIVE ad campaigns. As soon as the new booker, Damien, came in,. we were snubbed. When we went around him and approached managemnet directly for a gig, we got double booked.

Just recently we were asked to support Andre Camilleri at the Wesley Anne. Since Damien had taken over, that was the first gig I had ever been to there that was not double booked. Prior to that, every gig there I had played as a support or session, or even just gone along to see, had been double booked except for one. The one that wasn’t double booked was an interstate touring band that had just been forgotten about. No listing, no info, no nothing. It never ceases to amaze me the level of professionalism demanded by these venues compared to the level that is reciprocated by the venues.

People wonder why I am reluctant to play in melbourne. Since then I have made terrific, professional relationships outside of Melbourne, and there is just no incentive to really go back there.

Compare the treatment we got from Adelaide’s Wheatsheaf! Ever since I first played there, about two years ago, we have had a mutual repsect for each other. The booker there is awesome, professional and very well organised. And as a result, the business thrives. Compare that to Wesley Anne and the EC. they don’t care so much about the music and rely on fairly expensive food to bring punters in. Yet, without music, the punters would go elsewhere. In fact the only reason these venues have any kind of reputation is from live music. But they treat the musicians like crap.

The Wheatsheaf booker, on the other hand, not only treats musicians with respect, the booker actually goes to the gigs! I have NEVER known this of any venue in Melbourne.

There’s a lot Melbourne can learn from Adelaide, if it would only stop looking down its nose.

Anyway, that’s one little gripe out of the way. Here’s another –

While in the USA we did a lot of internet promotion. We got really warm and positive feedback from the US and UK. What did we get from Australia? Two replies, both were abusive, along the lines of “Ah your band probably sucks anyway, that’s why you have to advertise.”

When some fans asked the two bogans to listen, they got abusive and threatened violence. Albeit in a pathetic way not to be taken seriosuly, but nevertheless, that’s what i was faced with. Knowing that my time in the US was drawing to a close, that it had been massivley succesful, that i was going home to a musical abyss. It felt awful.

However, not all is lost! There have been some developments in many bands I play with. And that has allowed me to focus on their work, and not to push my own. Which is a massive relief! In fact I feel like I can do more for someone else’s music than I ever could have for my own.

ZEPTEPI have been absoluetly exploding. Shows go from strength to strength, and there has not been a week go by when I haven’t gigged with them in some capacity. They are just about to release an acoustic album I am very excited about. (Phil the front man is listening to the finished masters as i type, and then they’ll be off to the printers.) We have built up a healthy circuit in regional Victoria and interstate. We may launch in Melbourne if we get a decent date, but i don’t think that gig will be the priority launch.

STOMPDOG have finished their album which is mighty fine too. I played all the banjo on it. However, as Zeptepi have been very busy, I have been relegated to understudy banjo. It was too hard for us to synchronise dates, and now they have their original guy back. We are still good friends though. The split was amicable! I recommend checking their CD out. Matt Mckenzie is a great soingwriter.

The BLACK SWANS OF TRESPASS has been resurrected in trio from and plays about once every 1-2 months.

And then I am doing the occasional solo gig here and there.

So once I adjusted to the way Australia is, things weren’t so bad. Currently my main focus is on Zeptepi. And there’s been a lot of work in that area.

I’ll try and blog more often, and keep the whinging if not to a minimum then at least make it somewhat entertaining!

There’s a few anouncements coming up too, regarding banjo classes run by myself at a local music school, and a curious tale about busking on the Surfcoast I’m sure you’ll find extremely Kafka-esque. But for now, let it be known, I’m alive, I’m busy. Things here are about as good as they can be.

Stay tuned!

Last Call

The last gig was a quiet, cerebral affair.  It was at a bookshop.  Necessity dictated.  But I still felt compelled to sing.   It was half restaurant style, half dancing pony.  Or talking mule.  I’m not a dancer, but when people come to see you play, you expect that they expect to see you sing and tell them stuff.  But the cosiness of the Innerchapter Book Store and the intimacy of the space made me just want to make fluid, beautiful noise.

There was a surpise crowd.  I had been hitting the Seattle open mics  and was surprised to see an interested audience member from the Q Cafe open mic.  This is an open mic run by the Victory Music people.  I only played one song at this open mic that was very well received nonetheless.  And I also had a picture drawn of me, that has become quite the treasure.  I may add it to photos when I get home, which, sadly, will be soon.

This blog is all about me and frankly I am finding it boring.  Like every other musician with a god awful website and vanity blog  I am touting myself, inflating my works, waxing egotistical about this show, that show.  I expect you to expect me to write about how good I am, and I expect you to hate that, in spite of your expectations.

What I’d like to write about is the long ribbons of dirty concrete that the bus hurtles over on its way from West Seattle to the Downtown area.  I’d like to write to you about how the cranes in the harbour preside like giant emaciated dinosaur robots, standing at attention as though they are on parade.  I’d like to write about the inky blackness of the deep Puget Sound, that is surprisingly clear when you’re up close to it, and how the deceptively placid surface of the water hides a maelstrom of chaotic, perfidious currents.  You think you can simply row from one side of the harbour to the other, but if the tides don’t get you, the iron will.  The mess of boats, cranes, sheds, dirty concrete will roll over you in its sleep and crush you like an insect.

I’d like to write to you about the mountains, and the grand old Mount Rainier, who watches over Seattle, as a constant reminder of the fragility of all this big man’s iron and concrete.  As though the Duwamish people had written into its very orogeny the message  –  change will come to you, as it came to us.  It dwarfs every billboard, every building, and makes the planes seem like gnats.  It’s a volcano, don’t you know?

I’d like to write to you about the hustlers at the bus stop.  The village of scam that bustles during the day, calling out for cigarettes.  The toothless guy that walks down from Pike Street to Union along 3rd avenue, chanting “Cigarette cigarette cigarette…” until the game of numbers falls his way and he gets a response.  He calls like a machine.  He dangles his passionless voice into the street like fishing rod into a river, ever watchful for the sign of interest, then he reels in his catch.

I’d like to write to you about the changing of the guard, as the workers and day shifters leave and the sun is exchanged for the stars (although no one would know as it all happens behind the ever-present grey shroud of the Seattle clouds) and the hustlers are exchanged for the rustlers.  Rowdy groups of raucous young people yelling at each other, all gangster and bravado.  How the crazy folk either hide away, or grow more earnest in the placations for cigarettes, for change, for jesus, for succour or catharsis.

But I am not supposed to.  This is a musician’s blog, about a musician.  It must have no insight or reflection nor  stray from the path of pleasantry.  For that may alienate.  Who it may alienate, I do not know.  But like MacDonalds, or Walmart or prime time TV, I must keep these blogs about myself, my work, my sales.  I must present to you the plainest of flavours, the whitest of breads, so the reader will buy all my play-sets and toys.

Buy all my play-sets and toys.

On the billboards and on all the sides of every bus in Seattle are advertisements for everything.  Each of these advertisements is for a different product.  A retirement village.  A mobile phone company.  A theme park.  A food stuff.  But every advertisement has one thing in common.  They have a random face.

“I use X Brand phones, they keep me talking.”  Random face

“Bread.  It’s for eating sandwiches.” Random face.  Two random faces, smiling.  (What the hell is in that bread??)

“Patriot Homes.  Living life to the fullest.  Or what’s left of it.  Now with new Memory Assist!”  Random face, old.

“Keep Cool.”  Random Face.  “Be This.”  Face.  “Keep up”  face “Get down” face.

Who are these people?  What is it about their faces that tells me so little?  What is it that makes me feel so uneasy?   Why are they looking at me like that?  Why is my right to respond to these faces denied?  I want to ask them so many things.  I want punch their noses and break their jaws.

Ah, see?  Now that is the problem.  That kind of attitude will not sell CD’s.   It’s alien.

So it’s back to my blog.  Strictly business.  I have 3 days left in Seattle proper.  I’m going to buy a T Shirt for someone special.  Maybe go to the market.  But as far as gigs are concerned, it’s aaaaaaaallllllllll over.

Thank so much every body!

Check these out:

Inner Chapter Book Store:


Victory Music