Almanac Music: A Band, Beer, and Pig on a Spit

A Band, Beer, and Pig on a Spit

 

(St Albans Clubrooms. Thomson, Geelong. 1979)

 

It was near the end of my HSC year, and I’d already played in a couple of rock bands, in Years 10 and 11. Anyway, by this time, a few of us had become better guitar players, and prospects looked good for this new band we’d just formed, named South Side. We knew each other from many years spent in the school brass band, except for BJ, who we got in because he was good on the drums and that’s what we needed. Will was on guitar, so was Ross, Clive played keyboard and I was on bass – and, as I just said, BJ was on the traps. Will and Ross did most of the singing, from memory. I recall rehearsing in a back shed at BJ’s family farm in Lovely Banks, on the outskirts of Geelong, where his father trained harness racers. I even remember watching BJ take a spin around the home-made track, steering a horse from a sulky. We also rehearsed at my family home in Austin Street, Newtown; in fact, that was probably the time I plugged my bass into the old radiogram and quickly rendered it nothing more than a cumbersome piece of useless furniture.

 

Will played footy with St Albans, who had teams at different levels in the Geelong Football League competition, and got us the gig there; one of your typical country town football club fund-raisers. That was a time when Geelong was still, fundamentally, a big rural town, before the era of large central shopping complexes, a period when you could walk around the CBD and know – or know of – almost every person or family who owned the businesses. But I digress … we in South Side rehearsed a great deal for our debut – these rehearsals made me a better player, I reckon, as we included stuff like Doobie Brothers tunes that made my fingers go to all sorts of interesting places high on the bass guitar fretboard.

 

The gig itself … the clubroom of the St Albans Football Club … a winter night … a pig on a spit … a few barrels … good-sized crowd. I can’t remember much else, really, except we played on a raised stage at one end of the room, about four feet off the floor, and that as the night progressed I had quite a bit of the amber fluid. Also, I remember walking into the darkness – before the gig started, I think – and seeing unfortunate Porky roasting over the hot coals. I probably had a pork roll as I gazed at him. Sometime during our set, I saw a girl I played tennis with when I was fourteen dancing in front of the stage, smiling and waving a cord around – then I realised that it was my bass guitar lead, which she’d unplugged from my amp after sneaking to the side of the stage. Urgently, I signalled her to plug it back in, which, thankfully, she did very promptly.

 

One of our big numbers was a version of the Stones’ classic rocker ‘Honky Tonk Women’: I met a gin-soaked, bar-room queen in Memphis/ She tried to take me upstairs for a ride … it went down particularly well … I’ve always found that this one gets ‘em dancing, especially late in the evening after the booze has done its work.

 

 

 

That St Albans Football Club gig was the only one South Side ever played. I’m not sure why, really. We were all good mates and didn’t have a falling out, and the job itself went swimmingly. I think we just joined other bands who wanted us more than we wanted to run a band ourselves!

 

(Acknowledgement: an earlier version of this piece, with a different title, made its debut on the Stereo Stories website in August, 2019.)

 

More from Kevin Densley Here

 

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About

Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His work has appeared in print in Australia, the UK and the USA, as well as on many online venues. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, will be published by Ginninderra Press later in 2020. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press.

Comments

  1. william purcell says

    sensational kev. nailed it again. I think Johnny Guiffre (with affro) sang that night – could be wrong

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks Will. Maybe Johnny did, though you and Ross sang too, of course. You reminded me recently how you had to remember the words to the Stones’ “Tumbling Dice’, which we also played. Now, Johnny Giuffre – there was a good schoolboy and local footballer. Played GFL firsts for Newtown and Chilwell, as I recall.

  3. Nicole Kelly says

    South side…. great name for a band. For one night only…

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Nicole. Yes, I recall spending about half of my HSC year rehearsing for that one gig!

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