By Len Neale
CALLIDE and Dawson Valleys have had a long history of producing a series of rock bands, going right back to the sixties with Lexie Flemming and the Road Runners, to the seventies with Lindsay Williams and Cobra, and up to more recent times in the noughties with Hibernation Sickness and Epidemic Over.
So when, in 2007, my youngest son put his trombone away in its case and took up playing electric guitar, we decided to form the Callide Valley Music Club, in which Dan became our music leader and Kurt the guitar mentor.
We applied for a grant and obtained a mixer, amplifier, speakers and electronic drums. Every second Thursday evening, for over two-and-a-half years, we loaded these onto the back of the ute and set them up out front of the Anglican Church. Lyn came along at first to serve sausage rolls to the group, but was soon sitting in the front row asking for the song “Things are Getting Better”, which was her favourite. The group blasted rock music down Kariboe Street, and no-one minded much because there were hardly any people down-town on Thursday evenings. The young people learned quickly from Kurt using a method Dan called “genius learning” where they watched, listened and followed along with their leaders. This was incredible to witness, I never ceased to be amazed how they could learn more in one night in the group than a year of practising alone at home. Cam’s mate Sam was already a very accomplished drummer. They became credible rock musicians, and soon began having play-outs at other venues. They played the incidental music at the High School production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Much practice went into getting “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns and Roses, exactly right.
Next came a big challenge – the group decided to take on the heavy rock bands at the “Gladstone Battle of the Bands”, where, for a bunch of young inexperienced musicians, they did it great justice.
Then came another challenge, “Rockfest” at the “Silo Music Stage” where they played for three successive years. Two members eventually became so confident, that equipped with remote microphones on their guitars, they jumped off the stage into the “mosh pit” while continuing to play. The crowed welled around and the security had to rescue them – they had made the big time!
At the 2009 Rockfest, each of the participating bands later were given the opportunity to record an original track for the “Rockfest 2009 Album CD”. When asked what the Music Club’s band name was, the professional music recorder/mixer was met with a bewildered silence. They did not have a separate band name! “You look like you are at a Loose End,” he commented. The group agreed, and immediately adopted the title “Loose Endz”. Mikey, being the musical genius that he is, had written a quite heavy and complicated piece, to which Cam added words. I’d heard them practise it, and when they stated that the track was called “Stand and Fight”, the sound mixer said, “It will have to be heavy with a name like that”. It was.
After setting them up each with a recording track for their instrument or microphone, he at first asked them to play the song once as if they were playing it on-stage. He duly recorded each track. Next, he asked them if they wanted each to play their own part again, and it will be re-mixed into the original. This was a great learning experience, and the song has its vocal, heavy crunch, light and drum solo parts, bringing out the best in each musician. The sound mixer was a little gobsmacked at the final result, not bad for a bunch of beginners from the bush!
Eventually, members of the “Callide Valley Music Club” formed their own bands such as Seven-Ten-Split, Chasing Tuesday, Loose Endz, Rule 32 and Lenny and the Jets. Their skills and individual styles evolved until the young people ended up teaching and mentoring older musicians and bands. When people asked me, “How do you put up with all that noise of the boys practising under your house”? I would reply, “Better than them being on drugs or getting into trouble, and anyway, it’s well worth a listen to!”
The latest manifestation of the band is called “Full Circle”, with Sam coming home from the big city to play with his original band members at “Winterfest 2021”. Another decade in the history of the “Rock Bands in the Valleys” had come full circle!