Freshwater Creek Hall, near Geelong. 1980

 I remember the trees as I approached. Big old trees, casting lots of shade. Yes, there were definitely trees as I pulled up outside the Freshwater Creek Hall in my Ford Anglia – bass guitar across the back seat and amp in the boot. I’ve never been very good with fauna (or even flora, for that matter), so I’m not sure if the trees were pines or gums, a mixture of both, or some other variety. Don’t know if they are there now, but they were definitely around then.

It was probably late afternoon when I arrived to set up. The band I was in at the time, Murmurs, was playing in the hall that evening. Before we appeared in pubs in Geelong and surrounding areas, we did a kind of apprenticeship, playing at 21sts, rural football clubs (such as Modewarre), that sort of thing.

Our lead singer was Dave. Like most lead singers, he had that front-and-centre “look at me” personality. One could be forgiven for thinking, at times, that the band was all about Dave. Along these lines, our rhythm guitarist once wrote a parody of our song list (the one we’d stick on the back of our amps and on the foldbacks on performance nights) which included Dave’s name in all the titles. In black texta and easy-to-see capital letters, it went something along the lines of …

BEAUTIFUL DAVE (Beautiful People by Australian Crawl)

INDIS-DAVE (Indisposed by Australian Crawl)

RESPECTA-DAVE (Respectable by The Rolling Stones)

ONE LONG DAVE (One Long Day by Cold Chisel)

TAKE A LONG DAVE (Take a Long Line by The Angels)

You get the picture …

Not sure what Dave himself thought about it, but from memory he didn’t mind – probably, he was quietly happy about the number of times his name was mentioned! (Sorry, Dave – if you ever read this!) I should add, in fairness, that Dave was an excellent musician and performer.

But I digress …

I remember walking into the Freshwater Creek Hall before our gig and noticing the typical country hall set-up – small raised stage with curtain at one end, kitchen next to it, bare wooden floor etc. Sometime before the gig started, I noticed on a poster that an aspect of the evening was a “Ladies Bring A Plate” request, typical of country dances back then. I wondered what we were doing there, being a rock band without any of the repertoire I associated with such nights – but I suppose I was viewing the country dance setting and idea too literally, as Pride of Erins and barn dance tunes didn’t turn out to be obligatory.

We went through our usual repertoire. From the stage, I could see the quite small but enthusiastic audience dancing and enjoying themselves – which was to be expected, I guess, given that we knew most of them – as well as the line of tables along one side of the hall, spread with plates of sandwiches and cakes. There were probably party pies and sausage rolls, too. Of course, there was also the crockery for cups of tea and coffee, and the urn and carafes of orange juice at one end. (Additionally, there were the hip flasks in pockets, and the grog we’d stored in our cars outside, of course.)

Still, overriding everything in my memory of that night, was us, the aspiring rockers, in that quaint (but quite lovely in its own way) setting.  I still smile as I think about a hard rock song like The Rolling Stones’ Respectable rattling the rafters in