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GET ON BOARD
"Tonight is a special night," MC Hugo T. Armstrong tells
the crowd. "For the first time ever … the first ever live
recording on a steam train. You're gonna be part of musical
But, first, the backstory. Michael Pollitt was planning
to be a basketballer. At Monash University, studying business
systems and commerce, he found himself out injured, with
a sprained ankle. With time on his hands, he wandered into
the student union to discover a young, long-haired Jeff
Lang blazing away. It was a life-changer. Michael returned
to his friend's dormitory and picked up a guitar. He carried
it with him for the next six months. "I played until I could
play," Michael explains, smiling. He was 19. His basketball
dream was over. Tony Forbes, a musician friend of his dad,
suggested he check out Tommy Emmanuel, so Michael went to
see him at the Continental. Arriving an hour early, he went
for a walk down Chapel Street, discovering Muddy Waters
Café. He found a spiky blond-haired performer named Geoff
Achison, "playing some of the most amazing acoustic music
I'd ever heard". Michael saw Tommy's gig and then returned
to the café. He bought Geoff's CD, but it didn't feature
the song that was stuck in his head, Adam & Eve. Michael
couldn't sleep. He got online and wrote to Geoff, asking
how he could get a copy of the song so he could learn it.
Geoff wrote back: "There's only one way you can learn that
song - come 'round to my place and I'll teach you." Michael
had discovered the blues. Every Thursday night, he would
tune in to Max Crawdaddy's Triple R show, jamming along
to the songs. "Max was my education," Michael says. "He
taught me the history of the blues."
Michael relocated to London, where he became a session guitarist.
He also organised his best mate's buck's weekend. At 10am,
completely sober, they had a surfing lesson at Cornwall
beach. A guy fell in front of Michael. Instead of running
over him, Michael decided to flip off the back of his board.
About 20 metres from shore, he thought he'd be okay; he
wasn't. He crashed head first in about 20cm of water, breaking
his neck. He was lucky to survive. After being immobile
for six months, a doctor asked what he did for a living.
When Michael revealed he was a guitarist, the doctor replied,
"Terrific, that's what you're going to do to get your hand
working again." It was a case of use it or lose it. A year
after his accident, Michael was recording his debut EP,
The Morning Light. When a BBC DJ heard Michael's story,
she said: "You're not Mr Blues, you're Mr Black & Blues."
The name stuck. Michael now records as Mr Black & Blues
on his own label, Breakneck Records.
After 10 years in the UK, Michael came home in 2010, finding
a regular gig on Queenscliff's legendary Blues Train. Just
before Christmas 2011, Michael met one of his heroes, Chris
Wilson, at the Rainbow Hotel. Soon after, a booking mix-up
led to Michael sitting in on Chris's set on the Blues Train.
"Playing with Chris has been a spectacular education for
me. His breadth of experience is extraordinary and he has
a calm confidence on stage. He can tune an audience like
a radio, able to reach into his musical bag of tricks and
pull out exactly what the crowd needs at that moment." In
September last year, Michael and Chris returned to the Blues
Train to record the album, Blow These Tracks, Live On The
Blues Train (out now via www.mrblackandblues.com). It was
an unforgettable gig. "When you think about a recording
studio, a moving train, with all its rattles and squeaks,
is about as far as you can get from that environment. When
we did it, I understood why no one had done it before!"
Hugo T. Armstrong, who runs the Blues Train, has written
to the Guinness Book of Records to see if it is, indeed,
the first album to be recorded on a moving train. Whatever
way you look at it, it's a remarkable record. And it heralds
the arrival of a new blues star.
NICK OF TIME
Great to see that the multi-talented Nick Batterham (The
Earthmen, Blindside, Cordrazine) has signed to Popboomerang
Records and will release a new solo album, Closing Time
At Yah Yah's, in August. The first single is a sublime duet
with Amaya Laucirica, Own Worst Enemy.
See you at the Community Cup on Sunday!
Harrison Craig is closing in on top spot.
Unchained Melody HARRISON CRAIG (number two, debut)
More Than A Dream HARRISON CRAIG (three, debut)
Parachute TIMOMATIC (seven, debut)
Resolution MATT CORBY (10)
Love Is Gone LUKE KENNEDY (22, debut)
Caruso LUKE KENNEDY (23, debut)
Hello STAFFORD BROTHERS (27)
Threads of Silence KARISE EDEN (28)
Sheppard EP SHEPPARD (29)
Candle In The Night CELIA PAVEY (32, debut)
Alive EMPIRE OF THE SUN (39)
Bernard Fanning scores his seventh number one album (five
with Powderfinger, two solo).
Departures BERNARD FANNING (number one, debut)
Steal The Light THE CAT EMPIRE (23)
Flume FLUME (27)
The Very Best INXS (28)
Keep Moving ANDREW STOCKDALE (32, debut)
Beautiful Noise LEE KERNAGHAN (33)
The Very Very Best Of CROWDED HOUSE (39)
Hand It Over MR BLACK & BLUES WITH CHRIS WILSON
Own Worst Enemy NICK BATTERHAM
Ghouls VAUDEVILLE SMASH
Delegate DAVID BRIDIE
The Beginning And The End Of Everything JOSH PYKE
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