A Fabulous Era
Cast your mind back to the days of The Musicians Club, generally simply known as "The Club".
I can vividly recall the pride I experienced when joining "The Club" in the mid to late fifties when it was situated in Little Collins Street in the City between Swanston and Russell Streets. To become a Club member meant meeting just about everyone of importance in the music game on an equal social level. But any "Big Noter" was soon bought back to the field irrespective of his musical standing. Yes I said HIS as the Club Bar was strictly a male domain, which was just as well given the antics that went on. Remember the eye popping Kenny Weate "Floor Show", I had the pleasure of talking of the problems clarinet players experience with Tim White who was principal clarinet in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Eugene Danilov who subsequently had the bass clarinet chair in the MSO.
When we shifted to 61 Queens Road, Melbourne, one of the most important eras in Melbourne Music began as we had an auditorium on the premises.
Although our shift to 65 Wellington Street, Windsor was a financial coup for the Musicians Union, many people, including myself, feel that with the wisdom of hindsight, the move was unwise as Windsor was without question a seedy area which in recent years has been gentrified. On the other hand, I admit that as a board member of the Club, I supported the change of locale.
The Club helped unite musicians and it created a great spirit of togetherness. Those days are long gone, nevertheless, wasn't it great to be part of that Fabulous era?
Following the remarks of Alex, I remember the THREE Club Venues with fondness. I was a member of the "Club 61 Showband" who rehearsed in the autitorium every Saturday afternoon. Also the Union ran the Workshop Big Band, giving the younger musicians the chance to improve their playing skills.
Back in those days a Big Band would be booked for a Ball at "Minimum Award RAtes" which given the time frame of 8:30 pm until 2:00 am, these jobs were well paid, thanks to a strong Union. Today band bookers seem to think that playhing in a band is a leisure activity which the musicians enjoy so much that they are not interested in being paid a fee. I wonder how much these bookers pay for their leisure activities like golf & other clubs, association fees, restaurants, gambling, etc. I would like to see applied what the Politicians advocate, "User Pays". This is only My Personal View
During the showing of the TV program "Dynasties" on channel two in January which highlighted the family of the late Collingwood footballer Bob Rose, a short segment referred to Bob's widow Elsie as having snug at Mario's Restaurant in Melbourne.
Who should be playing clarinet in the band, none other than Neville Maddison. This would have been in the early sixties and did anyone recognise the Trumpet and Trombone players?
Peter Rhodes, brother of the late Allan Rhodes rang me in November to tell me of the death of Jimmy Allan, husband of Panda Lisner.
Ron Rosenberg had spoken to Jimmy from time to time, however nobody including Ron knew where Jimmy was actually living in Melbourne.
While respecting Jimmy's right to privacy I guess many of us would have liked to have been in touch with him. I can vividly recall buying clarinet reeds from Jimmy at Loel's Music Store on the corner of Lonsdale and Russell Streets circa 1960.
Just as it happened!
Blind piano player, who should remain nameless, was playing at a Catholic Ball at Manressa Hall in Hawthorn in the late fifties. Presentations were in progress when a balloon exploded near the piano. Pianist got such a fright he yelled 'F...', not knowing the stage was full of Priests and Nuns.
Can anyone remember the story of two musicians who 'pinched' a tram at St Kilda many years ago? The story was they boarded the empty tram in the wee small hours at the terminus next to the gardens on Beaconsfield Parade. The driver and conductor were on a toilet stop in the gardens, so one of the lads started the tram with the driver and conductor in hot pursuit. They negotiated the first corner, but ran the tram off the rails at the next. They escaped on foot and were evidently local residents. Does anyone remember who they were or if the story is fact or fiction.
The Noble Tap
One New Year's afternoon a group of musos were having a drink at the King's Hotel in Russell Street. At one point, the Tortoise unhinged himself from the bar and after a short argument with the door frame, lurched himself into the street. For a few seconds a silence fell over the bar and then a cacophony of honking cars, trucks, etc was heard. Expecting some sort of a catastrophe had happened, all rushed outside to see what it was all about - there was 'Uncle Noble' himself, Tap Dancing in the street.
While most of us don't like to be accused of living in the past, nostalgia is unquestionably an important part of older musician's lives and consequently enclosed is a page from the 1956 August issue of Music Maker magaine.
Some of the names will really pop out at you when you peruse the page. For instance, when I first met Terri King she was in the company of the great Oscar Peterson at the Notturno Coffee Lounge in Elizabeth Street in 1960.
The Notturno was run by Adriano Giusti, a diminutive Italian, who was a fine jazz pianist and clarinetist in his own right.
On that particular night when I met Oscar, we were discussing the album that he had recorded with Buddy DeFranco of Gershwin tunes arranged by Russ Garcia. But Terry seemed a bit miffed with Oscar because she was not involved in the conversation. Howerver for me that night was one of the most memorable occasions in my life.
But sadly , the story doesn't end there as many years later when Oscar last played in Melbourne, I went backstage at the Dallas Brooks Hall to meet hime again. He was not aware of Terri's death as she was killed by a train in the London underground and as a consequence, he was visibly shaken when I broke the news to him, moreover it was said that Terri had taken her own life.
For the uninitiated, Claridges, where Terri King sang in 1956, later became The Embers Nite Club in Toorak Road, South Yarra, where the great Oscar Peterson played to packed houses with Ray Brown on brass and Ed Thigpen on the drums. And despite criticism levelled at The Embers proprietor Jimmy Noal for matters unrelated to music, without his creation of the club, we would never have seen a number of America's leading jazz musicians in an initimate night club atmosphere.
IMT- Kennedy asks the band 'What's the matter with the band tonight, are you all drunk or something?' They were, Billy Hyde had filled them up with OVERPROOF spirits.
One of our colleagues was doing a floorwhow six nights a week at a leading venue. The same show had been on for about five weeks and after a Christmas function all afternoon, he turned up to the gig a little 'Off'. With show ready to start, 'Off' placed the thick folder of music on the music stand. Being a little 'Off' judgement was a bit vague and the folder ended up on the floor. 'Off' picked the folder up and had another go placing it on the stand this time, but 'Upside Down'. To the amazement of the musician next door 'Off' did not miss a single note right through the show. Was it a Fluke or just good memory.
Drummer gets tired of carting all his gear around to gigs and decides to play something easier to transport and set up. He decides on a piano accordian and goes down to the local music store to purchase said instrument. He askes store assistant, "How much is that accordian over there?" Assistant replies, "You're a drummer aren't you?" Drummer, "How do you know that?" Assistant, "That's the Radiator!"
Reflections of Queens Road Club
Funny what goes through your head when sitting around bored S...less in hospital. I kept thinking about the happy days at Queens Road Club. I bet there a lot of people like myself who remember the opening of the club on a Sunday afternoon in 1961. A Union meeting took place in the auditorium and then a tour of the premises followed ending up in the bar which was not open because of the law. The next night the place was packed. Six o'clock closing was still in place in 1961, so clubs were unique. The membership was very high with a good percentage of associate members. The nice days before .05, Greed & Heavy Traffic
Who remembers the great night at Queens Road in 1967 when the Ray Charles Band was in Melbourne? About six of them were at the club on a thursday night including Henry Coker from the Count Basie Band and Alto player Norris Turney who soon after replaced Johnny Hodges in the Ellington Band and returned about eighteen months later with that band. The next night the Club was packed and after closing, a jam session continued until around five in the morning. Ray Charles along with Barney Kessell and Elvin Jones have just recently passed away.
The Tortoise playing snooker at the Little Collins Street Club - 'Your shot Uncle Noble' said one of the players.
Ron took careful aim with an ash on his cigarette growing larger and larger until his face and the cigarette slowly sank to the table. When he woke up with a burnt mouth he said 'I didn't feel a thing, Uncle Noble'.