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Buffalo Blues Burger

October 5th, 2019

G’day Riffers,

On a chilly Sunday evening in the winter of 2014 my wife and I had the privilege of attending the Burrinja Cafe here in the Dandenongs (it wasn’t raining-only dripping off trees). A local duo transported us back in time to a smoking blues joint in New Mexico called the Golden Inn where Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee were doin’ their thang.

In 2013 Blackmarket Music suggested to Hoboken born Doc Span, who has resided in sunny Queensland since 1987 and local guitar virtuoso Nick Charles to collaborate on an album honouring Sonny and Brownie. The suggestion met with the affirmative as they were both long time devotees. Doc penned a tune for the album entitled the Golden Inn, which encapsulated a night when his band supported the dynamic duo at the iconic venue.

Nestled between the Ortez and San Pedro mountains resides ghosts of Native Indians, Spaniards and ‘Musos’ of past glories in the New Mexico town of Golden. If pointed in the direction north-west of Albuquerque on the long and winding road of State Highway number fourteen, twenty miles on you will find the town of Golden, then take the Sandia cut off.

(Photo courtesy of Andy Curry)

On a weekday visit you were welcomed to a vista of a nondescript log cabin, but on the weekends it transformed into a vibrant roadhouse with a delicious cuisine of Buffalo Burgers and jiving live music. Lucky Oceans formerly of the band Asleep At The Wheel now a resident of Western Australia recalled the Inn and the journey in, “Wow! The Golden Inn-always a wild gig, the bus snaking up the mountain, bikers and witches in attendance and the air awash with psychedelics.”

Early doors punters were yokel locals, who on lazy Sunday afternoons enjoyed the sounds of Emilio’s Rancheros. In the early seventies the Last Mile Ramblers a popular Western swing outfit rocked the patrons of the Inn. In lyrics from their tune on the Inn the punters of the time consisted of “hippies, bikers, Sante Fe characters, college kids from Alberquerque, the curious and the lost and amazed and bewildered locals.”

By the mid seventies the Inn regulars were all shook up when it was sold and renovations began. New York businessman Scott Washburn introduced a new era of music with the likes of Asleep At The Wheel, Toots & The Maytals, Leon Redbone, Muddy Waters and legendary folk blues duo Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee. Huey Lewis played there for five bucks entry and even our own (or if you want New Zealand’s) Split Enz performed on the 20th May 1981 in support of their Corroboree album (Waiata in New Zealand).

Doc Span had based himself in Santa Fe during winter. He and his band would rush North to Alaska to perform, but also down the road supporting many of the Blues bands at the Inn. On one magic night in 1983 it was with Sonny and Brownie. I’ll let Doc retell the events. “They were constantly arguing with each other in the green room (back stage). They even had their own bottles of whiskey as they couldn’t even share that. After playing ‘Walk On’ Brownie walked off leaving a blind Sonny on stage all alone. When Brownie eventually returned he quipped, I was just tuning.” Their chemistry and music on stage would never be in doubt. That night they drove to their next gig in Texas (would have loved to have been a fly on the inside of the windscreen).

The following morning news had filtered through that the Inn had been razed to the ground. Concern had been alerted a month earlier when the owner Scott Washburn located a home made bomb on the roof. Its crude construction consisted of glass jars filled with gasoline and rigged to explosives with a blasting cap. The fuse burnt to an inch of igniting. After an extensive Federal investigation a man would be charged with arson. The Inn was never rebuilt.

Today, tumbleweeds blow through what once was a unique and proud music venue. If you listen carefully you can hear remnants of a Sonny riff amongst the cries of an Apache warrior, or was that Sonny whoopin’ and a hollerin’.

Ch SD

Thanks to Doc Span, a wonderful person and an extraordinary harp player. Check out an excerpt from my radio interview with Doc, a live abbreviated version of Sonny’s Riffin’ by Doc Span & Nick Charles and also The Golden Inn, which was recognised with the prestigious Chain award. Lucky Oceans, amazing pedal steel guitarist, for his contribution and interest. Check out Lucky’s new LP Purple Sky it’s a ripper. To Andy Curry whose band Used Parts warmed up for Sonny & Terry at the Opera house in Lawrence. In his words, “I’ll never get over how they rocked the place. Just the two of them!”

For your aural pleasure is the Last Mile Ramblers tune on the Inn.

Level Playing Field-NFSCD #10

1st October, 2019

Happy New Month Raffers!

Now For Something Completely Different from 1938 an ex-Diatonic Aussie Champion with a gripe, but with an idea. I wonder who it was. Was it Percy? I’m declaring my bias here-nothing beats a diatonic and a chordal vamp! (If you hadn’t already guessed). I must question if there is any need for musical contests? Surely competition detracts from the intrinsic nature of music. How do you compare apples with pears? Yeah I know they are both fruits. Okay, how about Brussel sprouts and pears. Leave contests to the sporting world! Although a similar problem occurs there especially in team sports.

Our local brand of Australian Rules Football (not to be confused with the corporate game branded AFL) rewards individuals with Best & Fairest medals for the season. A mid-fielder/on-baller has a distinctive advantage/bias over those playing key roles in the forward or backline and they dominate voting at both club and league level. Why do they need a subjective adjudicated individual award in a team sport anyway? There’s no criteria for assessment, just who you reckon. Also predominantly at club level the judges are parents of the participants, however I do digress.

Interestingly a letter to The Herald a Melbourne newspaper in January of 1930 from J Herbert Hughes from Burwood suggested that, “the only way to find Australia’s best mouth-organist is to have a competition where each player is numbered and walk on to a darkened stage so that the judge would not know who was playing.” Surely there wasn’t bias in mouth organ judging based on who the participant was? Maybe there was nepotism here as well.

Ch SD

PS: By the way did I mention that at league level they get the umpires to vote on the best players and they can’t even get the free kicks right. Okay I hear you-that’s enough. I’ve taken a chill pill.

Feature article Buffalo Blues Burger out on the 5th October!

Another update to Aussie timeline in the way of a picture of Sydney Dickens’ actual Echophone.

1925

19th September, 2019

Hi there Riff Raffers,

Thought you may be interested in having a gander at the Mouth Organs sold by Albert & Son in Western Australia in 1925. No connection with J Albert & Son of Sydney. Do you have any of these? Maybe the short lived Baby Boomerangs? How short lived they were I’m not too sure as they were given away free with different items in 1934-a toy that fired a boomerang and a book titled 400 Ways To Get Rich were examples advertised in newspapers of the day. I have the more common Tiny. Never seen a Koala of the mouth harp kind-this would be a find. Interesting to see the Boomerang Grand sold with replacement reeds. I always wondered about the interchangeable parts branding. Hohner’s Blow With Ease has to be one of the worst monikers! Probably more appropriate for tissues. Mr Henry Bernard Albert proprietor of the Perth store was born in Wuerzburg, Bavaria in 1870 to a book selling family. As a young man he migrated to Victoria, Australia to seek his fortune mining gold. Not sure if he found any nuggets, but he found a bride (Eleanor de Fides) and they crossed the Nullarbor to settle in Western Australia. In 1908 he established a book selling and music store in Perth originally at the Central Arcade before moving to the premises in Murray street. Henry had one son (Norman) and three daughters (Mrs L E Pearce, Thelma & Melba).

Ch SD

PS: A couple of recent changes and additions have been made to the Aussie Models-Timeline.

Rebel’s Yell

6th September, 2019

G’Day Riff Raffers,

The year was 1970 when Rebel, a little known Melbourne record label released two highly significant singles in Australian music history, both featuring the mouth harp of a young Matt Taylor. Rebel was owned by Peter Goodman (a former member of the band The Town Criers) and they would press eleven singles and one long play in a short two year span.

The labels fourth single was by Meating, ‘Bad Luck Feeling/Back Home’ (DG-270/04) a collaboration between old Brisbane mates Greg Sleepy Lawrie and Matt Taylor. Greg had recently formed Carson County Band with Ian Fingers Ferguson and included Tony Lunt on drums and John Capek on keyboards. Matt at this time was with the short lived, but popular ‘prog’ rock band Genesis.

Sleepy had some ideas for songs and met up with Matt to flesh them out. This would be Matt’s second record. His first in 1968 was with Bay City Union with covers on the Festival label of Mike Nesmith’s tune ‘Mary Mary’ (recorded by Paul Butterfield) and ‘Mo’reen’ a Paul Revere and the Raiders tune. Sleepy and Matt’s single involved members of both their bands-Yuk Harrison (bass), Laurie Pryor (drums) from Genesis and John Capek (keyboards) from Carson County Band. The vinyl received some positive reviews in particular from music journalist Ed Nimmervoll. Here’s Matt’s recall of events, “I was in Genesis at the time and Sleepy was in Carson. So different players from both bands recorded Bad Luck Feeling as Meating. That paved the way for both myself and Sleepy to be taken seriously as songwriters.”

Matt’s desire for the band (for want of a better term as they only formed to record the single) was to be called Meeting, but Sleepy wanted something with a bit more grunt and called it Meating-even though Matt was a vegetarian.

A short time later the Carson County Band would release their first single ‘On The Highway/Resting Place’ (DG-270/06), both Sleepy originals. ‘On The Highway’ had bass player Ian Fingers Ferguson singing all vocals, including his own harmonies. Originally I had thought Paul Lever may have blown the harp on the tune as Matt Taylor had informed me he hadn’t. Ian Fingers Ferguson now better known as just Ferg put me on the right path. He had caught up with his old mate Sleepy who confirmed it was Matt. I sent Matt a grab of the harp from the song and he conceded graciously, “Yep, that’s me”. He, like others were forgetting when they were young. He hadn’t remembered playing harmonica on Russell Morris’ 1971 album Bloodstone. Matt blew licks on ‘Jail Jonah’s Daughter’ which appears as the ‘B’ side of Russell’s successful single ‘Sweet Sweet Love’.

Carson County Band shortened their name to Carson to avoid confusion they were a country band. In this picture (courtesy of Ferg) Matt is seen sitting in on a Carson gig at Melbourne night club Sebastians with Ian. Carson included a fine version of Meating’s Bad Luck Feeling in their live sets without the instrument that fits in your pocket.

The band headed to the studio to master a second single ‘Travelling South’ (under their new abbreviated name) this time on the Havoc label. Ian Ferguson’s vocals were later removed from this session and Brod Smith’s layered in when the 45 was eventually released in August of 1971. Ferg’s brilliant bass line, however would be retained. The planned ‘B’ side, ‘Morning Train’ was deleted and replaced with the tune ‘Moonshine’. Carson was experiencing line up changes around the time of producing the single. John Capek departed to join King Harvest and Brod Smith and Ian Willy Winter joined the group. Ferg would abscond a month before the release of ‘Travelling South’ and his reason, “I was never a big fan of Broderick and the band was shifting from progressive blues to more mundane twelve bar blues Bumpa Bumpa’s everything was sounding too Elmore James.”

With a rebel yell here’s some of Matt’s harp from his first three recordings, Rebel.

Ch SD

Thanks to Ferg for his help in providing information for this article. Here is a list of musicians on the recordings that he kindly provided.

Carson County Band and Carson Singles

Carson County Band:

“On The Highway”

Ian Ferguson; Bass and Vocals

Greg Lawrie; Guitar

John Capek; Electric Piano

Tony Lunt; Drums

Matt Taylor; Harmonica

“Resting Place”

Ian Ferguson; Bass and Vocals

Greg Lawrie; Guitar

Tony Enery; Electric Piano

Tony Lunt; Drums

Ian Wallace; Sax Solo

Jeremy Noone; Sax

Simon Wettenhall; Trumpet

Barry Harvey; Congas

 

Carson:

“Travelling South”

Broderick Smith; Vocals

Greg Lawrie; Guitar

Ian Winter; Guitar

Ian Ferguson; Bass

Tony Lunt; Drums

“Moonshine”

Broderick Smith; Vocals and Harmonica

Greg Lawrie; Guitar

Ian Winter; Guitar

Barry Sullivan; Bass

Tony Lunt; Drums

Run Rabbit Run-NFSCD #9

1st September, 2019

Happy new month. Lock up your grandmothers!

(The Herald, Melbourne, Monday 2 March 1936)

Here is the rest of the information contained within this article.

A grandmother appealed to the City Court today to stop her grandson playing a mouth-organ. Stanley Gorman, a young rabbit-trapper, who came to the City from Yarram for a week-end visit, was charged with having begged alms in Post Office Place on Saturday morning. According to Constable D. Trainor, a number of people placed coins in Gorman’s hat while he was playing his mouth-organ about 11.30 a.m. Granted permission to speak for the boy, his grandmother. Mrs Annie Gorman of North Melbourne, told Mr Bond P.M, that “that confounded mouth-organ has been his downfall. Always playing I wish you would make him leave it behind in the cell,” she said earnestly. “He spends all his time playing, playing so that it has become a jolly nuisances to him. I can’t understand it at all.” Mrs Gorman added that her grandson was a good boy. She had “reared him up” herself after his mother died when he was a baby. Mr Bond adjourned the case to a date to be fixed not later than June 29. “We are giving you this chance on condition that you get back to the country and stay there,” Mr Bond warned Gorman.

Another report this time in the Perth Daily News (Wednesday 11 March 1936).

He’s just a wee wascally wabbit.

Ch SD

PS: A quick shout out to Steve Cash one of my all time favourite harmonica players, who has recently announced he won’t be touring anymore with the Ozark Mountain Daredevils due to health reasons. Our prayers are with you mate.

While on the Daredevils they have a new record out and it has an updated version of If You Wanna To Get To Heaven (20-20), it’s an absolute ripper. I also dig the tune Your Still Here. Nice!

Chromatically Chromonica Chronologically

16th August, 2019

Hi Riff Raffers,

A new, very old harp housed in its original box now resides in my humble collection. Mark Weber has meticulously investigated and reviewed technical aspects of the harp at chromhistory.

What follows is an account of my pursuance from world experts on how, when and where this Hohner harp, ‘The Up To Date Chromatically Tuned’ fits into chromatic history. Remember if you know what and how, you should known when and where. First cab off the rank of course was harmonica guru, Pat Missin.

Hi Shep.

I have never seen “Up To Date” on a chromatic, nor have I ever seen a Hohner chromatic that looks anything like that, nor does it resemble, as far as I can tell from the photos, any of the Hohner patents for chromatic harmonica. I have no idea where this fits into the chronology of the instrument. — Pat.

Pat in a follow up email had this interesting titbit.

The whole history of the Hohner chromatic is really weird. The 260 first appeared in Hohner catalogues and the music press around 1911. Then it vanished for more than a decade and finally pops up in catalogues around 1923, with the music trade publications describing it as a new instrument. Then a few years later still, the patent for it gets published. It’s all very odd.

So where this one fits into it all, I have no idea. It could be a prototype that somehow escaped. That has happened – I have a 14-hole Super Chromonica that was never officially produced. It could also be a short-lived design that somehow never made it into their catalogs and escaped the attention of the music trade mags. Perhaps it was unsuccessful and Hohner tried to pretend it never existed. At this point, I honestly have no idea.

Have you run this one by John Whiteman? — Pat.

No I hadn’t, so I ran this by John.

Hi Shep,

It is well documented that the 260 10-hole chromatic made its commercial debut in 1911.  The chromatic that you have is clearly earlier than that. Here is how I date it at approximately 1901:

1) The label indicates 3,000,000 harmonicas produced per annum and 1,000 workmen.  This dates it to approximately 1900. 

2) There is a star in the trademark.  I believe it was added in 1901.  That would date it to 1901 or later, but the 3,000,000/annum holds it back at 1901

3) The slide handle and spring are of a less mature design than the 260 that appeared in 1911.

4) “Up to Date” in the name meant nothing and was evidently put there because they had nothing better to say, yet they failed to suffix it with “harmonica”.

5) “Patented in All Countries” couldn’t be true, so they put it out in limited numbers with a CYA statement about patent, and probably about registration.

I suggest sending the photos to Martin Haffner at the harmonica museum in Trossingen.  I saw nothing like this in that Hohner Museum. Thanks for sharing the photos and history of your purchase. John

I took on John’s suggestion and contacted the museum, however a response would take several attempts and efforts of people working behind the scenes for it to come to fruition. Then blow me down, Pat had this fantastic discovery.

Looks like my gut feeling on the date was wrong. Attached is a page from Music Trade Review, September 1898. I missed this the first time I searched. I’m not finding any later references to it in MTR. — Pat.

When thanked and questioned on how he had acquired this gem, Pat replied.

Happy to help. I’m pleased I gave it another shot – this time I just searched for “chromatically tuned” and that turned it up.

Up until you found this one, the standard chromatic history was that there were several prototypes in the late 1800s, then Hohner advertised the 260 around 1910 (describing it as “the first and only practical one”), but then it vanished for more than a decade. It suddenly popped back up in the early 20s, with Hohner promoting it as though it were brand new. Even weirder, the patents for it didn’t get published until several years later and I’ve never seen any reference to the chromatic “Up To Date” in any Hohner publications, or elsewhere, except for that MTR article. It’s all very strange.

I have a pretty complete collection of German harmonica patents and I’ve never seen a Hohner patent that resembles the chromatic UtD. It’s possible that they may have registered a DRGM for it, but that’s not as easy to dig up. However, I agree with John that “patented in all countries” is some creative BS.

Anyway, here is some background that might be interesting:

https://www.patmissin.com/patents/patents.html#chronology.

Finally, after a little behind the scenes prompting, Martin Haffner (to be fair he had been away) from the harmonica museum replied.

Dear Shep

In short: Your find is spectacular! We do have many different Up to date harmonicas in our collection, but no “chromatically tuned”.

And just now I had a look inside the catalogues, printed for the American / English market in the early 1900s (around 1902/1903). Your model is not mentioned at all.

I’ve got a mail by Roger Trobridge England with an attachment of the Musical Trade Review, Sept. 1898. There is the “Up to date chromatically tuned” mentioned as a new Hohner product. Since the fan community is not so big, you must have got this source meanwhile.

My theory: In fact the model was produced in 1898 (perhaps still 1899), but it must have been a commercial flop. Probably the mechanism didn’t work.(?) As far as I know, our archive has no single document telling anything about this rare model.

The “Up to date chromatically tuned” was an early try. And there was a break of minimum ten years, until the later well known Hohner “Chromonica” was mentioned the first time.

Please send me your report / keep me up to date!!!

Best regards

Martin Häffner

Director

During this chromatic journey I became intrigued into the tuning of all these harps and wondered when and where ‘solo’ tuning came into existence. I probed Pat’s endless knowledge once again. Remembering that if we knew why and who, that would tell us when and where.

“Richter Tuning” is a relatively new term. I’m not certain, but it seems to have originated in the 1980s. The original term was “Richter System” and it referred to one of the various types of harmonica construction:

https://patmissin.com/ffaq/q36.html

Using the name Richter to denote the tuning is a little iffy, as other types of construction (Knittlinger and Viennese in particular) use a similar note layout. However, there is no denying that the term “Richter Tuning” is in common usage. It gets a little messy with the typical chromatic harmonica being technically a Knittlinger System construction (they are basically made like Concert harp, with the addition of the mouthpiece and slide assembly), so referring to them as “Richter Tuned” is a little awkward, although most people would know what you meant.

The 260 is the catalogue number for what was originally termed the Chromatic Harmonica and later the Chromonica, changing to the latter sometime in 1924. It has been made in several different tunings over the years. Initially, it was tuned like a standard 10-hole diatonic in C, with the button changing it to a C sharp scale. This was later referred to by Hohner as “Regular Tuning”, but most people now call it a Richter tuned chromatic.

By the 1930s, it was also available in Solo Tuning. However, that was different to how a 10-hole Solo chromatic would be set up now. Hole 4 and upwards were tuned like the Regular Tuning. 1, 2 and 3 blow were tuned E, G and C, the draw notes tuned F, A and B, with the slide raising each by a semitone.

Then some time later, the Solo Tuned 260 was changed so that it was like a standard 12-hole Solo Tuned chromatic, but missing the top two holes. Not sure when that happened – maybe after WWII?

 

 

 

The slide spring was changed from external to an internal one in the late 1920s around the same time the Super Chromonica was produced. The Super was originally designated 260 1/2 and later changed to 270. It has always been in Solo Tuning, available in a variety of keys.

Solo tuning predates the Chromonica by some time and was originally intended for use on diatonics:

https://www.patmissin.com/ffaq/q41.html

Older chromatic players recall the change to Solo Tuning back in the day, but apparently at that time it was called Haussler Tuning, after William Haussler who worked for Hohner US and was apparently responsible for a lot of harmonica development and promotion:

https://www.patmissin.com/78rpm/78rpm.html#williamhaussler

For thoroughness, the two patents I’ve been able to locate for the Hohner Chromonica are (click on diagram):

 

 

On the latter page I say: “The Chromonica 260 had been available for almost two decades when this patent was granted”. That probably needs to be amended. As far as I can make out, they announced the 260 in 1910/1911, but it doesn’t appear to have actually been available until later. It reappears in 1923 and is touted as being a new instrument. The following year it was recorded for the first time:

https://www.patmissin.com/78rpm/78rpm.html#borrahminevitch

Which brings me back to the Up To Date. I have been unable to find any other references to the UTD Chromatically Tuned, aside from that MTR article. If it weren’t for you actually owning one, I would have dismissed it as vapourware. There have certainly been numerous instances of Hohner announcing a new instrument that never actually materialised. My wife had an idea about this. She worked in product development for a couple of large companies and often they would send out trade samples of items. These were small production runs that were past the prototype stage and in their final (or near final) packaging, sent out to various dealers to test the market. Sometimes the feedback they got from them lead to changes in the product or packaging, sometimes it lead to the item being killed before going into full production. It’s possible that’s what happened with the UTD Chromatically Tuned and might explain why there are so few records of its existence. — Pat.

I had better throw in the 64 Chromonica into the chronology, which was available down under in 1936.

1936-Hohner 64 Chromonica

While we’re at it lets quickly have a gander where a couple of Aussie Chromatics fit within the chronology.

1936-Albert’s Boomerang Chromorgan made by Seydel (Picture courtesy of John Whiteman)

 

1937-Allan’s Crackamonic made by F A Rauner (photo’s courtesy of Doug Dawson)

A few closing, late additions relating to Klingenthal companies still having the external spring long after Hohner’s internal design and the use of standard tuning on Chromatics. Over to you Pat.

It seems reasonable to assume that the chromatics in Regular Tuning were intended for use with vamped chords in the lower octave. There is also the factor that it meant that someone experienced on a standard diatonic would be able to pick up the new fangled chromatic, without having to learn a new tuning. I suspect that was a factor too.

Also, there was a tuning variant for the 260 I forgot to mention-Alto Tuning. This was the same layout as the older Solo Tuning (ie the one with just the lowest three holes changed), but one whole octave lower in pitch.

It does seem like the Klingenthal companies lagged a little with chromatic design. It’s also possible that Hohner were aggressively defending their German patent from 1930. Currently a German patent has a term of 20 years. It used to be 15 years, but I’m not sure when it was extended. WWII may also have affected things. — Pat.

Further to Pat’s earlier mention that the 260 was not sold until over a decade after it was first announced, a Nicholson & Co advertisement in The Sydney Daily Telegraph (12th December, 1913) for Hohner’s celebrated Chromatic (selling for 7/6) would perhaps suggest otherwise, although this is the only evidence I could find of its sale before the 1920’s.

Pat responded.

As for the Nicholson’s ad, that is the earliest evidence of them being offered for sale that I’ve heard of. I had more or less come to the conclusion that they were advertised in 1910, but never actually sold until more than a decade later. That said, is it possible that Nicholson’s were advertising them without actually having any in stock? – – Pat

My immediate thought was that ‘The Great War’ may have impacted production and sales of the Hohner Chromatic.

Cheers and Guinness frothies to all participants, in particular to Pat Missin (& wife) whose efforts went way beyond the call of duty, John Whiteman, Martin Haffner & Mark Weber. In finishing, how and when didn’t tell us what and where, but it was who and what that told us when and where. Ch SD

Hound Dog-NFSCD #8.5

15th August, 2019

G’Day Raffers,

The Dawg Blawg has been posting for twelve months and we celebrate with a special NFSCD #8.5 commemorative edition with a story of a dog singing to the ten hole tin can and we follow up tomorrow with an early release of a feature article, ‘Chromatically Chromonica Chronologically’.

Today’s edition brings back fond, distant memories of our family dog Teddy, who way back in the sixties crooned along with Harry Belafonte.

Don’t forget our Dingo man either, former Australian Boxing champion John Cooper from Nymboida, Northern Territory, well known from the ABC’s television promo-check John and his pack out here https://youtu.be/eqZUAaBBWzU.

(Sydney Sunday Herald, 2 October 1949)

Cheers & celebratory frothies. C U 2morro. SD

PS: How about this? I wonder what it means? I came in at number five!

Paul Langford Lever

August 5th, 2019

Hey there Riff Raffers,

Floating on a cloud with a cosmic shroud. Play your music loud Chetarca.

“He was one of the pioneers.” (Matt Taylor)

“Paul was the best harmonica player I had heard and a lovely man with a beautiful soulful voice and a great sense of humour.” (Andy Vance)

“Paul Lever was a great blues harp player.” (Kerryn Tolhurst)

“He was a good harp player, actually a very good harp player for the time.” (Brod Smith)

“I knew Paul Lever well and considered him to be an outstanding blues/rock harmonica player.” (Billy Pinnell)

“He was a great guy, funny, engaging and a great storyteller.” (Bruce Bryan)

(Is there another band member in the flying saucer. Perhaps it’s a light fitting for you sceptics)

Paul had his own band performing around the Melbourne nightclubs under the name Langford Lever (Langford was Paul’s middle name) and would later be named the Langford Lever Blues Band. When Kerryn Tolhurst returned from National Service duties in 1969 he recruited Paul for the reformation of the Adderley Smith Blues Band. All was not rosy and Paul would leave the band due to personal issues and would be replaced by Joe Camilleri. Paul, who had developed quite a sizeable fan base was involved in an unfortunate incident which occurred at the Dallas Brooks Hall on May 14, 1970 during a blues show with Dutch Tilders. With Joe as their new frontman he strutted the stage like Mick Jagger wearing a garish outfit consisting of a green shirt and pink strides, much to the band’s dismay and Adderley’s fans. Paul was in the audience and on the fans insistence Paul mounted the stage grabbing the microphone and professed “this is not the blues” and then took over the show. That was Joe’s last stand and Kerryn’s last encounter with Paul. Kerryn reflecting on this, commented, “He was a troubled and beautiful soul and certainly needed support, but I loved his passion and it’s so sad that he couldn’t get help.”

Briefly in 1970 Paul joined the Carson County Band formed by Greg ‘Sleepy’ Lawrie. Bass player and vocalist Ian ‘Fingers’ Ferguson for the band said that, Paul was a nice guy, but was nervous and unsure of himself constantly asking is that okay, when it was fine. It just got too much for Greg.”

In 1971 Paul had Langford Lever gigging again. They competed in Hoadley’s Battle Of The Sounds of that year finishing unplaced behind Fraternity. They appeared on GTK and Sunbury ’72 and ’73. Langford Lever would morph into Chetarca a progressive rock band that were way ahead of their time. Chetarca was a phonetic word first put forward by band member Ian Miller believing it reflected the band’s sound. It did, however cop some flack as a Shitaki mushroom. Paul, along with drummer Geoff Gallent and the amazing guitarist Ian Miller (who would later be with John Paul Young’s All Stars) were joined in Chetarca by keyboardist Andy Vance, his friend bass guitarist John Rees (who was a key member of Men At Work) and Bruce Bryan on synthesisers (and album producer). They released a seminal self titled album in 1975 along with the single ‘Another Day’. The album is highly sought after today by avid vinyl collectors paying between $200 and $300 and their music is extremely popular today in Eastern Bloc countries including Russia. The single peaked at number 75 on the hit parade.

On the album’s liner notes Billy Pinnell is credited for his help. Andy Vance explains, “Billy managed us for awhile to get us going and he encouraged us incredibly, but he was really like a wonderful mentor and friend to us all who introduced us to all sorts of nice people in the music industry.”

Billy was glowing of Paul’s involvement in Chetarca, “While out of his comfort zone in ‘Chetarca’, whose influences included classical music, ‘Emerson Lake and Palmer’ and ‘Frank Zappa’ he adapted extremely well to a band with no other soloists (apart from Andrew Vance’s keyboards) offering subtle harmonica solos on quieter songs, exciting flurries on other. Paul was also a versatile singer and a great front man.” Andy Vance reflected, “We were a progressive rock band and Paul’s vocals and versatility on the harmonica gave the band a style of music that was very appealing to a wider audience. I still get enquiries about the music and particularly Paul’s contribution.” Bruce Bryan has fond memories of his time with the band and Paul. He remembered Daryl Braithwaite being asked in an interview who he thought was Australia’s best singer and replying with Paul Lever. Bruce agreed, “He was right. Paul had great range and could put so much emotion into each song.”

Chetarca would go on to support international acts Electric Light Orchestra and Frank Zappa. They were on stage at Sunbury ’75 and were the backing band for Gerry Humphries. The band’s breakup was a bit of a mystery to some of the band members as Bruce Bryan suggests, “Okay, yeah the breakup was kind of a coup, most of us did not see it coming, but Ian Miller did not want to continue and had some artistic differences with some of us. Also he was in Sydney most of the time. Andy also had some marital and health issues, as did Paul, which probably influenced the whole scenario. It wasn’t exactly unfriendly, but a couple of us did feel like we were kept out of the loop and were quite dismayed at the outcome.”

It appears the musical talents of Paul were lost then and there. Paul had issues that were compounded when medicating with alcohol. Bruce felt Paul may have been dyslexic as he had learning difficulties which resulted in a troubled childhood. Bruce stated that, He struggled to express himself in general conversation, but could write lyrics or sing a song that could be almost erudite.” Paul was a printer by trade and moved to Western Australia where he spent three years primarily sober.

Paul returned to Melbourne and in the late nighties was tragically killed crossing the road from a Collingwood Hotel where he had just bought some takeaways. The driver failed to stop.

In finishing I would like to relate this anecdote and insight on Paul provided by Kerryn Tolhurst.

“I remember he was in tears after seeing the movie ‘Midnight Cowboy’. He really related to the Dustin Hoffman character, Ratso Ricco.”

Hear some of Paul’s harp work with Chetarca‘.

Ch SD

PS: Thanks to everyone who went back in time to recall and contribute to Paul’s story.

 

 

 

Fräulein’s Fancy-NFSCD #8

August 1st, 2019

Pinch & Punch. Time for a new NFSCD and a happy birthday to my equine friends. This month we see a mysterious letter placed in a brand new mouth organ box arriving at the wrong destination. I’m putting it out there that Gerda’s surname may mean she’s related to the Herolds of Meinel-Herold, however it was/is a fairly common surname. She may have had a pretty good reason to get out of Germany at this time.

(The Beaudesert Times, 24 March 1939)

Perhaps, maybe Gerda’s pictured here?

Ch SD

PS: I’ve had a preview of Benoit’s album and I have to say without bias that it’s hotter than a fire cracker. The album kick’s off with a mighty fine tune that has the Ol Shep Dawg Hisself blowin’ the Proletariat Peace Pipe. It’ll still be awhile off from being released. I’ll keep you in the loop.

Also for your aural pleasure I’ve uploaded a new Gary Young & Steve Williams tune, a little country ditty written again by Gary, Hold You In My Arms.

Keep your eyes glued to the blawg as there’s quite a few posts this month.

Hotel Metropole

July 19, 2019

Hi Raffers,

A quick look at an Australian harmonica box owned by Canadian harmonica collector, Doug Dawson, a couple of record reviews and a link to an article written by Mark Weber about a new addition to my harp collection, which is rewriting Chromatic history, Hohner’s very first Chromatic, the Up-To-Date model from 1898! Just six letters Gollygeewowee!

Recently Doug Dawson contacted me about the article on the ‘Cobber’ tin. He kindly sent photos of other Australian harps from his extensive collection, including this box (no harp), ‘The Metropole’. With a little research and the assistance of Pat Missin on the possible identification of the maker I concluded more than likely it was a product of the Hotel Metropole in Sydney. The Hotel was advertised in 1929 as the largest and most modern in Australia.

With a peek inside the box the CHA logo and made in Saxony indicated to Pat that it was probably manufactured by C A Herold. Not a lot is known of C A Herold (Carl Anton) who operated from about 1919 to 1939.

The Hotel Metropole was built by the Australian Coffee Palace Company for £150,000 in 1890. The grand building fronted Young, Bent and Phillip streets. You were greeted at the foyer with amazing stained glass windows and mosaic tiled floors. Fitted with electric lighting and lavish furnishings there were 260 guest rooms, several dining rooms and probably a gift shop selling ‘The Metropole’ mouth organs. The roof top promenade had exquisite panoramic views of Sydney town and the heads. Prominent International visitors who registered at the hotel included Rudyard Kipling and Jack London. Sadly in 1969 the hotel was closed and demolished.

Interestingly another, perhaps hotel harp appeared on the author’s horizon, The Grosvenor Harp made by Seydel. Several hotels by this name existed in Australia with Adelaide’s having some notoriety. It’s difficult to date, although some of the World collectors suggest circa 1920.

Belmar records in Altona have a fabulous new sessions release by Mon Shelford. Mon was discovered busking on Sydney road by a Belmar house musician. Here was my review. How about this for a first up effort? Mon Shelford’s debut album is hotter than a fire cracker. Her vocals resonate in every fibre of your being. A mix of well crafted originals and uniquely arranged classics. For you Riff Raffers a wee bit of harp by Rob Price on the melodic ‘Walking On Eggshells’. Out now at Belmar-Records.bandcamp.

Canberra dynamic duo The Barren Spinsters have their new album ‘Ten Steps To Cynical Thinking’ pressed and on sale today. Eleven (I think Milkman’s Stomp qualifies) original hits book ended by tunes with the Blues Burger (Punching Above Your Weight-a newbie sitting near the middle has as well) and impressively packaged with fine artwork by Ruth Palmer, who is best known for her Enid Blyton illustrations. Do yourself a flavour and give your three speed gears an aural pleasure!

As mentioned earlier the recent addition to my harp collection has the chromatic harmonica world in a spin. My article isn’t far away, but chromatic historian Mark Weber has just published a fine analysis of this rare and in the main unheard of 1898 Hohner chromatic harmonica. Check it out here Up-To-Date. A few updates to Aussie Models timeline which includes The Melba, Topnotcher, Monarch, Wallaroo and Jazz Master.

A comeback of sorts to radio last week with a once a month (second Tuesday) Huff ‘n’ Puff segment 8:00am-9:00am (AEST) on Peej’s The Imaginary Friends Show.

Hear live off the mast here in the Dandenongs on 97.1 fm, stream anywhere on the planet at 3mdr.com or even listen into the future via the archive (about 2 hours in). Next Huff ‘n’ Puff 13/8/2019 (no show in September Peej heads to the Old Dart). Hear here 3MDR.

A new post on Soundcloud spotlighting the harp of the late Paul Langford Lever (next month’s feature article) fronting the progressive rock band Chetarca in 1975. An early pioneer of the blues harp down under. Don’t forget first of the month is another Now for Something Completely Different #8.

Ch SD