OVER-RATED EGOMANIAC NICHOLAS CAVE IS ONE OF MUSICS GREATEST SELF-PUBLICISTS. WHEN HE BOILED UP HIS OPINION OF WANGARATTA AS “MISERABLE” AND “HORRIBLE” A FEW OF THE TOWN LOCALS BECAME FAMILIAR WITH HIM. I DOUBT THEY BOUGHT HIS ALBUMS AS A RESULT… AND HE HAS PROBABLY SLIPPED THEIR MEMORY BY NOW.
IT WOULD BE A HUMBLING THOUGHT TO THINK THAT ONE DAY THE TALL BALDING ROCK DOODLE MIGHT GET ON STAGE AT THE WANGARATTA FESTIVAL OF JAZZ AND BLUES, WITH A BIG BAND OF GERIATRIC DIXIE-LANDERS BACKING HIM UP, AND BURP OUT A SWEET LITTLE VERSION OF JUST A GIGOLO OR ONE NOTE SAMBA, HOWEVER, IT’S UNLIKELY TO BE A HOT TICKET AS NOBODY OUT THERE KNOWS WHO HE IS.
THERE IS NO STATUE OF NICK CAVE IN WANGARATTA.
THAT WAS ALL A DIGRESSION, IRRELEVANT TO THE INTERVIEW BELOW.
I’M SPENDING THE NEXT WEEKS INTERVIEWING ACTS FROM THE FESTIVAL TO ACQUAINT MYSELF WITH THE CURRENT STATE OF JAZZ MUSIC, JAZZ FESTIVALS, AND JAZZ BRAIN SYNDROME.
THIS WEEK I SPOKE TO CLEVERHORSE SIX-STRING-SLINGER…
R O B B I E M E L V I L L E
WHICH SIX VEGETABLES WOULD YOU COMPARE YOUR MUSIC TO?
Strangely enough, in Dacian, a language lost around the sixth or seventh century (from the area of modern day Romania), the word “zucchini” means “clever” and “carrot” translates into English as “horse”. So those would be the first two I would pick, even though the music of cleverhorse sounds nothing like zucchini or carrots.
They say hay is for horses, and although hay is not a vegetable, wet hay is commonly used as a way to stop weeds growing in vegetable gardens. Most of the members of cleverhorse don’t enjoy brussel sprouts, so with hay being a nifty way of stopping them growing, the third vegetable I would pick is hay. Once again, I wouldn’t say cleverhorse sounds like hay in any way, except perhaps in one or two of the ballads.
On the other hand, I would definitely say that the music of cleverhorse has comparisons to film music. Below is a comprehensive alphabetised list of vegetables that have been used in documentary films from South America, North America, Eastern Europe and Tasmania since the beginning of film making began, way back in 1822, around the last time the Franz Josef glacier was in retreat:
Bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts (yech), cabbage, celery, chicory (he said chicory!), collard greens, fat hen, fiddlehead, kale, kuka, lettuce, mustard, let’s not forget pak choy, raddichio, samphire (performing as sea beet in the brilliant but long forgotten Les Davis film “Silent nights”), Sierra Leone bologi, sorrel, sour cabbage, spinach (lots of “s” vegetables!), watercress and yao choy.
That’s just the leafy vegetables. So I might stop there and just say “take your pick”. For early cleverhorse music, perhaps look at some sea vegetables. The current stuff I believe is closer to bulb kinds of vegetables.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE AUDIENCE WHEN YOU DO A SHOW?
Well, firstly, the lights go down. And the only lights on are the little ones we have on our music stands (if we’re lucky enough to remember them). Sconces, they’re called. So I always wonder if perhaps the audience, suddenly being in the dark means that they might not be there anymore – the whole tree falling in the forest thing. It’s hard to tell with those bloody little bright sconces shining in your face. You can’t see a thing except the next note looming up at you from the page. Sometimes it sounds as though everyone has disappeared, but I expect they’re just being respectfully quiet and listening in the time honoured Australian fashion. Sometimes after a show, a kind audience member will tell me the music transported them. You can probably guess what that does to my head.
PERHAPS OTHER THAN CLASSICAL AND ITS DERIVATIVES, DO YOU THINK JAZZ IS THE MOST SERIOUS OF MUSIC GENRES?
Well, for a start, it has the most “z” letters in it out of all the genres, so with that could get you a massive score in Scrabble. Like 79 or something. So that should give you a pretty clear idea that jazz is serious. Way serious. Oh wow. And it has a “J”. Yep. Jazz is most definitely not messing around in the serious music genre stakes. And that’s just one side of it. It’s such a huge topic the whole jazz thing. Just looking at it again now, it’s even a much shorter word than “classical”. It only has four letters to classical’s nine. Half the word, but at the very least, double the word score. I’d say that’s a full blown serious problem right there. Then if you look at say “avant-garde Scandinavian heavy metal music” (I’ll abbreviate it to “AGSHeMeMu” from now on), well you’d think that might rate a much higher score. But Scrabble only has two “V” letters in it. So AGSHeMeMu doesn’t even score. Nothing. Zero. Nil. Zip. It’s nowhere near as serious as Jazz. Never could be.
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE TEENAGERS OF WANGARATTA WILL MAKE OF YOUR MUSIC?
I hope they make those little origami birds from the insert that comes in the CD package with all the information about what sort of reeds the saxophone players use. If they’re the right kind of teenagers, they’ll be creative enough to be hip to origami, but also have standards of neatness or correctness that will make them feel a bit uncomfortable about having creased a piece of glossy paper every which way. If they’re like that, they’ll most likely come back and buy a second copy of the same album to feel better about themselves. We have two albums – “Goodnight Mr. Monster” and “50:fifty”. That adds up to four albums for each teenager that enjoys our music. I was a teenager once, so I know exactly where they’re coming from, and teenagers know if you’re faking it or not. We’re not.
I WANT TO ASK ABOUT MUSIC STANDS. JAZZ MUSICIANS USE THEM A LOT. THEY ARE PART OF THE LUGGAGE OF THE INSTRUMENT MOST OF THE TIME. THEY TELL YOU WHERE TO GO… BUT WHAT DO THEY STAND FOR? DO YOU NEED TO BE TOLD WHERE TO GO?
By “luggage” do you mean “baggage”? I think that’s what you mean. And yes, each instrument and music stand has it’s own baggage. All the nights where you played so badly you just wanted to turn to the person next to you on the bandstand and tap their knee with one of those cute little reflex hammers really, really hard, and a lot. All the nights where you felt you could fly when instead you should have been concentrating on what was on the music stand (e.g. a pretty good list or two of favourite night time colours or best tourist destinations with the most persimmon trees). All the arguments you had with yourself over your tone being “almost” there when the backline wasn’t quite up to your strict standards. All the fun times when the tenor player accidentally blew beer out of his nose and it landed, without a drop being spilled, all of it, in the bell of his horn! And it was just so damn funny that you didn’t care that you weren’t getting paid. So yes, music stands are definitely part of the baggage, but what do they stand for? Well, the cheap ones hardly stand at all. The better ones (I’m looking at you Konig & Meyer) stand for a better future, and in my eyes, fill the world with hope. Do I need to be told where to go? I think Ringo answered that one best when he sang “I just need someone to love”.
WATCH THE CLEVERHORSE VIDEO CLIP BELOW…
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CLEVERHORSE USE THE ORACLE.
TICKETS FOR WANGARATTA FESTIVAL OF JAZZ AND BLUES (NOV 3-5) ARE AVAILABLE FROM THE WEBSITE WWW.WANGARATTAJAZZ.COM