HOW I GOT HERE

THE BARE NECESSITIES

This site was established in 2020. I (Charlie Griffin) am a young 69 year old professional musical entertainer, based in Melbourne, Australia, who specialises in playing covers  I play acoustic guitar and banjolele  and I love a good party!

Born in South Africa

I was “born to sing” and entertain; began singing in public at age 11, as lead chorister in an Anglican church choir; started singing with guitar at age 15, in churches and folk music clubs; did well at Eisteddfod; had a naturally good ear and have always loved harmony singing; sang in musicals like Oliver & The Desert Song, The Jungle Book…

University years

At age 20 I wanted to become a radio announcer, so I studied English and Drama, but changed to music studies and became an adept guitar teacher. I formed an acoustic folk-rock harmony trio (a la CSN) at Uni, and toured RSA and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe); sang in the Uni Chamber Choir; sang many gigs with a local dance band, which sustained me through my university years.

Professional beginnings

While cutting my professional solo teeth in Cape Town restaurants and pubs, I performed with The Cape Town Philharmonia Choir. (Messiah, Carmina Burana, Mozart’s Requiem). In 1981, was quickly opted in to gig for 7 years with the top dance band in Cape Town, The Hylton Ross Band, and inevitably started my own 6 band around 1987. I had a very good “innings” in the functions market there till the year 2000. We assembled a large, versatile repertoire, so it became necessary to have good, but simple charts, making the learning of new material easier, efficient and time-saving.

Music charts

I managed and fronted the band, and sang most lead parts. Between my very able keyboard player and me, we transcribed/arranged most of our material. Although I was a full-time professional, my regular band members were not, and every now and then, one would be ill or taking a family vacation, etc., and the charts were a powerful tool when booking “dep” musicians. Luckily for me, there are many brilliant, educated players in Cape Town, who can read “flyshit” off a wall. For example, I could book them with no rehearsal and they would rock up and play what was written, and do the fills and solos with aplomb. I was very fortunate and indeed privileged to play with a host of excellent, even iconic musicians.

Versatility

I decided that if I was going to make a living from playing covers, I had to be prepared to play pretty much any kind of popular music, for any age group. I built a repertoire for (a) Jewish weddings (my mainstay), singing convincingly in Hebrew and Yiddish; (b) when I had a gig that was predominantly “Latino”, I’d book Luciano, an accordionist who sang fluently in Italian, Spanish and French, and we would use “fake” charts for his repertoire; (c) I also had a 9-piece singalong/oompah band, and had to work hard on my German! I’d simply add a trumpeter, trombonist and sousaphone player, and voila!

Solo backing tracks

I began learning to edit midi file backing tracks in about 1997, to enable me to accommodate the deteriorating economic climate and play for smaller dance functions without the cost of a band.

Australia

I immigrated to Australia in 2001 with my family, and the entertainment climate here has been such that I have come to have very little need for all these heavy music pads for performing! I have had to “adapt or die”, and now mostly perform solo, with backing tracks.
Every time I move home, I have to move 3 tea chest boxes filled to the brim with sheet music and band “pads”. My 6-piece alone, had 3 x A4 x 6 musician pads containing 200 sheets per pad. They weigh a TON!
  • SO! — I am scanning thousands of music sheets into song folders, discarding all the pads and hope to make those charts pay me some rent! I will also be adding newer, popular charts for newer generations, by request. However, in the functions market, many popular older tunes still do the trick. I hope you find a use for some of them.
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