Posted 19 September 2016 by Adz Carter
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WOW! We got to the Grand Final already?!! How the hell did that happen? Well, as they say in the classics, time flies when you’re having fun, oh and yes you best believe that the 2016 Passport To Airlie band comp has been a blast! This week, it all came down to the wire, as 5 acts (that were whittled down from a total of 20) battled it out to win $1000 cash, and a chance to compete in the Passport To Airlie National Finals (taking place at Magnums in Airlie Beach, during the Airlie Beach Festival Of Music).

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Roy Rose showed all why he rose to the heights of the Grand Final within a few chords alone. The opening acoustic number sounded so muddy it was as if Rose had just risen out of the Louisiana swamps, while the lyrics, declaring he was “coming after you”, were sung with such conviction his words were a little threatening (but I mean that in the nicest possible way...). With the Cold Chisel classic ‘Bow River’, Rose did Ian Moss proud as he performed the song with such power and passion (yet still played it in an incredibly unique fashion), and afterwards the crowd let out an almighty roar. ‘Lord Have Mercy On My Soul’, a redemption song which could easily be heard any given Sunday at a church in America’s bible belt, was followed by a very faithful rendition of The Cruel Sea’s ‘The Honeymoon Is Over’, which sure saw Rose channel his inner Tex Perkins. During ‘I’m Gonna Get There No Matter What Speed I Go’, Rose well and truly utilised the percussion (in the form of his bass drum and tambourine milk crate operated by his feet), as well as the distortion, on a song with slow speed but one hell of a collection of catchy beats and riffs. This set pretty much mirrored Rose’s set from Heat Two, but that didn’t matter one iota, not when his mix of originals and covers were just so damn good. From start to finish, if you closed your eyes you’d swear you were listening to a full band. Plus, just like he did in Heat Two, Roy Rose made it all look extremely easy. Oh man, the nerve of this guy!
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Kerry Miller’s chimes immediately set a new dream like mood and set the tone for Pap & That’s set at the beginning of their opening number ‘Listen With Your Heart’. The Santana like percussion of Miller’s bongos was matched by the Santana like solos from Nick Rashke, and complimented by the rhythm guitar and soothing vocals of Ian Papworth. ‘A Buddy Holly Song’, an aptly titled number with great backing vocals from Miller, could’ve easily been played by Buddy Holly, or hippies in late 1960s San Francisco. The instrumental, ‘Rag Time Blues’ really proved just how damn talented each member is, while the Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames cult classic ‘Yeah Yeah’, demonstrated that this soft rock trio could also tackle Latin soul. Another cover was to follow in the form of Men At Work’s amazing ‘Overkill’, and as intoxicating as it was, it was trumped by the original ‘Gold’, which was as catchy as the common cold. Just like Roy Rose’s set, Pap & That’s set pretty much mirrored the set from their winning heat, but once again, well, big deal! Especially considering just how soulful and beautiful the entire set was.
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Powerhouse trio In Motion kept things in motion (and sorry guys, I swear that that’s the last time I’ll ever make that shocking pun about your name) with ‘My Kinda Woman, which was heavy on bass, had a great groove, and had a number of members of the crowd dancing in the opening chords alone. ‘Give’, with its killer distortion gave the song a real Audioslave sound, and was followed by ‘Red Back’ which had the same distinct groove and swing of Queens Of The Stone Age. The mellower feel of ‘Ride The Wave’ brought the tempo down, but not the mood, and was backed up brilliantly with the swinging sound of ‘Black And Gold’. A new song called ‘New Love’ had not only an incredible hook, but the same kinda swagger of The Black Crowes. It was little rough around the edges, but hey, all my favourite pairs of jeans have holes in them... Plus, no one could blame the guys for the song not being very polished just yet, considering that the song was written only THREE DAYS BEFORE! So kudos to this three piece for attempting something so daring in the Grand Final of a band comp. As a big Led Zep fan, I feel I should give In Motion extra kudos for the Led Zep style of the set’s closer ‘Lover’.  In fact, I’d like to give them an extra shout out for the entire set, as, after having only seen them three times now, each of In Motion’s songs already have a certain familiarity to them.
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Want to know how Audioslave were born? One quarter of Soundgarden and three quarters of Rage Against The Machine heard ‘Own Part Of Town’ by The Fossicks, then were so inspired that they figured out a way to travel back in time to form Audioslave in 2002. Okay, not really, but you get the idea... This great way to get the wrecking ball rolling was followed by ‘Way Things Go’, which swung, punched, and kicked everyone in the guts. Even with a throat infection, lead singer and rhythm guitarist David Pedrucci still managed to rock out like Mike Patton. ‘Dangerous Love’ a tumultuous tale about going back to the wrong person, had killer stop-start riffs and chunky bass, all while the drummer dropped beats like he was dropping bombs. Then ‘Gonna Die Anyway’ was Faith No More meets Chili Peppers with plenty of bass in your face, while ‘Silk Road’ had a very powerful hook, complimented by insane solos from Jack Vietze. Pedrucci remarked that, sometimes, you shouldn’t touch the classics, hinting at some hesitation to proceed, just before busting out ‘Break On Through’ by The Doors. But The Fossicks put their stamp all over it, just like they did with ‘Only Good For Conversation’ by Rodriguez in Heat Three, rounding out their set in a grand way, oozing passion and ability, and commanding the stage with more swagger than Jagger.

The Midnight Movers kept the comp moving, as well as the crowd, with a stompin’ swingin’ instrumental intro, letting everyone know that they were as tight as f*ck and ready to rock! This rock and blues trio was led by singer/guitarist Adam Osmanovic, looking like a younger and less heavy set Stevie Ray Vaughn, with the guitar chops to match. Little Richard’s ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ was given a great bluesy treatment, with great backing vocals too from the bass guitarist. Their first original had a self-described “wanky arse intro”, but man did it sound good! Kinda like ’63 era Stones. This was followed by a “stompy thing”, which I guess translates as blues rock at its finest, with the rhythm section providing one hell of a backbone to Osmanovic’s guitar, all while he was dancing on the lip of the stage like a real show pony. George Thorogood could’ve hardly played the cheeky part better, but this wasn’t style with no substance, as the sound omitting from each instrument was superb. The Black Keys meets ZZ Top styled last number had many members of the crowd dancing. Hell, they even had members of other bands dancing! This was a true testament to the toe tappin’, head noddin’, rockin’, rollin’, stylin’ and profilin’ that was the essence of The Midnight Movers.

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As a surprise to absolutely no one involved in this prestigious comp, there was of course (yet again) a gap in between all the points awarded to each act too small to even squeeze a plectrum in, but two acts managed to come out on top. As corny as it is to say, and as much as it pains part of me to even type it, the fact remains about every act competing in the Grand Final: They were all winners (there, I said it). It had to be said though, as every act was amazing, which made the arduous decision making process all the more harder for the judges. Sadly, not everyone could walk away the victor, but being awarded the silver medal and winning a cash prize of $250 were The Midnight Movers. Well done boys, I hope you put the money towards studio time, as I would love to hear an ep or album from you guys sometime in the near future. Being crowned the victor of the entire comp though was In Motion. Congrats to you guys, I really look forward to seeing you again in Airlie!
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So that may be this year’s Passport To Airlie band comp done and dusted, but the countdown to this year’s National Final is just beginning. As usual, the staff here at Muso’s Garage will be away at Airlie Beach to cover the Airlie Beach Festival of Music (yeah, it’s a hard life...), so we will of course bring you the up to the minute news on the Finals, and indeed the entire Festival. We’ll also give you the latest on who’s performing on the bill, and all the info on how YOU can join in on the fun, so watch this space!

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