A REUNION? We have been researching venues...


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

A REUNION?
The band was planning to re-unite in South Africa in 2018 for a few dates in the Johannesburg area... Due to complications that will not be happening as we had hoped,
although some research is still going on...

 

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 Graphic Designer, Painter, and Illustrator. He still makes music as a songwriter and performs regularly  around Boston, USA...
 
  Watch this space and your local media for news of future shows!
We are pleased to announce our South African Booking Agent:To inquire about future shows, please contact Rael Birns at Rael@raelbirns.co.za  or at 081 452-1100

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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50 Years Ago...

 
Mel, Mel & Julian 
began their career in 1965, they had just recorded their first Lp "Songs about mines, people, places & one train" as a Mel & Mel project, and when it had been judged "bloody good" a second contract at the Edward Hotel was offered to the duo, who then asked Julian to join the band! So they went pro as a trio, performing at various hotel residencies around South Africa, repeating marathon musical and comedy performances which were sensational and drew turn-away audiences. Their frequent gigs at Johannesburg's Troubadour and their long-running club residencies in Durban, East London and Cape Town were known for drawing full houses during the heady times that were the mid-60s. How they began is another story... part good luck, very good timing and a perfect example of "being in the right place at the right time!" 

So, here's the"short" version of how it all happened!

The 60s difference: While Beatle- and Rolling Stones- influenced bands were common, Mel, Mel & Julian grew up in that era, and when they got together, the "folk boom" had also begun, so instead of becoming another Mersey-beat wannabe band, they stood out with their simple vocal/acoustic guitar set up, singing and playing for attentive, hushed audiences, who were alternately rolling helplessly in their seats, convulsed with helpless laughter at the high jinks of Mel Miller's jokes and stories. They were different, and good!

  Mel, Mel & Julian were mostly employed working at their residencies in large hotels around the country, and occasionally headlined shows at University concerts in Cape Town, Grahamstown, Durban and Johannesburg... when they were in-between these long-term gigs, they would be doing shows at local coffeehouses like The Troubadour, or performing at the occasional folk festival (where Julian would conduct guitar workshops).

They kept busy all the time adding to repertoire and playing out when the new material was ready for a live audience. These "breaks" between long gigs had them returning to their homes in Johannesburg and were also when their recording company would schedule the band to go into the Gallo recording studio, where their three distinctive LPs were produced.

Their reputation grew and over time critics and audiences would describe their combination of well-played folk music, mixed with comedy and social commentary as a cross between The Kingston Trio and the Smothers Brothers ... but then South Africans were always compared to overseas acts. In fact they were actually unique on the folk scene in South Africa and proved to be something of a phenomenon, and yet their sound was unique, combining the tight harmony vocals of Big Mel and Little Mel with the brilliant, innovative guitar picking of Julian Laxton, who stood head and shoulders above most guitarists in South Africa.

Their repertoire included music from all over the Globe, and they earned face-to-face compliments from the Everly Brothers, the Seekers, The Ivy League and other internationally known stars. One of their biggest fans was the famous South African country & western singer, Billy Forrest, who became their manager, and who promoted them into the top layer of South African show biz.

They recorded ground-breaking LPs that turned the local folk music scene on its head, and which were standard setters for musical entertainment. All within a short span of a little less than five years! Read on about how these three different characters met, and coalesced into a tight musical unit and became a wonderfully consistent band.