Stephen Cummings from the legendary The Sports (and years of subsequent solo work) has just announced a new album to be released by the magnificent Cheersquad Records & Tapes, entitled ‘100 Years From Now’
Recorded in the aftermath of a stroke, the album was made in collaboration with Robert Goodge of the legendary I’m Talking and other old friends – promises to be a record of rare courage, beauty, honesty and humanity
Other guests and contributors include a who’s who list of iconic (mostly Melbourne) musicians. The record includes many of Cummings’s musical partners from over the years, from his longtime guitarist Sam Lemann and bass player Bill McDonald (who shares with Goodge a background in Melbourne’s post-punk scene and has more recently been Paul Kelly’s long term bass player) to current band members Maxine Sutcliffe and Michael Davis. Graeme Lee of the Triffids (and more recently of Goodge’s reformed Essendon Airport) contributes some pedal steel, Philippa Nihill and Glenn Bennie of the Underground Lovers are involved together on one track, and Clare Moore of the Moodists and Chris Abrahams of the Necks both contribute. Stephen’s old friends Rebecca Barnard and Billy Miller of the Ferrets appear on a number of tracks, and Goodge also brought in friends Kim Beissel (Crime & City Solution, Hot Half Hour etc) from his late ’70s cohort at the Clifton Hill Community music centre, and Zan Abeyratne from I’m Talking. Lilith Lane and Angus Leslie and Beth Otenstein from Sex on Toast also contribute backing vocals.
What a panoply of talent.
Cummings and his band will preview tracks from the album this Friday Feb 24 at Merri Creek Tavern in Northcote, and when they perform as special guests of old friends Reg Mombassa and Peter O’Doherty from Mental as Anything in their band Dog Trumpet at Archie’s Creek Tavern on Sun Feb 26.
The story behind the writing and recording of the album is utterly heart warming. It is a symbol of Cummings immeasurable talent and his desire to come back from the effects of a stroke to continue with his craft. Cummings says of the album:
I was always a natural singer and assumed I could just sing as long as I wanted. After the stroke, I had a lot of rehab to learn to walk and recover fine motor skills on my left side. I couldn’t really play guitar anymore. I did some vocal therapy and found my tone still good but the control and breathing the hard part. I learnt I if I sang more slowly and more quietly it sounded better. I have to focus more and keep to different parameters.
This record started off from both our boredom at being locked down and Stephen’s double frustration at having a stroke just as the restrictions started…he got the double lockdown whammy.
I thought it might be good therapy for Stephen to do some songwriting and singing with no pressure, just a bit of friendly creative noodling, to aid in his recovery…perhaps he would share them with his facebook friends… So I whipped up a few song sketches.
Stephen had no trouble writing lyrics. They came as fast as I could supply the basic structure…Singing them however was more of a challenge, but that is what I expected and we just kept trying… gaining ground little by little…So a couple of ideas soon became quite a few.
Given the decades of songwriting and production between these two pillars of the musical community in Australia, this will be something to look forward to. With no release date set, anticipation will be building.
Feature Photograph: Kathleen O’Brien