Schools Out For Summer (Was It Ever In?)

Latest addition for Shep’s harp collection is Albert’s Student Boomerang from the mid 1920’s I believe. Short lived it seems and perhaps not many in existence.

I couldn’t locate an advertisement in the newspapers, not one for the Student Boomerang. Perhaps it was a one off special school offer. It doesn’t appear to significantly differ from the forty reed Large Boomerang model (other than the cover plate stamp).

No box, but thanks to Harly Crain, I have a photograph of the top of the box. It has had a little touch up.

Left: My recent acquisition (the cover plate was back to front – now fixed) Right: Box graphics (C/o Harley)

Suburban Songbook investigates the rise of original songwriting by Australian musicians in the late sixties/early seventies – having evolved out of the cover version inclination of the 50s and 60s.

Clinton examines the unique Australian idioms, themes and storytelling of their songs. He includes many of my favourite artists: Ross Wilson, Mike Rudd, Greg Quill and Kerryn Tolhurst.


Two up, and both are on high rotation at Shep’s Shack – they go well with a drop or two of single grain whiskey. If you like old – timey porch (front or back) country blues music, then you’re in for a treat with the first; The Blues Preachers latest album, ‘Shades Of Blue’. The scene is set with a cover of Mississippi John Hurt’s Pay Day. The basic ingredients (that’s all you need) are: some lovely finger pickin’ by Brother John Morris, soulful harp from Captain Blue Tongue (Doug Lyons) and a tasty blend of both their vocals. Three singles have been lifted from the album; The Angel Of Death, Creole Belle and a classic rendition of Hank Williams’ I Saw The Light. Out now on all good and bad streaming platforms, or head over to

The other is an earthy, mood driven, long play that puts the hip into hypnotising. Tex Perkins and Matt Walker have teamed together with the Fat Rubber Band and have struck gold with their self titled release Tex Perkins & The Fat Rubber Band. Inspiration was taken from an old vinyl record by Shawnee guitarist Link Wray titled ‘Beans & Fatback’. Personal ‘faves’ off the album are: Pay The Devil’s Due, Danger Has Been Kind, Place In The Sun and Out There. The album’s tracks were recorded at Matt’s Stovepipe Studios in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges (not too far from my abode). “At Matt’s studio – you open the door to the studio and nature floods in,” effused Tex . “We wanted it to sound rural, to feel the dirt and the grass and the leaves.” It certainly has that, Ollie! Matt, who is a fine guitarist, has also contributed some expressive mouth harp on a couple of tunes. Head over to Bandcamp to do yourself a service.


It’s a ‘Three for Free’ singles review this month. The first is by Sydney musician Richard Madden entitled Heavy Load. A rompin’ stompin’ boogie rock feel that has a ‘change – up’ that introduces David Blight (Cold Chisel, The Flyers) to the microphone with warbling harp. This is the second single from his forthcoming album ‘Second Nature’, the first was a fine take on Messin’ With The Kid.

The second, is by Cronulla singer songwriter Adam Newling. I wasn’t too sure I dug it when I first heard this tune, but this song has grown on me after a few listens. Sweetness is a slow-burn tune that explodes into a crescendo after a Dylanesque harp riff. Adam has an instantly recognisable husky voice, which resonates the tale of Sweetness. Adam explains the tunes evolution. “Sweetness was a little ditty I wrote as an apology to a friend of mine… wasn’t till months later I was singing it to myself and just happened to have a harmonica in my hand. It was at that moment that I thought, ‘Shit, I’ve got a song here.’”

Thirdly, we have a stripped back tune, Otherside, from Sydney based ‘muso’ Daxton. Another song recorded at home during lockdown (I wasn’t going to include another). Daxton Monaghan and his collaborator guitarist Pat Dow (both in isolation), found a user friendly digital recording software system to come together (right now) to mix. Daxton features the blues burger in the mix. Ya gotta like that! Regardless of it being another lockdown toon.


Here’s something for you Crow Eaters, South Aussies (I’m envious) – live music at the Bridgeway Hotel (18 Bridge Road Parooka).

Matt Taylor’s Chain will be joined by Adelaide’s very own Lazy Eye. Both artists have had a pretty high profile here on the blog and on the radio show. Be there if you can be.

You could make it a couple of nights in a row as Ross Wilson is there on the Friday night. Oh the memories – like the corners of my mind.


It is just over four years ago that I interviewed my youngest guest on Harmonica Riff Raff, ten year old guitar prodigy Rory Phillips. He had just released his debut EP ‘Cars & Guitars’.

Rory’s back gigging with guitar and harmonica and last weekend he let loose at The Red Steer Hotel in Wagga Wagga.

Here he is bursting out the chops on Neil Young’s Heart Of Gold.

Check out what he’s up to @ Rory Phillips.

Nice to hear from Ray Grieve, who recently penned an article for ‘Simply Australia’ on Kurt Jacob – of Hohner fame. The Up To Date Chromatically Tuned antique harmonica from my modest collection receives an honorary mention – go check it out over here

It seems like an eternity ago, but I haven’t been anywhere since the Selby Folk Club back in November of 2019 – Oh, except the hospital (just joking). Thanks be to Dave Miller of 3MDR, who was on the sound desk at the launch, I have the live audio of my guest appearance. You can check it out over on my Soundcloud site. Oh, and by the way, Benoit’s lates CD Valley has quite a few hidden live tunes (not this one). Available over on Bandcamp – there’s only a few left.

A quick follow up on last month’s review Dawg Blawg. Pat Missin has received a PentaHarp for review and it is a knowledgeable, detailed fair analysisPentaHarp review. He does acknowledge this may not be the harp for you if you want to play like Charlie McCoy, Little Walter or Sonny Terry (I certainly do!). Well known harmonica virtuoso, Jason Ricci has also reviewed the harp and true to form he doesn’t hang back in honesty. I believe, in principle, he is supporting my view expressed last month. Check it out here Ricci Review.

Local radio station (streaming live to all points of the globe), Mountain District Radio (3mdr 97.1fm) has had a very successful ‘Rocktoberthon’ with enough funds to purchase the two generators needed and a bit more to offset operation costs. Thank you listeners, you are amazing! And well done to Ren and Phil in particular, for their tiresome efforts in organising. Take four bob out of the till and get yourself a cigar.

Better give Seydel a plug while we’re here. If you’re a fan of their 1847 Lightening model they’re out in several new flavours – nine to be exact. Recently added keys bring the total to sixteen they are: LD* (with D3 = ~147 Hz as the lowest note in 1 blow), followed by LEb, LE, LF, LF#, G, Ab, A, Bb, B, C, Db, D, Eb, E and F. The 1847 Lightening weighs in at about 160g and is primarily constructed of stainless steel.


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