Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Moondoggies Reunion Gig

Howdy folk!
Yes yes, I know! I'm a slacker when it comes to blogging! Not one of my strong points, so I'm usually months behind...
With that in mind, let me share the story of a gig I did a few months back now.
Years ago, in the early 2000s, I joined a local Rockabilly band called 'The Moondoggies'. I say 'a' local Rockabilly band, but it's fair to say, in little old Echuca/Moama, population 13k max, we were 'the' local Rockabilly band! The band consisted of Mick Glover on drums (he stands up ah-la Slim Jim Phantom, from the Stray Cats) Col Carrington on lead guitar, Craig 'Cheap' Merkel on Double Bass, and me singing, and rhythm guitar.
We had lots of fun playing covers of Elvis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee, etc. The guys were heavily into The Stray Cats when I joined, and replaced the old singer, so I inherited the old song list, and learned the songs they already knew.
In about 2005, Cheap  decided to move to Wagga Wagga, and although we advertised for another double bass player, the only guy to answer our ad was a violin/mandolin player! We always knew Cheap was the only Double Bass player in town...and with that, the band folded.
Here's some photo's of us in action 'back in the day', early 2000's

From left to right, Cheap (Hot Dog), Mick (Mad Dog), Scotty( Howlin' Dog), Col(Top Dog)

The boys as a 3 piece with Mick singing, while I had a drink, or two

Col on his Gretsch

Cheap on his old Bass, complete with insulation stuffed in the sound holes to try and stop it feeding back! It had pretty primative pickups on it!

Mick all gloved up, for some hard hittin! I think he was one of the only stand up drummers around back then 

Scotty lookin quite casual, and wearing a very low slung guitar!

Fast forward to 2012, and we decide to do a one night only reunion, with the original members, including both lead singers, Mark Gains (the one I replaced, and me)
Col, the guitarist, was the driving force behind the gig, and hoped we could just have a quiet night, with a small crowed, as we'd have no chance of a practice, or even a run through before the gig. We booked a Saturday night at Rich River Golf Club, which was our usual haunt back in the day, and started working on song lists.
We decided to play the old stuff we used to play, rather than introduce anything new any of us had learned since, in order to keep it as simple for us all as possible!
As the weeks went by, and the gig got closer, the venue, which I now visit daily, servicing their poker machines, was telling us that they were getting heaps of enquires about the Moondoggies gig, from as far away as Bendigo, Albury, and Melbourne! What the?! How did they even hear about it? We never advertised at all!
So the pressure was on! But, I swore I'd stick to my usual plan when it comes to getting ready for an up coming gig, a plan we all followed back in the Moondoggie days, which was ignore the gig, and don't practice, or prepare at all, right up until the day before, when, you totally freak out that you wont remember how any of the songs go!
So...soon enough, the night was upon us. Luckily for me, as I was only with the band for about a quarter of its life, it was decided, I should only do a quarter of the show!, so I only had 1x 45 min set to get through, woo hoo! The downside was Mark had already picked all the 'good' songs, that the band had played with us both over the years. Luckily for me, I'd brought a few new songs to the band in my day, mainly Elvis, Johnny, Carl, and even some Glen Glenn, so It was pretty easy to fill 45mins.
So, the night started, and the guys, with Mark singing sounded brilliant! You'd never know they hadn't played with him in that line up for 15 years! (Mark, and Col play together now in a Rock n Roll Band, so different songs). It was great to see the guys in action again. I actually work for Col now as a Gaming machine tech, and haven't seen him behind a guitar for at least 5 years. It was great to see him in the light of a performer/band mate again, rather than boss, (a great boss!)
The band did 2 sets before I got up to do my one set. It was quite flattering to hear the crowed go nuts when Mark announced that I'd be up after the break!

Cheap concentrating on what he's doing on the Bass!

With Mark (Wilbur) on Sax/vocal, Col still playin the same old Gretsch

Wilbur and Mick in Action

Cheap on his Lee Rocker Original Bass!
Mick keepin' the beat!
Wilbur and Col

So, my turn came....First time we had played together in 7 years, with no practice and..........we rocked the joint! I started off with some Elvis tunes I knew we'd never forget, and I still occasionally play, like 'Good Rockin Tonight', 'That's Alright Momma', and Baby Lets Play House. The crowed really dug it, and the dance floor was packed! Which was quite funny actually, cause back in the day, we were always told we were "too fast, and too loud!" and I can tell you, we hadn't slowed up, or turned down with the passing of time!
Some people in the crowed were calling out for some of my original stuff, and luckily for me, the guys all had a copy of  my CD, so had heard my stuff, and were able to do a great job playing '50 Buick', and 'Just Like That!'
We played on a tiny stage, in a huge room, to a huge crowed who were having a ball, and we as a band had a great time. I finished my set with a very fast, and loud, 'surf '  influenced version  Del Shannon's 'Runaway' that we used to do all those years ago. It was so fun ending on that song, the way we do it really kicks ass!

Back together after 7 years!

While Wilbur was handy we got him up with his sax to do Rock Around The Clock

I wear my Guitar alot higher these days!

Mick restored this drumkit himself, complete with green tiger strips.

And then.... I was done! It amazes me how it all came back to us all after all those years. All the songs, all the in jokes, all the bad jokes! And it was soooo fun reminiscing after the gig, about past gigs we'd done, and the people we'd come across in our travels.
 After a break, the guys got up again with Mark to do one more set, and finish the night off.
It was a really fun night, and the band enjoyed it at least as much, if not more than the huge crowed that was there, much bigger than we used to get in our 'heyday'!
There was even talk of another reunion gig, maybe not as long between drinks this time.....but knowing us.....it will be at least another 7 years before we get organised, and get over this gig!
Take care y'all!