DIARY - 15 AUGUST 2010 - THE DINGOES
IMITATES LIFE FOR DINGOES
I grew up on a side street/ I knew there was a main highway/ I never saw
the traffic/ but I heard it rolling by each day/ there was something in
the air/ that made me wanna venture out/ Stand By Me, Maybellene, Twist
and Shout/ I was walkin round at midnight/ I thought I heard the sun explode/
but it was just the thunder/ comin down Damascus Road." - Damascus
Road - Kerryn Tolhurst.
Art has frequently
imitated life for iconic Melbourne band The Dingoes in a career rudely
interrupted three decades ago by a series of tragedies.
As their hit Way Out West enjoyed its first local pop chart reign,
guitarist Chris Stockley fought for his life in a suburban hospital after
being shot by a member of a notorious Richmond underworld gang.
Stockley - an innocent victim who refused to surrender a carton of beer
to the gang outside a Brighton party - survived the 1973 shooting.
But the diminutive musician is still carrying bullet fragments in his
liver and lungs.
And as he clung to life the band replaced him on their tour until he was
well enough to perform again.
Fast-forward just 21 years and Dingoes singer-actor Broderick Smith -
brother of a Victorian detective once based at Colac - is cast as a police
weapons instructor in the TV crime series Janus.
His character's role was teaching special operations cops to use weapons
in the series - one of a pair (the other was Phoenix) - about their war
with Stockley's shooters.
The name of the Allen family crime clan was changed in the TV drama for
legal and artistic reasons.
That was long before the garden state sunk into quixotic quicksand as
the court inflicted name suppression capital of the western world.
The rich and infamous escaped the glare of the media blowtorch as they
rode on the back of the ethnic crime gangs waging a bloody battle on city
and suburban streets and rural retreats.
16 years on, the Dingoes howl again as Way Out West has a
cameo in new Geelong born Guy Pearce's movie Red Dog.
And the movie - based on Louis de Bernieres' 2002 novel on a lovable
hitchhiking Australian red kelpie - is filmed in the famed Pilbara
region of Western Australia.
Ironically Red Dog is set in a similar locale to Way Out West.
History repeated when The Dingoes song enjoyed a second chart-topping
bout for James Reyne and James Blundell in 1992.
song boomeranged 37 years after its birth - just like the band that
toured to promote its fourth album Tracks after a 30-year
is on Liberation Records - operated by Melbourne music mogul Michael Gudinski
who released the Dingoes first album in 1974 on his fledgling Mushroom
ROLLIN AROUND THE SUN
weed on the railroad track/ all the way here and all the way back/ a big
red wing is diving on a big old crow/ the world is at peace for all I
know." - Rollin Around The Sun - John Bois.
The new disc,
ploughing bleak landscapes akin to those tilled by the Coen Brothers in
their badlands movies, is a timeless testament to survival.
So is the music, concedes expat Australian co-founder-producer Kerryn
Tolhurst whose Locomo studio in Tucson, Arizona, was the scene of the
"I guess it's an album of survival, also about the journey,"
says Tolhurst - a prolific producer and writer who survived a protracted
battle with colon cancer in the early eighties.
"I spent about a year in recovery. I was living in New York but when
I got out of hospital I moved up to Woodstock, as you do, to recover.
Garth Hudson lives up there - and Levon Helm. I was writing songs and
getting back into recording during my recovery."
Original drummer John Lee, who rejoined the band in 1976 for its lunge
at international fame, wasn't so lucky.
He died at 45 in 1998 from liver failure.
Although Tolhurst and bassist-teacher John Bois have lived in the U.S.
since the band split in 1979 there's distinct outback imagery in the 10
original songs on Tracks.
"We wanted to give it more of an Australian feel," Tolhurst
"It's not so much about the land but a metaphor for no pain, no gain."
The album is not only book-ended by road songs but fuelled with tunes
rooted in that milieu.
"Everyone sent songs in, we sifted through them got a short list
and voted on the 10 favourites, democracy," Tolhurst revealed.
"We worked out a plan for the other guys to come to Tucson. We found
some funding to do it - it all went pretty smoothly"
the stakes weren't high enough/ it's not worth the life you take on some
foreign shore." - Not Worth Fighting For - Kerryn Tolhurst
ignited social comment in timely Tolhurst song Not Worth Fighting
"There's a line drawn between love and war and what's worth getting
into trouble about that," Tolhurst added.
"The current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are the underlying
subtext to it.
It also deals with domestic issues but draws a parallel. Those wars
have dragged on a lot longer than Vietnam. We don't know where it's
going to end. That's one element of it that fuelled the idea. In Arizona
there's an air force base, always troops leaving and coming back.
It's in the psyche - all over the news."
over the news was the plane that crashed into swampy thicket at Gillsburg,
Mississippi, on October 20, 1977, and killed three members of Dixie Rock
legends Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The Dingoes dreams also went up in flames - they were scheduled to tour
with the legendary Dixie Rock band to promote second album Five Times
They cut third album Orphans Of The Storm in the U.S. in 1978 but
split before its release in 1979.
But that was then and now, supported by Tracks guests - drummer
Ashley Davies, Kevin Bennett and former Procul Harum organist Chris Copping
- they went on the road again.
"After induction into the Hall of Fame at the ARIAS - that's when
this all began," Tolhurst said.
"We got together and played live - first time in 30 years. After
that we got talking about doing something - this was the opportune moment
to do it."
OF THE LAND - NOT ON THE RUN
hawk, dead snake, old ghosts that I can't shake/ black crow barbed wire/
spider crushed by a worn out tyre/ earth turns to dust, dust turns to
sand." - Ribs Of The Land - Broderick Smith-Matt Walker.
moved to Tucson three years ago, created his Locomo studio a year later
and made the most of his new abode.
It's the same city where Calexico record at the Wavelab studio.
So was creating a studio expensive?
"Ask my wife," was the concise answer.
Tolhurst lured Shane Howard from Killarney on the Shipwreck Coast for
his 12-song 10th solo album Goanna Dreaming.
Howard live at Basement Discs - August 2010
came to Tucson and we cut the tracks there," Tolhurst explained.
"It was a nice change for Shane to get out of the country and work
in a different environment with different musicians. It gave it a different
feel - probably has a feel of the place on the album."
It also features members of the Howard family, Warrnambool musicians Richard
Tankard, John Hudson and Andy Alberts, Neil Murray, Amy Saunders, Bart
Willoughby and the Broome based Pigram Brothers.
Tolhurst has also produced belated solo CDs by veteran singer Jimmy Norman
- co-writer of the Stones hit Time Is On My Side.
"I have produced a couple of albums for a guy named Jimmy Norman,
an older R & B singer," Tolhurst said.
"He lives in New York. He was co-writer of Time Is On My Side
and was in The Coasters. He was a R & B singer back in the sixties
but never found fame, a great singer and great song writer. He has written
a bunch of songs for Bob Marley over the years - well respected but never
broken through. He had all these songs lying around in his apartment -
they were going to throw them out in a garbage bag. We rescued them all
at the last moment so we saved and shaped them. It was one of the great
pleasures of my career - that project."
Tolhurst also released a compilation CD of songs he produced for clients
diverse as Dandenongs raised and latter day northern suburban singer-songwriter
Cyndi Boste and the Pigram Brothers.
So is writing still a financial pleasure for Tolhurst?
"My songs are mostly recorded by artists I'm working with, independent
artists," Tolhurst confessed.
"There has not been a big one since Pat Benatar recorded All Fired
Up. I was signed to Chrysalis Music and was a staff writer there for
about three years. They paid me to write songs for whoever was looking
for songs. I didn't like that a lot."
So what about the source of Damascus Road?
"Life is a series of awakenings, that's what it's about," Tolhurst
So how many hurdles had the writer hit in recent times?
"Plenty, you wouldn't want to know," was the answer.
None were visible when The Dingoes won wide acclaim on their east coast
tour to promote Tracks.
here for a concert review of The Dingoes at The Corner Hotel
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