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REMINISCENCES OF A TUB-THUMPIN'DAME.

Music and pleasure have always been intertwined as far as I'm concerned ,ever since I was a toddler when the haunting strains of "Greensleeves" wafted through the window for the first time,the notes holding me aloft as I floated out to the ice cream truck and soft serve heaven. During the years that followed , I would spend hours in front of the T.V., my dolls lined up and me in my Mr. Pierre wig watching "Uptight","Commotion","Happening '70,'71....." or any other show that involved music. (Gerry Humphries being a definite favourite amongst the "girls"). The minor irritation of having siblings was made up for by their large and varied record collections, which I played constantly but only when they weren't around.(My older brother being the only one that actually enjoyed having an audience when playing "air guitar", he later went on to become an actor.) Although I studied piano for six years , I believe that I gained a more useful musical education from watching the 60/40 bands play in the pub that my folks ran. Every Saturday afternoon the "talent "quest got under way and we were treated to rare sounds emanating from those whose talent generally , knew no beginning.Accompanying them was one of Australias most sought after organists, Bryce,who ,one can only assume,needed a laugh.Nevertheless he was always generous and never lost his cool. A C&W dude called Kenny East seemed to win every year.He wore a four finger tie, played a bright red guitar and had a face to match and when he sang , his adams apple went up and down like a yo-yo,I guess thats the kind of thing that kids find extremely strange. At night things really started to hot up, when the hired band would show. It would now be getting close to my bedtime, so, after a couple of dances with some old jokers (of my mothers choosing), I'd high tail it upstairs to lie there all night and listen to all those "old" songs when they were new. I couldn't say how many times I must have heard "Delilah","Ave Maria","Please Release Me", or how many versions of "Caravan" and the "Golden Wedding" having the crap knocked out of them by overzealous but under done drummers. I dissected every song in my mind and learned how the bass and drums worked with each other and the rest of the band. Around this time I'd hooked up with the "Singing Nun ", Sister Janet Meads outfit and was doing gigs at the cathedral in Adelaide. One of the nicer and more talented drummers from our pub was dispatched by my folks to watch me play to "see whether she’s got any rhythm" as I had recently expressed an interest in drumming and they didn't want to spend all that money on a kit if I was hopeless. He must have caught me on a good night as they agreed and I became the proud owner of a marble effect "Pearl Kit"...pink , of course. Stay tuned for more stuff...


Where was I...
After getting my chops down with Sr.Janet, after all she was quite a hard task master, I was snapped up to play in legendary Adelaide experimental blues band "Precious Memories" . The memories are unfortunately few and far between for me , as, just turning 15 years old, all hell broke loose around me and I was certainly up for a bit of a stoush with whatever life had to offer.I'm glad to say that the band still play around Adelaide as "Beige",under the instruction of Patrick O'Grady, keyboard player, songwriter and leader of this (sometimes) Sun Ra tribute band.
In 1978 a chance meeting with Steve Miller (Moodist guitarist) at a party in Adelaide saw me turning up to a rehearsal with "The Sputnicks" where I first met Dave Graney, a shy guy , a bit weird...a perfect lead singer!
We really got stuck into our music and I've never rehearsed so much since. We even released the first recording that we made on purple vinyl which back then was a difficult and expensive excersise. Indeed, that record is worth $$$ now but not, I'm afraid because of it's content.
Adelaide at this time was a bit of a Gobi desert when it came to gigs for local bands(unless you played really bad reggae), so after running our own pub gig for a while, we all moved to Melbourne in 1979 ,hoping to get into one of the many pub gigs around the city. The Seaview Ballroom was the hottest gig in town but it took many nights playing in scary pubs to unimpressed audiences until we had met enough local musicians to ingratiate ourselves into that scene! The Ballroom became our second home, the proprieters allowing us to rehearse there, play there regularly and when we weren't doing that we would go anyway usually to ignore everyone else and hang it on some crappy "Little Band" or give interstate touring bands a hard time.....

(1981),Playing in the Moodists was a lot of fun for a 20year old drummer with rockin' and drinkin' on her mind.We were very much a gang ,suspicious of most other musicians and posessing the "us and them "attitude which is very important to have when you can't play that well and the music industry thinks you're nothing but PUNKS. At the time it was also quite normal for a girl to be in the band,playing drums even.We played a gig at "the Ballroom",with tsk,tsk,tsk, (or whatever they were called ) and the Gobetweens .So,with me and Lindy Morrison and Cathy Green it was blonde chick drummers a-go-go!! I'll never forget standing side of stage with Lindy, both of us envious of Greens barefooted 16 year old mega chops and dreading the fact that we had to go on after her.We did become friends with some other bands like The Gobetweens,The Laughing Clowns,The Birthday Party and followed them lemming-like to the U.K.,when it became clear that we were never going to be on Countdown and that The Ballroom and The Trade Union Club in Sydney,were probably going to be the only gigs we would ever do in Australia.We did however release a mini-L.P.called "Engine Shudder"on Augogo records which was put down at Richmond Recorders during an all night session after a gig.I don't remember much about that night and on listening to it recently ,maybe WE should have been put down that night,(Dave only lasted half a minute into the 1st track before he ran out screaming),but we got a review in the NME ,we were offered a deal in London and we were gone!


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Clare writes about her first live concert experience. The Rolling Stones in Adelaide , 1973.