FROM the moment five musical friends from St Francis Xavier decided to form a band in late 2018 they declared their intention to hone their craft.
Saturating the market wasn't a concern, unlike many of their contemporaries, they wanted to play shows and play often.
Slapjack began as Chris Turner (guitar), Chris Bass (keys), Nick Crameri (drums), Izzy Rendina (vocals) and Ben Moonen (bass), before they added the brass section of University of Newcastle students Fernando Carvajal (trombone) and Chris Holburn (trumpet) to compete their heady mix of soul and funk.
"Nick and I were listening to a lot of funk and jazz-influenced stuff and '70s and '80s soul and R&B genres of music and really fell in love with it and wanted to do something similar," Moonen said.
"We thought there would be a place for it, especially in Newcastle, because not a lot of local bands go into that realm."
The seven-piece played almost bi-weekly gigs throughout 2019 at venues like the Cambridge, Newcastle and Hamilton Station Hotels and underage shows at Adamstown's The Dungeon.
"With the nature of it being seven people, it's easy to have musicians who are all competent, but when you have so many together with so much happening it can lose it's tightness," Moonen said.
The another element that separates Slapjack from the pack is jazzy vocalist Izzy Rendina, who uses her background in musical theatre to stunning effect on the band's 2019 party singles Jungle Fever and Bad Cat.
Last year Slapjack dropped their first EP The People That You Meet, which was recorded at Central Coast's The Grove, and it further diversified their brand of funk and R&B.
Last week Slapjack released their poppiest single to date, Kinda Funny, which was produced by Moonen. The song was a result of a band writing session held at a Seal Rocks Airbnb last October.
"The track explores that oh-so-familiar experience of when you're enjoying a night out and run into someone you don't really want to talk to, yet they insist on starting a conversation and drop the classic, "How have you been? Let's catch up soon," Rendina said.
"You talk about all the great memories and times you shared together in the relationship, but understanding that things ended for a reason and you are not ready to go through that again."
BACK ON THE BEAT
ORIGINAL Taman Shud drummer Dannie Davidson is set to return to the Newcastle music scene on April 11 when his The Cool Jazz Trio perform at Babylon.
The jazz three-piece, which also features Paul Chaplin (guitar/vocals) and Steve Gidney (double bass), formed early last year but the pandemic halted their momentum.
The Cool Jazz Trio's repertoire includes the classic American songbook.
Davidson was a founding member of The Strangers, the first Newcastle rock band to sign a record contract when they joined Festival Records in 1965.
The surfie band later changed their name to The Sunsets and eventually Taman Shud, who enjoyed success with their psychedelic albums Evolution (1969) and Goolutionites and the Real People (1970).
MUM'S THE WORD
NEWCASTLE Americana songstress Demi Mitchell is also about to return to performing after a year-long hiatus. Mitchell will support Central Coast's Little Quirks at the Cambridge on April 16.
It'll be a special occasion for The Overflow songwriter as she recently announced she and her fiancé are expecting their first baby in August.
VALHALORE HIT BY OUTBREAK
THE COVID-19 outbreak in Brisbane and city's subsequent lockdown has caused folk-metal band Valhalore to postpone their Newcastle show.
The Brisbane act were scheduled to play the Hamilton Station Hotel next Tuesday, but the band made the preemptive decision to cancel their entire 10-date tour.
"Despite some of these shows still potentially being able to proceed, the situation is changing so quickly that we are unable to risk being caught out by border closures or forced quarantine time interstate," the band said.
"We are also fiercely committed to doing our part to reduce the risks and potential transmission of this virus, as well as ensuring the health and safety of all venue staff and of course our amazing fans."
EX-CHAT SHIPS IN
BACK in December guitarist Josh Price made what many people considered the crazy decision to leave pub rockers The Chats.
Through their tongue-in-cheek tunes Smoko, Pub Feed and The Clap, the Sunshine Coast lads had earned international acclaim and even the support of rock megastars Dave Grohl and Josh Homme.
The Chats have since continued on with The Unknowns vocalist Josh Hardy, and Price is moving ahead, too.
"Pricey" has gone solo and will kick-off Newcastle pub The Ship Inn's launch of live music with a free gig on April 17. Mughead, better known as Skegss lead guitarist Ben Reed, is joining Price in support.
Pricey and Mughead are also playing Maitland's Grand Junction Hotel on April 18.
FRESH from filling in on Middle Kids' performance of their latest single Today We're The Greatest on The Late Late Show with James Corden, singer-songwriter Dominic Breen is hitting the road for a run of shows.
Breen's dreamy new single James Street Tonight was produced by Middle Kids' Tim Fitz and blends '70s Americana with lush modern indie-folk.
You can catch Breen at the Stag & Hunter Hotel supporting Caitlin Harnett & The Pony Boys on May 7.