2006/7 Back with The Black Sorrows
In 2005 into the early part of 2006 things went a bit quiet for me in the music industry. It was a scary time as I felt the cold wind of unemployment howling at my back and I had to try to find some way to make a living. It was at this time my old friend Con Gallin offered me a job as a sales rep for Gibson and Epiphone. I had known Con for sometime and had endorsed many of his products over the years.
 It was quite a challenge for me to make such a career change at this time in my life and in some ways it was humbling not to be able to hang on to my 'successful musician'  or  'rock star'  image. No matter how much bullshit we all know that to be, a modicum of notoriety can be a useful social grace that is easy to fall back on in times of need. I couldn't count the many doors that have opened so much more easily for me by quietly mentioning that 'I play with John Farnham or Kylie Minogue'.

It is interesting sometimes in a social situation where someone may ask, 'So what do you do for a living'  you answer 'I am a musician'. In some situations you may as well have answered 'I'm a pimp for a couple of working girls down in St Kilda' by the reaction you get.  But if you answer, 'I am a musician and I play with blah blah blah'  Well the reaction is somewhat different and the response is usually, 'Oh, you must be really good then'.

Some times it's tempting to say 'I play biker rock in a titty bar'  just to create a reaction. (Not that there is anything wrong with that!!.) It just doesn't carry the same degree of social lubrication.

Anyway I digress... the point I am making is that doing something different revealed to me how much I hung on to my previous identity. Mind you it was useful when It came to trying to sell Gibson guitars..... 'Hey didn't you used to be Joe Creighton?' ' Yep, that was me!'

Obviously it is so much easier to say 'I tour the world playing music with famous people' than 'I sell guitars for a living'  but I did get over my mild identity crisis and embraced my new role as Joe Citizen.
So, I did that job for almost a year. Con and I had a bit of a falling out. I thought I was doing pretty well, I was increasing sales, opening new stores for the brand. I think he thought so too but he wasn't keen on my laissez faire attitude towards office hours and doing some of my work from home. I think he was worried that my modus operandum might flow on to other employees. He never quite figured that none of his other employees were ex-rock stars and probably wouldn't have a fucked up attitude about 9 to 5 like mine. I figured if I am doing the job and getting results.... why worry how I am doing it. That's how it works with music..... if it sounds good and it sells who cares how you get it there!!  Con didn't see it that way, so we parted company on a slightly sour note. One day we may make friends again.

In 2006 Joe Camilleri asked me to do a 6 week tour with The Black Sorrows to promote The Roarin' Town album. As I write this, one year later, the tour is still going. We have travelled just about every weekend from one end of Australia to the other, from the far North East to the far North West. I have seen parts of Australia I never knew existed. What a fantastically diverse country we live in.
In this time the band has developed into a tight well oiled machine but also runs like a dirty old diesel, loose and funky. This current version of The Black Sorrows is one of the best live bands I have  worked with. Even though we work constantly I don't get bored with it as we tend approach each performance as a new moment  in time and each performance is different from the last. I have played in many bands where the show is the same every single night and that can become very tedious and doesn't leave much room for creative expression. In The Black Sorrows and Bakelite Radio (basically the same band, different repertoire) we tend to jam on the songs and see where else we can take them. Sometimes we may run into blind alleys, we might try something that doesn't quite work, but on the whole this method keeps the song fresh and inspired like the first few times of playing it. If a song dulls we tend to leave it for a while and then strike it up again in a new moment and hopefully revive it. We have a vast repertoire having played together over the years in many different forms so we can always find a song to reinvent.
At this stage The Black Sorrows and Bakelite Radio are booked until the end of this year and on into 2008 and I look forward to how this journey unfolds. Joe Camilleri is a fascinating artist to work with. With all his foibles and idiosyncrasies, I so admire his tenacity and persistence..... he just doesn't stop for anything. He keeps going and reinventing himself no matter what. So many of us could benefit from his example and move forward, keep creating and producing music rather than wallowing in depression and disappointment of past failures or balking in fear of future challenges. In the 'Bakelite Radio' format we have completed a live DVD recorded over 4 days at Sing Sing recorders Richmond plus some video clips for the latest Bakelite Radio CD.
It is interesting to point out that I started with the original Black Sorrows back in 1985 and have come a full circle in 2007.
Getting back to the the intoxication of rock granduer.... a funny story:
 When I first worked with the Revelators 'revival' in 2000, this was just after extensive touring with Farnham and Olivia in Australia and OS. I hadn't worked in the local circuit for some time and with the infrastructure of the tours I was doing and the crew available it meant I virtualy never had to touch my bass, apart from performing with it, never had to change my strings, tune my guitar or lift an amp.....  there was crew to do everything. I would literally walk on stage and have my bass put on and plugged in..... after years of that I got to accept it as the norm.

Well! .....I hooked up with Joe Camilleri and James Black again and we recorded Revelators 2 and decided to do some gigs to promote the album. So to cut a long story short, I end up side of stage at the Narooma Blues Festival, standing talking to Andrew Walker our manager. The Revelators are on next. .... I happen to notice that there is no bass amp on stage.
I turn to Andrew and say,"Shouldn't the bass rig be on stage?"
He answers,"Yeah it probably should"
I say,"Where do you think the bass rig is?"
He says,"In that road case sitting by the side of the stage"
I say," When is it going to be on stage"
He says,"Whenever you decide to put it up there!!"
Well..... I nearly fell over laughing. I realised how far from reality I had travelled and how much I took for granted. It was a funny lesson and I immediatly jumped up and with Andrew's help loaded the rig on stage laughing the whole time. It's not that I like loading heavy amps it's just that I got a glimpse behind my own veneer and saw how seduced by circumstance we become, so quickly.  Thankfully most of the gigs we do these days with The Black Sorrows or Bakelite Radio have all the backline amps etc provided and great crew to help us sort it all out but at least I have learnt to really appreciate that help and muck in when it's needed. But in all honesty.... I fucking hate lifting amps!!!

NEXT: chapter 14 - 2012-13 As we sailed 'Into the Mystic'