A Friday night out at the QB to catch Johnno's Blues Band gave me a chance to catch up with Ric Montgomery, who'd been a key figure in Barabbas, and while an evening of full-ahead heads down boogie makes for a good night out at the end of the working week it's not the sort of thing that you file away under great and memorable musical experiences.

Towards the end of my time in Townsville there was an up-and-coming bunch of high school kids gigging around the traps as The Spliffs, and I had a couple of chances to catch them live in Bowen before they headed off to try to crack the big time in the south.

My intro to the band came through the bass player, who I first encountered as a high school student picking up pocket money working in Wavelength Records, and while you won't find The Spliffs inextricably ensconced in the Rock Hall Of Fame they were successful enough to put John Watson (the aforementioned bass player) into a career in journalism and management which in turn led to managing Silverchair and Missy Higgins.

Most live music in Bowen over the past twenty years has, taken the form of a solo artist or a duo playing over the top of some variant of the prerecorded rhythm section. Not my preferred option, to be brutally frank about it, but then again the economics of the thing probably mitigate against a four or five-piece's long term survival. In those circumstances things come back to the quality of the performer and while most practitioners have been forgettable, there have been a couple of exceptions to the rule.

I was firmly ensconced in the public bar at the Grandview one Friday night when my next door neighbour (the Wombat) sought me out to let me know that the bloke singing in the Dining Room had a more gravelly voice than yours, Hughesy and this was obviously something that needed to be checked out.

I'd seen the pre-gig promo material in the foyer, but, to be quite honest, a combo called Topsy and The Bear didn't seem too promising, which explained why I was in the public bar.

Finding a vacant table in the Dining Room what was on offer first off was restrained dinner music until the kitchen closed, and it wasn't until I had a chance to have a yarn to the bloke in question that I realized we were in the presence of one of the legendary figures of Australian rock.


B© Ian Hughes 2012