Shadow Of A Dream was conceived late in the Spring of 1999.
Almost 2 years had passed since VJ King Jr stretched his arm over the
polished seasoned timber body of his Dad’s old
Martin guitar, reached down, and picked his first note. A poignant moment
for VJ Sr who had waited a long time to witness
such an occasion. VJ was the youngest of seven, and the only son.
VJ’s early progress under the patient care and watchful eye of mentor Peter
Andrews was further accelerated after attending a
Tommy Emmanuel concert. It did not go unnoticed by 60s Ramrods guitarist, Barry Brady, who had lent him his vintage
Telecaster, nor by two of VJ's sisters who, in January 1999, chipped in to
help buy a new electric guitar.
Lifting it proved difficult, and wearing it strained his neck and shoulder.
He persisted and, with his new Fender Stratocaster,
VJ explored a vastly different world of colourful sounds and styles.
It was a busy year, filled with excitement and a string of private and public performances before appreciative, at times startled,
If beating 56 bands to secure a final’s berth in an open talent quest signalled the seriousness of his intentions, his utter
devastation over being placed 3rd, albeit behind two very polished groups,
certainly heralded the intensity of his determination,
and expectation, to be No.1.
Sensing something special about his young protégé, Andrews – VJ’s tutor
since March 1998 – suggested he should record a
few tracks to mark his progress . . . something that in years to come VJ
could look back upon. In hindsight, it was a clever
Not far away, in Sydney’s outer west, Graham Lockwood was putting the
finishing touches to plans for a new recording studio,
and pushing for a January 2000 opening. A gathering of old musicians at a
family friend’s barbecue in October 1999 brought
to light Lockwood’s plans. Meetings followed and Lockwood agreed to take on
the project immediately the studio was
VJ’s progress, however, quickly overtook the concept of a simple ‘progress-report’ CD and, on 3rd March 2000, an eager 8
year-old, barely two years into his musical pilgrimage, rolled up to the
studio door ready to record the first of [what was to
become] the twelve tracks that are now Shadow Of A Dream.
The combined creative talents of Peter Andrews (who composed nine originals
for the album) and studio boss Graham
Lockwood (who created the musical arrangements) were instrumental in
transforming VJ’s dream – to record an album he
could be proud to send to Tommy Emmanuel and Hank Marvin – into a work of
So sit back, dim the lights a little, and enjoy the dream.
IN THE OPENING TRACK Andrews produces a delightful arrangement for Raining
In My Heart featuring VJ on acoustic guitar
– the same guitar on which he first learned to play. Lockwood added the
special effects, and the end tribute to Norrie
Paramor gives the tune a neat historical perspective.
A string of original compositions follows, among the first of which is Shadow Of A Dream, the album’s title track. Echoes of
‘50s vinyl occupy the opening bars before the dreaming young guitarist
enters with a cross-over ushering in a modern era
sound. Together with Dream Island, they echo VJ’s fondness of Shadows music
and his particular, albeit remote, attachment
to Hank Marvin. While VJ has his own style, there is no doubt about the
Marvin influence in these two tunes. Ten Out Of
Ten has a distinct, James Burton country flavour, and could just as easily
have been written in a South Arizona bar as in an
attic in the Hills district north-west of Sydney.
What began as a country and western tune, Touchdown, was re-worked by
Lockwood into a catchy latino-american rhythm,
capturing the excitement of an American west coast gridiron touchdown play. No album would be complete without a melody
of love. In Song For Liz Andrews revisits the past, reviving pieces of a
faded melody composed for a love distant in time but
not in memory. Played on an old classical guitar borrowed from Lockwood’s
studio collection, VJ gives this tune a depth of
sensitivity and maturity of interpretation way beyond his tender years.
Fittingly, ‘Liz’ is also the name given to both his great grand-mother and
eldest sister. In Chez Pierre we find another hue in
the spectrum in VJ’s adaptability of style. Here, Andrews produces a simple
¾ time melody line with a distinct European flavour – enough to make any itinerant Parisian feel home sick. At heart a
blues man , Into The Groove provided VJ with the
opportunity to play the music he loves; and this track features a number of
short solo swaps with Andrews on accompanying
Shadows purists may question the modern rap arrangement Lockwood produced
for Sleepwalk, however, VJ’s octaves treatment beautifully maintains the integrity of this classic instrumental.
Brazilian Moon is a stand-out track and one of VJ’s
favourite pieces. Here, the Andrews / Lockwood / VJ King Jr combination
blend impeccably in a rhythm as subtle as the
melody is enchanting.
As a mark of his admiration for Hank Marvin , Andrews
was commissioned by VJ to write Howdy Hank
with specific instructions as to the kind of tune he wished it to be . . .
“a kind of tribute track, but in my own style”. It was the
only tune Andrews was to write where the title was chosen before the tune
was composed. “I hope Hank will enjoy it” –
beamed VJ after hearing the final mix.
Finally, there is Junk, which is
anything but. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself
pressing the replay button on this beautifully quaint and relatively unknown
Paul McCartney composition.
Whatever ones musical preference the chances are that, like the many accomplished musicians who have heard VJ play,
you, too, may find it difficult to fathom how such a young musician can
deliver such depth of feel and diversity of style . . . and
with such uncanny maturity. Where will VJ be in 5, 10, or 15 years time?
knows. One thing, however, does appear
certain . . . that he will be well and truly out of any shadow and probably
casting his own upon a new generation of musicians
and music lovers.
“By the way, Tommy, I DIDN’T GIVE UP!” – VJ King Jr
Special thanks to: Peter for his dedication & movie treats / Hank for melodic inspiration / Tommy for timely motivation / Barry
B for the loan of a treasured personal possession / Paddy for the barbecues
& guest spots that made me hungry for more /
Hambone for his loyalty, intensity, and the dvd sessions / Rachel & Naomi
for their encouragement & practical support /
Karen for seeing us over the line /
Graham for his patience & good humour / Jeanette for the refreshments . . .
especially the tubs of jelly / Joe-Ben for his
winning smile & willing help / Jeff for taking good care of the guitars /
Fess for keeping the amp sparking / Rick for for the
paper-folding challenge. Nine times? – No way! / Geoff for replacing the
Irish Zoom / Dieter for valued instruction / Barry S for
wise counsel & understanding /
Harry for his enthusiasm / George for the orange juices / Mum for her love &
devotion / Dad for being dad / and my special
thanks to a whole host of friends, family, neighbours and supporters who,
directly, and indirectly, are also entitled to have their
fingerprints on this album.
1. Those mentioned by first name above refer to: peter andrews, tommy emmanuel,
barry brady, pat twohill, hambone, rachel
mcinnes, naomi van bremen, karen hocking, graham lockwood, jeanette horne,
joe-ben mattos, jeff mallia, fess parker, ric
o'neil, geoff strachan, dieter kleemann, barry schwarzer, harry hughes,
The CD cover depicts vj king jr dreaming of
the time when he would become a professional guitarist. Cover design
and graphics by Fresh Ideas, Sydney, Australia.
3. By coincidence, Shadow of a Dream was released on 28
October 2001 - the 65th anniversary of Hank Marvin's birthday - and went on
public sale for the first time at the Playbill merchandise stand, Sydney
Entertainment Centre, 23 November 2001.
4. Copies were mailed to both Tommy Emmanuel and Hank
Marvin under cover of a letter thanking each for their respective - albeit
remote and unknowing - assistance in motivating VJ to accomplish the recording of this
landmark debut album.