In a dreary and rain-drenched Noosa on the coast in Central Queensland Australia (for those who don’t know where it is!) I have just spent a few happy days participating in “The Noosa Long Weekend”, a festival of the Arts.
My first “duty” was to appear “in conversation” with Anthony Griffis in a piece entitled “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. It had the lovely sub-title (in the Festival programe) of “life in the psychedelic circus”. It was a fun “ramble” through the rock and roll years and Anthony was an inspired questioner who made me concoct the best anecdotes I could muster. It seemed to me that he had forgotten more about the Rolling Stones than I ever had a chance of remembering.
Anyway the audience seemed to love it all, there were plenty of giggles and even some unrestrained laughter and after it was over I signed over forty copies of my book - as they say in the business, “can’t be bad”. A life fondly remembered is a life lived twice!! After the event he gave me his own book called “Air Guitar” which is as funny a music business memoir as I’ve ever read. Hilarious!
A day or two later I appeared in a debate entitled “Classical Music vs the Rest” with some interesting people from the world of entertainment. Geraldine Doogue was the moderator, a journalist and broadcaster and classical music afficianado, and the panel comprised James Morrison (Australia’s jazz super-star), Richard Evans (CEO of the Sydney Opera House), and Victoria Watson (a principle artist with the Victorian State Opera) who seemed to be very much in the “Classical music camp”, plus two old rock and roll “reprobates” (being myself and Rick Grossman) presumably included to represent “the rest”. Rick is the former bass player for the Divinyls, a legendary Australian rock band and is now playing with the equally legendary Hoodoo Gurus. On paper (at least) it looked like the stage was set for an “epic confrontation” of opposing views, but in fact there was a remarkable convergence of ideas. We were all sympathetic to the plight in which Classical music seems to have found itself: sinking market share and diminishing revenues. We were less in accord when it came to the “solution” to the problems with which the classical form is faced.
The two rock and rollers seemed to go for cleverer marketing (ANY marketing) whilst the “classicists” seemed to wish for some form of “renaissance” in popular taste they found difficult to describe. And so it sent on, to be finished by a series of “points” from the audience some of which were interesting, a couple of which were profound, and one of which was so ludicrous as to bring the event to its close. The last speaker reckoned that the problem with classical music was that it had too many violins!! I remembered what the Emperor had said to poor old Mozart after listening to one of his pieces - “too many notes Mr.Mozart, too many notes”.
Anyway, the fun came after the event (for me) rather than during the on-stage debate. I got to hang out with legendary trumpeteer James Morrison, a Yamaha artist, wonderful musician and all-round amiable fellow. I told him about my bus, how it was perfect for touring and he wanted to see it. As he had his own car (with a driver) supplied by the Festival organisers, I suggested he let me drive him back to his hotel. James was duly ensconced in the back of the bus with two very pretty girls and off we travelled with a very happy musician grinning like a banshee. Yes sir! Way to go! Forget the airlines and the airports and the taxis and the waiting around - if you wanna get ahead get a bus I warbled on, and James (bless him) was in absolute agreement!
Meeting Rick Grossman from the Hoodoo Gurus was fabulous - it made me feel like I was a participant in a wonderful seminar on the early days of punk and rock music in Australia! Rick was a mine of information on so many legendary bands from that era, and we merrily swapped rock and roll tales from the day we met. I would prattle on about the Stones and he would tell me of Jimmy Barnes and Midnight Oil. It was great! A lovely man with lovely memories, still playing rock and roll, and STILL loving it! Way to go Rick - you’re an inspiration for young guys like me !!! (Laugh out loud!) We also delved a little into the “trials and tribulations” of being a rock star, of the “price to be paid” for such a life-style and Rick (a survivor of the dark side) was a deep and thoughtful analysist - it aint easy being famous and to have survived in-tact touring and general madness, and to come out the other side still grinning, takes a special kind of person. One who amongst other things has to be the recipient of HUGE amounts of luck! Rick you were a lucky man, but your Karma disctated that it should have been so, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer fella. Good on yer!
I also was privileged to meet a scrumptious lady who specialises in delectable dishes (she was one herself!) called Janet de Neefe. I hadn’t a clue who she was but was amazed to discover she was the mother of four children and with her husband runs two of the most famous restaurants in Bali Indonesia. My wonder and surprise grew by the minute as she explained that she was also the founder of the world famous UBUD Readers and Writer’s Festival. I was enchanted, and I hope to attend the festival which sounds like a simply magic experience. This year apparently it has no fewer than four Nobel Prize winners attending - now that’s what I call impressive!
Talking of magic experiences, all of the people who run the Noosa Festival were so pleasant and accommodating it was wonderful. I kept thinking, why can’t life always be like this? Great people, happily engaged with what they are doing, all working together to one end - fabulous! Power to their little elbows - I had a ball ! Yo Noosa! And James, if you wanna buy a bus and needs some guidance, I’m your man!