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Joe Camilleri – Not Jaded After All These Years

He is running late. 15 minutes late – the exact amount of time set aside for my interview. So when we finally connect I know I better make it a quick one. I finish my first question and he starts talking in a way that makes me feel I am sitting down with an old friend I haven’t seen for a while. I immediately wish we had more time. He answers my question like he is telling me a story and with absolutely with no sense of urgency despite running late. And it is while listening to the ‘story’ that I realise what the enduring charm of this man is. After 50 years in the music business – tour after tour, album after album, interview after interview – Joe Camilleri is not jaded.

In fact, Camilleri sounds as freshly excited as he no doubt sounded all those years ago in the mid 1960s when he first found his musical feet with Melbourne bands like The Pelaco Brothers, the Adderly Smith Band, The Sharks and the Double Decker Brothers and others. By 1975 he came into his own with the formation of Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons and from that year on was firmly cradled in the nations musical heart (ask anyone who was listening to radio in the late 70s and almost all will be able to sing you that infuriatingly catchy number, Hit and Run).

Following the eventual demise of the Falcons in the early 80s, the ever-evolving, almost chameleon like Camilleri, regrouped and came back with the much admired The Black Sorrows. The band are touring on the back of their latest album, Certified Blue, which has garnered some seriously excellent reviews:
“Certified Blue, the new Black Sorrows album is a masterpiece. This is easily Joe’s strongest album since ‘Hold On To Me’ and most passionate since ‘Dear Children’.” – Paul Cashmere, Noise 11.
“..an impeccably crafted trip through all the ingredients that made rock’n’roll in the first place, from gospel to sweet soul, raw blues to country…Blasting Certified Blue in the car, as I have been for a week, I didn’t want it to end. It’s that good.” – Noel Mengel,Courier Mail

Camilleri offers some sage advice to young aspiring musicians with the prosaic “don’t believe the bullshit, believe in what you do!” It is this belief that has carried him through the inevitable highs and lows that come with any career lasting five decades. In fact he believes in the highs and lows, in the “struggle, you got to have struggle” to hone your craft against. He is a man who believes no matter what you do “do it with dignity and style”. Style, It is something this man likes and knows well. He has never had a scandal threaten to railroad him or his career, he dresses with style (this is a man who knows what he likes), conducts himself with style, writes and performs with style and lends style to any of his many musical combos.

Something else Joe Camilleri likes is touring and recording and writing – he knows nothing else. “What am I going to do if I retire? I haven’t asked yet for a pension card and I don’t want one.” So I need not bother asking if he has any plans to on retiring. It’s just not going to happen. The one thing that is going to happen is Joe Camilleri will continue to do what he does because he believes in himself. He loves a new horizon (metaphorically and literally). He loves “the empty page, the unknown from a writer’s point of view. I love that.” He loves his craft and his audiences. He loves the endless possibilities life still has yet to present. And for a man in his mid sixties that is something.

Joe Camilleri comes across as though he was that shiny-faced Maletese immigrant kid all those years ago – still passionate, still drinking up every moment as though it were his last, still wanting to be relevant. “I believe I still have something to say”. And still thinking “no one wants to come and see me.”. Endearing? Yes. Jaded? Not this musical over-achiever and visionary.

Sharon Lenehan

The Black Sorrows play the Tanks on the 21st November 2014
COST:$40/ $35 (CONC) (15+)
DOORS / BAR:6.30PM
SHOW STARTS: 7.30PM
VENUE: TANK 5 –SEATED/STANDING
SUPPORT: Shari Williams
FOOD: Flavours of India
Tickets available through Ticketlink

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