When I graduated from college my brother Dirk threw a party for me on his acreage, a brilliant spot on a wild peak where elk and coyote still hang out on a regular basis. A fair amount of preparation was involved, shuffling the cows out to pasture, stocking the stable full of bleacher seats and parking a keg in there and hiring Gaston’s finest guitar troupe, The Fender Benders, to celebrate my freshly-inked diploma.
A whole galleon of liquored cousins, cronies and Uncle Bruce’s showed up and immediately started getting loose. We played horseshoes in the horseshoe pit and roasted a pig in the pig pit. Post-collegiate life so clearly not agreeing with me as my face developed a chemical reaction turning an alarming shade of fuchsia. I twisted my goddamn ankle too at one stage — holding my second cousin, five year-old Samantha, who was deeply besotted with me at the time— yet somehow managed to not feel a thing.
After dark the Bender’s busted out Riders on the Storm and I attacked the microphone like a monitor lizard, erupting in a profane stew of no good. My grandmother was thrilled. The show was apparently recorded and my brother valiantly tried to obtain a copy for several months. However The Benders refused to acknowledge the tapes existence and many believe they document was fried in an incinerator of fiery hell.
Ten years go by…Portland, London, Launceston, Melbourne, now Bendigo on Saturday night…
The Surrender Monkeys open for The Cannanes at the Newmarket Hotel and catapult pet monkeys with rubber arms into the audiences lap. The Cannanes take the stage and wow the crowd with every rock strength imaginable to the human ear. By the end, the front wave were armed with maracas and tambourines, and after that, everyone tried to guess what my two favourite Cyndi Lauper songs were, and in what order…
The after party was jamming inside the jam room Frances and Stephen converted from an old ballet studio back in 2003. Ten of us — perhaps more, David and Mia headed back to Melbourne at 3am and De Campo crashed having picked up whatever I have had inside my system since 2006 that still hasn’t worked its way out— totally jammed. Toby said it was better than the Hi-God People and I am inclined to agree. There were flute solos, melodica solos, recorder solos, bassliness like Sasquatch, riffs that were ocean-sized, riffs that were thin and wild, drum beats that marshalled crazy rhythms. Once the inhibitions were gone that’s when the fun started. It was important to not use bad language and I succeeded for the most part.
Working the MIC for the second time in ten years, I summarised the contents of a book I recently read, I ripped off Beat Happening, I shamed Morrissey, I tapped into some serious thirtysomething angst in a duet with Gavin as my father; Toby, Suze and Mia, before she departed, laid waste to so many freestyle raps your head would spin, I bled my aching heart on the floor and subsequently left my voice shredded inside the old ballet studio where it still lay to this day. We jammed for three and a half hours. Compared to us, The E Street Band are paste!
Stephen sat Hugh and I down afterwards to excitedly discuss our future. “I want to manage you. It’s something I need to do,” he said. Indeed his rates seemed very good. He obviously had thought them through.