There was a fear that my skills in logistics and timetabling had let me down again (honestly they are not skills that I sharpen with any regularity) when I got a call a few weeks out from the Coonamble gig.
“There’s a Rotary Ball on the same night”
Of course I laughed because in my experience this was the sort of thing you needed ID to get into - that ID being a seniors card - which, according to Spotify (surprisingly) isn’t our most popular demographic.
Lest I rest on my mistaken assumptions I was quickly informed that oh no, Coonamble Rotary is different... of course as it turns out different means “directly appealing to the exact same crowd that one would normally expect would support a night of live music”
I hurriedly put in a call to the Bucking Bull (aka the venue of the unbelievably rocking rock show about to hit town) and decided to play along with a game of publican knows best when one of original music in the west’s new best friends Trevor assured me it wouldn’t matter.
Fast forward to the day of - fresh from a moderately well attended gig in Coonabarabran we were prepared to play for an empty beer garden like it was Wembley Stadium.
It wasn’t a lack of faith I promise but more that feeling that sometimes comes over songwriters when there’s this sneaky feeling that no one will show. Dave and Dallas took the van and gear via Baradine and Tim and I cruised through the Warrumbungle National Park for a spot of bird watching.
What? That’s a legitimate exercise to engage in on a rock & roll tour!
Technically it was Tim doing the watching (he’s really very good, pick his brain about it) while I asked annoying questions and probably made far too much noise in environments where that wasn’t exactly the recipe for success.
A few dirt roads later we hit Coonamble and cruised past the pub - and what is out the front? A big effing chalkboard with “LIVE BANDS ONE NIGHT ONLY” and the line-up. OK, so the pub was excited, this might be OK.
We stopped downtown, imposing ourselves on the only open cafe at a distinctly non “lunchy” time and losing the battle to have them turn the fryers back on we walked out with 4 chicken sandwiches, having heard the people behind the counter talking about “the big gig tonight” unbeknownst that it was us that was the big gig. That was enough fuel for my ego - the optimism meter was starting to flicker...
Joined by our great mates Civil Hands, Mannequin and Simon Allen there was one thing we knew - there would be at least 15 people there ‘cause we all weren’t going anywhere else.
A few early birds put that at around 25 and I was happy, telling myself that it was a pretty good number for this tour of songs you’ve never heard.
You know they even gave us a green room to relax in (Trevor, you are a legend!) and I don’t recall it happening but by the time the opening D chord to Magpie was ringing out the crowd had swelled to a hundred or more. Estimates from the pub put it near 200 by the end of the night.
The pattern of losing myself in the set continued so the memories are fuzzy but I know there was singing and dancing... I need to give a shout out to the two incredible people who pretty much danced all night for the bands and got other people up to do the same.
OK, I’ll admit, occasionally I’m prone to the use of hyperbole but if I said this was one of my favourite gigs ever I wouldn’t be stringing you along. Coonamble, you’ve outdone yourselves and it was an absolute pleasure to play for you. Until next time!