Newcastle Music Directory

A Year in the Life of Brien

Brien McVernan2008 has been a huge year for Brien McVernon. Take a look at this month by month list of his achivements for the year.

January – 2008 started in New Zealand performing at the East Coast Summer Surf Festival with his band The Retro Rockets. The shows were such a hit the band have been invited back to feature in the 2009 festival. The Retro Rockets played to a sell out crowd in Auckland 2 days after the festival shows.

February – The Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club “Thunderwest Bike Show” Brien opened the show with a solo set warming the crowd of over 2000 people up for a huge day and night of music. He was later joined on stage by the other Retro Rockets, Dominic Lindus and Cameron Overend as the highlight band of the night.

March -Brien received an invitation to join 100 musicians, cancer survivors and supporters, to raise money and trek the ancient Inca Trail in Peru to Machu Picchu.

May – Brien and the Retro Rockets return to New Zealand to headline at the Beach Hop Festival. Brien was asked in advance to write a song about a 1959 Catalina Pontiac car, which was to be given away at the festival. This song was recorded and used as the theme song for the 2008 Beach Hop and was featured in all TV, Radio and DVD promotions, thus gaining the Retro Rockets a lot more exposure in New Zealand.

June – The Retro Rockets fly to Queensland to play at the Wintersun Festival. One month before the festival it was announced that the Retro Rockets Saturday night show was the first sell out concert of the festival. This was the Retro Rockets 4th trip to the Wintersun Festival.

July – The release of the 4th studio album by the Retro Rockets. The CD was titled “Catalina” and featured the song from the Beach Hop Festival. It was a collection of songs written by Brien during early 2008. The songs reflected some of his travels throughout 2006 and 2007 as well as some usual themes of cars, girls and rock’n'roll.

August – Brien performs “A Pittance Of Time” at a Vietnam Veterans Memorial service in honour of the soldiers lost at the Battle of Long Tan during the Vietnam War. The Retro Rockets headline the “Rockabilly Meltdown” in Melbourne, to a capacity crowd of Rockers, rev heads and nostalgia enthusiasts.

SeptemberPeru RocksBrien heads off to Japan and the USA to check out the potential markets for the Retro Rockets in 2009.

October – Brien leaves for Peru to take part in Peru Rocks with the Love Hope Strength Foundation. Brien joins musicians from the USA and the UK to trek and perform along the Inca Trail. The musicians were Foundation member Mike Peters (The Alarm), Cy Curnin (The Fixx), Fastball, and Nick Harper. Slim Jim Phantom, (the man who got Brien involved in Peru Rocks) from the Stray Cats was to trek as well, but broke his arm in 4 places at a concert in the UK weeks before the event. Surgery prevented him from the tour. Trekking with the musicians were over 50 cancer survivor and supporters. The whole event was being filmed by the legendary producer of MTV unplugged, Alex Colleti, along with his amazing film crew. Peru Rocks will be featured on MTV and VH1. On the trip Brien performed Catalina solo, which was a huge hit amoung the team as well as the local Peruvians. Brien also impressed the other musicians by sitting in and playing lead guitar with Fastball on day one, unrehearsed, and all the other players from that time on. Brien was also the only rocker to trek the Inca Trail in his Traditional Rock gear, Black Leather Boots, Black Leather Jacket, Black Jeans, Black Tee Shirts and Studded leather belt. As a tribute to the great work Australians do towards supporting cancer patients, Brien wore 2 Canteen bandanas. Brien also raised over $7000 for the foundation, part of which was raised by getting the Love Hope Strength Foundation Logo tattooed on his right arm. The tattoo was donated by Tribal Urge in Newcastle. For more information on the event go to

November – Brien is nominated for an ABC music award in the Jazz category for his song “Gypsy Woman”. The Retro Rockets are also nominated for an ABC music award in the Blues and Roots category for another of Brien’s songs “Hey El Diablo”. Brien signs The Retro Rockets first 2 Albums over to Hardrush music, one of Australia’s top 10 independent labels. The signing should see the Retro Rockets music being distributed all over Australia as well as to Japan and The USA in 2009.

December – The Retro Rockets will be playing at Rocking the Black Dog at Nobby’s Beach, along with Jenny Morris, The Boat People and local performers The Seabellies, Newcastle Chamber Choir, Vaudeville, Fictions, Amy Vee & The Virtues, Mark Wells and Daniel March.

The Retro Rockets will be heading back to New Zealand after Christmas to perform at the Summer surf Festival 2009. They will be playing an outdoor concert on the 30th to an anticipated crowd of thousands. Until then, Brien can be seen playing solo shows and Retro Rockets shows around Newcastle, Sydney and the Hunter Valey.

For more information visit the Retro Rockets website or Brien’s MySpace profile.

Also available is this interview with Brien from ABC Newcastle recorded on the 21st of November 2008.

Posted on November 25th, 2008 in Artists, General

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