I look forward to the first Friday every month because our local Farmers Arms puts on a live music night. Normally this is a jazz ensemble of some type, but this month (December) we were in for an early treat.
An unnamed quartet played from 6:30 through till 9:00 pm. As with most local bands who do not get to play together very often the group showed indications of unfamiliarity with each other. This did not distract from their performances and, if anything, made the experience seem much more impromptu, which gave the night a special feel.
Graham White, a regular at the Farmers Arms, played his usual polished keyboards. First-timer, Mark Chalmers, accompanied on electric bass. While Mark showed a lack of familiarity with some of the songs, this did not carry over to his playing, which was professional and tidy, and his occasional solos displayed an inventive note structure quite different from previous bassists.
Vocals were delivered by Nelly Tidda Blue who has a lovely, svelte smoothness to her voice. A clear, precise upper register, a smooth-as-honey mid-range and surprising lows made listening to Nelly a real joy. Also lacking 'contact time' with the other group members, Nelly obviously has plentiful performing experience as she was able to hide this fact from all but the deliberately observant.
The stand-out musician of the night though, was the rhythm/lead guitarist, Steve "Beez" Beezley. Toowoomba is very fortunate to have a resident guitar professional who ranks with the best in the world. I doubt that I have seen any guitar player with better technique than Steve. Steve has a long history playing guitars spanning more than 4 decades. He is comfortable with all styles and guitar types, be it acoustic, electric, rhythm, bass, lead, dobro, etc. Steve teaches music at some of our private schools and also at his music studio, Avenue Guitar School.
Steve is a quiet man. I have never seen him 'blow his own horn' (sorry for the mixed metaphor) and he quietly goes about his life without raising a ripple. I doubt that there are too many Toowoomba people outside music circles that even know he exists. While most of the patrons were not aware of who Steve is, they certainly appreciated his adroit licks and accomplished solos. As I say, he was the stand-out performer on the night and his playing lifted what might be considered an average band performance to something artful and almost sublime.
I've said it before and bears repeating; a night of jazz and popular standards, such as is delivered on occasions like this, bring a quiet enjoyment and simple joy with no effort and very little cost. Do yourself a favour and book a table in the New year to enjoy one of Toowoomba's best 'simple pleasures'.