“Legends abound as to the origins of the Spondooli Brothers: Born in a guitar case in a Lower Spondoolovitch potato field. Raised by feral goats in the barren foothills of Upper Spondolia. Illegitimate heirs to the throne of the Grand Hoopla of Absurdistan, sold as child slaves to a nomadic circus tribe who trained them in the ecstatic arts of guitar-strangling. All explanations fold in on themselves, mere ticklings of a larger truth. Whatever the forces of Fate or Friction that have carried these two, they continue to travel their beloved motherland of Spondoolistan, carefully documenting & disseminating the rich musical folklore found there. But then, they may just be making it all up.”
My main instrument, since age 14, was guitar, mostly acoustic, and over many years I developed a fingerstyle approach that enabled me to play my own mix of rhythm, bass & melodic elements. In 2003 this led serendipitously to a creative partnership with likeminded guitar-strangler Luke Yates, with whom I formed the Spondooli Brothers. It was a short-lived but prolific collaboration, hugely inspiring, and which opened a font of musical creativity in me…… permanently.
We played all-original acoustic songs & instrumentals, a quirky mash-up of references to Eastern Europe, the Near East, South American & Latin, Balkan, Rom, cabaret & circus music….respecting the traditional roots but giving them our own creative (and deeply irreverent) twist. In late 2005 we recorded & released our album An Anthology Of Revised Ambiguities, which received much appreciative commentary and we even sold a few. It was recorded live over two days at Huon Delta Studios by Geoff Francis. The album had airplay nationally on community radio, and a pinnacle for us was getting some regular plays on ABC ClassicFM Drive by the eclectic Julia Lester, who was a bit of a fan. You can listen to the whole album here.
You can also have a look at all the Spondoolies poster & CD art here.
Unfortunately, only six months after the release, and just as the Spondoolies were hitting a new creative stride, Life smashed in, swinging its mallet like a berserker, and the duo came to an untimely end. We ran a short series of farewell gigs, the official swansong being at the old Moonah Arts Centre. I’d been composing & arranging some new pieces to include Luke’s friend Andrew Morrisby on cello, and with barely three rehearsals under our belt, we exited with a concert of brand new material….which we would never play again. Of note are two beautiful instrumentals by Luke, who was finding new subtleties & confidence in his musicality. Thankfully, we recorded the night, warts’n’all, which I edited into the album A Month Of Moonbeams. It grunts & sparkles with promise, careering from delicate to shambolic, and there are many signposts to the new directions we would have pursued had we continued. You can listen to the whole album here, or taste a sample below.