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LA's own McKenna Band performing live at the Australian Football Grand Final Sept 25th!

James McKenna on left & Billy Schleifer on right
James McKenna on left & Billy Schleifer on right

On September 25th, in front of approximately 100,000 people at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds (MCG) in Melbourne, Australia just after the Australian Football League's Grand Final match has finished and the victorious team is taking their victory lap, Los Angeles residents James McKenna and Billy Schleifer of the band McKenna will perform their song "Last One Standing" these two co-wrote with one's of the AFL's most famous footy commentator's Dennis Cometti.

Four years ago Cometti (also a renowned audiophile and former DJ with a HUGE music collection) bought McKenna's EP from CDBaby, contacted McKenna, and liked the lyrics and song writing so much that Cometti featured McKenna's song "Seven Cigarettes" off of this EP on Cometti's music broadcast segment "Dennis Does Downloads” on Perth, Australia's afternoon drive show "The Big Couch" on Mix 94.5. A little time later, on one of Cometti's trips every few years to the States, Cometti met with McKenna in Los Angeles to find out more about McKenna's music career. At that time, McKenna was looking for some angel investors to help James put together his LP. Well Cometti became McKenna's angel investor and James was able to make his full length LP "I Am."

After the game, Federation Square is where fans go to listen to live bands and celebrate with the winning team. The game ends around 5:30 pm. The fans start arriving at around 6:00 PM when the bands start playing. The winning team members appear around 8:00 PM. Last year, James and Billy went over to Melbourne for the Footy Grand Final last year, and played for this after party at Federation Square. They went on early, but by the time they finished they were playing for nearly 5,000 people. The week prior to this gig they spent in Melbourne co-writing the song they co-wrote with Denis Cometti. This same song "Last One Standing" that they'll perform at the Final this year, they performed for the first time last year at Federation Square. What McKenna thought was really kool back then was that even though the crowd had obviously never heard the song before; they picked up on the lyrics right away and sang along with the song.

When Billy and James started writing the song "Last One Standing" last year for their gig, they never imagined that a year later they'd be invited back to perform at the Grand Final. That was never their intention or goal. They simply decided to write the song out of deep gratitude for being invited over to Melbourne to participate in the festivities in 2009. They both were extremely thankful for being included last year, and are even more grateful this year since their song has been so widely accepted and appreciated.

Billy and James created the music and melody enlisting Dennis's help with the lyrics. With his contributions to the lyrics, Dennis added a real and deep understanding of the significance of the game to Australians and their culture. For example, Australia being in the Southern hemisphere is coming out of winter. The final match signifies the coming of spring and summer, so the victors "…are the favorite son.... take our places in the sun..." and become celebrated people as "...the chosen few...the last ones standing." Moreover, since the victors celebrate afterwards in Federation Square, the song continues "Federation Square is where I'm meant to be...”

In anticipation of the finals, the song is being played on over 150 radio stations throughout Australian during the playoffs. Both Billy and James are currently in Australia practicing with the band Billy assembled over there, and doing a lot of interviews. James hopes that the success of their song in Australia will help demonstrate to labels and publishers here, that their music for McKenna is worth taking a risk on or at least a publishing deal. if not, James said he might try to convince his wife to move to Australia because sometimes you just got to go to where the people like your music.

Below is a video for the song "Last One Standing." The picture accompanying this article was done by SHGfoto as part of a promotional shoot



  • Flip Smith - Melbourne Australia. 4 years ago

    Awesome stuff, you guys are welcome here anytime.

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