Sat 30 Sept & Sun 1 Oct + Mon 2 Oct – Carinda (Outback NSW)
featuring Jeff Duff & Band, plus local bands, markets, food & bar, workshops
It was 1983 when David Bowie travelled to the tiny NSW outback town of Carinda to film his now iconic video for “Let’s Dance” in the Carinda Hotel.
David Bowie films Let’s Dance at Carinda Hotel, NSW for the smash worldwide hit proved the perfect companion for the ground breaking song. The added bonus of the scenes filmed in Carinda and the Warrumbungle National Park created the magical backdrop for what many regard as Bowie’s most distinctive and powerful video.
Since that date, the pub has become a mecca for Bowie fans from all over the world, looking to stand and be photographed in the same spot where Bowie filmed his video.
The town itself has now embraced this historic connection and hosts the annual “Let’s Dance Carinda” festival paying tribute to David Bowie and his remarkable music legacy.
This year the festival will feature the evergreen Jeff Duff and his band, playing both at the Carinda Showground on Saturday 1 September as well as a reenactment of the famous video in the Carinda Hotel on the Sunday. Jeff explains:
I’m honoured to be following in Bowie’s footsteps to outback Carinda in NSW — the wonderfully remote outpost where Bowie spotlighted the plight of indigenous Australians in his iconic video for “Let’s Dance”. I’ve been a passionate Bowie disciple most of my life and plan on doing whatever I can to to keep the great man’s legacy alive! —Jeff Duff
With a population of around 40, Carinda is about three hours drive from Dubbo and its remoteness certainly appeals to the more adventurous visitor. If you are planning to come to the festival there’s plenty of camping space at the local showground and lots of cold beer and drinks at the only pub for miles around. For city slickers it’s a real chance to get a taste of the outback with the added attraction of local bands, activities for both young and old and even a Bowie ‘Look-A-Like Competition’ plus lashings of country hospitality. Carinda would love to see you there! BOOK ONLINE at eventbrite.
Duff performs Let’s Dance
Sydney Opera House, 2014
Enmore Theatre, 2011
The Vanguard (now Leadbelly), Newtown, 2007
Sydney Festival, 2017 (including Starman)
Bowie performs Let’s Dance at the Carinda Hotel
~ & what about that other venue in the video — the factory where Bowie slave-drives the children? That stark setting was in the Sydney suburb of Guildford. Could that suburb not also do with a Duff-Bowie renaissance?
11 minutes of Duff does Bowie in new vid from Paul Lacey of the British Invasion Tour (June-July 2017) — including Let’s Dance, China Girl, Starman — plus duet with “Elton Jack” and Rob Caudill (“Rod Stewart”) doing Under Pressure.
Quite a Duffological week. From the interviews on 2UE radio and ABC-TV’s One Plus One, to a couple performances by Duff of a sample of songs from his 30-odd original albums, followed by an inteview at the World Bar, Kings Cross as Jeff Duff’s visage shone over the town in the iconic Coca-Cola billboard. All in the ordinary scheme of things for this hardest-working artist in the country, but a whirlwind for the simple fan.
So the Duff Odyssey retrospective was showing on two nights—firstly at Brass Monkey, Cronulla on the Friday (2 June), and then at Leadbelly (ex-Vanguard) in Newtown the following night (3 June). The first was something of a rehearsal for the second. It involved lots of banter with the small but adoring audience in this far-flung province of Sydney. Duff performed two sets, the second involving some Bowie classics, with an encore of Suffragette City. Duff could not oblige further; he had a midnight train to catch back into town. The second show had a bigger, booming sound, with a wildly enthusiastic audience; from where this punter was watching the show upstairs, the mosh-pit looked a total Bacchanale; a mayhem of ecstasy, especially through the climaxes of Duff’s Killing this affair and Bowie’s Young Americans and Under Pressure; and, of course, MacArthur Park.
Here’s the songlist of Duff tracks (and that latter signature tune) from the Duff Odyssey shows:
Here’s a sample from one of the performances (at Leadbelly), Duff and the band doing Skinny Girls, originally as part of the Alien Sex Gods—here with Jak Housden on guitar, Glenn Rhodes on keys, and Ben Isackson on drums—making up what must be the most experienced, versatile and talented rock-band in the country. Duff introduced the song with some apology for any perceived misogyny (from misandrists?), explaining that he really wrote the song only about himself (!)
… and another sample from the Leadbelly gig: Duff’s original 1980s single I Want to be the Pilot, from his Lexicon album. There was also a later version on the Jeff Duff Orchestra album, and you can see Duff performing the song with said orchestra here. It’s a resounding, almost Scott Walker-esque (Nite Flights) song, with some searing guitar and back-up singing.
The talk with Paris Pompor (4 June) in a theatrette in the World Bar (ex Kardomah Café), Kings Cross was an intriguing, joyful and even controversial 84 minutes. To much applause and cheering from the audience, Duff reflected on the sorry loss of the Cross’ unique cultural venues and character as it has become gentrified over the years; but added that “change is the only constant”, and it’s not really the Lord Mayor’s fault. He also recounted some performance experiences over the years, including when he first performed in the Cross music/strip-clubs (the Groovy Room, the Whisky a Go-Go) as a youth in the ’70s, and (in the same category, surely) a romp with the TV-soap star Abigail. There were also novel twists and colourings to some of the classic anecdotes, such as the Ray Martin Show ban, and the Ballarat arrest. Also some thrilling news about a plan to re-record the Fragile Spaceman album with the Australian Symphony Orchestra—albeit thwarted, at this stage, by the Australia Council with their deplorable decision to reject Duff’s grant application to assist it (the first time he’s sought what would only be some fitting return from the Oz taxpayer for all the work he’s done for Australian cultural life). Also an anecdote—worthy of a whole NewsCorp article— about Leonardo di Caprio’s "anxious assertiveness" toward the guest-star Duff on the set of The Great Gatsby. Much thrilling, charming news, too, including about new shoes, new suit, and a new bedside bicycle.
Getting “straightened out” by Abigail, and “put in his place” by Di Caprio: A couple of the subjects of Jeff Duff’s talk at the World Bar with Paris Pompor
The event was apparently video-recorded and there are ample pix of the event on JD’s FB; perhaps I’ll upload my personal audio-recording of it, if it doesn’t appear elsewhere and seems kosher. Meanwhile, there’s this video-recording (from Geoff Schuck) of an intimate rendition of MacArthur Park with which Duff closed this engagement. He dedicated it to his neighbour who was in the audience. She applauded the loudest, and can be seen at the end of the clip, in her red cape, rising to her feet, as others just shook their heads in wonder, clapped their hands with what energy they had left, having truly melted away at the majesty of the performance.
And here is the Coca-Cola billboard appearance; filmed in the rain, as various tourists gathered about me with their own cameras to catch whatever speciality I was filming (!). (Sorry to not have video-recorded other episodes of this week; crowds can be so inhibiting, and filming everything can reduce the immediate experience of being there at all.)
And then, the next day, Fullers Bookshop in Hobart was finally seen to carry Jeff Duff’s autobiography, This Will Explain Everything. This Duffologist only had to reshelve the thing; not good enough to simply show its spine amid so many others; the whole cover must be displayed.
Jeff Duff opened the Croydon Underground Club in February 1985 in his alter ego as Cyril Trotts—as indicated in this poster for the gig (click to inspect). The poster indicates the date of the performance on February 16, which fell on a Saturday in 1985.
Saw some memorable gigs at the Underground, devastated when it shut down. … 🙁 —jimble, 13 Nov 2006
The Underground was great :p And there was nothing quite like the friendly staff kicking you in the head if you nodded off on the stage 😀 [xab, 10 Nov 2006]
I used to go there religiously to see bands… it was a sad day when that closed down. 🙁 —Nork 1, 26 Jan 2008
my first and only stabbing in the underground / one of the door man / the guy just ran a blade over his back and quick as a flash run up the stairs / and out the doors / / in knew the door man and / the knife man—Mike Jones, 26 Jan 2014
The decor was often naff (flock wallpaper and sticky carpet), the beer sometimes watered down …, the food pretty iffy (what other club feeds you stodge like rice and French bread as soon as you walk through the door – thank you Cinatra’s), you got completely plastered on jugs of Double Diamond or Worthington E, alcopops hadn’t been invented, and if you were lucky you copped off with some bird that probably went to school with your Mum 😉 [La Bombonera, 10 Nov 2006]
The posters got somewhat more creative in the Club’s later years: a collection is here, and at songkick.com, including this. These show that, among other acts performing there, were Duff’s compatriots, the Australian band The Triffids.
Something of the feel of the club can be heared from this audio recording of a Sigue Sigue Sputnik performance at the club, six months after Duff opened it.
See the environs of the club today via Google maps here.
Pre-show promo pic of Housden, Stace, Ellis, Balbi and Duff
Jeff Duff—together with Steve Balbi and Brydon Stace—performed 3 hours of David Bowie songs at the Hope Estate, Pokolbin this last Saturday (15 Oct 2016). While the Stones, Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles have played there before, this show surely topped the lot in having George Ellis conducting the Australian Symphony Orchestra as "back-up".
Set in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley wine region, it was a perfectly sunny, 360º cloud-free day, the show commencing at sun-down: circa 7:00 p.m., and not letting up by 10:30 p.m..
George Ellis is well-known for his conducting job at the opening of the Sydney Olympics in 2000, and also his work in musical education. He comes with some rock sensibility as well, having been part of Sydney’s 1980s post-punk band-scene (Weekend Australian, 2010.04.10-11). Sporting the Aladdin Sane make-up, he also took the audience’s breath away from the start when, on first turning to face the orchestra to raise his baton, the iconic lightening flash was seen to adorn the back of his coat. So he set the stage ablaze! But then—we drew our breaths again—: by opening with the Bowie/Eno instrumental Warszawa (see youtube), we were offered an evocative sample from Bowie’s oeuvre, one that recalled how Bowie himself opened his “white light” shows of the late ’70s. So the show commenced by emphasising the art of the MainMan ahead of the party. So true to Ellis’ word ahead of the show, as reported in the Newcastle Herald (2016.06.30):
The Thin White Duke’s music lends itself beautifully to the array of colours of the orchestra. Rich textures and harmonies weave in and out of his songs, making them perfect to decorate. —George Ellis
Balbi opened the first song-set with Ziggy Stardust. He also took over most of the glam-era numbers, including Diamond Dogs, Rock-n-Roll Suicide and Jean Genie; as well as a stomping, über-funky, pleasantly mad Fame, coaxing it out in mind-splitting saxophonic treats from Ross Middleton. With Quicksand, Balbi reached back to Bowie as pre-funk, pre-icon poet-philosopher; and together with Life on Mars, had the orchestra making a particularly prominent and powerful contribution. Balbi’s stagework was as stunningly idiosyncratic as usual; the whole ecstatic messiah treatment (as also at, e.g., the 2012 Ziggy Show).
Stace offered his Olympian energy and polished vocals (a siren here, a tornado there) to a wide array of songs, from Ashes to Ashes to The Man Who Sold the World (see youtube) to Sorrow. Also as professional and breath-taking were the dazzling array of dance-figures that kept popping out from his every joint. Quite the stadium performer, commanding every possible precipice and pedestal of the huge stage with his muscular Freddie Mercurial stances.
The trio emerged to give a combined effort on Five Years, "Heroes" and (for encore) Rebel Rebel and Suffragette City, while Duff and Stace did their usual combo for Under Pressure (as also seen at the Enmore Theatre and the Sydney Opera House), and so Duff and Balbi on Space Oddity (as seen on Channel 10 TV). Costume-changes for every song, too; Duff, say, in his golden outfit for Golden Years (see youtube), then in red with top-hat (just his style) for Space Oddity, his new space-helmet with white Pierrot suit for Starman, and so on.
Jak Housden doing Moonage Daydream with a top-level voice of Bowie and guitar of Mick Ronson—as at the legendary Santa Monica gig. Interesting to see Jess Ciampa in his orchestral home, and to see more of the band’s newcomer Christo (Station to Station).
Lighting was exceptional, too. Working with a ring of lights about the huge disc above the stage—always projecting a close-up of the singers in song, or a deft selection of Bowie pics—the stage could be lit at times like the centre of a supernova, or the halls of Lang’s Metropolis. Sound was booming but bright; bringing out the aural delights of the orchestral strings to emotional splendour, as in Quicksand, or simply striking out the rhythms in body blows through, say, Fame. All radiating out from the huge, towering stage, the effect was of a constant tidal-wave of multi-sensory provocation.
Stage management was also interesting to watch; emergencies portended and avoided, mics arighted, and so on, with ardent precision.
It’s going to be challenging, this eclectic rock band with acoustic strings. [But] Bowie used a lot of orchestral arrangements, it suits David Bowie more than most artists. It will be really exciting. … It does sort of build up to this raging climax and we do end up rocking out at the end. Even the violins and cellos will be rocking out. —Jeff Duff
Harpist and singer-songwriter Anna Morgana opened the event. Blends of Keyes, Hagen, P. Smith, Bush, maybe, but certainly, as someone behind me said, "she sounds like some Australian singer". That was also a discovery to keep making.
For PIX of the gig, see Tania Smith’s album here, and Russell Cherry’s album here; like this one ahead of the classic electric fellatio scene, and a simple, all dude family-shot:
See why Duff calls Housden his Mick Ronson (and why Bowie called Ronson his Jeff Beck) in this searing solo by Housden on Ziggy Stardust
See the Bowie Unzipped site for more Duff/Bowie gigs—including his January 2017 tour including NSW, Vic, SA and WA.
~ And a thank you to the Zepher bus-blokes for getting me there and back to Central, and even championing me with a round of applause for topping their Bowie quiz! Did I get an extra point for getting Iman’s surname right? Or was it just that I didn’t confuse The man who fell to earth with The man who sold the world? We’ll never know. Meat-eaters bringing their deathly, smelly stuff on the bus aside (just to make a point), it was an easy and a glorious trip. Ta for stoking the flames with your Bowie Quiz—and for saving that back-seat.
The long-awaited Jeff Duff autobiography has been published — released in May 2016.
Crafted by Duff over many years, gloriously published by Melbourne Books, the work has a provocative promise as its title: “This will explain everything“, being a 248 page tome, hard cover printed on gold foil, beginning with a Foreword byMolly Meldrum. Here are some excerpts from Australia’s mainman of the popular music industry:
Unique is an over-used word in showbiz. But Jeff Duff is unique. …
Flamboyant, eccentric, cheeky, charming …
Jeff Duff is one of the greatest entertainers Australia has produced. —Molly Meldrum
FACT: It’s been a longtime coming. Already in 2004, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Duff was "putting the finishing touches to an autobiography that will be published next year". See the SMH article here.
From the launch of This will explain everything at Better Read Than Dead 265 King Street Newtown, NSW · Sun 19 June 2:00 p.m.:
Jeff Duff’s Ziggy: The Songs of David Bowie show returns to NSW venues in June 2016—as reported by noise11.com.
5 dates announced so far—from Newcastle to Wollongong—including a station to station dash from the Thirroul show down south on a Friday up to the Enmore Theatre, Newtown, on the Saturday. See the “Hot stuff” sidebar for dates.
Going by previous Ziggy shows, Duff might well lead the band and feed the crowd with performances of Ashes to ashes, China girl, "Heroes", Let’s dance, Sorrow, Space oddity, Starman, Young Americans and the ever-astounding rendition by Duff of Wild is the Wind à la Bowie.
With Brydon Stace on board for the high-top singing, he might also pull out Under pressure. And with Steve Balbi on board, there’s a good chance of burning off on a blistering Moonage daydream.
There are plenty of ‘tubes out there to get an early fix of the show, as performed at the Sydney Opera House, the Enmore Theatre, et al., in previous years. See the duffstuff catalogue of Duff tubes here—links to 17 tubes from the Ziggy Shows, + 31 from the Bowie Unzipped shows. For example, for starters:
The Norton Street Festa of Italian culture in Sydney this October 25 did not miss a Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr rat-pack. Short of the Festa being all pasta workshops, pizza, screaming bambini, screaming Mammas, groaning Pappas, beautiful people and cheesy French Fries, the Festa sported its own Rat-Pack in the form of Jeff Duff, Glenn Rhodes and Jess Ciampa on its mainstage from 1:00 p.m.
Well, at least the water-carrier was thanked by Duff for the vodka, and an appointment was made for whacky-backy with some happy bearded man in the crowd. All in good humour, of course, given Duff’s a totally clean machine. And that was really the extent of the rat-packery. The mood was merry, charitable and festive.
Some samples follow of the songs, complete with the festive sounds of the merry crowd.
Among the songs performed by the Duffo Trio were Walk on the Wildside, Walking in Memphis, Sorrow and Sailing ….
Sailing is the Chris Cross track. It’s not usually of a cool calibre. Specifically, if you were into Duffo when Chris Cross’ Sailing first came out in 1979, you’d’ve surely missed it, maybe even sneeringly. But if you’ve since expanded your tastes, thanks especially to Duff’s own evolving catalogue, it’s a cool beauty as performed by the Trio. Sure, Chris Cross’s own version is pretty nasal; he abbreviates and just about squanders every meaningful potential of his own song. In Duff’s hands, in His Master’s Voice, and the keys and beats of Rhodes and Ciampa, this song is now a musical experience of genuine and graceful optimism—primed with Duff’s elegant elocution, and the artful way he expresses melancholy as he offers hope. There is nothing so bombastic as Walt Whitman’s claim to “sing the body electric”. There is more of the angelic hope of Keats, ready to die in the wake of the nightingale’s sweet song. Optimism that soars while being deeply anchored. Sailing, indeed. Try it at the bus-stop (I did, in Blacktown, and never lived longer).
Love the one you’re with
The Trio of Duff, Rhodes and Ciampa was popular, driven to two encores, kindly over time. Amid these encores came the only really Italian track by the trio, given its association with "Dino Martino":
The song was recorded by Duff for the 2007 So Quiet album (available on iTunes), and Duff performed Sway on the popular nationwide Kerrie-Anne Show on Channel 9 TV:
Hard to get a shot let alone a vid at the Italian Festa without the various body parts of festival goers cavorting through every circumstance. So many of the shots from this occasion miss out on Duff’s feet. One tried hard to get a shot of what looked like a pair of particularly special Duff shoes; but whenever one got a frame on them, the Maestro’s mercurial spirit took him flying off left or right, and so on, over and over again.
For another experience of the Trio: Sun 29 Nov at St Leonards Park, Miller St, North Sydney, at the Spring into Jazz Festival from 3:00 pm. Read about Duff at last year’s Spring into Jazz here.
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.
Jeff Duff and Glenn Rhodes: opening night: Bowie IS @ ACMI
JD informs us, as follows, re the golden eve he performed with Rhodes on the grand:
”my conversation/performance was very professionally organised. Jess McGuire interviewed amidst a steady flow of Duffo slides and anecdotes. My performance was with Glenn on grand piano on the main stage with a giant screen projecting duffo images. As it was opening night it was a wonderful audience and it sounded beautiful. I return in Sept to perform more at the exhibition”.
Duff returns for a performance at the exhibtion, September 2015:
“Nobody can touch him, really, as far as the different styles of music that he’s attacked and developed. And also, not only that, but his incredible style. I think he’s without a doubt the coolest rock star on the planet.” — Jeff Duff re David Bowie on ABC Melbourne radio Nov 2010
"SINGERS from across Australia will descend on Hobart this week for this year’s Festival of Voices … More than 2000 singers – the most in the event’s 11-year history – are coming to participate in the festival, about two-thirds of them from interstate. … About 12,500 tickets were purchased for Festival of Voices performances last year and organisers are hoping to increase that figure to 16,000 — including more than 1200 to interstate buyers — this year, with a 114 per cent increase in ticket pre-sales so far." … read more
"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." … read more
"From Dame Nellie Melba to AC/DC, a 1954 state reception for Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, as well as trade fairs, exhibitions, political and religious gatherings, dances and balls, Monday night wrestling, school speech and social nights, the City Hall has welcomed all." read more
Exciting from the start what with the Strauss “2001 theme” reverberating through the hall, from ground zero, crowned, creamed and topped-off by Duff’s backstage baritone spruiking up the spectable to come. Glenn Rhodes, Jess Ciampa, and Jak Housden emerged in genuine NASA outfits, taking up positions at keys/bass, drums/percussion, guitar (respectively) … followed by Duff in golden angel-wings, intoning that revolutionary “la, la, la, la” of Bowie’s Starman. Then followed Ziggy Stardust, … China Girl …
Duff, Rhodes, Ciampa and Housden performed some songs that are not always a common part of their Bowie Unzipped repertoire; or did them in previously unfigured ways (and way outs). Here are recordings from one or another of the 2 nights off my phone of the same: go your graphic equalizer.
Walk on the wildside
All the young dudes
These are just samples, tasters to keep us getting hither and smacked to the next Duff-does-Bowie gig.
And as for the “Festival”:
City Hall was spectacular at least as it was magically caught in Duff’s earrings; there was nothing of the promised “Luna Park” of sensory smorgasbord that FOV’s marketeers spun about in its invitations. Against the often undistracting back-drops (a flat wash of purple here, then one of green, and so on, occasionally dispersed with bubbles and streaks), Duff’s two little earrings “blitzed” out like fire-flies, beguilingly sparked anew with his every twitch, encasing his pretty head with every idea we might yet know of Cleopatra and Elizabeth Taylor.
And as for the audience —
All quickly warmed to Duff’s characteristic breaking of the 4th wall, through his ambient patter, and his frequent ambles down-stage and beyond, his conversational piques and prods.
How’s this for some patter? — "Does David Bowie get you aroused?" Duff queries [‘yay,’ all scream] — then Duff asks “"How about the ladies?" [muted guffaws follow].
On the first night, pitched royally front and centre in the auditorium, was the excellent presence of the late Premier of Tasmania, Lara Giddings, with the now Federal Labor senator Lisa Singh, also at table. Plain courtesy and discretion prevent us from reporting what exactly was the answer to Duff’s question, from this table, as he ad libbed to Young Americans, "Do you remember … your Julia Gillard …?". (A different sentiment, anyway, than guffed out in Julia’s time …)
Duff and Bowie fan Premier Lara Giddings: Quizzed re Same Sex Marriage Legislation in Tasmania
On the second night, Duff got up three likely “Bopsy Twins” to perform the “Do-to-do” parts, with dance steps, throughout his rocky and then funky rendition of his ever popular "Walk on the wildside.". So the crowd was lock-stepped with him all the way. Duff even cut through the 5th wall at the end of the 2nd night by getting the dame who called for “lights out” to come out and report why: a curfew, she alleged, was nigh. Duff carried on, obligingly, with a short but swelling song (“All the young dudes”), and no encore.
The night before, someone (who?) almost got JD excited enough to do “MacArthur Park” for an encore. Well, it’s always up there in the top 3 or 4 of his youtube hits. But the crowd here in Hobart, as elsewhere, are rusted on glam and dance fans, calling out for “Jean Genie” to the end, and giving much less than thunderous applause to the operatic arts of Duff’s “Wild is the wind” (rarely performed by Bowie himself). So, no post-“Let’s Dance” Bowie here, no “I’m Afraid of Americans,” “I’m Deranged,” “The Dreamers,” “Sunday,” “Where are we now?,” or so on. That’s all probably a whole ‘nother show worth. “Bowie Intime,” perhaps.
Bowie’s songs are more important than Duff’s own? That’s something JD announced, amid his patter. Explore. Everything Duff’s composed, from "Logical Questions to God" to "Mumbo Jumbo" would set free-men building coliseums across the Milky Way, all in the hope and herald of Duff’s showing, while saints come long and hard, cathedral-high, in photons and alabaster, delirious like automatons, into aeons of Renaissance, blinding all eternities in showers of Enlightenment.
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.
The Duffo-pilgrimage of 2014 continues — now by way of a long road to the Mullumbimby Music Festival, courtesy of Antonionio at the wheel (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 (Thurs, Nov 20), 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 league with “David Bowie” and “Kate Bush”. Well, I rose up to the challenge of discussing this stuff, slipped verbally up and down here and there … and that’s enough of that night.
Then there was the Poinciana Café the following night (Fri, Nov 21). 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. That’s how I’d just excused myself, for hunger’s sake, from the German lady of the previous night, who was there again at this gig. But, all feeding and gabbing aside, Duff was soon up on stage—only to be attacked by Xmas beetles from all sides. Glenn Rhodes (who had just improvised some legs for his keys, so prepared the venue was …) later remarked that they performed like a punk band that whole night long, as they batted away this plague. It was a distressing debacle. My meal arrived with a beetle upon it. Mullumbimby pavements were absolutely caked with Xmas beetle. Vegans filled the nut-house. Duff and Rhodes championed on.
The highlight was the St. Martin’s Hall gig the next day (Sat, Nov 22). There the masses fully thronged the pulpits. And Duff and Rhodes reached deep down into their whole armamentarium of sound to deliver potent renditions of “Yesterday,” “Walking in Memphis,” “My baby just cares for me,” among others, including a swag of Bowie, in the hour. Rhodes played with mesmeric power throughout, surprising with his every harmonic choice, and his basic legerdemain. 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. It makes for a bold and novel, arousing working of the song. How the crowds flocked to Duff and Rhodes after this performance, after they 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—absolute mainmen of keys and cords (folds of membranous tissue which project inwards from the sides of the larynx to form a slit across the glottis in the throat, and whose edges vibrate in the airstream to produce the voice):
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.
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.
Congratulations on the JDS site. It really is amazing, comprehensive and accurate … and very well written. Your research is sublime … Thank you for all the hard work … / You continue to impress me with your handsomely constructed and informative insights into ‘Duffoworld’— J. Duff [ 2011/07/07 & 2012/05/17]