Planet B

By Chris Mineral

The Steve Lucas and Friends EP By Request launched this winter is an impromptu selection of songs dedicated to the memory of legendary blues musician Chris Wilson. 

Steve Lucas, the mercurial muso who founded the punk band X travelled to San Diego, California to team up with a bunch of sensational Mexican musicians, recording four songs. The bass player from The Zeros Hector Penalosa is in the band that plays on the By Request EP and Before The Next Teardrop Falls has singing in both English and Spanish. The full album cover is a great picture of a snowy vista that includes a sign for The Joshua Tree Inn by the roadside. 

There is a distinctive twangy Americana feel to this project, and there is a piano accordion bright and prominent in the mix. He’ll Have To Go has some fine south of the border guitar strumming and again we have the multi-lingual dimension of Spanish and English. A sweet and succinct song. Sad Days Girl is a poignant vignette sung with vim and brio by Lucas, and again one of the verses is in Spanish. 

This four track EP is a ripper and should be available at all good record stores in the CBD as well as at the Steve Lucas Band Camp page. The four songs were recorded at Earthling Studios in San Diego and were mixed by Mike Kamoo. You should also be able to hear selections of these songs on Denise Hylands’ Twang radio show on 3RRR. 

There is also a full album of 10 tracks that concludes with a snappy Heartbreak Hotel, a staple in The Heinous Hounds sets. Down By The River is a great song reprised on the full album with a full flavoured band sound. The remaining six songs on the album were recorded in Melbourne at Studio and On The Mount and are mixed by Steve Lucas. There is a more Neil Young in the country feel to these songs. All Things Gonna Lead Me To Your Door has a real ever loving man feel to it, which also reminds one of Daddy Cool. You Think I’d Know Better has some tremendous keyboards in the mix and the backing vocals are well balanced in the mix. It’s a tremendous song and Steve Lucas is in fine form on the vocals.

Maybe You’d Be Mine is a beautiful alt-country song, and gets chugging along in the middle section with panache. There is also some fine harmonica playing towards the end of the song. By Request by Steve Lucas and Friends is worth your attention. 

Steve Lucas also performed as one of the Heinous Hounds at the final Cherry Blues Sunday afternoon blues sessions at The Cherry Bar at ACDC Lane. Heinous Hounds have elevated over the past couple of years and are one of the best bands playing around Melbourne. Matt Dwyer sang a great version of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues, while bass player Jerome Smith was at his swaggering best on I’m Ready. Dave Hogan was in blistering form on the harmonica and Steve Lucas was in fine fettle on lead vocals. The instrumental Lazy Lou was one of the highlights of the day. The interplay between Lucas and Dwyer on guitars was at times reminiscent of Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones. They have developed a fine sense of playing together, and Jerome Smith has it locked down solid in the pocket. Dave Hogan adds fuel to the fire with sharp, succinct and gutsy blues harmonica playing. Cherry Bar will be relocating to a new central location in the city in the next month.

Plum Green will be having its Lions In Darkness EP launch happening at The Curtin on Sunday, September 8. Plum Green has a grungy noir gothic sound. Its previous album featuring Baby Bird is available at record stores around Melbourne. Supporting on the night will be Sam Haven and Rach Brennan and The Pines.

CASEY Bebenek, the dynamic ambient instrumental duo of Adam Casey (cello) and Julia Bebenek (drums) have been performing, recording and releasing every month a series of long form nature inspired atmospheric improv concerts that are very treasureworthy. Their music is available on the CASEY Bebenek Band Camp page.

On Tuesday, August 6 classical piano player Jonathon Xian performed at the Music Matinee at The Scots Church, situated on the corner of Collins and Russell streets. Jonathon Xian won first prize in the fourth series of The Talent on 3MBS in 2018, a live music performance opportunity on radio that helps artists develop their performing skills. Also, to his credit, Jonathon was selected to perform in the Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition. On the menu at The Scots Church was Bach’s Chaconne in D minor, BWV 1004, Brahms Intermezzo in A major, Op 118, No. 2 and Franck’s Prelude, Chorale and Fugue, FWV 21.

Xian had performed Franck’s Prelude, Chorale and Fugue on a previous occasion at the Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition and it was the highlight performance at his music matinee performance at The Scots Church. Franck wrote this music in 1884 and it comprises three movements. Director Luchino Visconti featured this music in a prominent manner in his 1965 Italian movie Sandra. The movie starred Claudia Cardinale and Jean Sorel. Jonathan Xian played the piece with great dexterity and finesse. The cyclical nature where the themes of the prelude and chorale make a return in the fugue. Jonathan also performs in Bottled Snail Productions, a production company comprising of members of Melbourne’s legal fraternity. Bottled Snail Productions are presenting their Lawchestra: Pomp,Peer Gynt and a Premiere at Mic James Tatoulis Auditorium in Kew on Sunday, September 15.

Ainslie Wills album launch – Howler (Brunswick), August 30

CASEY Bebenek, Jibber Jabber Sound Club (Castlemaine), September 2

Ride – Forum Theatre, September 5

Chris Cohen, Deborah Conway and Vivien Goldman – Melbourne Recital Centre, September 8

Plum Green – The Curtin Hotel, September 8

The Maine – 170 Russell, Sunday, September 22

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