INTRODUCTION

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The following is a direct facsimile of a printed booklet titled "Sleepy Hollow Blues Club - The First Ten Years" co-written by  Miriam Jones-Grayling and Joy Stoneman in July 2004 and is presented here for your enjoyment. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "...we are not makers of history; we are made by history..." and with 22 years of history today's club sounds true to Dr. King's words. The club is all the better for its history; and more so for its history to come. 

REMEMBER THIS IS A FACSIMILE. Please do not rely on prices or event locations, refer to the current web-site where applicable.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Without the generous time and enthusiasm that Joy Stoneman and John 'JP' Parry have provided in telling the story of the Sleepy Hollow Blues Club, the preparation of this club history would not have been possible.

Miriam Jones-Grayling, July 2004

MISSION STATEMENT

Mission statement of the Sleepy Hollow Blues Club (as printed in July 2004)

  • To promote the enjoyment and appreciation of blues music in general.
  • To foster the development of local talent by providing a suitable outlet for such talent to be exposed to other musicians and the public, in a positive atmosphere.
  • To promote the Geelong area as bring a viable leader in blues music, by providing a good standard of entertainment locally and publicising its availability to the general public and to musicians from other areas.
  • To encourage a high standard of music in the Geelong area by providing and promoting a variety of bands and performers, both local and imported.
THE EARLY YEARS

The Sleepy Blues Club was formed in 1994 and over the last ten years, a fully-fledged, dynamic and enduring club has developed from what was essentially a small group of friends and fellow blues musicians, living and working in the Geelong region.

The concept for the club was born when Vic Hunt, John (JP) Parry, Chris Foggarty and Geoff Jerka' Donaldson began to gravitate around the catalyst of Vic's Blues Radio program on 3YYR (You Yangs), which began in 1989. The four friends had a passion for music, but particularly for the blues, and had played together around country Victoria, Melbourne and other locations farther afield in Australia.

A life-long bond was formed through their direct involvement with, and support of, the Builders' Labourers Union movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the group had performed together at many Trades Hall functions, in both Melbourne and Geelong. The fundamental socialist ideology portrayed in various union movements during the latter half of the twentieth century is in perfect partnership with the culture of the 'Blues'. This musical art form was historically derived from the suffering of African-American slaves, subjugated and exploited by a capitalist system that regarded them as saleable commodities. African-Americans retaliated to this de-humanising experience by expressing their pain and protest through their music, expressing a defiance at having one's 'back against the wall' and refusing to surrender the human spirit to adversity. The blues has engendered strength, comfort and a sense of identity within the disenfranchised and socially marginalised around the world for many generations — the powerful music of the working man/woman expresses the strength of character of real people who can transcend the obstacles and injustices of life.

Vic and his friends were given permission from the radio station to hold unofficial meetings in a 'community room' at the 3YYR-FM premises. The four friends, Vic, JP, Geoff and Kenny Terrington, played occasional gigs around the place, as the '4 Bandinos', to make the rent money. (Subsequently, the band became known as the '4.3 Bandinos' when Gary 'Pointy' Marshall joined the line-up on keyboards).

During these early months, the group swelled to a regular crowd of more than sixty regulars, including the generous support and keen interest of various bikie chapters within the region. But a major concern was the level of decibels emanating from the unofficial club's 'meetings'! The radio station expressed concerns regarding the 'appropriate cultural development' that was burgeoning under its roof. An emergency meeting was called by the inaugural president, Vic Hunt: it was time to move. Through the networking of friends in the business, the official Sleepy Hollow Blues Club was formed. Its brand new home was at the De La Ville Hotel, Myers St, Geelong. The Club and 3YYR parted on amicable terms, and committee meetings of the Club continued to be held at the radio station's premises for some months, until the committee eventually outgrew the space. Monthly committee meetings over the years have been held at the homes of various committee members, and at the Fyansford and De La Ville Hotels.

Jam sessions were inaugurated at the De La Ville Hotel, initially on Wednesdays, and subsequently on Tuesdays (nights which can be likened to a musician's 'weekend' — the weekends are their work-nights!). Word soon spread and the nights developed quite a following, both of blues performers and blues audiences. Gradually the Club progressed to booking feature acts which supplemented the jam sessions. This concept was in line with the Mission of the club, which is to provide blues music to people in the Geelong area, as well as to encourage new musicians to perform and gain experience.

Regular acts in these early years featured a wide range of artists, both local and interstate, and this tradition has continued to the present day. A large number of performers have played at Club functions over the years (see the comprehensive list at the back of this booklet).

The first official committee meeting was held in August, 1994 and the committee consisted of ten members. Its first newsletter was produced in July 1995 by Joy Stoneman, who retained the roles of newsletter editor and publicity co-ordinator for over eight years (apart from several months in 2000 when, due to illness, Brian Fraser took over), in addition to other committee roles.

The club gradually grew to be 57 members strong by the end of 1995. The jam sessions became more and more strongly supp9rted, and Vic Hunt was elected the inaugural President in August 1995, a position he held for three terms.

THE CLUB PLANS ITS FIRST BLUESTONE

By mid-1996 the club was strong enough to begin planning its first Bluestone Festival, so that, as Geoff Donaldson pointed out, all the musicians in Geelong and district could be together to party on New Year's Eve, rather than being at their own separate gigs, away from family and friends. The festival was envisaged as a celebration of blues culture in Geelong and surrounding regions, providing a safe family environment where blues lovers and their families could party safely, camp overnight, and continue the fun on the second day.

The Inverleigh Hotel was the site for the inaugural festival held on December 31, 1996 and January 1, 1997, which was a resounding success, and featured Muddy Puddles, Grizzly Bros., Turning Blue, and the Fat Time Blues band. The name 'Bluestone' was taken from the beautiful old bluestone blocks of the historic hotel. The festival was held in the large paddock at the rear of the hotel, with a large marquee set up for the bands and audience. Ample food and drinks were on hand, and approximately 600 people enjoyed a fat time at this inaugural festival. Kenny Terrington, whose contribution to the club over the years has been significant, recorded the performances by tying a microphone to the centre pole of the marquee with hay bale wire, and the resultant recording is still selling today — the CD 'Bluestone Festival 1996' is available at Club gigs.

The Club received its papers as an Incorporated Body in 1997, after a great deal of work by the committee and particularly Club Secretary Sandy Brady. It formally putting into writing its Constitution and Statement of Purpose, as a non-profit organisation, and by now membership was between 80 and 90 people. The jam sessions continued, with great success, and more and more blues lovers joined the club as word continued to spread.

THE GROWTH CONTINUES

Geoff Donaldson took over as President in August 1998 and continued to nurture the growth and success of the club, bringing his energy and enthusiasm to bear on the role, and consequently helping the Club to develop significantly. During his three terms as President, he inaugurated the Big Sunday Sessions (among many other innovation) — these were blues sessions which started at 4pm on Sunday afternoons and went through till 11:30pm, with jamming end one (sometimes even two) feature acts, and hot food. Children were welcome, an aspect of the club that has always been strongly encouraged; the family atmosphere of all Club events has greatly enhanced the social camaraderie of the organisation throughout the years.

The Club also ran a number of events at alternative venues, both in Geelong and further afield — Sunday summer afternoons at the Fyansford Hotel, bus trips to St Andrews Hotel, Melbourne; Winter Solstice Parties at the Trades Hall, Geelong; annual Christmas parties; blues 'n BBQ parties at a committee member's Moolap premises; blues and wine-tasting at 'St Anne's Winery, Melton; and any number of other venues. Regular Hallowe'en parties were also held, with members and the public alike coming dressed up in their finest (scariest!) costumes and bizarre make-up, and elaborate decorations festooning the venues. All of these events generated an enormous amount of additional fun for the Club.

The second Bluestone Festival was held at the Stonehaven Reserve, as the Club felt that a venue closer to Geelong with more camping space, and with the Club in complete control, was desirable. An incredible amount of forward planning and hard work was undertaken by the committee and many members, including working bees to put the essential preparation into place in setting-up the Stonehaven Reserve for the occasion (toilet facilities, catering facilities, appropriate permits and licenses, staging facilities, security, lighting, electricity supply, P.A. advertising, press releases and festival programs). The organisation and voluntary labour undertaken by the members was extraordinary. This festival played host to more than six hundred people, including children, and was an outstanding success as a fund-raising event for the Club. This festival featured good weather, great blues acts, and a popular merchandise stall selling T-shirts, caps, CDs, festival badges and other items.

Merchandise sales have been an intrinsic part of the Club's operations over the years, not only generating funds but publishing the Club's existence far and wide. Raffles have also been an important fundraising activity at each of the Festivals the Club has staged, as well as at jam session over the years. Donated prizes have kept the overheads minimal, and the money raised has frequently pulled the Club back from financial difficulties. Gillian Roberts has been the leading light in co-ordinating this effort and her work has been invaluable.

The Stonehaven venue was used again the following year for the third Bluestone Festival, with another resoundingly successful result. Rick Webb's invaluable hard work, knowledge and experience as site manager for each of the festivals has been an enormous contribution, in addition to his other committee roles.

The Club was approached by the manager of the Murgheboluc Reserve (near Inverleigh) for the fourth Festival on December 31 1999 and January 1 2000. Murgheboluc turned out to be an ideal venue in many ways, in a natural amphitheatre-style hollow among the hills, with a good camping area, a small hall for merchandise and equipment storage, a children's playground and easy access.

However, although this Festival was a resounding success, the committee felt that the enormous amount of manpower required to set up and clean up after the events was getting unmanageable and that for the next Festival, we should try another joint venture at a hotel. With this in mind, the Elaine Hotel was decided upon for the fifth Bluestone Festival, and it was felt that, being equidistant from Geelong and Ballarat, we would get a good attendance from both areas. In the event, a smaller-than-usual number attended, because of the travelling distance and unseasonably hot weather, although the performers were as wonderful as always and everyone enjoyed the event.

Joy Stoneman followed on as the next Club President in August 2001, and brought her enthusiasm, organisational and people skills to the role.

But the saga of the 'mobile' Bluestone festivals continued; the Club was still searching for the 'perfect' site for Bluestone, and in May 2001, the Modewarre Cricket Club was approached as a possible venue, as it was situated only ten minutes from Geelong, had great camping facilities, on-site toilets, bar and kitchen facilities, and a liquor licence. The event was viewed as a useful venture in mutual fund-raising for both clubs, which are both community-based and run by volunteers. Initial contact with the Cricket Club committee proved positive, and everything seemed to be in place. But in July 2001, it became apparent that the Surfcoast Shire had a number of requirements which needed to be met before we could proceed.

Despite the Sleepy Hollow Blues Club having the extensive experience of running six previous highly successful Bluestone Festivals and being in possession of several glowing written references from various bodies (including the management of Stonehaven and Murgheboluc Reserves, and the Torquay Police) endorsing the Club's excellent work in holding these past festivals, a bureaucratic dilemma began with the Surfcoast Shire.

Joy took on the battle with bravado and intelligence and steered the Club through a wide variety of bureaucratic challenges, at all times encouraging the Club's committee to keep going with vigour and determination and to focus on achieving success. In this, she was aided by Rick Webb, Andy Rubans, Jon Kirby and Daryl Unthank, as well as Lachlan Polkinghorne and Des Cameron from the Modewarre Cricket Club.

A prescriptive and detailed Town Planning Permit Proposal was required by the Shire to enable the combined Clubs to acquire the necessary permit to hold the festival. In addition, permission and approval need to be obtained from a number of other bodies, including the Public Land Holder, VicRoads, Ambulance Victoria, the Geelong Water Board, the CFA, Victoria Police, and so on.

The committee submitted a detailed thirty-page Ton Planning Permit Proposal (with a personnel flow chart, contacts lists, etc.) covering every aspect including, among other areas, risk management, traffic management, public safety, approval from Vic Roads, first aid, food and bar co-ordination (including strict health and safety aspects), waste management, security arrangements, and strict enforcement regarding legal decibel levels. The following five months saw an intensive schedule of meetings, written communications, applications, and frantic phone calls with the Shire. One Moriac resident objected in writing to the Surfcoast Shire regarding the festival, and a whole new process of documentation had to begin to deal with this.

At the same time that planning was going ahead for the Festival, a 'Plan B' contingency was being prepared for an alternative location at Corindhap, near Rokewood. By December 4, 2001, the permit had still not been obtained and an emergency meeting was held by the committee to swing Plan B into action, and advertise, promote and finalise plans for this event. On the first day of the Festival the weather was appalling, with non-stop rain for several hours, and a total of 140 bedraggled men, women and children attended the festival. But the bands played on regardless, and the dedicated blues lovers drank, ate, danced and partied on, despite the mud and rain, to see in the New Year.

The early months of 2002 saw the decision taken, after much soul-searching, to move the home base of the club from the De La Ville Hotel to the Railway Hotel, which, it was felt, would provide a more suitable atmosphere, an in-house PA, and better parking facilities, among other issues. This move was made in April and the club has gone from strength to strength since, with attendances at the Sunday sessions continually on the rise.

Also in this year, the 'paper war' with the Surfcoast Shire continued in earnest, with the permit being finally granted on July 4, 2002 for one year. The club breathed a huge sigh of relief and then began to tackle the planning and preparation for the seventh Bluestone Festival at this ideal site. This Bluestone Festival at Modewarre was a magnificent success, with a great variety of acts performing to a large crowd comprised of members of both Clubs, plus the general public, good weather (after a little rain initially) and an excellent level of enjoyment. A re-formed Turning Blue was the highlight of the night for many. In January 2003, immediately after this festival, the committee submitted a detailed debriefing report to the Surfcoast Shire and as a consequence, a further permit was granted to cover the following three years of the festival at this location.

In October 2002, Andy Rubans began his term as President of the Club, and brought his dedication and commitment to ensure the continuation of the club's success.

The Sunday sessions continued at the Railway Hotel, with venue-owner Charles providing a free sausage sizzle — a popular part of the evening's entertainment — and top-class blues acts appearing, to the delight of audiences. The jam sessions also began to attract more and more musicians, of all levels of experience, and this has made them a popular feature of the nights. Highest commendations go to all of the band co-ordinators over the ten years, for organising and booking memorable and accomplished blues performers, a role which is a vitally important part of the success of the Club.

In mid-2003, Rick Webb took over as the Club's President, bringing with him enthusiasm and innovative ideas.

The eighth Bluestone Festival was held for the second consecutive year at Modewarre Cricket Club, and this time even more people attended. The event was financially successful, and a highlight of the evening was a memorable performance by Geoff Achison and the Souldiggers. All the blues performers were of high calibre, the weather was good, and attendees attested to having a 'fat time' indeed!

IN CONCLUSION

The fortnightly Sunday blues sessions continue to grow and the good repute of the club continues to spread, both in the Geelong area, and throughout Australia. Sleepy Hollow Blues Club is well known and respected in the blues industry and is associated with other blues organizations around the country, including Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society, Adelaide's Blues Society and similar clubs in Sydney and South East Queensland, with a strong bond between members of these organizations.

There is now well in excess of one hundred fee-paying members, including a strong, cohesive committee, consisting of some twenty-six members. The committee continues to plan club events, more Bluestone Festivals, and prepare strategies for the further growth and development of the club.

The sudden and tragic death of founding member and inaugural President, Vic Hunt (May 19, 2003), inspired the Club to turn this adversity into a positive with the concept of the V. J. C. Hunt Memorial fund-raiser. The aim of this memorial fund-raiser is to nurture new, young blues talent within the community. This year's inaugural winner, Thalia Hotchim, received a $500 cash prize, trophy and valuable recording time at Revolution Studios. The club hopes to build the funds to a point where it can award more than one prize each year.

In Vic Hunt's own words — 'It's not about the money, it's all about the music'. And this would appear to be the glue that has held together this remarkable club. They have maintained their vision: to promote the culture and love of blues music within the Geelong region and to nurture and develop new musical talent in the blues direction. There is a single-mindedness and strength of vision within this extremely diverse group of people — all varieties of age, social background, gender and race are continuously working together to fulfil the potential of the club. The Club has made an outstanding contribution to the Geelong community in broadening and enlightening its appreciation of the unique art form of blues music. This experience has been made available to the ordinary citizen as a result of the dedication of a remarkable group of people.

The committee has always operated on the principle of equality and avoided a hierarchical structure; decisions are reached by group discussion and eventual consensus, and all ideas and suggestions are considered in this process. There is no place for ego-boosting or grandstanding, and it is this that has been the foundation for the great strength and continued success of the Club.

Annual General Meetings are held each year, in August. Office-bearers are elected at these meetings, official club business is dealt with, and then the evening continues with a feature band and much fun and socialising for all.

The members of the Sleepy Hollow Blues Club hold a wealth of stories, memories and fascinating anecdotes about the last ten years, and it's well worth having a chat with them if you'd like to know more about the history of the organisation, and its 'characters'.

The contributions of committee members and club members over the years has been enormous. It would be wonderful to name each and every individual and thank them for their time, effort and commitment, but it would be unbearable to leave anyone out. So, let it suffice to say the most heartfelt thanks to everyone who has given so selflessly of themselves for the good of the club — we appreciate your work, we take pleasure in your company throughout the journey, and we look forward to many more years of working together and enjoying this great club that we've built.

HONOUR ROLL OF PERFORMERS

A huge variety of performers have entertained the Club over the years and we'd like to show our appreciation by naming them in this booklet (in a kind of alphabetical order!). Although most are listed here, if there is anyone who has been missed, please accept our apologies!

From Geelong and district

Backstreet Blues, The Big Blue, Brian Fraser, Chubby Rae and the Elevators, Crossroads, Dave Steel and Welcome Wagon, Derrin Nauendorf, Diddly Daddies, Grizzly Bros, Hot Club Swing, Kenny Miller, Live Wire, Leroy Johnson Project, Lounge Lizards, Mallee Roots, Marco Goldsmith, Mia Dyson, Momma Don't Allow It, Muddy Puddles, Razzamajazz, Tiffany Eckhardt, Turning Blue, Sista Girl, Six String Casserole, Stringybark McDowell.

From further afield

Alex Burns, Andrea Marr's Blues Band, Ash Grunwald, Blind Dog Donnie and the Reverend, Bo Jenkins, Chain, Chris Finnen, Chris Wilson, Dutch Tilders, Fiona Boyes, Geoff Achison, Hatz Fitz, Harpin' Momma, Hogstomping Zydegators, The Hustlers, Into the Black, Jeff Lang, Kate Meehan, Kerry Simpson, Lloyd Spiegel, Matt Corcoran, Matt Taylor, Mike Elrington, Mojos, Oozin' Blues, P. D. Hale, Phil Manning, Rockbottom James and the Detonators, Rocket 88s, Rory Ellis, Salty Dog, Spectrum, Skip Sail, Slide Devils, Stevie Paige, Third Degree, Wild Turkey,

And a big thanks, too, to all the jammers who have performed over the years.

BLUES CLUB

Membership is currently $25 per annum, with discounts for couples, families and concession card-holders and entitles members to a discount entry at all club functions, a monthly newsletter and other benefits.

A range of T-shirts, stubby holders, caps and other merchandise as well as CDs from a wide range of total, interstate and overseas performers, is also available.

The Sleepy Hollow Blues Club continues to hold its fortnightly Sunday blues sessions at the Railway Hotel, Latrobe Tce, Geelong, from 6pm till 11pm.

All are welcome and we look forward to sharing fun and great music as the club continues to bring blues music, friendship and camaraderie with members and interested audiences as well as encouraging new musicians to get involved, into the future.

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This page presents a history of the club's first 10 years and was written in 2004 by Miriam Jones-Grayling and Joy Stoneman.

It was taken from the last remaining printed copy of a document of the same name and  covers the period between July 1994 - July 2004. It is important to note that this document was dedicated to Vic Hunt (1947-2003), a musician, mentor and founding member of the Sleepy Hollow Blues Club and today we continue to commemorate Vic’s life and philosophies through our annual Vic Hunt Memorial Grant.

This is an interesting read and we are now looking for someone to add the period between July 2004 - July 2014.