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 A Comb & A Bucket of Grease

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andi

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PostSubject: A Comb & A Bucket of Grease   Wed Jul 23, 2008 5:38 am

(another long LONG story from Andi... but there's photos, and at the end there's "music" too!)

We just returned from a holiday roadtrip to Cairns, 17 hours north of us, and back. It was great, with lots of sweeping landscapes and beautiful scenery- it'll take me ages to get through all the photos! But by far the most fun and interesting experience of the trip was meeting a fella named Jay McIvor.

Early Tuesday evening after we got settled in our room in Cairns and had a meal, we walked past a club called "12 Bar Blue" and saw the unmistakable form of a man manouvering a double bass in the doorway. As I heard him slap the strings just once or twice I said "whoa, we've got to stop." We went in to the little dark room and asked the duo, slap bass and acoustic guitar, when they were starting. 8pm, not for a while yet. We ordered drinks and listened to the errant rockabilly and jump blues riffs as they set up. Once the bass player was ready to go, Dean said hello and they started chatting. The muso said his name was Jay, he'd just moved to the Cairns area not long ago. The guitarist was Jimmy, he played a bit of everything, and sang too. This was their first official gig together, having only played informally once before.

Jay wore an STP t-shirt, rolled up jeans, a trucker hat, creepers and arms full of Sailor Jerry tattoos. Dyed in the wool rockabillies are hard to miss. We chatted with him a bit longer then decided to go back to our room and change into some clothes & shoes we could dance in before the band really started cookin'.

We got back just as Jimmy finished a solo set and we chatted with Jay some more before he hit the stage. He was a founding member of the Perth-based Salt Flat Trio, one of Australia's most respected rockabilly and western swing bands. I'd never heard SFT's music, but knew them by reputation only from the short time that we lived in Brisbane and were keeping tabs on the roots music scene there. Two years ago the lead singer of the Salt Flat Trio, Tyson, was killed in a head on collision with a drunk driver as Tyson was driving to a gig. Jay knocked around the country in a few different bands before landing in Far North Queensland 3 months ago.

Once Jay joined Jimmy onstage, the night was one surprise after another. Jimmy would turn to Jay, tell him the key and away they'd go - most of the songs Jay had never played (and in many cases hadn't ever heard) before, but you wouldn't have known it. Slim & Slam, Fats Waller, Gershwin, Chris Isaak, Big Joe Turner, even some of Jimmy's originals - Jay kept pace with Jimmy on every one. They were tight. Jimmy's singing was laid back and mature and his percussive guitar expertise dashed any concerns about the lack of a electric guitar or drums.

During a break I asked Jay how he and Jimmy met. He said he sold magic pens (Magic pens? Really? Another surprise!) at the markets in Kuranda during the week, and a while back he'd sold some to Jimmy's daughter. Jimmy said "you look like a muso," and away they went.

In typical muso form, Jay flirted with the girls in the bar every chance he got (and got a couple phone numbers out of the deal), but came over and talked music with us pretty often that night too. He seemed genuinely pleased to meet other people who shared his taste in music, apparently that's rare in FNQ. Before we left we told him we were planning on visiting Kuranda the next day, and maybe we'd see him at the markets. He laughed and said he'd give us the magic pen demo.

Wednesday we did see him again, and he did indeed give us a very well rehearsed pen pitch, even proving how "boyproof" the pens were by slamming the tip of one down onto the paper, resuling in a splashy, colourful blotch but causing no harm to the tip of the pen. All I could think about was what a great name "Boyproof" would be for an all girl band. Afterwards Jay announced that he was a coffee snob, and took us over to the stall of the local coffee maker, who roasted the local beans and made each cup by hand- for only $3. (Dean said "that's so cheap!" The coffee maker looked offended as he said, "it's a fair price." That's passion for a good product.)


The Magic Pen Man

Most of the sights in Kuranda were winding down for the day, so we'd decided to come back the next day via the Skyrail over the rainforest, then take the Kuranda Scenic Railway back into Cairns for maximum photo opportunities. While in Kuranda for Thursday lunch we stopped by the pen booth once again, and Jay seemed happy to see us. Did we want to go out and catch some live music with him tonight? But of course!

We met him that evening at the Green Ant Cantina and talked music, beer, food (he was trained as a chef and had run several of his own restaurants). He also told us about his family, and about Tyson. I told him his "songwriting barrel" was extremely deep, that he had a rich lifetime of experiences to pull from. He laughed and said he could be the best country singer in Cairns. We struck out a few times in the quest for good music, but ended up at the local footy club listening to a couple groups of old jazz duffers playing everything from Michael Franks to Wilbur Harris to dixieland. Upon arrival, Jay spied the big ol' bass in the corner and went to scope it out. He came back to the table, excited about the fact that it was a 3 string, flat backed bass, which meant it was probably from the 1850s-1890s. He hadn't ever played a 3 string before, wouldn't even know how. I said I'd be scared to play such a valuable instrument. He shrugged and said "mine's from the 1920's. You can't ruin 'em. You break it, you fix it - they're just wood." Later in the evening he chatted with the bass owner- it was indeed from the 1880's, and he told Jay what the 3 strings were. Of course a couple songs later the old fellas in their Hawaiian shirts, shorts, socks and sandals asked Jay in his cuffed jeans and tattoos onto the stage, and he waved them off. A few more songs and he couldn't resist, and next thing he knew he was playing out the rest of the set, including "Besame Mucho" and "Ain't That a Kick in the Head." It was quite a sight. (and you can bet Dean and I danced to our wedding song, Ain't That a Kick!) Jay played flawlessly yet again- you'd never know he hadn't played that instrument before. As he left the stage to the roaring applause and we got ready to go, Jay got two job offers and a proposition from a rich old fella who wanted Jay to join him on his yacht for unknown reasons.

That night we ended up buying a Salt Flat Trio CD, High School Favourites, and an Australian compilation called "It's a Gas" from Jay. Good to finally hear him play the music he was really passionate about.

We went questing for good music with Jay again on Friday night, unfortunately striking out all around but having great discussions about music and a lot of laughs in the process. As we were making plans for the night, Jay was concerned about whether the last place we were going would let him in wearing his cheesecutter hat, as most places like that have a strict dress code. He said, "I haven't been able to get a haircut yet this week, so I'll have to get a comb and a bucket of grease before we get there." (and *finally* we get to the title of the post!) A whole bucket, really?!?! Jay got sidetracked through the course of the evening and never managed to get his comb and grease, so spent the whole time at the club dodging staff as he tried desperately and unsuccessfully to keep his hat firmly on his head, while I made it a goal to photograph him hatless (and succeeded!) We'd met up with one of Jay's "little fillies," as he calls his female friends, and she and I had a good time watching Jay's hat antics. That night as we said our goodbyes and got ready to leave Cairns the next morning, I couldn't help wishing that Bundaberg was the town to benefit from Jay's talent and entertaining personality.


Jay, hiding from the camera- and the club staff.

I kept thinking about what a character Jay was, and how every time we saw him that "songwriting barrel" seemed to get even deeper. Finally I realized it didn't have to be *his* barrel - hell, I just bought a guitar and I've been dreaming of starting a rockabilly and jump blues band, why the hell shouldn't I take inspiration wherever I could get it?? Before I knew it I had three or four song ideas about Jay, and within a few days had the lyrics and melody to one song pretty much finished. Of course, now I just need to learn how the hell to play it. My guitar playing friend/teacher came over today and helped me work out what key it was in and what chords to play when (it would appear it's in G, and it's a little lacking in complexity in the melody - but hey, it's only my first effort!)

A Comb & A Bucket of Grease
Copyright A. Hazelwood & D. Hazelwood July 18-21 2008

Meetin' my gal at the dance hall tonight
She's so fine, I gotta look right
My hair needs a cut but I ain't got time
If I do it up right everything'll be fine

Just gimme me a comb and a bucket of grease
My hair grows like a weed
A comb and a bucket of grease
And that is all I need

I can't wear a hat
They won't let me in the door
I gotta slick it back
And meet my baby on the floor

A comb and a bucket of grease
And that is all I need

(solo, chorus)

Drinkin' and dancin' my hair starts to fall
I don't care, we're havin' such a ball
Til a shutter bug says "can I take your picture please"
I'm in the paper next day, beggin "no!" on my knees

Where are my comb and bucket of grease
I look like Jerry Lee
Needin' that comb and grease
From a hard night on the keys

Too late for a hat
My mop is front page
I guess there's no point
In gettin' in a rage

A comb and a bucket of grease
Just didn't meet my needs

I had such a good time writing it, I even decided to record it (just the voice part, there's no way I can even begin to tackle the rhythm guitar part just yet- soon though! I even included space for a solo!) It sounds awful, but again, it's a start! If you've made it this far and you care enough to hear it, click here. (And if any of our resident musicians want to help me turn it into a real song, with instruments and everything, please don't hesitate to get in touch!!)

Dean made a good point somewhere in our trip: sweeping landscapes and beautiful scenery are nice, but when you look back on your experiences and your travels, it's the people that you remember the most. I'm glad to have met someone as memorable as Jay.


Jay, Andi & Dean

For those who've not had a chance to hear the Salt Flat Trio, visit their MySpace page:
http://www.myspace.com/saltflattrio
To see larger versions of the photos in this post, visit my flickr page:
http://flickr.com/photos/andihazelwood/


Last edited by andi on Wed Jul 23, 2008 7:54 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : just to make it clear that yes, the lyrics, music and recording are copyright Andi Hazelwood and Dean Hazelwood 2008!)
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Doesy

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PostSubject: Re: A Comb & A Bucket of Grease   Wed Jul 23, 2008 5:49 am

Gee Andi, sounds like an awesome trip.

Jay truely is a legend of the Aussie Rockabilly/roots scene and seems like a really nice bloke as well.

The song sounds good! Can't wait to here it all finished!
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Kid Setzer

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PostSubject: Re: A Comb & A Bucket of Grease   Wed Jul 23, 2008 5:59 am

Andi.. I KNOW JAY!! Well, used to know him.. he probably wouldn't remember me now.. I loved and still love Salt Flat Trio, also the Tornado Alleycats which was a band that Jay and Andy from SFT formed after SFT. That still makes me sad when I think about Tyson.. I cried when my brother rung me up and told me (he lives in Perth where the guys from SFT lived at the time).. A friend of mine was killed on the same day in a motorcycle accident, he was 18.. safe to say I was an emotional wreck! Anywho, I have all of Salt Flat Trio's CD's and a few T-shirts so I was/am a huge fan of the band! The first time I met Jay I was astounded by the size of his muscles, seriously he has big arms!

He is a great guy Very Happy


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rickabilly

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PostSubject: Re: A Comb & A Bucket of Grease   Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:21 am

Seriously, Andi, is there anything you can't do? I love the lyrics - the desperation surrounding one's fashion (in this case, hair) as it relates to rock-n-roll reminds me of another legendary song - Blue Suede Shoes! Your song could have been written 50 years ago, it's got that great old soul.

And the story, very engaging. Unlike Kid, I don't know Jay. And yet, through your writing, I feel as though I do.

Thank you for letting us share a part of your history.


Well-Read-a-billy
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Kid Setzer

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PostSubject: Re: A Comb & A Bucket of Grease   Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:38 am

Andi! I forgot to comment on your lyrics.. well very nicely done indeed Very Happy I can write limericks (infact, I have many books full of my lame limericks Razz ) but songs I cannot do!


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Pinkpiratekitty

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PostSubject: Re: A Comb & A Bucket of Grease   Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:53 pm

Awesome Lyrics! PPK cat pirat
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andi

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PostSubject: Re: A Comb & A Bucket of Grease   Wed Jul 23, 2008 5:47 pm

Thanks ya'll! Rick, there's plenty I can't do, but that doesn't mean I won't give it a shot! The jury is still out as to whether or not I'll ever actually be able to *play* my guitar Very Happy
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Hellvis

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PostSubject: Re: A Comb & A Bucket of Grease   Wed Jul 23, 2008 6:49 pm

Holy sh!t, Andi, this is cool!
I like the lyrics a lot and your voice too!

Ladies & gentlemen, the neeeeew Wanda Jackson: Andi Hazelwooooooooooooooood!
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andi

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PostSubject: Re: A Comb & A Bucket of Grease   Wed Jul 23, 2008 7:22 pm

Hellvis wrote:
Holy sh!t, Andi, this is cool!
I like the lyrics a lot and your voice too!

Ladies & gentlemen, the neeeeew Wanda Jackson: Andi Hazelwooooooooooooooood!

Wow, thanks man! I have a LONG way to go before I'm anything near Wanda Jackson, but that's a major compliment so thank you!!

I find it funny that the very first song I've ever written is written for a male singer. As if there isn't plenty for me to write about from a female perspective! I have tons of "girl song" ideas in the works, but the lyrics to this one just fell into place first. Of course in my head I keep hearing Buzz Campbell or Deke Dickerson or... well, Brian Setzer... singing and playing it. Though I think if any of them actually did my face might fall off from the constant grinning! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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Hellvis

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PostSubject: Re: A Comb & A Bucket of Grease   Thu Jul 24, 2008 4:29 pm

And how 'bout that Jay guy playing double bass on this song?
You know it makes sense
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PostSubject: Re: A Comb & A Bucket of Grease   Thu Jul 24, 2008 6:17 pm

Hellvis wrote:
And how 'bout that Jay guy playing double bass on this song?
You know it makes sense

Absolutely- I am really wishing he had a studio to record himself in! I haven't heard him sing but he might be perfectly capable of that too!
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PostSubject: Re: A Comb & A Bucket of Grease   Thu Jul 24, 2008 7:50 pm

andi wrote:
Thanks ya'll! Rick, there's plenty I can't do, but that doesn't mean I won't give it a shot! The jury is still out as to whether or not I'll ever actually be able to *play* my guitar Very Happy

Hey andi,
How is the guitar going? I'm gonna show some stuff to Pony65K on Tuesday night if ya wanna come over as well!
Cheers Pete.
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andi

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PostSubject: Re: A Comb & A Bucket of Grease   Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:41 am

PICKIN' PETE wrote:
How is the guitar going? I'm gonna show some stuff to Pony65K on Tuesday night if ya wanna come over as well!

Bit far to drive Pete, otherwise I would!! Very Happy It's going slowly- especially now that we're so close to leaving the country (less than 2 weeks to go!!) So much to do when you're going to be away from home for 4 months. Since I can't take the guitar with me (we're traveling as light as possible- one carry on bag each, and that's it- no checked luggage), practicing has dropped down the priority list. I'm gonna miss my guitar for 4 months. And my dogs, too. Sigh.
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