By Dennis Roger Reed

This_Could_Be_BigIs there a reason for a folk music fan from the United States to read Don Morrison’s book about the nitty gritty of the Australian music scene? Yes. Because it’s a good read, although few of us outside of Texans ever had to drive so far to a gig.

Don Morrison has over thirty years of experience in the music business. Although his “day job” is constructing world class resophonic guitars, he’s always been a performer, and as such he’s driven the crappy vans that break down on a regular basis. He’s been lied to and cheated by promoters and club owners. He’s seen talented band members give up and float away. He’s seen success, and he’s seen failure. And through all of this, he’s been able to balance his odd profession with a keen sense of humor, and the ability to turn a good phrase.

In the 1980s, Don ran towards the stardom light in a band called the Bodgies. After conquering their hometown of Adelaide, the boys took to the road, which is Australia can be a long road. Anecdotes about their ancient PA system or dodgy guitars will sound familiar to anyone who had tread on the band road. The burning van may not have happened to all of us, though. After Adelaide, the boys move to the big city of Melbourne. More stories, more touring, more grabbing for the brass ring. The Bodgies worked tremendously hard, played tons of gigs and yet kept having that elusive stardom just out of grasp. They rubbed elbows with the stars, and formulated a “people’s band” devoid of the trappings that most bands demanded. Rather than an exclusive dressing room, they posted a sign allowing full access to anyone.

But the rigors of the road and endless gigging finally tire Morrison and he “retires” with a job with the Australian government tax department. The muse returns and he runs through several bands, including Prawnhead and The Lonely Cosmonauts. With the latter he mingles with the colorful cast of “The Hillbilly Hoot,” a one hour radio show featuring all varieties of roots music. The former features his family, and allows Don the ability to be a good dad and a rocker. Despite (or perhaps because of) all the ups and downs, Morrison keeps his cool and relishes the little things. Like the day he sat eating fish and chips and watching a BMW attempt to offload a jet ski and instead roll into the drink…

All in all, a good funny read.

Dennis Roger Reed is a singer-songwriter, musician and writer based in San Clemente, CA. He’s released two solo CDs, and appeared on two CDs with the newgrassy Andy Rau Band and two CDs with the roots rockers Blue Mama. His prose has appeared in a variety of publications such as the OC Weekly and MOJO magazine. Writing about his music has appeared in an eclectic group of publications such as Bass Player, Acoustic Musician, Dirty Linen, Blue Suede News and Sing Out! His oddest folk resume entry would be the period of several months in 2002 when he danced onstage as part of both Little Richard’s and Paul Simon’s revues. He was actually asked to do the former and condoned by the latter. He apparently knows no shame.