Fresh breath of Bondi Cigars

THE BONDI CIGARS

Sunday, December 16, 2.30pm

Towradgi Beach Hotel

It all started as a bit of a joke one Thursday night at a Sydney pub.

Twenty-two years and nine albums later, award-winning band The "no nonsense, no passengers" Bondi Cigars continue to deliver their enduring R&B music to fans across Australia.

Lead singer and guitar player Shane Pacey says the group brought together four like-minded experienced players, all from separate blues bands at the time, who simply happened to have the same week night free.

The Illawarra gig guide

"We just met up in a local pub and played together for fun. We did it one Thursday night, then the next and the next. We found more and more people were turning up to see us - people seemed to really enjoy it," he says.

The band has become a well-oiled machine, working hard without compromising their distinctive "no nonsense" style.

"We're a no-passengers band," he says.

"I like setting my own stuff up so I know it's right. And by doing it ourselves we're able to keep going for years, because unlike other similar bands we can then make a decent living out of it through cutting some of those unnecessary expenses."

Pacey also credits the longevity of the Cigars to the dynamic between the quartet, which also includes original bass player and fellow blues trooper Alan "Al" Britton, drummer Frank Corby and Eben Hale on guitar and vocals.

"We don't tour as much as we used to, which was pretty much all the time. We stay out of each other's hair when we're not working. That's just the type of band we are," he says.

"But in saying that, we know and bounce off each other well. Spontaneity is an important [part] of what we do, playing what feels right at the time. The way we play is about 40 per cent improvised.

"We tend to change songs up a bit every time we play so every night is different.

"For this to work, you've got to trust your band, and we do."

The consistency of the band's sound, which has become instantly recognisable, Pacey describes as with origins in blues and roots among pieces of funk, soul and headlock music, mixed up into a pop song. They write their own material.

"When people think blues style, they think cool and laid-back. But I like the crazy stringbender guitar players, the Gonzo way of playing guitar. That's what attracted me - guys attacking the music with guitars," he says.

"I don't remember a time I haven't wanted to play guitar. I was obsessed with the Beatles, making up songs in my head."

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