Duff @ FOV: Tasmania’s Festival of Voices

Posted on 26th June 2015

Jeff Duff brings the songs of Bowie to the Tasmanian Festival of Voices on the evenings of Friday 3 and Saturday 4 July. That’s Bowie × Duff @ the Hobart City Hall on the big USA day, on the Anzac Centenary. Unforgettable. History ahead of all time.

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Hobart City Hall is being transformed for the Festival of Voices: "into a musical Luna Park … with cocktail and lounge areas, candlelight and cabaret performances, … a place of temptation for the senses."

Short of orgasming all over the joint, terrified of hype, know anyway that Iggy Pop, the Church, the Violent Femmes, Henry Rollins and Nick Cave are among the talents personally seen to have triumphed in old City Hall over the yonks. She of old has been a Queen of all the Tarts.

Tickets anyone? "I’ve got mine":
fov_4

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Golden Eve: The Premiere Bowie Is @ ACMI Duffo Gig

Posted on 25th June 2015

Jeff Duff talk/performance on BOWIE IS opening night

July 16, 2015; followed by the Bowie Late Nights and Symposia @ ACMI:

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From ACMI:

Step back in time with glam rock legend Jeff Duff as he explores his prolific music career and the impact of Bowie on his work and life.

From the glitz’n’glam of his Ziggy performances, to his trips beyond the stardust with his BOWIE Unzipped shows, Duff will take audiences on a journey behind the scenes of his onstage engagement with Bowie and his music, and lifts the glitter-spattered lid on a flamboyant career that spans the 1970s to today.

A very special guest of the program, the legendary Australian rocker kicks off the Strange Fascinations series, and will perform an intimate set of songs at the conclusion of the talk.

About the speaker

Jeff Duff is an Australian singer/cabaret performer in the tenor range. In his career he has used various personae, wardrobe, and satire as features of his performance. He is widely known for his show Ziggy, a portrayal of the music of David Bowie.

In a flamboyant and often controversial music career Duff has released 27 albums, including a recent album with members of legendary British rock band Deep Purple, and has found success both in Australia and abroad. Establishing himself in the UK in the 1980s, he became the darling of London’s new wave movement with his campy, ostentatious performances. Returning to Australia in the late eighties to re-introduce his powerful voice and unique style to the local scene, Duff received acclaim for numerous performances and shows including the smash hits Ground Control to Frank Sinatra, Ziggy, and BOWIE Unzipped.

He is a regular performer on Australian television and continues to headline some of Australia’s leading jazz festivals including the Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Manly Jazz Festival, Darling Harbor Jazz Festival, Casino Jazz, Thredbo Jazz Festival and Noosa Jazz Festival.

  • Duffo also mentions "The Little Prince" in reference to this gig (on his FB) – something to do with Oscar Wilde’s "Happy Prince" or that Saint-Exupéry story, or song …?
  • Also on JD’s FB, Warwick Wazza Smith on 21 June 2015 asks “I have booked tickets for David Bowie is … on 16th July, the night you are there, does admission include your show?” Duff replies “hey Warwick Wazza Smith, i’m pretty sure it does…”
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Arsehole (formerly, “So Duffo soul”)

Posted on 2nd April 2015
[The gigs noted below have been cancelled – due to circumstances about which more might be said … e.g., that the law, if it’s to trap the guilty, and protect the innocent, must over-protect artists from bastardry. The costs, otherwise, are foul societies, rotten kingdoms, and idiots running riot everywhere.]

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Brother Duff is off for a lifetime (actually, 2 whole mother-of-mercy months) of soul-resounding in the chapel of Melbourne, tempting angels with his voice throughout a festival celebrating the gospel, soul and rock-n-roll of Brother Ray-diation Charles – that’s an 8-week hallelujah from 4 June at the Baptist Church, Collins Street.

Keep your peeps on geniusshow.com.au for sweets.

Meanwhile, see Duff doing a Ray Charles gig of recent times but here:

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Duffo 4 Eurovision 2015

Posted on 14th February 2015

euro_1

The Daily Telegraph reports:
"Australians responded with bewilderment and delight at a decision to allow them to compete in this year’s Eurovision Song …Contest – and immediately began pondering efforts to enlist Kylie Minogue or Midnight Oil. For some Neighbours fans, news that Jason Donovan ruled himself out will be disappointing, but the list below suggests there are a few strong contenders …"

Strong contenders and nonsense aside!
Duffo rules!
Specifically, c’mon, Daily Telegraph, in response to your list of Euro-contenders, we at the Duffological Institute contend …

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Samantha Jade

Were we internet trolls, we might remark about some harridan channelling Charlie’s Angels, and teeth last seen roping the local horse-race, and music-vids like screen-tests for Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde. BYO paper-clips and tooth-picks for fun. (We know all this without having heard her voice. So much for the value of this opinion.) And so we need …

kmin_1

Kylie Minogue

If ever or ever there was a Judy Garland without herself, there is Kylie Minogue. And that covers the question of talent. If every generation has a voice (Sinatra, Presley, Lou Reed …), Minogue is there but at the same time isn’t, in her quizzical (Bowie-esque?) way. And humans like to show they’re not robots when they vote. And so we need …

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Sia

Is this the swan who lost her wings while fixing her face to Graham Norton’s back-wall? Is this the diva who struggles to pronounce “chandelier” for beauty’s sake? Her Eurovision calling cards state that she’s “collaborated with Rihanna, Beyonce, Eminem & Katy Perry,” and offers “her fondness for wigs & dance routines.” This babe’s “ch-chahn-de-lilly-arse” and lamp-shade hair-dos are so neggy. Let’s just c’mon and jive with Bowie, Warhol, and …

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Tina Arena

Ms Arena’s bilingualism is certainly a strong point, but Duff, too, has long been cross-over cultural, even more than any other Australian artist. Who’s the only Australian artist among the UK “New Wave Greats” on Repertoire’s 2-CD compilation album of the same name? Who else in England topped the Argentine charts at the height of the Falklands War (with his “Walk on the wildside” – filmed with Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” make-up artist)? And Duff was already TV-smart as a 17-y/o on the Paul Hogan Show, still topping youtube lists. So the answer we’re searching for is …

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Olivia Newton-John

If ONJ promises to reprise “Xanadu,” maybe. If she does it in Bob Downe style, certainly. But that’s not gonna happen. No, she’s a rainbow wide and long, and belongs with the immortals. She’d have to come down from Mount Olympus to pull this one off, between drinking nectar with the gods, to sing a fanciful song of pleasure, Athena and Diana for critics. No, “She startles like a botanist finding a rare flower,” is the best they’d admit, the bitches.

Who else, then, instead? It’s only, surely … Midnight Oil/Peter Garrett. Hunh? Go

Duffo_Jeff_Duff_2015_170wJeff Duff.

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New wave greats 1976 – 1983

Posted on 2nd January 2015

New Wave GreatsWho‘s the one and only Australian artist featured in this 2-disc, 36-track UK compilation of ground-breaking new wave musicians of the punk/post-punk eras?

The Birthday Party? The Go-Betweens? The Saints? Not a whisp or whisker of them. C’mon, there’s Icehouse, Split Enz, or The Church, for sure …

No. Instead, among artists like Elvis Costello, Madness, XTC, The Jam, The Stranglers, Joy Division, Psychedlic Furs, Tubeway Army … there is only one Australian artist, and that is: Jeff Duff.

That’s with a pressing of his single: “Give me back me brain.” As performed live all over Euro music channels at the time, including on the Old Grey Whistle Test

~ the Russell Harty Show:

~ and this German show:

Duff is also one of the select half-dozen or so solo artists who cut it as a New Wave Great on this 1999 compilation album. There’s Costello, for sure, and Jona Lewie, Graham Parker, Lene Lovich, Nick Lowe, Wreckless Eric, John Cooper Clarke, Ian Dury, Ivor Biggun (!?), … & Duffo.

More about this classic album on this site here.

Keen on more Duff interview? So check out Duff on this interview by Soozie Pinder on Wendy Stapleton’s Wrokdown in 2014:

Need more MacArthur Park? That’s what people have been shouting out for at the end of Duff’s gigs, unsurfeited by Bowie songs. So see stuff about MacArthur Park on this site (from Kus to, Wazoo and Ray Martin), and add this tube, again via Ray Martin:

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Duff in Bowie Unzipped travels far in December

Posted on 2nd December 2014

lizottes_newcastle_tableDuff’s popular Bowie Unzipped show is travelling this December, firstly:

Tickets are selling fast, it seems, as all the red-spots in this latest booking plan for the Newcastle show indicate.

For reviews about Duff’s Bowie, Ziggy and other live shows, see this site here.

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Amazing grace

Posted on 29th November 2014

Returning from his Mullumbimby glory, then a Kings Cross street festival and a gala event at Sydney’s State Theatre, Jeff Duff sung "Amazing Grace" at a funeral of Terry Halliday, Friday, 28 November – which comments on his Facebook, with over 200 likes, report with great gratitude.

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We’re on the road to Duffo

Posted on 18th November 2014

My Duffo-pilgrimage of 2014 continues — now by way of a long road to Mullumbimby, courtesy and in the high company of fellow Duffophile Antonionio (I know how to spell his name, I just don’t know when to stop). Hope to document this travelling as it goes, and also to be so bold as to take post-worthy pics of the performances. The opening night has already sold out (but we’ll be there), and then there are afternoon gigs day-by-day (checking in). Potential plus! Duff is appearing in Kings Cross later on the same weekend, and then at the Rock Opera night at the State Theatre – from wearing flowers in his hair, to dodging king-hits, and then frocking up for something truly regal, all in a blink of days. Unless Antonionio is good for whipping, I don’t think we can follow Duffo all the way from Mullo back to Sydney so swiftly. But plenty of blinding spells to be reported soon enough and nevertheless, via this channel of Duffophilia.


So Jeff Duff played the Civic Hall on its opening nite, on a fly-in. A German lady I met, Duffo-dumb till then, thought he was on cookies! But she also said he struck her as like broaching the line between genius and madness, in the league with “David Bowie” and “Kate Bush”. That’s enough of that night.

Then there was the Poinciana Café the following night. I didn’t exactly shadow Duffo but kept somehow in his wake as he, pre-performance, ordered a vego meal; I was, as a matter of fact, on the look-out for the same, had only said the same to the German lady who was there again at this gig. Then he was up only to be attacked by Xmas beetles from all sides. Glen Rhodes later commented that they performed like a punk band, given how they had to bat away this plague during their performance.

The highlight was the St. Martin’s Hall gig the next day. There the masses fully thronged the pulpits. And Duff reached deep down into his whole armamentarium of sound to deliver potent renditions of “Yesterday,” “Walking’ in Memphis,” among others, in the hour. Rhodes played with mesmeric power throughout the gig, and surprised moment by moment with solo lines of ever-surprising harmonic choices; he’s truly the pianist to Duff as Mike Garson is to Bowie. As he explained later, his wonderful arrangement of “Walk on the wildside” works by him taking the minor chords to each of the major chords in Duff’s vocal lines (at least across the Cs and Fs). It makes for a boldly novel yet arousing working of the song. How the crowds flocked to Duff and Rhodes after this performance, after it marvelled in applause to each and every song. Here’s a tube, courtesy of Anthony, featuring Duff on concentrated, sublime vocals, and Rhodes in bar-by-bar wonders referencing just about every jazz style:

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Jeff Duff Trio spring into jazz

Posted on 4th November 2014

Duff performed at Milson’s Park, Kirribilli, this last Sunday (2 Nov 2014). Thanks to the man at another park (one I first found myself at) who promptly Googled me to the proper place. Duff’s voice piped its serpentine way to my ears over the suburbs, as I scaled, lunged and hurtled my way there, to land at the feet of his performance, eventually, on the grass.
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This was the “Spring into Jazz” event organised by North Sydney Council, with the Jeff Duff Trio on show — that’s Duff, Glenn Rhodes, and Jess Ciampa. Glenn Rhodes is known to the Duffophile as a co-composer of Jeanne d’arc on Duff’s Alone and Paranoid album, as a back-up vocalist on the Ground Control to Major Tom album, and as seen on The Midday Show sharing the vocal to Bowie’s Sorrow. They did that again as an encore to this "on the green" show. Jess Ciampa was a percussionist on the Lost in the Stars album. But up to then …

There was Duff taking a seat on the down-stage bench alongside a lady with long black hair and eyes behind shades for him to sing Young Americans to. And Duff wandering all about the crowd, so way down into the throng that he even heard a delay between his patter and its pick-up, and Rhodes had to ask Duffo "Which suburb are you in?" There were uncontrolled children let loose to play with Duff’s percussion instruments, and even a vino offered to quench him (no, his herbal tea sufficed). There was also Walk on the wildside in a breezy jazzy canter, and Duff’s own Miles Davis rap re-configured into the Marvin Gaye rap; see this tube to relive that song at the Thredbo Jazz Festval, 2013 — also with Rhodes on keys. Another highlight: Does anybody really know what time it is?, taking the Duffophile back to HMV’s ’70s.

Many folk reached for their cameras to take in a visual swig of Duff — of his many photogenic-plus-musical moments throughout this sunny gig. This Duffophile is always too shy or high on the senses to do the same. Just go searching facebook for such stuff. Maybe searching for “Sydney at its best on a Sunday in Spring” will reveal and revive all for you about this sunny and especially magical Duff gig.

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Unzipped at The Vanguard

Posted on 1st November 2014

Managed a trip to The Vanguard this Thursday (30 Oct 2014) to see Duff doing Bowie Unzipped. And unzipped he literally was, in the second set, from his cat-suit down to the barest leotard. Duff kept the already enthusiastic audience in high gear throughout the night, what with his canters through the crowd, letting himself loose for celebrity selfies, and chiding us all into loud chorusses and dance; even getting friend Anthony to repeat a solo of the "Ain’t there one damn song" line. The following Friday night gig was apparently packed out, unlike this one, but Duff certainly didn’t just phone it in for this cheery Thursday throng.

JD at the Vanguard 31 Oct 2014 - via his facebook

JD at the Vanguard 31 Oct 2014 – via his facebook

And how many versions of Walk on the wildside can Duff do? Each one as mesmerising as the next. That’s when one chick, dame, lass, lady and gal after the other took to the floor for a dance. Barnesy would have had his hands full at that point; most Oz-rockers would have lept from the stage and reached for their pens and calling cards. Duffo kept the musical moment going, treating the crowd not with the usual flotsam and jetsom but a whole Titanic performance, all night long for all.


And it was great to meet a fellow Duffophile behind me, as I flashed Jeff Duff’s ’70s Easy Street performance about on my phone for any bod to see … (Thanks, lady, for the Duffo-chat.)

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Launch of Jeff Duff album Walking on Eggshells Oct 2014

Posted on 4th October 2014

The new Jeff Duff album Walking on eggshells is to be was launched at the Camelot Lounge, Marrickville on October 17 2014 at 7:30 p.m. Duff, with the help of his Duffmen, performed the entire album in the first set, then filled the second set with Bowie songs and some of his standards. About 16 members of the Rock & Soul Choir rose up from the audience to accompany Duff on his own God bless the dreamers, and then The sun ain’t gonna shine anymore (wonderful nihilistic rejoicing to that Righteous Brothers cover). Duff kept it all going up to midnight, with plenty of patter between songs, such as about his love of Scott Walker’s music (inspired his I have no regrets on the new album), and the popularity of his tribute shows ("I have to eat — a bit").

Here’s the official preview blurb of the show:

Jeff regards the brand new album as one of his very best and is pulling out all stops to make this launch one of the most memorable you will ever attend. For starters Jeff & The Duffmen will perform the entire album live along with some other Duffo classics. The extraordinary magician MANNIX (the magnificent) will dazzle the audience with his sleight of hand and Esmerelda the incredible singing goldfish will make a cameo appearance. Together with Jeff’s magic movie show and lots of audience prizes this will be a launch party to top all others!

Jeff Duff Walking on Eggshells album launch  at the Camelot Lounge 2014.10.17

The show included the premiere of the video for the single “Walking on eggshells” which Duff says, on his latest blog, was filmed “in a tiny studio in Sydney late in August … co-ordinated by my friend Marisa Zamora from ‘Loud & Clear’ advertising agency and directed by Tristan Baker.” Listen to the track on soundcloud here, or via youtube:

… and download for eternal listening from itunes here:

Not up with Duff albums? Check them all out on a single page here.

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Duff tube views reach 1/4 million at 1:36 a.m.

Posted on 23rd August 2014

Duff tubes currently online have exactly 250,000 views as of 2014/08/23 01:36:06 Aussie EST, given the latest Duff Rover report. That’s from 145 tested tubes, less some earlier removed tubes and multiple artist tubes, for a total of 131 tubes. Average number of views at this time = 1908.4. The tube with the max views of 51,037 is “Easy Street” on the Paul Hogan Show. Total play-time = 9 hours, 29 minutes and 34 seconds.

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On top of the Duff

Posted on 19th August 2014

Take the top hat, surmising how it crowns The Duff, and get more oxygen into your thinking, and more antioxidants into your brain, than, say, TV promises of Lucy …!

Question:

What do Uncle Sam, leprechauns and Dr Seuss’ cat have in common with Jeff Duff? Add the Mad Hatter to that, and you’ve got an "a–ha" moment: It’s all in the a–hat. A topper, in fact. Taller than a trilby. A large but trim brim, occasionally fluted. And its most enigmatic feature: a flat crown.

uncle sam leprechaun cat in the hat  / jeff duff

Thesis:

Authority of class and sex are key signals of a topper: to be worn at the Stock Exchange, at the races or riding to hounds, on the coach going to Parliament or a funeral, taking a box-seat at the Piccadilly, playing high stakes at the Pontoon, or signing an armistice. So entertainers could signal themselves as a class-act by donning a topper — like Fred Astaire in dance, or Howard Thurston in magic (— who would pull out not just a rabbit but trapeze artists and multiple mini top hats from his own topper; see youtube). It’s artistic mimesis, imaginal association — appropriating a cultural meaning by taking up its cultural cue.

mabuse stock exchange scene races coach astaire

Antithesis:

At least as many entertainers, however, have used the top hat to create something different: to make an ironical statement, to show up the subversiveness of their acts and attitudes, including in song, dance and humour. Charlie Chaplin, before he came up with his bowler-topped tramp, was one of many English music-hall artists to use this theatrical trick. Performing in a top hat gave an ironical twist to their cockney accents, and upped their romanticizing about poor living, and reinforced the conservative values they sang into their songs. Among these topper-tiled curmudgeons and cads were Henry Champion (Any old iron?), George Leybourne (Champagne Charlie), Henry Vance (Walking in the zoo — a song that gave us the word “okay”), Charles Coborn (The man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo), Harry Ford (Knocked ‘em in the Old Kent Road), Rich ‘n’ Rich (The Court of King Karactacus), and Ernie Mayne (And the fog grew thicker and thicker).


chaplin champion leybourne vance

Keeping close to classiness, Marlene Dietrich made her own subversive statement in top hat and tails — simply in virtue of being a woman taking on this most masculine (phallic?) symbol. More in line with the music-hall subversion, there’s Bert Williams, with a top-hat plus lap-lap or feather-tail, on top of playing on being a Black American. Then we get, in their footsteps, several rock artists, including Marc Bolan, Alice Cooper and Slash, taking up the topper.

dietrich bolan cooper

Synthesis:

As for Jeff Duff, look over the images he cuts in a topper. It’s not a mere Fred Astaire kind of classiness, and it’s also not a simple Chaplinesque twist. We’ve heard before about how a dialectical shift between opposites is a common feature of Duff’s lyrical work (blogpost). That’s a shift between the above thesis (the top hat’s class, authority, Uncle Sam, Lincoln, toffiness …) and antithesis (the leprechaun, Cat-in-the-Hat, Mad Hatter, music-hall artists, rocky fops …) So there are multiple voices, sources, signs and images in a Duff style – but the whole is more than the sum of these …

Duff in his toppers combines and goes beyond these elements. The image he cuts has both classiness and puckishness. He could be taking the best seats at the races, or treading the music hall boards, each with sure and sincere effect. He can’t really be slotted alongside any of the above reels, for instance, not with any depth. Naturally, it’s not just in the costume. The process is more prismatic than that. The person is the new synthesis himself. It’s the effect of the entity he is, accentuated by donning a top hat.

rockwiz throne jeff duff

+ P.S. Of course, other hats have fitted Duff’s crown — see the covers of Gonna Send the Boys Around, Ground Control to Frank Sinatra, Kiss My Apocalypse, and Fragile Spaceman, among his albums. Even a fez among his Great Gatsby appearances, and a propeller on a Countdown appearance, and whenever emergency portends. But in donning the topper, Duff epitomises and gives a key to something that is essential to his art — including in his words and music.
+ P.P.S. Further theoretical development could occur by referencing Sheldrake’s theory of morphic resonance, or Hardy’s theory of semantic fields, and their supposed parapsychological effects.

There was once so big a topper on Duffo
 
that all bods agreed was just troppo,
 
or too Viennese, or made them all sneeze,
 
which mightily pleased Maestro Duffo.

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