Tuesday, 9 October 2012

More Tales From Canberra

Rodwell trying out at The Espy in July.

As a loyal "Rockwizer" since 2006, it had always been on my to-do list to be a part of the show eventually. Little did I know that I would get to be a part of it twice in one year.

I was thrilled to be offered tickets to a taping in July, when my "rock brain" (to use Brian's words) just missed out on being a part of the taping that night. Still, a souvenir tea towel for my efforts wasn't a bad result (thanks Brian) and I couldn't wait for the touring show that was coming up a few weeks
later in my hometown of Canberra.

With the mixed emotions of my Melbourne experience still in my memory, I didn't want to get ahead of myself when I turned up at the Canberra show. I was just glad to be a part of it, and happy that I could do it all again.

Once in the foyer, I successfully picked up my wild card from Brian to be a part of the elimination rounds. Nothing I hadn't done before, and I knew what to expect, so I thought "Why not?"

Again, my hopes of being a part of the show were kept under control when Brian announced that unlike the rounds of only twelve people at "The Espy", there would be twenty four in this elimination to accommodate a larger audience. Again, I didn't think too much of it, as I was just there for a bit of fun, and didn't want to take it too seriously.

From that point, it was one surprise after another! I DID end up as one of the final four who would take part in the show that night. Rushed backstage, I met up with Julia and Maestro James to rehearse a
song that fellow contestant Michelle and I were going to sing together. At this point, things started getting surreal. Was this really happening?

As the show began, I was seemingly cast back twenty years to my "Black Sorrows" phase. I sat next to lead singer Joe Camilleri, had backing vocalists Vika and Linda Bull singing behind me, and occasionally flashing a smile. (I must admit, I loved that!) Sitting so close to James Black, Peter Luscombe and the Orkestra playing live just topped it all off. I was in Aussie music heaven!

For a night with humble beginnings, my taking out the title of "Some Kind Of Genius" was an unexpected surprise. I saw a few folks standing up in the front rows, but the standing ovation was hard to see. Quite a moment nonetheless, as I could "hear" it. The souvenir t-shirt was a great memento too! So far, I haven't actually had to buy any Rockwiz merchandise!

Thanks to Julia, Brian, Dugald and the whole team for an absolutely unforgettable night! A privilege to share the stage with artists I've been listening to since the age of twelve. 

Thanks again for having me, and see you all at "The Espy" next year.


Julia, Michelle, Brian, Rodwell, Chantal, Gene
When I was asked if I’d like to share my personal experience of RocKwiz, I was a little trepidatious. Not being a particularly linear person, and having scant regard for detail, any recount was likely to jump all over the place.  This post should probably be subtitled “What I did on my holidays”, but I’m sure being the True Rock Believers that you all are, you will indulge me.

I rarely take holidays but on this particular occasion, Fate, being a cheeky monkey, contrived to make a years worth of events all occur in the same 8 day period, thusly: 2 RocKwiz Live concerts (Newcastle and Canberra), the1st show in Rufus Wainwright’s Australian tour with Megan Washington supporting, Father’s Day, and a trip to Sydney to seek out a craftsman to repair a 2 piece Martin D-28 (any guitarists reading this may have just made the sort of anguished yelp which follows having one’s testicles hit with a very expensive hammer).

The RocKwiz shows ARE brilliant. To anyone who has even a remote desire to see a RocKwiz show live, GO! 
Go early and go often.

Last year, I was lucky enough to be at one of the taping nights for the RocKwiz series at the Esplanade Hotel. At the end of the night I made the point to any unfortunate soul caught in my fall-out zone that there was only ever one item on my bucket list and I’d just ticked it off.  The live tapings at the Espy are fast & furious, 2 shows a night. Each show filmed straight through with only a couple of 15 - 30 second breaks for the digital data to be downloaded, then it’s on again. What you see TV, is what you see live.

The concert shows are longer, more guests, unexpected twists, new segments but still with the same format that we “special folk” love. If you’ve read the other posts here, or been to one of the previous shows, you’ll know the drill. So, when circumstances forced me to head to Sydney for guitar repairs, I leapt (yes, leapt) at the chance to go to the Newcastle concert. Brilliant show on all levels, and I have to say that a highlight for me was the amazing RocKwizzer, John Wardell. Definitely, Some Kind of Genius!!

At the Canberra show, Brian the Brain stalked through the foyer with a megaphone on full volume enquiring if the audience could hear him, or should he “crank it up to 11”. Then with the smile and mischievous eye-twinkle straight from the Cheshire Cat he grilled, thrilled and willed those brave enough to request a wildcard to participate as one of the initial 24 on stage.

The 1st half of the show is predominantly Brian.  The many Brians.  Brian the master of ceremonies, the consummate showman, the warm-up act, and the True Rock Believer (and later on, the Grand Adjudicator); he prepares the audience for the magical history tour to follow. Then as Brian invites the lucky 24 to come forth, we are aware he has been joined on stage by the Master Roadie & Stage Ninja, Dugald. Following 4 fast paced rounds of questions, the final 4 were extracted of which I was one, and then its Intermission.

While the rest of the audience is enjoying refreshments, backstage is a flurry of activity. We meet the brilliant Julia, James Black (a personal highlight for me) and Dugald. I have to say, what a nice guy. You’d think that with all the miles he’s travelled, and all the knobs he’s had to put up with, he’d be a bit jaded. How wrong could I be!!  Doogs is a great bloke.

In what seemed like the blink of an eye Intermission is over and its time for Part 2. Now everyone trouts on about the guests (who, let’s face it, ARE brilliant and deadset legends!) but what about the RocKwiz Orkestra (including Ash Naylor). These guys have to be THE tightest band in the world. Thorough professionals. And how good are Vika and Linda Bull - what great talents, and what babes, they both are!

Julia whips the Men of Rock in action and so it starts. Most of it is a blur to me now, but a blur I’ll treasure forever. The Guest Artistes were Joe Camilleri (Legend), Jess Cornelius (future Legend and my Team Captain), Bob Evans (alter-ego Legend), and the 4th guest?  When a spotlight lit up an imposing giant in the middle of the audience holding a white silk scarf above his head and the theatre echoed to the sound of “This is it folks, OVER THE TOP!”, it could only be the intergalactic force that is Doc Neeson.

While as I say most of it is a blur, one moment shines out. The category when Julia says “Sing the next line, name the artist and song title”.  Now as someone who proudly wears the “I have never EVER done Karaoke” line as a badge of honour, I’m filled with a mixture of elation, then horror, when I know the answer to the 1st question, and the realisation sets in that I’ve already hit the buzzer and have….to….actually…. sing….it (you see Dear Reader, I very carefully avoided answering any of these types of questions, at the live taping at the Espy last year). And so,
Julia: “They got married early……?”                  
Gene: “Never had much money” (Phew)
Brian: “Keep going”
Gene: (Aw shit)……
But I kept going, and Brian kept egging me on, and the audience kept applauding, and I don’t die.

Julia being the consummate professional (and the little bit of a tease) that she is, comes straight back with “Correct Gene, and in other circumstances I might say ‘Ladies and Gentleman, Paul Kelly’ and out he comes out, and sings it with you, but that’s NOT gonna happen tonight, my friend”.

All too soon its over.
The final score, the finale duet, and the encore were all a triumph (our team won).
Rufus Wainwright in concert the next night capped off the best 8 day holiday ever.

As I said before if you can go to a RocKwiz show, go; and go often. It’ll turn up your soul to 11.

Footnote: to the guitarists reading this, I definitely found the right person to repair the D-28, and all’s right in the world.

Monday, 24 September 2012


This one from Michelle Sangster in Canberra.

Getting the wild card was the easy part! Once I had that yellow card in my hot little hand it dawned on me that this was it!! This was the time for me to call on all those brain cells that held years of song lyrics, years of seemingly useless facts, years of riffs and notes and tunes. OMG.... I was going to have a crack at Rockwiz....!!

I have long been a fan of music – all types of music. From singing along to my mum and dad’s 8-track of “Hot August Night” in the Datsun 180B to recording hours and hours of music on cassette from the radio and then when we got our first VHS recorder as a teenager, to staying up all night (and day and night and day) with a gaggle of girls watching “Live Aid”, music has always played an important role in my life. I am not afraid to say that “Witcheta Lineman” and “Skinny Love” sit quite comfortably side by side on my ipod tracklist.... And I retain music facts (which is amazing because generally I can be a little ditzy) but I still know all the words to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five “The Message” and I know that Carole King and Gerry Goffin wrote “Pleasant Valley Sunday” just to name a few things.... Well here was the chance to put all that knowledge to the test.

The lights dim, the intro music starts and on comes Brian. What a professional! I have always loved his wit and humour and in this environment – LIVE – he is on fire. Keeping the laughs going and the crowd are loving it! Then he asks for everyone to check under their chairs for the remaining wildcards, but I already have mine so “whew” I am safe! In a moment, I am up to the right of the stage giving Dugald my name and then I am on the stage!

Round 1 of contestants and I hear my name called and I think “Holy crap! This is it”. I take my chair, say hi to the other two punters having a crack and living the dream and wish them luck (at least I hope I do), and then the questions start.... Buzz.... OMG, I think I just did that.... OMG now I have to answer..... OMG I answered..... OMG I was right!! 

I know to the audience we all looked pretty cool (or maybe we didn’t??) but I can guarantee you all you can hope for is that all those hours and hours of music knowledge you just KNOW you have stored away come back to you somehow! Well apparently it did, when I was finished my heat the guys next to me said something like “you were great”.... I thanked him meekly because I knew the truth... I was shaking like a freaking leaf and don’t remember anything of what just happened!! :))

Four rounds down and now it’s time to see who were the 4 best of the best. And I say that because I am POSITIVE everyone who has a go on this show is a massive fan, so just being in the mix with people who truly love watching and being part of it was (is) AWESOME! The names are called and I am one of them.... OMG (again) that’s amazing!! And then all of a sudden I feel very calm. Like the hard bit was over and now the fun can begin.

We go backstage and meet the gang – the amazing Rockwiz orchestra (they truly are superb musicians and great blokes), we meet Brian and he is as warm and calming as I knew he would be. Then there is Julia... She greets each of us with a warm hug and we go over what is about to happen and who will be the contestants to do Karaoke and I get the job as one of them (now I had already apologised to the audience in my first round for my atrocious singing voice so I hope that still stands now I am about to do Karaoke!), but I love to sing (even badly) so I am up for the challenge. My duet partner – Rodwell – and I take off to the stairwell to practice with the amazing James Black, and I am relieved to hear that Rodwell can actually sing so that takes the pressure off a little “whew!”.

We grab a water then wait out turn to get on stage. All the backstage Rockwiz family are so wonderfully warm and lovely it definitely helps the nerves and when our time is called all I can think of is “Don’t trip on the stage”.... But I don’t, and in a moment I am there. Our wonderful guest artist is Jess Cornelius and we listen as she takes the stage and does her thing, she is brilliant!! And it strikes me how fantastic it is to be in this spot, the band, the artist, the brilliant Vika and Linda Bull.... WOW!

I have to say the time just flew, I think after the first round Gene, Jess and I were ahead, then after the 2nd round it was equal, but I knew I couldn’t worry about that because I still had to sing! Rodwell and I get up to do our thing and while I know I was flat as a proverbial tack Rodwell covered for me brilliantly, so I just moved, sang and moved move and hoped the audience were laughing with us :) I do have to say I had a heaps of fun though! In a moment it was over and we were in the prefect position to watch the professionals do their stuff. Seeing Doc Neeson whip the crowd into a frenzy, watching Bob Evans (Kevin Mitchell) do his thing was a highlight (I am a massive fan), hearing Joe Camilleri on the sax was just magic and then final number with them all was SO good I didn’t want it to end!

I would recommend the experience to ANYONE who wants a great night out with great people. The cast, the crew, the artists are all as amazing in reality as you want them to be. And I loved the fact the crowd was “my people”. It’s one thing we commented on as we waiting in the foyer before the show... We were amoungst “our people”. I have to give a special thanks to mate Kerry who travelled from Sydney with me to be at the show and who I had left sitting all alone in the crowd, while I got my ROCKWIZ EXPERIENCE... Thanks Kez! 

Definitely got to check this off my bucket list and will be regaling this story to anyone who will listen for years to come!!!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012



On Thursday August 30 2012 at Newcastle's Civic Theatre, I achieved an ambition in life-to be a Rockwiz contestant (a "Rockwizzer"!).

It was one of the most exciting, fun filled, yet nerveracking experiences I've ever had and not only am I more than happy to take up the Rockwiz team's offer to say a few words about my achievement, for those of you who hope to be a Rockwizzer one day, you'll either make your dream a reality or think twice about doing so after I've said my piece.

For a start, I can tell you that having been a Spicks & Specks contestant as well (at their Newcastle Ent Cent farewell show last year), the process of becoming a Rockwizzer was a lot different than becoming a Spicks contestant. With Spicks, it took a question about Chrissie Hynde to get me up on stage with Adam, Alan and Myf. With Rockwiz-it wasn't as easy as that.

Two days before the Some Kind Of Genius show, Newcastle ticketholders were given a chance on Rockwiz's Facebook page to score a Wildcard entry by answering "5 quick questions", and I don't know what was tougher-trying to be quick on the money with my answers, or the fear I was going to lose my rag with Rockwiz completely because there was about a half hour wait before the "5 quick questions" appeared.

Anyway, the wait was worth it because after having my head around questions about Johns Lennon & Howard sharing the same middle name, the brothers Dust working with The Beastie Boys & Beck, "Hello I Love You" plagarising "All Day & All Of The Night", Mr Mister having a hit with Broken Wings and Richard Hell belonging to the Blank Generation, I was one of the lucky 3 to score a Wildcard entry.

That was one hurdle jumped, but did I share this news with anyone? Hell no! I figured had I done so, I would've had more pressure put on me and such pressure would've got to me like its done before in the past when I've had once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, so I went into the Some Kind Of Genius show without anyone whatsoever knowing I had a chance at being a Rockwizzer.

Next thing you know-there I am backstage at the Civic with 23 other would-be Rockwizzers waiting and hoping they'll be one of the four sharing the stage with Julia, Brian, the Rockwiz Orchestra, Dugald and the special musical guests (those who missed out on FB won their Wildcards from Brian personally round the Civic, or found they had one hidden under their seats.

Four rounds and yours truly was one of the six in Round 2 (but not before squeezing in a Stewart Copeland style leap from the Rockwiz Orchestra's set-up as I was heading to my seat). No more hiding behind a computer and typing in my answers really fast in lower casing (there was no room for being fancy with typing skills on FB) - THIS IS IT!!!

Got off to a shaky start, but my fortunes changed when Brian played a series of pre-recorded riffs performed by the Rockwiz Orchestra (at this point, Brian & Dugald were the only Rockwiz team members to have appeared).
"Band On The Run"-check
"Love Is The Drug"-check
"I Want A New Drug"-check (but only after the 2 blokes sitting beside me were wrong with their guesses)
"April Sun In Cuba"-check
"April Sun..."-the song that changed my life at the tender age of 3. Someone at Rockwiz must've known how much "April Sun..." means to me because after recognising the riff, Dugald approaches Brian to let him know yours truly's answered the number of questions required to become a Rockwizzer. With words to the effect of "congratulations John-you're through!" from Brian,mission accomplished-I'm going to be a Rockwizzer!

Once the 24 have been narrowed down to 4, its backstage again for all sorts of behind the scenes activities, like meeting my fellow Rockwizzers Juan, Sharon and Shannon, Julia introducing herself to us, Julia and Brian giving us the lowdown on what & what not to do during the show (which I'll keep secret), Sharon & I being picked to sing in the karaoke section, then going for a quick rehearsal with James Black with Julia as our audience, signing release forms and deciding who should go on each team.

With all that sorted-time for the Rockwiz theme we all know and love, Brian's signature intros for the band (with extra guitarist Ashley Naylor from Even and Julia (I couldn't resist saying her surname the way Brian always does backstage), Julia greeting the crowd, then bringing out Vika & Linda Bull for Chic's "Good Times" before joining the band on backing vocal duties, and the moment us 4 Rockwizzers had been waiting for-Julia officially welcoming us to the stage. BLUE TEAM-yours truly and Shannon. YELLOW TEAM-Juan and Sharon.
As well as a compliment from Julia about the loud shirt I had on (to which I replied something like "Big Kev left me it in his will"), she asked me about my 1st concert, 1st album bought with my own money AND the best concert I've been to in Newcastle.

My answers?
1)Two shows on the same day-a John Lennon musical at the Civic & The Choirboys at Newcastle Beach for Surfest '86.
2)"Daddy's Coolest" by Daddy Cool "with my 8th birthday money".
3)So many great ones to choose from,but I thought seeing as we're at the Civic, I'll go with the best performer I've seen there, which was Lou Reed in 2003.

All the regular segments except for Master Blaster, plus Brian doing his Fan's Choice and a segment especially for the Some Kind Of Genius tour called 30 Seconds To Shine. 

WHO CAN IT BE NOW? - yours truly was on the ball with both guesses:
Kate Miller-Heidke (I knew it was her soon as Julia said the words "double barrel name") and Tex Perkins (Julia only got as far as his year & place of birth, and Greg-his real first name). Knowing Kate's name's one thing but knowing her music's a different story. Tex on the other hand-been a long time fan, so you can imagine how excited I was when he made his way to the stage. And to see him do Iggy proud with his take on "The Passenger" was an added bonus. Kate on Shannon & my team, Tex on Juan & Sharon's

LOCAL AND/OR GENERAL-everyone having a go, but how I can know an Allman Brothers song I'd never heard of called Jessica (that is-until the Orchestra performed it) and not know Julia by The Beatles puzzles me. And you said a Lennon musical was one of your first concerts John?
At the end of this round, scores were level (115 all if my memory serves me correct) and Kate Miller-Heidke left to make way for another musical guest. Little did I know a series of questions about Marcia Hines meant she was the next guest and would be joining Shannon & I soon as she sang one of my fave songs of hers-"You". How's that-I didn't have to go on Australian Idol to meet Marcia Hines. Laughing!

MILLION DOLLAR RIFF-not so sharp on the buzzer with the riffs like I had been earlier, but Marcia came through for us with Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" and (from memory) Shannon did likewise with Zoot's cover of "Eleanor Rigby" (included to pay tribute to the band's recently deceased frontman Darryl Cotton)

FAN'S CHOICE-Tex's turn to vacate his seat for another musical guest. Suze DiMarchi from Baby Animals. Was that really her first time on a Rockwiz show? Did "Early Warning" with the band and looking the same as she did when that song came out 21 years ago.

30 SECONDS TO SHINE-brutal! No other way to describe it. 30 seconds to answer as many questions as possible without using the buzzer and trying not to get too distracted by the sight of Dugald being timekeeper with a Flavor Flav style clock hanging round his neck. Yellow team-not one wrong answer. Our team had to pull out the stops if we were going to be any match. When we managed the same feat, I felt like Will Ferrell in "Old School" when he  won the debate against James Cargill. I may have drew a blank with The Beatles earlier, but I redeemed myself with "Sweet Jane" by The Velvet Underground. In light of saying his show was my fave at the Civic, Lou Reed would've been pissed if I didn't know that was his song. I didn't see what scores the teams were after this round but I do know they were still level.

THE FURIOUS FIVE-I was more relaxed here than I was in previous rounds though by rights, I shouldn't have been, especially when Sharon & I would be called up to do our duet at any moment. When Sharon & I were eventually called up, a mini chocolate wheel was lowered down onto the stage in a fashion similar to how the mini Stonehenge makes its ill-fated appearance in "...Spinal Tap". Sharon did the honours in spinning the wheel and the crowd may have been led to believe there was a variety of songs to choose from, but to those of us onstage, it didn't matter where the wheel stopped-"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" was the only song on it.
We may not have put Elton and Kiki Dee to shame with our rendition, but points for effort and no matter where I do it, the move I call "the John Hurt" (inspired by the scene in "Alien" where his character meets a grizzly end, courtesy of the alien itself) always works a treat and the Civic Theatre was no exception. Just ask Julia if you don't believe me and hell-even Marcia dug it. Who said you needed to go on Australian Idol to impress Marcia Hines? And to the chap outside the Civic Theatre after the show who dared to criticise our performance - we didn't exactly see you up there did we! 

Its also in this round where Julia announced who out of Juan, Shannon, Sharon and I would be crowned "Some Kind Of Genius". Juan looked certain to earn that title, going on how good he was. I  didn't expect after correctly guessing the acronym for Abba, Julia would bestow me with this honour. A "Some Kind Of Genius" tour shirt presented to me on a royal cushion by Dugald then Julia asking me to take a bow for the audience were my rewards.

Still anybody's game during The Furious Five and when Brian counted 5,4,3,2,1 just as Juan answered the last question, I was expecting the scores to still be level and a tiebreaker question would be needed. It was up to Dugald to prove me wrong. Yellow card-230 . Blue card-245
WE DID IT!WE DID IT! Of all the questions our team got right in The Furious Five, I reckon the ones that won us the game were the 2 about the Stones song "Before They Make Me Run" and the acronym for the MC5. Would hate to think it was the one I answered about One Direction.

Before us Rockwizzers were invited up to take a bow with Julia, Brian and all the musical guests at the end,Tex & Kate got in a duet (the song's not on me at this time of writing, but I know Tex gave the Theramin a good workout in it) and all the musical guests joined in for "The Letter". Backstage-Julia and Brian were up for doing an encore, which would've happened had the Civic not turned the lights and the music back on.

Instead, my Rockwiz experience finished with quick thank yous to Brian, Julia, Peter "Lucky " Luscombe and Tex and a photo shoot with Brian, Julia and us Rockwizzers near the dressing rooms for Rockwiz's FB page.

AT LONG LAST-my 2 failed attempts at getting on Sale Of The Century in the early '90's were finally laid to rest on Thursday August 30 2012 at the Civic Theatre.Thank you Rockwiz!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


We've played Darwin, Newcastle, and Sydney so far, and bee joined on stage by some of the best performers in the country, as well as some of the smartest rock-brains in each city. 

We asked some of our contestants if they would mind sharing their experience, so here are some of their stories.


How many times have I whiled away a Saturday night in Darwin watching footy on television then flicking over to SBS to watch RocKwiz and then sadly departing back to the footy at show's end dreaming of being a panelist at the Espy.  I even flew to Melbourne to see Crosby Stills and Nash at the Palais in St Kilda whereby I spent two hours prior to that show sitting in the Espy slowly drinking tap beer and just hoping like hell Julia or Brian would walk in, recognise me and then invite me to a recording of the show.

Well dreams became a reality for me when RocKwiz came to Darwin in August 2012 for the start of their Some Kind of Genius Tour. OK - this was it for me. I bought tickets for my wife and friends and ensured I was at the Darwin Convention Centre on the Friday night prior to the show trying my arse off to get a  panelist ticket by holding my hands on my head and shouting out answers to Brian teasing us with questions on the promenade of the Darwin Convention Centre. Bugger it, I never quite made it. 

Inside we went, eager in anticipation of a great show, me thinking there but for the grace of someone went I. Brian hits the stage and announces there are a whole bunch of panel tickets hidden amongst the audience. I look - nothing, my friends look - nothing. The punters in front of me find one and
announce "no way we can't do this." My friend dobs me in and I end up with a little yellow ticket in my hand and head to the stage with 24 other possible contestants, with a bemused, mile wide smile.
We're divvied up, I get in a group and what do you know there are actually a few questions I get to answer. Brian fires them out and takes the piss. I get to sing a couple of lines from a Neil Young song and then all of a sudden my RocKwiz stage debut is over. What a ball I thought, at least I wasn't totally dumb. The other panelists run the gauntlet and a final 4 are chosen to participate in the actual show. Bloody hell - my name is read out. Holy shit!! We wave the other panelists from the stage in a state of euphoric shock. Immediately we're dragged backstage and asked to sign some paperwork selling our bodies and souls to rock and roll. Brian introduces us to Julia as well as to each other. I have to admit that this old man was a pig in pork heaven. Brian is easy going, and Julia is just so super friendly. We discuss the format of the show, get divvied into teams and told that for
tonight there will be a karaoke section. Fellow contestant Liv and I were encouraged to be part of this. In for a penny....... Next thing we're whisked into the wings and get to meet James and Pete from
the band who run us through a brief version of "our song". Now these guys are musical geniuses and it suddenly hits Liv and I that we are going to be singing with the amazing RocKwiz Orchestra. How totally exciting. We wander out dazed to let our friends and partners know that there will be
one empty seat beside them for the show. Smiles all around and then all of a sudden we're backstage, 

Brian is pumping up the crowd, Julia is introduced to a massive roar from the crowd and then we hit the stage.  Our guest artists are introduced, do their number and then with a quick intro we're in to it.
Time just stood still as all of the panel started hitting the buzzers. Julia just hypnotised us with her stage presence but made us feel like we were such a part of this amazing show. You just can't help get caught up in the dizziness of it all. The RocKwiz Orchestra played, the million dollar riffs got us reaching for the buzzers, Julia and Bryan took us through a frenzy of questions, songs, laughter and just plain awesomeness. No better hosts have haunted a stage as these two. 

All of a sudden it was Liv and I up and into it. The band cued us perfectly, we just got stuck in and took the bow. We looked at each other, yep it really happened. Proving that young and old, infirm or in form, RocKwiz was
simply one of the greatest moments of fun filled excellence that I had ever experienced. 

No matter where you are, you simply must get to see this show live. There were great guests, great musicians and this amazing RocKwiz family who just embrace you and treat you like one of them. I dips me lid and restate that RocKwiz made this old guy one happy happy chappy. Still haven't stopped talking about it, probably never will until Bryan tells me to shut the fuck up (again).


I've been a huge fan of the show since it started and love spending Saturday nights annoying my husband and other assorted family and friends by "playing along at home" with a glass of red in one hand and a row of dark chocolate in the other.  When he saw the show was coming to Darwin, my long-suffering husband got us tickets. I jokingly told him that I would love a crack at being a contestant he nodded and smiled politely as he often does when I name things I would like to do, but am unlikely to ever do (eg "I think I might try and run a half-marathon next year").

We were having a beer in the foyer before the show started when I spied Brian being mobbed by fellow music nuts and waving a couple of yellow cards around. I wandered over to see what the fuss was about and discovered the yellow cards were "wild cards" for the chance to play for a contestant spot on the show. Excellent. Brian held an impromptu quiz and I somehow managed to be the first to answer four questions correctly and was handed a wild card. To say I was stoked, would be an understatement.

When the show started Brian called for anyone holding a wildcard to come up onto the stage (there were 24 of us in total, a combination of winners of other impromptu foyer quizzes and some lucky punters who had a wild card hidden under their seat). We then competed in 4 rounds which were basically a five minute version of the show, complete with million dollar riffs. I got off to a very slow start (including a couple of very wrong and pretty embarrassing answers), but after a while I got onto a roll and ended up winning my round and Brian announced that myself and 3 other round winners were going to be the contestants (woohoo!) 

What's it like being up there?:
I want to say surreal. But as it is one of the most over and very rarely correctly used words in the English language, I will say that it was both fantastic and very strange. Being up onstage, sitting next to Dave Faulkner (I love the Hoodoo Guru's) and answering my first correct question really was a "pinch me" kind of moment. Other highlights included proximity to the Rockwiz orchestra and to Vika and Linda Bull (two of the best voices I have ever heard), and marveling at the extensive knowledge of the guests and fellow contestants. 

Even though I thought it would be horrific, a final highlight was singing "contestant karaoke" with fellow contestant Ken. Whilst I love to sing in the shower and in my car, I am five kinds of tone deaf and usually quite the introvert (as in don't like having to give power point presentations to groups of 6 at work). When I was told that I would be participating in the aforementioned karaoke I felt physically ill, but when it came time to do get up and sing I discovered that Ken had a fantastic voice and more than compensated for my off-key screeching.. We both had lots of fun and got lots of very positive feedback after the show (and at the supermarket, airport and the pub last week). Plus we got to sing with the RocKwiz orchestra, which is something I plan on bragging about at Christmas lunch this year.

I would recommend having a go at being a contestant to any one  of your Facebook followers who are attending future shows. Actually, just having Brian ask us questions in the foyer was an absolute blast. Being on stage was very nerve wracking, but also very fun. The set, the cast, the orchestra, the buzzers and everything else you can think of was the same as what you see on telly so the whole thing felt very comfortable and familiar in a really bizarre kind of way.
Julia, Brian and everyone involved were exactly as they seem on Saturday nights, talented, funny and very genuine and they made the whole experience really enjoyable.

I'd like to thank you and your team for bringing RocKwiz to Darwin, we are often left off the schedule for major tours, but the town is full of music tragics and we all had a great evening.


Like many, I've a love for rock music, avidly read magazines and collect 100's of CD's. I have literally spent over $40K on my rock habit along the way gaining plenty of seemingly useless information. However, in one single night, the RocKwiz experience justified the lot!

In terms of how I landed on stage, it started with a wildcard offered by Brian outside the Darwin Convention Centre. I was having a few beers with my wife and colleagues, in total 11 of us music nuts got tickets near the front row. Once inside, uncannily 2 of my mates got wildcards from under their seats or passed up by neighbouring audience members. 

So, 3 of us went into the onstage eliminations. After a nervous buzzer-fest of questions, 24 contestants were whittled down to 4, of which I wasn't one. I had done enough in my round to win but was pipped by a bloke in sort-of strange circumstances. Long story short, intermission fell and I was out buying more beers when I got a phone call from Tom to say get backstage pronto. The other fella graciously gave up his spot in an awesome act of honesty and the rest is history.

Tom and I got to sit together as team-mates and I had knowingly sucked myself into singing a duet with a bird on the opposing team, of all songs, a bloody Elton John cracker "Don't go breaking my heart". Shitting myself I hope I rose to the occasion and ended up kinda enjoying the spotlight….good thing the band drowned me out.

I think I got really lucky having Dave Faulkner and Kav Temperley as musical guests and brains trusts. I'm a big fan of their work and it was a real treat talking tunes. Incidentally, Kav was a past flatmate of Heath, the third contestant from our group of friends. Weird. 

Thank you for producing such a dynamic show with downright vivacious and energetic hosts, deadset legendary guests, orchestral geniuses, tough MF roadies and entourage!

An absolutely amazing and unforgettable night. Looking fwd to your return to the top end.

Marcus is second from right in photos.


I'm still reeling from unexpectedly being a part of the 2nd Darwin show. If possible, please pass on my thanks to the woman who squealed and ran away from Brian after being led by him to the bottom of the stage steps at the start. Without her I would never have had the chance of being the random "opening act" with Brian on the night and taking part in the qualifying heats to go through and become a contestant.

The backstage crew were wonderful and very welcoming, Julia and Brian were gorgeous and the other 3 contestants were absolutely lovely fellas.

Personally, I think my favorite part of the whole experience was just getting lost in the pace of the night. I didn't get the chance to think, I just reacted and got involved in the moment. Which I must say, helped me to forget that I was on stage in front of people!!

I don't know who came up with the recipe for RocKwiz, but kudos to them. It is such a well structured piece of Australian entertainment.

And what an absolute blast after the show to chat with Jess Cornelius, Vika and Linda Bull and Shane Howard back stage while Dave Faulkner dug his way through the ice in the esky to get a beer for me!! ROCK ON!!!!!!

Please let Julia and Brian know that I have some fishermans pants on stand-by for them, when they 
next come to Darwin!

Thank you everyone for making me feel a part of the RocKwiz family, it was 3 great hours of full tilt fun!!

The video is Deb backstage afterwards. Thanks to Shane Howard for shooting it. 


We in Darwin are somewhat starved for live entertainment and so when RocKwiz announced a show we bought tickets straight away. Thank God you guys love us, not many do!  I love the show, watch it regularly, ache for a beer at the Espy (am an old St Kilda resident) and like most, have a serious crush on Julia. I fancy myself as a bit of a rock brain (4 x older hippy sisters and a healthy 80’s living in Melbourne following the live scene). 

When Brian approached me in the foyer seeking interested punters I had a crack at the questions and earned a wildcard. He spotted me care of my wife’s silk screened t-shirt featuring Elvis’ noggin.  I felt a little nervous but knew I was being delivered into the capable hands of the RocKwiz team. The process from there on went into heats where 6 of the 24 picked went head to head in 4 rounds. After that process (don’t try to be funnier than Brian, you won’t get picked) four people are selected. Luckily I was one of them. We were taken backstage and welcomed into the fold. We met the production staff and then Julia. It was all very comforting and not at all freaky. Some of the best advice given was that even though it is a competition there’s no prizes and the main aim is to deliver a good fun show so if you know all the answers then back off on the buzzer and let the love be shared. No one likes a smart arse. 

Once the show starts proper and you are sitting next to a bona fide rock star, Dave Faulkner in my case, it is time to sit back and drink it in while quietly muttering to yourself, ‘How good is this’. Watching Lucky drum up close, (I am an amateur stick man) nothing better; and I  reckon the last time I saw Mark Ferrie play bass was with the Slaughtermen. Hero worship aside any game that offers you the chance to meet and kiss Julia is ok with me. She is such a gem and you can tell she really loves what she does. There is no going through the motions with her. So if anyone out there gets the chance go along get on the stage and have a cracker time. I know I did!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

2012 Tour

Stand-by for the official announcement 
of the 2012 RocKwiz National Tour. 
Coming very soon...

if you haven't subscribed to the Kwizlist 
you won't be able to find out about 
priority ticketing opportunities 
so do it now!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

RocKwiz Live - Launceston March 10

We will be in Tasmania 
on the March long weekend 
for the Breath Of Life Festival. 

Come and see us...!
Expect surprises...!