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Nov192012

I started performing music in the vibrant indi scene of Perth circa 1986/7. I was inspired by the likes of Just Add Water and Sydney band The Lighthouse Keepers who used trumpet. Local legends The Triffids, had used trumpet on their classic single Beautiful Waste. That was it for me. I dreamed of playing in a band. My first band was The Northern Lights, a jangly guitar, lilting harmony band fronted by Lucy Brooks-Kenworthy and Tim Underwood with Gretta Little on bass and Chad Hedley [local DJ] sometimes on drums. Great musicians, I was privileged to join them. 

Tim and Gretta would later go on to make a name for themselves with The Rosemary Beads in the 90s. The Northern Lights performed at venues like the Fitzgerald Hotel [offices], The Shenton Park [retirement village] and the Beaufort Hotel [a supermarket]. We put out a cassette - Trouble Understanding...

The guitar, lyrics and harmonies still sound great when I listen to it. It seemed that within weeks of me mentioning I could play the trumpet a bit, I was at Shelter recording studio in Wanneroo.  We were featured on The Hometown Farewell Kiss album released by 6UVSFM [RTR] that came out after the band had folded. The photo above was taken at a video shoot we did at Swanbourne Beach. I remember nudists casually walking along the beach disrupting the shoot. We were on their patch after all and I felt overdressed in a suit twirling an umbrella while blowing a bugle.

I was also performing with The Lager Frenzy a 9 piece party band featuring cross dressing doo-op girls [who's identities will remain secret] and a medley of party fools that included the likes of Hugh Veldon aka Marty Moon - King Wasabi, Jim McKibbon of Alien Sound - who recorded The Triffids album In the Pines - Steve Kyme and fronted by David Downie of bands like The Angry Penguins and Sans PS. Fosters was the new beer and it became our drink. We had a silver suitcase full of it on stage. There was some talk of Fosters sponsorship. A cassette was produced - I threw My Baby off the AMP, featuring classics like Bubble Car, I'm Going to the Bar and The Power of Fosters. 

I wrote my first original 'Louis The Barfly'. Unfortunately no original recording of it exists. Though a version of it is still in the repertoire. For one gig at the Hellenic Centre I was coaxed into wearing a yellow poodle suit and leather motorcycle cap. Remembered fondly by a few people that were there, thankfully only fading memories of this occasion remain. A few gigs at the WAIT Tavern [CURTIN University] and The Shenton Park [retirement village] supporting The Painters & Dockers [I filled in for P&D's trumpet player for a couple of shows] and a number of Rockwells gigs [Paradiso Cinema] for a Battle of the Bands - we came second - which is right after first - and 'odd' events at the Hellenic Centre in Northbridge and the band seemed to shuffle off history's stage... Where are they now? 

Charlotte's Web, an eclectic Triffids - Velvet Underground inspired band featuring the eccentric Craig Chisholm, glamorous Flick Dear and fronted by Jeff Lowe gave me a gig between 1987-89.            

A single 'Heart Trouble' did moderately well in the Australian indi charts. Somewhere  stuck in a fossilised betamax video player a video exists of us miming the song on Telethon and indeed possibly a video recorded for MTV of the single produced in the studios of the then new Perth TAFE College on Beaufort Street. I remember a super saturated vibrant colour video. Charlotte's Web had some really interesting songs penned largely by Lowe. A few singles, cassettes and cds exist.  Flick Dear's feminine vocals and individual drumming style, Cello supplied by Kim Skipworth and Michael Zampogna's obsession with Johnny Marr's Guitar playing made for an interesting outfit. I remember a great gig at what was one of the earliest In the Pines shows [was it the Neon Picnic?] supporting the Triffids. I left the band just before a tour of the eastern states with the likes of the Triffids and Frente. Realistically I didn't play on every song I was always getting on and off stage. I didn't really feel like a full member and I was busy with my own band Acapulco Funhouse which featured Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass and Booker T and the MG's covers and a spattering of originals, including another original appropriately named 'Number Two'. I remember our first gigs were played at Graylands Hospital. Crazy man!! I was also playing in indi band the Venus Girl Traps - V.G.T.s - and The Beat Bongo Maniacs - Beatnic Hipcats - who offered paid gigs. For more info see http://www.brilton.net/html/b/bbm_audio.html

'Tin Tin in Acapulco' and 'Magnificent Surfers' were penned around this time with Craig Weighell. Find out more about Craig here http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/4281090 .  Both tunes borrowed heavily from the Tijuana style. The V.G.Ts included members of the Marigolds and Waltons and put out a single which featured Memphis Speedboat, I have Got What I've Not and Heroine. I think its a brilliant piece of indi work. I was studying Radio/TV broadcasting at WAAPA at the time and made a video of the song 'I have Got What I've Not'. http://www.brilton.net/html/b/venus_girl_traps.html . Hazy memories of a very crazy lost weekend supporting Hunters n Collectors to a crowd of 8,000 in Margaret River still haunt band members. I also performed with Errol Tout and Jon Cope during this period at The Ozone cocktail bar [a park]. All of these groups were offering hip music cred and seemed to have more scope for my trumpet playing. I remember doing a gig at the Dolphin Theatre with Errol H Tout for his Tilting Room album launch. I was so nervous I could hardly hold the trumpet let alone play it. At the time, playing with people like Errol H Tout was a pretty big deal. He was considered a guitarist of great talent and individuality and looked to be taking the world string by string. His story can be found at http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/4298580?lookfor=john%20bannister&offset=20&max=139 . Looking back I am lucky to have had the chance to play with these bands. I was really just embellishing already great music.

The Fat used my trumpet stylings for a season of funkiness in 1989-90 before I went to England for a year returning late 1991. I remember a packed New Years Eve gig at the 'A' Shed in Fremantle where I played in the V.G.Ts and The Fat - beginning and ending the night. Wild! I climbed up on a speaker stack about 20 feet high to play cow bell on one song while Danny Passionfruit climbed the stack stage right bookend style. We supported the Eurythmics at a packed Entertainment Centre. Annie Lennox lost her voice in Talking to an Angel and stopped the 2nd show. It was all panic stations back stage. It was a strange experience meeting Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart and Siobhan from Bananarama under such circumstances. Coming back to Perth there was more Maniacal fun with the Beat Bongos and cool retro jazz and blues, country rock outfit of the Mariachi Brothers. I also played with Rockabilly act the Crawdaddies. I was hired to play Ring of Fire & There ain't nobody here but us Chickens.

As the early 90s took hold I joined the 6 piece Quatermass Experiment 1991-93 an acid jazz, funk, soul and rap band. We held down a couple of popular residencies at Arcadia [a youth hostel] and the Broadway Tavern and the Aberdeen Hotel. Again a number of inspired originals were written but nothing came of them. There had been talk of touring Indonesia but this idea came to naught. The Neville Brothers support at the Concert Hall stands out with Aaron singing an amazing version of Ave Maria. You could hear a pin drop.

The Latin craziness of Los Locos followed shortly after. We comprised Val Tarin - Henry Hobblestone - from Quatermass and Sergio Tarzia who'd performed as guest in the band. Los Locos were formed at a party gig at L'Alba, a popular late night restaurant on Lake Street. The band, performed largely Latin numbers including frenzied Latino folk tunes in the vein of the Gypsy Kings. We walked into a paid gig shortly after when manager of the Continental Hotel [The Claremont Hotel] heard our infectious racket as he walked past the party. With Serge leading the vocals and providing rythmic guitar, Los Locos became the darlings of Latino party set which was building in Perth with the world trend inspired by the Gypsy Kings. For a few years we were the band to follow at Aqua on William Street [now a lap dancing bar] and the Swanbourne Hotel [a retirement village].  We played at an Albany club where the stage was stormed by an infuriated drunk. He took exception to our rendition of A Taste of Honey. It must have been excrutiating for him. He just wanted his bundi and the DJ to play Barnesy. Fare enough!

Los Locos made it to Jakarta for a 2 month stint over Christmas New Year 1992-3 performing at Cafe Batavia. This was a trip and a half. Many fond & surreal memories of the trip and the group's experiences both on stage and off remain as do a few wild videos and desk tapes. At one of our last performances I broke my leg, ironically at L'Alba where we had first come to light. Unlike the saying however this posed no good fortune and we folded some months later in a misguided heap after wowing audiences. Kim Wilde had wanted us to play at her wedding 'if ever she got married' when we supported her at the Concert Hall. Her band were great and I remember them tuning up to There she Goes by the La's. It sounded better than the original, which is saying something. After Los Locos's demise I ran away to join a real circus 1994-6.

In the solitude of a caravan and surrounded by an oddment of circus folk and assortment of exotic animals, I tried to study music while soaking up the bizarre world of circus performance. Which included scaring children as a trumpet playing clown. After two years I had to run away from this 'carni' life. It was growing on me.

My new band The Hep Set, would try to pick up where Los Locos had left off. I performed with Ray Brown and the Vegas Payback for a few shows as well. I could never quite cut the gig though. The Hep Set made a bit of a splash in clubs like the Post Office and the Subiaco Hotel and The legendary Greenwich, run by Adil Bux [see invisible zink] and Richard Evans.   We wowed the subteranean crowds there every Friday night for a year or so. We were sort out for local festivals and private functions all over town. I recruited Howard B Shawcross on bass. He still appears on stage with the CBs every now and then. Howard is a man who has a pedegree that outstips most rock players in Perth and beyond. His story can be found at http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Search/Home?lookfor=author:%22Shawcross%2C%20Howard%2C%201951-%22&iknowwhatimean=1 . Howard and I don't speak of the past too much. Every now and then a mutual night terror is shared. At the Post Office we'd play Limbo Rock while the whole club got down. Often the song would go on for 20 minutes of more. How low can you go? It was a Latin party every Sunday with Latino DJ Juan and sexy dancers in between our sets and free Sangria for the performers. A river cruise for Brazil on the Swan was pretty funny, and yes we did a version of the Love Boat theme. Memories of a hyped and speedy trip to Kalgoorlie for a Royal Flying Doctor's knees up in an airport hanger linger. We performed for a week at the Burswood Casino Caberet Lounge [a Keno lounge]. The red velvet curtain would part and off we'd go. There was one man always dancing in front of stage in the audience. He must have been 65 but did a mean Jackson moon walk and disco shuffle and was dressed to kill. We all expected to see him shuffle off in mid spin. As the red curtin closed after each set we would play the 'Entertainment Tonight' theme from the TV. I boched it so badly it became one of my fondest memories of the weeks run of gigs. We were lucky enough to support Sandra Bernhard. She was amazing and did a great version of Nina Simone's Four Women. With too many stories to relate one sticks out. We performed Christmas in July at a sold out high end restaurant/bar - minus an audience. Literally no-one except the staff turned up. Clearly the crowd knew something we didn't. The place was blown up a couple of days later...twice!?! We'd exploded too - along with the drummer - by 1997 after 2 years of frantic gigging. While forming The Hep Set I'd performed with arty 4 piece Swoon. Swoon were described as sounding like Portishead combining poetry and sound. Again, the band seemed, after endless rehearsing and 3 memorable gigs, doomed to the obscurity of the past. Really I was lucky to be living off music. Short of a few lessons at school I was pretty well untutored. 

After two years hiatus I started playing again in Fremantle - my first band was African Music Congress - A.M.C. and then later Shangara Jive [not Gnangara Drive]. Both great fun bands that did a few fun gigs at local festivals etc. We were flown to Port Hedland and Esperemce for various events during my time. I remember one gig in Port Heldand was surprisingly poorly attended. We later found out that we were competing with the Mayor who was having a barbeque. I was also invited to join HawaiiNot a fantastic Hawaiian band. The Fremantle vibe and me never really jelled and the mismatch of cultures spoiled this Hawaiian paradise predictably.

But singing lead and harmony in HawaiiNot helped me to feel confident enough to front my own band again. One evening circa 2002, sitting on the balcony of my Mosman Park apartment I saw The Tsunami Sushi Bar, an ideal place I thought to host a jazz outfit. So, the idea of the Charisma Brothers came to life.

I'd toyed with the idea of the CBs before but now it might finally have a place to grow... Watch this space.

https://www.facebook.com/charismabrother/

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=147280578656409 

 

 

 

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