Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Punk Night at the Duck's Nuts

image source: Punky Gibbon

John Blaine is a performer who goes by the rather unusual name of Attila The Stockbroker.

He is a British punk poet, taking his inspiration from the strident political stance of UK punk rockers The Clash. He has made a career from his potent topical ranting for 35 years on the 8th September this year.

He is a frequent visitor to Australia it would seem. I'd only heard of him through the Canonical List of Weird Band Names, a piece of essential reading for those with a twisted sense of humour.

A few years ago, on one of my infrequent visits back to my hometown of Newcastle in New South Wales, I saw a poster advertising a local gig of his, on his 30th Anniversary tour. Intrigued, I thought that if someone or some thing could exist and survive for 30 years on the back of such a ridiculous name, I need to do some research and find out all about it.

Upon further investigation, I found Attila's work to be highly engaging and thought provoking. I began to regret missing that gig in Newcastle.

Attila actually wrote a monologue about my home town, inspired by his first visit there to play a gig at the University, supporting Sydney band The Whitlams (His description of them in this piece is hilarious). The piece is called "Punk Night at the Duck's Nuts". It's a story about a place in a foreign land in strange environs, that just happened to have a pub on a street corner so named for a body part on a male duck.

image source: The Herald

The Duck's Nuts Hotel on the corner of Hunter Street and Steel Street, was known as the Family Hotel for many years before under going a name change to the now famous moniker in the year 2000. As recently as 2013 it has been renamed again to The Silk Hotel. When it was known as The Family, I saw many a lively gig there. It was always a great gig venue, with the tiny front bar packed out regularly. It had a great vibe and the music was usually great.

Although, after I'd left town and the venue changed names, gigs weren't all that flash, according to our man Mr Stockbroker. This tale of a sordid Wednesday night listening to a covers band in this now dodgy little pub is a fascinating and dead-on representation of a city that was all but devastated by the relocation of its main industry - steelmaking - to other parts of the country. This piece (I think) dates back to around the year 2000-1 which was roughly when the BHP Steelworks had shut down and the unemployment rate rocketed. The town was quickly becoming a shadow of its former self when Attila made these observations. Newcastle has slowly regenerated into a more gentrified and welcoming place, but it is lacking the rogue charm it had in years gone by.

Here below is a reading of "Punk Night At The Ducks Nuts", a requiem of sorts for Novacastrians,(i.e. Newcastle people) like myself, everywhere by Attila The Stockbroker.

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