Brian Nankervis and members of the RocKwiz Orkestra present Dr. John’s Gris-Gris album & New Orleans 60s Classics Live! Mandy Hall talked to Brian about the origins of the show.
I chatted to Brian on a warm summer morning while he was standing in the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, enjoying the view. I asked him how it all came about. He explains “the chap who runs the Ding Dong Lounge, Bill Walsh (former drummer with Cosmic Psychos) – Bill’s an interesting guy and the Ding Dong is a fantastic venue – decided that he wanted the kitchen to have a New Orleans flavour. He did a bit of makeover on the venue, went to New Orleans and sourced a chef – Chris Weysham who’s a wonderful chef, and started the New Orleans kitchen as part of the venue.
Brian continues “He approached the RocKwiz office around the middle of last year saying “I want to do a run of shows with a New Orleans theme. I know your band are all fans of that sort of music, would you like to do something?” We said do you mean a quiz and he said no, just the band and Brian – so we said Let’s do it. Our guitar player James Black wasn’t available, so we got Ross Hannaford, who we all love, from Daddy Cool. Peter Luscome, the RocKwiz drummer put together this band and the idea was that we would play the Dr John album, Gris Gris, in its entirety.
The kitchen is called the Girl with Gris Gris Kitchen. Peter knew that there was a very famous album by very famous New Orleans musician Dr John called Gris Gris. He put together the band, featuring Ross Hannaford, also Bruce Haims, Ray Pereira, Vicka & Linda Bull doing the female vocals. They we got Garry Grey who used to be in the sacred Cowboys to do all the vocals. We do that in the first half, then the second half is just a whole lot of New Orleans classics.
I’m the host. I’m the Maitre’D, I’m the MC, I look after people when they arrive. make sure everyone’s got a drink, make sure everyone’s comfortable. The New Orleans is a really strong theme, so I talk about a trip that I did to New Orleans a couple of years ago. I even do a little slide show, Mandy. Which is fun. We talk to people. I read a few excerpts from books about New Orleans, I give some background to the Dr John album. It absolutely went off. We had to add another night. We could’ve added 2 more nights, but we had trouble with everyone’s availability. The first is very much a presentation of this album and in the second half we sort of push the tables to the side and we have dancing. It’s just an incredible night. It was this sort of magical little idea that took off and it’s been wonderful.
Everyone knows that Melbourne’s an incredible music town, but I also think it’s growing as a food town. our restaurants are incredible, seemingly full of celebrity chefs. It’s a great food town. Put the two together and it’s a wonderful, wonderful night. ”
I ask Brian if they are planning to continue the shows. He says “I’d love to keep working, to me as a performer and a music fan, and a food fan, it’s just a joy. And to work with musicians like Vicka and Linda and Ross Hannaford, you know. I’ve been a huge fan of RH. I actually produced a dance at our local church hall in about 1974 with Daddy Cool and I was a wide eyed teenagers, I think I was 19 and to think that 40 years later I’d be sharing a stage with him and waiting backstage to go on is unthinkable, but a great thrill. ”
So what is Brian’s scene? “At the moment is looking across the lake at the Botanical Gardens. I’m looking at graceful palm trees. I’m looking towards Government House. It’s a blue sky day. We’re about to do a live cross for CHannel 10 where we are farewell a 400 year old tree that has tragically been ring barked by vandals. It’s dreadful. The tree is dying. It’s a really significant tree. It’s called the separation tree. If I look back it’s that view. Across this incredible vista of the botanic gardens, so that’s my scene.”
He continues “Funnily enough, What’s My Scene – we’ve got Dave Faulkner appearing in one of the upcoming RocKwiz episodes. We’re doing 6 episodes this series. Each episode is centered around each decade. We start with the 50s. End in the 20000s and we’ve got Dave Faulkner doing What’s My Scene on the 80’s ep.”
The RocKwiz Orkestra present Dr. John’s Gris-Gris album for two shows only:
Sunday March 1st & Sunday March 15th
General Admissions – $30 + BF
Platinum Dinner & Show – $110 + BF
Twin Dinner & Show – $95 + BF
Gold Dinner & Show – $95 + BF
6:30pm: Doors open for cocktail hour
7pm: Dinner Seating
7:45pm: Dinner Service Begins
8:45pm: Dr. John’s ‘Gris Gris’ Performed Live
9:45pm: New Orleans classics Performed Live
Tickets on sale now: www.dingdonglounge.com.au