Thursday, September 10, 2015

Coupla Days In The Sunshine State!

Kenny and I fly into Coolangatta from Melbourne. We’re a few seats apart, both hunched over novels. I’m reading the Book Club’s next choice, 'The Queen’s Gambit' by Walter Tevis and Kenny is ploughing through some sort of foodie/waitress/ angry chef tell-all he received for Father’s Day. Good dad. We organise the hire car and wait for Julia who arrives half an hour later from Sydney. We haven’t seen each other since the Bluesfest shows at Byron at Easter. She’s been to Europe for Eurovision, ‘Home Delivery’ and an appearance on QI. Kenny has been to Italy and Edinburgh for a variety of family reunions and celebrations and I’ve been to The Dandenongs for the Olinda/Ferny Creek Football and Netball Club annual trivia night. Big smiles and hugs all round, then we head up the road to Jupiter’s where we are performing our Gold Coast show on October 22. 

We try to check out the room where we’re playing, but it’s all shut up, so we settle for a club sandwich and floppy fries and the continuing Tour Merchandise discussion. Intel from Merch HQ suggest that Chet Faker’s big seller is a line of comfy sox with his album cover art on the ankle. It’s come to this.

Julia and I do a breakfast radio interview at Hot Tomato FM and a longer chat with the very enthusiastic Nicole Dyer at Gold Coast FM. I say I can’t come to the Gold Coast and not have a quick dip in the ocean, but I don’t have a towel. It’s 23 degrees and the sun is sparkling on the gentle swells we glimpse through the high rise. 

My dad taught me to body surf on these beaches, his safe hands pushing me onto smooth walls of water that carried me to the shallows. Nicole races out to her car during the 9.30 news and comes back with a spare towel and we’re away! A quick dip at Surfers near where the Eldorado Motel (or was it Tiki Village?) used to be and we’re back on the road to Toowoomba for a couple of interviews and a photo shoot at the historic Empire Theatre. 

Julia puts “quality organic cafe between the Gold Coast and Toowoomba” into Professor Google and we are directed to ‘Beans and Greens' Organic cafe in downtown Ipswich. It’s the real deal and we share a table with a couple from Melbourne who are heading to the hinterland to meditate and realign with an Indian guru and, fingers crossed, Ross Hannaford. We discuss matters of the soul, the pros and cons of cooked lettuce and The Stones at Kooyong in ’73. How often the conversations turn to first concerts! We drive to Toowoomba, home of the Lamington and one of our favourite theatres, with my ‘On The Road’ playlist … Day TripperJump In My CarHit The Road JackL.A. Woman and the Flying Burritos singing Six Days On The Road.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A day at the RocKwiz office and a couple of blasts from the past ...

Writing from the kitchen table after a huge couple of days of RocKwiz Salutes The ARIA Hall Of Fame tour promotion with Julia in Queensland which followed a day last week of talking and planning, plotting and dreaming about these twenty big live shows in theatres around Australia. 

Three producers and an Orkestra member on the speakerphone. A guest meeting first, confirming artists who are booked for the twenty shows. Four guests a show. Eighty spots to fill! Two Hall Of Famers and two future Hall Of Famers a night. Some guests will do a few shows in a row, others are dropping in and out. It’s a complicated jigsaw of artists old and young, but it’s starting to fall into place. Next it’s song selection … twenty shows, six, maybe eight songs a night, plus all those riffs and play ons and play offs and segment intros and outros. It’s an even more complicated jig saw and the song choices are seemingly endless. As James Black likes to say “the possibilities are mindless!” 

A quick script meeting after lunch is mostly about trying to make the Russell Morris/Chinese restaurant joke work, then trying to place it in the show, then wondering if it’s predictable or daggy or racist or obvious or even offensive to Russell who is a Hall Of Famer. The script is really still a skeleton that needs filling with questions and introductions and jokes and enough references to the ARIA Hall Of Fame, given the theme. Writing for Julia Zemiro is an absolute pleasure because I know she will take the bones of what’s on the page and fill it out in unexpected and hilarious ways. Each night we can modify, cutting and adding, expanding and contracting. We finish with the conference call and agreement on three possibilities for the final song of the night, with the full cast all joining together to close the night. When you have the repertoire of 73 ARIA inducted acts to draw from, starting with J O.K. and Col Joye all the way up to theChurch /Models /Hunters /Crawl /Saints/Cave years there is much to choose from. (though severely male dominated) A short list of songs includes classics from The Loved Ones, the Masters, The Triffids and the original Wild One, but that might all change, depending onthe artist’s personal choices, finding keys that suit everyone and that all important factor … the vibe! The meeting breaks up when Producer Kenny and Lil drive to the merchandise factory to look at tea towels and tee shirts and stubby holders and 12 inch vinyl artwork. Twenty seven days to go! 

Still at the kitchen table and I’m remembering the first night of our first tour in 2010, in Canberra with 1500 people in the beautiful Llewellyn theatre. I drift back and recall how us three producers sat in the stalls watching Tim Rogers and Adalita rehearsing The Righteous Brothers, JPY and Clare Bowditch swapping fishing stories and the band playing a Small Faces song from 'Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake’ as Peter Garrett and Dugald worked out where they’d stand to cut the ribbon and open the tour with some civic pomp … and I wonder what thrills this tour will deliver!

I’m just about finished for the day when an email arrives from a dear friend who tells me he was sorting through old photos for his mother’s funeral and thought I might like to see these ones, from the month we spent together in San Francisco and Seattle in 1981 … and there I am in one photo with Melbourne horn player Paul Williamson and brains truster Griff on the porch of a house in Freedom, California. There's a second photo of a venue in San Francisco where I saw Jerry Garcia. By the looks of the photo I also could have seen Rosie Flores and Timothy Leary, but I don’t remember them! Jerry was fabulous. I went back a week later and saw John Lee Hooker, solo, with a huge semi electric guitar, dressed in a sharp suit, moaning and groaning his deep blues … and thirty four years slip away in an instant and I’m back at that funny weatherboard house, crouching on the front porch in baggy denim, a grandpa shirt and a scarf and then I’m standing in line at The Keystone, talking to Deadheads on the street, waiting to go inside and see a hero. Happy times!

Thursday, May 28, 2015




RocKwiz is back … and just as well! As rising star Courtney Barnett says … “Not only is RocKwiz the most hilariously entertaining and inclusively intelligent thing on Australian television, it is also a crucial part of the Australian music scene by exhibiting top-notch musicians next to local emerging artists.”

This thirteenth series of six RocKwiz episodes are all themed, with each show focusing on a specific decade. Songs, artists, riffs and questions all relate to the decade in question, beginning with the 50s and so to the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and the 2000s.

As usual, the fabulous Julia Zemiro and her trusty sidekick Brian Nankervis ask the curly questions, the artists are an exciting blend of heritage and contemporary performers, (Paul Kelly, Julia Stone, Connie Mitchell, Vance Joy, John Butler, Emma Donovan, Normie Rowe, Kate Ceberano and many more) contestants are drawn from the audience on the night, Dugald tunes guitars and holds up scores and the RocKwiz Orkestra provide their customary classy rocking rhythms, accompanied on all shows by Vika and Linda Bull.

For the first time in the show’s 10 year history, there is a line up change. Guitarist and keyboard maestro James Black is concentrating on his own musical projects (recording and producing records) and is having a year off. For these six episodes, James is replaced on guitar by Even’s Ashley Naylor and on keyboards by Triple J Unearthed artist, Clio Renner.

Stay tuned to our Facebook page for regular updates.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


This image taken at Bluesfest on the last of our three bigs shows there over Easter 2014 is actually the final bow for Series 12, the last moment of the RocKwiz cast being together on stage recording for TV this year. 

It has been a fabulous series and we hope you have enjoyed watching it, and we look forward to bringing you more episodes, and live events, in the near future. 

In the meantime you can stay up to date with us on FACEBOOK, TWITTER and INSTAGRAM and you can watch the series via SBS ON-DEMAND. 

Here are the Series 12 artists with links to the ON-DEMAND episodes.

154 RocKwiz Salutes Vanda and Young
Dan Sultan/Ella Thompson/Owl Eyes
156 Steve Smyth/Juanita Stein/Mondo Rock
155 Isabella Manfredi/Steven Cummings/Georgi Kay.
159 Continental Robert/Ms Murphy/Suze Demarchi.
160 Declan Melia/Olivia Bartley/Sweet Jean.
158 Kurt Vile/Phoebe Baker/Iva Davies
161 Billy Bragg/Courtney Barnett/Ngaiire
162 Pieta Brown/Marlon Williams/Tina Arena
163 Mikelangelo/Colleen Hewett/Megan Washington
166 Garland Jeffreys/Kira Puru/Sally Seltmann
165 Heidi Lenffer/Sam Margin/Daryl Braithwaite
164 Russell Morris/Fiona Boyes/Frente
167 Bluesfest Special
168 BluesFest Documentary

Saturday, March 29, 2014

2014 update

It's been a busy start to the year so far. We've been to Perth with the Vanda and Young Show and aired the special recorded in December in Sydney. We already recorded most of the episodes for the new series from The Espy which starts on air this coming week.
repeat  -  SATURDAY  - 8.30pm  -  SBS2

We're off to Bluesfest again over Easter to perform three big shows there which will form the basis of another Bluesfest special to end the series in late June.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

New Live Shows Announced

In case you haven't caught up with it, there is news to tell on the RocKwiz Live front... 

Tickets are now on sale for a Vanda and Young show at Perth Zoo on March 22nd and we will also be returning to Bluesfest in 2014.

In other news, tickets have been allocated for the first 4 recordings of the new series and we're really looking forward to getting back into the Espy.

Tickets are still on sale for the Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide Vanda and Young shows. Rehearsals began today and the line up of talent we have assembles for these shows is amazing! If you haven't got a ticket.... get some while they last!