Brian Henry Hooper being attended to by his angels, his nurses. Carbie Warbie photo.
Four weeks ago Brian Hooper lay in intensive care, surrounded by family and his closest friends. The tumour doctors had found on Hooper’s lung just before Christmas was preventing Hooper from breathing without medical and mechanical assistance. Specialists suggested the even Hooper’s short-term survival was in the realm of miracles.
It wasn’t the first time Brian Henry Hooper had been told to fear the worst. Just over 14 years ago Hooper was told by specialists he may never walk again, after the balcony he was standing on at a gathering in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula collapsed, sending Hooper crashing to the ground, his back mangled from the fall.
Over the next 12 months, Hooper pulled himself back from the edge of permanent paralysis. Hooper’s resilience and psychological strength astounded all around him. In late 2004 Hooper limped back on stage with the Beasts of Bourbon for a gig at the Greyhound Hotel. Towards the end of the set, his battered spine unable to withstand the trauma of standing any longer, Hooper lay on the ground. His bandmates, save for Tony Pola on drums, followed suit, three battle-hardened rockers lying prostrate on the stage in sympathy for their comrade-in-arms.
In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s ascendency to the American presidency, political sociologists scratched their heads trying to explain the emergence of the Trump vote. While some fumbled for the convenient crutch of a conspiracy theory, others acknowledged that there had been, maybe only temporarily, a seismic shift in the American voting demographic.
For those outside of the comfort zone of institutional politics, economic security and politically correct discourse, Trump’s colourful rhetoric was a beacon of hope.
Michael Hurley is a product of the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960's. Back in the day, the Village was a haven for earnest singer-songwriters whose blend of poetic lyrics and folk melodies laid the musico-cultural foundations for the more celebrated counter-cultural movement that peaked toward the end of the decade. Some, like Bob Dylan, mutated into pop cultural icon; others, like Hurley, remained on the fringes.
A scenario The Barman will appreciate: My place of employment has organised for middle-managers to attend a two-day leadership and management session. The notional proposition is clear: to build engagement across and up through to the more senior levels of the corporate hierarchy.
"Engagement", in this context, is a corporate-speak for constructive interaction in the workplace. You can talk to someone, but unless you’re both engaged, it’s just words. And what are words for, when no-one listens anymore?
We’re assembled at the venue, a mid-range hotel-cum-conference venue in Melbourne’s CBD. The room is small and stuffy. The only window looks out to construction works being undertaken across the street. The décor is unimpressive, patterned brown carpet like a Brunswick sharehouse, uncomfortable chairs, inconveniently placed supporting pillars.
Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers famously played “rent parties” at the turn of the ‘70s when they’d finished living in the UK and were back home in New York City.
What proportion of the proceeds from their sporadic gigs went towards keeping a roof over their heads was purely speculative. There were other activities to feed and audience members used to throw loaded syringes onto the stage.
Things were a world removed at the Manning Bar in Sydney on Friday night, where the audience threw two bouquets of flowers at Ed Kuepper.
We’re drawing a very long bow here, I know. This was the first leg of a modest two-city run (the next one in Melbourne on March 23) by Ed’s band The Aints. Chances are, the most popular drug in the room was Lipitor. The objective here is not to pay the rent – shit, Ed Kuepper now has a Brisbane park named after him so he can always live on a bench there - but to fund new recordings.
If that’s not exciting news, you’re in the wrong bar.
Brian Mann and Mick Medew trading licks in Thirroul. Shona Ross photo.
Gonna break that rule about not reviewing I-94 Bar gigs, as the second of this two-night engagement was badged thus. If you can’t write about things you like, what’s the point? It’s the ethos of why we do this e-zine thing.
So let’s be up front and say that Mick Medew is a good mate and his band, The Mesmerisers, are lovely people. In customary evangelical spirit, I’m unashamedly going to tell you that if you love rock and roll then you have to see them - in their native Brisbane or on one of their few forays outside of Queensland.
The first leg of this two-night weekend stand was a support to the mighty Sunnyboys, opening a bill shared with the mercurial Ups & Downs. The venue was the magic Anita’s Theatre in Thirroul, an hour-and-a-bit south of Sydney. The second was a Sydney show at the increasingly familiar stamping ground of Marrickville Bowling Club. The Mesmerisers are making the road trip a family affair with partners and two offspring in tow.
Belated reviews are the best reviews. You know, better late than never.
Eleven days have elapsed since feedtime played Marrickville Bowling Club. The excuse for the late review is that the tinnitus needed time to subside. No, there are never excuses, only reasons. After experiencing two - Two sets! Count ‘em! - sets by feedftime in one night, you need time to get over it.
Not time to analyse it. Music like theirs should never be picked over like an insect that ends up pinned to a back-board in a display case at the Australian Museum. As if you didn’t know, feedtime plays music from the guts, not the head.
Allow me a brief Robert Brokenmouth-style digression.