WOMEN’S FEST FREO

WOMEN’S FEST FREO
Photo: Addison Axe of Axe Girl, Women’s Fest Freo 2020 headliners. Pic: Marnie Richardson @ Three Gates Media

Julia Weller exudes both confidence and an infectious positivity. Many Freo music community folks will know her not only as a friendly neighbourhood barkeep at Mojos, but as a personification of that venue’s open and equal charm.

That’s not all, however, Weller is also a musician and an activist for gender equality. She is the organiser of Women’s Fest Freo, which returns this weekend to Clancy’s Fish Pub after debuting in 2019 with great success.

“Last year was a crazy whirlwind, and exceeded my wildest expectations,” Weller says. “I was – like this year too – amazed by how many people jumped on board for gender equality. Every day leading up to the event last year I had more new ideas and just did them all. It taught me to ask for more help and made me realise I’ve got a really nice community to lean on. I basically went through the roof when I found out how much the event raised for UN Women Australia, with over $6,500 we were one of their biggest individually organised events of the year, whilst having a huge party!

“With so much local female lead talent playing and Abbe May headlining last year, all of the people helping out and donating to the festival, we had a colourful, safe and amazingly fun event. I could never have done it without the help of everyone involved.”

While ongoing steps towards equality in the music industry still need to be made, Weller feels that progress continues.

“Looking at the average line up of gigs nowadays, I can definitely see people are starting to think more about making gigs more diverse,” she states.

“Playing music in the Dan Howls Band and working at Mojos I definitely feel like women have stepped it right up and have been motivated to follow through in whatever way they uniquely choose to express themselves; and that is being celebrated more and more.”

Along with her own work Weller feels buoyed by the efforts of WA artists strongly flying the flag for gender equality.

“There is of course our very own Lucy Peach, Perth’s all ‘round legend feminist within her own right; informing the masses about the power of the period with her fantastic TED Talk and writing beautiful, empowering music,” she notes.

“Another person that comes to mind is Perth talent Stella Donnelly, for being such an outspoken and inspiring women in the music scene. I really appreciate her powerful songs about real things that happen and in my opinion, encouraging everybody to open up the conversation and make a change. That’s really inspiring.”

Julia Yemaya

Julia Weller performing at Mojos. Pic: Tashi Hall

Weller was born and raised in Holland and upon turning 18 felt compelled to head to our shores upon meeting some exuberant Australians at dinner. A few months later she landed in Sydney “and went north, from there on I slowly made my way across, living in the rainforest and the Kimberley along the way.

“When I came to Freo it was my first reintroduction to a ‘city’ – I had been living out of a swag for about two years. I started busking and made my way for a good couple of months before having to get a job. From there onward I started to integrate into the Freo community more and more, working at the Freo markets, coming back every summer, the bubble had started to take shape.

“Then I started playing music with Dan Howls and working at Mojos and I really started to be a part of the music industry. It gave me the confidence of pulling something like this off, something I probably wouldn’t have dared even in my hometown. That’s why I love Freo!”

Mojos has offered Weller a front seat to the music scene, from grass roots to touring icons. She likes what she sees.

“I’ve seen amazing gigs at Mojos of any gender,” she notes, “and I feel like diversity is definitely being promoted and encouraged. Also it’s a zero-tolerance venue, which is actually really amazing. Anyone who feels uncomfortable can come up to the bar, and the issue will be taken seriously and dealt with.”

Women’s Fest Freo features 11 female-led acts – Lois Olney Freaya (solo) Tanya Ransom, Joan & The Giants, Freddie Mai (Bass Lemon), Smol Fish, Bexx, Hannah Smillie (Psychotic Reactions), Grace Armstrong, Lucy Peach and headliners, Axe Girl.

“I love how the main thing connecting these bands is the celebration of women,” Weller says. “We’ve got loads of different genres on the same line-up which promotes diversity in itself. From 60’s inspired garage to jazz, feminist folk/pop to soulful blues/country to indie pop, we’ll go on a musical journey!”

Women’s Fest Freo will also feature a pay-as-you-like second-hand clothing stall, glitter, good cheer and, well, beer. Weller reinforces the fact that the event is a safe space for free expression.

“Absolutely everybody is invited,” she says. I hope people feel comfortable and encouraged to express, dance and dress how they like, celebrating diversity and bring these vibes along to other events too.”

Women’s Fest Freo takes places at Clancy’s Fish Pub Fremantle this Saturday, March 7, from 6pm. Pre-sale tickets are $25.50 (including booking fee) available here or $30 on the door. All proceeds go to UN Women, the biggest gender equality advocate worldwide.

More details on Women’s Fest Freo – Facebook.com/womensfestfreo

BONFIRE FOR THE COMMON MAN

BONFIRE FOR THE COMMON MAN

Rock’n’roll memories, it seems, beget newer/older ones.

Years ago this strange circus of music journalism cast me into the role as a co-curator of a WA music exhibition at the Western Australian Museum. It was a different endeavour for a cultural institution that tended to focus on more traditional histories and it attracted the curiosity of many of the museum’s regular staff as a result.

One such individual was a kindly security guard probably not that many years shy of retirement. As we spoke about the upcoming exhibition I came to learn that he had once played in the Fremantle Pipe Band with none other than Bon Scott.

‘Yeah I knew Ronnie’, he said, referring to the pre-fame ‘Bon’, one Ronald Belford Scott.

I asked if he ever caught up with his Pipe Band colleague, once his AC/DC glory days kicked in…

‘I did bump into him’, he recalled.

‘The last time I saw Ronnie was at Parry’s Department Store in Fremantle near the end of 1979. He said he was really happy to be home for Christmas’.

Sadly, only two months later in February, 1980, Ronnie from the Fremantle Pipe Band, aka Bon Scott, died in the back of a car as a result of a messy alcoholic misadventure in London. AC/DC famously went on to recruit Geordie vocalist, Brian Johnson, and a mere five months later released their seventh album, Back In Black, an immediate break-out success that went on to become one of the highest selling records in history. They have since had a long, storied reign at the top of rock’n’roll.

The misleadingly diminutive Bon Scott, meanwhile, only grew in stature. As one of the country’s most popular commemorative touring shows states in their very name, he is Bon But Not Forgotten. Scott is both history and myth, but most powerfully he remains adored and revered all over the globe in a manner approaching and reserved for the likes of Hendrix and Marley, possibly sharing as many paternity claims as the latter.

Scott’s gravesite at Fremantle Cemetery rivals the mortal remains of Jim Morrison’s resting place at Pere Lachaise in France when it comes to pilgrimages by masses of fans and celebrity admirers (Metallica, Faith No More, The Cult and every touring band who plays vaguely hard rocking music).

In 2003 the climactic scene of the feature film Thunderstruck featured the bumbling young bogan protagonists taking their departed mate’s stolen ashes across the country to scatter with Bon. I was there when they shot the scene, as was then-WA Premier Geoff Gallop. He got to be in the film, I didn’t, I merely covered the experience for Rolling Stone magazine, who decided not to run the article 12 months later after early reviews of the film proved less than encouraging.

Hey, it was nice to be there and surreal as surrealism among several hundred mega-fan extras. Hundreds of them arrived at once, walking down the hill – they were told to come and while they hadn’t already been there they were quite literally back in fucking black. ‘That would be a terrifying sight if this weren’t for a film’, I said looking towards the portly gentleman standing next to me. He nodded. It was the guy who played the Mayor of Parkes in The Dish. Well, golly goddamn!

The whole set shut down in silence when a Saturday morning funeral procession passed in the distance led by, you guessed it, a bagpipes player. You can’t write this stuff.

Oh, wait. I am. So, anyway…

In Fremantle Bon Scott is the patron saint of the unwashed and the well-to-doers who like the occasional bit of dirt underneath their finger nails. His statue at Fremantle Wharf is a photo/selfie-must have, attracting more chips – at least on his shoulder – than the seagulls.

Folks just love the bastard. Sooo much so that the Perth Festival with all its power and cultural might is closing down a good 10 kilometres (and 120 side-streets) of Canning Highway today, Sunday, March 1, embracing the myth and legend that is the song Highway To Hell and calling it just that. It’s the closing gambit for the festival’s 2020 incarnation – a culturally, logistically and cheerfully ambitious 40th anniversary celebration of AC/DC’s wildchild wunderkind.

The Perth Festival, nearing its 70th anniversary in 2023, has never previously celebrated a figure such as Scott. Indeed for, many years in Perth it was seen as an affluent Golden Triangle (Claremont/Cottesloe/Dalkeith) affair. A Bogan Barbecue? It would seem more fitting to call it a Bonfire For The Common Man.

It’s unlikely, however, that it would have happened a decade ago.

“The Festival, along with others, has helped break through those barriers in recent years,” says Event Organiser, Pete Stone. “Things like The Giants (2015’s mammoth marionette city takeover) have helped. I think it’s good to reflect on things like that when considering the maturing of Perth as a big city.”

The Perth Festival were from the earliest stages in touch with Scott’s family via their lawyer and Highway To Hell has their subsequent blessing. Stone sees the event as a spotlight on Perth’s southern corridor, with the various councils – Melville, Fremantle and East Fremantle – also viewing it in terms of the opportunities it presents.

The Highway To Hell concept was hatched in late 2018 by newly-minted Artistic Director, Iain Graindage. Stone, one of WA’s premier cultural can-do figures, as well as an accomplished musician in his own right, came on board in April, 2019. Consultations began with the three councils involved plus the State Government and its authoritative departments, Main Roads, Perth Transit Authority and the WA Police. According to Stone, it was never a case of ‘why do it?’ but ‘how it could be done’.

“We had a particular strategy we employed,” he says, “which was to start at the grass roots. We went to the three local councils who were to be involved, and they were very enthusiastic about the idea. So we took their support with us to the stage government agencies who would have to be involved, we slowly went through that process and gathered everyone’s support along the way and by the time we approached the higher levels of State Government we could demonstrate there were fundamental levels of support for the event, so it was easier to progress from there.”

There a wildness around the event that reflects the man himself. “There’s a risk around it, but that’s exciting,” Stone says. “I think that’s a good space for the festival to be in.”

While Stone is clear that he is an admirer of Bon Scott, rather than a card-carrying obsessive, there’s plenty of artists on this huge bill who are with him in more than spirit.

“The spirit of Bon Scott was probably Jack Daniels,” laughs Selina Paul, guitarist for all-girl AC/DC tribute, Ballbreaker. “But seriously, the spirit of Bon is all about living; being alive. It is evident in his lyrics that he was intent on having fun and lots of it. Always with a charming smile and a silly face on stage yet he was still a powerfully charismatic bolt of lightning. He made sure you knew he was – and if you didn’t like it then that was your problem – he loved being himself. That’s a lesson for anyone to learn.

“Bands from different parts of the country and around the world?  It’s exactly what Bon would have wanted – ‘All my friends are gonna be there too’… he knew what he was talking about!”

Old mate Callum Kramer, from The Southern River Band is a man who seems to have been cut from a similarly cheeky, outlawish yet curiously-well-fitting-cloth as Scott, concurs. Let the thunder and light-en-ing start.

“Bon Scott is freedom. The proverbial ‘middle finger’ directed wherever one sees fit, sometimes literally. One of the greatest working class poets known to humankind.

“If there’s gonna be something to shut half the highway down for, I can’t think of anything better than AC/DC. If playing Touch Too Much as loud as possible on the back of a goddamned truck is culture, well, paint me Stones Green Ginger Wine, and, bigger than everyone else.”

“As a performer, his charisma was pure magnetism,” says End Of Fashion’s Justin Burford. “He belongs in the same pantheon as Freddie, Prince and Jim, or any other rock icon you can name. But, I think what makes his legacy so enduring is despite how bright he shone, he seemed like an approachable, good Aussie bloke, keen to share a cold beer and a hearty laugh. He was everyone’s mate. That’s a hard balance to strike, but he did it effortlessly because it was authentically him.”

For the longest time now, Anna Gare has been a celebrity chef on TV shows such as Junior Masterchef, Consuming Passions and Best In Australia. In the ‘80s, however, she fronted The Jam Tarts, one of the funnest, most charismatic bands WA has ever seen. They were simply irrepressible and have reconvened for this event.

“We’re honoured to be asked and excited about the wild concept of closing down Canning Highway in memory of the legendary Bon Scott and AccaDacca,” she says.

“We weren’t planning on getting the band back together again, but this gig sounded too cool to resist. We’ll be channeling the spirit of Bon as best we can as we crank out a couple of AC/DC tunes. Long live rock’n’roll”

Echoing the iconic 1975  Long Way To The Top video where AC/DC performed on a flat-bed truck moving down Swanston Street in Melbourne, local, national and international bands (Shonen Knife, Amyl & The Sniffers, Odette Mercy, The Pigram Brothers and dozens more) will perform on moving semi-trailers, or at stops along the way.

Pubs on or near the route – including Clancy’s Fish Pub Canning Bridge, Raffles Hotel, Leopold Hotel and Mojos – will have their own satellite celebrations before, during and after the H2H shebang.

Cal Kramer’s pretty sure – in his own way – that he knows what we can all expect from this mammoth exercise.

“From what we can gather through modern information systems, the authentic swashbuckling, no holds barred attack bands from yesteryear – or in our case, today – pride themselves on,” he notes, sagely. “That, and a snug fitting pair of pants, potentially.”

Personally, I’m off to get the train. You can find full details at www.perthfestival.com.au/event/highway-to-hell

IN THE MOMENT, AT THE MOMENT

IN THE MOMENT, AT THE MOMENT

With a well-received debut EP, Holiday Dream, and a new single release, Three, both released in 2019, singer/songwriter Clay Western finds himself in a confident position staring into a brand new decade.

Western was pre-disposed to a musical existence. Whether it be listening to Elton John on an old tape player in his mother’s car as they drove around Denmark, or hearing his musician father’s predilection for the singer/songwriterly stuff of Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and an Aussie rock diet led by Paul Kelly, the embrace and escape of playing music was soon to be his.

“I started singing when I was about 15 and I also played trombone,” Western recalls of his high school years. “I realised that trying to sing and play trombone was a bit much to ask, and I was listening to a lot of folk so guitar seemed the natural choice.”

Western’s voice was ‘discovered’ at high school, when, as a member of a choir ensemble he was repeatedly asked to perform solo pieces. Soon gaining confidence as a featured vocalist, and inspired by the folk-stylings of Sunshine Coast singer/songwriter, Ziggy Alberts, he was soon compelled to write and perform his own songs.

“I always put little twists on other people’s songs when I first started learning them and realised that you can make a song the way you want to make it,” he says of his early leaning towards songwriting. “I just started writing songs from that, it just seemed a natural thing that as a musician you wrote your own songs.

“I realised how rewarding it was to write your own stuff and the feeling that you get when you write a song then perform it and people react to the song that you’ve written. It’s hard to beat that feeling.”

Western, at that point yet to finish school, was soon busking around Denmark and picking up venue gigs whenever possible. It was a wonderful place to begin and grow as a musical artist.

“It’s an incredibly supportive and creative community,” he says fondly of Denmark. “Because you know so many people they’re always asking how your music is going and they’ll come along to your gigs or say hello when you’re busking or whatever.  Then you start collaborating with other artists out there and jamming. It was a very supportive culture around music.”

He was motivated and driven from the get-go, embarking on a solo path. “Stuff comes together if you just back yourself,” Western notes, and indeed it’s since been proven. At the age of 16 he supported indie-surf-gypsies Caravãna Sun in Denmark, striking up a friendship with guitarist/vocalist, Luke Carra, which eventually led Western to record a debut EP in Sydney in the months after he graduated from high school.

With Carra producing and Ian Pritchett (The Beautiful Girls/Angus & Julia Stone) engineering, that EP, Holiday Dream, was released in January, 2019, and set Western on a path forward marked by both commitment and learning.

“It feels like a long time ago,” he says of recording the EP and its subsequent release. “I feel like, ‘those songs are out there, what next?’ For the first time in a studio with a set of songs, I’m pretty stoked with how they turned out. I went in the studio totally green and have learnt so much since.”

83846671_654933558377292_199465797419008000_n

Keen to utilise those lessons, Western recently released a new single, Three. Fittingly, Three considers moving forward with a mindful grasp of the past. It’s not so much about regrets, as reflection…

“It’s about learning from your mistakes but not seeing them as mistakes,” Western explains, “more as fond memories from which you should appreciate for what you’ve learnt from them. I feel that shows, lyrically and stylistically, through the various elements of the song.”

“I think Three is definitely more a step in the direction that I want to take,” he says. “You’re always progressing as a writer, as an artist and as a musician in general,  so you’re never quite certain what the next step is gonna be, but I’m pretty stoked with how this came out in comparison to the first songs on the Holiday Dream EP.”

Indeed, the growing confidence does shine through, the track being something of a bridge towards new songs that will be unveiled in 2020 exploring mellow and dreamier climes.

“I’m always into the next thing,” Western says with a laugh. “I’m very in the moment at the moment.”

Fittingly, it’s 2020 vision from here. There’s been a lot of experience earned already and much more yet to taste.

“Since moving from Denmark to Fremantle last year I’ve been doing a lot of groundwork in making friends, going out to gigs and feeling a part of the scene,” he notes.

“I feel like it’s been a nice way to end the decade – sort of establishing myself in Perth and feeling like I can continue to grow into the start of a new decade, while keeping in touch with Denmark and my old friends. I feel I’m getting to where I want to be and looking back on the last year I feel I’ve come a long way as a person and as an artist.”

Clay Western performs at Mojos on Wednesday, February 26, with support from Jackson Carroll and Paige Valentine – https://www.facebook.com/events/1444355379048306/ …and at Nannup Music Festival, February 28-March 2, full details at www.nannupfestival.org.

SHOW ME DAMANI

SHOW ME DAMANI

In November of 2019, the Original Chicago Blues All Stars blazed a trail through WA, taking their audiences back to the core of the genre. Led by Willie Dixon’s son Freddie, the band also showcased the fine guitar work of 25 year-old Michael Damani, who made such a huge impact that he is returning for his own WA tour in February-March.

“My time in Western Australia was an amazing, eye-opening experience,” says Damani. “When we left for the tour, I made it a goal to make some good connections that would enable me to return as soon as possible. I love traveling and I love playing music, so it’s a win-win.”

Playing with the Original Chicago Blues All-Stars has been an education that has complemented Damani’s own creative energy and thirst for playing guitar onstage.

“It’s clued me in on a lot of wisdom that would’ve taken me a lifetime to discover on my own,” he notes. “That being said, I’ve also learned a lot from my peers. I play in a group with modern R&B soul singer/songwriter Wyatt Waddell. Our shows are super high energy, we blend a lot of funk with neo-soul vibes. Plus I get a chance to take a lot of bluesy, Hendrix-style solos with the group which I really enjoy.”

Damani is set to release his debut solo album, MiTOak, later this year.  It’s both an exploration and invocation of a life lived well in music, with all the ups and downs that the blues conveys so well.

MiTOak is me,” he explains. “It’s what my friends used to call me back in the day, I guess they thought pretty highly of me. But the more I thought about it the more I realised that it really is me. MiTOak is the spirit of a strong oak tree that withstands the harshest storms to become fully mature.

“Whenever things don’t go as planned I always stay focused on my growth as an individual, and I’ve written an album of music that illustrates this concept. It’s an adventure of land and sea, and I have plans for my next adventure as well.”

Accompanying Damani on this WA tour will be Chicagoan multi-instrumentalist Jordan Dingle on bass and Tyler Ray, of local blues torchbearers Old Blood on drums.

“Jordan is my friend from Chicago,” says Damani, “he’s an amazing multi-instrumentalist and bandleader in his own right. He performs under the name Black Finn, and I’m very excited to have him on board. Tyler, I met from my previous tour in WA with the Original Chicago Blues All-Stars. When our drummer took ill, Tyler stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park. It definitely wouldn’t have been the same with a different drummer, and I’m very fortunate to have him with me once again.

“Myself I’ll be delivering messages with some heart and soul guitar, not to mention much needed oxygen… gonna flex the golden pipes.

“With us you can expect the blues straight from the bottom of the deep blue sea, as well as many other bright, vibrant colours and feelings,” Damani says. “One thing I’ve learned about Australians, you guys are good folk, and I know that there will be lots of good energy exchange on stage and off.”

 MICHAEL DAMANI – WEST AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2020

Thursday 27th Feb, The Duke of George, $30 Ticket Sales – https://www.facebook.com/events/132601581298848/

Friday 28th Feb, Caves House, Yallingup

Saturday 29th Feb & Sunday 1st March, Nannup Festival

Sunday 1st March, Clancy’s Fish Pub, Dunsborough

Wednesday 4th March, Indian Ocean Hotel w/ Dan Howls Duo & Ezra Tide, $15 Ticket Sales

Friday 6th March, Southerlies Tavern, Port Denison

Saturday 7th March, Geraldton Hotel w/ special Late Night Show at Vibe Nightclub

Sunday 8th March, Geraldton Hotel w/ Moon Dog

Wed 11th March, Indian Ocean Hotel w/ Luke Dux & The Atomic Lunch Box & The Durongs, $15 Ticket Sales

Friday 13th March, The Prince of Wales, Bunbury

Saturday 14th March, Settlers Tavern

Sunday 15th March, Settlers Tavern

Tuesday 17th March, The Perth Blues Club w/ Hot Biscuit Band, $20 Ticket Sales

THE FREMANTLE SOUND (?)

The Fremantle Sound

Hidden Treasures – Fremantle Winter Music Series has been announced for 2016, happening from Friday, July 16, until Friday, July 29.  BOB GORDON was recently called upon to ponder some of Freo’s musical past for the recent From History To Future Talks held at Mojos. Here’s a transcript…

THE PREMISE – ‘The trends of music emerging from Fremantle over the years and what a national publication (X-Press/TheMusic.com) defines or expects the “Freo Sound” to sound like and how that has changed over the years’.

I’ll start with an apology. Upon delving into something like this, once you start thinking and talking to people about it and collecting names, places and people to mention, the more you collect the more you realise that there will be a shitload of names left out.

So this is by no means definitive – if you feel like mentioning someone at the end who has not been noted in this talk, please sing their name out, always!

In the last few days leading up to this I picked the minds of around 20 people I knew – musicians or people involved in music, some from Freo, some not, about Fremantle, its music and its bands.

Quite often, one simple question arose – what qualifies as a Freo band?

Is it a case of being born or bred? Do you have to live off South Terrace or just practice in it? Does loading the gear into the station wagon and driving down Stirling Highway and playing gigs in the Shire help with your geographical and cultural status?

Sometimes when these friends were on a roll with their thoughts they’d literally  stop… ‘wait, were The Triffids a Freo band?’ ‘Were The Boys a Freo band?’ ‘The Stems?’ ‘Were Little Birdy a Freo band?’

In the ’90s, there was a band called Circus Murders (Roly Skender, Matt Cheetham, Joe Scholz, Chris Horan) who were considered your classic example of a Fremantle band except for one thing –

They were from West Perth. Not only that, but West Street, West Perth – where they rehearsed and wrote. They released a CD titled West St 1-5 to commemorate.

In asking people their thoughts – some of which I’ll quote from – out of all the eras and phases of time one band’s name came up all the time as a great example of a Fremantle band and that was…

Cinema Prague.

Joe Kapiteyn (Infected , The Devil Rides Out)

“One of my first local shows was at the Stoned Crow and that had a big impact on me – Was Cinema Prague and Inquisition. Were Cinema Prague a “Freo” band? I don’t have much in the way of Freo music stories as most of my personal music career has been more focused around the inner city and northern suburbs. Not much of an audience for heavy music in Freo.”

Possibly another debate right there, depending what your definition of heavy is. Like Fremantle, Cinema Prague were diversity itself. They didn’t have one sound, they had many – jazz, rock, punk, speed metal, pop, funk, blues, reggae, hip hop. None of it token or ornamental, it all flowed.

A very handy trio – George Kailis, Tim Lowe and Rex Horan.

Not only lead guitar, but lead bass and lead drums. When necessary, of course. They used to be compared all the time to Frank Zappa. Which is quite a complement for a couple  of guys who were at the time in their early 20s. But I recall Rex found that comparison quite frustrating and somewhat lazy – I think, oddly enough, because it was limiting – it reduced a band that was doing deep and wide things into a two-word description, even if those two words were ‘Frank’ and ‘Zappa’.

So there was no Cinema Prague ‘sound’. And I would propose that there is no such thing as a ‘Fremantle sound’.

I think that the people who propose that there are scenes or sounds in a certain region, aren’t from that locality.

Think of Seattle and grunge – in a reportage sense, it’s widely thought this term was first used by the UK critic, Everett True. It’s an example of someone from far afield telling other outsiders what it’s like ‘over there’.

The doom, gloom, desperation and inspiration of an entire community gets dumbed down into one word. And only a handful of bands, at most, ‘benefit’ from it at all.

I used to hate it when every few years people would say ‘Perth could become the new Seattle’. Hell no! Not with that drug problem.

Similarly ‘The Liverpool of the South’ – To a wider world Merseyside simply means The Beatles and Gerry & The Pacemakers.

In the ’90s there certainly was a proliferation of funk music being played at places like the Harbourside – but it was a prevailing wind, not the dominant scene.

There were heavy periods of blues music spearheaded by the Zar brothers, Steve Tallis, Jim Fisher and many others. There was also the power pop/paisley revolution of The Go Starts, The Stems and DM3.

Soon enough in the late ’90s there was a lot of electronic music being played at places like Phillimores by bands such as Proton and also a band called Rhibosome who were on a path that Koi Child are consolidating in this modern era.

And in amongst that you have the likes of the Kill Devil Hills – now what scene do they fit in? Their Own – I would suggest. Much like The Triffids.

The Fremantle scene constitutes ‘Hippies with sandals’ – now people have referred to that one for decades.

ANONYMOUS – “I have a northsider’s perception of Fremantle music over the years as a largely regressive mish-mash of reggae/funk/folk which usually involves some members of the band being barefoot on stage…… with dreadies. Soon as they came on RTR you could tell they were from Freo. Eskimo Joe were clearly not in that category but were a proudly Freo band who I found refreshingly different to that simplistic appraisal. I’m not being very helpful am I? But the calibre of people like Jim Fisher, Lucky Oceans, Dave Brewer, Reg Zar and the like have ensured world-class musicianship can be found at your local bowlo or corner bar, what a treat. These guys are unassuming craftsmen, local treasures.”

Pretty helpful, as it turns out. There are great characters in the history of the Fremantle music community such as those just mentioned. And others such as The Boy From Bicton – Dave Warner, Phil Stevens, Lee Sappho, John Reid, Kevin Parker, Jodie Regan, John Butler, Danielle Caruana, Kim Salmon, Felicity Groom, Dom Mariani, Andrew Ryan…

They don’t lead by ego, but by their actions.

And there’s many great foot soldiers…

Paul McCarthy (The Jackals, The Wishers, solo artist)

” …first one that springs to mind for me personally is Touchstone …a three-piece folk rock band featuring Paul Noonan on bass (he went on to play with Dave Warner) Scott Wise (he went on to be a gifted instrument maker) and Eric Kowalski ( was probably the most talented of the lot played violin and guitar….disappeared of my radar) they were quiet big in the late ’70s ….inspired me to play music…….other more obvious bands that come to mind are Dave Warner (the boy from Bicton) The Triffids, Kim Salmon, Kill Devil Hillls, Stems, John Butler, Eskimo Joe and Tame Impala…must be heaps more but that’s what immediately comes to mind for me.

 “And the musos go from one thing to another ignoring the genres. .Paul Noonan, bass player of Touchstone, became known as a folk muso… then never played that style again. Lots of musos flipping from one style to another… but the community they play with remains fairly constant… more constant that the sound, anyway.”

To me, Fremantle is not a sound or a scene. Scenes come and go, but as Paul McCarthy noted, it’s about community.

An Eternal Community

That was something that I, as someone who lived mostly around Subi, Shenton Park, North Perth and Leederville over the years loved about coming to Fremantle for gigs.

I always loved making ‘the trek’ – the bands and the people around them – the communicativeness and the open hearts and minds.

For years ‘Perth’ bands found it very hard to encourage and applaud when other – rival? – bands achieved something, or moved a step closer to a notion of ‘success’. These days it’s far more apparent because there’s a much more mature and confident musical state of mind across the board.

To my mind, in the Fremantle community that always existed. That open-minded and open-heartedness that I just mentioned. It’s just a different vibe when you come to Freo and you feel it when you live there.

Tom Fisher (Tom Fisher & The Layabouts, Booker – Clancy’s Fremantle)

“When I was a teen, you’d go to these Freo parties, and it would be like $5 with a couple of kegs pouring (if you were there early enough). I was always worried they olde hosts wouldn’t let us in. I remember Rod (Aravena, End of Fashion) hosting some corkers. Remember seeing Freud’s Pillow (early Eskimo Joe seeds). Cinema Prague were great. I loved a punk band called White Trash and got them to play my 18th birthday at the Seaview. The folk scene with bands like Press Gang etc was pretty large around the Fly By Night. The fact that the Zydecats Sunday session was so huge here could only have probably happened in Freo, I feel. The right culture.”

In 1983 Australia II won the America’s Cup and pretty soon after that came the initial gentrification of Fremantle.

George Wesley (Worked at many Fremantle live venues and long-time champion of/in the Freo music community)

“You know, in pre-America’s Cup days, when Freo was an old port town and people actually used to speak more Italian than English, there were traditional musos everywhere. You would sit at Papa Luigi’s and listen to a piano-accordion. My uncle used to play at the footy club every Friday eve sundowner; he played folk tunes on his violin accompanied by ‘Les’, whose big claim to fame was that he wrote the Aeroplane Jelly jingle. When I was really little there was lots of cultural music everywhere. Freo isn’t like that anymore.”

True, however Freo’s rich history as a multi-ethnic, harbourside city has given it a richness in culture that makes it special to this day. KULCHA was a mainstay for multi-cultural music. As has been the Fly By Night Club – a multi-genre paradise – and more power to those keeping that dream alive.

Mathhew de la Hunty (Tall Tales & True, The Lazy Horses)

“My early experience was from 1976-77 when Martyn Casey and I first started playing live. We weren’t even of age but we did a couple of coffee shop acoustic shows and played with our first band at the Orient Hotel in 1977. (We lived south of the river). There were colourful hippies mixed with some pretty hard-drinking, hard living visiting seamen (Not military, tattooed rough nuts) who were plentiful around town. A fight broke out on the dance floor, blood everywhere. I got propositioned by a short old man in his bowling whites who wanted to tell me all about his penis. Rock and Roll! What a start. When we started as the Nobodies – our first original band in 1980. We played at The Stoned Crow many times. Lots of hippies and no beer! Cider and wine. The emergence of post punk/new wave seemed to mainly come from the northside. Mutant Mule studio was in North Fremantle. Originally built by the Clarion Records guy, Martin Clarke, it was the home to early recordings of many bands of the new breed of early ’80s bands, Nobodies, Silent Type (later Never Never), And An A, to name a few. It was run by Tim Lambert and Evan Smith who moved from a mobile 8-track studio they used to record Dave Warner gigs live, to the permanent 16-track on location for about three years. Last I saw it was a carpet warehouse So whilst cover bands, boogie bands, R&B bands continued to play in beer barns there was a sense that a new thing was happening and the (now) Mojo’s and Mutant Mule Studio just down the road were two hubs of activity in the early ’80s.

“There’s been lots of talent lurking around the back streets of Freo across the decade -, Jill and Alsy, Roddy Radalj, Martyn Casey, and more recent locals.”

 I guess what national magazines or journalists expect the ‘Freo Sound’ to be is based on what is dominating attention spans at any given time. So if I was over east I probably might say the Fremantle Sound is like Koi Child. Or Tame Impala.

But look at Kevin Parker’s influence on music around the globe these past few years. If his work is influencing people as disparate as Mark Ronson, The Flaming Lips and Rihanna – then is the sound of the world’s music the ‘Fremantle Sound’?

I’d prefer to think of it as the eternal community  – artistic, open and giving. Something to embrace, because it will embrace you. As it has done to me.

Someone should write a book about it.

Check out fremantlestory.com.au/hiddentreasures for the full July rundown…