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When the preacher said “Wade do you take Wilma to be your old lady”, Jake was already 6 years old wondering why all the relatives were sittin’ on one side of the Crickle Creek church in Arkansas.
Jake loved Church, not because of any affinity with the Lord, but because he loved music, and was crabbier than a bear with a sore ass if he didn’t get to sit behind the organist on a Sunday.
Music didn’t exactly run in the family and the idea of music to Wade’s ears was his pick up truck, which he said ”you could hear a long time ‘fore you saw it”
There wasn’t a hell of a lot to do once you turned off the paved road in Crickle creek other than puddychuckin’ and fiddlefartin’ and since music made young Jake hornier than a two peckered billy goat, his folks figured they should get him an instrument to keep his hands occupied in a more dignified manner.
An organ was out of the question on account of its size, which Jake was tore up about and finally his parents had eliminated all other instruments on account of their budget.
Jake was devastated and for two weeks he hauled himself around like a snakes ass in a wagon rut.
It was finally Uncle Cletus came up with the idea of giving Jake his jaw harp.
Since he was no longer in Jail and had no further need of it, the jaw harp became the property of Jake who was happier than a nine headed cat in a fish market.
Uncle Cletus never learned to play it officially and he passed the time in jail pretending the jaw harp was his sweetheart Tabitha.
Suffice to say the lessons he gave Jake on how to play it were just plain disturbing.
The upside of Crickle Creek was that in between whitlin’ and fixin to die there was a huge hunk of time left in between to practice, which Jake did.
He applied himself with the tenacity of chewing gum to a boot and soon mastered the tongue action. After a few years he could finally do it without going cross eyed and dribbling too much. He could play the words to the Lord’s Prayer so folks could hear it clearer than when Reverend Wesley was talkin’ it!
As Jake got older though his playing hit a hurdle. His teeth defied gravity until finally he could eat corn through a picket fence. This meant he kept hitting the tongue of the harp with his teeth. As his heart was set on being a bonafide player he hatched a plan to remedy it. He went up to the tavern and got so drunk he couldn’t hit his own ass with a two gallon scoop shovel. He then emptied the family repertoire of cuss words in the direction of Bathtub Billy Baisden who obliged by punching out all the offending teeth with one swing. Jake was lucky to pull it off though as Bathtub Billy was a man noted not just for his short fuse but also for his short attention span. The tricky part was “getting’ him angry ‘fore he forgot why”
Jake was now good enough to win the Ozark Mountain Championships Best Rising Hilly Billy Award despite the nerves getting to him.
When he received the award he said ”My tongue twisted around my eye teeth and I couldn’t see what I was playin’”
From then on Jake was busier than a flea in a ‘coon hat factory, playing festivals and giving master classes from the Appalachians to Alabama.
When asked where people like the jaw harp, Jake used to say “anywhere where folks will shoot each other over a picnic table”
The master classes consisted of him saying “Can y’all see what I’m doin’ inside my mouth? …..well neither can I…? “ Followed by his famous laugh “he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck” He modeled his laugh on “tryin’ to start the tractor on a cold morning”
His left eye would wander ‘round the room in time to the music whilst his right eye stared straight ahead. Asked why, he would say “guess I’m checkin’ for exits ‘case things don’t pan out”
His technique consisted of “hit the tongue of the harp with your gun finger and try stuff that doesn’t make folks wanna leave. If they start leavin’, change what you’re doin’ til folks starts a comin’ back”
Jake played on 500 albums and was famous for “gettin’ on albums without ‘em knowin”. He did this usually with the co-operation of the sound engineers or mixers. He ‘s in the background of some very famous albums if you have the ear.
To name just a few, he played on Miles Davis “kind of Blue”, Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog, “Frank Sinatra’s – Fly me to the moon” and even the Chicago Symphony doing Beethoven’s Fifth, where he hid behind the timpani going “he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck” in time to the music, and didn’t even get to play his Jaw Harp.,
He was in the remake of Deliverance, entitled Fedex, in which he played “Dueling jaw harps” by himself with two jaw harps, about which he said “he was busier than a one legged man at a butt kickin’ contest”
He won a Grammy for his album “Sister, where art thou?…In the kitchen you dang fool”
He released a box set of his albums, simply titled “Y’all”
He lived to a ripe old age and put the secret down to “He ain’t done whitlin’ yet”
His wife of 70 years Martha Mae said he was “too dang busy playin’ the jaw harp to drink hisself to death”
His headstone in the Crickle Creek Cemetery simply says
“He-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck he-yuck”

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I decided to explore this question by traveling to the UK and interviewing a barking mad leading exponent of the musical Avant Garde, but more of that later.

Avant Garde music is generally perceived to be music which is thought to be ahead of its time, and I’m not talking about the drummer’s enthusiasm to beat the band to the end of the piece.

The Avant Garde sprang up after WW2 which was ironic, as they had declared their own war on the traditional music sensibility.

You may have heard of Arnold Schoenberg who was one of the first to explore this area. They called it Serial or 12 Tone music.

Out with traditional harmony and in with the new 12 tone chromatic structure.

Others included Béla Bartók, Dmitri Shostakovich and Igor Stravinsky.

Many Jazz composers such as Bill Evans also dabbled.

They were the Serial Killers of Harmony and Structure and took no prisoners.

Lets face it if you were German or Russian and had been listening to hundreds of years of Classical Harmony that held you inexorably prisoner to the Playlist and Rules, you too would have become a Serial Killer.

Music is about context. The times create the music and also the reaction to it.

The Zeitgeist was ripe for change in 1945.

These days however, it is getting harder for the Avant Garde to rebel because the internet has provided an unfiltered means to express yourself, while the traditional arbiters of taste, ie the literati, radio stations and record companies etc, no longer control what people listen to.

Dilemma….if the purpose of your music is to shock people and rail against a perceived foe, and there isn’t one anymore…what do you do?

Is this their conundrum? Is it driving them into some barkingly mad places to get a reaction? Is there a place for it? Maybe there is. Maybe they’re not after a reaction and it’s just about the ART.

I have my suspicions but am keeping an open mind until I meet Fuse Fothering- Gay at the Slug and Lettuce Pub in Cornwall, England.
He will help me make up my mind.

He is a vibrant hyphenated fugitive from old money, in his early 30’s dressed in an argument between Tweed and Rap artist.

I ask him what he’s working on and he spits out the story (along with some crisps over an improbable distance) from the Chesterfield lounge that is slowly devouring him.

“I have 12 English Spitfire WW2 aircraft lined up at Farnborough Airport along with 12 German Messerschmitts. I have tuned the engines.
The Spitfires will play Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, the Messerschmitts will play Wagner’s Ride of the Valkeryies.”
I lean forward in my chair. He clearly has my attention.
You simply can’t see an act like that at my local any more.

“I will record the tracks panned hard in Stereo, Spitfires to the Left, Messerschmitts to the right. Over 6 minutes I will slowly pan the music towards the centre where they meet and phase cancel the pain of WW2”

My eyebrows are running out of room in the little pub built for 5 foot Smugglers.

Are you putting it out for commercial release? I stupidly ask, trying to buy time to think of a better question.

He surprises me by saying yes.

“The CD will start with a track of 39 minutes silence. Then the music begins and continues until 45 minutes, where it stops, followed by silence til the end of the CD.”

I think I see…..the War went from 39 to 45? But why the silence?

“I want people to meditate for 39 minutes about what led to it and meditate afterwards on what we learnt. The pain has been symbolically removed by the planes and music icons meeting and phase cancelling, not literally of course.”

I must say that tickles my fancy. Do you consider yourself part of the Avant Garde music movement?

“I’m in the explosives industry!” he says liberating more crisps, which whistle past me this time causing a breast feeding mother to move further away.

“I blow traditions up and my music is the sound of the shrapnel landing”
Is it important to you that your ideas connect with people?

“No, I like the idea of my projects finding their own trajectory even if that means they whizz by under everyone’s radar. Once you start thinking about an audience, you are not expressing yourself, only a thinly veiled need to please them.”

What else are you working on?
“I have just recorded 200 Hedgehogs marching in small jackboots custom made for them.”

This time I was the one liberating quite a large mouthful of Cider out my nose clearing up what had been an intractable sinus problem and simultaneously ensuring we now had the bar to ourselves.

I pressed on past the look on Fuse’s face, which suggested he had explained everything.

What was the thought process behind it?

“I have recorded the Hedgehogs marching in the direction of different countries. Ireland, Germany, France, Spain etc to see how they sound moving in the direction of a place with cultural baggage and expectations.”
What did you find?

“It was fascinating! The Hedgehogs had a cheeky lilt moving towards Ireland,
an insouciant je ne sais qua towards France, a humourless sense of purpose heading off for Berlin and a palpable Who Gives a Fuck mañana loping off towards Madrid”

You could really hear it?
“Don’t take my word, here’s a copy to listen to later”
I will.

Don’t you find joy in any so called mainstream music?
“Only by accident. I never listen to the radio or TV and find mainstream music is like a child desperate for approval…compounded by an obsession with making art pay!!
Isn’t that a bit harsh?
Is there nothing you like?

“I once saw an orchestra play The Flight of the Bumble Bee in a park. Their instruments had been sent to another location and they had to play it with combs and tissue paper. They were joined in performance by a million real bees. You see nature knows the difference. They would never have shown up with the real instruments., but they know the smell of adrenaline when something real is cooking!”

Later that night I lay in bed and listened to the Hedgehogs and to my utter amazement, you could hear the “Who Gives a Fuck mañana loping off towards Madrid” Fuse was banging on about.

I then tried it on shuffle play, seeing if I could still pick them. Sneaking a look at the titles afterwards I found I was wrong!

So it seems the idea behind the piece was as important as the piece, if not more so.

I found myself loving the idea behind it so much that I listened to it all night entering a surreal world that I could never have previously imagined.
It forced the listener to be involved, to be a participant in a strange intellectual process.

I reflected on the idea of the Avant Garde having a foe to rail against in the past.

Perhaps the foe has never gone away, but it is not what I thought it was.
It is not an outside influence stopping us or influencing us.

It is the self-editing, the music made for a perceived audience, the self-conscious art. The “will people buy it” devil on the shoulder. This is the real foe, and it applies to any artform.

In Fuse, I experienced a liberating reminder of where we should reach for Art.
It doesn’t have to sound like spitfires but if we throw out all the baggage when we compose, like the Avant garde are committed to doing, then we have a fighting chance of doing something refreshingly unencumbered.

Yes, there is a place for the Avant Garde in music….200 Hedgehogs can’t possibly be wrong.

Is the bagpipe a musical instrument? By Tony King 2011

Billy Wallace was distantly related to Sir William Braveheart Wallace and was a professional Scotsman. He was also a pathological Bagpipe player from Glasgow.
He had a necklace that German backpackers often mistook for sharks teeth.
It was in fact made from the teeth of people who over the years had asked him if the Bagpipe was a musical instrument.
He was what you’d call “a bit sensitive” about this.
The Oxford history professor who had contributed the most number of teeth to the necklace, had suggested that the Bagpipe was not actually a musical instrument but was designed to scare the Sassenachs back over Hadrian’s wall and away from Scotland for good. He had punctuated his point by poking his unlit pipe in Billy’s direction through a smug smirk. Confusing Billy’s catatonic rage for a rapt audience, the Oxford Don had just commenced the second part of his history lesson when he was punched so hard he somehow flew out of his tweed jacket leaving it momentarily hanging in mid air. The professor had co-incidentally made a noise disarmingly similar to a bagpipe as he landed in the fountain. He was fished out by a Salvation Army timbrel player who harbored her own doubts about the timbrel being a musical instrument.
Billy had fallen for the Bagpipe at an early age and in fact his first word was “Pipe”. Billy’s father had banned him from eating in the house for 2 days because he thought he had said “Pope”.
Billy joined a pipe band but was released from duties after they discovered he suffered from a rare condition improvaesthesia, where he imagined and played musical score that wasn’t in the score. He added the imagined bits and fitted them in whist trying to catch up to where the rest of the band was, in Amazing Grace for example, often at a funeral.
The bits he added in between sounded a little like a Goose trying to mate with another species much less interested in the deal…….
a sort of musical Tourette syndrome.
He had gone it alone from then on and busked his away around Ireland where his first necklace was quickly finished.
Irishmen, before being restricted to months of soft food by Billy, would often say something along these lines.
“Now da ting is…The Uillean pipe is as close a ting as you can get to the sound of a weeping woman and easily da most expressive musical instrument ever created, whereas the Bagpipe……”
Billy found the pipes broke down all language barriers and were quite the conversation starter around Europe, especially with managers of Hostels at 3am, which he insisted was the most inspirational time of day to practice.
Billy was frustrated by the Macedonian’s insistence that their pipe was older and better. When I say frustrated……by this I mean apoplectic with white hot rage. His anger went straight from asleep…happy….to volcanic spewing of Glaswegian expletives. Nothing in between…not a few seconds…even he had no warning…. Like a tartan Champagne cork exploding.
But what made him angry, as opposed to frustrated, was the inability of his foreign audience to fully appreciate the inspired gift of Glaswegian swearing.
The lager fuelled legacy of the pavement poet…The lilt from the kilt….how bloody clever it was!!!
He learned to say in 20 languages, “Pick a window Jimmy you’re leavin!!!!!” and “Are you talkin’ ta me or chewin’ a brick? Either way yer losin’ ya teeth”
Ironically, Glaswegian cussing was much more musical than the actual pipes the cussing was defending.
The sheer invective generated by Glaswegian fury, if you could harness it, was a no brainer to power some kind of steam driven pipe organ or the Clyde ship yards.
The other thing that nagged at Billy increasingly was that due to the limitations of the pipes you simply couldn’t play lots of notes that were on the score of his improvaesthesia.
He had taken to grimacing in the direction of the missing notes with his eyebrows….accompanied by a slightly apologetic rolling of the eyes…..
Then something miraculous happened in Indonesia. A mud wasp built a series of nests in the chanter of his bagpipes while he was laid up in hospital recovering from being attacked by a village as a result of a successful translation of some of his favourite expressions.
When he unpacked the pipes in New Orleans he discovered, as a result of the mud wasp nests, he could now play sharps and flats. He could play ALL the notes of his improvaesthesia!!!!
Billy stumbled upon a traditional New Orleans funeral and falling in to the second line of mourners, he pulled out his pipes and starting playing.
The mourners slowed to a stop, staring at him and he braced himself for the familiar scuffle, gun shots or bows and arrows. To his shock they started slow clapping and at first he thought they were taking the piss. Realizing they were the first humans to like his playing, his improvaesthesia rose to a new level. He belted out his ambitious composition entitled Dizzy Haggis which, thanks to the mud wasps he was now able to perform in the original imagined key of F#. Previously he had made do in the key of C with a hell of a lot of eye brow grimacing.
But not now…. The audience went nuts!
He felt like he’d come home and was finally among his own people.
Finally the crowd calmed down and the older of the black cats took his dented Selmer out of his old cracked lips and said slowly “Man…..now I finally know what the B in B Bop stand for!
It stand for Bagpipe!”
MAN, it stand for BAGPIPE!!

The Role of Record Producer
By Tony King

Much to his amplified annoyance, Tyron had been overlooked as Producer of the year for the 30th year on the trot. It also brought on a fresh bout of eczema and made his temp secretary stay at a sheepish distance from him with her ipod headphones in but no music playing.

He spoke with a Cockney world weary brogue that would have made him limp if it had been a shoe.

He was a germophobe and vacuumed his secretary each morning.

Tryon was owner/producer of Shabby Road Studios.

He had persevered with the plural despite never having more than one studio.

Tyron laboured under the huge delusion that his production philosophy was very similar to that of David Attenborough. It consisted of “Non interference” when working with “Talent”. This would make sense when you’re dealing with a White Rhino that has to be kept in balance with nature. You don’t interfere because it skews the survival balance of the ecosystem.

Therefore real music could only evolve naturally if the producer watched from the safe distance of his “Hide”

In reality Tyron was an OCD interfering dictator.

If he had been Attenborough he would have dressed up as a pantomime Zebra and annoyed the Hyenas into swimming to a neighboring continent.

In reality he believed you have to interfere with bands early and often because they have no idea what they are doing and will be extinct by the end of the record if you don’t interfere.

Some of them would want to kill each other.

All of them would end up wanting to kill Tyron.

He would often ask the band “What kind of record would you like to make?” but would cut them off one word into their answer, shouting “There’s your first mistake!!! You have a preconceived concept, which is the enemy of art!!!”

On the surface this sounded profound but in reality bands really liked to have a role in their album and had an old fashioned desire for it to reflect the essence of who they were.

This made Tyron apoplectic with rage and his ensuing rant was enough to make bands lose their will to live and they gave up the fight to make their own record.

They made Tyron’s record.

All except a band called the Knee Tremblers who miraculously knew exactly what they wanted. The album was done at the speed of a porcupine mating.

Attenborough would have said ”in a perfunctory manner”

The band could all play stupendously well and got their BAS done on time. They quickly found a role for Tyron running errands and rang him at the local café, where he had been relocated, whenever the soap ran out.

The Knee Tremblers ironically had actually embraced Tyron’s own faux policy of non interference and made a brilliant record while Tyron was forced to console himself by putting his good ear against a vegemite glass and pressing it to the mixing room door.

The band had changed the security access pin to the mixing  room so all Tyron heard until the record came back from mastering was a muffled kick drum.

When perplexed passers boy saw Tyron with the glass to door, he would feign an air of conspiratorial superiority and say something like “These fuckers are making exactly the record I want, and they can’t even see me pulling the strings”

He would then mime a marionette puppeteer but would invariably trip over the water cooler, his Keith Moon grin pulled half way on.

Despite his idiosyncratic approach, Tyron had many, many clients over the years and arrived at what he called “The Golden Spake” for production. Here are a few examples.

“You can never have too many takes”- He invariably took the last take of a recording, put it through autotune and doubled it. He said that getting a singer to sing the same word or even syllable for an hour reproduced the truth found in a dying animal. “You can’t fake that!” “There’s no quick way to it…it hurts! It has to! Or you’re not doing it right!!!!!”

Bands hardly ever ended up with the original singer by the end of his productions. Often the singer ended up being the only player left standing, most frequently a bass player, whom he discovered was biologically closer to the truth of a dying animal than other musos.

Tyron’s most annoying habit was saying to a band member whilst employing a slowly wagging finger….

“I think I know where you’re going with this”….and with an expression that implied some kind of rare telepathic quasi religious moment, he would then coax the instrument out of their hands and play/sing all the parts himself, leaving the hapless  band member having to steal his own instrument back when Tyron went to the bathroom.

Another rule which was also written on the toilet wall.

“If the band knew what they wanted, they wouldn’t need a producer”- This was coded permission for Tyron to make whatever album he wanted, often replacing all the musicians eventually. A death metal album would end up a Celtic Ambient album, or visa versa.

Tyron’s Bête Noire was the “group mix”.

Negotiations would frequently resemble those found in Gaza but with less goodwill.

One particular occasion involved a Goth singer who had spent the week buried in her Sylvia Plath poems while the rest of the band fought over the border between good taste and commercial oblivion.

She put her book down and said something very, very quiet which nobody could hear. Eventually the airconditioning was turned off and she still was inaudible. Finally the vintage S1100 sampler was even unlugged which was known to make a slight hiss that annoyed some people with canine hearing. Still couldn’t hear her.

Ultimately she was mic’d up and they heard her say, ironically, that she couldn’t hear the vocals.

It turned out the channel had been muted from day one.

Tyron hated the conventional wisdom of making an artist feel comfortable to get the best out of them.

He believed pain was weakness leaving our body.

When all the weakness was gone, you were ready to press the red light and get the real band on tape.

This process often made Tyron look a lot like Dr Strangelove & his experiments resembled those done by the Nazi’s. This was all done with equipment readily available in the studio.

He would turn headphones up instead of down when the singer complained about the loud volume.

“Vot vaz I sinking?” (hissed through a malevolent grin).

“One step closer to a great album!!” as he goose-stepped around the sticky carpet.

Most of Tyron’s production tricks were in direct contravention of The Geneva Conventions’ four treaties and three additional protocols that set the standard for the humanitarian treatment of victims of war.

Make no mistake, Tyron was at war with his bands.

He was completely perplexed by producers like Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, who had the ability to bring out the essence of any band, adding a stack of their own creativity without a skerrick of their own footprints in the sand.

Tyron was the “Bigfoot” of producers and along with the Great Wall of China, his signature was the other man made object visible from outer space. Countless bands had taken to throwing hors d’oeuvres around record launches upon discovering his writing credit at the front of all the tracks.

Mr T was his own nickname for himself that was never embraced by others, mostly because there was already a quite famous Mr T.

Upon finishing an album Mr T would send the whole band out to get the celebratory ham and salad rolls. This would enable him to reverse all the bands wishes and desires about the mix.

When they returned he would pounce on the juiciest less soggy looking lunch and pronounce with chubby hubris,

“I believe that is the Producers Roll!!”

That would be the closest Mr T would ever get to understanding the producers role.

BEAUTIFULLY MAD @ The Basement  SYDNEY February 23rd-2010

The doors opened at 5pm. We slid our gear in, getting set up for the sound-check…feeling is that it will be a good gig.

Chris Mysinsky always on time, always ready to help, he puts us at ease… the sound will be good.

There is to be a showcase before our performance, a young Melbourne performer who, apparently Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs are interested in.

Meanwhile in a corner of the venue, the unveiling of the remarkable portrait of singer songwriter, Jeff Duff, that once was lost and now is found again, was also taking place, before our performance , and during our sound check which led to an impromptu song from Jeff with Bill Risby on piano.

What a joy and what an amazing voice Jeff Duff has!

Two hours for dinner and prep, the Beautifully Mad Band Boys forage for food @ Circular Quay. I stay behind and warm up, make up, try stretching to relax, have my minutes of silence… Mechelle arrives to be caretaker of the CDs … Leslie appears with a great idea…

Dinner is over and we’re all back stage… I’m Groucho Marx in the broom closet saying “come on in plenty of room…” meanwhile the venue is filling with people we know and love and a few strangers too…

It’s time… 9.30 passes … 10pm appears… at 10:15pm we start…

Tony counts us in and the musical caravan begins.

Bill Risby (our Keith Jarrett rival ) created inversions of rainbow proportions on  an instrument that embodies black’n’white… Bill is a brilliant pianist and an angel in disguise.

Abraham (our Jimmy Hendrix freak and almost look alike) is the first drummer to have to present ID at the door. Abraham plays his kit with a finesse that belies his years.

Peter Badenoch (our Peter Gabriel freak and almost look alike) his first Basement gig. His playing is so solid, a sound hound. He enveloped the songs with his round anchoring Bass .

Craig Walters (Big W) had 150 people inhaling with slack jaws, in awe of his dexterous command and soloing choices on saxophone and flute.

Nina Vox appeared and invited George Washingmachine to join her on “I Wish I’d Lived When Django Did”…With his hair spiked (our Stephan Grappeli crossed with Ray Charles ) no stranger to the stage, stayed for the whole gig enthralling us all with his superbly played violin.

Jiri Kripac blew us away with his mini trumpet, in the finale “Papa Mau Mau’s Kitchen”…

Tony and I cannot thank the Beautifully Mad Band enough for being  generous with their time and such fun to work with. They offer their individual genius to make the whole experience sonically satisfying.

Thanks to Chris Mysinsky a for the great sound.

Thanks to Tony Ralph for taking some great photographs of the night.

Thanks to Chris Richards and all the staff for making our night run so smoothly.

To all our friends, fans and new fans & friends, who came to the gig…we never forget that you are the reason we do what we do. Thank you for shining your light on us.

For me, being on stage with all of these fabulous musicians, making Tony King’s songs come to life,  set me on a magic musical carpet ride where stars and universes sparkled and reverberated and will stay in my heart for a lifetime…

PS Michael McDonald did show up and he stayed for most of the gig… according to Victor ( Abe’s Dad)  Mr McDonald enjoyed the night … next time we may ask him up for a sing! Love that voice!

The inhabitants of the asteroid Alpha Cad 5 had been tapping their little feelers to Jazz for 300 million years. They were, by any time signature, the oldest and hippest Jazz enthusiasts in the Universe. They had seen it all come and go but had finally settled on a form of jazz that had stuck , at least it had for the last hundred million years. It consisted of 3 notes per piece. What really mattered was how you played the notes. It was all about the intent … It was not unusual for a musician to spend a couple of weeks puckering his lips into the right embouchure to tease out the next dotted semiquaver in the sequence. Rapt audiences would sit waiting, webbed dorsal fins all aquiver with anticipation…will he go for the F, like he did last year and leave the audience in a puddle of enthusiasm in which they would swim around in circles with their single flipper to show their gratitude? The other thing remarkable about the AC5 jazz audience was their incredible attention spans. Unlike on Earth, they could hold that expression you get on your face when someone tells you that Jesus is coming dinner, for 3 years before scratching their noses out of discomfort. “War and Peace” would be considered a short tweet on their asteroid. ….So when they were invited to the Montreux Jazz Festival on Earth they nearly drowned. At least they thought they had been invited. The thing is, on their planet, the traditional invitation to anything, was a small nuclear explosion, a couple of megatons, nothing big but it meant you were expected to turn up. Drop what you had been staring at for the last 6 months and get your arse into gear. They had been keeping an eye on Earth for a while. It had been getting harder to see as an opaque smoggy cloud had formed around it, which had only whet their appetite further. It was hard not to keep an eye on it when you were born with 360 eyes facing towards every degree of the compass. They were incredible at reading charts and could follow 120 pieces of Jazz at the same time, which is where they learnt “the expression humans get when they hear that Jesus is coming to dinner”….You try forming the right expression not to offend 120 artists you are listening to simultaneously, especially as some music was at a poignant low ebb, some were peaking, while other artists were playing something sneaky and subversive. They only had one face with which to display all their reactions. So when a mushroom cloud puffed up from somewhere in the Middle East lighting the place up very clearly for a few seconds, the AC5 got very excited and started to tune up their instruments and ready their space ships, called Pea Shooters. So named because they were literally shot out of a tube very quickly like peas. When I say quickly, they sometimes shot out so fast that they actually arrived at a place before they were born and had to wait for a long while to do whatever they went there for. The other thing about the AC5 is that they are very small. When they arrived at Montreux they were discovered accidentally by a scientist studying the Anopheles mosquito. He was convinced he had discovered a new species that could hum 3 notes instead of just the one. After a farcical interview by Border security involving a lot of arse scratching and paperwork being scrunched up a number of times, the AC5s were put on the bill after Keith Jarrett. The AC5 had never heard so many notes. The notes beat them up like a boxers speed bag…Badoonk badoonk badook badoonk Badoonk badoonk badoonk badoonk…… In fact he played more notes in 20 minutes than had been heard on AC5 in the last 200 million years. Despite the fact that Jarrett is a genius and clearly having a good day, one of the aliens tried stuffing a feeler into his ear and only occasionally pulled it out to test the water over the 20 mins but it still didn’t make sense. The AC5 did however love the grunting Jarrett was now warming to while he played, and they had their joyous little “epiphany faces” on now. They had surmised that this was the actual music and the piano was what they considered to be the “Grunting”. This made more sense to them because it didn’t happen that often and it had a chewier enigmatic quality that was more up the AC5 alley. It was very hard to block out the piano though, which was relentlessly intrusive, so the “epiphany face” was mixed with the look Earthlings get when they find out Stalin is coming to dinner. This was the point when Joni Mitchell floated onto stage followed by a green cloud from the joint she had been sucking on, and started some vocalese. The grunting, vocalese and piano fought each other…with a sound not unlike trying to get a bit of rope back off a poodle…… nobody giving an inch…while an audience of goatees and cheesecloth swayed in perplexed approval, followed by the inevitable lonely yelp of someone on acid exclaiming “YEAHHHH!!!!!” who had apparently unearthed a meaning in it all that would normally have taken a team of German Archaeologists. The AC5 were now stoned as well as confused, 360 little bloodshot eyes staring at a giant Hershey bar some 500 kms away and no realistic way of being able to eat it before they had to perform. Then something happened that completely terrified the AC5. Winton Marsalis had joined the others on stage and was pointing at them the largest Pea Shooter any of them had ever seen and if loaded would transport them all back before their Grandmothers were born. This was when the PA blew up. They had 120 eyes on the little puff of smoke coming out of the amps, which they interpreted as a tiny invitation to something?? 120 eyes on the Pea Shooter, should immediate evasive action be required and 120 eyes still on the Hershey bar as the munchies took a deeper hold. Complete silence….then a whistling kite flew down low over the crowd…..with a pure single hauntingly perfect tone.. a sound more beautiful than the AC5 had ever heard. So deep in it’s intent and profoundly moving, the stoned little Aliens were now paddling around doing something in a distinctly Esther Williams/Gary Larson oeuvre. They had spent 300 million years trying to reduce their pieces down from 3 notes whilst maintaining an over arching narrative…to no avail…and now here at Montreux they had heard it. “They were there!” they would tell their Grandspawn!!! “The day Whistling Kite performed” Now they knew what all the Montreux fuss was about. They also knew they couldn’t possibly follow an act like that. The last thing the audience heard was the little fzzzzzzzzzz of the AC5 Pea Shooter heading for home before the PA came back on…

AUSTRALIAN SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR TONY KING USING MUSIC TO BUILD WELLS IN ETHIOPIA

November 4th, 2009 Sydney, NSW Australia.

The Australian Songwriters Association just crowned Tony King Australian Songwriter of the Year.

King also won an unprecedented 3 awards taking out Best Song in the Open and Folk/Acoustic categories as well as the award for Best Lyrics. The somewhat eccentric songwriter has also found a way using music to turn “Wine into Water” and build water wells in Ethiopia. More of that dyslexic miracle later.

He has written songs with Andrew Strong, the singer of “Commitments” fame, and toured as his lead guitarist. He was also a scriptwriter for the radio comedy series “How Green Was My Cactus” now in its 23rd year of political satire. In 1991 he won an ARIA award for the highest selling single with “Read my Lips” He also found time to compose 13 animated Film scores for Burbank animation

Kings resumé  reads like someone with multiple personality disorder.

Despite his list of achievements he is most passionate about his “Wine into Water” project.

He composed a unique album made entirely from sounds of “Wine” ie Tuned Wine Glasses, Bottles, Barrels, Corks etc. He painstakingly recorded the sounds and used them as the orchestra.

When it was released, the album of beautiful ethereal music was voted the most popularly requested music on ABC Classic FM.

Upon hearing about the plight of Ethiopians who were dying from contaminated water, or lack of it, King decided to donate all the proceeds of his Wine Music album to go to building wells.

“There is abundant water but it is metres underground and the villagers have no means of getting to it without the right equipment and resources. Hence the “Wine into Water” project was born.

He teamed up with an organization called the Wellwishers who actually build the wells and he helps them raise money. “One well makes life possible for 650 villagers, who are trained to maintain them so they are not dependent on outside help to keep them going. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing music literally make a difference to peoples lives”

If you wish to hear King’s Wine Music album or make a donation, visit www.winemusic.biz

King and his partner Kris Ralph are based between Sydney and the south Coast of NSW Australia, where they have an Acoustic Folk/Jazz band called Beautifully Mad

His Award winning songs can be heard at www.beautifullymad.com