PETER ‘ROSSY” ROSS Celebrity Roadie, Jupiter 5 bassist Sydney, Australia
This is a list of things that have caught my eye in 2020 - in no particular order.
WHITE KNUCKLE FEVER Everybody’s favourite two piece have been kicking goals all through the year culminating with a new double single release that is killer. Ross and Celia are not only hard working but one of the funniest bands in Sydney.
OUTTASPACE RECORDS Milly and Adam have been working their rings out throughout the year, releasing high quality record after record. It’s been great watching the rise of their Central Coast colossus. Now they’ve even got their own venue in Woy Woy, The Link and Pin! Honourable mention also goes to Wreckless Enterprises.
LIVE MUSIC OFFICE Sydney’s dormant live music scene won’t return overnight to prominence, and it doesn’t happen by accident. Blokes like John Wardle, and his team, have been pushing for legislative support and reforms to remove the barriers to get live bands into back into venues. They’re kicking some goals and it would be remiss to not acknowledge their massive efforts.
MONDAY EVENING GUNK Live from the little venue that tried, Sydney’s version of CBGBs The Moshpit, MEG was one of the bright spots in a difficult year. Driven by The I-94 Bar’s Barman and Jill “Force of Nature” Dures, it was one part history lesson, Rockwiz knock-off, Molly Meldrum’s Humdrum and a live gig packed into a one hour live stream for 10 weeks… a garage rock version of Countdown if you like. A technical conundrum handled with style by Zac Ruokari from Zenn Streaming, the show was fun to be involved with and we can only hope it gets another airing in 2021.
1. FRIDAY NIGHT HEROES - LEADFINGER LAUNCH AT THE FACTORY FLOOR, SYDNEY Wollongong’s finest, led by Stew Cunningham, blitzed the Factory Floor in Sydney launching their album "Friday Night Heroes", my favourite Australian release of the year. Dillon Hicks, Reggie Screen and Mick Boyle certainly brought their A game in front of an augmented line-up that included Carrie Phiilis on BVs, Doug Hazell on sax and Andy Newman on keys. I could have sworn it was the E Street Band at one stage. Extra points for covering Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns and Money”.
It's almost 2019… and the world seems to be going mad. But the big question I ask myself… is rock dead?
I see alternate styles of music like rap, hip-hop and commercial pop dominating youth culture. I wouldn’t recognise Drake or Flume if they dropped their USB sticks in front of me. In closeted rock’n’roll enclaves such as the I-94 Bar dirty rock’n’roll seems to be thriving, but one by one icons are dropping off the perch. How much longer can it survive?
The benchmark I’ve been looking at is guitar sales. Electric guitar sales have slipped 22.7 percent since 2008… the price of guitars is rocketing, yet it appears that the acoustic market is on the up… Something like a 15 percent increase over the same period. Although insipid, whiny vocal sounds have probably been tied to the same trend.
The trend that parallels the increase of Ed Sheeran wannabes is the rise of vinyl sales. I’d guess that pot smoking hippies, listening on their Technics SL1200 to Bob Dylan re-masters trying figure out how to play protest songs while avoiding the dreaded F chord are to blame.
Despite my sense of foreboding I did manage to catch some quality rock’n’roll but I put that down to confirmation bias. My personal faves:
The Celebrity Roadie Peter Ross attracts fans wherever he goes. Veteran road manager John Pearce (right) inspects his ponytail to make sure it's real.
The On and Ons @ almost everywhere – The Sydney power-pop phenomenon rolls on and gets ready to record a third album. Strong songs from singer/songwriter Glenn Morris and the pedigree of Clyde Bramley, Jon Roberts and Brian Morris make for irresistible pop. Welcome Aboard! Watch
The Flaming Hands @ Factory Theatre & Enmore – A couple of power packed shows from these '80s icons blew my mind. Julie Mostyn’s crack band of Radio Birdman’s Warwick Gilbert, Peter Bull and Barton Price brought a polished sheen to Jeff Sullivan and Julie’s songs. They should come back again… soon! Watch .
If like me, it was hard for you to get out of the house this year and experience live music, I found myself sitting on the couch watching too much TV… It wasn’t until I put together this list I realised I watch w-a-a-a-a-y too much TV…
Anyway, here’s a list of some of the music and music related documentaries I managed to consume in my COVID-19 lockdown. Let’s hope we can get some more gigs in next year.
To give you all a break I excluded every politics documentary I consumed, and didn’t include any of the hundreds, and possibly thousands, of music technology-related YouTube channels I’ve been glued to. I hope you can find something on this list you haven’t seen before...