WAM Hall of Fame
 
INTRODUCTION

In 2004 a new “WAM Hall of Fame” was created and since then, people who have made outstanding contributions to the WA contemporary music industry are inducted into the Hall of Fame each year during the WAMi Festival. In 2004 WAM recognised those whose achievements had been recognised previously. In some cases, it was fair to say that until then people felt that the recognition had been forgotten. But, it hadn’t.

The 2004 collection of luminaries of the West Australian music industry was launched with a presentation ceremony at the WAMi Weekender opening party held in Foundation Week. These people had been previously recognised through various WAM awards since 1985. The inductees were:

Joe Cipriani
Steve Gordon
Brian Peacock
Micheal Dwyer
Peter Woodward
Anna Gare
Dom Mariani
John Meyer
Shirley (nee Smith) Pochee
Mark Genge
Suzi Demarchi
Lucky Oceans
Kim Salmon
Steve Tallis
Richard Lane
Bob Gordon
RTRFM
Brett Rowe
David Gerard
Luke Rinaldi

In 2005, when the WAMi Awards first moved to the Verandah at the Perth Concert Hall the inductees were:
Bon Scott
Dave Hole
Martin Clarke

2006 Inductees:
Stephen and Alan Pigram
Dave McCoomb
James Baker

2007 Inductee:
The Farriss Brothers

2009 Inductee:
Dave Faulkner

You can now take yourself on a journey of WA music and read on below about these significant icons and the history they made. This collection of profiles acknowledging the WAM Hall of Fame inductees will continue to grow.

 
MICHAEL DWYER
“I think I was in there before Bon Scott.”

Friend and mentor to fellow music journalist and Hall of Fame inductee Bob Gordon, Michael Dwyer has made a significant contribution to the development of local original music in the decade he spent as a writer in Perth between 1988 and 1999. He earned recognition for his work when awarded the Golden WAMi for contribution to the industry in 1992 and has subsequently become an inductee in 2004.

Originally from Sydney, Michael Dwyer began his enduring writing career on his arrival in 1988 at age twenty-five. Having had no initial intention of staying in Perth or even pursuing a career as a writer, he realised that his first love of performing would not support him financially and he therefore sought other means of income. Consequently, Dwyer settled in Nedlands and took his post as editor for Xpress Magazine that year before being promoted to managing editor the following, in 1989 –a position he held until 1993.

For a brief time aftewards, Dwyer lived in London for a year where he wrote for the now defunct English magazine Melody Maker and –as is the nature of any industry concerning the arts –he spent his spare time cleaning to support himself; “Mid-time I was cleaning out houses… I mean, not cleaning ‘out-houses’.”

Dwyer frequented now extinct original music venues the Grosvenor Front Room, a hugely popular spot in its heyday, and Planet on Charles St, North Perth –he informed me that last he heard it had been converted into a ‘girly bar’ (The Doll’s House ring a bell?). Some of his favourite past bands which the largely unaware Perth community may or may not know of are; the iconic The Triffids and Hall of Fame inductee Anna Gare’s collective, Nansing and the Jam Tarts.

During his time with Xpress, Dwyer wrote a number of reviews, interviews and opinion pieces, and he instigated a “staunch pro-original music policy” in an industry dominated largely by cover bands during the 80s and early 90s; “There was big money for cover bands and their venues, so it was very difficult for original bands at that time.” Dwyer felt a little bit uncomfortable about his induction, especially when taking the stage of the WAMi Festival with the likes of Dom Mariani and Kim Salmon, but he was justly awarded by WAM for his keen support of local original music.

Now a prolific writer and no longer needing to seek other means of earning a living, Dwyer now resides in Melbourne with his wife, after leaving Perth in 1999. He writes for Melbourne newspaper The Age and illustrious music magazine Rolling Stone, while continuing to make contributions to the ‘Music Today’ section of Perth newspaper The West Australian. Dwyer also manages to satisfy his love for playing music in his band The Melbourne Ukulele Collective, where he plays guitar, ukulele and vocals.

Dwyer’s familiarity with contemporary Perth music extends to those who frequent his current city of choice. The Panics are a personal favourite and he is deeply impressed by others he has come across, “a disproportionate number of successful bands come out of [Perth], which is amazing.”

As for his opinion on the state of the local music industry? Dwyer says that of what he’s seen of Perth music now and in the past it is very robust, but he concedes, “Every music industry has its problems, but there’s no blame to be laid on anyone’s shoulders.”

- Steph Kretowicz

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MARK GENGE
“It’s quite an honour. When I go back to Perth next I'll feel like a regal visitor.”

‘ The Genge’ –some might sooner recognize his distinctive voice and eccentric music taste perhaps than his name but his constant presence and support of local music makes it one worth knowing. The heart and soul of RTR FM since its inception, Mark Genge has played a fundamental role in launching new local talent and, having won multiple Golden WAMis for his contribution to the industry in 1994, 2000 and 2001, has earned himself a very special place in the WAM Hall of Fame.

Mark Genge had graduated with a BA in politics, but in his mid 20’s when he had the “hint of a mullet” his career path took a very different turn –to the good fortune of local original music.

On holiday in Perth after finishing High School in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria –“a town famous for its apples” – Genge says he liked the look of the UWA Campus and made the decision to study there. After graduating Genge became editor for the University newspaper Pelican for a year. The following year when his term with the paper expired Genge volunteered for the newly independent RTR FM from the UWA radio station 6VUS FM; RTR FM began broadcasting on Saturday the 1st of June 1991 and Genge began work with them the following Monday where he presented ‘Morning Magazine.’

Before taking his famed position with ‘Breakfast’ five days a week in April 1992 –along with ‘Morning Magazine’ –he presented ‘Beneath the Southern Cross’, dedicated to Australian music, and ‘Homegrown’ in which he featured a plethora of WA music. Genge carried on to host ‘Breakfast’ for twelve (“and a half”) years hosting more than 3,000 shows and becoming the backbone of the station plus a strong supporter of Western Australian talent; “I did all sorts - fundraisers, Radiothon, buying biscuits for staff meetings... You learn a multitude of skills at a community radio station.”

Genge was involved in the creation of the of the first “In the Pines” fundraiser at the Somerville Auditorium in 1994 when RTR was experiencing potentially catastrophic financial problems which threatened the very survival of the station. He continued to organise and compere the increasingly prestigious event for the next ten years where he remained the soul of ‘In the Pines’ until his departure from RTR.

Feeling a “bit stale” and wanting to try something new, Genge finished with ‘Breakfast’ at the end of November 2004 and with no work lined up returned to Melbourne and his family in December of that year; “There were lots of ‘Genges’ I hadn't seen for a while so I wanted to hang out with them. “

Genge is currently working for a sport, news and current affairs radio station 3AW in Melbourne; “I’m now lurking in the same corridors as Derryn Hinch, Ernie Sigley and Rex Hunt.” He says he’s enjoying the trams, footy and “nice Lebanese dip in small plastic containers” Melbourne has to offer, but affirms that Perth is where the ‘Genge’ character really developed especially considering he had no original intention of being a radio announcer in the first place.

While in Perth, Genge played for a short while with a band called Bumpa Car Turbo, “it was the brainchild of an enthusiastic young man called Stuart Badhair. I played tambourine, triangle and recorder and wore a hockey mask.” As a regular Friday and Saturday night music punter, Genge’s favourite venue was the now extinct Grosvenor, “during the '90's there were many fine CD launches there. The place had character and lots of sweat.” While some of his favourite local music of the past was the stunning vocals and “hot songs” of Spank; “I played their 'Swoon' cassette lots,” and The Rosemary Beads; “They displayed a beautiful combination of guitar and vocal angst. They were killers live.” Perth band Snowman, is a much-loved contemporary band; “Snowman are a live experience. Snowman and a glass of Ouzo, the perfect night out.”

Having learnt a lot about the workings of the music industry during his time with RTR, Genge encouraged a number of musicians and continues to do so –if his constant praise for Perth, its bands and RTR are anything to go by. As ‘the voice,’ both literally on and metaphorically for over a decade, WAM recognizes his immense contribution in supporting local acts.

Summing up the relationship between RTR and its listeners, Genge definitely likes the word ‘community’ when referring to the Perth music scene and he believes that Perth has certainly flourished due to its isolation; “WA bands know that they can realistically 'conquer' Perth then move on to bigger things if they have the talent.” As for the current state of the industry Genge believes it is still going strong; “In my involvement since the early 90s there' has been a constant
stream of innovative and quality sounds coming out of WA.” Mark Genge also has no doubt that considering what he sees as the strength of the industry and local support, “RTR FM will survive because of the passion of the listeners.”

- Steph Kretowicz

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DOM MARIANI
“I thought you had to be really old to be inducted... maybe they ran out of options.”

Despite his own reservations about the label, ‘guitar-driven pop’ and the legendary name of songwriter Dom Mariani are synonymous. The said Perth ‘garage rock ’ icon has been producing brilliant, fun rock ‘n’ roll for the past twenty years, all without ever abandoning his hometown. It was for his success in his creative field that Mariani was inducted into the WAMIA ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll of Renown’ in 1993, at the early age of thirty-three, and now into the WAM Hall of Fame in 2005.
Born and bred in Fremantle, WA, Mariani has come a long way from the instrumental – “I guess you would call it” – cover band Impact which he began at fourteen. Although it wasn’t the aforesaid band nor the Gostarts of 1982, which earned him the fame he now enjoys, it was his band The Stems, with his iconic dark sunglasses, that set Mariani’s career ablaze.

As singer, songwriter and lead guitarist, Mariani teamed up with Richard Lane to form one of WA’s greatest exports, ‘60’s inspired garage rock band’ The Stems, in late 1983. After securing a record deal with Sydney based label Citadel which dealt with a lot of underground, garage and inner city rock n roll, The Stems briefly left Perth for a few months for a successful “make or break” tour of Sydney. They were promoting, the single they’d released with their new benefactor in 1985; “We had this crazy notion that we’d go and do it.” Luckily for them, Sydney was experiencing a new wave of garage rock at that time; “We were just in the right place at the right time.” Their tour was a success. If Mariani could pick a time in his career he would choose his Stems days, “It was all exciting and new and I had dreams of being a rock ‘n’ roll star. We had a taste of it and it was fantastic.” However, their sudden disappearance in 1987, on the eve of a potentially monumental European tour in inexplicable circumstances has made The Stems and Mariani’s role in it legendary.

Soon after The Stems demise Mariani devoted all his energy to the more classic guitar pop of The Someloves – which had been brewing in the background since 1985 – officially becoming a great band in it’s own right in 1988. Unluckily for other WAMi nominees of that year they released their first album ‘Something or Other’ in 1990 and cleaned out the Awards.

By 1990, The Someloves was no more, and in 1992 Mariani formed DM3 in Perth. Releasing their debut album ‘One Time Two Times Three Red Light’ in 1993 on the back of which they commenced a surprisingly successful tour of Europe in 1994. If it wasn’t for the incredible reception DM3 received in Europe, Mariani says he probably would have ceased actively pursuing music. While he says the response wasn’t ‘massive’ in Europe they were getting a strong following at the clubs and festivals they’d played, finding people that knew their music, “It’s just very rewarding”. Mariani attributes the success of the original Stems to the “Australian guitar rock explosion” of the 80s with The Stems, Lime Spiders, the Hoodoo Gurus and Kim Salmon’s The Scientists leading the way. Up till then he didn’t understand their impact until DM3 played a festival in Denmark on their tour and managed to book several other shows in France, Italy and Germany from there. Mariani couldn’t believe the response, which made him question his pursuits in Perth when people seemed more interested in Europe. “I enjoy recording, but playing live is what I get the most buzz from. While Mariani was doing well in Perth the response in Europe convinced him to keep going. Although somewhat tempted by the lure of potential international success that DM3 presented, Mariani declined to uproot his family and leave his hometown, saying it was unrealistic at the age of thirty-four; “It went through my mind, “Let’s up root everything, and live in Spain.”

Apart from the brief revival of the original Stems in 1997 and reformation in 2003 , Mariani and his old band mates also played the ‘Underground Garage Festival’ in 2004, alongside other bands like The Strokes, Iggy and the Stooges, the Pretty Things, Bo Diddley and the New York Dolls to name a few. The festival organiser, Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist ‘Little Steven’ contacted Mariani after hearing DM3, who then sent him all his other work. Little Steven was impressed by The Stems that he invited them – the only Australian band on the bill – to perform with other like-minded bands at the festival to 20,000 people on Randall’s Island in New York. “He’s on some kind of crusade to bring rock n roll back, so that young kids know that there’s music beyond Nirvana.”

DM3 ceased to be a band in 1999, and Mariani has been playing with the Majestic Kelp ever since, with a line up that includes Robbie Scorer, the drummer from his adolescent Impact days. Mariani also plays part time with the Stoneage Hearts – although he was not a founder of the band. More recently he’s been more involved in production, producing local, interstate and overseas acts such as ,local bands Columbia, Day of the Dead and of course his pre-adolescent son and nephew’s band The Flairz. He swears he “didn’t force anything”, my young son was fascinated at a young age by the guitars I had lying around the house and trying to mimic “his old man.” Mariani also released ‘Popsided Guitar’ in 2005, an anthology spanning his career from 1984 to 2004.

Although Mariani doesn’t make music for a living anymore – Architectural Design is now his occupation – he still pursues it quite seriously. While a lot of musicians diversify within the industry, Mariani thinks that there is too much creative conflict to involve himself in management and other ‘money-oriented’ aspects of music; “Although it’s great to be rewarded for your work, and the business side of music does help you stay focussed on keeping your shit together, music has always been an artistic pursuit for me.”

Mariani expresses somewhat of a bias to the Fremantle scene over Perth city; “If talking Perth in general I’d say [the music industry] is a scene. In Freo there’s a bit of a community. I don’t know about Perth because I don’t spend a lot of time there, but that’s how I see it.” Mariani does see the positive impact of the isolation of Perth on its creativity, allowing it to develop its own sound and take on music; “You don’t see Perth predominantly as a ‘rock town’ even though some fine rock bands have come out of this city… People have always said Perth is famous for it’s ‘guitar pop sounds’, kind of like the West Coast of the US.” The only drawback of remaining in Perth, Mariani found with The Stems, was that while it was imperative to tour over East to continue making a living, it was never cheap to fly.

During his Stems days Mariani says there were two scenes in Perth; the cover scene which was huge in Perth, “there was always some big cover band doing well pulling huge crowds,” and a ‘little’ original music scene with a few ‘hip’ bands of the time. His band, like other local original bands such as The Triffids and The Manikins were “always on the outer” with cover bands like The Frames dominating the market. Mariani who was never interested in covers, expresses a disdain for cover bands; “I was just too lazy to learn those songs,” he did spend a while with friends doing covers to start up a band but “it was fun at first, but after a while it just got really boring. I lost interest.”

Favourite old venues of Mariani’s were the old Shenton Park Hotel (or ‘Shents’), the Old Melbourne and the Wizbah, and Mojos a little later on. Today he prefers the Norfolk Basement in Fremantle. Mariani still sees a lot of artists who play in Fremantle, as he doesn’t come up to the City often, The Sleepy Jackson are one of the current crop of Perth bands that he likes.

Compared to his experiences in the past Mariani has seen a decline in mass interest in live music; “There’s a lot more going on now. People have other things they can go to. Some people favour the boutique pub scene now with a DJ. There are still a few cover bands around, but it’s not as big as it used to be. Some of those bands used to pull crowds of a thousand-plus.” He says the whole music scene has changed considerably, now being geared around concert event and festivals, “The pub scene that used to exist years ago is no longer, you’ve got to really be into bands to want to go and see new up and coming bands now, there are smaller venues that help keep alive an alternate rock ‘n’ roll scene. God bless ‘em.”

- Steph Kretowicz

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JOHN MEYER
“It was just a great honour and a real surprise.”

John Meyer is an ‘old rocker’ at heart and apart from being a “top guy”, he isn’t sure why exactly he was inducted, but he does believe he is better known as a guitar player rather than for the bands he’s played in. For a guitarist who never envisioned himself playing beyond his twenties it is staggering then, that he has been inducted into the WAMIA ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ of Renown’ in 1993 and hence the WAM Hall of Fame (2004) in recognition of his extensive music career.

Born in ‘Three Springs’, WA and growing up in Perth in the 60s, Meyer was raised on jazz with a father who also played in a band. He first followed in his father’s footsteps, playing drums at a young age but soon moved on to guitar, citing the beguiling shape of the instrument for his change of preference. Meyer’s record collection extended from Eric Clapton to Muddy Waters, while growing up to the sounds of The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, but found the rawness of primal blues to be his passion.

By the age of sixteen, Meyer was already playing in pubs, “from memory the drinking age, for about a year, was still twenty-one, but nobody seemed to mind.” While Meyer has played in a number of bands his first one, which was ‘gigging regularly’, was a short-lived cover band called Stugwar Express (‘raw guts’ backwards); Meyer laughs as he recalls the nature of the music scene, “band gets together, gets a name, does a few gigs and breaks up”.

In 1972, at age seventeen, Meyer formed “progressive rock band” Fatty Lumpkin with New York drummer, Al Kash, plus others, which was an institution in its heyday. The name was that of Tom Bombadil’s horse in The Lord of the Rings, “we didn’t know it was a fat old horse at the time.” A few years into its lifespan, they had released some singles and received several offers from major labels to record an album in 1975, but at its peak in 1977 the band dispersed; “while we were ‘humming’ and ‘hah-ing’ about the deal the band broke up.” Three of the original Fatty Lumpkin members however – drummer, bass player and Meyer on guitar – reformed under the new name Everest, which played mostly originals but some Led Zeppelin covers. The band was tagged as three-piece heavy metal which Meyer attributes to the fact that they were not ‘poppy’; “We were a little bit more left-wing, I guess.”

Eventually in 1979 Meyer left Everest to play in another band called Airforce before he returned to the former, which once again underwent a new formation and name change as Saracen, becoming a popular band in pubs and on the touring circuit, while recording a self-titled album.

Finally, in the early 80s, Meyer left Saracen (which then became Trilogy) and made the move to Sydney where he felt there were more opportunities. There he played with bands Swanee, Sharon O’Neil and recorded ‘Southern Stars’ with the already well-established and successful Rose Tattoo after meeting front man ‘Angry Anderson’.

Although his Rose Tattoo episode was a hugely enjoyable time for Meyer, the band was already highly successful and had its own original direction when he joined. “It was good to finally be in a band with a record deal, management and heaps of prospects”, but while Rose Tattoo paid the bills Meyer still yearned for his own creative outlet. His first love was “just playing guitar” and with Rose Tattoo he was not afforded the same creative freedom that he wanted. Meyer laughs when he says he missed playing “heaps of guitar solos and having a self-indulgent good time.” As a result, he left Rose Tattoo in late 1986 with the intention of going solo, but after a short break and issuing a self-titled independent album with John Meyer Band in Perth, Matt Taylor of the recently reformed and hugely successful 70s blues band Chain approached him to temporarily replace his lead guitarist Phil Manning. Blues being Meyer’s “first love” he eagerly accepted the “absolute honour” of filling the shoes of one of the greatest Australian blues guitarists and returned to Sydney in 1987 to play with a band he used to watch in his mid-teens.

In 1991, Meyer left Chain and returned to Perth and the John Meyer Band, finally realising his dream of releasing a completely instrumental guitar album in 1992. Meyer acknowledges the LP as a personal yardstick; “I’m still proud of that album,” and although, according to Meyer, it “didn’t set the world on fire” it did win a few awards and has been used a lot on TV as background music for a number of motor sport programs which – being a fan himself – gave him “a bit of a buzz”.

Now settled in Perth, Meyer shows no signs of slowing down, working six days a week; recording in his studio, tutoring guitar privately, playing the occasional gig and, until recently, writing jingles for TV and radio. He still performs, although not as much as he used to, mainly at the Perth Blues Club and Blue to the Bone, with a spin-off of the John Meyer Band called John Meyer’s Blues Express. They released a self-titled album in 2004 and played at the Bridgetown Blues Festival. The album, having received good airplay on blues stations around the world, selling overseas and receiving fair reviews, rekindled Meyer’s enthusiasm for his music and he is subsequently working on a new album.

During his career as a guitarist Meyer has been employed as a session guitarist for over forty albums. He has also started a record label “JMP” and, apart from his paying clientele, Meyer is also recording and producing a very young rock band – their ages ranging between fourteen and seventeen – Fringe Benefit.

While Meyer doesn’t see a great deal of music now – only occasionally going to the Indi Bar in Scarborough where he lives – he does hear a lot; “In my twenties I used to be down there every night, but now I’ve got a pool to clean and lawns to mow.” He also makes it a point of supporting the industry where he can, avidly reading XPress and purchasing Groove magazine. From what he’s heard he’s very impressed with the high standard of contemporary Perth bands. Two bands he’s been “blown away” by are Toby and Code Red and Dave Mann Collective. Apart from any band that he’s played in, of course, Meyer cites Dave Hole as a favourite Perth musician. While of the 80s and early 90s it could only be The Never-Never with Peter Bush.

Meyer calls the Perth music scene an industry now, and “a melting pot of different styles and influences.” Because of it’s distance – more so in the past – artists who were denied the chance of seeing many of the ‘top-line’ acts tried to match the standard of an album, which was frequently far superior to a band’s live performance. “Quite often you’d go and see a band that sound great on an album, but when you actually see them live, they’re not nearly as good.”

Meyer recalls the 80s as being an incredible time after he names the old City Hotel as a favourite past venue, on the corner of Murray and King St; “the pub would only hold 300 people and we’d get 400, we just used cram them in there every Friday night.” Meyer does believe there has been a public shift away from live music, but in those days every pub had a band and the ‘Sunday Sessions’ were an institution; “They used to open from 4:30 to 7:30 on a Sunday afternoon; whether talking about The Raffles Hotel, or the Kewdale, or Cleo’s in Fremantle these places would be packed… there were probably more car accidents then too.” Nowadays it is much harder to draw a crowd; “we didn’t have the AFL, no Casino, Foxtel didn’t exist, we didn’t have CD’s or DVD burners… you name it.” Meyer even recalls an old Perth newspaper called The Daily News, which had six pages devoted to music entertainment; “Even when I went to Sydney in the early 80’s, I’d tell people about what the music scene in Perth was like and they just could not believe it. It was definitely different.”

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LUCKY OCEANS
“I felt fabulous, it was an unexpected honour.”

Internationally renowned pedal-steel guitarist and button accordionist Lucky Oceans isn’t sure if his students at UWA are familiar with his music and career, but if so they should be very impressed. Lucky comes from a family of successful musicians, has two Grammy Awards to his name and has played with a number of music greats; Willie Nelson, Paul Kelly and Archie Roach to name a few. It is in recognition of this incredible career that Lucky was inducted into the WAMi ‘Rock n’ Roll of Renown’ in 1994 and thus into the WAM Hall of Fame in 2004.

Born Reuben Gosfield in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Lucky Oceans is an adopted nickname. After he realised the toll his busy touring schedule was taking on his relationship with his wife and young daughter at the peak of his career, Lucky made the move to Fremantle soon after marrying his Australian spouse in 1979. Before relocating to Perth, Lucky had co-founded Texan country band Asleep at the Wheel with whom he played pedal-steel throughout the 70s, picking up a Grammy Award for ‘Best Country Instrumental’ in 1978 and again in 1992 when he flew back to Texas to add tracks for a later album while already residing in Perth.

On his arrival in Australia, Oceans became a member of Jim Fisher’s band Outlaws, later joining Anna Gare in Nansing and the Jam Tarts, before finally uniting with guitarist and regular Steve Tallis sideman Kent ‘Beast’ Hughes to form the critically acclaimed Dude Ranch in 1987. The success of the band was so great that many Australian and international acts made the pilgrimage to the Dude Ranch sets. His current band Zydecats was born in 1993 a few years after he began playing the button-accordion. The Zydecats “basically play blues, but we’d get bored if that was all we did” -‘Western Swing,’ California-branch Country, Zydeco, Louisiana blues, folk, jazz and central all contributing to the distinctive style of Lucky and his outfits.

In 1995, having had no previous experience, Lucky began work as presenter for the daily radio show ‘The Planet,’ on 720 ABC Radio, which features an eclectic mix of music from around the world, and is the only daily Perth-based radio program that broadcasts nationally. In 2001, he presented a six episode spin-off TV series of the same name on ABC TV, in which he played a significant creative role due to his vast knowledge of international music; knowledge which he also shares as co-ordinator of the hugely popular World Music Cultures course at UWA.

The semester-long course, which Lucky alone wrote and devised in 2002, boasts more than seventy students and covers a diverse range of topics with a broad overview of music around the world along with its social significance. Lucky takes what he calls a “non-academic approach; “I’ve never been to University so I don’t know what’s expected.”

As an American migrating to Fremantle Lucky was struck by the ‘pub rock’ scene, which he guarantees is unique to Australia. Old and new favourite venues of his are the Newport where he had a long-running residency with Dude Ranch, the old Claremont Hotel- which became the Conti, then Red Rock, then The Claremont again - where he played with the Zydecats, the Seaview Hotel in South Fremantle where he played with Nansing and Jam Tarts and of course Clancy’s Fremantle where his current band Zydecats have been resident on Sunday for over 10 years.

Lucky agrees that Perth truly is a ‘Blues town’ and stresses the importance of going back to the roots of music, rather than beginning at the likes of Led Zepellin; “Return-to-basics style is usually a good thing and gives you musical depth.” His greatest pleasure has been being able to share his first hand experience of country and blues with his adopted community; “People have said it’s really great to hear roots music first hand.”

Due to Perth’s relative isolation Lucky has been able to expand his expertise both musically and professionally. He recalls when he began playing in Perth the bands, having never seen a pedal-steel guitar before, started “panicking and saying they didn’t know how to play Hawaiian music.” In the US he lived in the shadow of the memory of the great players but Lucky says as most people in WA would have never seen a pedal-steel and therefore have nothing to compare it to, he has been able to develop his own individual technique; “As long as you don’t start thinking you’re really good when you’re not.” Furthermore, while in the US he had written only one song, in WA he has written hundreds. Lucky is now looking forward to showing his own unique style on his newly released album ‘Secret Steel’ in which he plays ‘what he wants.’

In Perth, it’s harder to be a specialist in any field, especially within the music industry. Lucky’s own career, where he has dabbled in television, radio and even education, is a testament to that very suggestion. Diversification in Perth and Australia is not only a possibility, but quite often a necessity; “You have to make a living somehow.” The real difference between Perth and the US is that “the isolation is real”; pursuing a career in music, and especially touring, is a major undertaking. However, people in Perth are also able to develop without high rents and most importantly “aren’t influenced by every other band in the country.”

- Steph Kretowicz

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LUKE RINALDI
“It was very nice, just a little bit embarrassing… especially when there are people like Dom Mariani and Kim Salmon on there that are living legends. I did feel like a bit of a tool.”

Luke Rinaldi – more affectionately known to some as ‘Rinnaz’ - seems uncomfortable with the praise afforded him for his work in Perth and is reluctant to blow his own horn. Not to worry, because there are plenty of people who will do it for him. The Perth music industry owes a lot to Rinaldi, even if he is too modest to acknowledge it himself. In recognition of his dedication to developing the local music industry, through active volunteering and support through management of such seminal Perth bands as Red Jezebel and, only recently defunct, Team Jedi, that he was awarded the Golden WAMi for contribution to the industry in 2003, and consequently had him inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.

Born in Perth, and having lived here all his life Rinaldi has been, and still is, an important figure in the development of local original music. He has selflessly devoted much of his time for the benefit of the music industry and the Arts in Perth. Rinaldi’s interest in the music industry began at seventeen when he booked a lunchtime gig for his brother’s band in high school, but his work really started as a volunteer for RTR FM and WAM in 1996.

With RTR Rinaldi originally started as a volunteer in the library, but by 1997 he was a presenter on the program ‘Spiral Scratch’, a position he held until 1998. During this time he also contributed to other shows including movie reviews on the ‘Breakfast Show’ with Mark Genge. For nineteen-year-old Rinaldi1997 was a year of zealous diversification. Early that same year Rinaldi began managing seminal Perth-band Team Jedi ‘until their death’ – figuratively speaking – in June of 2004. He was also involved in more volunteer work with WAM, for whom he organised the ‘Act of Youth’ all-ages program; “I don’t think I got paid for that”. Over that year, and those following, Rinaldi gradually acquired various positions within the organisation making it onto the pay roll as Office Manager and later ‘Kiss My WAMi’ coordinator.
Always the active supporter of WA music, Rinaldi began booking Saturday nights at the Hyde Park Hotel, and managing bands in 2000; Red Jezebel and Capital City. Although he worked with Red Jezebel a lot before, even coordinating a number of their release launches and promotion, Rinaldi didn’t officially start managing the band until then. Being school friends of his, he had until then believed that they were too close to work together.

Until recently, Rinaldi donated much of his time to the Music Manager’s Forum (MMF) a national information networking organisation based in Sydney, as the representative of the its Perth branch from 1999.

Nowadays, Rinaldi mainly does the booking for the Rosemount Hotel and is still doing the same for the Hyde Park Hotel. He is also the chair of the Contemporary Arts music panel for Arts WA, mainly involved in the processing of funding applications. He also still manages Red Jezebel and Capital City, including a new band Ghost Hotel, which includes ex-Team Jedi member Aaron Gibson. Rinaldi is still a booking agent for the ‘WAMi Festival’, no longer an employee but still being subcontracted by the organisation.

A contemporary current venue Rinaldi prefers – excluding the two he is employed by (but he would “say that anyway”) – is Amplifier on Murray St. While other favourite venues long-dead are the Grosvenor, Greenwich, the Old Loft and Planet; “It’s now called The Doll House the strip club, sorry, the ‘gentleman’s club’.” Rinaldi still frequents the local music circuit at least three to four times a week and after much inner deliberation he settles, for the moment, with the The Jayco Brothers as his favourite current Perth band – apart from his own bands, of course. As for the past, Rinaldi names The Triffids with no trouble; they’re not just his favourite Western Australian band ever; “They’re the best Australian band of all time.”

An embarrassed and somewhat evasive Rinaldi falters when asked what it was he thought earned him the honour of being inducted, believing it to be the pro bono contributions he’d made throughout the past decade and his support of a number of now successful Perth bands; “I suppose that some people recognized that a lot of the work I had done was for free.”

Although reserved when talking about his own career, Rinaldi is more than happy to share his views on the industry in the city he seems to love. Although a very small one, Rinaldi believes that Perth definitely is an industry, that there are people who do make a living within it’s realms in one way or another – or even in a number of ways – and there are bands which are earning money, at least for the time being. But because of its limited breadth, the Perth music scene is also a very close-knit community.

Rinaldi agrees that the creativity of the Perth bands is enhanced, particularly in comparison to other Australian capital cities, due to its alienation. He thinks that bands are under considerably less pressure because the chances of record companies being at a Perth show are very slim. He also attributes this to band interaction being a lot less competitive and lot more supportive; “If you go to Melbourne or Sydney, the Perth bands are always the really friendly guys.” Furthermore, for an Eastern States band, the ever-present possibility of a person of importance being at a show could result, in his opinion, to them playing a little more nervously and unnaturally and even end up playing for that person and not themselves or the crowd; “It also results in a lot of shitty bands getting signed after four gigs… and that band is never ready.” Rinaldi’s view is that bands in Perth will have gained a lot more important experience before ever getting noticed.

Band prospects in Perth are more abundant than he has ever seen. Although suspicious of past labels of Perth’s apparently ‘booming’ music industry, he says that it is currently the strongest it has ever been; “This is probably the longest that all that kind of hype has gone on for, which is good, because it means that maybe it’s not just a fad.” Rinaldi believes that in the past people became complacent, but today bands and managers are harder working and better prepared to achieve success; being more educated, having better resources and, of course, cheaper flights, “There’s the internet, and there’s a lot more access to people on the East Coast and overseas.” Looking around, there have never been so many Perth bands playing on national radio, actively touring or signed to major and independent labels; “The bands are probably more decent than they have been in a long time.”

- Steph Kretowicz

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RTR FM 92.1
“RTR exists toward bands’ careers.”

Independent radio station RTR FM has been a major supporter of local original music since its genesis in 1991. Emerging from the ashes of 6UVS – the station funded by the University of Western Australia until 1990 – RTR has moved a long way from a predominantly classical music station to a channel devoted predominantly to contemporary music. It is for RTR’s continued and significant support of Western Australian music that it was awarded the ‘Golden WAMi Award’ in 1996, 1997 and 1998 for contribution to the industry, and has subsequently been inducted into the WAM Hall of Fame in 2005.

Originally established and funded by UWA in 1977 as 6UVS, 92.1 fm was predominantly a classical music channel. Unable to compete with other 24 hour classical music stations, 6UVS was gradually decreasing its classical content and evolving to play more contemporary music. The university withdrew its funding in 1990, and those involved with the station at the time sought a community radio license on the understanding that the station would have a clear focus on the ‘Arts’ – a category in which contemporary music falls quite substantially. The newly renamed independent station RTR, a word play on ‘Arty’ Radio, earned greater support from its younger demographic as a result of the move away from classical; “the bulk of our listeners are aged sixteen to forty and that’s a reflection of the kind of music and topics that are discussed on RTR.”

Like most community radio stations, RTR began a telethon at its inception in 1992 called ’Radiothon’. Since RTR is a non-profit organisation it did, and still does, rely on the public to pledge its support to the station to survive.

Apart from its small permanent staff, RTR depends on the devotion of its volunteers, including more than 150 presenters who allow the station to keep running twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Revenue for the station comes from three main areas; ‘Radiothon’ and sponsorship (which includes advertising, within certain guidelines), while the rest of the stations’ turnover comes from its events; “In [2005] we’ve really cranked that up and RTR does about twenty events a year now.”

One of the best known fundraising events and most exciting dates on the local music calendar is RTR’s ‘In the Pines’ show, held at the Somerville Auditorium. The event is a showcase of a diverse range of local original bands of the day. The day-long festival was created in 1994, when RTR was experiencing potentially fatal financial problems. The first event which included names such as Yummy Fur, The Rosemary Beads and Ammonia was a modest one, with a limited budget and a need for huge returns. Luckily the first ‘In the Pines’ was successful, and over the years it has become an esteemed annual affair. RTR organises hundreds of other top Perth events, not only providing WA with regular showcases of local talent but also using the revenue to keep the station going.

In January of 2005 the station had grown considerably, so it shifted from its twenty year tenancy at the “old scummy building” tucked away at the back of UWA, to a more suitable location on Beaufort Street in Mt Lawley – inner-city suburbs being where the majority of RTR listeners reside. As Stinton says, this was a move long overdue; giving RTR more exposure, easier access and a clear break with UWA which the station was still widely associated with, despite the break a decade and half earlier. RTR has definitely come into its own, firmly establishing it independent reputation.
RTR FM far exceeds the twenty-five percent government quota of presenting Australian music, playing 30-35% Australian music. Although there is no State provision on how much local music should be played, 15-16% of that quota is WA-bred talent. RTR is working towards increasing local music airplay even further by having appointed a new position, in partnership with ArtsWA, of local music director in 2005. In the six months that the position has existed, local music coverage has increased by three percent and is still rising.

In the ten years Stinton has been involved in the local music industry, he believes it has never been healthier. The diversity and the standard of the music being produced is generally very high and is getting better all the time; “just when you think Perth can’t produce another band which is going to be successful, it does.” In his experience, he would call the ‘little’ Perth music scene an industry where people are making money “as they should be,” but also a tight-knit and supportive community; “the people that are involved in the local music industry help each other out, and in that sense it’s very much a community.”

- Steph Kretowicz

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