With my new band and new direction, there are three separate life arcs that terminate at this juncture – one starting in my childhood, one that started when I picked up a guitar, and the transition from my old musical form to this one. This last little arc produced some interesting music which I hope to share with you sometime. In the meantime, let’s start at the beginning…
The beginning of the first arc to the blues is in my childhood, where my only media exposure was via ABC radio and the movies that played at the open air theatre on the weekend. There was no blues or rock and roll (apart from the Elvis and Cliff Richard movies), but what I did hear was the big band sound – Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and in particular Glenn Miller caught my ear, and through my mother I heard boogie woogie and ragtime piano, turning me into a lifelong Scott Joplin and Winnifred Atwell fan. The very first musical phrase to actually send a frisson down my spine, however, was THAT clarinet intro to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. That thing got my attention and made me feel something I wasn’t prepared to deal with just yet – it was like getting a lap dance from a woodwind instrument. The whole piece was a feast of lush blue notes, but the next time I heard anything like that intro, I paid attention. I understood none of it yet, so I was purely influenced by the sound and how it made me feel. Thus, my blues origins lie in the swing era, where I heard Ella and Billie sing the blues and Louis Armstrong make a horn cry.
When I arrived in Perth at age twelve, there was the magic of television, but limited due to the fact I was in a boarding school. I did see the one show that opened my eyes to what was happening, though. Every Sunday, Countdown would be on the TV in the common room. From the perspective of a boy from the bush with limited exposure to civilization, I saw and heard some weird shit. In amongst this overdose of new sounds was one band that got my attention. I saw some Status Quo videos, and there was that boogie thing. I was playing some simple ragtime and boogie piano myself by this time, and heard how the chord changes worked the same way. Within a year would come the experience that resulted in me picking up a guitar and thus beginning the second arc in my little triptych of tales. The first arc continues to now because that sleazy Gershwin clarinet intro is still in there, and may just slip out somewhere at some stage.