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There are moments in rock ’n’ roll, extremely rare ones, when, no matter how many times you listen to a certain song, the hairs on the back of your neck stand tall and you cannot help but smile at the sheer brilliance of something in the music, without being able to explain exactly why it is so great. Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts is responsible for a few of them in my book, sublime fills and feels that only he could create.
I could cite artists as diverse as AC/DC, Oasis and the Strokes among others who have provided such gifts. But there’s another special morsel, one that has been vital for most of my lifetime, a few seconds of anarchy on guitar that never fails to send shivers right through me.
It comes 1min 21sec into Elvis Presley’s 1956 hit Hound Dog and it is played by Scotty Moore, the guitarist who accompanied Presley, bassist Bill Black and drummer DJ Fontana through the early part of the King’s career. It’s Moore’s second solo in the song. The first one is classic rock ’n’ roll of the era, a mix of country and blues licks that sets the song alight.
It’s what happens at the beginning of the second one that takes Hound Dog by the scruff of the neck and gives it a good shake. It lasts maybe two seconds, just a couple of muffled chords that bounce off Fontana’s drum fill, but in that moment the very essence of rock ‘n’ roll is writ large, as exciting as your first kiss and dirtier than a butcher’s apron. It’s Moore’s finest moment, but one among many great ones in the early Presley catalogue and in a career spanning six decades. Moore died on Tuesday at the age of 84. His finesse as a musician will live forever.
Yirrkala in northeast Arnhem Land has produced more than its fair share of talented musicians over the years, including Yothu Yindi and East Journey, as well as experts in other fields of the arts, such as Bangarra dancers Djakapurra Munyarryun and Rachael Wallis.
Today local talent old and new and a few ringins from around the country are taking part in the inaugural Yirrkala Yarrapay Music and Dance Festival. Among the locals is Dhapanbul Yunupingu, daughter of Yothu Yindi’s founder Mandawuy Yunupingu, who died in 2013.
She is carrying on the long family tradition as a singer and songwriter and is being tipped for national success. One of the songs she will perform today, Gurtha (The Fire), recorded with another of the festival’s performers, Shellie Morris, is nominated for song of the year at this year’s National Indigenous Music Awards, to be held in Darwin next Saturday.
Scotty Moore (left) performs Hound Dog