Moonlighting: My Other Gigs
I am also involved in many other musical projects around the Melbourne scene. Funk, r&b, jazz — I will play anything for food.
Alongside an excellent fellow Melbourne guitarist, Jason Liacos, I play for Pickpocket, an instrumental jazz-funk-groovy group led by Craig Strain, a highly inspiring, talented and motivated bass player.
The aim of this band is to create sophisticated music that grooves for people to dance to, rather than music for one to stroke one’s chin to in a traditional jazz club setting.
With a debut album 'Sojourn' released in mid-2016, the band is looking to play where people want to have fun, as well as for the muso crowd!
Oh, and for the guitar nerds out there, I play a very nice guitar with this band that doesn’t get a look-in much in Neil Hawker music: a Paul Reed Smith Modern Eagle. A gorgeous thing with its own unique sound. And let’s not forget the monstrous pedal board that accompanies me for this band. Gotta make the bells and whistles happen live somehow!
Past: Chelsea Wilson
Melbourne soul singer extraordinaire Chelsea Wilson is one of the hardest-working bandleaders I know.
With a low-key yet affecting jazz-influenced voice, Chelsea brings a touch of class and a lovely soft edge to what is otherwise a street-wise and raucous Melbourne soul scene. As a former long-time employee of PBS Radio Melbourne, she has a knack for selecting great songs from the furthest corners of the funk and soul repertoire realm.
The musical style allows me to (attempt!) be the sideman guitar player I've always wanted to be: a mixture of Larry Carlton, Jimmy Nolan, Steve Cropper, Paul Jackson Jr and the like.
And she gave me and three other fine musos the opportunity be rock stars in 2015. We took her up on it and toured to the UK and France to play at the Glastonbury Festival, London's iconoc Jazz Cafe and Bizz 'Art in Paris.
Locally, I've played with Chelsea all over Melbourne at single and album launches, some of Melbourne's funnest live venues and community festivals.
As of late 2018, Chelsea has a new album coming out, and will perform with the great Cristian Barbieri on guitar.
Past: Women of Soul
This one kept me really busy. A Melbourne-based concept showcase highlighting the talents of female singers in the ever-growing soul scene.
With fellow Chelsea Wilson and Pickpocket keyboardist Andy Boyle, as well as Gotye's Lucas Taranto and Cookin' on Three Burners' Ivan Khatchoyan ('Choi'), we were constantly presented with some fantastic original repertoire to learn and play as well as classic tunes from the lesser-known extremities of the 60s and 70s American soul and funk scene.
And I got to accompany great vocalists such as Kylie Auldist, Chelsea Wilson, Carmen Hendricks, Lisa Faithfull (pictured with pink hair) and more.
Also, the gigs were always sweet. We could find ourselves crammed onto a sweaty Melbourne venue stage one night, and then two hours out of town in beautiful old town halls in front of keen punters.
With Women of Soul, I've done venues such as Northcote Town Hall, Meeniyan Town Hall (a beautiful place!) and Mordialloc Food, Wine and Music Festival.