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!