Roaring Jack - Your Stories

Photo: If you don't wrap gaffer tape around your accordion, it tends to explode. Rab and Steph of Roaring Jack, live at the University of Adelaide, February 1989. © Justine Thomas.

We're looking for your Roaring Jack stories. Email us if you have anything to contribute: memories of gigs, favourite songs, funny moments, etc.

Katie Icimsoy fondly remembers Roaring Jack from a gig in Adelaide in 1988.

I just happened to be browsing on youtube for songs I like and came across the link for Alistair Hulett's website....followed the links and found the section on memories of Roaring Jack.

I saw Roaring Jack at Club Foote in Adelaide in 1988 and it was an awesome performance- energizing, yet serious in the messages of the songs. In fact, this was one of the best concerts I have ever been to! I remember that the club wasn't even very crowded and I was surprised at that. I'll never forget that night because I was 16 (i.e. "underage" and using a fake i.d.) and an American exchange student in Adelaide that year. I went to the show with a male friend much older than me, and I was supposed to take the bus home to the suburbs, but missed it and didn't have the taxi fare. My friend ended up driving me home, where his car died and I had to explain to my host parents why he had to spend the night....I got in deep trouble for lying about where I went that night, but it was worth it!

I still have my Street Celtability album and my kids (who are now ages 10 and 7) have listened to it for years and love it- you should see them dance! I have no idea how many people in the US have even heard of Roaring Jack, but you can count me and my kids as fans in the US!

I never saw them play at the Exeter, but seeing them at the tiny club off Hindley Street was a much more intimate experience than anything would ever have been at the Exeter. I went back to Adelaide for university in 1991, but unfortunately, never had a chance to see Roaring Jack play again.

My husband and I are in the process of getting rid of old records and cassettes (hundreds!) and I told him that the one album I couldn't let go of was my Roaring Jack, since it's not the sort of album you can find easily (or so I thought! but I'm still not getting rid of it!).

JEM CULLEN got into Roaring Jack through going to see the acoustic band The Emigrants (featuring Lenny Duff) at the Sandringham Hotel in Newtown on Saturday afternoons. This was often the precursor to Roaring Jack gigs at the same venue later in the evening. It was just as likely that members of Roaring Jack would turn up and sit in with the Emigrants.

My memories? Roaring Jack playing support for Weddings Parties Anything at the Birkenhead Point Tavern, and blowing them off the stage.

RJ playing support for the Pogues (gods) and making everyone take notice!

Alistair's constant proselytising and the rest of the guys' faces. ("For fuck's sake shut up and sing the song Alistair"- but we all KNEW he was right really ...)

And more than one night when i was "pissed and broke" and the lads pouring the drink into me. Always free with the drink.

Yeh it was a family, "Roaring Jack, The Emigrants and Friends". We all became pretty close, some more than others. Weddings, deaths, and various spats... but lots of fun, and the best bunch of people, best friends, best nights, best music, i ever had.

Sitting here now, half a dozen drinks under me belt. Through the Smoke of Innocence belting from the stereo, wishing i was at the Sando now, but I ended up finding refuge in the Blue Mountains where the music scene is shite.

Often wonder where they all are ...

ROBERT DUNSTAN is the editor of Adelaide music magazine Rip It Up. He was lucky enough to see Roaring Jack play several times in Adelaide. He re a re some of Robert's memories.

I recall seeing Roaring Jack play at the Exeter Hotel in Adelaide in the late '80s. The pub was packed and two Japanese tourists came in. Within minutes they were down the front slam dancing away and then one came flying through the window from the beer garden into the pub's dining room. He got up again and went back into the fray.

Another time, some hours after a gig a bunch of us were standing outside of the Exeter following a Sunday night gig - pub s closed at 8pm on Sunday nights in Adelaide back in those days ? and Rob remembered that a fan had earlier given him some marijuana. We were standing there casually partak ing when two very young coppers came up and said, 'nice smell boys but do you min d moving on'. It was quite funny for a bunch of old codgers - we were all in our late 30s or even older at the time - to be told off by such young guys.

Another night we were all enjoying a few drinks on the balcony of the Exeter when we suddenly heard a crash and then a burglar alarm going off. We looked out across the road and a high profile fashion store was being robbed. (It was Miss Gladys Sym Choon - formerly an old Chinese fireworks shop where Kylie Minogue shops whenever she comes to town.) Several track-suited, hooded guys had grabbed a rack of clothes and made off down the street. The police came up to the balcony and questioned us but it had all happened so fast and taken us all so much by surprise that we couldn't recall exactly how many people were involved or any distinguishing features. And it was quite a lesson in how different people see things in such quick situations as some of us thought there was only a couple of them and others thought it was a whole gang.

Another night at the Exeter, I remember the PA stack being close to toppling over due to the number of people crashing into it and the sound engineer (Julie Grace) asked me to try and stick it together with Gaff tape. She handed me a roll which I used quite liberally in an attempt to make the PA somewhat safer. I think I used almost all of it and when I handed the remainder of the tape back she yelled, "don't you know how much that bloody stuff costs?"

And finally, here are some of the little moments that helped to make Roaring Jack Andy Carr's favourite band:

* Thursday nights at the Sandringham! The five guys outnumbered on a tiny stage by kamikaze stage divers, and Doc Martens boots whizzing by your head every ten seconds. And this is supposed to be a folk band ...

* Alistair unstraps the acoustic guitar and clutches at the mike stand like a punk rock madman for 'Ever So Humble' and 'Elton', doing that goofy little dance ...

* Alistair introduces guitarist Ra b Mannell as 'Billy Vomit' and Rab breaks out in a mock snarl, but it doesn't suit him 'cos he's too nice a guy ...

* They're rocking' through 'Buy Us A Drink' at Rozelle's Bridge Hotel, back in 1987, and Steve Thompson's hitting the bass drum with such violence that it's just about to topple off stage ...

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