Kim Salmon

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Kim Salmon


Whatever Chinese whispers went around in the previous seven days gave the audience the feel of NASCAR enthusiasts waiting for a car to flip the barrier on the 18th lap and crush to death a couple of innocents in the process. Will Kim or won’t Kim rip off Spencer’s head, bathe in the fountain of blood shooting from the neck artery, and spit the residue on the ground before launching into a cover of Baby on Fire?

The anticipated decapitation did not occur, but no-one left disappointed. Despite whatever real or imagined residual tension existed between the pair, despite whatever atmosphere of gossipy voyeurism in the crowd – the electric, shambolic grace Kim and Spencer displayed under the lights was a salient reminder of how they like to perform, sometimes disorderly, but always on their own terms.

“It got to be less chaotic over the two weeks following the first,” says Kim, “but just as we were slipping into the groove of the last show, we needed to come up with more stuff and were thrown back into oblivion again. Which was awesome!”

After heading some of Australia’s influential exports and, collaborating with everyone from Jones to Mudhoney to David McComb in the last three decades, Salmon has never seemed more in his element than in the last couple of years. The solo work and smaller collaborations – notably his Precious Jules duo – in some of Fitzroy and Thornbury’s  dingier venues are ideal for showcasing his equal parts intimate and aggressive onstage demeanour. Not that he draws a distinction between the here and now, and the way back when.

“The more I’ve done, the less it’s been a case of highlights and more that its feels like an amazing trip that only I have been on for the entirety. It’s been the trip it has partially because of the people, like Spencer, who’ve travelled with me for stretches. It’s also been a trip because of where I’ve chosen to navigate myself. Even teaching guitar has been something that I’ve got as much out of as any other thing I’ve done.”

Salmon’s happened across his next gig while working his day job as at the National Union of Workers. The union made headlines last year for a picket in support of workers at the Baiada poultry plant in Laverton, where workers were earning about ten bucks an hour on temporary contracts, in appallingly unsafe conditions.

“I was involved in the Baiada campaign recruiting bands for a fundraiser gig at Bella Union at Trades Hall,” says Kim. “It was Lincoln MacKinnon from Dead River Deeps, who I recruited for the Baiada fundraiser, who contacted me to return the favour!”

That favour will be returned with Salmon’s appearance at the Clarkefield Festival, a charity gig organised by the Cambodian Kids Foundation, of which MacKinnon is an employee. All proceeds from the festival, to be held at a sprawling country pub just past Melbourne’s outskirts, will go towards building a new school in Kampong Thom Province which will cater for 1,000 students from surrounding areas. For Kim’s part, he’s just happy to take a trip into the countryside and share a bill with some of his favourite Melbourne acts.

“Dead River Deeps, of course, St Jude – one of my guitar students is in them and he was a particularly inspiring student, with a lot of enthusiasm for songwriting and playing, so I’d be keen to hear what he does. All the acts, really, I’m keen to see and catch up with.”