Buffalo Blues Burger

5th October, 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’.


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.

Hogan’s Heroes

5th June, 2019

Hello Riffers,

Here’s a story about a man named Hogan who was busy with five boys of his own, six men all living together, but they were not alone (bit of a mish mash of old TV sitcoms).

Just prior to the turn of the twentieth century a young lad raised in the country town of Naracoorte cherished dreams of future successes. In the beginning life was simple for Keith Macdonald Hogan, the town had all the necessary ingredients for nurture-family, footy, mates and a mouth organ. Naracoorte in South Australia lies midway between Adelaide and Melbourne and the town flourished as an important stopover when gold was discovered in Ballarat. An early association with Dugald Caldwell, journalist with the Narracoorte Herald (the spelling is correct) and a fine musician to boot, provided Keith with the impetus to learn the intricacies of this new instrument in the colonies called the mouth harmonicon (mouth organ). Master Keith conducted and played in a mouth organ band of fifteen local boys under the tutelage of ‘Captain’ Caldwell and performed at various musical events including the town’s Christmas Eve soirée of 1904.

Keith left school for employment at the Caldwell’s newspaper as a compositor. These weren’t his only passions as he also exhibited exceptional talent on the park as an Australian Rules footballer. He even created his own team in 1907, the Warrior Football Club, who would compete in classic and brutal showdowns with the other local Naracoorte team. At their inaugural meeting of the Warrior Football Club Keith was duly elected captain of the team. In 1912 the Warrior Football Club was dissolved (they were back in 1914) and a three team Naracoorte Football Association was formed. Keith captained the Centrals to the first ever premiership and played a blinder. In the same year he packed his kit bag and headed to Border Town, the Narracoorte Herald reported, “….the club had lost the services of Keith Hogan, one of the founders of the club and one of the most brilliant footballers in the South-East.” (Tuesday, 16 April, 1912)

Eventually Keith would settle down and raise a family. He found employment at the Islington Railway Workshops (pictured) near his family abode-a timber cottage at three Kintore Avenue, Chicago (suburb of Adelaide). Here he and Mrs Hogan would raise five boys, Keith the oldest born on the 24th September 1917, Gordon next on the 5th of December 1918, Stephen born on the 28th October 1920, Ray on the 15th December 1922 and James the youngest in 1924. Gordon John Macdonald Hogan would be the first baptism held at the Hogan’s new Methodist Church just up the road in Kintore Avenue in a hall purchased from the Free Gardeners Lodge. The sacrament of baptism was provided by the residing minister, the Reverend E. Ingamells. Music would be at the forefront of their upbringing and what better instrument of choice for a large family that was both economical and easily transportable, but the humble mouth organ. All the boys participated in the Methodist Junior Endeavour program where they entertained at services with solos on their pocket harps.

img_2832In the year of 1925 Keith senior ventured to the Coliseum in South Street Ballarat to compete in the Boomerang sponsored National Mouth Organ Championship. Percival Spouse would be crowned the winner by adjudicator Gustav Slapoffski (love the name). Keith (arrowed with his Boomerang De Luxe) would win the ‘Best Imitation’ section scoring maximum points. Gustav’s critique on his performance read, “K M Hogan’s imitation of brass band, church organ and mandolin, great dexterity, organ quite good, tremolo good (a comedian).”

Keith Senior was way ahead of his times in 1927 when he performed a chromatic mouth organ selection on Adelaide radio 5KA, probably on the Hohner model (pictured). More expensive than their diatonic counterparts, they were available for purchase from around 1925 (maybe earlier) and this model featured the new and improved leaf styled slide that was mounted on the outside. Hohner’s Chromonica their next improved model, with an internal spring system arrived a little later. Noted Australian harmonica author and historian Ray Grieve supported my presumption that Keith must have been one of the first chromatic exponents in the land with, “Would have to be Shep. Hohner’s Chromatic Harmonica came out in the mid 1920s. Kurt (Jacob) said that they weren’t all that popular but there must have been a few sold of course. Hogan definitely one of the earliest.” Chromatic harmonicas didn’t really take off in Australia until Larry Adler’s visit to our shores in 1938-39, although momentum had been created with release of his recordings in 1935. The Barrier Miner reported in 1927 on Keith’s outstanding skills with, “He demonstrated how to play a trio or duet on the instrument and showed the possibilities of playing in octaves on a single reed instrument. He also rendered a tune in three different keys on a natural key instrument without anyway marring it.” (Barrier Miner 17 September, 1927) Just six letters gollygeewowee!

Keith formed a family mouth organ band with his sons and one ring-in a friend of the the boys, Gordon Thomas (an early version of the Partridge Family). They were in constant demand gaining considerable concert experience on their journey. James, the youngest refused to take the stage in one contest. He had been severely traumatised by a previous meeting with a black and white minstrels act (I won’t print the actual name of the minstrels) and he didn’t want to cross their paths again (clowns were fine). Ray was a serious performer who refused to play at a local music store because, in his words, “I only perform at contests!” At a competition in Mt. Gambier an elderly Irish gentleman offered Steve money to perform a solo. Displaying business acumen way beyond his years, as first cab off the rank he blew, ‘The Wearing Of The Green’ (always a good tune for the repertoire). At the conclusion, a voice rich in Irish brogue from the auditorium exclaimed, rather ungenerously for the other contestants, “the rest of you need not play, Steve has won!”

In 1929 Keith senior was bestowed with the honour of State Mouth Organ champion winning with a score of 86/100 and beating a red hot field, A Merrett was second with 82 and H Colmer third with 81. The adjudicator from Victoria was Mr. Virginius Lorimer. Keith’s prize £5/5 and a gold medal was presented by Albert’s representatives.

The following year the Hogan’s suburb of Chicago would be renamed. Post had been a problem with local mail ending up in Illinois and not at the local Post Office agency in Kintore Avenue. The other major issue for constituents was the names association with gangsters and death. Many replacement names were put forward, Makinville, Suburbia, Killarney, Hollywood, Northview, Homeville, Fiveville, Islington Park, Baroka, Wurrook, Braeville and Mapleton. The vote was counted and Chicago became Kilburn, the name derived from the adjoining subdivision. There was some fallout with one resident outlining that the gangsters of Chicago would kill their victims and then burn them so they could not be identified.

Keith (Junior), Gordon, Ray and Stephen would enlist and serve the country in WWII. Both Stephen and Ray in the RAAF. Stephen rose to the rank of Flight Sergeant and Ray, Leading Air-Craftsman. Ray was a member of the local RSL sub-branch in Kilburn. He would perform duties in his roles as Secretary and then President and received life membership after fifteen years of active involvement. Ray lived a short dash away from the RSL with his wife Dorothy (née Bolton) at 19 Kintore Avenue.

Young Keith married local girl Lita Jones and relocated to his Dad’s old stomping ground, Naracoorte. He had graduated in carriage building at the local technical school in Kilburn and would use his newfound skills at the railway workshops in Naracoorte. Keith was more than an accomplished musician playing multiple instruments, including the baritone that he’s pictured holding here with the Naracoorte Municipal Band. He was a popular attendee at local dances tickling the ivories and showcasing his band and orchestra. Each and every Christmas Keith’s father would visit his son and former town, especially doting on his granddaughter Judith Ann (perfectly understandable having raised five boys).

The apple didn’t fall far from the tree in regards to athletic prowess either. Gordon inherited his father’s football endowments. He joined the local club in Kilburn known as the Chics an abbreviation from their Chicago football club origins. Gordon was an integral member of the Premiership team of 1937.

So talented was he that that South Australian National Football League (SANFL) club North Adelaide (Roosters) drafted him the following year. Kilburn premiership teammate John Summersides would follow Gordon to the Roosters not long after. In an interrupted career Gordon would play fifty nine official senior games and kick fifteen goals over a period of ten years. In his first season he was voted Best Backman. In the Annual report of that year it stated, “Gordon Hogan showed that he is a backman of real class; his displays at full back were characterised with steadiness and purpose.” In 1939 he was awarded Best Utility and in 1941 Best Backman once more even though he didn’t play in all games. During WWII the SANFL was disbanded, however combined teams were formed and Gordon who had been discharged early from the forces was a significant member of the Norwood-North Adelaide combine teams of 1942, 1943 and 1944-playing in twenty seven games and drifting forward kicking two sneaky goals (these games and goals weren’t included in his North Adelaide official totals). In the Grand Final of ’44 Gordon was right in the thick of it, which was highlighted in this report, “Once again we were destined to meet the Port-Torrens combination to decide the premiership, and with players of the calibre of Oatey, Lush, Schmelzhopf and Cearns out of action, our prospects did not appear too rosy, however, our losses were, to some extent, counter-balanced by the return of Gordon Hogan and Stan Hancock, and how they rose to the occasion is now history.” The combine were Premiers in the latter two years and in 1944 having finished on the bottom of the ladder (only four combined teams) after the minor rounds their rise to take the flag was meteoric. Gordon’s work as a painter resulted in a shift to the panoramic fishing town of Port Lincoln in the following year. In 1946 newly formed Lincoln South (Eagles) appointed Gordon as Captain Coach. He left mid season as North Adelaide were desperate to regain his experience and with work granting him extended leave he returned to the big smoke and the best competition in the State. In 1949 North Adelaide football club honoured Gordon with life membership in recognition of long and meritorious service. Gordon’s love and indebtedness to North Adelaide FC was ongoing. He was a founding member and honorary treasurer of the Port Lincoln branch of the Roosters organising many a riotous function for club members situated in the Eyre Peninsula. Gordon also contributed to the local community by umpiring in the local league and painting the name of the racecourse on a sign at the track (Ravendale Park). His interests in racing didn’t end there, at the local the Hotel Boston he was the SP Bookie-that was until he was caught by the local constabulary. In the 1962 North Adelaide Annual Report there were several mentions of Gordon’s sudden passing (aged 43), “The tragic passing of ‘Goog’ Hogan”, “Shock and sadness attended the notification at the sudden passing” and “A tragedy overcame the Club in the passing of ‘Goog’ Hogan-a great chap and a great player, and his untimely passing is a blow we could ill afford to have.”

Then there’s Ray Macdonald Hogan (apologies to Stephen and James as I couldn’t resource your grand deeds on this mortal coil). Ray could run like the wind. A late-comer to competive athletics. He joined local amateur athletic club Western Districts at the age of nineteen. The club embraced Ray and on his wedding day provided a unique arch of spiked running shoes for the bride and groom as they left the Pirie Street Methodist church on December 23 1944. Within a short stretch of time Ray had strung a number of consecutive victories that would have made Winx (Australian Racehorse Champion) envious and in 1941 he broke the club record for the mile running a 52.2. He was selected to represent South Australia in the Australian National Championships in 1947 held at the Leederville oval in Perth. In the 100 yards he ran a solid fourth in his heat clocking 10.2 narrowly missing the final. In the 220 yards he finished fifth in his heat recording a time of 22.8. The following year he missed State selection, but fellow club members funded his trip to Melbourne (held at the St. Kilda Cricket Ground), where to his credit he made the final of the 220 yards.

A young boy’s dreams can come to fruition as can a father’s desire for his son(s) to fulfil their God given talents too. They do make you proud!


PS: Here’s Keith Hogan’s tip for beginners, “….beginners must exercise patience in learning to produce a clear note. ….it is essential that the tongue be placed on the front of the instrument to smother all the holes except the one from which the sound is to be emitted. It is most difficult to play an air which requires a clean note, but if the tongue is correctly employed the result is satisfactory. ….also desist from playing vamp like sounds between each note in soft passages.”

roostersThanks to Barry Dolman from the North Adelaide Football Club for his efforts in providing extra information on Gordon and in particular the access to the Annual Reports. It was really appreciated. Go Roosters!