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,