Photo for album cover of 2003 Dream

Photo for album cover of 2003 Dream

David Oke
The Dancing Dog, Footscray, May 2015 

In May 2015 my wife Heather and I were at a bar in Footscray called The Dancing Dog for the launch of the new EP, Legitimate, by a band called Jarrow.

Jarrow is our older son, Dan, and that night he was playing with his full band rather than performing his quirky and clever compositions solo – bass, drums, and rhythm guitar backing him on lead guitar and lead vocal.

The genre is indie garage punk, not everyone’s cup of tea. Triple J Unearthed had picked up his song Last Monday and was playing it regularly. The room was packed with a crowd of friends and fans in their late teens. The atmosphere was terrific. It warmed our parental hearts that the audience were not only really excited to hear Last Monday, but were singing along with it.

Heather and I grinned and looked at each other through the night, as if to say, ‘How did all this happen?’ ‘Is he really that good?’ and ‘Who would have believed this?’

Daniel had loved music from a very early age. He adored the Wiggles and wanted to be a Wiggle till he was about six years old. Travelling along in the car he would be tapping his knees in time to the music but was very fussy. We still laugh about the fact that we were playing some Disney music in the car but the order was sternly given from the back seat ‘Don’t sing along with the seven dwarfs!’

Keyboard lessons in early primary school then drum lessons in Year Seven at secondary school.  He was already a self-taught drummer before lessons. A few hints from his old man on playing bass and guitar but really quite self-taught on those instruments too. A cover band in high school called White Collars, then some other projects including 1283 and Vinyl Splinters. VCE Music, majoring in percussion, then on to uni to major in music and writing.

Over the years Heather and I could see that Dan was really keen to perform his songs on his terms, hence the evolving of Jarrow.

We helped him purchase a decent acoustic guitar:  a really nice Japanese Takamine with a beautiful tone, great pick up arrangement and an ability to re-string in a similar style to an electric guitar.

The first time we saw Dan play and sing his original songs was at an open mic evening at a pub in Sydney Road, Brunswick in 2014. Wow!  His voice was clear, confident and the guitar playing was pretty good too.  Some of the lyrics, though, made us wonder:  ‘Where did that come from?’ ‘What has he been up to without our knowledge?’ ‘What else don’t we know about our eldest son?’

In March of 2016 Jarrow dropped a nine-track album called 2003 Dream. In 2003 Dan was eight years old. He played drums in the band, with his parents, to accompany the singing at the Anglesea Carols by Candle Light that year. That experience of playing drums in public forged  the dream that one day he would become a rock star.

Dan wrote all the songs on the album and played all instruments – except on the first track, Cube, where I added a tenor saxophone solo. Not bad for one take with the microphone set up in our kitchen at home. It’s a sparse song that only has guitar, voice and sax.

I have been privileged to perform that song a few times alongside Dan at some inner city Melbourne pubs. It’s a lot of fun to play with an up and coming artist who happens to be your son. It’s a bit weird that some people in the audience start chanting my name!  I have even witnessed some audience members becoming emotional with the fact that it’s sweet that a dad is playing music with his son.

When  I was about Dan’s age I played in a covers/reception band at pubs and RSLs around Geelong and western Victoria. (We called ourselves The Millionaires!) Where Dan has used digital technology and the Internet to promote and distribute his music I recorded onto a Tascam four track and hawked a cassette around pubs and clubs to get work.

In September this year Dan’s album was re-released by Barely Dressed /Remote Control Records as a download, CD and even on vinyl. Some notable gigs have followed, including Tote Hotel residency in Melbourne and  BIGSOUND in Brisbane. Plus, apparently, more than a quarter million Spotify plays!

In one of those recent Jarrow gigs the crowd joined in with $$Spoilers$$ just as they had with Last Monday a year earlier. $$Spoilers$$ is a break up song with some cheesy lyrics but a very catchy guitar riff. (We think we know who this song is about!) Dan’s home-made film clip complements the song well. One reviewer described the clip as a ‘Shakespearian tragedy set in Footscray’.

Our family is still scratching our collective heads wondering how all this has come about. We are very proud of our creative kid.

More stories by David Oke

David is a Melbourne musician, music teacher and primary school teacher. His debut Stereo Story was about playing Great Balls of Fire at Sun Studio in Memphis. He has assisted in the organisation, and leading of gospel music workshops and Sunday gospel celebrations at the Anglesea Music Festivals, and is a member of The Seddon Jammers. His son Dan is the creative force of the band Jarrow.