Irlan Joney is creating music, music videos, documentary, street musician
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SOS OVERDUE REVIEW: EASTERN LOUNGE, FRIDAY, MAY 11 (IRLAN JONEY & THE CARCARA; BLACKBIRD HUM).

Eastern Lounge, after who knows how long, continues to be an enigma; a miracle. How so? Well, to fill an erstwhile sleepy ex-servicemen’s club, in the sleepiest, leafiest of lower north shore suburbs, with heat, light, energy and sound pressure, on a chilly, autumnal Sydney evening, is a neat trick, that could only really be pulled off by a young-at-heart, indefatigable, snowy-haired aficionado and impresario like Dave Keogh; the lower north shore’s answer to Bill Graham.
On this occasion, he responded to my suggestion of booking one Irlan Joney, a swarthy Brazilian guitar-shredder and singer, with irrepressible, beaming, gleaming smile and explosive black locks, who I found punching well above his weight, as a busker, outside Woolies, Dee Why. Joney has accessorised his own, near-phenomenal skills with a bassist and drummer that complement his own prowess & musicality. As a trio, they’re known—not entirely inappropriately—as Irlan Joney & The Carcara; the carcara being a large South American bird of prey, with colourful beak and majestic plumage.
IJ & The Carcara were warming up the stage for full-on party band, Blackbird Hum, who cross terrain from roots, to reggae, to dub.
Joney, backed by an admirable rhythm section, plays jazz-inflected guitar, to impress; an aspiration in which he very substantially succeeds. Honey and co are blues rockers par excellence, with a distinctive panache, in no small measure thanks to intra-band cohesion and simpatico, as well as Joney’s unto himself guitar stylings. The guitar he was playing, too, lent a certain unfamiliar sound. I wish I was well-versed enough to identify it.
At times, this power trio is redolent of the heaviness & intensity of Hendrix. Even more interesting than their collective capacity to emulate cadences & tropes that easily resonate, however, is their penchant for their own heritage, exemplified in baiao, No, it isn’t Brazilian dogfood, but a complex northeastern rhythm you shouldn’t try at home, unless you’re of South American extraction and a truly gifted drummer. Typically frenetic & played on a zabumba (a double-headed, flat bass drum struck simultaneously, on alternate heads, with stick & mallet), it adapts exceptionally well to kit, especially in the hands (& feet) of a stickman as capable as Joney’s compatriot, Gabriel Guerra, whose rhythm sectional partner, Caio Cesar, as previously advised, is no slouch, either.
Hendrix’ Little Wing ain’t exactly reggae, but it obviously has a blues-roots fundament & this is where the trio takes off, putting their own inimitable stamp on it. Stevie Ray’s slow blues, Dirty Pool, with its jangling rhythm guitar, makes for a relative segue, affording Joney another early opportunity to sport his chops. BB King’s gold-plated classic, The Thrill Is Gone, consummates the bracket. Clearly, if you can emulate three of the greatest axemen of all time, or even have the cojones to make the attempt, you have to be exceedingly sure of your skills.
Things get authentically rootsy with a transition from little to white wing, in Luiz Gonzaga’s Asa Branca, which translates as such and refers to another, less formidable bird than the carcara: the picazuro pigeon, also known (in Joney’s native Portuguese tongue) as pompa asa branch (or white-winged dove). It’s a charming tune, written in 1947. It reflects an Arcadian romanticism in its narrative lyric, which tells of the desolation visited upon a toiling farmer in the arid back country, or sertao, which he must leave, along with his love, Rosinha; an ignominious fate sealed, symbolically, by the departure of the bird. The experience of drought, in the northeast, is an all too palpable, relatable experience for Brazilians, much like, say, the people of northeastern NSW.
It seems immediately apparent that Joney, attended by a thick, if immensely characterful accent, feels much more at home singing in Portuguese than English. And there’s nothing wrong with that. While I’m not suggesting for a moment he should eschew English lyrics, I am asserting he ought to play to his strengths, until such time as he feels more comfortable & confident with his adopted lingua franca.
Joney & co stayed in Brazil with Domiguinhos’ Lamento Sertanejo. There are more renditions so this revered. romantic ballad than you can poke a guitar neck at: gently reflective (Gilberto Gil); reggae-tinged, virtuosic and funky-as (the astonishing duo of Sergio Groove & Michael Pipoquinha); diva-like (Gabriela). IJ & The Carcara’s is, naturally, distinctive in an entirely different direction. All part of Brazilian music’s rich tapestry.
Baize Djavan’s Farinha also proves fertile ground for jazz impro. It’s kinda like The Wailers without sand-papered edges. Accordionist Luiz Gonzaga’s Assum Preto strikes that confounding teeter between achingly sad lament for lost love and an ode to a wonderful world. Again, the Brazilian flavours are as authentic as cassava, or guarana. And, speaking of Marley, IJ & The C closed with his Rebel Music, for which Irlan delivers a soaring falsetto intro. While not emulating the inimitably languid bluesiness of Bob’s original, it’s a robust rendition, with drums, bass and guitar all pretty much in the pocket, each shining through the mix.
It’s early days for this trio and experience playing together can only but tighten and polish their ensemble playing, cementing the bonds between three quite outstanding instrumentalists. Meantime, it would be most edifying to see them continue to emphasise their roots, so that we might become more accustomed to & appreciative of Brazilian rhythms & sounds.
The headliners, Blackbird Hum, focus in on similar roots, but, not least by dint of scale, sound very different. Opening with an expansive version of The Congos’ seminal, spare, late seventies Fisherman, testing vocalist Jon Panic’s falsetto to the max (a test he passed with flying colours), they moved into other classics, such as an instrumental take on The Skatalites’ brassy Outback Dub, by which time the crowd had pretty much swamped the dance floor. Resistance was useless. This proved an excellent showcase for Greg Chilcott’s ‘bone, along with Panic’s erstwhile talent, on trumpet (in which he’s joined by Nick Calligeros); Louis Gordon’s sax break also roundly impressed. With the rhythm section of Jeff Reiss, drums, Tim Sampson, bass, Ed Johnston’s guitar & Freyja Garbett’s sometimes spacey keys, it proved intoxicating and mesmeric.
But the Blackbirdies hum, even when they veer from their core mission of roots, reggae and dub for inspiration, such as in their reappraisal of an old punk song: Rancid’s Radio. They turn back, with Gregory Isaacs’ old gem, Soon Forward, followed by Turn It Around, from much-loved Aoteroan outfit, The Black Seeds. Yep, they’re full of surprises, from a myriad of unpredictable sources. It’s a crystal-clear, punchy delivery, every time. BH is one of those bands that can take others’ material and make it their own, by way of musical rebranding & reinvention. They keep it interesting, a trait embodied and exemplified eloquently in their ethereal rework of Tears For Fears’ too-true genius moment, Mad World; really more akin to REM’s ‘classical’ interpretation.
Ah, Dave Keogh, you’ve done it again. Two bands, both alike in dignity, in one big night, on the otherwise sleepy side of town.
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SOS OVERDUE REVIEW: EASTERN LOUNGE, FRIDAY, MAY 11 (IRLAN JONEY & THE CARCARA; BLACKBIRD HUM).

Eastern Lounge, after who knows how long, continues to be an enigma; a miracle. How so? Well, to fill an erstwhile sleepy ex-servicemen’s club, in the sleepiest, leafiest of lower north shore suburbs, with heat, light, energy and sound pressure, on a chilly, autumnal Sydney evening, is a neat trick, that could only really be pulled off by a young-at-heart, indefatigable, snowy-haired aficionado and impresario like Dave Keogh; the lower north shore’s answer to Bill Graham.
On this occasion, he responded to my suggestion of booking one Irlan Joney, a swarthy Brazilian guitar-shredder and singer, with irrepressible, beaming, gleaming smile and explosive black locks, who I found punching well above his weight, as a busker, outside Woolies, Dee Why. Joney has accessorised his own, near-phenomenal skills with a bassist and drummer that complement his own prowess & musicality. As a trio, they’re known—not entirely inappropriately—as Irlan Joney & The Carcara; the carcara being a large South American bird of prey, with colourful beak and majestic plumage.
IJ & The Carcara were warming up the stage for full-on party band, Blackbird Hum, who cross terrain from roots, to reggae, to dub.
Joney, backed by an admirable rhythm section, plays jazz-inflected guitar, to impress; an aspiration in which he very substantially succeeds. Honey and co are blues rockers par excellence, with a distinctive panache, in no small measure thanks to intra-band cohesion and simpatico, as well as Joney’s unto himself guitar stylings. The guitar he was playing, too, lent a certain unfamiliar sound. I wish I was well-versed enough to identify it.
At times, this power trio is redolent of the heaviness & intensity of Hendrix. Even more interesting than their collective capacity to emulate cadences & tropes that easily resonate, however, is their penchant for their own heritage, exemplified in baiao, No, it isn’t Brazilian dogfood, but a complex northeastern rhythm you shouldn’t try at home, unless you’re of South American extraction and a truly gifted drummer. Typically frenetic & played on a zabumba (a double-headed, flat bass drum struck simultaneously, on alternate heads, with stick & mallet), it adapts exceptionally well to kit, especially in the hands (& feet) of a stickman as capable as Joney’s compatriot, Gabriel Guerra, whose rhythm sectional partner, Caio Cesar, as previously advised, is no slouch, either.
Hendrix’ Little Wing ain’t exactly reggae, but it obviously has a blues-roots fundament & this is where the trio takes off, putting their own inimitable stamp on it. Stevie Ray’s slow blues, Dirty Pool, with its jangling rhythm guitar, makes for a relative segue, affording Joney another early opportunity to sport his chops. BB King’s gold-plated classic, The Thrill Is Gone, consummates the bracket. Clearly, if you can emulate three of the greatest axemen of all time, or even have the cojones to make the attempt, you have to be exceedingly sure of your skills.
Things get authentically rootsy with a transition from little to white wing, in Luiz Gonzaga’s Asa Branca, which translates as such and refers to another, less formidable bird than the carcara: the picazuro pigeon, also known (in Joney’s native Portuguese tongue) as pompa asa branch (or white-winged dove). It’s a charming tune, written in 1947. It reflects an Arcadian romanticism in its narrative lyric, which tells of the desolation visited upon a toiling farmer in the arid back country, or sertao, which he must leave, along with his love, Rosinha; an ignominious fate sealed, symbolically, by the departure of the bird. The experience of drought, in the northeast, is an all too palpable, relatable experience for Brazilians, much like, say, the people of northeastern NSW.
It seems immediately apparent that Joney, attended by a thick, if immensely characterful accent, feels much more at home singing in Portuguese than English. And there’s nothing wrong with that. While I’m not suggesting for a moment he should eschew English lyrics, I am asserting he ought to play to his strengths, until such time as he feels more comfortable & confident with his adopted lingua franca.
Joney & co stayed in Brazil with Domiguinhos’ Lamento Sertanejo. There are more renditions so this revered. romantic ballad than you can poke a guitar neck at: gently reflective (Gilberto Gil); reggae-tinged, virtuosic and funky-as (the astonishing duo of Sergio Groove & Michael Pipoquinha); diva-like (Gabriela). IJ & The Carcara’s is, naturally, distinctive in an entirely different direction. All part of Brazilian music’s rich tapestry.
Baize Djavan’s Farinha also proves fertile ground for jazz impro. It’s kinda like The Wailers without sand-papered edges. Accordionist Luiz Gonzaga’s Assum Preto strikes that confounding teeter between achingly sad lament for lost love and an ode to a wonderful world. Again, the Brazilian flavours are as authentic as cassava, or guarana. And, speaking of Marley, IJ & The C closed with his Rebel Music, for which Irlan delivers a soaring falsetto intro. While not emulating the inimitably languid bluesiness of Bob’s original, it’s a robust rendition, with drums, bass and guitar all pretty much in the pocket, each shining through the mix.
It’s early days for this trio and experience playing together can only but tighten and polish their ensemble playing, cementing the bonds between three quite outstanding instrumentalists. Meantime, it would be most edifying to see them continue to emphasise their roots, so that we might become more accustomed to & appreciative of Brazilian rhythms & sounds.
The headliners, Blackbird Hum, focus in on similar roots, but, not least by dint of scale, sound very different. Opening with an expansive version of The Congos’ seminal, spare, late seventies Fisherman, testing vocalist Jon Panic’s falsetto to the max (a test he passed with flying colours), they moved into other classics, such as an instrumental take on The Skatalites’ brassy Outback Dub, by which time the crowd had pretty much swamped the dance floor. Resistance was useless. This proved an excellent showcase for Greg Chilcott’s ‘bone, along with Panic’s erstwhile talent, on trumpet (in which he’s joined by Nick Calligeros); Louis Gordon’s sax break also roundly impressed. With the rhythm section of Jeff Reiss, drums, Tim Sampson, bass, Ed Johnston’s guitar & Freyja Garbett’s sometimes spacey keys, it proved intoxicating and mesmeric.
But the Blackbirdies hum, even when they veer from their core mission of roots, reggae and dub for inspiration, such as in their reappraisal of an old punk song: Rancid’s Radio. They turn back, with Gregory Isaacs’ old gem, Soon Forward, followed by Turn It Around, from much-loved Aoteroan outfit, The Black Seeds. Yep, they’re full of surprises, from a myriad of unpredictable sources. It’s a crystal-clear, punchy delivery, every time. BH is one of those bands that can take others’ material and make it their own, by way of musical rebranding & reinvention. They keep it interesting, a trait embodied and exemplified eloquently in their ethereal rework of Tears For Fears’ too-true genius moment, Mad World; really more akin to REM’s ‘classical’ interpretation.
Ah, Dave Keogh, you’ve done it again. Two bands, both alike in dignity, in one big night, on the otherwise sleepy side of town.

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