Almanac Music: Brian Cadd at the Trinity Sessions

Photo courtesy Trinity Sessions: https://www.trinitysessions.org/

 

“I wonder if it’s immoral to sing along and dance to ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ inside a church?”

 

That was the thought that ran through my head as Brian Cadd and Band closed their show with an encore of a rip-roaring medley of Rolling Stones’ hits and Loggins & Messina’s ‘Your Mama Don’t Dance’.  It was an encore in that after closing the main set, Cadd accepted the standing ovation and then did away with the usual charade of walking off stage and reappearing for an encore.  He just sat back down and got on with it.  Also, when I say dancing, I am referring to what passes for ‘legal’ dancing in these socially distanced times, that is shuffling in front of one’s seat and doing some awkward combo of swaying and clapping in time.

 

I haven’t visited many churches over the journey, my religious pathway was curtailed in 1981 when I became old enough to play junior golf on a Sunday morning instead of attending Sunday School.  I feel that my waywardness off the tee throughout my golfing career was somehow linked to this early decision.

 

The Church is the Church of the Trinity on Goodwood Road (in Adelaide’s inner south).   When not in use for Church activities the venue doubles as the venue for the Trinity Sessions, an ongoing series of intimate concerts showcasing live music in a room with great acoustics and comfortable seating (no pews).  A band of volunteers even sell beer and wines from local suppliers in the adjoining hall.  The Trinity Sessions have been running since 2002 and organisers Roger and Yvonne Freeman have recently been recognised by the SA Music Hall of Fame.  It is one of the best little-known venues in the city.  It really deserves more recognition.  Jeff Lang is playing there next month, and Dave Graney is making an appearance mid-year.  I am hoping for another appearance by Joe Camilleri.

 

Like me, most of the artists enter the Church with some trepidation on their first visit.  Brian Cadd was no different.  For we sinners there is always that initial fear of being smited from above. Maybe this fear is not unfounded.  One of my first Trinity Sessions shows was the Irish singer-songwriter Áine Tyrrell.  She happened to let a couple of (accidental) f-bombs slip early in the show and then spent the rest of the evening dealing with a spate of broken guitar strings.

 

Anyway, was my Friday night behaviour immoral?  Who knows?  But if I am going to hell for enjoying ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ inside a church, then there is probably a lot of other stuff that has already punched my ticket for the ride downstairs.  Best just to forget about it and enjoy the show.

 

I had just been born when Brian Cadd was at his peak as a recording artist.  To me he was just one of these mythical local acts from the late 60’s and 70’s along with acts like the Masters Apprentices, Zoot, Doug Parkinson (RIP) and Russell Morris (incidentally Russell is a regular at the Trinity Sessions and sells out his run of gigs every year).  I knew of their best songs, but growing up in a pre-streaming and pre-YouTube world, their deeds were confined to my limited world of AM radio and the occasional television show flashback.  They may even have appeared on those SAFM ‘Australian Made’ compilation tapes of the late 80’s.  Australian music was not a part of my parent’s record collection.  The best parts of their collection would be a couple of Johnny Cash albums, Nancy & Lee, and Bridge Over Troubled Water.  Foster and Allen?  Demis Roussos?  Come on!

 

These days I enjoy watching re-runs of Rockwiz on SBS.  It was here that Brian Cadd first really came to my attention.  I caught his duet with alt-country singer-songwriter, Suzannah Espie, on the Rolling Stones ‘Out of Time’.  There are plenty of ‘older’ acts out there that remind me of what my father would look like if he left the bowls club, put on some stage clothes, and then came out to sing a few songs.  Brian Cadd does not look like that.

 

 

To me, Cadd looks more like that unruly distant uncle most people had as a kid, the one that lives in a bigger city and has been married a few times and you’re not sure what he really does for a living but you hear the adults talk about him disapprovingly in hushed tones every so often.  Then one day, out of the blue, he pulls up at a family gathering in his old HQ Statesman with his latest girlfriend, eschews the proffered West End and instead gets his hands on the host’s well-hidden scotch, proceeds to regale the young lads with tales of his outrageous lifestyle, has a great time hanging crap on the blokes, and loudly uses double entendre in conversation with the women.  He loads up his plate at lunch, has a couple of helpings of dessert, a few smokes and more scotch, before disappearing just as quickly as he came for another indefinite period of absence.

 

I doubt that is what Brian Cadd is like in real life, but his look and stage presence certainly give off that ‘vibe’. He has spent a lot of time living in Los Angeles and Nashville.  He also spent lockdown in Woodstock, New York.

 

I went along to the gig with reasonable expectations.  I did not know a lot of his music, but if a guy has been working and touring as a musician for this long then surely, he must be able to put on a decent show.  I was not disappointed.

 

Brian Cadd may not be able to conjure up quite the same softness in his voice as he could in 1972, and the rasp may be a bit more pronounced, but the 74-year-old hasn’t lost too much.  Being a keyboard player gives him the chance to rest his legs throughout the show, but he was up on his feet throughout the rocking encore.

 

For best part of an hour and a half we went on a journey with one of the great Australian stalwarts of rock and roll.  There was old stuff, newer stuff, there was ‘Don’t You Know It’s Magic’ the song that won Battle of the Sounds and was a hit for Johnny Farnham, songs and risqué tales of Alvin Purple, ‘Out of Time’ got a run, also the Axiom hits ‘Arkansas Grass’ and ‘Little Ray of Sunshine’, and then there was the solo hits ‘Let Go’ and ‘Ginger Man’.  The songs all stacked up well against their original recordings, his voice was worked hard but nothing was lost.

 

 

Brian Cadd kept his audience engaged right throughout the journey.  In such an intimate setting you can’t afford not to.  For every song there was an interesting story, or some interplay with his chosen target in the audience.  You could listen to him play all night, but you got the feeling that you could also sit and listen all night to his tales from 55 years in the music business across the world.

 

The encore of ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ into ‘Your Mama Don’t Dance’ and ‘Satisfaction’ before looping back to ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ topped off the night brilliantly.  It was here that the band really came into their own.  The three local musicians engaged as the band had only received the main set list two days prior, yet did an admirable job throughout, the only giveaway being the churn of pages on the music stands.  It was when they got into more familiar territory during the encore that they could really let down.  The guitarist, with the telecaster and a topknot, played his solo on ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ in the manner of a man who had been waiting all night to let loose on something familiar.

 

A standing ovation was delivered, and we all dispersed into the night, home in time to watch the last quarter of the footy.  What most of us forget was that Brian Cadd and Band had to turn around and do the same thing again on the Saturday night.  The man is a marvel.

 

 

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About

Dour opener and close-checking fullback. Peaked early.

Comments

  1. Great stuff. Thanks Greg. Brian Cadd has always been a fave. If he’d been American he could have been as big as Billy Joel.
    Loved your witty asides. I now finally understand my golfing curse. We are similarly afflicted.

  2. Cheers Peter, glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading.

  3. Mark ‘Swish’ Schwerdt says

    That’s a very good review Greg. Cadd has a largely under appreciated body of work (check out Axiom’s My Baby’s Gone too)

    He must have dropped the theme from Class of 74 from his act.

  4. Cheers Swish.

    They were before my time so I did check out some Axiom tunes when I got home that night! All I knew prior was ‘Little Ray of Sunshine’.

  5. Tony Forbes says

    Great article, also heard a fab interview with Brian Cadd recently on Brian Wise’ Off the record program on 3RR which might still be available through the On demand section of 3RRR

  6. A ripper review. Thanks, Greg. It sounds like it was an excellent evening.

    It is my belief that Brian Cadd is one of the most important figures in the history of Australian popular music. And like Swish, I reckon he is very much under-appreciated. It is great to see that he is still stomping at the age of 74.

  7. Cheers Tony. Thanks for the heads up on the 3RRR interview. It was still in the on demand section on the website. I just enjoy hearing him talking about his music.

    Cheers Smokie. I agree. The guy has been a part of so many important ‘scenes’ over the past 50 odd years and is still going strong, even after a year locked-down in Woodstock!

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