A four-piece Zarsoffs in semi-acoustic mode at the Jamberoo Folk Festival

Shaggy at Jamberoo

In September 2003, The Zarsoff Bros completed a successful series of appearances at the Jamberoo Folk Festival, with a semi-acoustic version of their rock-comedy material. The band rehearsed for a month to translate their usual electric guitar-oriented songs to the semi-acoustic medium, and the experiment was a huge success as far as the Folk Festival crowds - and the band - are concerned.

This incarnation of the Zarsoff Bros featured Shaggy Zarsoff on electric mandolin, Smokey Zarsoff on electric acoustic guitar, brand new drummer Bologne Zarsoff (yes, he is Italian) on drums, and frontman / bassist Izzy Foreal on electric bass & main vocals. The band played some of their long-time audience favourites, as well as previewing semi-acoustic versions of material from their forthcoming new studio album.

A 4-song demo CD was recorded especially for the Jamberoo Folk Festival, featuring semi-acoustic versions of some old Zarsoffs favourites and new tracks. After the success of their Folk Festival performances, the band is considering a limited release of this CD as well.Though the Zarsoff Bros will still be available to play in their fully electric version, this new semi-acoustic mutation will open many more live venue possibilities for the band. There are many folk & acoustic festivals throughout Australia, and with the Jamberoo success behind them, The Zarsoff Bros will be appearing at many of them.

"The Zarsoff Bros are considered a bit wrinkly for the rock scene by certain promoters and bookers," says the their frontman Izzy Foreal. "I reject this premise categorically, because we have always tried to demolish the rock stardom construct with our irreverent and naughty(read "uncool") approach. Comedy is timeless, in fact, the uglier and wrinklier we get, the better it is for the show, as far as I am concerned.""However, this foray into semi-acousticness has been a lot of fun, and it opens up whole new audiences for us to insult and challenge." Izzy adds. "In these times of fear and worry, there is more need than ever for a band such as The Zarsoff Bros. We need to be able to laugh at ourselves. Comedy is good therapy, even if it only lasts for one night at a time."

The first gig for the semi-acoustic version of The Zarsoff Bros at the Jamberoo Folk Festival was in the RSL Hall, a shoebox-sized building that, to the band's shock and horror, had no sound system or microphones. It was just set up at the end of the hall and sing over the top of the instruments. The boys in the band had a long debate about whether this fiasco of misprogramming could be carried out, (oh, shit, how are we going to pull this off?) but in the end the band set up a small drumkit and played through their amps at a very low volume, with Izzy singing as loud as he could. To everyone's amazement (not least the audience) it worked, and the band consolidated its reputation with many die-hard fans and lots of people who had never seen The Zarsoffs perform.

The second gig at the Folk Festival was a lunchtime concert in The Big Top tent inside the Festival site, with Broderick Smith and Merri May Gill. The lunchtime crowd loved the naughtiness (and Izzy's famous fart solo). This time there was a hefty sound system to help the boys along.

The third gig was at the Jamberoo Pub on the Saturday night, with two other bands, Skoot O'Skerry and Last Band Standing. The night turned out to be a frosty one outside in the back beer garden, and The Zarsoffs didn't go on until after eleven thirty. Nevertheless, they got to rock out a bit more, with Shaggy playing a semi acoustic guitar by the end of the set, and Smokey playing his beloved solid body electric guitar. Many new fans were gained.

The final Festival gig was on the Sunday afternoon at the Jamberoo Bowling Club, once again with Merri May Gill, and also comedians Peter Willey and Bernard Bolan. The Zarsoffs were on last, and let their hair down a little. The famous armpit solos got a dusting off, and the usually conservative Bowling Club patrons yelled an enthusiastic encore.

As part of the Zarsoffs semi acoustic translation, Shaggy played the Thingamebob, an instrument he built himself from discarded artistic and industrial materials. It may yet feature on the new album.