Downunder Beats 22
Sally-Anne Whitten and her Rumour Mill are in the studio putting down tracks to the long awaited Soultry (Country Soul) album. Rick Hart officially releases his album this weekend in Melbourne. I will be following that up with an album review. Tasmanian Indie Country Awards were announced on the weekend and they were awarded to a diverse range of artists from all kinds of country. The Blues and Roots Festival in Sydney in December had its lineup announced, headed by legendary Kevin Borich. Stars have been announced for The Sydney Country Music Rocks Festival for early next year, held in Sydney’s North Western suburbs. The line up is not finalised yet. Tamworth tickets are selling fast for January where all kinds of country music are represented. Brad Butcher and Michael Waugh, two of our finest singer/songwriters are teaming up for some concerts.
Golden Guitar winner for best new talent this year, Fanny Lumsden, posted on Facebook that lately the festivals in Australia have had very few women country music artists. There seems to be only token representation. Fanny is one of many fine women artists in a boom period for Australian Country Music. I do not understand why the line ups are dominated by men. I am not denigrating the wonderful talents of Australian Country Male Artists, I just know that women are at their strongest at the moment and they are topping the charts and are regulars on the gig scene. This is 2017, this is not acceptable.
The return of the Model S Forde
Steve Forde is back in the saddle after a long time in the pasture. It is good to hear Steve’s name back in Country Music. He was one of our most interesting artists in the early 2000s and it is great to hear his name bandied about at gigs and festivals. Steve is one of the great characters of Australian Country Music for many reasons. Steve is only one of many making a return. While we are not sure in what capacity Steve is hitting the stage with, Adam Toms, Chris Thomas, Shanley Del and others are all recording or doing gigs after hanging up the tools for a while. Hold on to your hats.
Chris Thomas and Shanley Del (borrowed from NZ) are two of our finest female singers. Adam Toms is country rocking it and his new release is going great guns.
I must admit that it took me a while to take to Adam’s music. He has changed his style a bit and I went a long for the ride. There was something there....a cross between the rocker look and the bluesy sound and I had to persist. I am glad that I did. After all, he is married to one of the McClymonts, Brooke! I have really warmed to his sound now and he is a very popular singer/songwriter, with and without his band of merry men. His duets with Brooke are my favourites. Brooke and her sisters form one of Australia’s most popular trios.
Gigs and reviews are coming!
There are a heap of albums ready to be released. The Tamworth nominations are coming through soon and there are gigs aplenty coming up in the next few weeks. We were visited by a superstar (and daughter of a legend), Jet Williams this week in my area. The daughter of Hank has been well worshipped in this country. Thank you for visiting us.
Merelyn’s Courageous Battle
One of Australia’s most loved Indie artists, Merelyn Carter, one half of the Dynamic Duo, Carter and Carter, is facing the biggest battle of her life against the big C. Our thoughts are with our dear Merelyn and her husband David and their children and young grandchildren. They are the most beautiful people and they have survived so much. If you have a good vibe to send or a prayer to give up, please give it up for our lovely, talented and inspirational Merelyn.
Just a shorty this time, folks, but some big ones are to come.
Downunder Beats 21
October and November in Australia are big country music months. Apart from festivals all over the country for both blues and country music, the award nominations are looming for January’s big Golden Guitars, Australia’s biggest country music awards. A lot of Australian artists who are now living overseas, start to come home this time of year as the weather heats up downunder and the music season is in full bloom.
The new releases are coming thick and fast. Some just release singles now, with the big launches of albums coming in January at Tamworth time. Others release albums and EPs and start to do tours, culminating in Tamworth or just tease us with promotions.
Michelle Plozza released her EEP this last week, a wonderful follow up to her E.P release a few years ago. It has been a long time in the works but it is an amazing recording. The review will appear this week on my blog CountryAs. Michelle has quite a diverse background, culturally, but also, her music is an absorbing mix of folk and country.
My new home state of Victoria is thick with gigs over the next few months, so I hope that I can get to some gigs. 8 Ball Aitken is definitely on the list. Rick Hart has a few gigs on with his new album just about to be released. James Blundell will be having a great gig in Melbourne with the cream of Aussie country, as featured on his cd this year. Michael Waugh has a new album out soon, as well.
Lyn Bowtell will be venturing to Melbourne soon as well, and I am looking forward to catching her in concert. The Country Cruise is back in port in Sydney and all went well at sea. A big congrats to my Country Music hero in Australia, Mike Carr, who got engaged to the lovely Lisa just before they boarded the ship. Felicity Urquhart hosted ABC’s Saturday Night Country from the ship and it was a wonderful show, featuring Mike, Luke O’Shea, legends Anne Kirkpatrick, Adam Harvey, Beccy Cole and many others.
Sounding Australian or not and being yourself.
A young pop band in the 70’s and 80’s were one of the most successful groups of all time. They were even mentioned by some as being equal to or better than The Beatles. This group was Swedish, but they sounded like they were English. That band, of course, was ABBA. Australians have often been compared to various American bands and solo artists, particularly in country music and the traditional Australian sound is lost amongst many in the world. The truth is, that apart from our Aborigines, all of us in Australia are from somewhere else. I call myself Swirish, because, I am virtually half Swiss and half Irish. I was born here and 3 out of 4 of my grandparents were born in Australia, but that is as far as it goes. My accent is as Australian as it goes but I have been mistaken for other nationalities. A lot of our Aussie Artists sing in what could be described as an American style country music voice. There is also a sound that Kasey Chambers started that has been copied and altered slightly amongst several young country music artists. Imitation is supposed to be the most sweetest form of flattery. The Greeks invented a lot of things, but the Romans perfected the Greeks’ inventions. One of our biggest country music stars, Melinda Schneider, wrote a song called Be Yourself, which included the words, ‘everybody else is taken’. There are artists that you hear, all over the world that you can identify from the first note that they utter....Reba, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Elvis, Mick Jagger, Billy Joel, Elton John, no matter what the genre. Our Adam Harvey has a sound similar to Randy Travis but he has his own style and content to his music too. My creative writing lecturer at Uni said once that you are what you read. I guess that the same thing can be said of singers and songwriters. The best of them adopt the good qualities of their heroes and add their own spin.
The next few months will be hectic. I am not sure whether I will get to Tamworth in January, due to work commitments, but I will have a feast of country and blues to tell you about. Hold on to your hats!
Hooroo for now,
Downunder beats #20
Mildura is done and dusted for another year and here are the winners for 2017.
Entertainer of the Year: Aleyce Simmonds
Female Vocal of the Year: Aleyce Simmonds
Male Vocal of the Year: Darren Coggan
Rising Star Female: Kora Naughton
Rising Star Male: Will Day
Album of the Year: The Wide Horizon – Darren Coggan
Song of the Year: The Wide Horizon – Darren Coggan
Heritage Song of the Year: In Like Flynn – Pat Drummond
Duo or Band of the Year: Carter and Carter for Stand Tall
Barry Thornton Memorial Award: Craig Muir
Carter and Carter - World Full Of Angels (Number one - three weeks in a row - Aussie Country Charts plus they took out the Group or Duo at the Indie Awards with Stand Tall)
I am happy and proud to say that I have featured the bulk of these artists on Down Under Beats for you as well as the nominations for this year’s Southern Stars Indie Awards.
Pat Drummond was in a tough field, but his song about John Flynn, who started The Flying Doctors’ Service in Australia – which serves the outback and has helped so many patients in remote areas over the years was a gem. Pat has been a big storyteller in Australian Music for a long time.
I haven’t featured Will Day before but I have mentioned his name. He has toured extensively with Col Finley and made quite an impact at Tamworth this year.
Craig Muir is a volunteer who worked tirelessly behind the scenes at the festival.
I have made no secret of the fact that Aleyce Simmonds is one of my favourites, in fact, she is a crowd favourite. Personally, I think that she has been robbed at the Golden Guitars on several occasions. I think that someone may set Tamworth alight this year if they don’t give her one. She’s been a tireless worker on stage and off, not just for her own career but for helping younger artists and promoting others at her motel come venue in Tamworth. She does a lot to promote both Tamworth and Mildura festivals and she is one of our finest songwriters. She has the voice, to quote many, of an angel. She has won at Mildura before and it is great to see her win again. She also won the prestigious APRA award this year for songwriting. One of the nicest, most gifted people in the business.
The crowds were up this year and everyone put on great performances. I will try and get there again next year.
I have mentioned Drew a few times before. His latest solo album (no.3), Coming Your Way, is a wonderful album. His first album was his best effort still, the follow up after his few years with McAlister Kemp wasn’t as good but this one is back to what he did best on the first album. Drew is one of our finest songwriters, co-writing with and for some of our best. Even on this album, he writes with quite possibly the cream of our songwriters: Allan Caswell, Mike Carr, Michael Carpenter and Matt Scullion, all whom I have mentioned on here before. I am sure that it will be getting lots of airplay and be up for a few awards soon. My review of this album is on CountryAs.
Peter Dawson’s new album is also reviewed on CountryAs this week. If you want to know the sound of Australia, listen to Pete’s album. All The Rivers In Between.
The Tasmanian Awards are coming up next, with a heavy focus on Indie Artists and those who may not reach mainstream radio. Tasmania, our most southern state, the one shaped like a heart, is also known as the Apple Isle. Tasmania reminds many people of Ireland, Scotland or New Zealand. It also has similar climate! More and more artists are admitting to their roots being from Tasmania, despite years on the Mainland of Australia. It is a beautiful state, known for the Tassie Devil, the Tassie Tiger and beautiful seafood, countryside and a growing cheese and wine culture. It has its own country music festival now and its awards are highly prized.
Rick Hart, Chris Williams and The Weeping Willows had a gig happening in Melbourne on the weekend which was a cracker from all reports. Gretta Ziller and Mitch Power also were busy with gigs. South Australia had a busy festival on as well.
Cruising Country’s ship left Sydney yesterday for its annual 9 day trip amongst nearby Pacific Islands, hosting many country gigs with a bevy of Australian Country Music talent. This is the 7th cruise of this kind, I think and a very popular cruise at that. Non-stop country music and lots of interaction with the cruisers.
Tamworth does not seem that far away now, with gigs being advertised for January over the last few months and many more to come.
New albums are coming through soon. I have a few gigs to go to at the end of the month which will be amazing. I can’t wait to tell you about the new albums and gigs.
Until next time,
Hooroo. Try some Aussie music, you will be pleasantly surprised how good we are downunder....
Down Under Beats 19
Mildura Country Music Festival is a few days in and Deni Ute Muster is over for another year, as well as Dashville Skyline Festival and others are warming up. Deni Ute Muster is probably the most uniquely Australian festival, with what we call Utes (short for utility trucks). These are sort of like a Ford Pickup type of vehicle but perhaps a little closer to the ground. The mud does fly or the dust, depending on the weather conditions and leading country and rock musos in Australia descend on to a small country town in New South Wales for a long weekend of mayhem and music, sort of a Woodstock on wheels.
Mildura is closing in on the annual Indie awards and it is firing up over the next few days. Mildura is in Victoria but it is not far away from the NSW and South Australian Borders. It is on one of our finest rivers and is rich wine country. This time of the year it is about music.
Dashville Skyline is named after the infamous Bob Dylan/Johnny Cash album (one of my personal favourites) called Nashville Skyline. It is sort of Woodstock style too and a fairly new addition to the festival calendar.
Recently, it was announced that the Hunter Valley (where Dashville is) will be hosting two big music festivals next year, a country music one featuring some of our finest and a Blues and Roots Festival. Both of these will be headlined by overseas acts but the musos will generally be our own.
Together and Alone:
Three of our finest singers, Kevin Bennett, Lyn Bowtell and Felicity Urquhart combined this year to produce the Indie album of the year and win some other awards at The Golden Guitars as Bennett, Bowtell and Urquhart or BBU as we all know them. Kevin is a member of The Flood, one of our best ever bands and has co-written and collaborated with many other artists. He is one of our finest songwriters and singers and a very sensitive and talented man. He is a proud indigenous man and he does his culture proud. His combination with one of our most versatile singer/songwriters, Lyn Bowtell (I reviewed her new EEP this week) was a natural progression. They had already sung together before and combining with Tamworth girl and multi-talented, Felicity Urquhart was always going to be gold. Felicity is a busy mum, wife to one of our finest musos and a regular part of The Spin Drifters as well as hosting ABC radio’s national Saturday Night Country programme. She can sing everything from swing to blues to jazz but being a Tamworth girl, it is pretty clear what her niche is. She loves a banjo too. Lyn, Kevin and Felicity are three of our best, whether they work on separate projects or together. They are of International standard....probably selling them short, there.
Clips this week
Things are going to be hectic over the next few weeks, moving, music and work wise and I will have lots to report. I have finally found a place, I think, so I will be able to unpack my boxes of cds and get cracking for you. The clips this week are of Jodie Crosby, whose album is a bit late, but this is a teaser. Felicity singing an older song (she also features with the Spin Drifters in that clip), Paul Wookey’s classic and Paul Crowder, a new to me singer who I am listening to more and more, he’s a damn fine country musician. The Weeping Willows are there with their new video, of my favourite song of theirs.
Next week, I will have the results from the Indie Awards and may have some news on some gigs that I hope to get to on the weekend as well as some more reviews. The long awaited Rick Hart one will be out soon and I should have Drew McAlister’s new album review up as well. Check out what else I do on CountryAs.
One last thought this week :
Australian Country Music Fans are devastated and saddened about the mass shooting in Las Vegas and we are sending our love.
Hooroo until next time