Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lethal Weapons reissue

The Lethal Weapons compilation was a milestone in Australian musical history when it was originally released back in 1979.
Now, nearly 30 years on, it has been re-tooled for reissue as an enhanced CD, by Aztec Records, and is due to hit the shelves in early August.
To mark the occasion, I’m doing a bit of a piece for the I94 Bar, and am seeking some input.
I want anecdotes and memories and thoughts on the album, the bands, the people and the era in general from those who were there, who played on the album, or who went to the gigs.
You can send me a paragraph or two as a simple email, or I am happy to get into longer exchanges- via email/chat, face to face, or over the phone.
All due credit will be given to those who put their hand up. Oh, and feel free to pass this on to anyone you think may have something to contribute.

Thanks in advance
email address-

Monday, July 16, 2007

Remembering Tim Hemensley

As the fourth anniversary of Tim's death approaches, it felt like an appropriate time to post some thoughts.
I met Tim when we were both quite young- I was about 18, he was about 11. I already knew who he was- the local papers delighted in carrying stories about the "primary school punk" antics of his first band, Royal Flush. For whatever reason, we didn't get on too well at first, but by the time GOD were up and running we were firm friends.
He had a complicated and busy life, usually based around music, girls and partying, and would occassionally drop by my East Melbourne flat late at night, for a chat, to play a new record he'd discovered ("Hermann Brood! He's like, like, the Dutch Lou Reed!") or just shoot the shit in general.
I was overseas during his time in Bored! and the Powdermonkeys, and bitterly regret never getting to see him play live with either of them.

There are some samples of their stuff available here courtesy of John Nolan's Powdermonkeys home page. Take a minute out to listen.

The last time I saw him was the Saturday before his death. Tracey & I went to the infamous "Star Wars" bar at the Espy, to see Tim's old bandmate Joel Silbersher playing with HOSS. He seemed to know everyone in the room, and was in fine form that night, darting from conversation to conversation, drinking anyone's beer, even getting up to sing. At one slightly serious moment I pointedly asked him how he was doing- a polite way to ask about his off and on chemical dabblings- and he assured us he was fine. He looked it too. Damn, but it was fun to hang out with him.
Then on the following Wednesday, listening to RRR on my way home having just been sacked from my job, I heard the news of his death.
I don't want to talk about the funeral, or the wake.
So, he's gone, but in no way is he forgotten. There's a memorial plaque on the wall of the Tote, and the Tim Hemensley medal is awarded at the St. Kilda Community Cup each year. He was partly responsible for christening me with this nom de plume, that I still use proudly. I still find myself humming "You piece of punk rock shit, you know you look like all fuck" now and again sometimes, and I'll make a point of playing some of his stuff over the next few days, too.

And I'm sure he'll get a mention from the stage on Saturday night.

Some big ticket items.

Hmmm...this may be a bit of a stretch, I guess. Maybe it's just because I like this picture of Renee Geyer, maybe it's the songs they've used, but I'm hugely tempted to head down to the Malthouse Theatre to see Sleeping Beauty before it finishes on July 28th.
Goth-punk meets classical elegance while gospel collides with glam as Alison Bell, Grant Smith, Ian Stenlake and soul diva, Renée Geyer deliver us into the power and the passion of the great song-writers of our time, including Nick Cave, Elvis Costello and David Bowie

In a similar vein, I have a real yen to go to this year's Countdown Spectacular

Really, I only want to see Ingatius Jones revisit some Jimmy and the Boys. Oh, and Supernaut, of course. And when am I ever going to get another chance to see Plastic Bertrand?

Luckily tax refund time is just around the corner...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Another plethora

Do you like that title? Looks almost like a palindrome. Well, maybe not, but I bet it would make some good anagrams.
ANYWAY, as the chill and fog settles in (warmed only by the flames from the Palace) there is a lot going on.
Something a bit special upstairs at the Tote:

Also on Saturday, Johnny Casino and the Secrets launch their new album at Cherry Bar

There's a post-hangover rockabilly BBQ on Sunday,at the Route 66 store in Prahran:

Or you could hit idGAFF on Sunday for some Steve Lucas solo- he starts another month's residency.

And next weekend looms large too. I may be down in Geelong for something a bit special next Saturday, but this is already pencilled in for Friday 20th:

Monday, July 09, 2007

Nick Cave and such

So I see Grinderman are touring in a few months. It's an interesting idea- a set of regular Nick Cave stuff, followed by the same band playing a Grinderman set. My main misgiving would be that I think the Grinderboy's material would be much better served in smaller venues, but there is no word yet of any side shows. Still what would I know- I'm sure the fans will happy to see it, regardless.
This is from the TJH archive:

Nick live at the Venue in St. Kilda- now long since demolished- back in 1988. I'm not quite sure how I scored a stage pass for this- seem to recall that someone from Died Pretty gave it to me. I certainly didn't play, or get on stage.
My favorite memory of this night was going up to Blixa Bargeld on a dare, and asking him in my most sincere voice, exactly how to pronounce
Einstürzende Neubauten. I'm not even going to try and transcribe his answer, suffice to say I've never heard any else reel it off the same way before or since. I chatted to him for a minute, until he gripped my elbow and hissed "Do you know vere I can get zum speed?" , at which I pointed him to an acquaintance of mine who would be happy to help him out, and slipped away.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Arm of Rock waves goodbye

A long post this, but an important one.
I heard a rumour of this the other day- Richie circulated an email this afternoon confirming he has recently sold his part interest in the Tote to co-owners Bruce and James Milne.
He is a top bloke, the place has flourished under his guiding hand, and I thought it was only proper to reprint his farewell in full.
Cheers, Richie.

old cricketer retires his innings.
With a pleasurable sense of fulfillment achieved, it is time for this Ramone to pack up his drum kit and find a new home in which to set it up in.
It was mid-December, having just seen Swedish psych rock act The Soundtrack of Our Lives play their second show at the Tote – a mind-altering 3½ hour long extravaganza and the single greatest show I have seen this decade - when I realised I had achieved everything I wanted to at the Tote in my six years as co-owner and manager of the much-loved Melbourne institution.
Had you asked me back in July 2001 “if you could have any one band in the world play at the Tote, who would you choose?” I would’ve replied “The Soundtrack of Our Lives” without hesitation. Over the past six years I have been fond of stating “there’s not too many blokes that get to own their favourite pub” and so it is with a hint of sadness that I move on, but I am confident the Tote will only continue to grow in stature amongst the music-loving and noise-making population of Melbourne. Us music lovers can only hope the councils and residents that seem determined to turn Melbourne’s flourishing live music scene into a sedate, obedient,lack-lustre minnow, will eventually pull their heads in and allow musicians and fans to continue to enjoy themselves in the manner they love. It is only with continued support of our live music scene that together we can hold back the rising tide of gentrification.
It has truly been an honour to be custodian of such an iconic part of Melbourne culture as the Tote. I have been incredibly fortunate to make many new friends and see countless amazing performances, and I look forward to continuing my long-standing love affair with the Tote, but as the punter I started off as 23 years ago. The stories that have been retold - of best friends meeting at the Tote, chance meetings resulting in marriage (myself included!), wedding receptions held in the band room and countless birthday gatherings - have given me immense joy at the passion in their delivery.
I eagerly await the “story” that is currently unfolding as Natalie Van Den Dungen nears completion of the Tote documentary she began working on a few years ago.Having seen snippets of the film recently, I am very excited to report that this film will be an incredible documentation of such a vital part of Melbourne music history. Also look out for the interviews with prominent musicians in Craig Kamber’s film on the Melbourne punk/rock scene 1976-1982, the majority of which were conducted within the Tote.
The Brothers Milne will now take over the running of the Tote and as we remain old friends I wish them all the very best and as already suggested, I hope the punters continue to strongly support live music, for without their support we will only be left with pokie joints and new apartments. The Booking Office remains the same, as do the bar managers and staff.
What am I going to do? I can’t quite decide between Forensic Investigation and becoming a Poodle Groomer, but in the meantime I will continue to bamboozle bogans everywhere I can with an eclectic mix of tunes under the guise of DJ Snaps Truly – “kicking goals for rock’n’roll”– and can be contacted via in regards to this line of work. Another long term passion, spanning 23 seasons, will see me focus on my cricket club the Abbotsford Anglers, as I strive for that elusive maiden century. All Tote enquiries and business should now be directed towards Bruce Milne via

Viva La Tote!

Richie Ramone