Down Under Beats #18
By Kaz Johnson
G’day from Victoria!
(Canadians can relate to that name too!). Mildura Country Music Festival starts this weekend (as reported last week). It is one of the major Indie Festivals in Australia. There are other Blues and Roots Festivals and Country Festivals about, most notably the Deni Muster in NSW and several others have been happening in Parkes and Forbes and other places.
I was busy with reviews last week on CountryAs with Melissa Robertson bringing out her new single, He’s A Writer of Songs, Fanny Lumsden’s smashing new album, A Real Class Act and Michaela Jenke’s Diamonds Outta Dirt, a really cool EP. There are new ones coming out soon, I will let you know as they come through.
I had a break from the Infamous Five last week, with all that is happening in my crazy life, but it is back this week with some special ones.
With the long weekend coming up in NSW this weekend, there are a lot of mini festivals going on as well as footy finals. Spring is in the air in Austalia and lots of new music is coming through.
Carpenter Caswell continue to promote their new self titled album with some great gigs with some of Australia’s very best acts. Lyn Bowtell has new music out as well and a new album coming shortly. Everybody is bringing out sneaky singles at the moment to be followed by albums shortly.
Tamworth seems a way off yet, it is not on until January, but the gigs are being advertised already. It is a two fold thing. If you don’t book early, you might miss out. If you do book early you may miss out on something else. Nominations for Golden Guitars will be announced soon.
My music calendar will be full for the next 5 years if my Victorian friends and awesome musos have anything to do with it. I have to get a place to live soon and settle into the job, then I will be going to a few gigs.....or more!
Melbourne is also the city for good quality buskers. I will be out and about soon doing a special report on them. I am about 2 hours out of Melbourne, but it will be good for day trips and quick weekend getaways for gigs.
Paul Costa: Paul and his brother Don are two of the best known brothers in Australian Country Music. Paul for his original songs and Don for his famous interpretations of classics. Brother Noel has also been known to write the odd song or two! Paul has been one of the most consistently good and successful male artists. His ability to sing just about anything and appeal to a wide audience of all ages with his “Mr Nice Guy” tag and his slickly produced albums and great gigs make him one of our finest entertainers.
Dan Murphy: Dan is the real thang. A cowboy at heart, this fireman come country music artist is a fan favourite and a true country boy. His songs are pure country, whether he is singing his own songs or singing classic country tunes. He is half larrikin and half good old boy and he sings about all things country. What you see is what you get with Dan, and he is easy to listen to and loves a singalong. Two great albums and hopefully more to come.
Peter Smokie Dawson: Peter is as Australian as Vegemite and Uluru. He’s a battler who sings from the heart and writes songs about life and all things that your average guy can relate to.....and girl for that matter. An affable chap with a passion for music and life in general, Peter is following in the steps of the pioneers in Australian Country Music. It has been a long haul for Peter, but he is finally getting some recognition.
Matt Scullion: Matt is one of the most respected Australian Songwriters, though he is not as commercially known as a lot of his peers. He has written and co-written many songs with some of our best and he has helped a lot of young acts along with his songs. He has had some international success. He is a fine singer in his own right but rarely gets the promotion that he so deserves. Check out most Australian Country Music Indie albums and you will probably find a Matt song.
Doug Bruce: I have mentioned Dougie on here before, but he is worth an official mention in the Infamous Five. Doug arrived from the USA a while ago and he is now firmly entrenched in the Australian Country Music culture with a string of albums, awards and nominations. He is a fan favourite with his Alan Jackson/George Strait country music style. He writes his own songs but they definitely have that flavour. He is one of the good guys of country music and we love him. From ballads to a little bit of the old Honky Tonk and Texas Swing, Dougie is ours now.
That’s it for this week, guys, but I will have some really cool stuff coming up soon for you. Life is better with music in it and just plain awful without it.
Hooroo until next time,
Down Under Beats #17
Due to the fact that in the last few days, I have shifted state, packed up my belongings and I have started a new job, I haven’t had much time to put together the Infamous Five for this week. However, I do have a few clips to show of some of those that I have featured in the I.F. over the last 16 weeks and I have also a few other points of interest.
Melissa Robertson and Lachlan Bryan are about to release new singles this week. Melissa Robertson’s video is of the song that she wrote about one of our great songwriters, Luke O’Shea. Lachlan is about to release a single that features Shanley Del, who is the sister of NZ star, Jenny Morris and her hubby is one of our finest singers, James Gillard. Shanley is a beaut singer in her own right and it is great to see her back in the recording business.
Two days after my arrival in Victoria, I happened upon a gig just 5 minutes away from my temporary lodgings, featuring a Hunter Valley band, Whiskey Business and Brook Chivell from the Gold Coast. The Power Ranch is a real farm, decorated in appropriate style.
It was a great night (albeit a bit on the cold side and I was a bit tired after all of the moving, etc. ). Lots of ambience and fun and cool music.
Victoria has a wealth of talent down here. I am very excited about exploring the music industry in more depth and helping to promote so many great songwriters down here.
There is a countdown now to the Indie Awards at Mildura in the north of the state that I am now living in and the festival that is in the town. For about 10 days, the Indie only festival is run in the middle of one of Australia’s best wine areas. It is a beautiful part of Victoria and Australia. There are free gigs every day in the mall with a variety of acts and then the clubs and pubs of the area host these artists and others. It is an invitation only festival and the artists eagerly hope to be featured. Mainly, the artists featured are of traditional country ilk, but they do mix it up. I went last year and there was a sprinkling of new artists with alt. Country vibe but generally speaking they are mainly of the traditional type.
One advantage over Tamworth is that you can get to see your favourite artists more than once or twice. You can see them multiple times. There are way less artists and the variety is not so much there, but you can see them several times. The Festival culminates in the awards (I listed the nominations a few weeks ago).
Once I get settled in to the job and new digs, I will be able to expose a little more of the great gigs and artists down here.
I am excited about many great new albums that are coming out soon. It has been such a huge year for country music. I can’t wait to share this new stuff with you. Sorry about the brevity this week, but the next month or so will be jam packed.
Down Under Beats #16
I will shortly be heading to Victoria to live, where there are so many Indie Americana/Alt Country artists that they are dominating the scene in Australia at the moment. I am very excited about my new job in the library and it is in the country, so even better. A stone’s throw away from where I will be living and working are many places where music festivals of all types are held and not far from Melbourne where the scene is blossoming in pubs and at house concerts and other gigs. Hopefully, I will also get into Community Radio there.
The albums are coming thick and fast now and the festival season is pushing on as well. Angus Gill’s album is out this Friday. Currently, his song, Roadworks, is doing really well on the charts. As the new albums come through, I will endeavour to review them for you. It has been a boom year this year for country music in all of its 79 guises in Australia.
Arna Georgia: Arna is following the footsteps of Amber Lawrence, Melinda Schneider and others, coming from the city and entering country music. Arna’s style is very traditional, despite the fact that she is from Sydney. I had the joy of seeing her perform just before Christmas last year and she was showing the signs then that big success was not far away. Her songs are original songs but they have that old time country music flavour with a twist.
Tara Favell: I saw Tara with her sparkly guitar a few years ago at an Amber Lawrence event in Maroubra. Tara definitely has a country sound but she is probably leaning towards the more contemporary sound. She is one of the hardest working performers, appearing at every kind of venue possible in Sydney, from shopping centres to clubs, pubs and festivals. She hasn’t quite got the big break yet, but it will come. She has a very clear sound. She is a versatile performer who also models and acts.
Michaela Jenke: South Australian, Michaela, definitely has the torch and twang about her music, though she does up the tempo a few times. She has supported some of Australia’s best on tour and her debut EP was released this year. She covers a few of the 79 types of Country Music. I think that she tackles the bluesy sound well, sounding a bit like Sara Evans. I will be doing a review of Michaela’s EP shortly. It is a treat.
Adam Toms: Adam is currently back on the gig circuit and writing new music. A few years ago, Adam released two very popular albums but had a break to look after his family and put music on the backburner for a while. Adam has a very bluesy/rocky voice but can sing just about any style. He is a very likeable guy and one of the most down to earth people that you could meet. I am glad that he is back making music.
Lee Forster: Lee co-starred on one of my favourite albums a few years ago with Stuie French, which comprised of drinking songs. I have seen and heard Lee a few times at Tamworth and most recently at Mildura last year. He is a country singer/songwriter through and through and one of the easiest guys to listen to. He’s a fairly humble guy and he plays a few different styles of country but mainly gets back to basics. He is also a pretty fine guitarist.
There are a couple of gigs that I hope to go to not long after I hit Victoria and of course, Mildura Country Music Festival is coming up soon. I will let you know more about that and the Indie Awards when time gets closer.
Hopefully, I will get an article to you next week, and it will have a few review mentions.
Down Under Beats #15
Last Friday saw the launch of two fine albums by Aussie females. Gretta Ziller launched her album, Queen of Boomtown and Melody Moko’s The Wreckage were released. There are many similarities between the two artists. They both have a haunting quality to their music and their voices and they are both Alt. Country Music singer/songwriters who cover various styles and topics. Melody’s album was produced by one of Australia’s finest Country Music Singer/Songwriters, Catherine Britt and Melody’s husband, awesome guitarist, Michael Muchow. I have reviewed both of these albums on Countryas. They are two very polished and long awaited albums.
Both ladies have been having launches in several states over the last week and they continue over the next few.
Ben Ransom is still number one with Let’s Go Driving, for the sixth week. (as of 5 September) The new charts come out tomorrow. This has been a great run for Ben.
Last Thursday, I was able to swing a free ticket to The Basement to see The Spindrifters which are kind of a supergroup of individually known Australian musicians. Our finest guitarist, Stuie French, pedal steel supremo, Michel Rose, Tamworth girl and Saturday Night Country Host and awesome songwriter, Felicity Urquhart, Fiddle player, Clare O’Meara, drummer Brad Bergen and special guest, Shanley Del, amongst others. They play a mixture of Tex Mex, Louisiana Blues, classic country and they did a bit of a tribute to Glen Campbell. Felicity did a show stopping version of the classic, Sweet Memories and Stuie’s son, Sonny, did a couple of songs for us too.
Gretta Ziller, The April Family and Andrew Swift will be at Rooty Hill RSL for another Gretta launch this Thursday.
Chalkie White launched his new single on the weekend and he is gigging a bit with it over the next few weeks.
Gary Hammond: I came across Gary quite by accident. His music is a cross between folk/country and blues. All of his songs are original and always tell a story. Some are quite political, some can cause debate and others are just nice and easy to listen to.....but even then, they make you think a bit. He has a very distinctive, husky voice which suits his sometimes moody, always meaningful songs. In many ways, his music is Paul Kelly and Bob Dylan like.
Tyson Colman: Tyson Colman has been in the music business for over 20 years and he has been a session singer for some of the best in Australia. Recently, Tyson’s music has hit a new high and his album, From Now On is doing great guns with a new album coming out soon. On top of this, the country rocker is writing a series of books. He has been on some promotional tours to America and he is gaining a new audience. Tyson is one to watch over the next few years.
Roo Arcus: Roo is one of Australia’s favourite Country Music Artists. He is not just popular because of his Alan Jackson/George Strait kind of music, but also because he is one of the good guys. A true gentleman, a farmer and a family man, Roo is one of the most likeable guys in the business. He is very patriotic, the Australian version of an American Cowboy and one of the easiest guys to listen to. His songs are sometimes autobiographical, sometimes about every day things but mainly, they are songs about keeping it real. He is currently in America.
Dean Perrett: Dean is another farmer, a singer of traditional country songs, what we call bush ballads in Australia. Dean also sings a variety of country songs, which have links to the land and to Australian heroes – every day ones as well as famous ones. Dean is also one of the nice guys of the music industry. He has won quite a few Golden Guitar awards for his songs. Dean has been part of a new era of appreciation for the songs of the land. A new generation is appreciating this genre of music because of people like Dean.
Benn Gunn: Benn has taken up residence most years at Tamworth at the Tudor front bar. That’s where I first heard him. He was already having people sing along to his songs, most of which included the word: Beer. Benn can be thoughtful, with songs of his hometown, or fun with his beer songs and just songs about life. Benn is a bit like the spelling of his name, a little bit unconventional but in the guise of a cowboy, so he is a bit “don’t judge a book by its cover” only, for he is many things. He’s a rockin’ cowboy, a bluesy one, and he can sing a damn fine ballad. He shoots from the hip.
More new albums coming:
This has been a huge year for new albums in Australia. So many great Alt. Country Albums, Blues Albums and Folk Albums coming through. Within the next few weeks months, Rick Hart, Ben Ransom, Angus Gill, Jodie Crosby, John Flanagan, Fanny Lumsden, Imogen Clark and many others are releasing new albums. I can’t wait to hear them.
The move is on:
I will be moving to Victoria next week but will be keeping up the blog. If anything, I will be closer to where a lot of the music is happening at the moment. I did my last show with 2GLF today, hopefully, I will be able to get into the community radio scene when I get settled in.
Turn your radio up. Enjoy the music.
Hooroo until next time!