Semaphore Workers Club, Fri Mar 13
The Workers Club is packed. Che Guevara watches over us. Ross Hannaford, one-time rock star and now Melbourne busker, shuffles onto the stage. He sits down and spends some time setting up his gear, his “cheatin’ pedals” I think I hear him say. The music starts and for the next 45 minutes we get to see where Hannaford is at these days.
Most of the songs are driven by the use of his looper pedal, which means that they are two/four chord, four-bar turnarounds in the main. He layers the songs with some bottom-end plucking, a bit of strumming, and then jams away, happily dropping his lead licks wherever they fit. There are snatches of doo-wop (Cherry Pie), ‘50s rock‘n’roll, blues (Honest I Do) and a hint of reggae. There’s even some new original stuff. It’s kind of charming. Hannaford sings occasionally, but it is difficult to discern because he often forgets where the microphone is and sings in another direction. It doesn’t matter; he’s a guitarist, right?
After playing for a while, Hannaford has a break and disappears for almost an hour.
The second half of the evening is much like the first, only there’s more definition around the songs. There’s still a lot of looping going on, but the rhythms are neater, and the lead playing is louder and more precise. There doesn’t seem to be so many in the audience, but it’s still a healthy crowd. The lucky ones get to sit on the stage with Hannaford and enjoy the bonhomie. The second set has a stronger reggae feel, and it suits what Hannaford is doing. There are the odd departures into country (Country Cuz) and jazz but it’s mainly music on the off-beat, and the crowd responds by bobbing along with the music.
Hannaford has just about pulled it off.