A REUNION? COMING SOON!


Occasionally we hear from old fans, who invariably ask:  Wouldn't a re-union of Mel, Mel & Julian be wonderful?

A REUNION IS "IN THE WORKS"!
The band is planning to re-unite in South Africa in 2018 for a few dates in the Johannesburg area... Where? When? To be arranged soon, so please watch this space for details!

We are pleased to announce our booking agent: Please contact Rael Birns at Rael@raelbirns.co.za or 082 452-1100

 

Mel, Mel & Julian from an interview in a Durban newspaper, drawn by Jock Leyden, who got it right!

 

   Mel Miller continues his stellar career as Grandfather of South African comedy at shows around South Africa.
   Julian Laxton continues to make his own great music, plus sessions, sound-tracks, commercials around South Africa.  
   Mel Green is a professional Graphic Designer and Illustrator by day, is a songwriter and sings solo around Boston, USA...
   So, please watch this space and your local media for news of future shows!

Once upon a time in the 60s...

How Mel & Mel met: where they performed; when Julian joined the band; who they met along the way; their influences and the key people in their brief, but sweet career ... and what they're up to today. Enjoy!

Links in the M,M&J Chain...

Influences & Earworms...

Two young guys singing in an art school classroom at lunch hour to appreciative listeners, and the realization that they had something special.

Key people and places in their career:

The Troubadour Coffee/Steakhouse in Johannesburg, THE folk club where it was happening!

Gary Bryden, Brit folkie, who got Little Mel up on stage at the Troub in the first place.

Keith Blundell, who auditioned Mel & Mel and who without hesitation offered them a weekly gig at the Johannesburg Troubadour..

Des Lindberg who kept them on at the Troubadour as headliners, when they weren't playing full-time at their long hotel residencies.

Ben Segal, quiet folk fanatic and founder of SAFMA, the South African Folk Music Association, and 3rd Ear Music, who opened his vast collection of music and his hospitality to the guys. 

Johnny Kongos, friend and a hit-making rock & roller, who encouraged them & introduced them to...

John E. Sharpe, a wonderful bluesman, who was managed by...

Billy Forrest, South Africa's greatest C&W singer and mentor to many young musicians, who became their manager, friend and guiding light.

Brenda Newfield, a wonderful folksinger, who gave Mel  & Mel some of their first gigs, and who opened up her home & her record collection to them, thus helping them expand their repertoire. 

David Sapire, a photographer and a fan who also helped with their repertoire, and who most significantly... introduced Mel and Mel  to his brother Julian!

Mike Dorsey, entrepreneur & club owner on the Durban music scene, became a fan, a mentor and helped the band in many ways.

Their influences. They  listened to everything possible, at parties, record shops, friend's living rooms, records and reel-to-reel tapes... absorbing everything that appealed to their evolving musical tastes and their developing musical skills. 

See the BLOG PAGE which has a list of recording artists and songs which first caught their ear(s) and whose styles and genres were adapted to suit their style, carrying on the "the folk-process" down in South Africa.

 

Historic Reference

In 1994 Mel, Mel & Julian were acknowledged and included in the book, "History of Contemporary Music in South Africa"...taking their place as one of few notable folk groups to make an impression on the evolving contemporary music scene.

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Growing up in South Africa during the 50s and 60s, the individual members of Mel, Mel & Julian were all exposed to similar musical influences, provided to them via local radio, recordings and close friends who were either collectors of eclectic popular music, or who had ears that were open to new sounds.

 

The one person who was able to realize these influences into the group's music was obviously Julian, who had the ability and the great talent to imitate and make the music of that time his own.

 

Mel and Mel met at art school and when they first started singing out, their repertoire was limited to a few songs they learned from a Peter, Paul & Mary LP, and once they had snagged their first gig, an entire Wednesday evening at the Troubadour(!) they had to quickly increase their songbag.  

 

A friend and singing colleague, Brenda Newfield generously exposed them to her record library, songbooks and within a short time the two namesakes had almost enough to make it through an entire night, which was augmented by Mel Miller's jokes and humorous stories.

 

After the two graduated from art school and soon found jobs in their respective fields of design, a part of their earnings were spent on increasing their own record collections, and learning new songs they found on albums.  

  

After their first LP was completed, Julian was invited to join the duo, after proving that he could play anything on his guitar and they drove back to Durban to their first gig at the Edward Hotel as a trio, with Julian in tow as a new member of the band. 

 

Their combined musical influences included pop, top 10 radio, folk, blues, Rock 'n Roll as well as Classical, World  music, Liturgical music (both Christian and Jewish), in short music they'd been exposed to in their homes, but individually their influences were what one expect from young people of their generation. 

 

Mel Miller was busy imitating Tom Jones, and even Mick Jagger singing with a Rock band around Jo'burg, his "ears" were the kind that took in anything from Gregorian Chants to the Beatles and the Stones, to the "new" folk music.  

 

Julian had been playing in Rock Bands for a few years, and he was obviously influenced by the great rock and country guitarists of that time, everyone from Jeff Beck, the early Clapton, Duane Eddy, Merle Travis and Chet Atkins.  

 

Mel Green was always digging the latest songs on the local hit parade and while at art school as a neophyte guitarist in Cape Town was playing all those three chord tunes, and had loved the music of Lloyd Price, Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, Little Richard, Elvis Presley and that entire pantheon of 50s and 60s artists... his home listening experience was also filled with the sounds of the world, the music all around him as well as Classical music. 

 

This led to a very open-minded forum and meeting of the minds. Their music quickly improved.

 

Such as Little Mel's harmonica playing, which he picked up from his friend Squeege Lewis who was playing in an R&B band in Durban, and Mel was a fan of Sonny Boy Williamson and Sonny Terry. His earliest folk-guitar teachers were Des Lindberg and Keith Blundell, who he observed very closely at the Troubadour in Johannesburg and later Alex Malcolm (of Rod and Alex, a Brit duo living in Johannesburg at the time). Peter Clifford of the 004 and later the Bats was a very patient teacher and of course Julian soon made Mel more proficient by insisting that he practice by himself every afternoon. Later in Durban he avidly listened to Paul Simon's playing and learned all of the songs from "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme" when he moved from the Edward Hotel to live in his friend Brian Finch's backyard guest room. His vocal harmony influences date back to 50s and 60s pop music, and while with Mel, Mel & Julian he most often listened to Bluegrass harmonies (The Green Briar Boys) and especially to the way Ian & Sylvia harmonized.

 

Big Mel learned double-bass and listened to Jazz and also taught himself slide-guitar (influenced by the records of the great blues slide players and John Hammond Jr. His vocal talent at the time was immense, and his lead singing was most admired by many, foremost being Mel Green.

 

Julian expanding his repertoire of guitar-playing styles, (notably listening to the recordings of Merle Travis, Chet Atkins and Doc Watson, and the lead guitarists who backed up Ian & Sylvia, (David Rae), and John Herald, all of which was soon reflected in the band's music. Not one to just listen to one genre, Julian was watching and listening to all the up and coming bands in the Rock world as well, as is evidenced by his almost effortless jump from Folk to Rock after Mel, Mel & Juian broke up in 1967.

 

While playing in Durban exposure to their friends in other bands also expanded their musical influences, and they learned different styles of playing, mainly Ragtime and Blues in an open-minded forum with their close friends and musician colleagues. Their vocal harmonies were informed by pop, old-timey, folk, bluegrass and C&W. In short their influences were from many sources.  They were truly fortunate to be of a certain age at a certain time, when so much new music was happening around the world and which became the "sound track" of their lives.