While other cover bands ‘milked’ their ideas dry until there wasn’t an audience left to perform to, Captain Spalding has successfully re-invented itself over the years to adapt to Melbourne’s ever-changing live entertainment environment, as well as the demanding requirements of the corporate world.
This band has performed shows from Toorak to Tokyo and St. Kilda to Singapore, being invited back repeatedly. And talk to anyone from Melbourne and chances are they’ll tell you where and when they’ve seen the amazing Captain Spalding Band!
So where does this story begin? Well it goes back to the very early 80’s when a young Tom Spalding (who was working as a solo artist at the time) was offered work by P & O to form a band and travel around the South Pacific on a cruise ship for a few months. And so was born the very first incarnation of Captain Spalding. Obviously the name was derived from the maritime theme of the band’s origins, but Captain Spalding was also a Marx Brothers film character!
There is many-a-story to be told about the adventures of this Captain Spalding on the high seas! Suffice to say they all had a great time and decided to keep the unit together once back on dry land. Before long the band had established a number of residencies around Melbourne with word spreading fast that this was the act to see in the cover band circuit. Most of these places are no longer around, but Spalding gigs like the Anchor & Hope, Edward’s Tavern, and the Dingley Powerhouse remain legendary when talking about Melbourne’s best cover band venues.
The Captain Spalding Band has consistently performed 4 – 6 shows every week, 48 weeks a year for the past two decades – Tom has a staggering 5,000+ gigs under his belt! And although most of the “legendary” venues are now just distant memories (or pokie rooms!), there is one Melbourne institution that is literally known around the world – the Sunday afternoon session at The Geebung Polo Club in Hawthorn where Captain Spalding played for 12 years! It was the band’s longest-running residency (although incredibly 2 years short of the 14 year record playing at Edward’s Tavern on a Monday night!), and more often than not there was a queue at the Geebung to get in!
The band has had a number of line-up changes over the years but the current entourage (including crew) has been the same for the past five years. The band has also released two live cd’s which were all snapped up by fans of the band within weeks of being released.
As part of the band’s long-term strategy, diversification was identified as a major key to success and survival in an ever-changing entertainment environment. The Legends Show was developed by the band to cater specifically to the corporate market. Its main characters include Austin Powers, Elvis, Freddie Mercury, and many more – all in full costume! Additional artists are often incorporated into these shows including a female singer to cover artists such as Dusty, Dolly, Cher, and Tina – again replete with costumes and appropriate hair! The Legends show has taken the band to many an exotic location including Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Port Douglas, Hamilton Island, and Christchurch, as well as non-exotic locations such as Canberra!
Tom and long-time Spalding keyboard player Bill Mathews developed The Spalding Trio concept back in 2000. They called upon the services of talented keyboard player and vocalist Dave Campbell to complete the line-up. The trio plays a very different mix of songs from the band with an emphasis on three-part harmonies and great melodic songs from the last few decades. The trio’s preferred working nights are early in the week, leaving the main nights (Thursday through to Sunday) for the band’s performances.
Captain Spalding has been delighting audiences from smoky pubs to grand ballrooms for more than 20 years now, and the band shows no signs of letting up in the near future. With an exceptional cast of musicians, and a diverse range of performance options, there has never been a shortage of opportunities for this ensemble.