Thursday, February 7, 2013


The King of the Blues, Robert Johnson, sings the classic '32-20 Blues' - a tune now familiar to the mad bush men at last night's Penno Punisher, as they plugged in, fingered A minor, moved to G7, and picked out their own mourn-full version - the '22-20 Blues'.

Some played the tune in the traditional manner (amongst them, James 'Bo Diddley' Lithgow, noted moving suggestively downhill towards screaming creekside fans with his low slung Fender Stratocaster), while other blues men, including Michael 'Jimi Hendrix' Burton, played their guitar left handed - the '20-22 Blues' - a searing uphill version. It has also come to the attention of your New Musical Express correspondent, that Dr Ian 'The Gold Lame Suit' Cameron took the stage in similar fashion to 'Jimi' - escaping to the waiting limo after his 44.07 minute set, apparently unscathed, and a tidy 360 points in the coat pocket.

You can see by Pork Pie's introduction, that last night's fantastic 'Summer Series Returns to the Bush' classic has bought out a new enthusiasm - and an even more obscure story line from the old gent! It has been 15 years since Summer Series flogsters have locked the car and moved to the starting flag with that slightly nagging feeling - should I be wearing my gaiters? Should the 'ribbons of steel' be housed in some O pantaloon - much as our serial pants man, John 'Hot August Night' Anderson, does? Many fans, bought up on a diet of concerts on the grass, didn't realise that orienteering is truly a bush sport, and fronted as usual in their shorts - little realising that 'Dr Pepper' and his band were to about to play (loudly) with your mind - and legs. And who would have thought Robert Johnson (think "Crossroads") would get to feature in Pork Pie's two finger Summer Series tango! Miracles do happen.

So back to the bush, and back to Penno, with memories of a shocker all those years ago that was spread from top to toe across the song sheet, including fearsome plunging along the Lane Cove River. Eric 'Burdon' Morris won that one with a score well below 'The Rising Sun' (-500). Other attendees, resuscitating their old programmes and memories of struggling in the green and more green, hoped that Wayne would be kinder - and he was - but there had to be a kicker at this location (one of Sydney's oldest orienteering areas/maps), and 'Sergeant' Pepper delivered it in this one sensational bit of course setting - the 22-20 plunge.

Given the lights have come up for intermission, let's have a decent look at the course before the main acts take the stage. Let's look in open admiration at 22-20, but also at the wider programme, the northern blues players (including Muddy Waters - and his slippery creek crossing group), and some of the Delta Bluesmen that featured down south (Mississippi John Hurt and his '29 Creek/Track Blues' for instance).

After paying at the box office, punters were issued with a portrait programme featuring thirty acts. The big stars were generally well scattered amidst supporting musicians - with the whole evenings performances seemingly divided into a north/south offering. 'The Blues of Chicago or the Delta' - take your pick. Many liked the collection of southern blues stars, and the looping chain gang tracks that bought a grin to the circle line thinkers. This route generally began 2,12,13,23 and then offered the Beatles singing 'She was just 17', in a balloon that included 27 and 7, and bought you back to the 3,19 transmission - and the beginnings of the circle west. These sixty 'balloon' points tempted many - but not Larry 'Slow Hand' Weiss, who had ambitions of northern city music venues, and kept his guitar strictly in the case here - running 23,3,19 instead. It must be said the small tracks in the balloon took time, and could have been an early factor in the large number of late backs (125 of the 199 entries).

Continuing with the south/west musicians, many reports have come in of singers going 29,9 and straight to the road end to facilitate 11,21 - ignoring the 5 string banjo. Smart thinking, with most pushing north with 1, in/out 25,15 and then something from the cricket grandstand bar - perhaps a little '4' bar blues. If time was up, a quick skadoddledaddle to 14 and in/out 22 rewarded, with those having taken a little Bourbon on board at the bar, listening to 24 'Hours From Tulsa' and home via 6 'Teen Tons of Number Nine Coal' adding even more value. The track (?) end near 14 seems to have caused problems for these loopsters, with many losing time and having to wait until a 'suitable break in the performance'. Carol Jacobson missed Chuck Berry's classic 'Sweet Little Sixteen' hereabouts.

All up, the southern Delta players were good for low through high 300's, and were the programmes main offer. Many fans smoked this way, clockwise and in a fug of acoustic and bottleneck blues, and working up a good sweat in their frayed bri-nylon shirts as they clapped and swore. The northern blues offer was an entirely different story, with loud electric music the norm, and the nights biggest drawcard, Robert Johnson, on stage with his 22-20 blues. As in the south/east loop, the north offered a 70 point balloon in addition to it's main artists. The run (!) up to 30 rewarded, with Wayne then drawing punters further to #10 and 18 before the retreat to rejoin the main course at #8 - the flying fox control (did anyone hitch a ride I wonder?). Total northern points were less than 300 (high two's if a full gather), so fans of the Chicago blues that intended to punt into the fours and fives, needed to add to their evening run. Tennis high balls and hockey beer found favour, and some stretching to 23 etc on the cards - with it's dreaded empty run back. Many liked the seats at 15,1,25 for a quick add as well - not quite so much empty returning here with these players.

In hindsight, maybe the north was not the place to be in winter. Great artists, raw styling and generally loud playing - but less points. You can see the appeal though. The bush stuff!

So, looking at both areas, we have an excellent 'two loop' programme made all the more attractive (and different to recent SSS concerts) by the placing of control 22. Without this netball court fence corner and it's beckoning plunge on down, the circular swirlings to the south and north would have been less interesting - and much less scratchy. Blood was again a factor, with Pie Face's bread sticks getting a good dose of claret like markings - and Michael 'Hutchence' Roylance coming a croppa in the twenty creek and returning with lots of blood around his eyes (or had the wounded Royal one actually morphed into Bob Dylan playing his great acoustic track 'Blood in my Eyes'?). 'The Queen Mother' might also have fractured his wrist in his fall, but we hope not. Bold bush work needs its reward, and we need a fit MR amongst us.

Control twenty two to twenty then, was the evenings core for me. It gave shape and madness to the evening, and was a must-do route for all kings of the bush. It was a temptress indeed, claiming many victims - including apparently, Glenn 'Lightning Hopkins' Horrocks, who lost many minutes in the bush hereabouts looking for his capo, or his bottle of fire water. But did he find the bare rock?

Looking at our broad range of competitors, we see many more close scores last night, with many runners getting closer points to their peers. We also had many lower than expected scores, including from several headline acts. Perhaps a quick review of these main stars is in order.

Andy 'Huddie' Hill carried the evening with 580 points in a beautifully timed 44.47. My guess would be 5 & 6 would have been the warm up acts he eschewed. Vet Mike Burton took the microphone next up with his '540 Blues' getting the crowd going. The big surprise is having to drop to 480 points to find our Masters Men king! Richard worked up 520 decibels with his axe, but went over the allotted and copped forty off. 'Lightning' pencilled the full card, but went way over, and ended ten further back at 470. Mark Schaefer also worked a full programme, but outpointed the Glenny in his 53.01 (cruel!) minus 90 for a lone hand 510.

Other toppies include Tommy 'The Musical' Joss (OM) and Gill Fowler (OW) with 500's, Andy 'James' Brown a lone but energetic 490, and Dave 'Bowie' Stanley going into space with 470 in MM. James Lithgow made it his night with an excellent SVM win with 440 points. 'Elvis' Lithgow knows the stage here in Vegas and worked a full north south loop (including the 22-20 blues beginning) for 510 minus 70 along very familiar tracks. He knocks off a trio of campus blues pretenders known as the Larry Weiss Trio, who played for 380 minutes, and might have done more if their drummer Gordon 'Spider Kilpatrick' Wilson had not broken his stick. Ross 'Emerson, Lake & Palmer' complimented Larry's bottleneck playing with tidy work on the bass.

High Petterson claimed in SJM with a whopping 410, from Dunk on 380 and Aidan's 360. I note Henry Foster on stage with 220, song book in hand in the same class. Ellen took SJW from Nina, with no JW's to report - sadly. Matty Hill made a modest 370 win for his group in JM (from Jay), and talent spotters in the audience noted Murray 'The Boss' Noble's playing his '250 Blues' and promptly book the Metropolitan. A couple of equal scores in MW, although totals were well down for these stars. 'The Stage Curtain' took the flowers with 350, from Rachael/Louise (320) and Antoniya/Melinda/Julia (280's). Jan Seeho wins VW from Carolyn (290/280) - again totals well below previous performances, but, hey, who's counting! 'The Hair Dryer' was a tidy third here (270), and encored with a blistering Billy Holiday number. Karin (350) was a winner in SVW from The Debs, Bryony from Margaret in the Legends, and Janet from Sue in the IW's. June Stanley was late on stage for an uncharacteristic 80 point claim in the immortals - and might have been a victim of the 22-20 blues.

Stevie 'Wonder' Flick returned to the podium with a well earned 400 in LM, and of even more note, Teddy 'Boy' Mulherin making a quick getaway in the Buick 6 with a strong 360 win in IM. Heiko doesn't want to discuss his 280 4th, but one imagines he might have tangled with the green somewhere. Malcolm held ten over Tim here, and takes the silver. The walkers are as expected, with Mel's 320 and Rachael's 310 stand out performances. Jim 'Morrison' Merchant's overly tight stage trousers caused him to lose time, carding 300 but dropping a 100 of them, as the undies rained on stage.

Many more excellent artists in the wings of course, several of them singing the blues! We might revisit some of their tunes soon. But next, to our normal corner of the programme, where we highlight the oddball stats that make a SSS concert so interesting.

Firstly, let's salute the great roll up. 199 entries, with another ten or so group acts, is a great return so far out of town. When the venue is a top one, and the acoustics world famous (!) - the players will always come. Our biggest collect were the twelve punters sharing 360's, followed by two groups of eleven (320/290). Most scores got a beep, many multiple ones, with several only landing a single contract - we only managed a lone 390 for instance (David 'Crosby' Noble singing in great harmony with Graham Nash and Steve Stills). I have mentioned two of the 600 point runners (Glenn/Mark), but also note that 'Jamie' Lee Curtis Coady was back at the full claim, this time in 62.50 for a net 420. A great blues number by this WHO studio player - look for his new album, "Who's Got The Blues".

Our longest on stage award goes to Heidi & Angus Van Schalk, making an evening of it with their 98.23 minute outing reducing their 50 autographs to a sensational 'minus 490'!! A few others were well over (Allison Lilley 86.37), vet Tim Perry (84.14) and Ernie 'Dingo' Windschuttle losing 200 hard earned points after being on stage for over 64 minutes of solid singing. In fact we had 21 runners out over the hour (including Julia 'Lennon' Prudhoe who's 72.48 might have arisen from a little 22-20 action?), which might be some sort of record. Many, like Dave 'Grey' Stitt, like to get their money's worth, ignoring the clock to enjoy the location. Fair enough says Pork Pie!

Good to also look at the cruel just over timing - especially given it didn't happen to your correspondent! Johnny 'O'Keefe' Petterson takes the award here with his 45.01, the worst of all timings. It just makes him..."Want To Shout"...We had several 44.01's (including 'Stevie' Nick Dent and that great duo from Texas, Chloe & Sam), and a couple of 48.01's - including OM star Steve Ryan (presume still injured) and Gareth 'Bogle' Chandler. As these guys have copped it, the 'phew!' stakes find four players fingering their rosary beads - including Kar-Soon (48.59), Graeme 'Play It Loud' McLeod (42.59) and Alexis 'Corner' Sewell (43.59). As also happens most weeks, we saw a couple of stars drive away from the stage door, perfectly on the minute that their song ended. Nicole Sellin (41.00), Janet Morris (44.00) and Eric Smith (43.00) are the musicians with this discipline - and the delight of promoters everywhere.

I've probably prattled on long enough, but maybe I'll take a last look at the group acts that are often overlooked when a strong bluesman like Andrew 'Leadbelly' Hill is on the bill. Let's here it for the following support acts, groups, trio's and duo's that are out there performing day in and day out - with hardly an album sale in reward. Summer Series punters, it is now time to listen up to some new music. A big round of applause for: James & Marianne Bruins (known as the 'Bruin Twins' and popular early English Child songbook balladeers), Louise Tiller & Kate Schofield (the 'LTKS Bluesband' often found performing at The Tree Weeds Rozelle), Sam & Chloe (soul-singers related to 'Sam & Dave'), Joe & Alex (country & western stuff - boys in boots), 'Team Berko' (my favourites, these guys are an  excellent washboard band, and great with jug and fotdiller), Andy & Emma Barton (known as the Federation Singers, and frequently arrested for singing scandalous versions of the national anthem to the elderly), and the reincarnation of the Andrew Sisters, 'Chan, Linda & Madelynne' - awaiting their turn to announce that the war is over. Great talents one and all.

So, in summary. Penno was a complete blast. Great to be back in the bush, and great to have a course that bought on a bit of rough stuff. We have amongst us many competitors that yearn for a more even spread of bush, park and street running - and this year we deliver with a couple more like minded outings to come (the Clay Pan and North Wahroonga), so bush kings - be prepared! Thanks again Wayne and the Bennelong crew - three events in a week from the lads in blue, green and white is a top effort indeed.

Next week sees us remaining up north (well sort of, north west maybe), as we run another old favourite - Western Hill's Vineyard Creek. Graeme Hill is our course setter and should have us well sorted after he distributes his golden pots and beep-O meters amongst the interesting mixture of creek valley tracks and suburban parks. Some discombobulation can be expected in the bush, with Heiko already worried. Make it a date, and also note the new assembly venue. It is NOT Rock Farm Reserve as per the original programme, but, Homelands Reserve in Homelands Avenue - still Telopea of course.

I'd also like to put in an early plug for the MiniGaine on Sunday March 3rd, and note a couple of points. Firstly the organisers would like as many pre entries as possible (via Rogaining web site) to avoid queue's at rego on the day - there is also a higher fee for on the spot entries apparently. You should note the Ted 'Mulry' Gang is using the NavLight system - NOT sportident. No matter what's involved, it should be a classy way to spend a morning - or is it an afternoon. Better turn off the Blind Willie McTell and pay attention!



the unknown runner said...

I went North the long way, not brave enough to try the 22-20 shuffle and paid for it, very slow going. I think South was the way to go. It was an excellent course and hats off to the setter.

Daniel Dohle said...

My 20/22 story:
I went from 20 to 22, crossed the creek and walked for a while through the really dense bush. It was evident that no one had been through this bush before. I was starting to think i was lost, when I saw a big piece of an orienteering map stuck in a shrub!!
I knew I was on the right track then!
Thanks for a well set course

Michael Roylance said...

A fabulous course which I enjoyed immensely despite 'kissing the dirt' at the Crossroads.

Michael Hutchence

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