Debra Byrne Bunjil Place Narre Warren

Let’s start with the two standing ovations shall we? That will set the scene nicely for what was an outstanding show.

An up close performance with Debra Byrne and Dion Hirini was just that.Debra’s casual barefoot approach was relaxed and inviting. You could’ve been forgiven for thinking you were inside her lounge room with a drink and listening to some classic songs and saying “Oh Yeah”, I remember this one as you quietly hummed along.

But, it was Bunjil Place Studio Narre Warren that provided the ambience for just 2 vocalists and one guitar. Yes, it was that simple and it worked so darn well.Something that also came across was the honest respect for both the artists and the audience. Debra was genuinely appreciative of those who’d taken the time to come along and be part of the performance. The crowds adoration on the other hand was also hard to ignore too.

So the song list, OK, let’s look at a few: Take It To The Limit, Leather and Lace, Time After Time, Mondo Rock’s State Of The Heart, some Steely Dan classics plus Write Myself A Letter, Walking After Midnight etc. All the songs were pure joy to listen to. And Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights was total emotion and delivered in a way that only an artist of Debra’s calibre could pull off, an entertainer who is one of the country’s finest all -rounders.

The guitar accompaniment from Dion, his solo vocals and harmonies were nothing short of outstanding too. Wow, this guy had more chords available than a venetian blind factory. A very polished musician indeed. His laid back demeanour was cool (really chilled) and there’s no denying Dion is an artist with seriously impeccable credentials.

It’s easy to see these two have shared the stage on many occasions, their connection was real. A very well produced show by Simon Myers along with the ambience of the Bunjil Place Studio beautifully enhanced the standout talent that was Debra Byrne and Dion Hirini. Thanks once again to Tracey Routledge from TR PR for the opportunity to review the show.So music lovers, I’m not giving it 10 out of 10! I’m settling on 11/10.

Rob Foenander
The Melbourne Observer
The Local Paper
Casey Radio 97.7FM

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Rob Foenander with Eric McCusker

A real up close and personal show is probably the best way to describe this intimate event with Mondo Rock guitarist Eric McCusker.

The Ember Lounge at St Kilda’s Memo Music Hall provided the ideal setting and the near capacity crowd listened, laughed and sang away an extremely pleasant couple of hours.

Nothing it seemed was out of bounds with Eric. In fact, it was a warts and all delivery of growing up, family, music influences, the people he’s worked with, love and more.

Fascinating stuff indeed from one of Australia’s rock greats. Someone the late and much loved singer/ actor Jon English said should’ve been a superstar. Yes, I think that’s a fair call but you get the feeling that maybe it’s a title Eric’s not comfortable with.

On the music side, Eric took his audience on an interesting trip down memory lane with the stories behind the numerous hit songs he’s written “Come Said the Boy”, “State of the Heart”, “Chemistry”, “No Time”, “Summer of 81” ,“The Queen and Me” and more.

Add to this his inclusion on John Farnham’s 24 times platinum selling “Whispering Jack” album with “No-One Comes Close” and WOW….That’s big time folks!

Then to hear him sing these classic songs with just his telecaster, mic and amp was impressive, raw but real. The memorable choruses and riffs were all there. They transported you back to a time when great songs were the norm.

Rob Foenander
Melbourne Observer
Local Paper
Casey Radio 97.7 FM The Mon Morning Mix 9 – 11am

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Coco’s Lunch “Misra Chappu”

They say there’s always a first, right? Well, I couldn’t have asked for a better insight into A Cappella singing than from Coco’s Lunch. Yeah, Yeah, I’ve heard others do it but to then review the work was different and a rewarding challenge.

I should point out that the Melbourne all female group comprising of Lisa Young, Nicola Eveleigh, Jacqueline Gawler, Emma Gilmartin and Gabrielle MacGregor had already established their impressive vocal credentials well before their new album release “Misra Chappu”.

So folks, I put my humble singers hat on and along with headphones went into deep listening and concentration mode. These are the thoughts I came out with on the other side.

  •  A work of art really is probably the best way to describe this recording. A Cappella at its finest.
  • Intricate & well delivered harmonies along with equally intricate arrangements are a glaring standout on the 8 tracks.
  • The fact that it’s all stemming from original melodies & ideas makes this even more impressive.
  • A big wrap for the recording processes and people behind the controls too. Not an easy feat. A very successful production indeed.

The above can be added to the existing endorsements from Barry Humphries, Fran Kelly, ABC Radio National Breakfast and a host of other well knowns.

BTW – Here’s just a few inclusions you might see on their resume too. 

  • WINNER – Best Song Composed, Australian A Cappella Awards (2015)
  • Four nominations in the Australian A Cappella Awards
  • Featured on the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America’s 2015 compilation album Sing 12: This Big! along with the best A Cappella tracks from around the world.

Outstanding work Ladies.

Rob Foenander
Melbourne Observer
Local Paper Network
Casey Radio 97.7fm “The Monday Morning Mix”

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YOUNG TALENT TIME 50th Anniversary 2021

Young Talent Time

Well, who remembers this Australian must watch show from the 70s & 80s? That’s a stupid question, of course you do, come on, I’m sure you caught at least a few of the 800 plus episodes that aired between 1971-1988. Who wouldn’t remember the always youthful looking Johnny Young hosting a family friendly program that was the starting point for so many great artists.

Yes indeed and some whom we well know have gone on and conquered audiences all over the world. Did you have a favourite?

I even remember John choosing my Grandmas handmade crouched toilet roll holder one week as part of the segment where viewers would send lovely presents to the show. Boy were we big news in country Traralgon at the time. That was early 70s.

OK, so what’s new? Well, with the 50th YTT anniversary looming in 2021, former member Greg Poynton (1984 -1988 officially Greg says) along with Brett Leslie and Milton Hammon have created a Face book page that boasts over 2000 (legitimate) members.

Milton manages John Young’s archives while Brett’s background is in recovering and returning old music archival footage. What a perfect team it would seem. The content i.e. videos, photos and snippets are priceless. There’s probably enough material there to last another 50 years!.

Regardless, it all equates to a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Regretfully, the revisited format in 2012 as we all know was short lived and didn’t succeed.

Young Talent Time

Anyway back to the FB group. Former members too have jumped on board and contributed their precious memories to share. I don’t need to reel off names. Just join up on the link above and see for yourself. Relive some of those iconic moments. The dance routines, the songs, the costumes, hairstyles etc. WOW…. what a blast, it just goes on and on. We need something like this. It’s sure to bring a smile to your dial.

Rob Foenander
Melbourne Observer
The Local Paper
Casey Radio 97.7fm
(Photos courtesy of John Young & YTT 50th Facebook)

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A  career spanning over 50 years came to an end for music great Max Merritt in Sept this year.

The New Zealand born singer songwriter who also introduced Soul and R & B to Australia died in L A of a rare auto immune condition that had troubled him for some years before.

Max’s history as a much loved performer and awarded artist is well documented and one should take the time to search for such material. It’s easy to find and a fascinating read. Here’s a start –

I wanted to find out a little about  what it was like to work with Max so, I called my mate  “Glenno”  Glenn Suckling who was not only Max’s Musical Director &  long time bass player but a great friend too.

Glenno got the gig at the time when Max was touring with Doug Parkinson. Other combined tours included Brian Cadd and Dinah Lee. Glenno says it was Lead guitar God “JD” John Dallimore who recommended me to Max. “I remember Max being suitably impressed with my homework I’d done on some of his songs” he adds.It was about 2001 when I did my first gig with him and continued really until such time that he got sick.

Glenno recalls Max being fearless and taking no passengers. – the total professional – a perfectionist!

A memorable moment Glenno?

Max was the warm up artist for James Brown & Ray Charles amongst others at the Sydney Entertainment centre. We were all feeling a little unsure of how the gig would go with such a crowd but, Max pulled it off and had them eating  out the palm of his hand. It remains an incredible memory .

What was the song you enjoyed most playing?

“You can’t come back” which he recorded in the late 60s.

On a personal level Glenno?

Having played with some of the biggest acts Australia has offered – I have to say Max left the biggest mark on my career. It was the most rewarding experience. He was also a very close and caring friend. The Real Deal.

Max’s Posthumous album I CAN DREAM is now available having been released in Nov. Glenno features on 3 tracks.

Rob Foenander
Melbourne Observer
The Local Paper Network
Casey Radio 97.7fm The Mon Morning Mix 9 – 11am

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Well folks – I’ve recently been inspired by an Australian music legend who just keeps delivering the goods.  And those goods are what Russell Morris has always been connected with.  Great songs, incredible vocals and a complete understanding of how to engage and entertain an audience.

Ok, so there were many RM fans who came to Birds Basement for a memorable evening. Granted! and the whole package was first class. Russell’s singing was pitch perfect and he was hitting notes that any younger counterpart would envy. Those that mightn’t have been followers would’ve jumped on board after this performance I’m sure.

His blues/roots music from the past few years and the stories behind the songs were something to behold.The accompanying narration was delivered in an interesting and engaging way that helped you connect even more with the songs.  Of course, the icing on what was already a beautiful cake had to be his trip down memory lane with all his big hits from the 60s & 70s.  All of which were delivered meticulously.

Let’s not forget the band either.  It had to be one of the tightest bands I’ve seen in a long time. Pete O’Brien, Mitch Cairns and John Creech are all accomplished and well regarded musicians in their own right.  Pete’s showmanship was a standout with a level of guitar playing that respectfully enhanced both Russell’s newer material and the classic hits tastefully. His extended solos had the crowd mesmerized too. Some seriously impressive playing by all indeed, and the harmonies – WOW – Tighter than the proverbial!

So folks, there you have it – 10/10 and as Russell’s one time producer would say “do yourselves a favour” and I say, get yourself a seat in his next show, you won’t be disappointed.

Rob Foenander
Melbourne Observer
The Local Paper Network
Casey Radio 97.7 FM

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