Downunder Beats #9
By Kaz Johnson
Welcome to this week’s blog post. Excitement is in the air as new album releases are just around the corner or just down the road (as we say in Australia). As reported last week, Broadbeach Country Music Festival is on this weekend and coming soon is the Central Coast Country Music Festival. There are guitar festivals and blues festivals aplenty. Despite the fact that it is winter here, the festivals are still going strong. I am sure that this year has more country and blues festivals than any other year in Australia.
The launches are starting too. Shane Nicholson has the launch of his new album this week and next week. A Shane Nicholson new album is always worth waiting for. I have reported each week on new albums coming through soon, when they are finally officially launched, I will go into more details!
Vale the man who’s been everywhere..
Geoff Mack, one of the great characters of Australian Country Music passed away at the age of 94. Though he was involved in the country music industry for many years, he is best known for his song, I’ve been everywhere, which he wrote in 1959. In 1962, the song became a hit for Lucky Starr, whose son is also a singer/songwriter and he lives in the U.S.A. now. To date, there have been 131 versions of the song worldwide, including the 1996 version by Johnny Cash. Most people in Australia, no matter what kind of music they are into, will know this iconic song. It is incredibly clever, and difficult to sing...much like The Auctioneer Song, which is also fast and tongue twisting. I had the pleasure of meeting Geoff’s wife, many times in Tamworth at the Festival and I did get to meet Geoff as well and he was a gentleman. He left his mark, not only with his music, but his character.
Melody Moko: (also known as Melody Feder and Melody Muchow)
Melody has been busy recording her debut album, to be produced by husband (and one of Australia’s best musicians), Michael Muchow and one of our Queens of Country Music, Catherine Britt. Melody gave us a sneak preview at Tamworth with an EP – a teaser, of sorts. Her alternative country style will no doubt be prominent on the album. It is probably the album that I have been looking forward to most this year, other than Aleyce Simmonds’ album which was released in January. Melody does cover shows as well and along with Michael, she runs a cafe in Newcastle which has gigs featuring various artists. This dynamic young performer has a lot to offer, with a great range and well crafted songwriting skills. One to watch.
I am very excited about this alt country artist. He has released singles, but his debut album is set to be released later in the year. One reviewer described his music as Countrified Soul. (I guess that is Soultry). He has won songwriting awards and he has had chart success with his singles. As an artist he is growing in stature and has the respect and support of his peers. A gentle husky voice tops lilting melodies. He goes from strength to strength.
Aleyce is one of our most gifted and versatile singer/songwriters. From the hard to find Mighty Mighty Love E.P., Pieces of Me, Believe and More Than Meets the Eye albums, Aleyce has shown talent beyond her years in both her singing and songwriting. Her songs are heartbreakers for the most part, and they are sung with such passion and conviction that they are very hard not to pay attention to. Aleyce has one of the most pure voices that I have ever heard in any genre. She does a lot for the country music industry, being a fine ambassador for Tamworth and for the artists in general. She does bv’s on more Aussie country albums than most people have breakfasts. Aleyce’s latest album is her best (in my humble opinion). She co-writes on the album with some of Australia’s top songwriters, including Shane Nicholson and Allan Caswell. Aleyce has scooped the pool at Mildura Country Music Festival Indie Awards and has been nominated for multiple Golden Guitars. I think that January will see more nominations for her album and hopefully, finally, a gong for our girl at last. She is a treasure.
Most of his fellow artists and alt. Country fans can’t wait for Brad’s album, due out soon. He is an artists’ artist. I met him briefly at Tamworth this year and heard him sing a couple of songs as a support artist. His album was previewed on radio last weekend and even though the hour was late, it was making me alert to all the nuances of his songs. For a relatively new artist on the scene, his songs have a lot of polish to them. His songs are very personal. The new album features songs about his family, particularly his grandfather, who is a muse. He has the potential to go International.
Ian Burns is a singer/songwriter who I had been told about a few years ago, by other artists. They had told me to go and listen to him and hear his songs. I bought his album pretty much on the spot after hearing him the first time. There is a genuine honesty about Ian and his songs. He is not afraid to tackle the hard subjects and his songs are sincere about the issues and often offer hope to situations that he sings about. He has a bit of a cult following and he is a down to earth, nice guy. Ian’s album is very easy to listen to on one hand, and thought provoking on the other.
The way that we play
Without a doubt, the best way to hear your favourite music (no matter what the genre) is LIVE at a pub, arena, theatre or other concert venue. Obviously, this is not always possible. With Australia being such a huge country, geographically, getting to a venue that plays music is harder too. The average price of a major concert in Australia these days is between $99 Australian dollars to $500. On top of that, you have petrol (gas), public transport, plane costs and accommodation costs plus having to take holidays from work, etc. It can be an expensive thing. To see our Indies, it is a lot easier, though you still have some of the same extra expenses. A lot of our festivals have free entertainment in side venues and parks. Our pubs do the same. I am quite happy to pay up to $50 to see and hear one of my faves, it gets a bit heavy after that. If I knew that most of the money was going to the artist, I would be happier to pay a bit more. We are lucky with our Indies. They keep the prices reasonable and I make sure that I buy a cd or hat or t-shirt at their gigs to compensate.
Which brings me to my major point.....how do we play our music at home, or on the road? I am still a fan of hard copy. I love cds, records and I even still have a lot of cassettes. These are especially helpful for reviews. I like to know the credits on an album. I like getting one signed at a gig and I like singing along to the words and seeing who wrote them. The sound is better than a download too. Sure, they take up space in your home and they aren’t easily transportable, but with a larger percentage going to the artist and a more personal piece of music history with you, for me, that is the best way. I do have a fair bit of music now from Itunes, but generally, that is out of desperation. Unfortunately, not a lot of our indies are available at dwindling music stores in the cities and hard copies are generally only available in country towns and at gigs. Sometimes, you can order them from an artist’s website but then there are the delivery doubts and I must admit, I get impatient. One big advantage of Itunes these days is that they do have a fairly broad genre selection and a lot of Indies are available on there. I guess, that in the end, the main thing is that we all get our music fix. Every cent helps our artists stay on the charts and keep a roof over the heads. Streaming music is not for me. I don’t think that is fair to the artist and it is not permanent enough for me. Mostly, it is about personal choices.
Reviews coming soon.
Listen to the words and feel the music.
Until next time,
Down Under Beats #8
By Kaz Johnson
Welcome to this week’s edition of Down Under Beats.
You can’t tell that old joke anymore
The joke is still being told by some people, but those who know country music and all of its 79 types these days, know not to laugh at the punchline, because it’s just not true anymore. For those who don’t know about the old joke, it goes something like this: “Did you know if you play a country music song backwards, you get the wife back, the truck back, the farm back and the dog back?” There are a few variations in the things that you get back, but basically that is it. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but country music is so much more. I am a ballad girl, mostly, so I tend to play more slow tracks but there are so many different kinds of songs in the country music genre that deal with just about every kind of situation in life and beyond it that. Every note is covered, though three chords and the truth are still there and they should be, because you should never forget the roots of where your songs came from. It has been said, by people wiser than myself, that a lot of young people are getting into the alt. Country scene these days because they are disillusioned with the mainstream music that is being offered. The amount of kids getting into the country music genre these days is phenomenal. They are even writing their own songs at 14 and 15 and even younger in some cases. Whether they stick to it in the long run or go to “the darkside” and crossover in the future like some others have, is yet to be seen. We have people like Emma Jene (18, she was 16 when her first album came out), Phoebe Jay (she’s about 15/16) was 14 when her first big hit came out, a protest song for the farmers; Kora Naughton, 15, who has a big hit at the moment with her song, Wrong, and there are many others.
In the ICMA awards to be announced in January next year, the nominations for the category of the Encouragement Award have been extended because of the amount of young folks who all deserve a nomination. My co-host on the community radio show that I guest on is stunned (and he is a veteran muso and radio announcer) at the quantity and quality of young folks coming through. It is the nature of the genre to tell a story. Yes, a lot of the songs, no matter what the beat, are about love and loss and rural life. There are just as many folks from the city who are getting into the country music scene now and telling stories which are universal. Two of our greatest female artists, Melinda Schneider and Amber Lawrence write some of the best country songs in Australia, yet they are from the city. The old joke is sour now. I have many friends and colleagues who cringe at country music. I play it in the background at dinner parties and they say that is great, and I say, “No, you can’t possibly like that, it is country music.” The walls are coming down, the cynics are still there, but mostly it is because they have that old joke in their head and they haven’t opened their eyes, ears and hearts to all of the wonderful new music that is out there. Sometimes it is good not to be trendy, though. The blues and roots music has been around for donkeys’ years, (as we say in Australia), and it will still be here when we are all dead and gone. The same can’t be said for bubblegum music.
A Legend returns
Mike McClellan has released a lot of music over the years, however, as with most well known artists, they have a signature song. If you mention his name to most music lovers in Australia the song that comes to mind first is “Song and Dance Man”. It is one of the classic songs in Australian Country Music history and probably Australian Music History. “The One I Love” is probably the second most well known song. It is fair to say that we haven’t heard a lot from Mike for a while. He is back in the limelight again, appearing this week at Sydney’s The Basement (one of my favourite venues – it is perfect for our genre) and he is launching his brand new album, No Intermission. I heard a couple of tracks off it the other day (I will review the album soon) and it is definitely a change of pace. At the launch he will be using some of the best musos in the business in his band: Michael Carpenter, Matt Fell and Glen Hannah to name a few.
It is indicative of the way that the music is going and growing in our genre. Legends are working with young musicians and producers and mentoring them and learning from them. There are a lot of collaborations going on between the generations. Our songs are based on storytelling, it is often the same story told from different views. It is good to see Mike back with new music. I still hum Song and Dance Man, though.
Amber Joy Poulton:
South Australia has some great artists who are either born and bred there or have moved there to live a more relaxed lifestyle from some of Australia’s busiest places. A.J. is a South Australian and she is so diverse with her country music styles. Amber is well known in Australian Country Music circles for her tribute shows. She does several at Tamworth Country Music Festival and has had sold out shows across the country. She does tributes to Loretta Lynn, Shania Twain, and lots of other famous women in country. Sometimes she does the shows with fellow South Australian, Sandra Humphries, already featured here. However, Amber’s own music, especially her work on Foolish Things, (one of my favourite albums) is equal to the legends whom she portrays in her shows. This album has the 70’s classic country feel, but most of the songs are original. She does two great duets as well with Sam Hawksley and Australia’s other Amber, Amber Lawrence. Amber Joy is clearly most at home with the more traditional sounding Country Music, but she has a go at everything, including a bit of country gospel and the more modern sounds. She has a new album out soon. I can’t wait.
Matt has been around for a while but with his latest EP (or EEP as I call them because they are more like an extended extended play), Matt has come of age. He has done a lot of solo work but mainly he has worked with others in recent years as part of a super band of Australian male singers and songwriters. My Soundtrack is a fine piece of work which will feature in the Golden Guitars in January, I’m sure. He has gathered a new audience and his work is his best ever. The EEP is getting a lot of air play and he has also been featured on CMC quite regularly. He is definitely one to watch. He has been on slow burn but he is now on fire.
Brett is one of the Tamworth mob and he is a very humble country music artist. His album, Standing Back, has been critically acclaimed and it even won an International award for it. He has been on Australia’s version of The Voice. He has a beautiful voice. He is a solid songwriter and he is has quite a cult following. Brett has a big future, given the airplay and encouragement.
Dana has a very folky feel. She is part of the large alt. Country movement in Austalia. Her songwriting capabilities are tremendous. Her song, Like Snow written with Luke O’Shea is phenomenal. So much so, that Luke did his version on his album which was released at about the same time. Her Spinning Wheels album is excellent. Every track is a winner. All of the songs on the album are either written or co-written by Dana. She does something unique on the album, she does a “Behind the Songs” track where she explains every song on the album. It is a very relaxing, easy to listen to album of sad songs and struggles. Dana will be around for a long time.
Jade is an interesting artist. She is not your regular country music singer, she blends country pop, country rock, a little bit of blues and a lot of attitude in her songs. She can rip up the floor and mellow you out. Jade has a big personality and it shows in her music, whether she is breaking your heart (or having her heart broken) or revving it up. She is an artist to be reckoned with and one who can tick all of the boxes.
Broadbeach Country Music Festival
There is a country music or blues and roots festival on just about every weekend in Australia, these days, sometimes 3 or 4 going at the same time. One of the biggest in the last few years is the Broadbeach Country Music Festival, which is a free festival on the beachfront on Queensland’s Gold Coast. This year it is on from the 28th to 30th July. Legendary American band, America, are appearing but it is chiefly Australian artists, particularly Indies. The festival is free. Some of the acts performing are: The Weeping Willows, Shane Nicholson, Roo Arcus, NeillyRich, Kerry Kennedy, Lachlan Bryan and the Wildes, Georgia Fall, Fanny Lumsden, Col Finley, Drew McAlister, Benn Gunn, Ben Ransom, Aleyce Simmonds, Kasey Chambers and Troy Cassar-Daley. It is winter in Australia, but the sun shines brightly on this territory most days of the year. The festival is still in its infancy, but each year it builds. Some of these artists I have featured on this blog, others will be featured in the next few weeks.
There are lots of new singles about at the moment with the promise of albums to come just around the corner. Rick Hart, Brad Butcher, Shane Nicholson, Gretta Ziller, Fanny Lumsden, Carpenter and Caswell and many others are teasing us with some new songs and hinting about what will be on the albums with launches due. Two of our brightest stars, who are only in their thirties but they are already considered on the cusp of being legendary, given their amount of works over a long period of time, have ensured us of a tour soon and are about to launch an album. Golden Guitar winners, Travis Collins and Amber Lawrence have produced a duets album, but it is all their own work, all originals. It is a surprise to most of us and we are looking forward to the release.
The End Bit
I am looking forward to talking about some new albums and gigs that are going to be out in a rush soon. In the meantime, if you want to check out more of the artists that I focus on, check out my blog on Wordpress – Country As, and/or tune in on-line or on demand to Countryon, 2GLF 89.3 FM - Bob Browne with Kaz Johnson 12-3, Tuesdays.
Until next time,
It is the middle of winter in Australia, but the music is keeping us warm and happy with lots of releases about to hit our airwaves and music stores.
To Serve the Community
I am not sure how it works with other countries but in Australia, we have a lot of community radio stations – run by volunteers. They play a lot of different styles of music and they serve a variety of sections of the community, with multicultural programmes, sport programmes and community service groups. They have been the subject of closure, but battles have been fought and won and most of them remain operational.
Country music, particularly Indie Music is featured largely on these stations all over Australia. It is sometimes the only way that Indies get exposure. This often leads to other opportunities for our artists. It also allows the presenters to share their passion for music and to introduce these wonderful artists to the world at large or at least to a section of the world at large! Most community radio stations have access to podcasts or on demand connections on the Internet.
I have been lucky enough to be invited as a guest presenter on 2GLF – FM out of Liverpool in Sydney. Firstly, with Therese and Carol on Country Storm and now with Bob Browne on Country On. We not only get to play the Indies for a few hours but we get to talk about our favourite artists. Bob is a legend in Community Radio. There are many others all over the country who are doing their best to promote and play our artists. Leonie McClure in Sydney, Beth Brown in Yass, Diane Jones on the Central Coast, Terry Colstard in Northern Territory, Vickiree Melouney in Northern New South Wales. There are many musos who are presenting as well, like Susan Lily, Tracey Davis, Jen Mize, Sally-Anne Whitten, Aleyce Simmonds , Connie Kis Andersen, Kylie Adams-Collier and Jodie Crosby for examples.
There are many others over our wide country who are doing their best to make sure that musicians who are not normally exposed get some air time. If one person tunes in and lets someone else know about a song or a singer and then they do the same, a chain starts and people get acknowledged.
There are djs on general radio stations who are trying to get the music out there, but they are limited in some ways by those who control their programming. Community Radio Stations are doing their best for the artists and the public. Support from the public is always welcome.
(I had finished writing this when I heard the news that our dj friend, Roger Lloyd passed away with Cancer. Roger did a lot to support the country music industry in Victoria and beyond. We will miss him.)
Duetting in Style
Over the last few years, duos have become a major part of the Indie Country Music scene. Carter and Carter have been the most prominent and consistent over the years, being the most awarded Indie Act in Australia. Years before, Rick and Thel Carey were a major duo, as were the Schneider Sisters. It has been more of an individual scene until lately. The Long and The Short of it – Patsy and David, Billy Bridge and Rebecca Lee Nye, Camille and Stuie French, Kristy Cox and Travis List, NeillyRich, The Weeping Willows, Billy Pitt and Jarrod Hickling, The Crosby Sisters and many others. Legend Allan Caswell has teamed up with Michael Carpenter from The April Family to produce an album which is coming out soon. There are combinations happening between young and old and in between and different styles of country music.
At the Golden Guitars they have awards for duos, bands and collaborations. The collaboration section is getting stronger each year. Superbands – combining many star individual acts combining to make a great song or entire albums, trios like Bennett, Bowtell and Urquhart and trios of female and male artists have been formed for songs which do more than produce great songs, they often raise money for charity or even more importantly, awareness for a cause.
Australian legends like Melinda Schneider and Beccy Cole; Adam Harvey and Troy Cassar-Daley; Adam Harvey and Beccy Cole are combining to present albums of International country music legends.
Our musos are great by themselves....together, they are just magic.
Rebecca Lee Nye:
Rebecca had a time out to raise a family and to do other things. Her return (which also matched the return of her husband, Billy Bridge) to the country music scene was met with great anticipation and the lead up to the release of the return album was pretty close to torture for the fans. However, when Gypsy Heart was finally released, the wait had been worth it. With several hits off the album and some duets with Billy as well as many festival appearances, it was clear that Rebecca was back better than ever and here to stay.
Billy’s return was with a concept album, “Stories Through Time”. While many of the songs are true Australian stories, they have elements which are universal: towns turned into ghost towns, war heroes, memories of the moon landing (this one is from The Dish, near Parkes), and true love. His combination with wife Rebecca is always a crowd pleaser. Their songs have depth and honesty. Their easy going style and connection with the audience make both Billy and Bec more than just a talented duo.
James Stewart Keene:
James is a true representation of what persistence, grit and stamina can produce. James has not done this music thing the easy way, it has come from a lot of hard work and patience. His Charm Offensive album has finally seen the light of day and it is a cracker. His bluesy, country rock style mixed with some power ballads and a great edgy sound make the album a springboard for him to produce even bigger albums in the future. He does not fit a stereotype, his style both on stage and on record and especially in person, is a little different. He is one to watch. He will get even better with time......and a little luck.
Kalesti is a rare bird in the country music forest these days. She has a habit of standing out in a crowd. She puts a unique traditional touch on a more modern style of country and she puts a modern twist on traditional country music. Her latest album, Airborne is a mixture of the two. It is a slightly different change of direction for Kalesti, and I think that it will probably figure in the Golden Guitars in January, because her courage has led her into this new guise. From the first time that I met Kalesti, singing songs at The Dag at Nundle, it was obvious that her uniqueness and her ability to embrace fans and styles from all sections of the country music world, make Kalesti someone very special in her field.
The Long and Short of It:
Patsy and David are unique in many ways. They are not an overnight sensation, but to many of us fans, it seems that way. They have produced two fine albums in quick succession and they have had tours and festival appearances everywhere and awards are coming thick and fast. While they sing all types of music and covers at some gigs, their strength is mainly through their songwriting and their combination of their voices and their personas. They are unique in the way that it is not so much about harmonies, it is about almost “taking it in turns” with songs and the way that they complement each other. I can’t praise their music or their professionalism enough and the way that they relate to their fans on small or big stages.
There are some wonderful albums coming soon: Jodie Crosby, Melody Moko, Shane Nicholson, Anthony Taylor, Col Finley, Carpenter and Caswell, Tamara Stewart, Susan Lily, Allison Forbes, Sally-Anne Whitten, and many more....can’t wait.
Until next time,
Thanks again for all of the great feedback. This week marks an exciting week in Country Music in Australia, especially New South Wales. It holds my favourite festival, Hats Off, which is the Tamworth Country Music Festival spin off – the mid year festival held every July in Tamworth. In January, the festival is 10 days and some more in 45 degrees Celsius temperatures (way over 100 odd in the non metric scale). In July, our Winter, it can get down to a few below in Tamworth, but the country music and the camaraderie warm things up. Where it is running through shower sprays and wearing next to nothing but a hat in January and drinking cold beer, in July, it is sitting by a fire with a merlot and your hat off.
Hats Off hasn’t been running for anywhere near as long as the January festival. It is a totally different feel from its big brother. It is building every year, with more gigs on and more artists and fans coming to town, but it is much more intimate than the big, crazy festival in January. This year, there is a big mix of signed artists and Indies. As mentioned in the last blog, John and the mob at the Dag have songwriting workshops and gigs going on just out of town with Shane Nicholson, Felicity, Aleyce, Luke and many others and the major clubs and pubs in town have a few events going. Don Costa is always a shopping centre favourite, singing lots of traditional country music songs. Michael Bryers, Melinda Schneider, Dobe Newton and Roger Corbett from The Bushwackers, the wonderful TSA sessions (with Melissa Robertson, The Shelly Jones Band, Becci Nethery, Kalesti Butler, Ian Burns and many others), Two Gals, Brendan Smoother and Brendan Nawrocki, Clancy Drive, Matt Scullion, Allison Forbes, The Weeping Willows, Brad Butcher, Emma Beau, Emma Jene, Jen Mize, Innocent Eve, Sandra Humphries, Anthony Taylor, Jared Scott, the wonderful Luke O’Shea, Amber Lawrence, Catherine Britt, Mickey Pye, Jodie Crosby and Sally Anne Whitten, Ashleigh Dallas, Tori Forsyth, Andrew Swift, Daniel Thompson, Marie Hodson and many more. I won’t be able to make it this year due to other commitments and it is sad as this is the best fun that you can have with clothes on (as they say)....and you have to have a lot of clothes on at Hats Off, except for your hat. So, all roads lead to Tamworth. The salute this year is to Stan Coster, one of Australia’s Country Music Legends who we miss heaps.
Cheers to the Girls
This is a salute to the women of Australian Country Music – all 79 types. Our pioneers like Shirley Thoms, The Schneider Sisters (Mary and Rita), then the McKean Sisters, Evelyn Bury, Deniese Morrison all set benchmarks for today’s female artists.
The Men of Country received more attention for years, as it is in most walks of life (even now to a certain extent). However, the times are a changin’ and the girls are starting to take over.
Anne Kirkpatrick, daughter of the man that most Australians call our King of Country Music, the late Slim Dusty and his wife, Joy McKean, one half of the McKean Sisters probably didn’t have much choice about having country music talent. Anne is still going strong and much admired and respected by the crop of female artists that followed her footsteps. Her style is very different to her parents, she led the modern wave of country music stars and though her Mum wrote several songs for her, she has her own approach to music. Her sound is a mix of Celtic and Folk with a touch of the old Torch and Twang. She sings songs in the Gram Parsons/Townes Van Zandt/Linda Ronstadt kind of way.
Melinda Schneider, Beccy Cole, Gina Jeffreys, Kasey Chambers and the like set an era off where women were starting to get noticed more, singing their own songs, their own way and being full on entertainers. Lyn Bowtell (with and without Bella, a trio of women), Catherine Britt, Amber Lawrence, Aleyce Simmonds, Christie Lamb, Sara Storer, Dianna Corcoran, Tamara Stewart, Rose Carleo and many others have followed.
The Indies coming through now like Allison Forbes, Sally-Anne Whitten, Wendy Wood, The Crosby Sisters, Harmony James, Susan Lily, Melissa Robertson, Connie Kis Andersen, Imogen Clark, Fanny Lumsden, Rebecca Lee Nye, Katie Brianna, Melody Pool, Melody Moko, Jo Caseley,
Tracy Killeen, Tracey Davis, Chelsea Basham, Amber Joy Poulton, Sandra Humphries, Kalesti Butler, Aimee Hannan, Becci Nethery, Emma Jene, Sami, Kora Naughton, Seleen McAlister, Tara Favell, Phoebe Jay, Kirsty Lee Akers and many others are doing such great things which make the future look strong and healthy. Every day I learn of a new female artist coming through. They are all different ages with different styles but they do make for a feast of great country music. Kristy Cox is doing great things in America and we have a lot of our neighbours in NZ coming over here being part time or adopted Aussies like Kaylee Bell, Aly Cook, Marie Hodson, Camille and many more.
There are times when the gals dominate the guys in the charts and at the awards and on the airwaves, which wasn’t always the case. I think that the guys are getting nervous!
One of the biggest voices around. She can belt out a song like you wouldn’t believe. She does a lot to help the up and coming artists and she is only a young one herself. Aimee can pretty well sing anything but of course, her own songs are the best. Definitely Alt. Country but she can sing a big country classic too.
Without a doubt one of the best female vocalists of the last few years. I was in Tamworth a few years ago at one of those around about midnight alt. Country music gigs with a few muso mates and this teenager (then), got up and sang about half a line of a lyric and my mate and I looked at each other in shock. OMG. Imogen. Future star. Her voice is way above her years. She is now about 22/23, but wow, she is still singing stuff (her own work), way beyond most mature country singers. Her lyrics are thoughtful and heartfelt and she is definitely one to watch in the future. She has the most incredible voice to match her words.
Fanny knocked the Golden Guitars for six this year with several nominations and a win. Her songs are almost like alternate hymns or anthems and her voice soars on a big stage. Her vocals hit you in the heart and make you think. Fanny will be around for years to come. She has an amazing sound and touch. She has spent a lot of time taking her music to halls all around Australia in a unique old style fashion. She has a great stage presence and a dry humour. She is probably the Alt Country Queen at the moment.
Wendy was a part of Those Gals and Two Gals and she does a lot on her own now as well as some collaborative work still. She is one of the sweetest voices around. Her songs are a mixture of autobiographical works and observations of life that we can all relate to. She is one of the driving forces behind the Tamworth Songwriters Association and she has also had some success in the USA. Like myself, she is a big fan of Mary-Chapin Carpenter and it reflects in her music. Wendy does a lot of charity work and she does a lot to promote country music in Tamworth where she is based. One of our finest female songwriters.
If Fanny is the Queen of Alt. Country, then Sandra is just the Queen of Australian Country Music at the moment (officially, the crown belongs to Anne Kirkpatrick, but Sandra is the successor). One of the most respected female artists in the country, Sandra has a huge following amongst her peers and traditional country music fans. She can sing just about any country song and she co-writes and writes songs that break your heart or make you laugh. She does a new spin on an old style. She never fails to pack out a gig. A wonderful entertainer.
Best Albums of the year so far:
With half of the year gone already, it is probably a good time to reflect on some of the best albums so far in 2017. The April Family, Matt Henry, Aleyce Simmonds, Sandra Humphries, James Stewart Keene, Matt Cornell, Darren Coggan are some of my favourites so far, but all in all, it has been a huge 6 months in Indie country and there have been some cracker albums. Translation for O.S. folks: Amazing albums. I know that there are some new ones to come...can’t wait.
If there is more information that you need about the artists that I have mentioned or the albums that I have reviewed, please go to my blog Country As on Wordpress, or check out their websites.
Until Next Time,