Musical Fractals

20th November, 2019

New music Riff Raffers.

Benoit has his debut album Blue Bird pressed and ready for release. This local singer songwriter from The Basin is establishing himself as a new force in the folk scene here in the Dandenongs and beyond. His lyrical imagery encapsulates the brokenness of humankind, but also the beauty of creation. The album is superbly produced and engineered by David Miller from his lofty studio in Mount Dandenong. Many of Benoit’s creative tunes are fleshed out with a little help from his friends.

It kicks off with the catchy, countrified I Thought I Would Always Have It All that has floating slide guitar by Max Lees and heartfelt harmonica from yours truly. Every tunes a corker, however if I’m to nominate some other standouts I would include Familiar Cliche, It’s Unclear Where All This Water Flows (sweet harmonies by Jessica Nabb) and the final tune the upbeat Silver Lining.

Benoit launches this beautifully presented CD (outstanding original artwork by Glynis Kirby) at the Selby Folk Club on the 29th November check out his FB for further details.

Another record for review features one of Australia’s greatest songwriters Kerryn Tolhurst-former Dingoes and Country Radio member, who wrote Aussie classics such as Way Out West, Smooth Sailing, Singing Your Song, Wintersong and Gypsy Queen. He appears on a fabulous release from Belmar Records-‘Belmar Top 10 Vol.6’. His instrumental Down Slide is one of the highlights on the album, it features Kerryn’s expert slide oozing a blues groove and has a wee bit of harp added by Rob Price. Have to say that another instrumental by Jnr. Wheel-Barrow titled Servo Town is a belter and the Pearly Shells do a wonderful bright and breezy arrangement of Hallelujah. Purchase here on Bandcamp.

Kerryn’s been busy as he has also released a single on all good and bad streaming platforms, Beyond Redemption-this should receive some hefty AirPlay on Community Radio. Kerryn, with band, will be playing gigs under the banner Dingo Radio featuring songs he wrote for The Dingoes and Country Radio. This is a must see for us Dingo and CR tragics. On December 5th Dingo Radio will be performed at the Spotted Mallard in Brunswick, January 5th at the Caravan Club in East Bentleigh, then on February 1st the Newport Bowls Club and then at the fabulous Memo Music Hall in St. Kilda on March 15.

Nice to hear from (all the way from Memphis Tennessee) good friend of HRR, Shea Snow-front man of Driftwood Ramblers an alternative punk blues band. Four patient years have passed since their debut recording, Surviving The Flood Pt.1. Surviving The Flood Part 2 has just hit the airwaves and is also available on Bandcamp. Every tune is a chicken dinner and features Shea’s amplified harp chops. The opener is ready made for radio broadcast and even in its short two and half plus minutes there’s a bass solo, lead solo and a harp solo. Check out Whiskey, Wine & Gin while your at it, there’s a tasty harp riff.


PS: A couple of updates to the post Aussie Timeline. A new find the Bosker and an addition to the Topnotcher range, the Amateur’s Harp. Have a bit of a peek at the HRR Soundcloud a new Riff Hits & Bits, Mandu’s We Ran Across The Sky from 1974 which has the inimitable Jim Conway blowing exquisite harp. Oh, and by the way I have picked up a bargain buy a Chromorgan (with box) for my humble collection of Oz harps.

The Bells, The Bells.

18th October, 2019

Hey there Riff Raffers,

A look at an Aussie harp from yesteryear, a couple of record reviews and a few bibs and bobs. Don’t forget to visit Harmonica Riff Raff Soundcloud and YouTube for more treats.

In 1909 in Australia Albert’s was selling a unique Boomerang mouth organ with a double cup set of bells attached to the rear of the instrument via an arch with a boomerang shaped bend at the apex. It was a series called the B.A.B-Boomerang Arch Bell models. Pictured is the 40 reeds Professional edition which sold for five shillings and sixpence-there was a mini (20 reeds) of similar structure and a mini double as well. Two other models the 2-sided and the 4-sided (sold for seventeen shillings and sixpence) had one set and two sets of bells respectively, however they were mounted on top. The five versions can be viewed in Ray Grieve’s fabulous books on the mouth organ in Australia (a third is awaiting a publisher). The bells of different pitches would be tuned to the key of the harp and with the use of a lever on either side could be struck by both forefingers in an accompanying rhythm while blowing the tune.

The mouth organs were manufactured by Seydel in Saxony, however the bells would more than likely have been manufactured elsewhere. I don’t believe Seydel made a similar model for other world markets. It looks like the Arch Bell didn’t reappear after World War 1 and I don’t believe any have survived today. The very nature of it’s design found it wanting when withstanding the laws of physics. Even the top mounted bells of the day were fragile and extinction was never far away.

A similar bell structure emerged later on a harmonica made by A A Schmitt of Klingethal on their Lyra brand seen above. The University Chimes (German made-pictured below) sold by Sears Roebuck in America under the brand name of Beaver also had a similar double cup mounted bells, however this was attached on top.

The earliest mention I could find advertised Down Under was a ten hole mouth harmonica with bell, which sold for two shillings and sixpence in Hobart by J Walch and Sons in 1882. The model pictured below was advertised in The Farmer & Settler (Sydney) 18th July 1906 made by Gerbruder Schuster (Schuster Brothers) at Markneukirchen which sold for three shillings.

Ken Leiboff provides a fine demonstration of playing a harmonica with bells on the information highway. See here 🔔.

The bells have told!


PS: A wee bit of Album news. South Australian band Lazy Eye is set to release their sixth album Whiskey & Gin next month and they’re giving it away track by track. You can join the Whisky & Gin Rent Party by reserving a ticket here. It all starts on the 23rd October. A video clip of their fantastic title tune can be viewed here Whisky.

“Just when you thought Lazy Eye had reached their peak they take you over the top with their new album release Whisky & Gin. This is a toe tappin’ finger clickin’ treat. Not only have they put the hip into hypnotizing, but also the groove into groovy. No harp (mouth) but plenty of horn. Lazy Eye have added some herbs and spices to their Blues cookin’ with a three piece horn section and single malt harmonies. Do yourself a flavour and pick this up at all good and bad record stores.”  Shep (Harmonica Riff Raff)

“Every now and then a tune hits you right between the ‘ten speed gears’. Sunshine Coast band Flaskas have achieved this with their latest single Song Bird. Lovingly crafted with a marching rhythm, earthy vocals, singing slide and then when combined with the magic ingredient the ‘ten hole tin can’ Song Bird is elevated to higher realms. They did the Song Bird proud!” Shep (Harmonica Riff Raff) Hear here Song Bird . Out now at all good and bad streaming platforms.

While we’re on the topic of our feathered friends a quick update on Benoit’s fantastic album Blue Bird. His launch will be held at the Selby Folk Club on the 29th of November. The album cover is completed and I must say Lyn’s artwork is superb. Benoit has posted for want of a better word or cliche an interesting video clip of a tune from the album titled Familiar Cliche.

Just another quick one John Whiteman’s fabulous book on Harmonica Box Art is available for purchase here in Oz on eBay. Shame about the postage costs.

Oh, by the way Ken dug up a Cracker Jack relic and posted a pic and a comment on a previous Dawg Blawg #28285.

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.


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!

Hotel Metropole

19th July, 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 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.



19th June, 2019

Hello Raffers,

Here we go again a track back (or is that a back track) to the Crackajack. Further evidence the manufacturer was F A Rauner. Just a spelling difference for the Straylian market, perhaps. Registered number 28285 appears in a magnificently presented PDF file entitled, ‘A Collection Of Early Box Art 1890-1940’ by John Whiteman. A coffee table book is in the making, but there won’t be attached foldaway legs for a coffee book that doubles as a coffee table (Kramer invention-Seinfeld episode). John is from San Diego California and is one of the biggest collectors in the world. He provides an invaluable online resource of his and other collector’s harmonicas. See here at Harp Anthology.

Having observed the #28285 an email was shot to world renowned harp historian Pat Missin who responded with a page from a 1915 Rauner catalogue displaying their Cracker Jack models and blow me down, would you believe it, with registration #28285. Here’s Pat’s take on the matter at hand, “This was a registered trademark for ‘Cracker Jack’ and not ‘Crackajack’. Unless the trademark specifically states that it covers both versions, I would be very skeptical of both variations holding up in court. Not that it really matters now, but usually trademarks are quite strictly interpreted so that variations have to be specified in the original claim. However, just looking over some of Rauner’s other trademarks, they seem to have played very loosely with this. For example they trademarked ‘Immer Lustig’ as DRWZ 60105, but I’ve seen other harps with ‘Always Happy’ and ‘Siempre Alegre’ on them, both claiming that same number. That seems like it would be stretching things more than a little, but I guess it’s only against the law if you get caught! Or maybe German trademark law was a little more forgiving then.”

Well there it is fellow harpologists further support that Allan’s honeycomb of harmony mouth organs was manufactured by F A Rauner. What do you reckon?


Thanks to both Pat Missin and John Whiteman for their wonderful online resources and their contribution to this article.

New music out now! On CD Baby! A high quality album of musicianship, great songwriting and a bit of harp from Toowoomba outfit, Brendan Leggatt Band. The album is titled ‘Daylight’ and the title track is hotter than a fire cracker. ‘Losin’ My Head’ and ‘Ghost In The Kitchen’ feature the humble harp blown by Brendan and there’s a cool cover of the ‘Greg Kihn Band’s tune ‘Breakup Song’. *****


img_3929Mat Black, an alternative country singer-songwriter from Melbourne town, has followed on from his excellent 2017 EP ‘One Man Ghost Town’ with a high quality single entitled ‘Diamond Mine’. The timbre in Mat’s voice immediately draws your attention to the lugubrious nature of the tune. A uniquely crafted song frames its mood and just for extra texture soulful mouth harp is added, blown by co-writer Lachlan Bryan. The single has us travelling in high expectation for the release of his debut album.

The single will be released June 29 with a Melbourne launch on the same day at 2:30pm at ‘The Old Bar’ Fitzroy.

img_3925Hey Barren Spinsters, you guys never fail to deliver! I’m blown away by your new single ‘Hey Ruth’, which has a nice return of the ‘Gob Iron’. Hey Punters gratify your Toby Jugs with a listen. Out Now on all good and bad streaming platforms. I look forward to the release of the long play.

Can be purchased right now on iTunes.


Also checkout Liam Gallagher’s new tune Shockwave very nice and harp!

Shack Up Inn

17th May, 2019

G’Day Raffers,

Music review time. Hot off the press!

I’m pleased to offer you access to a mighty fine blues tune written by Gary Young of Daddy Cool fame on one of his experiences in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Gary recorded this with good mate Steve Williams (ex Rock Doctors, John Farnham band), who provides the Blues Burger. I’ll let Steve explain the song’s origins, “Shack Up Inn is a 12 bar in A…. it really is in Clarksdale Mississippi and they had a piano in the corner….it was 4 o’clock in the afternoon and there was no one there so they let him have a plonk….Gary can play a convincing Jerry Lee in G and C and he knows hundreds of country and rock n roll songs….before long the ‘Just left work crowd’ wandered in and he had dozens of people buying him drinks for hours…”. Hear hereShack.

Brisbane Country Rock outfit, Good Will Remedy have just released their seven track EP ‘Witness Mark’. Living up to their name, this album like those before them doesn’t have a bad tune. Recorded live in the studio the vocals were over dubbed later which makes them really pop! AC/DC meets country on ‘Rock n Roll King’. No harp on the extended play, however Will Lebihan, vocalist and bass player told HRR that all the band play the Gob Iron-to some level of expertise. Hear/view their second singleJuanita.

Sydney bluesman Simon Kinny-Lewis has a live album ‘A Day In San Jose’ out now in all good and bad music stores. Several tracks feature the high gain-amped up harp of Andy Just. You may remember Andy from his association with Mark and Robben Ford from the Ford Blues Band. Nice to hear ‘Crossroads’ with harp.

img_2996King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have another album out in the market place, ‘Fishing For Fishies’. More harp than usual and boogie to boot. Ambrose Kenny-Smith channels his old man (Brod Smith) on the stand out tune This Thing.

In late breaking news I have obtained another Australian vintage (maybe antique) mouth organ for my ever expanding collection, ‘The Kangaroo’. An article is in the making. Further research has found support for F A Rauner as the manufacturer of the ‘Crackajack’ models and a newly discovered ‘Boy’s Crackajack’ mouth organ sold by ‘Allan’s’. Stay tuned.

A new NFSCD is not far away and a feature article on a Chicago family living in South Australia in the 1930’s.

All for now. Happy Riffin’.




Grizzlee Remedy

18th April, 2019

Hey Riff Raffers,

A couple of reviews, an update, an ANZAC article and why not, an Easter story.

Couple of mighty fine tunes just released. ‘Grizzlee Train’, a blues rock based duo from the Central Coast Of NSW have ‘Shakin‘ an uptempo single with a nice hook and a sing-a-long chant, ‘Hey Ho’. “I’m shakin’ and I don’t know why”. Josh Dufficy, drummer and harmonica player, blows a John Fogerty sounding riff a minute and a half into the tune.

Queensland country rock outfit ‘Good Will Remedy’ an emerging force in the Australian music scene have an extended play for release on May 10. A follow up to the 2018 album ‘Silver Lined’ which has a wee bit of harp on the popular track ‘My Angel’. No gob iron on the first single ‘Caroline‘ taken from the ‘EP’, but it’s a grand rockin’ ditty that espouses their song writing talents. “Am I wastin’ my time on sweet talkin’ wine.” A second single ‘Juanita’ is out tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow when Christians honour the sacrifice Jesus made for mankind-here’s a verse from Psalm 71 that supports George ‘Harmonica’ Smith’s claim the harmonica is one of the earliest instruments.

22 I will indeed praise you with the harp; I will praise your faithfulness my God. On my harp I will play hymns to you, the Holy One of Israel. (Good News Bible)

When George was admonished for his claim with this wasn’t a harmonica, but a stringed instrument, his blunt reply was, “Don’t believe that shit.”

Also with ANZAC day almost upon us here’s an item from the archive outlining how the mouth organ defeated the Germans in WWII.

img_2500(The Argus, 26th January 1946)


PS: There is an update to the Gene Jimae story-a couple of new quotes. NFSCD #4 is not far away and too the feature article for May, which will help your vamping. Keep your ears on Soundcloud for a gun Aussie Rock harpist. Off to the studio to lay a harp riff for a local performer-more news to come.

Umina Blue-Jack’s Back

23rd February, 2019

Hey there Riff Raffers,

New music out now at all good and bad record stores. Firstly an album from riff raffer, Jack Derwin. The lead single and title track ‘Umina Blue’ is a high quality tune that displays Jack’s signature laid back, soulful groove and his masterful skills as a songwriter and musician. There wouldn’t be a winters night by the open fire with a single malt in hand that Jack Derwin music wouldn’t complete the trifecta. Umina is a seaside town on the central coast of New South Wales and it’s aboriginal derivation means a place of rest or sleep. If you haven’t checked out Jack Derwin before, do so now. Here’s a video promotional link to the album ‘Umina’. Purchase at CD Baby .

Six piece country-folk outfit, ‘The Grasscutters’ debut release ‘First Cut’ is available on Bandcamp. Some tasty harp from John Wayne Melville. Check out their interpretation of Paul Kelly’s ‘Sydney From A 747’.

Good friends of HRR, Canberra duo, ‘The Barren Spinsters’ newest rocking single, ‘West Of Happiness’ reveals the lads are at the top of their game. Brendon and Matt are putting the final touches on their album as I write and Brendon assures me the tin sandwich will feature. Out on Bandcamp and there’s an interesting video as well.

A few more worthy of a listen is ‘The Black Sorrows’ twenty first album ‘Citizen John’. The single ‘Wednesday’s Child’ is a cracker. Brisbane’s ‘Dave Orr Band’ has their debut album, ‘As Soon As I Know’. Brian Cadd explores his Americana connection with the LP ‘Silver City’. Glenn Shorrock has a new take on ‘It’s A Long Way There’ from his forthcoming release and Kim Churchill has a newbie. Personally I hope he can find his way back to his original mojo. Nice enough tune though.

There’s a few new uploads I’ve put out as well. Mr. Eagle Rock, Ross Andrew Wilson’s nineties Rock outfit ‘Raw’ (with sticker) and the tune Mind F**k’ (language warning). On Soundcloud-Mike Rudd explains a harp technique he uses and as a follow up here’s Kim Churchill using it as well. Lastly there’s an update on a post here. An update on the ‘Up To Date’ harmonica thanks to Pat Missin once more. Here’s the link to the Dawg Blawg .


PS: Not many sleeps before NFSCD #3 is posted!

Matt’s Catalyst

3rd November, 2018

Hello Riff Raffers,

A new world opens to explore, when who you are is no longer forgotten.” (Matt Taylor)

Matt Taylor still has stories to share. His latest solo album is brush stroked with indigo pigment. The colour between blue and purple. Here’s what Matt says, When Ozblues ventures into new territory, I call the music Ozindigo. The blues is still there, but it’s ceased to be what most people would recognise as Blues. Ozindigo grew out of Ozblues just as Ozblues grew out of Mother Blues…….Some people say indigo doesn’t exist. That adds a bit of mystery. Maybe Ozindigo doesn’t either. That suits me fine.”

Matt excogitates on humankind and it’s values with ancient wisdom. The albums’ ‘rootsy’ but not so bluesy. There’s very little production, it’s pretty raw, but the essence is there with all the essential ingredients. Matt’s vocals are as strong and as good as ever. The harmonica pushes nicely to the vocals and several are intensely melodic. One such is the second tune, ‘Forgotten’. It is well structured with a lovely hook and a great harp riff. I’ve uploaded a ‘Harmonica Riff Hits & Bits’ featuring the tune hear here ‘Forgotten’. Get out your ‘D’ harp once more and blow along. The opening track is a cracker, ‘Red Hot Moon’ and ‘Southern Stars’ and ‘Different Kind’ all receive honourable mentions for their superb riffs.

Matt doesn’t do many gigs these days, he’s no Spring Hill chicken, (although he has one at the Caravan Club here in Melbourne on Saturday 1st December), so if your after more here it is, on CD, ‘Ozindigo Catalyst’. Not out now at any type of record store, it’s only available at Matt’s web store. Support the great man as he has given us so much. The Lord will come in ‘Judgement’ to see if we go up or down.

Cheers & Frothies SD

Break A Leg

12th October, 2018

Hi Riff Raffers,

It was the summer of ’63. The venue Flinders Street Extension outside the ‘Mission for Seaman’. A fifteen year old boy from Hampton was hitching to Torquay for some surfing. His lift to the city couldn’t take him any further and as he alights from the passenger side into the street he is impacted by a passing car. His injuries include a broken leg which would see him in hospital for six weeks. The boys name, Ross Andrew Wilson, Mr. Eagle Rock himself. Fortuitously this was the catalyst for Ross’ journey with the ‘Blues Burger’.

With his leg in traction Ross would listen to his ‘trannie’ (radio) by his hospital bed side. It was here that he heard Beatle John Lennon’s mouth harp on ‘Love Me Do’ and Brian Jones blowin’ on Rolling Stones tunes and this would inevitably lead to his attraction to the instrument that fits in your pocket.

img_0403Convalescing at home Ross asked his Dad if he could buy him a mouth organ instead of records. Mr. Wilson obliged and bought a Hohner Super Vamper from the Lewis Music Store in Russell Street for 2s 6d (25 cents). The store is still there today. Ross also had inspiration from a compilation record of ‘Excello’ artists which included Slim Harpo and Lazy Lester. He had a pretty good ear which enabled him to copy riffs. He finally returned to school in Term one of 1964 and in Ross’ words, By the time I got back to school I was actually blowin’ a few good notes”.

With the plaster removed it was time to apply his craft in a band and with the help from friend and neighbor Keith Glass (Com-Pact) this was achieved. Keith’s band, ‘The Rising Suns’ played at a local church and would allow Ross to sit on on a few numbers like ‘King Bee’ and play his harmonica, son. It would be here that a twelve year old guitar prodigy, Hanna (Ross Hannaford) became enamoured with this cool kid playing harmonica. Hanna had played with his band earlier in the night. He asked Ross to come to their next rehearsal and he dutifully obliged. By the end of the session Ross had replaced the lead singer. This band would eventually be the ‘Pink Finks’ who would then evolve into ‘Daddy Cool’ who would record Ross’, ‘Eagle Rock’.

img_0398Ross developed his harmonica style around his Dad’s jazz records. I’ll let him explain, Because I was brought up in a house where two things were happening. One was my Dad had lots of Jazz recordings and he would spend Saturday mornings working around the house listening to these records. So I heard plenty of improvisation. The improvisation idea was also there with guitar solos and saxophone solos on rock and pop songs. It was never a mystery to me to go and take a song and mess around. You don’t have to play it exactly.” Ross’ harmonica style progressed where he played a lot of chords rhythmically including split octaves, rather than single notes. He would play his own style, but borrow riffs from Lazy Lester and Howlin Wolf. On Howlin Wolf, Ross remarked, On nine out of ten solos he would play the same solo, but it always sounded fresh, it’s like a zen thing. It sounded simple, but very difficult to copy. So he had this thing of his own. That’s the key. Ross developed his chordal technique around Howlin Wolf’s.img_0405 Ross’ band Daddy Cool possessed three cracker originals all around this specific guitar ‘A’ chord riff where the little finger is extended to the fifth fret on the top E string, Eagle Rock, Come Back Again and Hi Honey Ho. However, the band originated primarily from their Doo Wop tunes that featured heavily in their sets. Songs like ‘Gee’ and ‘Cherry Pie’. On their ‘Lollipop’ extended play they covered Marvin and Johnny’s hit, ‘Flip’ with the harmonica right there in the foreground. The song was written by Cal Green, who was the original Johnny (Marvin didn’t think Marvin and Cal had much of a ring to it). There were a few other Johnny’s after Cal just to confuse the issue. On the Daddy Cool recording Ross steps in with the harp where Marvin Phillip’s tenor saxophone would have appeared on the original. Ross loved the tenor saxophone especially Lee Allan (Fats Domino) and Joe Houston (Big Joe Turner) he would mimic their lines on the harp. Ross stated, The tenor saxophone was my favourite instrument. I tried to play it, but it was too hard.

I have posted a live recording of Daddy Cool performing ‘Flip’ at the ‘Whiskey A Go Go’ in Los Angeles where they opened the bill for the Elvin Bishop Group back in August 1971.

A new Riff Hits & Bits is also up with Steve Cash once again playing the Tennessee Triller. Hear here

A CD arrived in the mail this week of some note from Altona recording label ‘Belmar Records’. The Pearly Shells, Melbourne’s best swing, jazz R & B band have a new album entitled, ‘Went Down Swingin”. Have to say track five, ‘Rubygil’s Bar And Grill’ written by Steve Purcell has a bit of a Daddy Cool flavour to it. Check it out here


PS: Check Out Ross talking about RAW.