The Cactus Channel – Wooden Boy

Fancy the feeling of being inside an awesome spy-action film? If so then Wooden Boy, the second album from Melbourne’s 10-piece instrumental soul group The Cactus Channel, is one you’ll want in your music collection.

The Cactus Channel - Wooden Boy (2013)

Can I describe the music on Wooden Boy to you? Sure I can, but I won’t. Because I can’t do it nearly as imaginatively as The Cactus Channel’s record label Hope Street Recordings do…

It’s soul music, baby, but not as we know it. The backbeat and the handclaps are still there and the horns still sound. The bass bumps, the organ screams and the guitars still twang, but the singer has left the room. Everything is shades of blue. This is soul music for the after hours. For the solitary dancers and the lonely hearts. The soundtrack to solitary headlights on a midnight highway. What to call it? Who cares. Can you dance to it? Just try not to. No one’s telling you to throw your hands up in the air, but no one would be surprised if you did. It’s dark here, so you can do your own thing.

The Cactus Channel…all born in the 90s and raised on the internet. Yet somehow, [Wooden Boy]…sounds like it could have been recorded in the 1970s, or possibly in the distant future. A timeless, placeless cinematic oddysey, Wooden Boy could have been an alternate soundtrack to Ghost Dog — if Lalo Schifrin and the Meters were collaborating on the RZA’s score. Or maybe Wooden Boy was what happened when Lars Von Trier got invited to direct an episode of Soul Train. What any of it may actually mean is left to the listener’s imagination.

Funk aficionados will hear shades of New York on this record, echoes of El Michel’s taking on Wu Tang, the influence of Budos and Menehan et al. But this is the Generation Z version; both more tempestuous and more introverted. Recorded analog in the digital era, presented faceless in the celebrity era, inexplicably ambiguous in the soundbite era, is this the album the world needs right now? Undoubtedly yes. In a world where the NSA can read the text message that dumped you, what does a person need more than sad soul music from the future? Wooden Boy, baby Wooden Boy.

The Cactus Channel

The Cactus Channel

Check out these two (mp3 only) sample tracks from Wooden Boy. If you’re into it, you can buy the real deal on vinyl or cd through Hopestreet Recordings or at your local, independent record store where you can…

The Cactus Channel - Wooden Boy (2013)

The Cactus Channel – Wooden Boy (2013)

‘Who Is Walt Duce?’ – The Cactus Channel – Wooden Boy


‘How Did This Happen?’ – The Cactus Channel – Wooden Boy


Look out for new music from The Cactus Channel this year. They say they’re working hard and it’s a coming…

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La Rumba’s Street Music Pays The Rent

Hearing music in the streets makes people happier.  It makes their days and nights in public spaces better – even if they don’t realise it. So says I anyway.

Melbourne buskers -

If it’s original music being played on the streets, even better.  The people in those streets are blessed with exposure to new music. It’s also a grass-roots way for artists to share their music with the world.  Successful Australian bands like Blue King Brown and Wild Marmalade made their way on to venue and festival stages from busking in the streets of Byron Bay.

Wild Marmalade - Busking in Byron Bay (2004)

Wild Marmalade – Busking in Byron Bay (2004)


Wild Marmalade 2013

Wild Marmalade 2013



For many artists, playing music in public spaces is a regular and sure income they can rely on to pay their rent.

The Papa Bear of Latin music in Melbourne, Leo Salvo, plays different gigs in venues around the city every week. When I spoke with him in Melbourne recently his gig count for that weekend was 6.

One group he plays with is La Rumba.

La Rumba - Melbourne -

La Rumba

Leo told me he makes more money playing a few short Saturday sets in the Bourke Street Mall than he gets paid for playing a whole week of gigs in Melbourne venues.  That money is made just from the band selling CD’s. No guitar case or hat to take donations. For Leo Salvo and the rest of La Rumba it is a sure and regular income to pay the bills.

La Rumba - Melbourne - www.beaveronthebeats.comLa Rumba - Melbourne - www.beaveronthebeats.comLa Rumba - Melbourne -

Here’s a video of La Rumba playing in Bourke St Mall…

Shame on the venues.

Good on the people in the streets of Melbourne for supporting the artists whose music makes their days and nights better.

Melbourne buskers - www.beaveronthebeats.comMelbourne buskers -

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Leo Salvo on Fusion Music

An incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist and vocalist.  Has probably played in or led more Latin music gigs and groups (including institutional big band Rumberos) than most other living musicians in Melbourne.

Leo Salvo could just be the Papa Bear of Latin music in Melbourne. Leo Salvo - This is his take on fusion music

Nothing exists without fusion. From the moment a note came out of a voice and someone hit 2 rocks together, it was a form of fusion music.

Just like the first time and til the present day, we still find ourselves with only 2 types of music, no matter what we add or fuse with this or that…

The 2 types are Good and Shit!

Leo also told me he thinks the world’s best Latin fusion music is from Uruguay. I’m waiting for him to share some with me.

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