By Chris Mineral
Sunday arvos at the Cherry Bar and Max Crawdaddy and co have the blues happening.
On occasion, a disparate group of musos called The Heinous Hounds are assembled, cajoled, rounded up and appear on stage. At times, they are an utter shambolic train wreck, trying to figure out what key the song they are to play is in. Almost disgraceful.
And yet like a majestic 1950s experimental jet plane, they ascend into the stratosphere. By some miracle.
The troubadour at the vanguard of this crew is Steve Lucas, the degenerate X lead singer, bringing his rock groove to the occasion.
His version of When A Man Loves A Woman, dedicated to his mystery lady Jo, is one of the standouts of the Heinous Hounds. Lucas has the pipes to bellow out a magnificent version of this classic song.
On the guitar is Matt Dwyer, the retro- futuristic muso who cites the guitarist Barney Kessel as one of his influences. Dwyer was overseas earlier this year, gigging around and, for a time, it is said he was somewhere in a desert. Playing the guitar.
On his return to Melbourne, at his first gig back at the Ding Dong Lounge he played a most chilling version of Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground. Dwyer has at times a purity of blues tone that is Gary Moore-esque. The man is switched on.
When the Heinous Hounds played the Cherry Bar on the day that we heard Chuck Berry had passed away, Matt Dwyer sang Nadine and he had The Cherry Bar singing the chorus back to him.
Playing bass guitar at the most recent Heinous Hounds show was the Born On The Bayou bass guitarist Pete Mavric who was rock solid holding it together with the amazing drummer Ash Davies protecting the beat with consummate ease. Davies has a show called Throttle playing soon at Northcote Town Hall. (Thursday, November 3 at 7.30pm, $19)
The Heinous Hounds’ regular bass guitarist Jerome Smith has played in The Divinyls with Mark and Chrissie Amphlett and he has been in a band with Keith Richards.
He does a great version of Howling Wolfs Evil and his version of the Elvis Presley song Teddy Bear is a funky, happening thing.
His bass sound is like magma from a volcano, warm and flowing across the sonic mix of The Heinous Hounds. When you hear Jerome Smith play the bass guitar, it is like listening to a conversation, though you would have to ask Jerome who he is having the conversation with!
At the Chuck Berry gig, when Jerome Smith and Steve Lucas arrived on stage, they jammed and improvised together. They had a kind of DNA RNA intuitive chemistry running, like the rings of Saturn occulting some blue phasing star in the distance.
On harmonica was Dave Hogan, who once toured with Canned Heat and over the decades has played with just about anyone who is anyone in the Melbourne blues scene.
He has a Morricone kind of vibe going with his playing – at times very minimal and laid back but succinct and cinematic in scope when it needs to be. A very tasteful musician.
The regular harmonica player for The Heinous Hounds, Chris Wilson from the Crown Of Thorns is like a fire and brimstone preacher, singing and talking the blues and demanding your attention. He is a powerhouse musician. You can hear him review books on Brian Wise’s Off The Record radio show on 3RRR. Wilson has a massive, strong physical presence on stage, he broods and emanates the blues.
Dwyer was mighty in his version of the Johnny Cash song Fulsom Prison Blues, and he dedicated the song to Johnny and June. And he raised his glass to the passing of Paul Cumming, a stalwart of the Melbourne music scene.
The great thing about Heinous Hounds is that they have the capacity to bring it on home, and they know how to crest the wave and hit the line with a great crescendo.
The crowd at Cherry Bar are massive blues fans and they really dig what The Heinous Hounds means to Melbourne. This is the blues they are singing. Rock on Heinous Hounds