I have recently had contact with Taylor Square's Frank Povah .. when I arrived on the scene he had left for the USA .. his name has been bandied around for years. Any additions to Frank's days at Taylor Square are welcome .. lynk
"Frank Povah folklorist and musician
traditional blues, old-time good-time
(well, heck, Hillbilly), jook and jug music, Australian folklore"
"Thanks Lynne, I arrived in Sydney from Western Australia in the very early 60s after a brief stint working as a compositor on the old "Canberra Times" in the days before there was a Lake Burley Griffin. It was in Sydney that I first met Chris Cruise, the man I've sung and played with for more than 40 years, off and on. I'd been mucking about on ukulele and/or guitar since I was a kid and in my early teens and, thanks to my Celtic background - mixed with quite a bit of other stuff on my Mother's side – had been expected to sing and/or recite at family do's ever since I can remember.
Had my first experience of Southern music when I heard Big Bill Broonzy, Leadbelly and Jelly Roll Morton on 78s back in 1956. Nothing was the same after that. Back to my thread. In WA I'd been playing pubs and coffee lounges since my late teens. Back in the 50s and very early 60s, coffee lounges - all called Chez something - were the only places where you could get a regular gig if you played 'alternative' music. They were later emulated for a while by the 70s proliferation of wine bars, the older 'traditional' versions of which - along with their biggest seller, 'seven-penny dark' or the 'house grouse' - were frowned upon by polite (i.e. straight) society. Anyone remember the old Rocket Range down in the Haymarket?
I went to Tassie for a while and met John A Bird (my favourite piano man of all time), Rainer Gartz and others and re-engaged with Chris. Performances with Chris put me in touch with Charlie Watts, Wally and Phil Manning. Phil was still at school and Charlie and Wally may have been – it's all a bit hazy – it was a long time ago and I drank a lot of cheap booze back then. Back In Sydney, Chris, Lindsay and I formed the Ned Kelly Memorial Jug Stompers at about the same time as the Original Battersea Heroes - g'day Terry - got going. As I remember it, The OBH was probably the best 'sophisticated' jug ensemble ever to play anywhere since the 1930s.
Taylor Square, Darlo, the Cross, was something else back then. Who remembers those three art deco flat blocks, up near the Cross, named Faith, Hope and Charity? I lived in Charity for a while. It was sort of a hand-to-mouth existence but a hell of a lot of fun. The 'real' folkies - and no slur on them intended - got all the folk gigs and the rest of the world was more interested in rock and its variations than it was in old-time music. Cheap meals at Ros Norton's and the Balkan – I can still taste the Balkan's Pola Pola – and Whitty's Wine Bar before Cec and Joan Whitty sold up and as it was before wine bars became 'in' and expensive and sold mostly Strongbow cider (blowflies' piss for anyone whoever had Mercury straight from the keg in Hobart when it was still owned by the Huon Cry Fruit Juice Company) Martin's came on the scene, opening up just down the road. For a while John Bird played piano with me at Whitty's on Saturday mornings with Hard-Hearted Hannah sleeping on the piano top as an added attraction. Whitty's annual picnic to Shark Island was always a hoot. The original Wayside Chapel and Ted Noffs - Chris and I sang at a wedding there.
ALL the while I played and worked wherever and at whatever I could. Mines, slaughterhouses, fish and chip shop, sawmill, sideshow spruiker, remote-area construction, cook, seaman, newspaper, jobbing printer. You name it, it all added to the music and the mindset. My childhood background gave me music and songs that I could whip out to suit the occasion whether I was playing just for beers or to a paying audience. I've never felt embarrassed about singing "Old Shep", Galway Bay" or "Maggie" when the occasion demanded; though what my grandmothers' generation would have thought about Maggie played in sort of blues-guitar style would be anyone's guess. I've been playing like that for so long it gets into everything.
FOR a while I was in a group with a psych nurse (who now has a respectable persona so I'd better not name him), drummer, the late Ed Hales, and front man/mouth harpist John Scope who may or may not - and I hope the latter - be the late. Nurse and I played resonator guitars and did recitations of current hits (e.g. "She loves You") and pseudo-musical versions of 50s rock; bad stuff like "Black Denim Trousers", "Midnight Bus" and Nervous Norvice's "Ape Call" and "Transfusion". We were named The Teen Angels: Acned music of the 50s and got a full page in the rock newspaper of the day - my mind's going, I can't remember what it was and it's packed away somewhere. Shit! I've also done the occasional thing singing with trad jazz bands.
I spent eight years in EnZed again where I was quite well known on the folk scene and came back to Oz in 79, worked at the Government Printer in Harris Street for a while then went bush, back to Tas then my old home WA and now here. Still playing of course.AllAll the while I picked up influences and experience and adding to what I played and sang. I can probably, if pushed, play and sing something over 1000 songs. Mainly because if I can't remember words or tune exactly, I improvise. I am grateful for the influences some great musos have had on me, John A Bird, Ron Davis, Chris Cruise, Garry Lambert (love playing with Garry), the late Keith Finlayson (one of Australia's most gifted and traditional blues and old-timey players, a man most people have never heard of) and a host of others.
Many of my old friends and acquaintances have left us now, but I still remember faces and names. Wally stays in my mind as he was in the 60s - age shall not weary them, or the years condemn. Jules Sackville, Take-a-Drink Taylor and a host of other characters I knew as friends; they all were part of my rich life.
I'm grateful for the friendships I had and have and, perhaps most of all, a couple of things that were said to me a few years ago. Funny, I've lived a lot of my adult life raging against my existence and trying to express my feelings in music. I knew I'd never reach any great heights because I was (and am) too undisciplined, hate authority and have always been too shy to sell myself. So I just went on the way I went, enjoying playing for myself and for the effect it had on other people. I've always doubted my own ability - I lack self-confidence something shocking - and so I could say to myself "Well at least I've bloody enjoyed it." Then in the past few years I've been told (and have read) things by more than a few musos, some of them now quite well known here and in EnZed, and listeners how much they've enjoyed listening to me over the years and, in the case of musicians, the influence I had on them when they were younger. Wow!< Thanks one and all, the shadows and the well-remembered. You've enriched my life as we drifted together and apart in the great eddies of experience and there's something of all of you in me. If I've ever hurt or offended any of you in any way, accept this belated apology. No excuses, no regrets, no "I wish I hadn't...", just a plea for understanding. I love you one and all - always have and always will. You've been my life"
Frank Povah Stamping Ground Kentucky 40379
"the mike I was using didn't allow me to sing properly. it spat the dummy whenever I tried to use my voice the way I would singing normally"
"Hope the reunion goes well,
here's a big hug and a smooch from me for all your hard work,
and give my regards to all"
"The one by the old building was taken in '71 or '72 (maybe a bit later) at the old Christchurch Uni in NZ when it was saved from the demolition boys and made an art centre"
"The photos with 12 string was in 2008 in WA
(I don't play 12 string much these days)"
"Me and Sweet Daddy Hambones, haven't played together for years"
Terry Darmody recently remarked to me that, "Frank's band made the Sons of Agamemnon sound like the Valentines". Frank wasn't too sure how to take that. Check out Frank on You Tube... lynk