In Review - ZooPaGoo and Party Gravy

ZooPaGoo and Party Gravy at The Polish White Eagle Club 3rd May 2013

Is there anything better than live, well produced funk? Anything that starts a foot tapping? A tapping that quickly becomes a stomp and a uncontrollable urge to groove? Actually I can think of a few things that are way better but last night live, strutty funk was where it was at.

Party Gravy ... now there's a name for a band. Gravy ... thick, rich and fragrant. The sauce that enhances and helps the flesh go down. Such a lot to live up to... did last night's gravy boys deliver? They did. Featuring not one, but two drummers meshing like smooth cogs in a drive train effortlessly entwined with tight and solid bass, easily providing a Hard-Bop groove for alto sax, two trumpet and two trombone. Rounded out nicely with vocals, the 8-piece delivered well-crafted numbers that slowly but steadily filled the room. My favourite were the horn solos, with a trumpet solo performed by Ax Long a bright and colourful affair with excellent diction and stabs. They had slinky dancers. I like slinky dancers.

Interval saw us back at the bar ... it seems tonight's beer of choice is the Perla Chmielowa Pils - a crisp, dry brew with extra hops and a kick I didn't really feel until this morning. Thank you to the friendly bar staff who helpfully assisted with navigating the extensive range of Polish beers and vodkas.

I was sitting having a chat with Simon at the entry desk when ZooPaGoo took the stage. Listening through the curtain I was immediately impressed with the engine room of this band. The drums, combined with strong and dextrous bass produced a NY/Chicago strut that demanded attention. Keys that reminded me of fleshy orange marmalade, rich with texture provided deep colour and flavour to the mix. Local wah-guitar legend, the fez-adorning Zedman, added gravy all of his own. Sax and trumpet comprised the horn section and though they stabbed, swooped and dived in sync, I felt they missed their third member to fill out the mids. The horn solos were bright and left me wanting more which was a pity as they seemed a bit far between. But that's quibbling really. Original songs were interspersed with funk classics. There was a little roughness at times but their interpretation of Johnny Guitar Watson's Ain't That A Bitch was masterly with well-executed stabs and changes. That one was a real pleasure ... a great track preformed with gusto and stagecraft. Vocals shone with Sean 'Funklestiltskin Chickenstrut' providing the all important stage presence required of street funk done good. The band was joined on stage by a cohort of more slinky dancers from the floor toward the end of their set. While the members of ZooPaGoo aren't bad looking ... the dancers easily enhanced their stage presence.

I took no photos but there were two DSLR-wielding snappers and numerous phone-heads who I'm sure got some of the great pictures that were to be had on the night.

Sound was handled very nicely by Dave with responsive attention to detail and clear, well articulated sound. Nice work Dave. Lighting was used to dramatic effect by both performers and lighting desk (also by multi-talented Dave)

My friend and I arrived late around 9:45pm after enjoying ourselves elsewhere (unthinkable I know!) there was a DJ playing when we arrived but I only caught the last track ... it sounded good but I can't really tell you any more about them.

The Polo,  strong beers, fine company mixed in with ZooPaGoo's funk-stuff and Party Gravy's Hard-Bop grooves made it a memorable, if blurry, night. Thanks to Nigel and the CMC for the double pass and the opportunity to write a review for you.

Cell Block 69 - The Spiegel Garden

A couple of weeks ago I attended and photographed an extraordinarily fun gig in an extraordinary place. Cell Block 69 were performing at The Spiegel Garden - a purpose built circus style marquee that has been enjoying a month long residency at the Senate Rose Gardens for the centenary of Canberra celebrations. The group? Comprised of 8 members all calling themselves "Corey" they customarily play 2 gigs a year, one in Sydney and the other here in Canberra. They've been together for nigh on ten years and are somewhat of a Canberra Christmas institution (if there is such a thing). They play covers ... trashy Eighties covers. Whip It!, Queen, Computer Games, Centrefold, Girls on Film, Jump etc etc. They have gone to tremendous effort to replicate the sounds using period effects and analog synthesisers. Lead singer Pip Branson changes costumes and character for each song ... he is a very talented boy. The gig got very crowded and was a little nuts at times. It got a little crowded when I squeezed through to get to a position at the foot of the stage. Impossible for me not to sing along ... I remember those songs when they were released!

(apparently you can click on a picture to see it writ large!)

The gig finished at 2am. live on the other side of the lake in the middle of Canberra and I was on my bicycle so I got to ride home under the stars ... getting home around a quarter to three ... I smelled like a squash court so I showered after initiating the loading of the images off the memory cards.

Tell me, does the gallery option I've used in this post work? would you prefer larger, in-line images?

A larger, more comprehensive set of images from the gig can be found at Lushpup Images ... here.

What's the last gig you wnet to? Was it music or poetry? What kind of music? did you dance and get all sweaty or was it a sit down more formal affair? Do tell :-)

Fred Smith’s Dust of Uruzgan CD Launch - in review

I think the gig marked a real step-up in the stage-craft and production of a Fred Smith performance. As always, his songs were passionate and rendered well and his band (Liz Frencham (double bass), Lachlan Coventry (pedal steel and electric guitar) and John Jones (drums)) supplied excellent and solid support. The addition of projected images of Afghanistan worked well too. The audience was made up of an eclectic mix with many folk attending their first show after hearing a couple of tracks on the radio. ABC Canberra’s Virginia Haussegger introduced both sets with great gush. I never realised she was such a fan. I had the privilege of attending the soundcheck to get some stills of Fred and his band prior to the show and am attaching a couple of them for you to have a look at. There is a larger set to be found at Fred’s page on Lushpup Images.