The best of the fringe and all of the backbone – Mojo Music, Sydney Australia
Mojo Music in Sydney Australia – The Kings of the Back Catalog.
They gots the best of the fringe and all of the backbone…
If you followed me at all on The 6149, you know that one my fave rave places, where some of my fave rave people in the world inhabit, is Mojo Music – located in Sydney, Australia.
Mojo is a real-deal, salt of the earth, bow-down good ol’ fashion record shop. The owner, shopkeep and resident maestro of the Mojo vibe is Nev … but, I call him the Kingfish.
I was recently contacted by a reporter from one of Australia’s top newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald, and was asked to give my thoughts on Mojo as to why I think it was so special. This reporter did a bit of a search online and had seen my many blog posts on Mojo.
Here is what I wrote:
It is usually around 4:30pm on a Friday that I start to get the fever; I start to get the Mojo itch. It has been just over two years since I moved from Sydney to London, UK. Even now, try as I may, I still can’t scratch the itch that was my regular, four year long Friday night visit to Sydney’s Mojo Music.
I am from New Hampshire, USA. I moved to Sydney in 2005 and lived there for five years. I am a passionate music fan. I love listening to, talking about and sharing my music. It wasn’t until the end of my first year in Sydney that I found Mojo. I remember walking into the shop for the first time; I had found my home away from home; these were my people; they listened to the same sounds; they told the same stories; they fanned the same flame. This was a place where my music became our music.
On first sight, to virgin eyes, Mojo would look like what it seems to be: a relic record shop still hanging on to the notion that people want to buy their music on CD or vinyl, let alone buy it at all. But, to the been-around-the-block, knowing-eye crowd, Mojo is the true music fan’s promise land: a place where people gather to immerse themselves in the music that they love: to listen to it, to share stories about it and to turn others on to it.
“If you ever get lonely, you just go to the record store and visit all your friends…” – Penny Lane, Almost Famous.
For four years my Friday nights started off, and most often ended up, at Mojo. After work I would get home, drop off the car and walk to Mojo. On the way I would pick up a six-pack of Cooper’s Sparking Ale (the unofficial beer of the Mojo Men) and bring it to the shop. I would meet there with regular “Friday Guys” and we would spin tunes, spin yarns and back-slap and tip back beers until after-hours became the wee-wee hours. Mojo wasn’t just my local record shop, it was part of my life.
Mojo exists for one reason: Nev Seargent. Nev is the owner of Mojo. In fact, Mojo is Nev. The look of the shop, the product sold at the shop and the vibe of the shop … it is all Nev. Nev sets the tone and has established the ethos: Mojo is all about the “real” and the “authentic” and that goes for all the music, the people and the and feel that exists in the shop; there is no pretentious bullshit at Mojo.
Nev is a good mate. I call him “The Kingfish”. I copped that term from a Randy Newman song of the same name. In the song, The Kingfish is a New Orleans mayor, a man of the people, someone that gives the finger to the establishment and puts the needs of the people of first.
Friend of the working man
Who’s gonna save this land
It’s the Kingfish, baby, that’s who…
That is what Nev is doing. He is doing his part to keep the music shop alive and well … saving this land. When the music industry tells you that big box music stores are dying, that streaming music is the new buying music and that people just aren’t that invested in music anymore … Nev says, “oh yeah, there are still some of us left and I’m going to give ’em a place to go.”
People go to Mojo, that is for sure. There are Thursday and Friday night regulars, people who make personal pilgrimages and those that wander in having been lured by the music that plays out on to the street. As Nev likes to say, Mojo Music has the best of the fringe and all of the backbone. That applies not only to the music they sell, but also the people they serve.
There is always music being played at Mojo. Starting around 5:00pm there is a crowd gathered around the front counter listening to it. People come in to find a lost album or get turned on to what ever it is that Nev has playing on the front-burner. If you are in need of a recommendation … Nev knows just what you need. Many times I have said to Nev, “I’m looking for this kind of sound and feel … you got anything for me?” Inevitably, The Kingfish always knew just what I wanted. He would walk over to one the CD racks … straight to a specific spot … pull out a CD and say, “You got this one? You know of this cat? You need this.” His picks were always spot on.
I purchased a lot of Nev’s picks over the year; my music collection was better off for it. There was a definite correlation between time spent at Mojo and cash spent at Mojo. Buying my music at Mojo was always a pleasure. Not only did I add great music music to my collection, I was also giving back to Nev and the shop. Nev has created something special and everyone that goes there knows this. We all give back by supporting the cause. Once Mojo gets under your skin, you just can’t ignore it.
Under your skin … there’s that itch again. Two years on and I’m still trying to scratch it. Currently I work in London. My office is riight next to Soho. Soho has a handful of great used vinyl shops. On Fridays after work I take the long way home, wandering in and out of the shops to see if I can find any buried treasure. I usually find a few records that I take home to play, but what I can’t find is that Mojo feel; no one calls out my name when I walk in these shops; there are no friends there waiting to play me the latest re-release or or newly found used original Chess Records pressing on vinyl; there are no cold beers waiting for me in the fridge; there is no back-slapping and story-telling; there is no walking out the door with Nev at midnight and shutting the lights and closing the door behind us. There is only one Mojo and it is in Sydney, Australia. The “lucky country” indeed.
Mojo is a one-off; a mutation; an anommoly. It is a place that still cares about the shared experience of listening to music. Not the kind of pseudo sharing that is done on the web. We’re talking real-deal, face-to-face, ear-to-ear, flip the record over sharing. You go there for the music and you walk out part of a community of music loving Mojo Men. Someone has to keep that feeling alive, right? Some one has to continue to fan those flames. Someone … but, who?
The Kingfish, baby, that’s who.