Sunday Jazz

There’s not a lot that happens on a Sunday afternoon in Lismore. The streets are empty, and most of the pubs are closed. 

In some ways, it’s not that different to the days when I was growing up here in the 70s and 80s. Most of these memories are from when I was less than ten years old. Every Sunday, Pat would come and pick me up. From there, we would drive to the home of the financier who she was paying off her home to. “It was $14 a week”, she told me yesterday. And from there, we would take a drive around the block, eventually stopping for a soft-serve ice cream at “The Dairy Delite”.

“The Dairy Delite” is no longer there. Even “The Glen Milk Bar” has gone, as has “Harry Crethar’s Wonder Bar”. The Tropicana and The Mecca remain.

Whenever I’m back in Lismore I love going for a walk around the block. My family doesn’t quite understand why I like walking to town. “We can drop you off and pick you up”, they’ll tell me. From home to town takes about ten minutes, starting with a walk across the Ballina Street Bridge.

Underneath the Ballina Street Bridge, Lismore
Wandering down by the Wilson’s River in Lismore.
Sunday afternoon at the laneway to the Lismore Club.

While family members took an afternoon nap yesterday, I wandered over town for a walk along the levy bank, on my way to the Bowling Club.

Even though I’m 55 years old, I suddenly realised yesterday I’d never actually been inside the City Bowling Club before. I’ve walked past many, many times, but I’d never actually entered the building before.

Lismore City Bowling Club

It’s one big room, with lots of honour boards and old black and white photographs.

“I’ll only charge you $10”, the woman on the door said. I was there for the advertised afternoon of the Lismore Jazz Club. Looking around the room, most people were aged at least sixty. There was, however, a sprinkling of young people. “Do you mind if I sit here?”, I asked a similarly aged-bloke. He was originally from Sydney and had been living here for a while. He still goes back to Sydney about once a month to teach. He told me he was in a few different jazz bands, including a few different styles. “This band is good”, he told me.

I missed their first set but was there for the entirety of their second, which explains why I didn’t have to pay the full entry fee. They played a fairly traditional setlist of tunes from the 1930s to the 1960s.

There were standards like “Nature Boy” and “My Funny Valentine”, along with less well-known stuff from Theolonius Monk and Wayne Shorter. I really hated the way they turned “Nature Boy” into a bossa-nova style number, but otherwise, they were a good band playing good tunes, and it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

As I looked around the room at the crowd, I realised these could be “my people” when I return home in a few years time.

2 Replies to “Sunday Jazz”

  1. Hello James, what’s with all the sneakers hanging from the wires over the laneway?
    In Geelong they say it indicates a drug dealers house, but I think that might just be an urban myth.

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