I inherited Charlie Bedford as a guitar student, and later a mate & contemporary, from another good friend, Neil ‘Q’ Quinlan, when the latter gave up guitar teaching at our local music shop and I took over some of his shifts.

Charlie was young, smart & petite, and he could already play the guitar jus’ like ringin’ a bell.

(He’s 14 or 15 now, so I guess he could have been 10 or 11 when I met up with him)

His passion is good old Blues music, it doesn’t matter what style. Chicago, Delta, Memphis, new age, it doesn’t matter to CB, as long as it has soul and is played with real feeling and meaning. It’s got to be bona fide for Charlie. We spend a lot of time in our weekly sessions just turning each other onto new/old sounds and ideas, and we’ve both discovered some gems this way.

CB’s Dad drives him around to gigs and benefits, house concerts, special guest spots and jam nights/open mics etc, and Charlie is forever posting salubrious gigs on Facebook, and openly thanking his peers and contemporaries for the opportunities they present to him. He’s a good, polite fellow who comes from good parents and a happy household. (and he gigs more regularly than anyone else I know)

Why the Blues then? Hopefully, CB will never know the pain of working under a relentless sun for a master who doles out meagre rations of food & succour. He is no refugee with bad habits setting himself against the cold world or out to make overt political & human rights statements. ( not yet anyway) The truth is, that music speaks to him and to paraphrase John Lee Hooker, “It’s in him and it’s gotta come out…let that boy boogie woogie!”

Charlie’s other mentors include local Blues Maestros Lloyd Spiegel & Geoff Achison, who would probably say the same about their own predilection for all things Blue, and once you’ve seen CB in action, you will understand that it is something he was born to do.

After connecting with the Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society (MBAS), Charlie met up with his future band mates and together they formed ‘Limelight’, a happening combo playing well known & fairly obscure Rhythm n Blues tunes all over town. CB shares lead vocal duties with smokingly good guitarist Hayden Powell, whose brother Cam plays the bass with soul and precision. Harvey, who I believe is 11 years old, plays drums like an angel, rock steady and fluid, and the whole unit is a joy to behold and groove to.

Inevitably, this town has grown too small for such talent, and the MBAS have hand picked the boys to play at a Blues showcase in Memphis USA early 2017. To get themselves (and their parents) there however, will require a lot of spondoolas, and the music community in Melbourne has taken it upon itself to support them the best way they know how. Benefit gigs!

In a professional, playing sense, CB and I connected at a raucous and long running Sunday jam night @ The Mt. Dandenong Hotel, high above Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs, which I co-hosted for 5 years or so. Charlie would play with anyone, a bit before he started singing and leading his own sets, and was genuinely sought out by newbies and veterans alike, as much for his attitude as for his awesome playing chops. You could see him watching, listening, making mental notes and taking it all in to be processed and acted upon. It was no surprise to any of us when CB began turning up to gigs resplendent in tie, waistcoat & groovy shirt; his attitude made any other option laughable. He has started collecting guitars and can wax lyrical about guitar finishes, tailpieces, plectrum density, string gauge, open tunings and rhythmic options like any true guitar aficionado, and openly admits to having GAS, or guitar acquisition syndrome. (Thanks Mr. Achison for that coinage) In short, Charlie is wallowing in all things musical, but not to the detriment of his schoolwork, life or attitude, a rare trait. Certainly, when I was his age, my mates and I would turn up the amps and jam loudly in to the afternoon, seeming to will better sound and playing from sheer volume and hubris. Me and mine were all magpies, not focussed on anything in particular, veering from Status Quo to Beatles to Steely Dan in the blink of an impatient eye. My Dad, who at 40 something billed himself as ‘the oldest roadie in the world’, would strap PA speakers to the roof of his VW and ferry us wherever we had to be. Our other car, owned & operated by the drummers’ father, was a Humber Super Snipe which I once accidentally ripped the roof lining from in a hasty floor tom removal outside the afore mentioned Mt Dandy hotel. My band was there to provide Sunday afternoon entertainment (50/50 dance music read the poster, and I still don’t know what that means) on my brother Dave’s recommendation. We set up and played, using an old white house piano that lived there, delivered whatever we had to sing, which can’t have been much, before being told by the publican that we weren’t what he was looking for and being sent home with 2 bottles of beer. (We were a 3 piece band)

Never mind that we had filled the room with family & friends and played all afternoon, here’s yer 2 bottles of beer lads. When Dad found out about this, he rang the publican and told him what he thought of him and his pub, and we were then given 100 dollars as well. Thanks Dad.

So, there I was many years later, hosting the infamous Mt D Jam night, which could run anywhere between 4 and 8 hours long into the night with assorted freaks, hippies, bluesologists, bald headed babies & singers, drummers, guitarists, spoon players all revelling in the music , and a new community started developing. Out of this community came many friendships & networks, and one of the principal suspects became Rhonda Flynn. Herself a singer and musicologist, Rhonda has been a stalwart presence, dancer, vocalist, percussionist and much more, at a lot of these hills happenings & gigs. Eventually, I moved on from The D (although I know I’ll be back one day) and took my jam night to The Oak Tree Tavern in The Basin, at the foothills of The Dandenongs. (Also one of the main places where I grew up) The whole crew, including CB and Rhonda followed me down I’m happy to report, and another community began to coalesce around the older one. In this spirit, we all rejoiced at the news that Charlie’s band had been chosen to take ‘coals to Newcastle’ and represent Aussie Blues in Memphis, and many congrats and backslaps were had. Then, a lone, well known voice piped up. It was Rhonda: “We need to organise a benefit gig for the boys.”

Limelight have already been part of a few other benefit nights, but this one, Saturday night October 22, is the one organised by Rhonda and this hills community, who claim CB and his mates while they still can as important and vital members. One day, CB will be interviewed about his musical beginnings, and hopefully he’ll  be able to mention the support, nourishment and sheer playing, musical fun that this community has helped him realise. For all of us, it’s a concrete way of saying, “Good on you CB, go and get on with it, with our cheers & support, and we promise to always remember you if you do the same.”

It’s a valediction to all things musical and the power of good attitude and playing music together.

Music and it’s power have brought us all here, put us together for a reason, and Saturday night’s gig is another one of these. CB and his band & music will go on as long as he keeps on playing, smiling, laughing, learning and being. And all the rest of us couldn’t be more pleased and excited.

The Limelight to Memphis Fund Raiser is on this Saturday night @ Knox Community Arts Centre.

For more details : https://www.facebook.com/events/690792921072225/

Comments

2016-10-17 22:24:39 - Neil "Q" Quinlan
A good read, Mr Smythe!
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