MATT WALKER

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Dave McComb

 

Photo By Julian Wu

 

I didnít know David McComb well. Only as much as one musician knows another whom they solely meet at gigs. A bit of a chat at sound check while you're thinking about what songs youíre going to play that night. Or maybe youíll exchange some views on the local scene while the sound guy tunes the fold back. Either way it can often be nothing more than chitchat while each performer gets into their zone. So I guess you get to know these people through their music and this, although obviously being a huge part of someone like Dave, is still not the whole shebang. So itís for these reasons that I say I didnít Ďreallyí know him.

 

Dave was not on the W.Minc label but Iíd often hear his name around the office. Both Graham and Steve were close friends of his and he would regularly come up in conversation. Whether it was his new musical work or his past adventures which both Graham and Steve at one time or another were involved in.

 

I canít even remember when I was first introduced to him or for that matter if I ever was. But I guess it was when he started playing small gigs around Melbourne with his new band, Costar. They played with Ashley and me one night at the Continental and I remember they had this sort of fragile chaos about them. The band themselves were pretty loose and Dave really didnít look too well. But he had these incredible songs and such a fantastic delivery.  It was obvious looking around the room that many people watching the show were really into him and probably had been for some time. With health problems keeping him quiet on the live music front, they were enjoying his return to the stage.

 

After the release of my first album for W.Minc, I Listen to the Night, I began writing songs for the next CD. After a long time playing an improvised style of music I felt the need to develop more as a songwriter and was fortunate to know some great songwriters to aspire to and learn from. Dave was of course one of these and after mentioning my interest to Graham Lee I received a clipboard full of Daveís lyrics that hadnít developed into finished songs yet. From this collection I found the words to Evil Feelings, a song that appeared on my second album, Soul Witness. As fate would have it Dave never got to hear the finished version of our one and only collaboration.

 

On a couple of occasions Dave joined me on stage and I remember one New Yearís eve at the Standard Hotel Fitzroy when he sang Dylanís Lonesome Hobo.  Crammed behind that little balustrade at the end of the room with us it seemed that he was performing the song beyond his physical limitations. Holding my shoulder to balance himself Dave sang, and it was powerful and dramatic and captivatingÖ even scary. Another time he guested with Ashley and me at the Continental Cafť in Prahran for a Ďlive to airí on 3RRR FM. Thankfully Julian Wu captured the night on tape. Although the recordings havenít seen the light of day yet, Iím sure they will and when they do people will hear him singing a great version of Lou Reedís Sweet Jane.

 

Iím still discovering his music. One night recently on PBS FM they featured some live material from The Triffods - recorded at the Prince of Wales in St Kilda back in í84 and another show somewhere in Europe playing to a very enthusiastic crowd. They also played a recording of his last line up, Costar recorded at the Espy. (Hooray for public radio!) Some performances were polished and others raw and at times on the verge of falling apart. But it was all refreshing and interesting and had meaning to it. The sort of music people like me will hear in years to come and be intrigued and seduced by, music thats impact will still be relevant. Listening how he leads the band simply by his commitment to delivering a songís emotion. And it doesnít have to be pounded into a three-minute structure either. Heíd build with certain vocal lines and make it clear to his band where he was going and what sort of musical energy was required.

 

Today itís still very clear to me that Dave McComb was the real thing and in a lot of ways I regret not knowing him better than I did, but then I realise that even without getting to know him well, he taught me a lot.

 

Matt Walker

April 2001

writing

the duo feels good

history - the early days

the cognac diaries

navigational skills

america west coast

matt saved by a

honky tonk woman

the necessary few

dave mc comb

the rainbow hotel

band of brothers...alone

ghost who walks dog

 

 

 

 


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