ISSUE 87 Dec 2017 - Feb 2018 PASSBLE Y A D U CRI BLE 3 X DO SUBS Y DOU PASS ROCK RS GOLD ’ N I ROCKEN GUITA GOLD : WIN BE TO Editor’s Desk Greetings! After a horror quarter of catastrophes including the hideous Harvest Festival massacre in LA and the loss of too many industry personnel, including promoter Rob Potts, writer Iain Shedden and the inimitable Don Williams, to name a few, I think it best we hope the worst is over and look forward wholeheartedly to a brighter and better 2018. Congratulations to the Golden Guitar finalists listed in Countryline and best of luck for continued success at the gala presentation night of winners in Tamworth in January. Tamworth CM Festival is shaping to be spectacular with so many events and diverse attractions it would be impossible not to have a great time if you went for a weekend or a fortnight – it will not disappoint! More good news is the advent of three new festivals starting up, hot on the heels of CMC Rocks Qld selling out in one hour – that has to be a positive for the industry! Country Rocks Festival Sydney at Bella Vista Farm, Rockin’ Rocky which includes the national PBR championship finals, thus reinstating the long term partnership of country music and Rodeo, and Winton is celebrating the reopening of the Waltzing Matilda Museum next year with unbeatable outback hospitality – oddly while the Museum is the only one in the world dedicated to a song – more accurately an Oz anthem and an Australian icon in poet Banjo Paterson, two American artists join the lineup?? Go figure! John Lomax III retires from his Nashville Ramblings column duties with this issue, and we thank him and wish him all the best with compiling the books he looks forward to writing and other endeavours. Please allow me this opportunity of wishing you all a safe, relaxing and joyful festive season and happy holidays from myself and all of the team here at Country Update - and as always, express my enormous gratitude to everyone who contributes or reads this magazine. Oh and think about subscribing yourself or a friend for Xmas - then Santa comes every quarter! Merry Christmas & a magnificent New Year! Cheers, Denise Denise Torenbeek firstname.lastname@example.org 2 In This Issue 4 Luke Bryan A Barn of His Own 8 Chris Stapleton Doubles Down with From a Room Vol II 12 Kristy Cox Bluegrass Babies & Boomerang Pies 16 Billy Ray Cyrus Setting the Record Straight 38 Kelsea Ballerini Unapologetically 42 Thomas Rhett Life Changes 44 Melody Moko The Wreckage 46 Tom Curtain TerritoryTime 48 Michael Waugh The Asphalt & The Oval 52 Lee Ann Womack The Lonely The Lonesome & The Gone 54 Dustin Lynch Mood Swings Sex & Alcohol 56 Joe Nichols Never Gets Old 58Midland On The Rocks 60 Whitney Rose Rule 62 62 Don Williams Gentle Giant 64 Tamworth Country Music Festival Special Regular Features 20Countryline 74 Festivals Events & Travel 88 Roots ‘n All 90 Country in the Convict Capital 92 Notes from the Deep South 94 Bluegrass Truth 96 Book Reviews 98WHO 100 Nashville Ramblings 104 Yackandandah Report 106Reviews Contributors: Gareth Hipwell, Mikaela Bella, Scott Lamond, Kim Cheshire, John Lomax III, Hamish & Lachlan Davidson, Peter Denahy, Luke OShea, Andrew Swift, Brad Butcher & Denise Torenbeek. Managing Editor: Denise Torenbeek Advertising: Denise Torenbeek Graphic Design: Glen Hannah - StudioGoonga Produced by Country Update ABN 16 213 134 883 Printed by Graphic Impressions *Recommended price only. Published in December 2017 Cover Photo by Carlos Ruiz 4 S I still get fired up that they let me in the room...I get to walk the red carpet, ride here in limos, have people dress me and do my hair. What will my Dad think? et to headline CMC Rocks Qld next March, Georgiaraised breakaway superstar Luke Bryan – he of the impish grin and manicured stubble – has long been one of contemporary Nashville’s most ebullient personalities. There’s no end in sight to the heaving portable party that is the singer’s live show, with this year’s Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day US tour packing out arenas from coast to coast. Not to mention the fact that the party anthems featured on coming-of-age manifestos Spring Break…Here to Party (2013) and Spring Break…Checkin’ Out (2015) – think ‘Suntan City’ and ‘Checkin’ Out’ – seem to have enjoyed regular rotation on PA systems at every summer festival since their release. At the 51st Annual CMA Awards last week, Luke performed his new single ‘Light It Up’ which is burning up charts right now ahead of the album What Makes You Country Dec 8th release. Luke pronounced himself as excited as everyone else about country’s night of nights. “I still get fired up that they let me in the room...I get to walk the red carpet, ride here in limos, have people dress me and do my hair. What will my Dad think? My Dad’s like, ‘What have they done with my boy?’” Luke was up for Entertainer of the Year (nabbed for second year in a row by goliath Garth Brooks) – a title he won in both 2014 and 2015 - where he was nominated alongside his pal Keith Urban, and in his usual role of class clown, at a rehearsal he seriously averred that “smelling Keith Urban” was always a highlight for him on these big occasions...apparently Keith “smells fantastic.” Like fellow Georgia son Zac Brown, Bryan is one of the country fold’s foremost purveyors of carefree good times – a contributing factor, no doubt, in his selection as a judge on the forthcoming season of American idol. Entertaining his fans has always been Bryan’s raison dêtre, and the driving force in his autoluminescent career to date. As The Tennessean newspaper recently summed it up, “Luke Bryan’s career philosophy in the past 12 months carried him from stages in cornfields to the half-time spotlight at the Super Bowl and now onto the judging panel on American Idol.” Or, as Bryan himself put it in speaking to the publication: “If you fall in line with the other cows, you’re just going to end up at the same barn.” It’s a bent that finds ample expression across Bryan’s eighth studio album What Makes You Country. But that’s just one small part of the picture. Behind the winning smile, the 41-year-old singer’s experiences encompass both unthinkable tragedy and unrivalled triumph – and, oddly enough, repeated brushes with R&B icon Lionel Richie, with whom Bryan performed in Las Vegas at the close of last year. As Bryan’s wife of 11 years, Caroline, recently told America’s ABC News, when it comes to Luke Bryan, “there is no act.” Speaking candidly with ABC News’ Good Morning America earlier this year, Bryan spoke of decades spent grappling with tragedy. Bryan’s brother Chris was killed in a car accident 20 years ago, while sister Kelly passed away suddenly in 2007 – tragically, the night of Bryan’s 2007 Grand Ole Opry debut was also the last time he was photographed with his sister. “Just when we started picking up the pieces with my brother, then we lose my sister,” Bryan told reporter Robin Roberts in the interview, which aired ahead of a forthcoming special on the singer. “I’ve watched my family go through ebbs and flows where we get mad at God and we get mad at why this happened. You’ll never get back to 100 percent. You’ll always be working to get back to 75 percent.” But another loss would rock Bryan and his family in 2014, with the death 5 of Ben Lee Cheshire, Kelly’s widower husband. In a heartbeat, Bryan and Caroline welcomed Kelly and Ben’s children, son Til and daughters Jordan and Kris, into their home and lives – expanding their own brood, which already included 9-year-old son Thomas and 7-year-old Tatum, overnight. “We never thought twice about it,” Caroline explained, speaking with Roberts. As Bryan told ABC, raising a teenager has so far been a rewarding – if challenging – undertaking. “We’re buddies now, though, kinda,” Bryan explained of his relationship with 15-year-old Til. “Until he makes me … that’s when I get onto him, I’m like, ‘All right, you’re making me be an adult; don’t make me be an adult!’” But shouldering the responsibilities of adulthood – as a father, farm holder, and international touring and recording artist – has never dulled Bryan’s celebrated roguish streak. In November, Bryan delighted concertgoers in Wheatland, California, inviting Riley, the 1-year-old son of a fan, onto the stage at the city’s Toyota Amphitheatre. As the Sacramento Bee reports, although Riley bawled onstage during his unexpected guest spot, Bryan did his best to smooth over his stage fright. As the Bee reported, while handing the young fan back to his family, Bryan observed, sagely: “The best part about babies is you can give ‘em back...I can get y’all a sitter.” In fact, it seems no one is safe from an unexpected Luke Bryan cameo in 2017 – even newlyweds in the vicinity of the American Idol studios – as a couple in Savannah, Georgia recently discovered. “We just did a day of auditions and we found out that like, two minutes away, there’s a real, live wedding happening,” Bryan explained on camera during a taping of the show. “We heard that they’re big fans of mine so we’re going to go have some fun and crash a real 6 wedding, real quick.” Ever the showman, the singer made his entrance at the reception while one of his songs played, cracking a bottle of champagne and dancing with the shell-shocked bride and groom to signature hit ‘Country Girl (Shake It For Me).’ Matrimonial bliss has certainly been a potent ingredient in Bryan’s life and success to date, with the singer and Caroline celebrating their 10-year wedding anniversary in December 2016. In fact, What Makes You Country is slated for release on the couple’s 11th wedding anniversary on At the end of the day, if I can rock on the front porch and think we were crazy to come up with all this stuff, but we sure had fun doing it. 8th December. Fittingly, Bryan himself is far from immune to finding himself at the buttend of the occasional joke – whether it’s directed at him by good mate Jason Aldean, or by a veteran pop superstar. This year’s CMT Awards ceremony saw none other than Lionel Richie directing a gleeful – and admittedly self-deprecating – jibe at Bryan, joking that, “Luke Bryan keeps trying to get me to go hunting and fishing. I told him the only hunting I do is for a new jacket at the store.” Rounding out a phenomenal year as it does, then, Bryan’s latest studio outing has plenty to live up to – especially given the barnstorming success of 2015’s Kill the Lights, which spawned a staggering six No.1 hits. But at 15 tracks, spanning everything from earthy country-rock (‘Hooked On It’) to the urban electronic accoutrements of tracks like ‘Light It Up’ – treated drums and synths have featured in Bryan’s sound since Crash My Party (2012), which also featured hits ‘Drink a Beer’ and ‘That’s My Kind of Night’ – What Makes You Country offers up plenty of grist for the mill. “At the end of the day, if I can rock on the front porch and think we were crazy to come up with all this stuff, but we sure had fun doing it, that’s what I want,” Bryan said regarding the sounds of What Makes You Country. “I hope I can look back on my whole career and say, ‘You sure rolled the dice on some things and it panned out.’” True to past glories, title track ‘What Makes You Country’ is a driving country-rock anthem embossed with banjo rolls: ‘People talking ‘bout what is and what ain’t country, what gives them the right to wear a pair of beat-up boots?’ There’s a shimmering throwback to 80s heartland rock in the swelling ‘Out of Nowhere’, while earthy heartsong ‘Most People Are Good’ is a paean to universal acceptance: ‘I believe you love who you love, ain’t nothin’ you should ever be ashamed of.’ ‘Sunrise Sunburn Sunset’ ranks among the year’s biggest feel-good summer anthems (just in time for the North American winter), while ‘Drinking Again’ is the album’s standout “poptoppin’ long-neckin’ honkytonk” singalong, boasting a rowdy barroom chorale. But whether he’s tormented by unrequited love (‘Like You Say You Do’), getting into trouble (‘She’s a Hot One’), or simply ‘Hungover in a Hotel Room’, Luke Bryan brings the same winning smile to the table at every turn. It seems unlikely he’ll be shifting down a gear any time soon – whatever life throws at him along the road. LUKE BRYAN will play two arena shows, on his first ever Australian visit in March 2018 - Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena on Friday 16th March followed by Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday 20th March, adding to his headline slot at the sold-out CMC Rocks QLD festival. 7 8 ‘F lat-out like a lizard drinking’ has fast become two-time Grammy-winner Chris Stapleton’s default mode of living. In what has been a massive year for the hirsute Kentuckian, the 39-yearold guitar-slinging country-soul man has added several new feathers to the signature hat – with its shield of deer-hide and plumage studded with a nugget of turquoise – that has fast become both an emblem of his soulful, earthy style and a symbol of songwriting purity. Making good on an uncommon promise in the Nashville of 2017, Stapleton is poised to release his second studio album this year with From A Room Vol. 2, tailing sophomore album and tearaway No.1 hit record From A Room Vol. 1, released back in May. The latter is 2017 CMA Album of the Year as of Nov 8th Awards ceremony, and Mr Stapleton Male Vocalist of the Year. Two’s a charm beyond stage and studio, too, with Stapleton and wife of 10 years Morgane – herself an accomplished singer-songwriter whose silver-toned backing vocals have long featured in Chris’ recorded output and live show alike – announcing that they are expecting twins. The new arrivals will double the ranks of the Stapleton brood, joining the Nashville power couple’s son and daughter. In true Stapleton style, the pair shared the news with fans at a recent tour stop in Dallas. While Morgane jokingly told Rolling Stone earlier this year that “Chris is a master, and I say this with all due respect, at messing things up,” the 2015 CMA-storming singersongwriter’s inexorable rise since his breakout performance with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 CMA Awards and the subsequent success of 2x platinum-certified solo debut Traveller (2015) would suggest otherwise. For one thing, Stapleton’s single and album sales now number in the millions. He’s also been keeping some mighty fine company in the two years since Traveller stormed the charts. Earlier this year, Stapleton joined George Strait, Lee Ann Womack, Toby Keith, and Kris Kristofferson in paying tribute to the inimitable Jerry Lee Lewis for Skyville Live, while a recent show at Bridgestone Arena saw Stapleton serenading Kenny Rogers with a live rendition of the latter’s signature tune ‘The Gambler’. He joined George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen in San Antonio in September – looking back on his 2017, Stapleton said sharing the stage with George Strait live in San Antonio for the Hand in Hand hurricane relief benefit was among his top memories of the year. “George Strait called me on the phone and said ‘Hey come down here to Texas and play this thing with me’ and I got up and sang some George Strait songs with George Strait,” he said. “Who gets to do that? Nobody! It’s like living in an alternate universe.” He again performed at Country Rising, also staged to raise funds for Hurricane Relief, at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena in November, alongside Reba McEntire, Dierks Bentley, Garth Brooks, Jason Aldean, and Lady Antebellum. His All-American Roadshow Tour has traversed a seemingly unending road paved in gold – Stapleton and band swinging from sold-out venue to sold-out venue across the United States. Through it all, he’s been able to enlist the support of opening acts including Americana icon Marty Stuart and rising star Margo Price. Add to that Stapleton’s sold-out three-night run at Nashville’s hallowed Ryman in 2016 (as The Tennessean reported, signing a page for the iconic venue, Stapleton wrote, simply, “I’m going to have to get a new dream”), and it’s easy to appreciate the scale of Stapleton’s draw. “It wasn’t that long ago I played the Basement, and not the Basement East, the original one…” Stapleton told The Tennessean earlier this year, “…and the next thing you know we’re playing the Ryman, and the next thing you know we’re playing Ascend Amphitheater a couple of nights, and here we are at Bridgestone Arena playing a couple of nights.” In what has been an exceptional year for left-of-centre country singersongwriters – with Jason Isbell delivering another masterwork in The Nashville Sound in June – Stapleton has loomed larger than ever. It’s a testament to the hard graft that has allowed Stapleton, across years spent fronting bluegrass band the Steeldrivers and roots-rock outfit the Jompson Brothers, while penning hit songs for everyone from Kenny Chesney to Adele, to polish his soulsteeped songwriting and live chops to a lustrous finish. In the space of just two-and-a-half years, he’s arrived at a place in which he is able to sell-out stadiums and arenas with nothing more than a three-piece band, a guitar, and the warm, familiar vocal support of Morgane – not to mention the aforementioned chieftainesque headwear. Like fellow Kentucky son Sturgill Simpson and Americana frontrunner Isbell, Stapleton has assembled a band that is able to frame his vision with palpable sympathy – leaning on the dependably expressive rhythm section of J.T. Cure (bass) and drummer Derek Mixon. Columbus Alive’s Andy Downing summed it up with striking cogency in describing Stapleton’s recent show in Columbus, Ohio, writing: “... and I got up and sang some George Strait songs with George Strait,” he said. “Who gets to do that? Nobody! It’s like living in an alternate universe!” “Chris Stapleton approached his Friday concert at a packed Nationwide Arena as though he were in the midst of an intimate living room tour. The Kentucky-born singer, songwriter and guitarist eschewed pyrotechnics, catwalks, rotating drum kits and elaborate costume changes, instead delivering a workmanlike, twohour set aided by little more than a trio of musicians, including his wife and backup vocalist, Morgane, and a song catalog that already appears 9 impressively deep though Stapleton just released his second solo album, From a Room: Volume 1, earlier this year.” And if you’re looking for proof of Stapleton’s cache in the live rock’n’roll and festival sphere, look no further than the banner of the recently announced Innings Festival in Tempe, Arizona, where Stapleton will co-headline proceedings alongside rock colossi Queens of the Stone Age in March 2018. The 18-track diptych that is From A Room Vols. 1 and 2 is named for the hallowed RCA Studio A in Nashville – site of recordings from Elvis and Waylon Jennings (the ghost of Jennings circa ‘Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way’ seems to have breathed a little magic into Stapleton’s ear here on ‘Hard Livin’’) – now presided over by the inimitable Dave Cobb, who also lent his prodigious production talents to Traveller. Concertgoers may already be familiar with tracks like ‘Tryin’ to Untangle My Mind’, ‘Hard Livin’’ and ‘Midnight Train to Memphis’, which have featured in Stapleton’s All-American Road Show tour from time to time (‘Midnight Train’ also featured in the Steeldrivers’ set-lists). Of the 9 tracks that make up the new album, 7 were co-written by Stapleton. The singer’s smooth-asTennessee-Whisky vocal envelops a swaying, shimmering take on Kevin Welch’s beloved ‘Millionaire’, while the low-slung ‘Hard Livin’’ – a cowrite with established songwriting partner and fellow writer-turnedsolo-artist Kendell Marvel – deploys plenty of the blues-rock heft that peppered Traveller and From A Room Vol. 1, aligning Stapleton with the cosmic-outlaw vision of sonic adventurer Sturgill Simpson. Biblical portent shivers at the heart of migrant workingman’s tale ‘Scarecrow in the Garden’, an earthy, slowburning country-rock paean to the fraught business of carving out a new life in a strange land: ‘There’s a bible in my left hand and a pistol in my right,’ Stapleton signs off, portentously. The singer’s peerlessly soulful croon is on show in ‘Nobody’s Lonely Tonight’, while the slinky ‘Tryin’ to Untangle My Mind’ is a similarly soul-stuffed sway replete with whiskey, women and wicked ways. Flexing Stapleton’s southern-rock and blues muscle, snarling rocker and prison song ‘Midnight Train to It wasn’t that long ago I played the Basement, and not the Basement East, the original one… 10 Memphis’ is a pummelling blues-rock onslaught: ‘Well, judge looked down, gave me forty days…Forty days of shotguns and barbed wire fences.’ ‘Drunkard’s Prayer’ is another tune emphatically in Stapleton’s wheelhouse, a drinker’s lament carried by brokedown-and-beat cowboy chords, which segues into die-cast soul masterpiece ‘Friendship’, a smouldering album closer penned by Homer Banks and Lester Snell and popularised by soul icon Pops Staples. Like its predecessors, From A Room Vol. 2 demonstrates one thing above all else: Chris Stapleton is a country artist with a capacious knowledge of, and preternatural gift for channelling a manifold of Great American Art Forms, from the blues to soul music to southern rock tradition. The purity of purpose he brings to proceedings – his unwavering commitment to songcraft, both in the studio and onstage – seems certain to guarantee he will be an indelible presence on the arena circuit and annuls for many years to come. That 2017 – like 2015 before it – seems likely to be emphatically Chris Stapleton’s year is simply a product of the great cosmic by and by. I do miss home and I’ll always be an Australian, I miss the sarcasm, the food, decent coffee...lots of stuff! 12 A fter a triumphant 2016 that saw her touring the US, Europe and Australia plus being nominated for both Emerging Artist and Female Vocalist of the Year with Alison Krauss and Rhonda Vincent, reaching #8 on the US Bluegrass Junction album chart for her last album Part of Me and # 2 position on the US Bluegrass radio charts with her song ‘Little White Whiskey Lies’ Kristy Cox is most certainly on a roll. Kicking off 2017 winning Bluegrass Recording of the Year at the Golden Guitar Awards Kristy shortly afterwards signed a new record deal with America’s premier bluegrass label Mountain Fever Records to record her new album Ricochet available here for Tamworth festival, out Jan 19th. I caught up with the lovely Kristy via Skype from her home outside of Nashville to talk all things Ricochet and her life in Nashville...she was actually in her car about to drive into the city to play a rare hometown gig. Kristy, “It’s the quickest album (producer) Jerry Salley and I have done, it was really exciting, my new label Mountain Fever told me “we want the finished thing by the first of October” and this was mid June so it just kinda happened!” I think you are developing a more unified sound and drifting more fully into the traditional bluegrass genre. “I keep getting more traditional by the album. I think it’s the influence of playing the Bluegrass festivals over here.” Unlike what fellow South Australian Kim Warner and his partner Carol Young did with The Greencards when they left Australia for the US, they drifted further from a traditional bluegrass approach to I guess what would be considered more Americana. “I kinda did the opposite, I think I was always a little more contemporary, I was difficult to categorise, I confused people...is she a country singer or is she a bluegrass singer? Australia would call me a bluegrass singer and America would call me an acoustic country singer. For my first album here someone called me a country pop bluegrass singer...I don’t even know what that means!” They probably didn’t either! “I noticed this week with the new single coming out it simply said Kristy Cox bluegrasser from Australia... so I guess I’m there!” So would that be the influence of producer Jerry Salley? “Jerry is probably more country than I am....when we’re picking songs he’ll lean more towards the country songs than me. A lot of his 80’s/90’s hits were country songs but he can write just about anything, the guy’s incredible but we both try to make sure we’ve got a good mix, not just straight ahead bluegrass.....I’ll usually pick the soppy ballads.” So what’s the soppy ballad for this album? “That would be ‘A Bed This Cold’... which is a duet with Brandon Rickman.” What a great voice! “Yeah, he’s the lead singer for the Lonesome River Band, they are a huge bluegrass band here that’s been around for twenty years...actually just last night they got inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame with Alan Jackson.....so to have him singing on the album was just fantastic! I was originally going to be doing it with Darryl Worley, he actually contacted me to do a duet but we couldn’t get the timing right and Brandon Rickman wrote the song with Jerry. He did a beautiful job particularly considering it was recorded an octave lower to suit Darryl.” So how’s life there in Nashville? You’ve been there how long now? “I’ve been here four years now and it’s great! I miss home...I miss Australia...I’m always going to be an Aussie!” What do you miss? “Chiko rolls!” As the torrent of laughter subsides I tell her, that’s definitely going in the article....you’ve dobbed yourself in there! She composes herself and explains.... “I obviously miss my parents, I haven’t been home since January and I’m not planning to go home until next January so this is my longest time away - every other year I’ve been back touring, playing festivals etc. This year I’ve been too busy doing that here and my schedule with the new label etc. but I do miss home and I’ll always be an Australian, I miss the sarcasm, the food, decent coffee...lots of stuff!” You sound like a busy girl? “Well apart from music; I have a friend here and we are starting an Australian coffee company, so we’ve got the Espresso machine ready, and at the moment we’re distributing pies and sausage rolls, so I do get a taste of home!” What? This is a commercial enterprise? “Yeah when I’m not playing music this is what I do. It’s called Boomerang Australian Pies. You’ve got a shop? “No, we do home delivery.” What a great idea, so how did you come up with that? “Well they don’t have them here.” But is there a demand? “Right now we just share it on the Aussies in Nashville page and we get a bunch of orders every week, all the fellow Aussies that want a taste of home, its great!” That’s such a cool idea, I love it, very enterprising! “We’ve got a food van. A 1963 Airstream that we’ve decked out, and next year we’ll be taking it out on the road with me to all my festivals and selling pies and coffee when I’m not on stage!” So are you turning the Americans on to it? “Yeah we are! When you say ‘pie’ they automatically think apple pie, or apricot pie.” Yeah, they don’t think meat pie do they you can’t really get a meat pie there can you? “Well you can now!! So the family unit with your husband Travis and your daughter Adelaide nowthat must help with the homesickness? “Yes, that definitely helps. I think if I didn’t have my husband Travis I probably would have been home by now. Nashville is a very hard city to live in...it’s dog eat dog I suppose, you never know who your true friends are....you never know if people are talking to you because they want something, you can’t really faithfully trust anybody. You don’t see that side of Nashville when you visit...everybody’s so lovely...and they are...until they don’t need you anymore. Because everybody’s chasing the same thing? “Exactly! So how do you juggle being a Mum, an enterprising business woman and a bluegrass singer....how does it all work? “Well, Adelaide is in pre-school four days a week and she loves it ...they put 13 them in pre-school here at two. I have a nanny that comes with me on the road so I can focus while I’m playing and having Jessica there, it helps relieve some of that pressure from me so that I can concentrate on what I’m doing. Having no family here makes it hard to juggle. With no grandparents to lean on, stuff like that? “Yeah...we just don’t have much of a social life I guess. “Adelaide’s great, she’ll come everywhere, she makes friends with everybody, she loves music festivals, I’ve never left her behind, she’s been to every single gig I’ve done. The Kasey Chambers approach? “Well it was James Blundell that said to me, ‘Kristy you don’t have children to stop your life you have children to join in’ and it was really good advice! So is there any career rivalry between you and Travis? “No. Travis is amazing!! He doesn’t do enough music in my eyes, I want him to do more. I think he’s one of the best male singers we’ve ever had come out of Australia and I honestly believe that. He’s very underrated! I agree. “It was actually his turn to do an album and he let me do my album, we try to take it in turns but he said ‘Kristy you’re on a path that most people would dream of and I’m not going to get in your way’. One of our dreams is to do a duet album, it hasn’t come to fruition yet but hopefully in the next year to eighteen months if we can accomplish that it would be good! Now the songs...... you’ve recorded Kasey Chambers’ ‘I Still Pray’? “I rang Kasey and said I’d really like to do ‘I Still Pray’ and I want to do an acapella version and is that OK with you? She said ‘Kristy you don’t have to ask me if you can record my songs’ I grew up idolising Kasey, I was extremely nervous going into the studio - I’m so happy with the final result, it’s actually the only song I’ve ever recorded that’s brought me to tears. So which songs are yours? “Actually I didn’t write too many on 14 this album...normally I like to write at least half of it but there are a couple of reasons for that, first was the short time we had to get the album together and secondly, we had collected so many great songs and I like to pick the best songs...they don’t have to be mine. Who sources the songs? “I do, with Jerry’s assistance. I’ve still got songs left over from the last album. I had about 300 songs - it’s a long process! So for this one I wrote ‘South to North Carolina’ ‘Right Where You Left it’ and ‘Sweet English Rose’ which I’d been wanting to write for a long time. I was down in Tasmania and I saw a plaque down there on the coast and it said that Tasmania was the first place in the world to allow women to immigrate without being married. They needed women, there were so many men in Tasmania and Australia in genera,l and We’ve got a food van. A 1963 Airstream that we’ve decked out, and next year we’ll be taking it out on the road with me to all my festivals and selling pies and coffee when I’m not on stage! they needed some girls....before that you had to be either with your parents or be married, you couldn’t come as a single woman to Australia, and I didn’t know that piece of history. I didn’t know that either! “I wrote the song with Alan Caswell - we weren’t sure how to tackle it so we wrote it from the point of view of a young girl leaving London and travelling to Australia on a boat full of women and girls having no idea of what to expect. I’m really happy with it and it’s probably the first song where you can hear my Australian accent coming through, I just couldn’t help it, I’m not sure if it’s the topic or what! So with regard to live work in the States, do you work a lot...do you just work weekends...do you go away for long periods of time etc? “The beauty of the bluegrass scene here is that there are a lot of bluegrass festivals so I mainly just play the festivals and I don’t really do anything in venues at the moment. You’re talking predominantly Summer festivals? “A lot of it kicks off in Spring and goes through till the end of Fall, it definitely quietens down in Winter so that suits me fine because I come home to Australia during our Summer. It’s been pretty busy this year and next year is shaping up to be pretty busy as well. We’ve got Europe and I’ve scheduled Aug/Sept for an Australian tour for the new album. Australia is really important to me. So when you say Europe, what countries? “Germany, France, The Netherlands and I’m hoping to get to England....... my Mum’s from Cheshire so I want to go and play in England. So you have English background, that’s interesting, I didn’t know that! “Yeah my Mum’s Mum is a Bishop (not the religious kind) from Cheshire and her Dad was a Shaw from East London...a cockney - so very much English. I’d always assumed you were a few generations in Oz? “Well my Dad is fifth generation Australian but my Mum’s side is all English. I have been there for holidays but never to play and I really want to do that. So tell me about your relationship with your producer Jerry Salley? “Well he’s my second Dad...my Dad away from home. This is our fifth album together, which neither of us can really believe...it’s just gone too quickly. Our first album I was twenty years old, a young kid that really had no idea what I was doing and he definitely mentored me and helped shape the artist I am now. I’ll be in debt to Jerry Salley for a very long time! Ricochet is a gorgeous album full of classy songs, heartfelt renditions from an inspired ensemble of players and singers presided over with much love and attention by producer Jerry Salley and a triumph for this talented bluegrasser from South Australia. “You guys are the best audience in the world for an artist! Aussies are so passionate, they love to dance and party at the drop of a hat! Nowhere else does that like Aussies.” Billy Ray stated emphatically. “I love the fans there. They love their music, they love their football and they love the arts. It’s a great country with great people and we love coming down there and playing.” C yrus, will be hitting Australia nearly a quarter of a century after kicking off his world tour in Australia in March, 1993, in the glorious global afterglow of ‘Achy Breaky Heart.’ “It’s been 25 years since we kicked off the World Tour in Australia, so it felt only right to return to where it all started, with the brand new record ready to roll”, said Billy Ray Cyrus. It is also18yrs since he was last here and I asked him what his takehome memories of those early tours might be. H was quick to say the audiences just blew him away, being so friendly and responsive – but he waxed lyrical on an obviously treasured occasion one evening on the Gold Coast, where he conversed convivially and at length with Charlie Pride and Tom Jones – the topic? The pros and cons of Australian football! I mentioned I had seen him perform at what was then Fanfest (now CMA Festival) in Nashville in 1993 at the height of the Achy Breaky hoopla and the whole place was in a frenzy! He laughed and said, “It was equally as frantic this last year when we played there. Fanfest country fans stay with you and are loyal to the music until death do us part!” Announcing an Australian tour concurrently with the release of an album called Set The Record Straight, Billy Ray is also giving fans a heads up he will have yet another new album to bring with him on the tour, called Thin Line due in March. And if that isn’t confusing enough, the track ‘Thin Line’ featuring Shelby Lynn and Glen Hughes from Deep Purple on guitar, will be reappearing as the title track of the March album. For this exercise we will limit ourselves to the first of these. Billy Ray explained the motivation behind Setting the Record Straight is that there were a variety of tracks which for a variety of reasons had never made it on to albums, or had been revamped, that he wanted to catalogue in one cohesive collection. “My roots ran so deep in so many kinds of music from Waylon to ZZtop to Black Sabbath; and I wanted to infuse all those influences and tip the hat to Willie and Lynard Skynard - Under the Influence was actually the working title for Set the Record Straight for a long time. “‘Stand’ is a great song shared with Miley about standing up for 16 Of all my influences Ronnie Van Zant is the greatest, and having Ed King who wrote ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ - and Artimus Pyle also did some work with us on the song, the drummer who crawled away from that fatal plane crash – its like closing the circle of my life’s work. 17 what you believe in and not folding under pressure and adversity. “‘Tulsa Time,’ with the loss of Don Williams recently, becomes that much more of a tribute - that is Joe Perry from Aerosmith – such a legendary song and legendary guitar player it does not get any better than that. The dance mix has taken off over here in the dance clubs and it is having a big revival.” “I’m so excited to share this collection of music,” Cyrus said. “These are some of my favourite songs. Some are new and have been an intricate part of my show, ‘Still The King’ story lines. (Still The King is a hugely popular and hilarious series on CMT which features Billy Ray Cyrus as Vernon Brownmule, aka “Burnin’ Vernon,” a scandal-ridden, washed-up, one-hit-wonder who was kicked out of country music, only to emerge 20 years later as the second best Elvis impersonator around. After crashing into an old country church sign during a drunken bender, he is arrested and sentenced to return and serve as the church’s handyman as part of his parole.) “Others are new mixes and different styles of songs that allowed me to experiment with the diversity that is so much a part of my musical being. “There are some collaborations with my musical heroes and a special tribute to Ronnie Van Zant and the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd. This being the fortyyear anniversary of that tragic crash that impacted me and so many other fans around the world, I recorded ‘The Freebird Fell’.” “I wrote it a few years ago but when I started doing Hannah Montana, music got backhanded into a backseat role simply by time constraints, and a lot of the stuff I wrote just didn’t get finished or maybe didn’t fit with the current project and there were numerous pieces of work that were ‘sundries’ because of that. “Of all my influences Ronnie Van Zant is the greatest, and having Ed King who wrote ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ - and Artimus Pyle also did some work with us on the song, the drummer who crawled away from that fatal plane crash – having them on there is just such a momentous thing for me: like closing a circle of a lifetime of loving their work.” Track number 5, ‘I Want My Mullet Back’ track title begs the question – has it been reinstated or consigned to history? Billy Ray laughed and explained, “That is always a possibility and right now I’m in singer-songwriter mode and vigilance is 18 lax regarding hair, so it’s sort of on the way as Gene, a pool cleaner who had been back! That song was a worldwide smash having an affair with the wife of Adam on the Hannah Montana soundtrack and Kesher (Justin Theroux). In 2001, Cyrus is probably as popular as ‘Achy Breaky played the lead role on the PAX (now ION Heart’ for that age group – talk about life Television) comedy-drama Doc, which imitating art – or art imitating life I should became the network’s highest-rated show. say!” In 2005, Cyrus expanded his acting career ‘Country Music Has The Blues’ (feat. in a stage production of Annie Get Your George Jones & Loretta Lynn) eerily echoes Gun in Toronto, appearing in the role of 80s honky tonk heroes in name-checking a Frank Butler. roster of greats of that era and the perceived His television credits include The Nanny, loss of all they stood for. Diagnosis Murder, Love Boat, The Next Set the Record Straight also contains a Wave, Degrassi and TNN’s 18 Wheels Muscle Shoals mix of ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ Of Justice. There have also been many that features Ronnie Milsap playing piano. television specials that detail his rise to The career-making song has survived fame and his career. These include Billy decades as the quintessential line dancing Ray Cyrus: Dreams Come True and Billy soundtrack – the two are inseparable. I Ray Cyrus: A Year on the Road, I Give My asked Chris Watson, leading line dance Heart To You, and The Life and Times of promoter and instructor for his thoughts. Billy Ray Cyrus. In late 2005, Cyrus and “Achy Breaky Heart had a huge impact his daughter Miley Cyrus began co-starring on the Australian Line Dance market and in the Disney Channel original television audiences, For me, 25 years ago I was a 6 series, Hannah Montana. year old and had just stepped my feet onto the dance floor . It was - and still is - a Billy Ray will headline Crossroads Country regular request and packs floors. Still to this In The Vines 24 March, 2018, alongside day people associate it as the line dancing fellow country stars: Lee Kernaghan, anthem.” I told Billy Ray about Hannah ... a scandal-ridden, washed-up, (from Hannah and Clint the one-hit-wonder who was kicked out Townsville NQ couple on The of country music, only to emerge 20 Block reality TV show – not Hannah Montana) who if years later as the second best Elvis something turned out trumps impersonator around. or she had a win, broke into impromptu boot scooting, thumbs in belt, heel slappin’ and toe Kasey Chambers, John Williamson, The tappin’ while singing ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ McClymonts, Sara Storer, Adam Harvey, – was that conscious cross-promotion for Beccy Cole and others. Roche Estate is a the tour? two-hour drive from Sydney or one hour He quickly said his publicist was writing from Newcastle and has previously hosted that all down right now and perhaps they’d world-class concerts with Elton John, Neil invite her to join him on stage at whatever Diamond, Lionel Richie, Duran Duran, show was closest. As he’s obviously a KD Lang, Rod Stewart and Cat Stevens all football devotee he’d probably take time having graced the winery estate stage. out to have a beer and talk footy with Clint I informed Billy Ray that he was still who is a former ?? Cowboy?? following in Neil Diamond’s footsteps as Some Gave All, the album that homed he has also performed at Roche Estate and ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ is the only album I’d read where Billy Ray decided there was (from any genre) ever to log 17 consecutive no future for him other than singing after weeks at number one and is also the topseeing a Neil Diamond show. ranking debut album by a male country “That is great! Thank you for telling me artist. It ranked 43 weeks in the top 10, a that as I still love Neil Diamond and every total topped by only one country album in show is full of spectacular musicianship history, Ropin’ the Wind by Garth Brooks. and he has a brilliant band and gives us his Other hits you may be familiar with are, heart and soul every time.” ‘Could’ve Been Me,’ ‘Where’m I Gonna Melbourne and Brisbane fans can also Live When I Get Home,’ ‘She’s Not Cryin,’ catch very special support guests Kasey ‘Some Gave All,’ ‘Ready, Set, Don’t Go’ Chambers, O’Shea, Caitlyn Shadbolt Cyrus starred in the 1999 independent film and Hurricane Fall in Brisbane, and Radical Jack. He also had a small part in Travis Collins as opening performer in David Lynch’s 2001 film Mulholland Drive Melbourne. Country Line ALL IN FOR THE GAMBLER – KENNY ROGERS TAKES FINAL BOW NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Kenny Rogers’ musical career has touched many different styles of music throughout various generations, and his farewell performance in Nashville, All In For The Gambler, served as a reminder of the musical impact that his career has had – and will continue to make for years to come. An allstar cast of Rogers’ contemporaries – and many of today’s hottest musical 20 artists – turned up October 25 at the Bridgestone Arena in Music City to pay tribute to the Country Music Hall of Fame member, who is in the midst of his farewell tour, “The Gambler’s Last Deal.” Perhaps the most emotional moment of the night belonged to Dolly Parton, who teamed with Rogers one last time on their 1983 hit ‘Islands In The Stream’ after surprising both Rogers – and the audience – with a heartfelt performance of ‘I Will Always Love You’ to her friend and collaborator. The two also reminisced about their lengthy friendship – which dates back to a Rogers appearance on her syndicated TV show from the mid 1970’s – almost a decade before they first teamed up. The two also closed out their performing career together with the Grammy-nominated ‘You Can’t Make Old Friends,’ a single from 2013. The evening was a mixture of song performances that balanced many of the singer’s iconic hits – as well as many of the early days of Rogers’ 21 Country Line career as the lead vocalist of The First Edition. Jamey Johnson paid tribute to the singer’s versatility with a raucous take on Mickey Newbury’s ‘Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),’ a First Edition hit from five decades ago. The Flaming Lips shone the light on ‘Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town,’ with Reba McEntire tipping the hat to the group’s ‘Reuben James.’ Elle King gave a jaw-dropping performance of ‘Tulsa Turnaround,’ one of the First Kenny Rogers 22 Edition’s lesser-known tracks – that Rogers himself recorded for his 1979 album Kenny. Rogers’ fellow Texan Kris Kristofferson paid tribute to the band’s cover of ‘Me and Bobby McGee,’ which he wrote. Of course, the main focus of the evening was on the record-setting solo career Rogers embarked on in the mid-1970s, and those hits were on full display during the evening. Justin Moore nodded to the beginning of the singer’s hit making era with ‘Lucille,’ with spellbinding performances taking place from Aaron Lewis (‘Coward Of The County’, The Oak Ridge Boys (‘Love Or Something Like It’), Chris Stapleton (‘The Gambler’), Little Big Town (‘Through The Years’), and Lady Antebellum (‘She Believes In Me’). A special moment took place with the appearance of Don Henley – who once lived with Rogers and his family - to perform the classic ‘Desperado,’ which Rogers cut in 1977 for his Daytime Friends album. Many of the 80’s and 90’s hits of the singer were featured during The Gambler’s Last Deal as well. Billy Currington delivered a sensual take on ‘Morning Desire,’ with Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley and Idina Menzel teaming up for ‘We’ve Got Tonight,’ a 1983 Rogers hit with Sheena Easton. Two of the singers’ most frequent collaborators figured prominently with Lionel Richie giving a beautiful take on ‘Lady,’ a number one Pop and Country hit that he wrote for Kenny’s Greatest Hits album in 1980, and Alison Krauss saluted the singer with a pristine version of his romantic ballad ‘Love The World Away.’ Another incredible performance came from Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott and mother Linda Davis – who has toured extensively with Rogers over the years – uniting on stage for the singer’s 1987 chart-topper ‘Twenty Years Ago.’ Blackbird Presents’ Keith Wortman, creator and executive producer of Nashville’s recent highly acclaimed “Sing Me Back Home: The Music of Merle Haggard,” is the creator and executive producer of “All In For The Gambler.” GRAMMY® Award Winner Don Was served as music director, and presided over a stellar house band backing the performers. Country Line CLARE BOWEN WEDS Nashville star Clare Bowen is a married woman. The 33-year-old and her fiancé Brandon Robert Young held their wedding in Nashville last month. Australian actress Clare has previously said that the couple planned to have two weddings - in both her home country and America. On the wedding morning Clare posted a dazzling sunrise photo to caption, she vamped that she was in the process of ‘Being kidnapped.’ Then the following morning ... ‘Wearing the blanket I was wrapped in when I was born around my shoulders. Gonna go marry my soulmate now. The wedding was previously put on the back burner so that Clare could attend to her brother Tim, who had learned he had stage four lymphoma. Clare told Entertainment Tonight: ‘We got engaged and then my brother got sick, so we dropped everything. Everything stopped and we went to Australia to help him.’ GRAEME CONNORS & BRAD BUTCHER TEAM UP Graeme Connors: “Having both spent a large part of our lives in Mackay Queensland, Brad and I had often talked about co-writing. However, for a variety of reasons, the right opportunity just didn’t occur. “Then along came the 2017 Flagon and Dragon fund raising appeal… for 25 years I have been the ‘musical ambassador’ for a group of incredibly generous people from Mackay who hold riotous luncheons every two Graeme Connors & Brad Butcher Instagram, gushing in the caption that she was ‘Gonna go marry my soulmate now.’ The previous day, she’d posted an Instagram photo that captured her from behind as she headed down a tree-lined outdoor staircase. She had slid into an elaborate sleeveless gold dress, and in her 24 years raising funds for a variety of Children’s Hospital needs. To date, just under $2,000,000 has been donated to hospitals and other organisations dedicated to assisting children in a myriad of ways. “Brad generously offered to be part of the afternoon’s mayhem and I thought, what better way to do what we do and contribute to the cause than co-write a song with him, record it and direct the proceeds to the Flagon and Dragon Fund Inc. “‘I’ve Got Your Back’ seemed to come with its own positive energy from the outset, and Brad and I spent the whole time writing with smiles on our faces. Matt Fell recorded, played and directed musical traffic in his inimitable way with various musicians adding their enthusiasm - Josh Schuberth, Paul Berton, Brad and I, had a really memorable day with Matt and it is captured perfectly in this track. Now available for purchase by download from your favourite site - all record company and artist royalties flow in perpetuity to The Flagon and Dragon Fund Inc to contribute to the great work this Country Line organisation continues to do for Children in need of assistance. Please consider purchasing! Graeme is riding high on the success of his 60 Summers album – a careerspanning collection ranked in the Top 5 best-selling Australian country albums of 2016 and gave GC the highest ARIA Album chart placing of his career. Brad Butcher is having a stellar year surfing a wave of success From The Bottom Of A Well his third album. Cementing him at the forefront of a new generation of Australian story tellers, From The Bottom Of A Well encompasses Butcher’s great exactly how this works, women who matter but won’t necessarily be held, wrong decisions made and paid for, and moments when all that can be said is a call for clarity to help get to the next point in a life’. Bernard Zuel The ‘Flagon & Dragon’ fundraising luncheon is a biennial event initiated in 1992 when a small group of business leaders met and raised almost $2000 initially donated to the Variety Club of Queensland. 25 years on, 13 luncheons later the Mackay region has benefited to the tune of just under $2,000,000 due to the hard work of a few, and the tremendous support of many. The ANDREW SWIFT SIGNS TO SOCIAL FAMILY RECORDS Alt-country singer-songwriter, and guest columnist in this issue of country update – see Notes from the Deep South) Andrew Swift has inked a deal with independent record label, Social Family Records, for his forthcoming album, set for early 2018. Swift made a big first impression on the country music world when he was a sure thing beaten narrowly in the Toyota Star Maker quest. Teaming up with respected label mate, singersongwriter, Gretta Ziller, the pair took off with an intimate show of Andrew Swift blending of genres to create a sound uniquely his own. ‘Butcher’s lyrics have a point to make rather than a box to tick, so at times you’ll find people struggling with mental health rather than the state of the crops, men who don’t know 26 2017 Flagon & Dragon luncheon which featured Graeme and Brad’s premier performance of ‘I’ve Got Your Back’, raised over $200,000 to be distributed over the next few months. songs and storytelling on tour to caravan parks along the east Coast of New South Wales and Victoria and have continued to perform regularly together. Swift has also supported the likes of Shane Nicholson, Catherine Britt, Amber Lawrence, Country Line Adam Eckersley, and Lachlan Bryan, among others. With his second album set for release in March next year, recorded under the guidance of Matt Fell with a band that included guitarist Glen Hannah, drummer Josh Schuberth, Fell himself on bass, guitars, keys and percussion, Hammond organist and Adam Eckersley Band member Dan Biederman and Sam Hawksley on lap steel. Guest vocalists include Britt, Ziller and Katie Brianna. The first single ‘Reckless Desires’, previewed the album, Call Out For The Cavalry, commencing preorder at the same time, with a tour announce of 22 dates in 22 days joined by Gretta Ziller. Known to perform with each other often and after the success of their previous caravan park tours, the pair decided there was no better time to hook up the teardrop camper, bring the swag back out and hit the road together again, to showcase their latest offerings in a series of intimate performances for park guests on The Great Australian Caravan Park Country Music Showcase Tour. So, pack your tent or load up the van and book your spot now at one (or many) of the prime locations this summer and enjoy two of the best up and coming alt-country performers this wide land has to offer. ROY ORBISON? Just when you thought you’d seen/ heard everything... Roy Orbison’s likeness returns to Australia for the first time since 1972, this time as the continents’ first-ever hologram concert tour. Roy Orbison, a phenomenal singersongwriter known for his distinctive, impassioned voice, complex song structures, and dark emotional ballads died in Dec 1988. Between 1960 and 1964, “the Big O” saw 22 28 of his songs placed on the Top 40, including ‘Only the Lonely’ (1960), ‘Crying’ (1961), ‘In Dreams’ (1963), and ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ (1964). Following a UK run with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in April 2018, the Roy Orbison In Dreams: The Hologram AUS Tour stages through RCM Touring at Brisbane Entertainment Centre (May 4) ICC Sydney Theatre (May 6), Melbourne’s Hisense Arena (May 8), Perth Arena (May 11) and Adelaide Entertainment Centre (May 13). JOHN WILLIAMSON WORRIED John Williamson has always been passionate about social and environmental issues within Australia, from his anti-logging anthem ‘Rip Rip Woodchip’, to singing about marriage equality with Beccy Cole on ‘It’s All About Love’, these songs have always populated Williamson’s musical soundscape. Responsible for creating some of Australia’s most iconic unofficial anthems of the country, such as ‘True Blue’, ‘Mallee Boy’ and ‘Raining On The Rock’, John is ingrained in the Australian psyche, continually giving a voice to the Aussie battler, while shining a light on issues affecting the Australian community. In October, Williamson took up the call to arms again, releasing a pair of singles that tackle two very timely social and environmental issues within Australia. ‘Pigs On The River’ is a track that John was inspired to write after watching a story on ABC’s Four Corners about some irrigators exploiting the Murray-Darling River System. ‘Love Is The Word’ finds John railing against the lack of love in the world. John had this to say about his two latest singles: “Any irrigators along the Murray-Darling River who are using water that they are not entitled to should be brought to justice. They are thieves and should be ashamed of themselves. I have recorded ‘Pigs On The River’ in protest. I hope it encourages true blue Australians to stand up to these bullies. The perpetrators give other irrigators a bad name, and cause people down the river to suffer.” “I am also releasing a new song called ‘Love Is The Word’. I feel very sad for my grandkids while there is a lack of love for the earth in the world. Hate and extreme nationalism are on an alarming increase.” Willo worried Country Line GORD BAMFORD BACK IN MARCH Canadian country music superstar – and Australian ex-pat Gord Bamford is returning to his country of birth for a whirlwind tour in March 2018 to celebrate the release of a new album. The first single from the album, ‘Livin’ On Summertime’, hit radio in Nov and is the perfect introduction to what audiences can expect when the former Victorian returns. Gord has established himself as one of the premier country music artists in Canada – with an incredible 24 CCMA Awards and two CMA awards under his belt, as well as 22 Top 10 singles, including the smash #1 hit ‘When Your Lips Are So Close’ from his sixth studio release Cowboy Junkie. After signing a record deal in Australia with ABC Music in 2016 Gord headed down for his first Aussie tour, an east coast run with country rockers The Wolfe Brothers. Gord achieved 3 Top 5 singles in Australia from that Tin Roof album. Gord says he has been working towards a return since he left. Gord grew up in Traralgon until the age of five when his parents separated. His mother moved him, and his sister Twila, to Canada. Despite two decades away, he has always felt an affinity with Australia, so it was no surprise when he had the opportunity to perform here years later that he found an instant affinity with audiences. “Australian audiences know how to have a good time. They love their beer, music and down-home lifestyle – its everything I am,” he says. “I am very thankful my music has been embraced by the Aussie country music fans”. Gord’s March tour includes a run of headline shows, as well as performances at the sold-out CMC Rocks QLD Festival. “I am bringing my own band and crew with me for the first time for these shows” he says. “We have all played together for many years and the Aussie fans will get to see our full show”. SCHOOL’S OUT FOR BANJO GIRL Singer/songwriter/ banjoist, Taylor Pfeiffer has just released the new single, ‘Take Her’, from an EP of the same name. With a unique blend of instruments, banjo and brass, ‘Take Her’ playfully ridicules a relationship going nowhere. The ‘boppy’ song written by 18-year old Taylor, and produced by Simon Johnson, lends itself to the genre of alternative country, whilst reminiscing a vaudeville style. Taylor Pfeiffer 30 31 Country Line The accompanying music video, filmed by JLM Studios, was filmed at the Riverton Train Station, in a rural town north of Adelaide. Set in the 1920’s, the video comically documents the lyrical themes, featuring actor Taylor Allen, in addition to Taylor herself doubling as ‘the other woman’ as the video progresses. Take Her features five songs and underlines Taylor’s growth as an artist, with a strong emphasis on catchy hooks and memorable arrangements, all written by her with one co-write from Matt Scullion on the song ‘Make Today Count’. With the completion of her schooling and Year 12, it’s full speed ahead as Taylor dedicates all herself fulltime to the art of song writing and performing. In 2018, Taylor plans to regularly perform around Australia, saving up for a trip to Nashville. Recently Taylor joined Beccy Cole, Libby O’Donovan, and Kelly Brouhaha on Beccy’s ‘Aussie Road Crew’ SA Tour and is excited to be a part of Beccy’s ‘Sisters of Twang’ concerts at the Tamworth Festival. WANDA JACKSON BOOK BMG has announced it will release legendary rockabilly and country music pioneer Wanda Jackson’s autobiography Every Night Is Saturday Night: A Country Girl’s Journey to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on November 14, 2017. The iconic performer known as the “Queen of Rockabilly” and the “First Lady of Rock & Roll” landed more than thirty singles on the country and pop charts between 1954 and 1974. Featuring over eighty photographs from her personal collection and a foreword by Elvis Costello,Every Night is Saturday Night is the rockin’ great-grandmother’s chance to finally share the story of her fascinating life 32 Wanda Jackson and career in her own words. Jackson’s debut single, ‘You Can’t Have My Love,’ reached the Top 10 while she was still a sixteen-year- old high school student. She hit the road after graduation, playing package shows with Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley, who gave Wanda his ring and asked her to be “his girl.” With Presley’s encouragement, the Oklahoma native began recording rock music, often releasing singles with country on one side and rock on the other during her decade-anda-half tenure on Capitol Records. Known for her energetic stage shows and pioneering presence as a female artist, Wanda stormed the charts with a series of hit singles, including “Let’s Have a Party,” “Right or Wrong,” and “In the Middle of a Heartache.” With over 40 albums to her credit, Wanda has proven to be an enduring and genre-defying legend of American music. In Every Night is Saturday Night, Wanda tells the story of being discovered by Country Music Hall of Famer Hank Thompson; why she refused to return to the Grand Ole Opry for more than fifty years; the challenges she and her integrated band, The Party Timers, faced when touring in a less racially tolerant era; personal memories of her relationship with Elvis; and how she ultimately found the love of her life. Along the way, Wanda reveals details about her first boyfriend, who went on to become a well-known pioneer of country music’s Bakersfield Sound; how she launched the career of country star Roy Clark; the challenges she faced as a woman who introduced sex appeal to country music and growling femininity to rock & roll; her recent work with rock luminaries such as Jack White and Joan Jett; and how her deep faith has sustained her over more than seven decades of rocking, shocking, and thrilling audiences around the globe. 33 ALT COUNTRY ALBUM OF THE YEAR FEMALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR CONTEMPORARY COUNTRY ALBUM OF THE YEAR COUNTRY MUSIC CAPITAL NEWS GROUP OR DUO OF THE YEAR TRADITIONAL COUNTRY ALBUM OF THE YEAR REGIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK VOCAL COLLABORATION OF THE YEAR MALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR BUSH BALLAD OF THE YEAR From The Bottom of A Well Brad Butcher Producer: Matt Fell Real Class Act Fanny Lumsden Producer: Matt Fell Queen of Boomtown Gretta Ziller Producer: Paul Ruske Dragonfly Kasey Chambers Producers: Nash Chambers & Paul Kelly Love and Blood Shane Nicholson Producer: Matt Fell Get On Your Feet Adam Brand Producers: Alex Kline & Erin Enderlin Coming Your Way Drew McAlister Producer: Andy Mak 61-615 O’Shea Producer: Lindsey Jackson Endless The McClymonts Producer: Andy Mak Our Backyard Travis Collins & Amber LawrenceProducer: Matt Fell Lighthouse Ashleigh Dallas Producer: Brett Dallas The Wide Horizon Darren Coggan Producer: Ben Edgar All You Need Is Music Davidson Brothers Producers: Mark Thornton & Larry Marrs All Australian Girl Tania Kernaghan Producer: Stuart French The Hungry Mile The Bushwackers Producer: Roger Corbett Get On Your Feet Adam Brand From The Bottom of A Well Brad Butcher The Wide Horizon Darren Coggan My Soundtrack Matt Cornell Love and Blood Shane Nicholson 34 More Than Meets The Eye Aleyce Simmonds Lighthouse Ashleigh Dallas Real Class Act Fanny Lumsden Dragonfly Kasey Chambers All Australian Girl Tania Kernaghan Better Day Carter & Carter All You Need Is Music Davidson Brothers 61-615 O’Shea The Hungry Mile The Bushwackers Endless The McClymonts Hey Kasey Chambers & Paul Kelly Back in ‘92 Lee Kernaghan & James Blundell Waltzing Australia The Bushwackers with John Williamson, Sara Storer & The Bush Choir When We Say It’s Forever The McClymonts & Ronan Keating Our Backyard Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence Just Like Your Dad Dale Duncan Songwriters: Allan Caswell & Manfred Vijars Henbury Blues Dean Perrett Songwriter: Neville Anderson Uncle Harry Dianne Lindsay Songwriter: Peter Simpson Plains of Nappa Merrie Graham Rodger Songwriter: Graham Rodger We Still Sing Three Rivers Hotel Ian Quinn Songwriter: Ian Quinn TOYOTA HERITAGE SONG OF THE YEAR APRA AMCOS SONG OF THE YEAR INSTRUMENTAL OF THE YEAR CMC VIDEO CLIP OF THE YEAR Roll On Fanny Lumsden Songwriter: Fanny Lumsden Outback Club Reunion Lee Kernaghan Songwriters: Garth Porter, Lee Kernaghan, Colin Buchanan Dirt Under My Nails The Bushwackers Songwriter: Rich Davies Never Never Land Tom Curtain feat Luke O’Shea Songwriters: Tom Curtain & Luke O’Shea Our Backyard Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence Songwriters: Amber Lawrence, Travis Sinclair, Matt Scullion Evelyn’s Kitchen Davidson Brothers Pick Me! Michael Fix Porch Pickin’ Mickey Pye Easy Does It The Bushwackers Eva Waits Tommy Emmanuel BLUEGRASS RECORDING OF THE YEAR Too Young, Too Cute, Too Pretty Carpenter Caswell Back Where I Started Davidson Brothers Southbound Train Runaway Dixie Cumberland Plain The Morrisons Long Way Over Wide Island QANTASLINK NEW TALENT OF THE YEAR Well Dressed Man Brad Butcher The Way We Ride Casey Barnes Count On Me Judah Kelly It’s Only Midnight Matt Cornell Halfway Up The Hume Small Town Romance 36 Satellite Kasey Chambers Songwriters: Kasey Chambers & Harry Hookey Outback Club Reunion Lee Kernaghan Songwriters: Garth Porter, Lee Kernaghan, Colin Buchanan Safe Shane Nicholson Songwriter: Shane Nicholson Don’t Wish It All Away The McClymonts Songwriters: Brooke, Sam, & Mollie McClymont, Lindsey Jackson Our Backyard Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence Songwriters: Amber Lawrence, Travis Sinclair, Matt Scullion Satellite Kasey Chambers Directors: Duncan Toombs & David Bromley Damn Good Mates Lee Kernaghan Director: Duncan Toombs Don’t Wish It All Away The McClymonts Director: Jeremy Dylan Never Never Land Tom Curtain feat Luke O’Shea Directors: Tom Curtain & Luke O’Shea Our Backyard Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence Director: Paul Stefanidis SINGLE OF THE YEAR Satellite Kasey Chambers Kiss Somebody Morgan Evans Safe Shane Nicholson House The McClymonts Our Backyard Travis Collins & Amber Lawrence E ver flicked through a glossy magazine or scrolled your way through a blog with the headline “How To Make The Most of Your 20s”? Here’s one gal who got the memo. This year Forbes magazine rated Kelsea Ballerini in its list of “30 Under 30”. She’s a game changer, all right, with her musical identity exploding in the two years since her debut album. Trailblazers, Taylor Swift and Shania Twain have endorsed her craft and helped set her own career path alight. At just 38 24, she’s splashed across magazines, performing duets with Reba, snagging spots in coveted festival lineups, and all in all too busy living her dazzling life to get caught up planning the most anticipated wedding to be had by a country couple in years. Kelsea and her home-grown Aus beau, Morgan Evans have been cramming in long-ass tours (try a 42-show stint with Lady Antebellum) and short-lived celebrations of love. So, sounding genuinely happy, she unapologetically proclaims that she’s hired a wedding planner. “She is amazing. She’s very organized and she’s very persistent. I am neither, so she is getting it all done,” Kelsea explains. “I am excited about marrying him, so the wedding is just about that.” “You know it’s funny, I’m not a wedding person,” Kelsea confided to US Weekly. “My mom and my bridesmaids and my stylist surprised me with a fitting and I walked in and put something on and then walked out and I started crying and so we picked the dress!” As the dress got ticked off, the celebrations kicked off with a Vegas bachelorette party, featuring plenty of backstage snaps from a Jennifer Lopez concert. Kelsea’s more intimate bridal shower followed a month later and blissful photos of it showed her wearing a flower crown and relaxing outside with her pretty pals, surrounded by pastel balloons. “Everyone did something different and made it look like a Pinterest party. It was beautiful,” Kelsea says. Guests played the old-favourite ‘Make a Wedding Dress Out of Toiler Paper’ game and threw in a new twist. They found this game, it was so cute, where they had Morgan record answers via video and they would ask a question and I would have to guess what he was gonna say and then his video would play. It was really fun. I got one wrong!” While life for the couple is ridiculously hectic now, things will break in December so we await the scintillating wedding updates! Kelsea has alluded to a ceremony destination, which her guests must ‘travel’ to, but it’s not in the countryside. And no boots (not her thing, so she doesn’t own any). The date has been kept under wraps, but my guess is that they’ll stick to Christmas Day – the date they were engaged last year. It was just three weeks after Kelsea and Morgan’s first meeting as co-hosts at the CMC Awards that she wrote a song about him, which became the new album’s title track. “I remember just really in my head being like, ‘Oh I feel it happening, love is happening,’ but I couldn’t really talk about it yet. So before you talk about it, you write about it,” Kelsea told USA Today, explaining the lyrics, They’re gonna say I fell too fast / They’re gonna say it’s never gonna last. “Aw man, I think if you would’ve asked me two years ago before I met Morgan that I would be married at 24, then I would’ve laughed. Honestly, it’s kind of so cheesy because everyone says ‘when you know, you know’ and it’s totally true. So, I really would’ve married him a month after knowing him.” The song has its sunny similarities to debut single ‘Love Me Like You Mean It’ but brings some insight to the beginning of their relationship. A lot of people doubted its sincerity, and even Kelsea says her writing the song felt “aggressively quick, so I didn’t show it to him until a couple of months later.” Kelsea’s first three singles, including ‘Love Me Like You Mean It’ all hit Number 1, making her the first female country artist since Wynonna Judd to achieve immediate and consecutive success. ‘I had been writing so much and trying to figure out what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to sound. That was the first time that I was like, “I love this. I could sing this over and over again and feel really good about it.” With a cache of popleaning country-grounded hits already to her credit, Kelsea has reemerged after strengthening her songwriting muscles. Unapologetically is her life narrative, with the songs representing milestones from ages 19 to 23 years and placed in chronological order. “It starts with a breakup and starts gnarly and dark and starts angst-y, and then it goes into kind of like that moment where you find yourself again, and through growing up a little bit and fighting off some insecurities and finding some new ones! And then it goes into meeting the guy that I’m now marrying, and it ends really light and full of love,’ Kelsea says, making us wait through a total of 12 songs for the ultimate happy ending. The closer, ‘Legends’ is written in past tense, as if looking back on the love story her and Morgan have already begun writing. Yeah, and they all knew our names all over town / We had it made in the middle of the madness. The track ‘Get Over Yourself ’ provides variety with singing/speaking verses and a new, exasperated approach to the familiar theme of moving on. I’m over you and everything that we used to do together / My Saturday nights are brighter, I’ve never felt better. One can’t overlook the sexy ‘Music’ – Then my heart stops, like a beat drop / It’s a symphony when you sweet-talk. However, Kelsea has a crack at writing romance (rather than mere flirtatiousness) with ‘I Hate Love I am excited about marrying him, so the wedding is just about that - You know it’s funny, I’m not a wedding person! Songs’, a Dr Seuss rhyming delight and a pivotal moment in this songwriter’s career. “This record and the place that I’m at in my life now have really opened the door to that actual emotion. So ‘I Hate Love Songs’ is the song on the record that is kind of that transition of “Uh-oh, you’re about to turn me into that girl, and here I go,” Kelsea says. It’s a simple chorus, interspersed between witty verses - Your eyes can’t hold stars and you’d die if your heart really skipped…We were drunk when we met so we don’t know our anniversary. The spotlight shines on maternal relationships and the transition from child to woman during Kelsea’s album favourite, ‘In Between’. Sometimes I’m my mother’s daughter, sometimes I’m her friend.” It is my favourite line,” Kelsea says. “But that is what the whole song revolved around, and she has been such a big part of this journey.” Carla Ballerini moved to Nashville with a 15-year old Kelsea to chase a publishing deal. “I was signed as a songwriter for a year before I got my record deal, and I had most of the songs on my first record written before I had my record deal, so I didn’t necessarily know that I was writing for an album,” she says, explaining that this album’s structure was much more “intentional”. “I feel like being in a serious relationship has made me more bold as an artist. It’s this new comfort of, “At the end of the day, whether I write a hit or fall on my 39 face, I get to end the day with you.” It’s really cool. Unapologetically is a new era, and Kelsea wrote or cowrote over 200 songs for the album’s ‘shortlist’. She’s the first to admit that not all of those songs were good, however some of the final 12 selected were written before her first album debuted. “They just fit better on this record. It’s like a puzzle,” she says. Dare I say it, moments of the album could be mistaken for Taylor Swift, who Kelsea often draws comparison to. But despite being friends, Kelsea isn’t trying to be anyone other than Kelsea. “When I had the opportunity to become an artist, I decided that I wanted to be the same person on my albums as I was on social media as I was out to dinner with my mom as I was out having a glass of wine with my friends,” she says. “I wanted there to be a consistency between artist and person.” songs…” She has a passion for chicken nuggets and her fiancé (they have a rule where they don’t go more than two weeks without seeing each other). And she confesses that when you spend more time with your band than you do with said fiancé, as much as you love them, “There are definitely the days where we will just give each other a wave and you’re like, ‘I don’t want to talk to ya’.” Yes, quirky honesty looks a surefire way to satisfy a social-media following but the transparency that helped Kelsea pull over 1.7 million followers to date is nothing to scoff at. Especially when her music has the power to hold young women to standards of self and self-respect, as exampled on ‘Miss Me More’. Forgot who I was before I ever kissed you / Yeah, I thought I’d miss you / But I miss me more. Her first performance of an autobiographical tune was on her high for the students and encouraging them to find their own passions. There’s no discounting Kelsea’s energy and her ability to stay relatable while her world is in constant flux. Perhaps most impressive is that she is selfdeprecating, a trait not always attached to our American stars. She says her upcoming marriage will make her “half Aussie by the time of CMC Rocks QLD.” And the same for Morgan, who released his first American single this year. Her peers are now the musical influences she grew up cherishing, and already she’s opened for Rascal Flatts, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban. But Kelsea still swears she’s the new kid on the block. “I think the second album is really just like, are we going to be able to keep doing that or is this where it slows down?” she shares. “Or is this where it speeds up…I made an album that I’m proud of and that I would I decided that I wanted to be the same person on my albums as I was on social media, as I was out to dinner with my mom, as I was out having a glass of wine with my friends What we see of Kelsea is comical, emotional and real. You’ll see it break / You’ll see it fall apart / Cause I don’t have, I don’t have a machine heart (‘Machine Heart’). The ‘About’ on her official Facebook page is typically low key... “Hey, I’m Kelsea. I sing & write 40 school stage in Tennessee. Kelsea has since returned to her school, the place she says defined her career and character, as a recipient of the Women in Music City Awards’ ‘Artist of the Year’ and a 2017 Grammy nominee. Choking back tears, Kelsea handed over a $20,000 cheque after providing a free concert listen to myself, and that’s really all I can ever do, so I’m excited to see what people think of it.” Kelsea can be heard on the gospel soundtrack for the animated movie, The Star (The Story of the First Christmas) and her new album Unapologetically, both out now. 41 T homas Rhett scored his first No. one hit in 2013 with ‘It Goes Like This,’ introducing a sound that mixed the southern swagger of country music with pop hooks, R&B grooves, soulful strut, and the anything-goes attitude of rock. During the years since, he’s become a husband, a father and, thanks to eight chart-topping singles, a headliner of massive arenas. It’s funny how life can change so much in such a short period of time. Life Changes captures that whirlwind turnaround. Recorded while Thomas Rhett and his wife, 42 Lauren, were in the middle of adopting their daughter from Africa and awaiting the birth of their second child, it’s the biggest, boldestsounding record of his career, filled with songs that stretch his sound to new limits. Kicking off the album is ‘Craving You,’ a driving, danceable anthem filled with ‘80s-inspired production and guest vocals from Maren Morris. From there, Life Changes carves a path as wild and wide as his own career. There are coming-of-age country ballads, heartland rock & roll anthems and R&B slow jams all interwoven by the songwriting skills and elastic vocals of a frontman who’s willing to shine a light on his own milestones and mistakes. “I named the album Life Changes because my life has never changed this much in a short span of time,” he says. “From seeing the success of a song like ‘Die a Happy Man’ to putting out my third album to going on my first headlining tour to having two children, both under two years old… I thought the title of the album was a good representation of what is happening in my life right now.” Much of the album’s material was written on the road, while Thomas Rhett toured his way across America in support of his platinum-selling second record, Tangled Up. Released in 2015, that marked a turning point in his career, spawning four Number One singles and one Grammynominated smash: ‘Die a Happy Man.’ A tender, personal song written about his wife, it topped the charts for six weeks, earning awards from the CMA, ACM and Billboard Music Awards along the way. It was an eye-opening experience for Thomas Rhett, who’d rarely written something so intimate before. Although intensely autobiographical, ‘Die a Happy Man’ still tapped into something widespread and universal. There’s plenty of autobiography on Life Changes, too. Rhett sings about his own adolescence in ‘Sixteen,’ a nostalgic song about a teenager’s desire to grow up…only to miss his teenage years once adulthood is finally reached. “No matter if you’re 10 years old or you’re 80 years old, I think you can always find an identity within the verses and choruses of that song,” he says proudly. The album’s title track tells a wider story, opening with his days as a struggling songwriter before moving through the various life changes - his marriage to his grade-school crush, the adoption of the couple’s first daughter, the achievement of his lifelong musical dreams - that have unfolded since then. His stories are so compelling because they are our stories, too. And like any great storyteller, he weaves a wide narrative, delivering the album from several different personas. He transforms himself into a 1950s crooner on ‘Sweetheart,’ a modernized doo-wop song inspired by his childhood trips to his grandparents’ house, where he spent his afternoons listening to records by the Drifters and Carole King. ‘Leave Right Now’ and ‘Marry Me’ are two mid-tempo ballads underscored by big, booming beats. On ‘Drink a Little Beer’ — a song written by his father, Rhett Akins, who contributes guest vocals to the track, he time-travels to the 1970s, back when country songs featured Telecaster guitars and phaser pedals. And on the retro ‘Kiss Me like a Stranger,’ he channels the soft-rock ...whether that means dancing or playing a Bruno Mars song in our set, the more it changed the way I wrote songs... sounds of the Bee Gees and Hall & Oates, which he cowrote with Jordan Reynolds and his high-school idol, Dave Barnes. Reynolds and Barnes are just two of Thomas Rhett’s collaborators on Life Changes. He co-produced the album himself — a first, with a hands-on approach to the album’s layered arrangements — and he reached out to number of new names and familiar faces for additional help. Guitar hero Dann Huff, who spent the ‘80s performing alongside Michael Jackson and other legends before transforming himself into a hit producer, joined him for the majority of the album. Jesse Frasure, co-producer and co-writer on much of Tangled Up had a hand in multiple new tracks including the current single ‘Unforgettable.’ Joe London, also with co-writer/producer credits on Thomas Rhett’s sophomore effort and had a hand in writing its smash hit ‘Die A Happy Man,’ also returns as a co-producer and songwriter. Julian Bunetta, known for his work with One Direction and other pop acts, made multiple appearances, too, including co-writing and coproducting credits on Life Changes’ chart-topping debut single ‘Craving You.’Thomas Rhett teamed up with songwriters from across the country, working with L.A.-based hit makers one minute and fellow Nashvillians like Shane McAnally and Ashely Gorley the next. The goal was simple: to stretch his limits, widen his circle, and create the best music possible. Life Changes owes much of that variety of Thomas Rhett’s stage show, which has evolved and diversified since he first began touring. “The more I started getting comfortable being me on stage, whether that means dancing or playing a Bruno Mars song in our set, the more it changed the way I wrote songs,” he explains. “I want to continue making our concerts a fun place for all people, including people who wanna dance to love songs and people who wanna rock to rock songs. I just love having a mixture.” Variety. It’s one of the key ingredients of Life Changes’ powerful sound. From the EDM-inspired ‘Leave Right Now’ to the feel-good, countryrocking ‘Renegades,’ Life Changes shines its light into every corner of Thomas Rhett’s influences. It’s an album for Millennials and Baby Boomers alike. For those who grew up listening to FM radio, as well as those who prefer Spotify playlists. And while several songs find Rhett proudly singing about his roots, it’s also an album about moving forward. About growing, expanding, and chasing down new songs, creating the soundtrack for all of life’s changes along the way. 43 T his is an extraordinarily fine debut from a young woman who unquestionably knows her way around writing and delivering a song, but was prepared to work and wait until she had perfect conditions to bring her creation to optimum fruitfulness – nothing left to wither on the vine here! These are songs branded with cinematic imagery and chalk and cheese angles. Credible, cannily crafted and thoughtful vignettes of real life scoped through the lens of ruthless youth, the futility of fight, the redemption of implacable life-lessons and perception paid for in blood or copious tears. Melody and her husband Michael (co-producer with Catherine Britt of The Wreckage) are well-known for their various roles in country music circles, with Michael having been a multi-instrumental sideman for many years, including with Kasey Chambers’ band. Most recently they have both been on the road (perennially) with Fanny Lumsden and have broadened their reach exponentially as a result! Country Update caught up with Melody to congratulate her on a singularly excellent album and go behind the making and taking of it to the world. What drove you to be a singer songwriter? I grew up in a house with music at its core! My dad had over 7000 records! We literally were surrounded by a mountain of different, amazing music. I gravitated toward artists like Emmylou and Linda Ronstadt from a very young age. I wasn’t singing Spice Girls or Britney in my mirror - I’d put on my Mum’s old cowboy boots and sing country songs. Why should someone buy your album? Tell us what its’ distinctive appeal is? I tried to push boundaries with this record and blur genre 44 lines. I love country music but with a twist, I wanted the songs to be credible and serious but I didn’t want to be boring - I think I created a record that allows you to think, and to dance. How autobiographical is your writing? A lot of this record speaks to the journey of a relationship and becoming parents and all the emotions that go with that – getting to grips with ‘adulting’! The record was written and produced over a long period of time, it covers songs that were written from when I first met my husband and when our baby was born, and the challenges and excitement that came with adapting to that. ‘Truth About It’ was written about the feeling I got being a new mum and wife of a touring musician, how it felt like a veil of invisibility, to always be in the background instead of being given a chance to be a “real person” sometimes, not just someone’s mum or someone’s Mrs. Your favourite, most gratifying track on the album and why? That has to be the first single ‘The Wreckage’. I wrote this song so quickly it just fell out of my mouth in a tumble, and when I played it to Catherine and Moko, they were genuinely so excited, it was contagious! This was also the song that was amazing to see come together in the studio. It’s a huge sound and was the first track we mixed - it got us all so keyed up about the record at every level of its creation. I wrote the ballad of the album, ‘Bury Me Sane’ with my husband Michael. We had just gotten married and I came to him with this song about ‘burning a wedding dress’ and basically dying happy without your husband. Needless to say, he was a little worried that I was having second thoughts!! One song ‘Dont Explain’, the only cover, is a Paul Kelly song we covered for our little boy Miller who is a mad PK fan. How has your attitude to music as a career choice changed? I take things a lot more seriously since I started on the road with Fanny, about a year and a half ago. She is the worlds’ hardest worker and she is so clever with everything she does, she has been a huge and invaluable influence on my work ethic and time-management skills. I am quite an airy fairy, arty kind of person and the business side of things is something I struggle with -sucking it up and coming to grips with “doing it yourself ” has been a giant step up for me in the last couple of years! What do you most like in the creation of a song? Writing, recording or performing? I used to think that nothing could beat that euphoria you get working live, on stage in front of a receptive audience, singing a song that evolved from a personal, cathartic diary entry – distilling an emotion and writing that down has always felt so cleansing and natural to me. But making this record, I fell in LOVE with the studio. Watching producers and musicians work magic and put their genius into your work, is fantastic. I was so excited to work with musicians like Jeff McCormack and to have Shane Nicholson and Kevin Bennett sing on my work. What’s the most interesting opportunity you’ve gotten through your work? We toured NZ this year, Fanny and I, in hired camper vans, we booked it all ourselves and made a holiday out of it, this was my highlight so far, because we allowed it to be business and pleasure and it made me realise that even though it’s a lot of hard work, we truly are lucky to do what we do! Am I right in thinking you and Michael met at the Academy or did I dream that? No, we actually met at a McClymonts show. A friend offered me a ticket to the show, which was a 2 hour drive away. I almost said no but decided to go, and I spotted Michael doing sound for the support act. I thought “I’ve seen that guy before” and I started scrolling through Facebook and found that we were Friends. I sent him a message and he told me to come and meet him after the show… I got scared, courage failed and I bailed! Afterwards I went to the only pub in the small town and sure enough, there he was. We ended up chatting for hours and as cheesy as it sounds, we both now say that it was like love at first sight! Problem was, he was heading to the US to tour with Kasey Chambers and gone for three months. I decided to “surprise” (Stalker Alert) him and go to the US, so I sold everything I owned, quit my job, moved out of my house and went and lobbed up in Austin. Nine months later we were in a delivery ward welcoming a baby, so it was a fairly impressive surprise. I actually met Catherine (Britt) on that same trip to the US, she was over there playing some shows and spending time in Austin, we bonded over geocaching! (that’s a weird, online geeky treasure hunt) We were firm friends very quickly! When she told me she wanted to produce my record, that was probably my biggest pickle to date! On one hand, of course, my husband whom I had every confidence in was always my first choice as a producer, but Catherine had been a musical influence of mine forever! I tentatively proposed they work together and luckily, Michael is so chilled out, he was more than happy to have Cate on board. Since making the record, we have become even closer, we live streets away from each other, we see each other numerous times a week, AND we are both having babies together next year!! I am due in Feb and she is due in Jan. “We travel most weekends of the year, Miller our toddler in tow, caravan hitched up - starting with the US when he was 6 weeks old, and now we have another on the way with tours booked throughout this year and next. It does feel like we are repeating tradition, getting back to the roots of country music. It seems the most natural thing in the world to live on the road, to travel as a family to every little whistlestop that will have us - I forget that it’s not the way everyone lives. It certainly isn’t glamorous, especially not when you add a newborn or children into the scenario, but certainly there are parts of it that are convenient, having a little caravan with you everywhere you go, means you basically have a house/dressing room/backstage area on wheels. You can change your baby, put your kids to bed, and use it as a playroom. While that is good in theory, we had a newborn who hated travelling in cars, so he screamed mercilessly in the car from birth til he was about one. Many tears were shed and wiped away for both Miller and myself - often moments before I had to pull it together and get on stage! In saying that, we have had so many wonderful experiences as a family, seen so many places and met amazing people all over the world, and music is what has allowed us to do this. We also have a huge network of support from other musicians doing similar things which is amazing. On the road with Fanny Lumsden, Michael plays in her band and with me while I do support and Fanny watches our son for us while we are both on stage. We are also hitting ... to always be in the background instead of being given a chance to be a “real person” sometimes, not just someone’s mum or someone’s Mrs the road with Catherine Britt next year, in the same format, but with her newborn, and our newborn added to the equation! Catherine’s husband, James, has put his hand up to be tour babysitter, I don’t think he knows what he has got himself into!! 45 I t wasn’t that long ago that tour buses filled with bewildered red faced tourists would queue up at a remote address in Alice Springs to witness a solo, beer carton tapping, laureate storyteller Ted Egan. His unique ability to capture and sing up a remarkable part of the world using the rich characters, wild stories and distinct vernacular of the region, magically transported visitors connecting them to country and providing them a memorable bona fide Australian outback experience. That desire remains strong for the millions of Aussie and international tourists who venture to our many and varied remote regions, however there are only a rare few individuals who have the stories, singular skill set - and postcode – to feed that need. Enter Katherine-based horse and dog trainer, singer songwriter Tom Curtain – who ‘mark my words’ – like Ted Egan – will become an 46 outback Australian icon. Territory Time is the new album from Tom that boasts a collection of 10 finely crafted songs that all have grown out of the rust, dust, sweat and sunburn of living and working in the Top End and you can sincerely feel the truth resonating in every line. Sixteen years ago Tom left his home in Kingaroy QLD to have a crack at breaking horses and working in the stock camps mustering cattle for the numerous cattle stations around Katherine in the Northern Territory. It was hard, hot, dangerous and thirsty work but as Tom says, “you were sitting on the back of a horse all day, every day, and you had plenty of time to just think about things and the assorted hoof beats of the different horses as they’d trot or canter would inspire different melodies in my head. Then an old bloke gave me a guitar and showed me three chords, so at night I would sit around the campfire and try to get the songs out …years later I still only know two and a half chords but it went on from there” he laughs. Tom is not one to sit still and there is subsequently a pretty epic tale of award winning albums, touring, moving and marriages, highs and lows, love and loss and everything in between - but let’s save all that for another time. I first met Tom at the Mildura Country Music Festival where he and modern day pirate (singer songwriter) Adam Kilpatrick tried to kill me with Rum Lime & Sodas. Surviving to tell the tale of that I now look to extract revenge at any opportunity. Tom is a very affable bloke who everyday people feel very comfortable around, so in 2011 when I was passing through Katherine with my wife and three daughters I stopped by for a visit. Here was a bloke with two young kids, a misplaced wife and a fierce drive to succeed. Each day he was up working horses at 3:30am and slogging straight through the heat and dust all in fierce temperatures, until he’d collapse exhausted in the late evening. It was really putting me off my beer and he was still recovering from another horse kick to the head when I had to sit him down and state the bleeding obvious. Tom continues; “Yes, it was very inspiring to have Luke and his family drop by a couple of times now – I guess he didn’t get the hint the first time that I didn’t want him back. But we did get to talking and after a few days and a few beers on that first visit we started to hatch a plan about a Katherine Outback Experience type of show.” Tom’s property is in the ideal location for showcasing the multiple peculiar skills of the singing horse whisperer - which include playing and singing songs while standing on a horse; while rounding up and cutting out cattle; while whistling and ordering about a vast number of over-enthusiastic cattle dogs, while… well you get the idea. It’s located on twenty acres, five minutes out of Katherine where any traveller heading North to Kakadu, Litchfield, Darwin or across to the Kimberley has to pass through the town at least once – and once you experience the incredible Gorge – there’s not much else to do there. So three years later after the seed was sown, I called through Katherine once again to witness the very raw beginnings of the Katherine Outback Experience - which was fascinating, funny and highly entertaining - he just needed some new songs! Tom adds, “I had plenty of stories and song ideas built up over the 10 years between albums but I suppose it started with ‘Never Never Land,’ a tribute to the people living and working up here in the Top End and the amalgamation - I love that word - of white and black, wet and dry seasons, all getting on working together for a brighter future. It was a really great connection to write this with Luke here in the Territory as I know he understands the land and the uniqueness of the people up here.” Tom later teamed up with long time collaborator and producer Garth Porter and apart from ‘Never Never Land’ (produced by Matt Fell & Luke ...an old bloke gave me a guitar and showed me three chords, so at night I would sit around the campfire and try to get the songs out - years later I still only know two and a half chords but it went from there O’Shea), they tweaked and polished up the various songs and co-writes creating a world class recording of 10 tall tales and true that all emanate sincerely from the various hoof beats within Tom. There are upbeat songs like ‘Full Give It’, ‘Livin’ in the Bush’, ‘Camp Drafting’ and the title track and next single ‘Territory Time’ that capture the essence and spirit of the hardworking but ready to party at the drop of a hat people in the Top End, and highlight the not entirely orthodox ways they reward themselves when they get that chance for a well earned break. There are heartbreaking songs like ‘All Gone’ or ‘Horse Tailer,’ which as Tom reflects “Is a true story about a young 14 year old boy that went missing one night out the back of Birdsville. The camp horses spooked and bolted and he went out to bring them back, but a massive dust storm hit and he was sadly never seen again.” There are the poetic songs like ‘Roper River’ and ‘Where the Pindan Meets The Ocean’, and the dead-set ridiculous ‘Billy Don’t Like No Hip Hop’ of which Tom says, “My son Charlie said ‘Dad you’ve gotta have a Rap song !’ and I said ‘I don’t do Rap!’ But it did get me thinking about a true story of a really tough guy who was just invincible, who one night went out to the dunny and started screaming like a little girl when a frog jumped into his dacks - and he’s never lived it down.” A personal favourite is ‘Where the Pindan Meets the Ocean’ written with Janice Bell on her Barnhill Station an hour south of Broome on the West Coast. Where you and your dreams and the Pindan meets the ocean It’s also the place where Tom proposed to his powerhouse partner Annabel McLarty who has added that touch of class – and common sense - to the whole Katherine Outback Experience. “We’ve had over 10,000 people through the gates this season” said Tom, “and Annabel has been instrumental in our growing success.” So much so, come mid November they are embarking upon the Territory Time Tour heading down the West Coast of Australia which includes taking 7 horses, 12 working dogs and the show to regional towns and communities. Tom adds, “Where each place provides a wild horse and I have to catch it, tame, train and ride it all within 45 min. Then we put on a musical show with support from Ellen Amy from Brisbane as well as local talent from each town.” Territory Time is a cracker-jack of an album that collectors of original Australian music will love - and regardless of awards, radio play, fads or fashions, it will continue to fill car stereos, caravans and back-packs of visitors from all over the world – reminding them of their time spent with a very special fella, with some very special skills, that for one moment in time, magically connected them to a very, very, special part of the world. 47 48 I t’s lunch break at a prestigious school on the Yarra River in Melbourne and shortly a group of senior students will be summoned back to the classroom for exam revision. Taking a moment away from class preparations to talk about his upcoming new music is Michael Waugh, a passionate educator. But that is not all...to take a line from a song on the album, I’m a father, I’m a teacher, I’m a husband, I’m a singer, I’m a writer, I’m a thinker, I’m a talker, I’m a listener …. “If I could say what I’m most proud of, it’s all that is on this list.” Nominated for Best New Talent at the 2017 Golden Guitar awards after the release of the highly acclaimed debut album What We Might Be, Michael has been compared to Aussie folk and country legends Paul Kelly and John Williamson and formidable global songwriters like Kristofferson. Now, oozing honesty and continuing to capture life’s highs and lows with ascerbic and unflinching observations, this master storyteller has a new collection of emotionally driven songs on The Asphalt and the Oval. Listening is an experience that will make you laugh, gasp, shudder, cry and reminisce. “I felt really exposed and at times terrified writing this album,” Waugh explains. Then he draws on a quote from Jason Isbell, ‘I am not fighting with you down in the ditch, I’ll meet you up here on the road...’” It is this kind of guts and sinew affirmation that gives the new album a bare-knuckle rawness of theme and purpose. “The title, The Asphalt and the Oval, is based on how I was brought up. My primary school was divided up on gender lines. Girls had to play on the asphalt, the boys had to play on the oval. There was no democracy of choice.” Michael says he felt like a ‘misfit’ and that he was incarcerated somewhere in the middle. “I used to be called names and one of them was ‘queer’ .., I distinctly remember in that moment, I was thinking ‘I don’t know what that word means.’ I just thought I’m obviously strange.” Yet despite the scars from his childhood and in view of current global events, Michael believes the world needs a little less judgement and a lot more tolerance and forgiveness because ‘hating and hate doesn’t get us anywhere.’ So, these songs, just like the title track, are a personal statement. “When I started writing it I was absolutely terrified of saying ‘Joe Grey used to say that I was queer’ because it just brought back those feelings of being ostracised - alienated. But that’s also why I needed to write that song.” Several of the songs that make up this album were written with Michael’s granddaughter in mind - and the discomfort and unease that pondering ‘a world that doesn’t play fair’ raises for him. “I didn’t grow up with a little sister and I only have a son, so before Kiara came into our world I’d never been responsible for a little girl. And as someone who is now responsible for a little girl I’m scared because of those things that my mum, my wife and my friends had to go through. I don’t want Kiara growing up in a world where her gender might prevent her from being anything that she wants to be, or where she could be hurt because some man didn’t grow up past Grade 3. “When we look at how women are treated, quite frankly it’s not good enough. I don’t set out to write to a theme, but when we started recording the songs (with about 40 to choose from) those that kept coming forward had the stories for men and the stories for women.” Michael points out he is not sitting in judgement of anyone. “I just tell a story observationally.” With true grit, conviction and authenticity flowing through this album, songs like ‘They Don’t Let the Girls in the Game’ are stand out tracks, as is ‘Willy’s Chickens’ which is about the factory that employed Michael’s mother at one time. “Those women who worked in that chicken factory were just incredibly strong women … You’ve got your hands in the air like you want to surrender, one hand holds a chook like a pub raffle winner the other’s in the arse of a Sunday Dinner … There was part of me that knew how horrible conditions were, but they just laughed all the time.” As these true tales extract themselves, Michael steadfastly refuses to turn fact into fiction. “Old man Willy is a real guy who is still alive, that My primary school was divided up on gender lines. Girls had to play on the asphalt, the boys had to play on the oval. There was no democracy of choice. factory actually exists and the family I talk about that Mum delivered the chickens to, they are real. Mum said I needed to change the names in the song.” But he didn’t. “I was doing a gig at the Briagolong Hotel in Victoria and I started playing ‘Willy’s Chickens’... little did I know half the patrons had worked for Willy and the other half worked for Mrs Mansen (she cops a bit of flak in the song).”... so, when Michael got to the kicker lyric of the chorus the place erupted. Unapologetic honesty is both the lighthouse and the beacon in Michael’s brilliant lyrics and since being noticed in the streets of Tamworth by Allan Caswell and Pat Drummond he continues to draw accolades from every strata of the music industry but believes his comfort zone is in the folkie camp. Producer Shane Nicholson breathed colour and life into stories from the footy fields, family dairy farm and the hometown of Heyfield on Michael’s debut album and the same collaboration has proven a prodigious winner again in the making of this new release. “When I made that first record I was in awe of Shane, and I become a bit inarticulate around people who are famous.” Michael recalls with a chuckle. But after recording the first album the two had become firm 49 friends more than just colleagues. “I came back this time around with the confidence to say ‘here’s what I want to say’ where do you want to take the songs? Shane pushed me to do things I couldn’t have done previously.” I drove home and wrote ‘Baling Twine’ – I didn’t get the man’s name but I got his story. I hope that this song pays tribute to some of those true heroes of Australia – who are fighting every day just getting out before subsiding safely with a smile on hearing the charming imagery on closer, ‘Kindergarten Fete’. It irresistibly transports you to a typical Australian school’s end of year Christmas concert … of bed and putting on a pair of gumboots.” In contrast, ‘For a Moment’ is a beautiful contemporary duet with Aleyce Simmonds that explores a wise philosophy on life and parenthood. Then there’s the leading single ‘Little C Word’ which was a late inclusion. “We completed all of the sessions, finished the record and three months later my brother was diagnosed with cancer. My manager sent through my rough recording of it and without hesitation Shane pushed stuff aside and made it work and we recorded it.” In hindsight, Michael concedes the album wouldn’t be complete without this moving song. “I want everyone to know how fiercely I love my little brother.” From the moment ‘Little C Word’ challenges you as the opening track, you will ride an unprecedented, very unpredictable emotional conveyor belt through some rough territory Silent night fell upon us when my son forgot his lines ….at the little Christmas concert, who knows what fate might bring us, life’s not all good news. It’s mostly dancing out of time and singing out of tune, but our children shine like stars made of foil and paper plates, fragile as a paper lantern, held with sticky tape.’ Astonishingly insightful, a sobering reality check and the perfect conclusion to round out this stunning album. As the school bell sounds, it’s time to wrap up this conversation with a humble and extraordinarily talented man. “I’ve got my students here so I better get started.” The Asphalt & the Oval is available February 16 and launched in Melbourne on March 23 at The Spotted Mallard with special guests The Weeping Willows and Scott Cook (Canada). I don’t want Kiara growing up in a world where her gender might prevent her from being anything that she wants to be, or where she could be hurt because some man didn’t grow up past Grade 3 While family remains a profound influence on this album there are some distinct twists and turns. The ‘Footy Trip’ song will have blokes applauding as it cheekily, but all too accurately, portrays the story of a boozy weekend with the boys. Michael explains, “‘Baling Twine’ on this new record is a true story – but it’s not mine. At a show out near Guildford, while I was singing ‘Dairy Farmer’s Son’ and ‘My Dad’s Shoes’ there was a man in the front row, crying. He was a big man and he told me later that he didn’t often cry: then he told me the story about twin brothers from the Bega area – and how the little farms around them had been bought up by big corporations and how the ‘making do’ attitude and ingenuity that I’d grown up with couldn’t compete against the shape of the contemporary dairy industry. Finally, one of the brothers couldn’t take it anymore. 50 A rtists don’t really make albums like Lee Ann Womack’s The Lonely, The Lonesome And The Gone anymore. Albums that seem to exist separate and apart from any external pressures or patterned templates. Albums that possess both a profound sense of history and a clear-eyed futuristic vision. Albums that transcend genres while embracing their roots. Albums that evoke a sense of place and of personality so vivid they make listeners feel more like participants in the songs than simply admirers of them. Anybody who has paid attention to Womack for the past decade or so could see she was headed in this direction. The Lonely, The Lonesome And The Gone is a breathtaking hybrid of country, soul, gospel and blues and comes from Womack’s core. “I could never shake my centre of who I was,” says the East Texas native. “I’m drawn to rootsy music. It’s what moves me.” 52 Recorded at Houston’s historic SugarHill Recording Studios and produced by Womack’s husband and fellow Texan, Frank Liddell - fresh off a 2017 ACM Album of the Year win for Miranda Lambert’s ‘The Weight of These Wings’ – this album marks the culmination of a journey that began with Womack’s 2005 CMA Album of the Year There’s More Where That Came From, moving her toward an authentic personal music that celebrates her roots and grows the canon. It also underscores the emergence of Womack’s songwriting voice: She has more writing credits among this album’s 14 tracks than on all her previous albums combined. Womack had made the majority of her previous albums in Nashville, where the studio system is so entrenched it’s almost impossible to avoid. Seeking to free herself from that mindset, Womack says, “I wanted to get out of Nashville and tap into what deep East Texas offers musically and vibe-wise.” So Womack and Liddell took a band to SugarHill, one of the country’s oldest continually operating studio spaces. In an earlier incarnation, the studio had given birth to George Jones’ earliest hits, as well as Roy Head’s mid-‘60s smash ‘Treat Her Right’; Freddy Fender’s ‘70s charttopping crossovers ‘Before the Next Teardrop Falls’ and ‘Wasted Days and Wasted Nights’; and recordings from Lightnin’ Hopkins, the Sir Douglas Quintet, the 13th Floor Elevators and Willie Nelson. Womack found the lure of East Texas irresistible. “I love local things, and I missed local music,” she says. “I grew up in Jacksonville. It was small, so I spent a lot of time dreaming, and about getting out.” It required only a short leap of logic to view Houston, and specifically SugarHill, as the place to record. Womack and Liddell found a perfect complement of musicians, players who clicked right away and became a oneheaded band. Bassist Glenn Worf (Alan Jackson, Bob Seger, Tammy Wynette, Mark Knopfler and others), drummer Jerry Roe (numerous Nashville sessions and his band Friendship Commanders), guitarists Ethan Ballinger, Adam Wright (Alan Jackson, Solomon Burke and others), and Waylon Payne (son of singer Sammi Smith and Willie Nelson’s longtime guitarist Jody Payne) formed the SugarHill gang. Engineer and co-producer Michael McCarthy, known for his production work with Spoon, brought vintage gear from his Austin studio and help capture a sharper sound for sessions recorded entirely to analog tape. “The beauty was partly because of the musicians we chose and partly because of the way we chose to record it. These guys are reckless players. That’s what Frank wanted, and what I wanted: “Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, and we might leave it on there, because that’s what happened in the moment.” That’s when you’re making music, not when you’re isolating everything, so that you can go back and fix things, go back and perfect and perfect. That’s obviously not what we were after here on this record.” “I got everybody out of their comfort zone and into a new element,” says Womack. “And it was funky there. This place was not in the least bit slick. Everybody there, all they think about is making music for the love of making music. Everyone comes in with huge smiles and positive attitudes. It was much different than what we were used to.” Womack had brought a handful of songs to record, including the gospelinspired original ‘All the Trouble’; wherein, with one of country music’s finest voices, she makes her entrance a cappella, sounding deflated beneath the crushing weight of her burdens. When the band eases into its looselimbed groove, she remains fatalistic. I wanted to get out of Nashville and tap into what deep East Texas offers musically and vibe-wise. Her sighed phrasing and subtly sagging notes signal resignation: “It’s hard being little; it’s hard being small / Make it up that mountain, you’re standing big and tall / Well, the trouble with a mountain, there’s a million ways to fall.” The poignant ‘Mama Lost Her Smile,’ in which a daughter sorts through her family’s photographic history looking for clues to a long-secret sorrow; and the love-triangle conversation ‘Talking Behind Your Back,’ which she penned with Dale Dodson and Dean Dillon, the writer of several George Strait classics. To make the final cut, Womack and the band had to be able to get to the heart of the songs and shine their light from the inside out. A trio of long-time favourites found their way onto the album, too. Womack joined a long list of legendary voices irresistibly drawn to Harlan Howard’s ‘He Called Me Baby,’ putting a sultry Southern groove underneath its mix of sensuality and sorrow. On ‘Long Black Veil,’ a tale of betrayal and closely held secrets that became a ‘50s classic as recorded by Lefty Frizzell, and then Johnny Cash, she taps into a ballad tradition that runs centuries deep. Womack recorded the album’s final track, a haunting version of George Jones’ ‘Please Take the Devil Out of Me,’ standing on the same gold-star linoleum floor where Jones cut the 1959 original. Capturing the reality of East Texas music isn’t always easy. Being in Houston and at SugarHill helped make that happen, inspiring an approach to the recording process that everyone embraced from the first note played. “Music down there, and I am including Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur and all the way through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, is this huge melting pot,” Womack says. “I love that, and I wanted that in this record. I wanted to make sure it had a lot of soul in it, because real country music has soul, and I wanted to remind people of that.” “When you make albums, and aren’t just going for singles, you really have to treat them with respect,” Liddell adds. “We did that at SugarHill, taking a bunch of like-minded lunatics and seeing what happened.” In Houston, with all its history, its eccentricity, its diversity and its lack of pretense, those like-minded lunatics found a place where they could flourish. “We all felt we weren’t going someplace just to make a record,” Womack says. “We were going someplace to make a great record.” Don’t just take her word for it, though. Listen. And when Womack and the music take you there, you’ll find you want to stay. 53 N ot many interviews turn out to be as much fun as this phoner with the new “IT” kid on the Nashville block. Most phone hookups are plugged through via a third party conferencing system with calls ahead of time to set up and introduce the subject...they are also notoriously early as the time difference means Tennessee evening is our morning...so it was with some dismay I accelerated my pyjama-clad, not aerodynamically designed person in from the garden at the summons of the phone - to be greeted with ‘Hi Denise, it’s Dustin Lynch.’ Forty minutes early. Computer not even turned on and no notes available. Turns out winging it is a viable option; mostly because Mr Lynch is a consummately cool guy; witty, urbane and lightning fast with a laugh, a snappy pun or punch line. My background knowledge of this looming and luminary superstar was sketchy outside of the singles he’s seen kick to No1 over the last few years - five in all, beginning with ‘Cowboys & Angels’ and culminating in ‘Seein’ Red’ and ‘Small Town Boy’ - latter two from new third album Current Mood that I had heard enough to know I liked it. He’s also racked up supports on some monster tours including with Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Brad Paisley. A native of Tullahoma, Tennessee, Lynch performed at the Bluebird Café in Nashville on an open mic night at 16 and was so well received by the audience, he started a band and moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 2003 where he studied Biology and Chemistry at Lipscomb University According to Lynch, he chose Lipscomb because it is two blocks from the Bluebird Café – but the under-aged aspiring Bachelor of Science would shortly learn he wasn’t permitted in the licensed premises, and Plan B involved consoling himself doing the rounds of songwriter shows where they’d let him in the door! He’s come a long way since then and obviously learnt a bit about opening doors. With his acceptance into Medicine it seemed white-coat-clad Dr Lynch was a done deal. But wait: is that not a cowboy hat I see? “Yes, but I got into Med School and I kept 54 thinking, I cannot go through life asking myself ‘What If?’ I needed to give music my best shot and mercifully, ten years to the very day, I was an overnight success!” I mention that it’s a solid fall back plan if necessary, and tell him that I’d read a Rolling Stone story about him, with the sub heading - 32-year-old country singer isn’t shy about carnal desire on sultry new project and noted he should be eligible to pass that off as carryover ‘prac work’ with his qualifications in Biology and medical science. He heartily agrees, “Absolutely right. I maintain an avid academic interest in the human anatomy and definitely know what all the parts are and what they do!” (Does he then concur with his cohort on the Body like a Backroad allegory? That may be more Engineering than Medical and he couldn’t say without looking more closely?) Now that the current mood is skewed to silly we decide to get serious, and talk about music. Lynch masters a classy combination of traditional influence executed with diverse feels and edgy intensity. Listen to groove on opener, ‘I’d Be Jealous Too,’ for example. I asked him what that feel would be best described as...and he said he didn’t know. And he’s a doctor - so how would I know?? “I wrote that the morning after I filmed the video for ‘Small Town Boy’ - with a beautiful Australian actress Claire Holt from Brisbane (Vampire Diaries and 47 Metres Down) who played my love interest in the clip, and we filmed all day on the beach and I was no little bit impressed with her, she is very impressive. Anyway, I got on the red eye and flew half the night in a haze to the next stop and next morning the idea for that song just happened.” Notwithstanding, Current Mood’s palette is mostly, as Lynch puts it, “party and sexy,” it is not standard fare by any means and homes a few outstanding exceptions. Namely, ‘Love Me or Leave Me Alone,’ is a gorgeous soulful country ballad that showcases Lynch’s vocal range and skilful inflections. He played the track on the tour bus for Bryan and Little Big Town, and knew it hit the mark when they wanted to hear it three or four times in a row, singing the chorus back to him. Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild eventually came into the studio to lend vocals to the track, which Dustin said was a really big deal for him. There is also a “message song,” about helping someone find their way out of an unhealthy relationship. “‘New Girl’ is probably my favourite lyric. It came from a number of young ladies that followed me over a few months and they’d come up at gigs and say how they loved my music and that it had got them through bad relationship breakups and tough times – and that made me feel good that it could do that and have a positive impact.” “...buddies like Thomas Rhett, are all married with kids – the children of my bandmates are the best birth control there is.” Lynch isn’t singing about tying the knot or settling down – he’s making music about lust, and life in the moment. If Current Mood is all about raising a glass or getting down between the sheets, it’s because that’s where Lynch is in his life right now. He makes no bones about the fact he hasn’t really seen the interior of too many churches lately, and is more inspired by cruising west coast ocean roads than just the prairies and fields of down home Tennessee. As one of the very few single men on the country music charts Lynch is unapologetic about his bachelor lifestyle and pursuits. Most of his peers, like Thomas Rhett, are all married with kids – he said he thinks the children of his bandmates are “the best birth control there is.” Lynch isn’t singing about tying the knot or settling down – he’s making music about lust, and life in the moment. ‘Why Not Tonight’ is a good drinking song. It’s a song that I live, and all my band and crew guys live too, and many of our friends in Nashville - really the whole music community. Our weekends are Mondays, so we’re the weirdos out at a bar going out to drink on Mondays. ‘Why Not Tonight’ is like Sunday Funday on steroids -- our drunk frat star anthem. Standout track for me is ‘Why We Call Each Other’- it is full of street-smarts, brilliant imagery and clever constructs. “That is the oldest song on the album. I’ve written hundreds since and listened to thousands - but it still stands up and made the cut for the album without a second thought, so I’m happy you picked that as your favourite. “The song is the result of a 2am text message that said, simply and succinctly, “Are You Up?” For whatever reason, that person is not good for your life but it’s good for the moment and we know it’s not going to work, but between now and daylight tomorrow it will.” The flip side of the quip; know it’s not Mr Right but Mr Right Now will do. “I was a little scared of these songs because I didn’t know how many people could relate to them,” Lynch says. “But I played them for my parents and a friend who is married and they kind of lit up whenever certain lines popped up that I thought might be offensive to mom and dad. They were like, ‘That’s hot.’” Dustin will be appearing on the CMC Rocks Qld bill next March and what is he expecting of his visit? Has he been swatting up online given his academic bent? Seems he doesn’t need to. “I only know what I’ve been told from other artists who have been and done the festival and they all say it is like nowhere else; that it’s a huge party and the fans are off the scale of awesome! Australia is a number one Bucket List place to visit for me anyway and number one destination to explore. I want to check out as much as I can and I’d love to do it once a year every year! I’m so blessed to do this thing that I do and my favourite other thing to do is travel when time permits. And I find Australian women extremely attractive and I’m going to use every excuse and take every chance to get to Aust that I can! I am counting down to it as we’re working non-stop til then so it’s going to be a vacation and a break away from everything. Realizing a secondary creative ambition of creating a fashion line, Lynch recently branched out to launch Stay Country. A range of accessibly-priced men’s and women’s shirts, hats, and accessories, all emblazoned with the distinctive Stay Country logo, can be found online. I just realised I didn’t ask if he’d considered advertising with Country Update for international expansion. Must have been off my game. 55 56 As Joe Nichols began work on a brand new batch of old-school country music, he found himself looking back for inspiration. Back to his early career, back to true friends and the simple perfection of pure country music … back to things that never get old. “Full circle is the term I would use,” the Arkansas native says about his new project, fittingly titled Never Gets Old. “The whole theme of the record is ‘Let’s get back to where it all began for me. Let’s get back to where my passion for music began.’” From 2002’s Man With a Memory on, Nichols harnessed that passion as a steady hit maker, racking up six Number Ones and eight Top 10s, including chart-topping modern classics like ‘Brokenheartsville’ and ‘Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.’ He’s a four-time Grammy nominee, an ACM, Billboard, CMA, and CMT Award winner, and his last album offering, Crickets, kept the success going, sending both ‘Yeah’ and ‘Sunny and 75’ to Platinumcertified #No1 status. But then four years went by – the longest span between releases of his career – as Nichols dug in to reconnect with his calling. In Never Gets Old, that is his mission and he hopes fans agree that he’s accomplished it. “Instead of us making something that’s built for instant success, the idea was ‘Let’s make something we’re gonna be proud of 30 years from now,’” Nichols explains. “I’m thinking less about what will work, and more about what I love.” What Nichols loves has always been obvious. Growing up around friends who were into anything but country, he was different. Nichols was pulled in by the realness of singers like Merle Haggard and Marty Robbins, Don Williams, Keith Whitley and George Strait, and that connection would inform his whole career. Even now with Never Gets Old, he’s happy to go against the grain. “Hopefully the stuff we’re doing lasts a lot longer than today’s typical country record,” he says. “But I think the irony is that retro sounds are actually what’s fresh and new right now. All we had to do was what felt natural.” Doing what felt natural has never been easier, as Nichols returned to the approach of his early albums. Working with Crickets producer Mickey Jack Cones and longtime collaborator and friend Brent Rowan– fiddles and steel guitar tempered tasteful modern sounds on nearly every mix, while that understated (but unmistakeable) baritone felt “better than it’s been in 10 years.” Saying his goal was to sing with the most feeling possible and let whatever came out of his soul land on the record, Nichols ended up with twelve tracks that bound between spirit and sentiment, courage and cleverness, romance and rowdy fun, all wrapped in the throwback style he’s spent a lifetime pursuing. Lead single and title track ‘Never Gets Old’ points the way. Written by Connie Harrington and Steve Moakler, Nichols says it reminds him of the mid-’80s country era, a song that “wasn’t necessarily deep, but it was meaningful.” With a swaying frontporch groove, it features laid-back acoustic guitars and accordions that waft in with the breeze, as Nichols ponders the moments that keep love fresh – like watching his wife laugh, holding her hand, and ending each day in a tender embrace. Nichols says he knew it was special when all three of his kids started singing along the first time they heard it. Tracks like ‘This Side of the River,’ ‘Billy Graham’s Bible,’ and ‘We All Carry Something’ are charged with soul-stirring power, while ‘Diamonds Make Babies’ and ‘So You’re Saying’ inject the project with the buzz of heart warming fun. But it’s a bit of carefree craziness adapted from his live show which is sure to leave listeners with the biggest grin – an honest-to-goodness country cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s hiphop favourite, ‘Baby Got Back.’ What began as a joke between Nichols and his band years ago went on to become a cherished moment onstage, and now it caps off Never Gets Old, proving that whatever this veteran song stylist sings, it’s gonna sound country. Nichols and his team invited comedian Darren Knight and his “Southern Momma” character to revamp the iconic spoken-word parts, and what came out in the studio was so much fun it had to be included on the album. “Everybody was laughing that day,” he says. “It was out-of-the-blue and we never thought we’d put it on a record. But when it was done I was like ‘This is nuts, but this actually kind of feels like it should have been a country record ... a goofy one, but still.’” When Joe Nichols released his debut album, he was barely 20 years old and trying to put his youth behind him. Looking back now, he laughs at that thought, but some things never change. Back then he was scrappy and defiant about his quest to revive traditional country, and that drive Let’s make something we’re gonna be proud of 30 years from now. I’m thinking less about what will work, and more about what I love. remains. In fact, he says it’s one of those things that never gets old. “I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be,” he says. “With my first album, there was this apprehension of ‘Is country music ready for a traditional country record?’ It was a little bit scary, but we went for it, and with Never Gets Old I still feel the exact same passion – it’s like ‘Let’s give it to them anyway.’ Now, I think country music is ready.” 57 I n the big picture, there’s no doubt that Midland is a country band. Lead singer Mark Wystrach’s phrasing mimics Southern-sounding Diamond Rio vocalist Marty Roe; the act wields an electric sound that resembles John Jorgenson’s brash Desert Rose Band guitars. Carson, Wystrach and bass player Cameron Duddy weave tight, Eagles-esque harmonies; and they showed up at the CMT Music Awards in rhinestone suits that owed more than a passing debt to Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers. If Midland’s emergence with a nostalgic sound is a surprise to music fans who wrote off the genre in the bro-country era (first single ‘Drinkin’ Problem’ rode its old-school sound to No. 4 on Hot Country Songs) it’s also a mild shock to the trio, which was warned repeatedly when it started working in Nashville not to expect mainstream success by sticking with their sound. Nevertheless, it made minimum compromises in finding its way from Texas roadhouses to terrestrial playlists. At the end of the first verse in Midland’s new single, ‘Make a Little,’ the music steps just a hair out of line. There’s a surprise chord, and the song coolly veers out of place before falling back 58 in line. It’s a nice lit t le bit of symbolism for an unexpected, but wholly welcome, development. The band takes just enough melodic sidesteps and infuses just enough odd rhymes and bent phrases to keep fans happily unsettled while listening to its debut album, On the Rocks, released in September. The surprise sounds are a point of pride for Midland, a trio from Dripping Springs, Texas, that’s applying a little Merle swagger to a genre that was, to many ears, getting too big-city for its’ one-horse-town britches. “The people that we’ve written with are similar-minded, and I’d like to think that we’ve developed as songwriters. But it’s also partly what we listen to — songs like ‘Wichita Lineman,’ which are mainstream country songs that everybody knows.” says guitarist Jess Carson. “If you break that song down, it’s complex. It uses chords that you wouldn’t think are predominantly country.” “The idea was, ‘Let’s not change who we are,’ ” says Duddy. “No one that we have worked with in Nashville has tried to do that. That’s the understanding and the undertaking. Like, ‘Let Midland do Midland, and we’ll see what happens.’ We just happened to be in the right place at the right time as far as the pendulum swinging back toward traditional country music. It’s kind of just that Malcolm Gladwell tipping-point situation, you know? It’s a matter of preparation and hard work meeting opportunity.” (Best-selling author Gladwell is the man who invented the 10,000-hour principle in the book Outliers: The Story of Success) Whether they reached the 10,000 mark or not, the guys in Midland certainly invested the hours in their craft. Each of them lived in Los Angeles for a time during the last decade, wood-shedding into the morning hours with different bands to prep for whatever gigs they might piece together at clubs where the audiences might, or, more likely might not, care. “They would just show up and kindly listen to your band, or you would show up and there would be zero people there, and the bartender would take a smoke break when you’re playing, so you’re playing for nobody,” says Duddy. “It was all part of the process of getting up your chops.” Part of Midland’s process was leaving L.A. The members all moved to other states and reduced music to a part-time venture while they worked other jobs that actually paid the bills. But when Duddy got married in Jackson Hole, Wyo., in August 2013, oddly enough, the same month that New York Magazine coined the “bro-country” term, his bandmates arrived a week early to attend, and they fell into making music for the pure love of it. The sound was irresistible, and they decided to pursue it further. They cut some sides at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, Texas (the studio where Frankie Ballard recorded his El Rio album); committed to the band; and relocated to Dripping Springs, the site of Willie Nelson’s first Fourth of July Picnic. They performed regularly at Poodie’s Roadhouse, a club founded by Nelson’s former stage manager, Randall “Poodie” Locke, who died in 2009. “Our band got a residency and really got our shit together at Poodie’s,” says Duddy. “The bar is still there, and it’s low ceilings, shitty sound quality, bar flies and bar rats, but those are our people, man. Those were our first fans, and that’s how we grew our sound.” The band took its name from a Dwight Yoakam album cut, ‘Fair to Midland,’ appropriate since Yoakam - along with such acts as Randy Travis, Ricky Van Shelton and The Desert Rose Band - was part of the New Traditionalist movement in the 1980s. It came along in the aftermath of the Urban Cowboy-led crossover period that provoked The New York Times to write country’s epitaph in 1985. “Country music was pretty pop-driven and pop-dominated at the time,” recalls Wystrach. “Dwight came through with something that was old and new at the same time, and it was really honky-tonk born and driven. It was really similar to what we’re chasing. The difference is that we’re a vocal group, and you’ve got to throw in a lot of The Band and the Eagles and Alabama, and mix it in with that same honky-tonk sound.” Songwriters Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne co-produced the first incarnation, allowing McAnally to work on a project with George Strait overtones. “I swear if I heard Midland on the radio, I would be so mad if I wasn’t a part of it,” says McAnally. Producer Dann Huff (Keith Urban, Brantley Gilbert) was brought in later to help find the right mainstream flourishes, essentially playing up the Eagles components without eliminating the raw Flying Burrito elements. The band received a surprise standing ovation from programmers during a showcase at Country Radio Seminar, the first large public evidence of the wave that was about to hit. It was a signal to Music Row that there are indeed some media gatekeepers with ears and a desire to provide a little more traditional country balance in the genre’s current progressive mix. Those sorts of champions have existed in Nashville’s music community for ages. Midland may be making them happy, but the band doesn’t plan to cater to them, either. “If people are hoping for it and rooting for us, that’s great,” says Wystrach. “It’s not going to affect or change what we’re doing.” Midland was different from the start, and the band plans to hold firm to that Merle swagger. ..or you would show up and there would be zero people there, and the bartender would take a smoke break when you’re playing, so you’re playing for nobody... 59 We recorded that song on Inauguration Day and you could physically feel the divide between the public and the unrest in the air. I was in the studio that week every day for twelve hours a day on average, so realized my contribution was going to have to take place within the walls of Blackbird. 60 D on’t be deceived by the seemingly innocuous exterior. Whitney Rose’s outward appearance is subterfuge for an old soul. There are many useful creeds to live by, but for Whitney Rose, there’s one rule that stands alone as a guiding principle for life as she knows it: Rule 62. The origin of the rule is best summed up by the poignant, pronoun-adjusted excerpt from Alcoholics Anonymous’ Tradition Four cited above, a treatise on how to find harmony between ambition and selfawareness, and how to learn one’s lessons with humour and humility. This truism, officially worded as “Don’t Take Yourself Too Damn Seriously,” is the origin of both the title and ethos of Whitney Rose’s forthcoming album, Rule 62 out last month. Rewind to January 2017. Rose was primed to release South Texas Suite, a countrypolitan valentine to Austin, Texas. (Rolling Stone noted that it “bristles with local flavour.”) Days before the EP hit the streets and Rose kicked off a fourmonth worldwide tour, the burgeoning songwriting force (and “country hair” disciple) packed her boots for Nashville, where she entered BlackBird Studio A to reconvene with the Mavericks’ Raul Malo. In one short week, Rose, Malo and coproducer Niko Bolas channelled the tumult, turbulence and tension outside of the studio into Rose’s sophomore worldwide release, which includes nine self-penned songs. Playful yet uncompromising, Whitney Rose reminds us of popular music’s rich history of strong female voices and perspectives, and on Rule 62, she channels her inner Nancy Sinatra, Bobbie Gentry and Françoise Hardy. The singer-songwriter follows in the steps of strong willed country female vocalists like Loretta Lynn on some songs such as the opening declaration ‘I Don’t Want Half (I Just Want Out),’ and the one night stand tale of ‘You Don’t Scare Me,’ where she sings “there’s no damage you can do that ain’t already done/ just look inside my eyes and see/ you don’t scare me.” Malo features Rose’s girlish, coquettish yet expressive and often emotional voice prominently in the mix. Even with topnotch side musicians there is no doubt whose album this is. She pens nine of the eleven tracks, all of which tap into a stylized yet never clichéd, ’60s-influenced era in country whose tendrils trickle through this album. While neither of Rose’s albums (Malo also produced previous outing Heartbreaker of the Year) copy the Mavericks style, there is a retro referencing Americana pop/ countrypolitan vibe to her music that’s enhanced by Malo’s interconnected roots. Rule 62 finds Rose “breaking up with patriarchy,” a breakup evidenced by new songs that show verve, swagger and selfassurance in her innate and instinctive sense of tone, broadened scope and keen attention to detail. Consider ‘Can’t Stop Shakin’ in the context of the day it was recorded: January 20, 2017. With Malo on harmonies and rhythm guitars, Kenny Vaughn on lead guitar, and saxophones and organ in the mix, ‘Can’t Stop Shakin’ was originally written as anti-anxiety therapy in Memphis soul dance party form. Against an ominous political backdrop of Inauguration Day, the song now reverberates with an undercurrent of uncertainty and anger that reframes the self-calming shimmy as an athem of protest. “‘Can’t Stop Shakin’ started out as something I would sing to calm myself down.” Rose says. “We recorded that song on Inauguration day and you could physically feel the divide between the public and the unrest in the air. I was in the studio that week every day for twelve hours a day on average, so realized my contribution was going to have to take place within the walls of Blackbird. So the song that started as a personal anthem got a rewrite that day.” Rule 62’s “breakup” theme can be felt in songs like ‘Arizona’ and ‘Time to Cry,’ two fiery, merciless tunes that show Rose at the end of her rope with the manipulation and discrimination of women in the music business and beyond. “For reasons unbeknownst to me at the time, I started writing all these “breakup” songs that were mostly angry. I wasn’t sure where all these feelings were coming from until one day it hit me like a ton of bricks that I was penning these songs to society,” she observes. These sharptongued send-offs come with a good dose of humour, and the result is a reassuring sense that Rose isn’t letting anything grind her down. Rose’s rising resilience underpins the message of ‘Better to My Baby,’ a standout song that puts into practice the spirit and the letter of the album title. A tuneful take on moving on, the song is a measured spin on the traditional volatility of regret and jealousy that accompanies the end of a relationship. ‘Better To My Baby’ also showcases Rose’s adept handling of ’60s pop conventions in its proud girl squad nods: tinkling piano, buoyant harmonies and rueful romanticism. Rule 62 is Rose’s second release of 2017, and sees the songwriter’s increased output matched by increased distinction. With so much touring now under the tyres, it’s no surprise that Rose’s best work yet frequently explores her journeywoman’s experience. ‘Wake Me in Wyoming’ and ‘Trucker’s Funeral’ are emblematic of Rose’s clever study of the musician-as-trucker analogy. ‘Trucker’s Funeral,’ a Dolly-calibre yarn with a stranger-than-fiction twist, is in fact a true story. “I had a meeting at Bank of America here in Austin last year and when the meeting was over the teller told me about going to his grandfather’s funeral here in Texas,” Rose recounts. “He found out he had a full second family on the West Coast. His grandfather was a trucker and always on the road, so neither family had any idea. As he was telling me this story, I was jotting down lyrics on my banking papers because it was just too intriguing an experience not be a song.” Rule 62 boasts the first-class musicianship and studio instincts of collaborator and producer Raul Malo. The comfort and familiarity between the two made for a seamless return to the studio, this time with the added ear of Niko Bolas as coproducer. “Niko brought a lot to the table in the studio (when he wasn’t sitting at his table at Waffle House). It allowed Raul to step down from the producer role from time to time and be a part of the band. That man can play and sing. One of my favourite parts of the album is the guitar solo on ‘You Never Cross My Mind’ — that’s all Raul,” Rose observes appreciatively. Other musicians in the studio included Paul Deakin (The Mavericks) on drums, Jay Weaver (Dolly Parton, Tanya Tucker, The Mavericks) on bass; Jen Gunderman (Sheryl Crow) on piano; Chris Scruggs (Marty Stuart) on steel; Aaron Till (Asleep at the Wheel) on the fiddle; and Kenny Vaughn (Marty Stuart, Lucinda Williams) on lead guitar. 61 62 C ountry music fans around the world mourned the loss of one of its’ most distinctive song stylists with the passing of Don Williams in September after a short illness. He was 78. Rodney Crowell recently wrote with his customary eloquence and graceful example, was born May 27, 1939. He grew up in Portland, TX, graduating there in 1958. Music had always been a part of his upbringing, entering – and winning - a talent contest when he was just three years old. For his efforts, Williams received an alarm clock. He began playing guitar during his teen-age years, learning songs that he heard on the radio. He and his friends played in local bands around the area, and he wed wife Joy “This morning I woke up thinking about Bucher on April 10, 1960. Don Williams and how I failed to fully To support his family register his passing properly. Upon which I – which included two decided that walking in the hills near our sons, Gary and Timmy house while listening to his Greatest Hits – Williams worked at would be a good way to reconnect with a number of odd jobs, my feelings about the man and his music. including oil field work, Strangely, his recordings of ‘Some Broken and also as a bill collector. Hearts Never Mend,’ ‘Good Ole Boy’s Like While living in Corpus Me,’ ‘Tulsa Time,’ and ‘Love Is On a Roll’ Christi in 1964, he formed put me in mind of Tom Petty. Though the folk-styled trio The their music differs in most every way, their Pozo Seco Singers with viselike-grip on exactly who they were and Lofton Cline and Susan how that knowledge informed every aspect Taylor. They stayed of their work was undeniably clear. As much together for seven years, as talent, integrity was both of their calling with their biggest hit being cards. It’s a privilege to mourn them both.” ‘Time.’ After the group disbanded in 1969, Williams soon I have my own peculiar Don Williams found his way to Nashville. story. In 1993 I arrived with a group By 1971, he had a songwriting contract of friends in Branson Missouri, the day with the publishing company owned that Conway Twitty passed away. We by Jack Clement. The next year would had our schedule all mapped out with see Williams ink a recording deal with the aid of the Branson program and as Clement’s JMI Records. He made his we drove into town, outside Loretta chart debut with ‘The Shelter of Your Lynn’s theatre was a sign announcing Eyes’ in 1973, and was soon hitting the Don Williams at 1pm. Not knowing the charts time and again with a much more circumstances and why this was omitted laid-back sound than a lot of the music from all published programs, a few of coming out of Nashville at the time. us bought tickets despite the scepticism 1974 would see Williams top the charts and disbelief of others and returned for for the first time with ‘I Wouldn’t Want the show. To Live If You Didn’t Love Me.’ From There would have been no more than that point all the way through 1991, fifty or sixty people in the theatre and each Williams single would hit the Topwe were in the front row. Don suggested 40 on Billboard Country charts. His the band unplug and sit on the front 1970s hits included such chart toppers of the stage with him and they did the as ‘Tulsa Time,’ ‘She Never Knew Me,’ show acoustically. It was so special and and ‘It Must Be Love.’ his voice was exactly as we knew it on Williams also gained a devoted records, like pure molten honey, and he following overseas in such unlikely spots was absolutely charming and played way as England, Ireland, and New Zealand, longer than he should have and stayed as and even South Africa and Kenya – long as anyone wanted to chat afterward. where he reached superstar status. He An indelible memory, and one of the allwas named the Male Vocalist of the time best concert experiences for me. Year by the Country Music Association A native of Floydada, Texas, Williams in 1978. Though known for being very low-key and soft spoken, Williams did make two movie appearances – 1974’s W.W. and The Dixie Dancekings, and 1980’s Smokey and the Bandit II. The 1980s saw no slow down in Williams’ recorded output, with the singer notching his biggest hit with 1981’s ‘I Believe In You,’ which not only topped Country charts, but crossed over to No. 24 on the Hot 100. By this time, he had earned the nickname “The Gentle Giant” for his trademark mellow sound, and the hits continued to pile up throughout the rest of the decade – ‘Stay Young,’ ‘If Hollywood Don’t Need You,’ and ‘One Good Well’ being three of his biggest of the 1980s. His final top ten came in 1991, with ‘Lord Have Mercy On A Country Boy,’ a song that Josh Turner – a Williams fan – would record in 2006. Though the changing of the guard at radio slowed down Williams’ chart success, he continued to perform for sold-out crowds in America and abroad, playing a final tour in 2006. However, retirement was not in the cards for the singer, who returned to the road in 2010 – the same year that he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Williams’ return to the spotlight also included a pair of albums on Sugar Hill, 2012’s And So It Goes, and 2014’s Reflections, which included contributions from Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, and Keith Urban. It was a sign of his enduring appeal that both albums hit the Top-20 on the Billboard Country Albums charts – his highest rank there in three decades. In 2016, Williams decided that the time was right for his final performance, calling time on one of the most successful careers in the history of the Country Music business. “It’s time to hang my hat up and enjoy some quiet time at home. I’m so thankful for my fans, my friends and my family for their everlasting love and support,” the 76-year-old Williams said in a statement at the time. Fortunately for us, 2016 also saw the final release of Williams’ career, a live CD and DVD recorded in Ireland, and in 2017, the singer was the subject of a tribute album, Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams, that included performances of his hits by artists including Lady Antebellum and Garth Brooks. 63 2018 TOYOTA COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL TAMWORTH LINE-UP It doesn’t get better than Tamworth in January and It is the home of country music in Australia and the this year the Toyota Country Music Festival will be birthplace of many country music careers, and if you celebrating a monumental 46 years with a stellar line-up haven’t been to a Tamworth Festival before, there’s no of Australia’s top country music stars. better time than now,” Mr. Harley said. 2018 headlining acts include a cast of perennial Eight times Golden Guitar Award winner Adam favourites and multi-award winners like Harvey will be LIVE in concert Saturday 20 Troy Cassar-Daley, Lee Kernaghan, January and Australia Day Friday 26, The McClymonts, Sara Storer, January 2018 at West Tamworth Adam Eckersley Band and John Leagues Club (Wests). Harvey Williamson. has clocked up sales of over “The list of Festival Manager Barry Harley half a million albums, has a quality shows for the 2018 said, “Across the ten days of string of gold and platinum Toyota Country Music Festival the Festival, the city will discs to his credit and has be filled with Australian made some mighty fine keeps growing every day and we’ve country music legends, records during his career, had a great response from fans taking newcomers, award winners, and his show is invariably advantage of early ticket sales and breaking stars and buskers, a crowd pleaser. showing the rest of the Also performing at Wests all indications are that we’re in for world why Tamworth is the on Australia Day is fan another big year in Tamworth.” place to be in January.” favourite Amber Lawrence. Buzz bands, Hurricane Fall, Mu l t i - a w a rd - w i n n i n g Barry Harley Festival Manager The Pigs, The Viper Creek Lawrence will be bringing her Band and Cruisin Deuces, will ‘Cheers to Oz’ Australia Day be returning to Tamworth with shows Show with home-grown special at the popular Longyard and Southgate guests direct to Tamworth in January Hotels. Fans will be pleased to hear that Shane off the back of another successful tour. Nicholson will be back in his regular spot at The Pub Superstars like Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, James plus newly minted stars Fanny Lumsden and Travis Blundell, The Wolfe Brothers, Buddy Goode, Collins are set for huge shows this festival. Brothers3 and ventriloquist Darren Carr will return “Tamworth in January truly is the ultimate destination to Tamworth with huge shows at Wests Entertainment for country music fans and festival enthusiasts alike. Group (Wests) venues throughout the Festival. 64 65 Other big ticket shows include Paul Costa’s show with special guests Tori Darke and Ben Ransom. Darren Coggan is performing The James Taylor Songbook - Fire and Rain. Vanessa Sanger with her show Country Cousins; The Pigs; The Davidson Brothers and brother and sister duo Kaylens Rain who are set to perform at The Frog & Toad Listening Room Thursday, 25 January 2018 in a special ‘siblings’ show In Our Blood along with Alex and Bec Crook and The Dennis Sisters. Off the back of a jam packed national tour, Aleyce Simmonds with her band The Spurs and some special guests Finnian Johnson and Paul Carey will rock The Tamworth Hotel on Sunday 21st January at 7 pm. This show will be the first time Simmonds – the 2017 APRA AMCOS Award winner and 2017 Australian Independent Artist and Female Vocalist of the Year - and her band has performed at The Tamworth Hotel, and the show is set to be a Festival highlight! On Wednesday, 24 January 2018 young superstars Caitlyn Shadbolt and Reece Mastin will be at The Albert Hotel while at The DAG the Songwriters Retreat Showcase will see Luke O’Shea, Kevin Bennett, Jeremy Edwards, Jen Mize plus a mystery tutor and songwriters from the 2017 Retreat on the show. Also at the DAG fans can catch country music favourites The Bushwackers, and Tom Maxwell during the week. Other highly anticipated shows include the third annual Tamworth Opry at the Capitol Theatre hosted by Golden Guitar Award-winning-artist Felicity Urquhart and featuring multi-Golden Guitar Award winners James Blundell and Kristy Cox. 66 Stars like Aleyce Simmonds will take the stage during the showcase along with Dean Perrett, Jeff Brown, The Weeping Willows, Karin Page, Jen Mize, Brad Butcher, Amber Joy Poulton, Luke Dickens, and Daniel Thompson. Fans are sure to be reminded why Graeme Connors is one of Australia’s finest and most successful singersongwriters with a long overdue solo performance at the hallowed Tamworth Town Hall. Inspired by his sold out African Music Safari in July/August this year Connors comes back to the core of his career with a collection of songs spanning his 18 albums with a simple guitar or piano accompaniment. Melinda Schneider’s 100% COUNTRY is a brand new two-hour show tracing Melinda’s life and country music career through song – from bluegrass to ballads and back. Fans who love Melinda’s music and the craft of singer songwriter’s, simply cannot go past this show The Bluegrass Comes to Tamworth show will be back for its fourth year in a row bringing some of Australia’s best bluegrass and acoustic performers together. The line-up for this popular show includes Pete Denahy and Kristy Cox, The Weeping Willows and the Karen Lynne Band, plus exciting newcomers Montgomery Church and a cast of surprise guests. This year’s festival will also mark a momentous occasion for Lost Highway’s latest signing sensation, Tori Forsyth. Tori will be showcasing her full debut album, in Tamworth’s new Craft Beer Bar, The Welder’s Dog. Tori was a hit at the recent Broadbeach Country Music Festival, and with her band, The Spurs behind her is set to captivate audiences with her alt country music. FESTIVAL FREE ENTERTAINMENT Mr. Harley said it doesn’t matter whether people come to the festival for the music, the atmosphere or simply the experience, there is something for everyone! “The Toyota Country Music Festival is a showcase of great Australian music talent, and a wonderful place for musical discovery and this latest line-up is a testament to that. I urge anyone who hasn’t been to a Festival in Tamworth to put it on their bucket list.” It doesn’t get better than the Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth with hundreds of free concerts across the city. In addition to the outstanding line-up of paid shows on offer, and the vibrancy of Peel Street lined with buskers from across the country and even the world - the Toyota Country Music Festival offers the opportunity to see some of the nation’s biggest county music stars performing live absolutely free! From 10 am each day the Toyota Fanzone, and ABC stages are in full swing bringing country music to the heart of the city and showcasing different acts every 30 mins. As the sun goes down, the Festival’s biggest and by far the most impressive free outdoor venue, Toyota Park starts to light up, offering a quintessentially ‘Australian summer’ experience with festival goers spilling in with their eskies and fold out chairs to pick the best vantage point to enjoy world-class musicians on stage. On Friday 19 January the Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth kicks off with a huge Opening Concert, featuring Judah Kelly (The Voice Australia 2017 winner). Travis Collins (2017 Golden Guitar Award Winner Male Artist of the Year, Single of the Year and Song of the Year). Rachael Fahim (2017 Toyota Star Maker), and Aleyce Simmonds (2017 APRA AMCOS Country Work of the Year Award Winner, 2017 Independent Country Artist of the Year and 2017 Independent Country Female Vocalist of the Year), plus much more. Families will love The Family Support Concert on Saturday 20 January with Disney favourites Elsa (Frozen) and Belle (Beauty and the Beast) making an appearance alongside Amber Lawrence, Homegrown, Finnian Johnson and Arna Georgia. On Sunday 21 January, Toyota Star Maker finalists perform for their chance to be crowned the 2018 Toyota Star Maker at the grand final concert, and on Monday the Americana In The Park concert will see popular artists such as Brad Butcher, Paddy McHugh, Gretta Ziller, Melody Moko and Andrew Swift take the stage. The always popular Live And Loud concert on Tuesday 23 January will feature Judah Kelly and Jasmine Rae, and showcase emerging talent with stars like Kaylens Rain, Melanie Dyer, Missy Lancaster, Route 33, Alex & Bec Crook, Emily Joy and Cassidy Rae Gaiter. We will go Back To The Bush on Wednesday 24 January with a super bush ballad concert and artists such as Jeff Brown, Graham Rodger, Dean Perrett, Dianne Lindsay, 68 Reg Poole, Lindsay Butler and Shaza Leigh. Adam Brand will be celebrating his 20th anniversary in Tamworth with a special 20 Years Milestones Party In The Park on Thursday, 25 January, and Australia Day (Friday, 26 January) will see a star studded lineup take to the stage for the Toyota Stars Under The Stars concert. The top ten buskers from Tamworth’s boulevard of dreams will battle it out to become the Best of the Buskers at the Toyota Landcruiser’s Best Of The Buskers concert on Saturday 27 January. On Sunday the Festival will close with the Last Round Up concert featuring a range of winners from across the week (Golden Guitar Awards, Buskers, Battle of the Bands) and will culminate in a massive fireworks display. Toyota Country Music Festival Manager, Mr. Barry Harley says the theme for this year’s Toyota Park concerts is like 2017 with a focus on a large variety of ‘cameo’ performances from a lot of acts rather than long concerts of just one act. “Having a focus on more cameo performances ensures festival goers have the opportunity to experience our country music stars, but also the many emerging, new and popular artists in one place, showcasing the diversity of country music genres we have here in Australia.” NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall has congratulated festival organisers on the 2018 line-up and said the Tamworth Country Music Festival is proudly supported by the State’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. “As the largest music festival in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the top 10 in the world, this iconic event has cemented the Tamworth’s reputation as Australia’s country music capital,” Mr. Marshall said. 2018 TOYOTA GOLDEN GUITAR AWARDS As the nation’s longest running music awards concert and the most anticipated night on the Australian Country Music calendar, the 2018 Toyota Golden Guitar Awards promise audiences a captivating display of the best in Australian country music talent. The Awards which started in 1973 play a vital role in developing and promoting Australian country music talent and are arguably the most coveted performance slots in country music representing the pinnacle of the Australian country music journey. Presented in Tamworth, the country music capital of Australia, as the finale to the 10-day Toyota Country Music Festival, the event is much more than just the presentation of the coveted Golden Guitar statues. The night is a fastpaced concert featuring the best of Australian country music talent and the songs that have left their mark on fans over the past 12 months. Set in Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre’s Lyric Mode, fans will experience an intimate night of non-stop entertainment and special magic moments that they simply can’t see anywhere else. Mr. Peter Ross, Executive Producer, Country Music Awards of Australia explains: “Performances during the show will lean heavily on the award nominations and winners. Like the Festival generally, the Awards are a place where up and coming acts get the chance to share the bill with the genre’s biggest names, and the result is unlike anything else.” The 2018 Toyota Golden Guitar Awards finalists will be announced at a star-studded event in Sydney this November. 70 COCA-COLA COUNTRY CELEBRATES 40 YEARS AT TCMF WITH EXCITING NEW FORMAT For 40 years Coca-Cola Country has given aspiring musicians the chance to perform on the same stage as some of the biggest names in Australian country music during one of the foremost country music festivals in the world - the Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth. Recognised as one of the most important elements of the Festival, Coca-Cola Country has built a strong foundation with its famous Walk-ups and, more recently, the introduction of the Battles - the Battle of the YoungStars, the Battle of the Bluegrass and the very popular Battle of the Bands. This year, in an exciting move, Coca-Cola Country will be joining forces with the Capital Country Music Association’s National Talent Quest (CCMA). Together Coca-Cola and CCMA will present an eightday schedule of opportunities for artists of all ages and all stages to perform and compete in the luxury of the infamous Tamworth Town Hall with a professional backing band. Local Coca-Cola Amatil District Sales Manager John Eggins said, “This is an exciting opportunity to encourage and support emerging Aussie talent as we celebrate our 40-year partnership with Toyota Country Music Festival. We value this partnership with Tamworth and are proud to keep building it together.” The CCMA has been providing the opportunity for artists to compete in categories from juniors through to “golden oldies” since 1966 and President of the CCMA Steve Newton said: “It was a natural blend to include the CCMA’s Junior and Senior talent quest into the Coca-Cola Battles.” “With changes in society and technology challenging traditional talent quests all over Australia, it is exciting to be able to combine two giant talent quests into a onestop-shop for all aspiring country musicians whether competing, or those who just want to walk up and have a go at singing.” “Combining these two elements of the Festival means we can reinvigorate the Town Hall schedule, providing more opportunities for artists and bands to perform and more opportunities for fans to discover musical talent.” Barry Harley said. To commemorate their 40-year relationship, Coca-Cola and the Toyota Country Music Festival have developed a hallmark logo for the 2018 event. This logo will appear throughout the Toyota Country Music Festival, guiding Festival goers to Coca-Cola Country to experience the following: Battle of the Young Stars – Junior: Under 10 | Intermediate: 10 to 13 | Senior: 14 to 17 Battle of the New Stars – 18 and over Battle of the Bluegrass – All ages Battle of the Bands - All ages Plus, the Fam & Sing oppo ous Walk Up rtunities dail y. Following th legendary CC e finals of each Battle, th the Town Hal MA Jamboree will run, al e so in l week’s activity where all solo winners fr o m w il the l b e in vite Jamboree for the titles of O d to compete at the verall Junior and Senior All Grand Fin Champions. al Cavalcade on s will be held after the T oyota Saturday, 27 Janu 10 am, and w inners will re ary 2018 from ceive trophie and cash prize s s with some offer paid gig as p art of the pri ing a ze. 71 BUSKING Busking is one of the greatest traditions and most vibrant and exciting parts of the Toyota Country Music Festival in Tamworth each year culminating in the Toyota Busking Championships. The Championships, which are designed to celebrate and recognise the aspiring talent in Peel Street during the festival, see registered buskers judged across the week with ten finalists chosen to perform at the Best of the Buskers Concert on the final weekend of the festival where the winner and runner-up will be announced. Mr. Harley: “Throughout the Festival, we see up to 400 buskers perform on Tamworth’s ‘Boulevard of Dreams’ in Peel Street for their shot at stardom. It has become the place where stars are born, and dreams come true with many of Australia’s finest country music artists first making their mark on the industry from a busking spot on Peel Street.” Stars like Troy Cassar-Daley, Kasey Chambers, Beccy Cole, Keith Urban and Travis Collins all started out by busking on Peel Street. All those taking part in the 2018 Toyota Busking Championship have a chance to share in over $5,000 in cash and prizes, plus an opportunity to perform at The Last Roundup on Sunday, 28 January 2018 in Toyota Park, as well as a guest appearance during the Opening Concert in 2019. A FAMILY FRIENDLY EXPERIENCE Families will find plenty to do when visiting the Toyota Country Music Festival, Tamworth in 2018. The dedicated Regional Australia Bank Family Zone is a place for families of all sizes and kids of all ages. The Zone boasts a huge range of budget friendly rides and activities including a 20m Ferris wheel, dodgem cars, cup n saucer ride, bungy trampoline, jumping castle, flying tigers mini plane ride and convoy trucks ride to name just a few. Adults and children alike will have the opportunity to mine for gold at the ‘Rocky River Mining’ stand or try their luck at the numerous attractions along the sideshow alley. The Smoked Barrel BBQ will also be there offering visitors some delectable American fare. Open every day the Regional Australia Bank Family Zone is in Kable Avenue, at the entrance to Toyota Park. Top tips for families visiting the festival in 2018: Wander down Peel Street and experience the vibrancy of the buskers and street performers. Don’t miss the free concerts in Toyota Park the 72 dedicated family concert on Saturday 20 January 2018 Stop by the Big Golden Guitar for a family ‘selfie’ and don’t forget to #TamworthNSW. Drop into Coca-Cola Country in the infamous Tamworth Town Hall to witness the talent quests. Watch the floats bring a flurry of colour and spectacle to Peel Street in the Toyota Country Music Cavalcade on Saturday 27 January 2018. Festivals, Events & Travel Rockin’ Rocky has been born to reinstate the ‘good old times’. We are bringing back a major New Year’s event to Rockhampton for all of Regional Queensland. An event for y’all to let your hair down and give the old year a right royal send-off and kick the new one into gear as only a country crowd can! Presenting Lee Kernaghan, The McClymonts, The Wolfe Brothers, Morgan Evans, Missie Lancaster, James Johnston and the spectacular PBR finals on Sunday night, with leading country rock DJ - Dee Jaye Bux This New Year’s Eve will again see the PBR return to 74 where it all started – the Great Western Hotel, New Year’s Eve, 10 years ago when the first Championships and first ever Australian PBR Champion was crowned in this venue. 200 plus PBR events and over 10,000 bull-outs later and we’re back to be a part of this huge 3 day Rockin Rocky party. As well as an incredible line-up of Entertainment and the PBR, Rockin Rocky will include a massive Eat Fest and Carnival on the external street of the Great Western Hotel that will be a gold coin entry for the entire community to attend from 4pm each day. Tickets: www.greatwesternhotel.com.au or www.rockinrocky.com Festivals, Events & Travel THE HILLS COME ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF COUNTRY MUSIC MAR 3RD 2018 Country Rocks Festival Sydney is a brand new event taking place at Bella Vista Farm, the home to Australia’s first Merino sheep farm and foundation of the Aust citrus industry. Bella Vista Farm’s history as an active pastoral and farming property during Sydney’s early colonial years makes it the perfect location for this celebration of the fusion of city and country culture in song. Country Rocks Festival Sydney is a full day of thrilling performances, soaring vocals, wild excitement, wonderful rhythm and emotive lyrics from some of Australia’s most well-known and loved musicians alongside an array of family friendly experiences, including rides, food and market stalls and demonstrations. Headlining the inaugural Country Rocks Festival Sydney is the original ‘Boy from the Bush’, Lee Kernaghan, who is celebrating his 25th Anniversary in 2017 and has been a stalwart of Australian Country Music since the 90s. Lineup announced to date includes Lee Kernaghan, Adam Brand, James Blundell, Tania Kernaghan, Wolfe Brothers, Drew McAlister, Christie Lamb, Paul Costa, Brewn, Ben Ransom, Tori Darke, Matt Cornell, Jonny Taylor, NeillyRich, Rachael Fahim, Jade Holland, Ingrid Mae with more to come yet. Country Rocks Festival Sydney General Manager, Michael Bond, said “We’re proud to be bringing country music back to Sydney and showcasing some of the finest artists we have here in Australia. Besides great country music we’ll have children’s entertainment and markets which will make this a fantastic fun filled day for the entire family.” www.countryrocks.com.au/tickets Lee Kernaghan 76 Bill Chambers SILVERTON SUNSETS MUSIC FESTIVAL We told you last issue about a new far-west NSW festival kicking off February 23-25, 2018 at Silverton outside Broken Hill – fancy a taste of the real Outback? Well this is as close to the centre as you can get without literally being in the desert, 1200ks due west of Sydney and a long way from everywhere. The initial bill for Silverton Sunsets was already impressive with John Williamson, Adam Harvey, Catherine Britt, the Sunny Cowgirls, Fanny Lumsden, Bill Chambers and the Bushwackers, Sharna Burcher, Rachael Whitchurch and the Darling CM Club. That lineup has now been extended with the Bushwackers hosting a dinkidi Bush Dance on the Friday night and a Songwriters in the Round on Saturday morning before Main Stage boots up, plus a Recovery Day at the Silverton Pub on the Sunday with Rob Imeson and The Family Tree officiating with first aid for sore heads and the inevitable lameness of people dragging their feet not wanting to leave and head back to civilization. 25TH NORFOLK ISLAND CM FESTIVAL BASH The 25th Country Music Festival on Norfolk Island, is not only the oldest Festival on the island, but the oldest country music festival in the Pacific! The Silver Jubilee year will run a little differently, bringing extra shows, extra entertainers and extra surprises that promise to deliver a festival not to be missed. Hailing from NZ, headliners the Topp Twins are guaranteed to make you laugh till your face aches. We also welcome duo En Tranzit - Tracey-Maree and Nick Houia are no strangers to our shores, and instrumental in staging the very first Country Music Festival on Norfolk Island. They will be joined by Farmar and Doublet who also need no introduction, and Jay Shingleton who is current NZ Entertainer of the Year. Dennis Marsh also appeared at the Inaugural Festival and has returned to Norfolk Island many times. Looking to our other neighbour, we welcome well known Australian Travis Collins who will Headline the Australian concert with his favourite country music and will be supported by Fanny Lumsden, Johanna Hemara, and Mason Hope the current titleholder of the 2017 Trans-Tasman Entertainer of the Year. On the eve of the Big Birthday Bash, the Up Country Crew will present to you a night of Country Rock, featuring artists from both countries. Artists appearing this night will be setting the mood for the Birthday Party so don’t miss the preliminary party. Troy Cassar Daley will be hosting a tour group to the island so take advantage of this ‘one off ’ opportunity now and book using the link below. Whilst on the island, Troy will be headlining and opening the Big Birthday bash with his swag of hits. To rock the second half of this party NICMA have invited a man who sure knows how to party, Aussie Idol Shannon Noll. We suggest you book early, as this will be one night to remember. A one off appearance for Shannon who has not been to Norfolk Island previously so let’s give him a night he will never forget! For details and Troy’s tour go to www.norfolkislandcountrymusic. com for all info. 77 Festivals, Events & Travel Billy Ray Cyrus CROSSROADS IN THE VINES FESTIVAL The Hunter Valley’s iconic Roche Estate is set to host ‘Crossroads In the Vines’, a new festival series for 2018 bringing together the biggest names in country and blues for two massive days of premium music, food and entertainment. Crossroads Country in the Vines will take place on March 24, welcoming Billy Ray Cyrus, Lee Kernaghan, Kasey Chambers, John Williamson, The McClymonts, Sara Storer, Adam Harvey, Beccy Cole and many more of the country world’s biggest names, while Crossroads Blues in the Vines on February 10 will host 7-time Grammy Award winner Buddy Guy (US), Ian Moss, Diesel, Russell Morris, Richie Kotzen (US), Larkin Poe (US), Ted Mulry Gang, Kevin Borich, Mia Dyson and many more. No stranger to unforgettable events, Roche Estate has played host to Elton John, Neil Diamond, Lionel Richie, KD Lang, Rod Stewart, Cat Stevens and more. Elegantly paired with Roche’s reputation for gourmet food and premium wines, the ‘Crossroads in the Vines’ events will bring the very best country and blues music, artisan markets and food stalls to their brand-new home; under the stars of Australia’s Hunter Valley wine region. Multi award winning, critically acclaimed country and blues artist Billy Ray Cyrus will headline his first Australian shows in over 18 years, having recently been booked to headline Australia’s newest outdoor music festival “Crossroads In The Vines” in the Hunter Valley in March 2018. Billy Ray Cyrus has now extended his tour to Brisbane’s Sandstone Point Outdoor arena and Melbourne’s famous Palms at the Crown Casino. A full night of country music hits awaits fans, who can also catch very special guests Kasey Chambers, O’Shea, Caitlyn Shadbolt and Hurricane Fall supporting in Brisbane, and the brilliant Travis Collins as Billy Ray’s special guest performer in Melbourne. Cyrus will be hitting Australia almost 25 years to the day, after kicking off his world tour on the back of smash ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ in Australia in March, 1993. 78 WOODFORD FOLK FESTIVAL The 500-acre festival site known as Woodfordia will this year play host to Australian music royalty John Butler, The Beautiful Girls, Holy Holy and Husky who join the vocally gifted Kate Miller-Heidke, Montaigne and Mama Kin Spender. Canadian trad trio The East Pointers lead an array of folk favourites including another wonderful Irish representation in Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, Breaking Trad and Eleanor McEvoy; and if your dancing shoes still have any soles left, party bands Vaudeville Smash and Cheap Fakes will wear out what’s left of it. The 2017/18 line-up also includes rising rappers Baker Boy and Birdz, Apakatjah, Alysha Brilla, Charm of Finches, Jeff Lang, the Northern Folk, Sampa the Great, pop duo My Bubba (SWE/ICE), Joanna Wallfisch, Timberwolf, AMISTAT, The Babe Rainbow, POW! Negro, Lior & Paul Grabowsky, Tinpan Orange and over 300 other artists and presenters. Long established as a leader in arts programming, this year the festival welcomes 102-year-old dance sensation Eileen Kramer to the stage as well as the world’s best bounce juggler Odette Robbins and comedians Dave Thornton, Randy and Demi Lardner to name but a very few. The speakers programme features Dr Karl, UNESCO’s Dr Fanny Douvere (FRA), Climate Foundation’s Dr Brian Von Herzen (USA), Noel Pearson, Bob Hawke, Tracey Spicer and Arne Rubinstein. Over 2,000 individual performers will play across 35 venues ranging from the 25,000-seat amphitheatre to smaller, more intimate venues. The opportunity to get involved with components of the programme also continues to be a key feature of the longrunning festival with ticket holders encouraged to participate in a packed workshop programme, daily yoga practices, the always Singing Space, lantern making and immersive street theatre spectacle The Game. When the 6-day festival opens on December 27, the purposebuilt festival site, one hours drive from both Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, becomes Australia’s 67th largest town. Similar in size to a regional centre like Lismore or Nambour, the Woodford Folk Festival is home to close to 200 food and merchandise stalls, a dedicated Children’s Festival, general store, onsite medical centre and waste water treatment plant. John Butler JASON ISBELL & DEER TICK AUSTRALIAN TOUR MARCH 2018 In just ten action-packed years the career of Jason Isbell has transformed from being third-string singersongwriter in legendary Southern rockers Drive-By Truckers to one of the most revered voices on the American circuit. Influenced by the soul music so intrinsically tied to his homeland of Northern Alabama and the more traditional country and folk staples, the songwriting of Jason Isbell is rich and powerful and disarmingly expressive. American Songwriter Magazine recently espoused, “There’s no better songwriter on the planet at the moment, no one operating with the same depth, eloquence or feeling”. Backed by his road-hardened band The 400 Unit, Isbell is one of the most potent acts on the road today, performing some of the finest songs penned in the last decade. His recent sixth solo album The Nashville Sound topped the US Country, US Folk and US Rock charts (as did its 2015 predecessor Something More Than Free). Something More Than Free also scored Isbell twin Grammys for Best Americana Album and Best American Roots Song plus scored Album Of The Year at the Americana Awards ceremony. Providence, Rhode Island four-piece Deer Tick are another band who’ve been galvanised by years traversing the highways and byways of America, honing their craft for well over a decade to become one of the most respected acts on the unforgiving American scene. Having long straddled the divide between country-rock and straight-out rock’n’roll, Deer Tick’s most recent pair of releases Vol 1 and Vol 2 (their sixth and seventh albums respectively, released concurrently earlier this year) showcase the band’s polished dichotomy, Vol 1 focussing on the band’s softer Americana tendencies while Vol 2 flexes it muscles to showcase Deer Tick’s more punk-inspired, garage rock predilections. Neither of these acts are strangers to Australian shores the impending jaunt being Jason Isbell’s fifth time Down Under and Deer Tick’s second. Book your memories now, this is an Americana tour de force not to be missed! Jason Isbell 79 Festivals, Events & Travel YARRABAH FESTIVAL Country music stars Troy Cassar-Daley and Sara Storer joined jazz sensation James Morrison and DJ KLP for Yarrabah Band Festival 2017 on the last weekend in October. Yarrabah Band Festival has become an anticipated yearly event showcasing visiting musicians and providing a platform for local artists to welcome visitors to the community. Since the inaugural event in 2013, the festival has continued to attract huge audiences, with over 4,000 attending in 2016. This year the festival moves to the Jilara Football Oval to accommodate the growing crowd. Qld Music Festival Artistic Director Katie Noonan is a passionate advocate of music’s ability to change lives, particularly in regional and remote communities. “Yarrabah Band Festival is an incredibly special James Morrison 80 event on the QMF calendar, celebrating local and national talent, connecting communities and inspiring the next generation of Yarrabah musicians. We cherish our relationship with this highly creative community and the opportunity to engage with and learn from them,” Ms Noonan said. Performing at Yarrabah Band Festival for the first time, Cassar-Daley is one of Australia’s most beloved musicians. Sara Storer will make her first visit to Yarrabah this year. Storer is one of the country’s most treasured singer-songwriters, whose crisp observations of the Australian landscape and its people provide the solid foundation for her music. She has seen all the beauty, joy and heartbreak this land can bring, living and writing music all over Australia. Festivals, Events & Travel WALTZING MATILDA MUSEUM REOPENING It’s there whenever Australians want to quell their fears, steel their resolve, express their joy, celebrate their victories or lament their defeats. As our unofficial national anthem, ‘Waltzing Matilda’ has inspired a nation and next April, Australia celebrates the re-opening of the iconic Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton with an inland music and culture extravaganza. The Waltzing Matilda Centre is the first museum in the world dedicated to a song. ‘Waltzing Matilda’ was written by ‘Banjo’ Paterson whilst visiting with friends on Dagworth Station outside Winton in 1895. Legend has it that this song was first performed in public at the still-standing elegant landmark, North Gregory Hotel. Slim Dusty sang ‘Waltzing Matilda’ at the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Opened in 1998 and becoming an icon of the area, and a huge boon to the local economy attracting tourists to augment the rural industry of the area, hand in hand with the Age of Dinosaurs local attractions, the Centre was destroyed by fire in 2015. The brand new $23 million Waltzing Matilda Centre was designed by award winning Cox Architects and built by A. Gabrielli Constructions will once again assist the heartbeat of the outback when it re-opens with Winton’s Way Out West Fest in April 19th-22nd 2018. Winton’s Way Out West Fest is a celebration of the outback, bringing together music from various genres to suit multiple tastes, in a celebration of culture. This is a camping festival utilising the Showgrounds and a popup tent city with Winton’s population expected to swell from 1000 to 6000 over the four days of the event from April 19-22. The festival will include Jessica Mauboy, John Williamson The Living End, Kip Moore (USA), Lee Brice (USA), Sheppard, Busby Marou, Russell Morris, The Black Sorrows, Pierce Brothers + more to be announced. With a country race meeting, live entertainment in many venues across the town, markets and more, Winton will come alive with country hospitality, creating not just an amazing music festival, but a complete outback experience. With travel agents providing easy flight, ground transport, camping and other travel packages and options, Winton’s Way Out West Fest is the perfect excuse to get out and explore Australia. 82 BOYUP BROOK The Latest Boyup Brook Line Up is a Cracker! Why not make 2018 the year to join in the fun and find yourself under the enchantment and magic of this fabulous WA event that meshes music and friendship under summer skies and star filled nights. That’s the way it is at the Boyup Brook Country Music Festival and 2018 will feature The McClymonts, who have long been Australia’s best-loved and most successful country group, and seven time Gold Guitar star Luke O’Shea. Travis Collins is cementing his footprint in the Australian music scene and is now a triple ‘Golden Guitar’ award winner. Country Music artist Warren H Williams has teamed up with rising star Dani Young for a very special performance on the Friday night only. The Boyup Brook Country Music Festival is known not only for amazing headline acts, but also for a diverse line-up that always has something for everyone. 2018 will deliver an array of local, emerging, national and international talent that country music lovers have come to expect. Some of these include: Allan Caswell (NSW), Benn Gunn Band, (NSW), Simply Bushed (NSW), Scott Douglas (USA) Craig Adams (NZ) Ray Rider (WA), Donna Lou and the Jay Katz (WA), Sandie Dodd (VIC), Billy Bridge & Rebecca Nye (QLD), Kate Hindle (WA), Graham Rodger (QLD), Hussy Hicks (QLD), The Eastern Line (WA), Jasmine Atkins (WA), Savannah and the Strays (WA), Keith Jamieson and Alisha Smith (QLD), Pete Delle Coste (WA), Latehorse (WA), Kathy Carver & Desert Mist (WA) Codee Lee Band (WA) and many more. www.countrymusicwa.com.au The McClymonts BIG RED BASH 2018 The Birdsville Big Red Bash is set to Rock the Simpson in July 2018 with John Farnham headlining a stellar three day festival line-up of artists including The Hoodoo Gurus, The Angels, Daryl Braithwaite, Jon Stevens, Kate Ceberano, Adam Brand, Busby Marou, Russell Morris, The Black Sorrows, Travis Collins, The Wolf Brothers and Amber Lawrence, performing in the heart of the Australian outback. John Farnham said he is looking forward to ticking the Bash off his own bucket list for his first appearance on stage beneath the 10-storey high Big Red sand dune. “I’m really looking forward to the Birdsville Big Red Bash. The Simpson Desert and the remoteness of this event REALLY appeals. Can’t wait to get out there.” Farnham said. Farnham is joined by a host of other legendary performers including several artists who are returning to the Bash after crowd favorite previous appearances, including Kate Ceberano. “I had the most amazing time on many levels! The space and the foreignness of being in the middle of nowhere sharing an experience with thousands of people from literally ALL over Australia! Very special experience! The organisers and Birdsville itself are the real-est, most authentic people you’ll find,” she said. Volunteers: Volunteering gives you a behind the scenes look at Australia’s most remote music festival! Not only is volunteering rewarding, it’s also a more affordable way of attending the Bash and meeting a range of like minded people. We have over 20 different volunteer teams undertaking a variety of roles. For more info and to apply head to out the volunteers page on our website. Tent City: Thinking of flying to Birdsville, or simply don’t have enough room in the car to haul around your tent and camping gear? We’ve made it easy by teaming up with Tent City’s rent a tent. Your tent and any optional extras will be set up, ready and waiting for you. Take the stress out of getting out and back to the Big Red Bash with our fantastic Rock’n Roll road trip, hosted by outback specialists Kangaroo Buslines. This is a great way to sit back, relax and take in the great outback countryside, meet new people and have everything taken care of for you out at the Big Red Bash. The bus package includes transport and tent accommodation for singles and groups. 83 Festivals, Events & Travel CRUISIN COUNTRY 2018 Following the spectacular success of its’ sold-out 2017 Family Reunion cruise in October with a league of unforgettable moments, Cruisin’ Country is proud to announce their next themed concept and a first for them – Cruisin Country No. 8; Looking Forward – Looking Back. This is a journey through song of our past, present and future on the high seas. Setting sail from Sydney aboard Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas on 9 October 2018, returning 16 October 2018, Cruisin Country 84 8 is especially for lovers of country music, and will visit Noumea and Isle of Pines. The ship will host an outstanding lineup of artists including John Williamson with a multi-award-winning career span of more than forty years; Troy Cassar Daley – regarded as one of Australia’s finest singer/songwriters, combined with a total of more than 40 incredible acts on board this extraordinary floating festival of country cheer and camaraderie. It also includes open-mic sessions with full backing by talented musicians, songwriting, guitar workshops, lineand bush-dancing events and lessons – an opportunity to break out and show talents you never knew you had. Subscribe at our website: www.countryupdate.com.au or via the form on page 112 of this issue 85 Festivals, Events & Travel AMERICANAFEST - NASHVILLE 2017 As I write this article about my recent trip to the 2017 AmericanaFest in Nashville TN, there is a deep pall of gloom in the wake of Tom Petty’s untimely death. In my opinion, and I have no doubt hoards will agree, he was Americana before it had a name. Back then it would have been described as genre bending, or simply great music, and millions around the world were drawn to it because of its’ boundless sounds, and Tom’s songwriting genius. He inspired those, who today, are at the forefront of this blossoming genre and his legacy will live on for generations. RIP Tom Petty. AmericanaFest 2017, attracted an estimated aggregate attendance of 51,000 during its September 12-17 run. Every aspect of the event were up from last year, with evening show ticket sales up 36 percent. The addition of new venues and an increase in performances were instrumental in the overall spike, with 500 performances throughout the week (a jump over last year’s 300) sprawled across 57 venues and eight Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County city council districts. Walking the streets of Nashville for the first time can be a daunting experience. Whether you’re a budding musician, songwriter or simply a fan of superb music, the grandeur of this city and the abundance of well documented history can take your breath away. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in Nashville during the annual Americana Music Festival these past four years consecutively. The festival brings together people searching for music that is real, music that inspires, that speaks to them and imbues them with a sense of hope for the future of music in this evolving industry. It’s got the best of everything rolled into one - rock & roll, blues, old time country, bluegrass, soul, you name it. It’ll make you dance, make you sing, make 86 By Brad Butcher you think, smile or even cry. It fills your soul with the good stuff and sends you home with a new favourite artist every year, and about fifteen you’d never heard of before…not to mention a quality hangover. Americana music is simply another evolution of music in general. In my opinion, it’s simply a blending of genres, and with the benefit of a few years of hindsight, I can see that it was always going to happen. I’ve spoken at length with other artists and industry folk who remember a time when Keith Urban and Lee Kernaghan were too pop for country music, in Australia. Let’s go back even further, to my parents’ youth. They remember a guy named Elvis Presley or even Rodney Crowell & Emmylou Harris The Beatles being a far cry from what was seen as accepted fare for country or rock and blues at the time. It seems to me the leaders of the pack have always been those that can create something unique in their approach to making music by combining everything that has caused them to stop and pay attention. Americana was inevitable. But I digress…walking the streets of Nashville during the Americana Festival you can catch John Prine sharing the stage with Jason Isbell, Uncle Tupelo playing their 1992 career defining album in full, Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris singing their perfectly written songs in absolute harmony. You can stumble into a hole in the wall venue and find underground rising stars such as John Moreland, Hayes Carll and Margo Price or stalwarts of the industry like Buddy Miller and our own Kasey Chambers wowing onlookers, or be whisked back in time by Vince Gill & the Time Jumpers on a Monday night at 3rd & Lindsey. For those of you who’ve been perched on the fence about change in country music, I urge you to hold onto the past, as it will define where we’re headed, but to keep an open mind on the future. Roots & All with Kim Cheshire AUSTRALIANA AMERICANA Following the flurry of excitement accompanying “The First Annual Australian Americana Honours Night” at the Thornbury Theatre in Melbourne recently it became apparent to me that I was unaware that an Australian sub-branch of the Nashville based Americana Association had even been set up in Australia. Considering that I author a longrunning column (a decade plus) covering Roots music in the premier and only national Australian country music magazine, I’m a little perplexed that no-one bothered to contact me directly or send a press release to me or the magazine regarding either the formation of the organisation or the honours/awards night celebration. I would have actually welcomed and enjoyed the opportunity to set up an interview with Jed Hilly while he was in Australia. I have to admit up front that I find the whole idea of Australia adopting the Americana moniker somewhat confounding. I have no issue with the US using this term to bracket a host of American Root’s styles under one banner but I can see how this could easily be misinterpreted here, particularly in the field of Australian country music which is so strongly aligned with our cultural identity. I decided I’d start by looking up “Americana” in the dictionary to discover it’s true definition, which informed me that it is “things associated with America, especially the United States” a confusing description in itself and although I acknowledge that the majority of Australian alt country/roots style acts probably take their inspiration from this loose amalgamation of 88 American musical styles it still makes for a pretty incongruous association, particularly considering the dictionary description. Having said that I can offer no alternative branding suggestions other than to say that during my time as a member of (what might now be called) an alt country band in the 80’s who were virtually considered by many in the Australian country music Catherine Britt & Busby Marou performing at the Australian Americana Honours Night establishment to be musical heretics for embracing our US influences, I can’t see this new definition endearing too many established country music fans to the fledgling genre. I’m glad to say that despite my reservations regarding this issue it seems from all reports that the honours night, hosted by Triple R’s Denise Hylands and Americana Music Association’s head honcho Jed Hilly, for all things musically rustic and rootsy was an enormous success for both audience and performers alike. The 2017 honourees were Kasey Chambers who was the recipient of the Vanguard Award for her role as an international ambassador for roots music and promoter Brian ‘BT’ Taranto for his commitment to promoting Roots music in Australia. I was informed by one of my trusted colleagues that musically it was a spectacular night, with great performances from locals including Jordie Lane, Catherine Britt, Kasey Chambers, Shane Howard and featuring a particularly spine tingling impromptu performance by Aboriginal singer Yirrmal and along with US guests Kevin Welch, Old Crow Medicine Show and Valerie June made for a wonderful show. Hilly even hung around to participate with others in the Australian Music Week Conference November 2 & 3, which also featured performances from a few more of our up and coming “Australian Americana” acts. Apart from perusing the official Americana Association of Australian website and reading their mission statement, which despite my misgivings is pretty self explanatory and admirable I still find myself wondering just what the parameters are for this genre and who will be the arbiters of what is or isn’t Australian Americana. Who gets bona fides and who gets left out? Who will be the musical gatekeepers for this organisation? Looking for clarification I figured I’d call co-promoter Nash Chambers at his new address in East Nashville to see if he might shed some light on the issue, and between the cacophony of kids playing, dogs barking and the general anarchy of resettling his young family in a new home, he was more than happy to offer his insights. So being one of the promoters of the we’ve had these types of acts here for event (along with Michael Chugg and quite some time, they never really sat The AMA) what can you tell me about anywhere...way back to The Dingoes, it? The Flying Emus, Keith Glass, The “So what do you already know about Dancehall Racketeers even The Black it? Sorrows etc - it’s all Americana and I Well I know that it’s an organisation think what the word ‘Americana’ has based in Nashville that represents a loose amalgam of roots music styles and it’s run by a man called Jed Hilly and ex patriot Aussie producer Mark Moffatt is involved....that’s about it! “Well then, I guess I should start by saying that I think it was October last year it outsold all country music here! Yes I did read that. “It’s not a new genre as such, it’s more an umbrella for people like... all of us outcasts that play this weird music that for years we’ve tried to find names for - alt country/country rock or whatever it was, it was depressing. So basically what’s happened over here, is that it’s developed into this umbrella for an ever Bernard Fanning & Kasey Chambers expanding collection of Roots type acts that exist outside of the mainstream. done in the US is, it’s given these acts I do understand and admire the general a home. ideals of the organisation and the desire “Actually Americana isn’t professing to have an umbrella to house this to be anything in particular, it’s just collection of acts, but do you think this about the music. The recent honours banner will help to endear the home night, which I put together with grown acts here to a larger Australian Michael Chugg’s organisation in audience? conjunction with the US Americana “The problem for me is that although Association is not meant to be an awards night although we do have two, we want it to be a celebration of the music while honouring a couple of the people who are helping to bring it to a bigger audience. “The Americana brand has kinda helped consolidate things. Now you’ve got the Grammy Awards adding a few Americana awards, Billboard actually has an Americana chart, there’s also an Americana Association album chart here and they are about to add a singles chart. “It’s just become a massive movement over here because so many people love this kind of music whether it’s alt country, blues, folk, bluegrass, roots rock stuff....anything that’s kinda got some dirt on it. Well that’s about the best I can do to clarify the Americana phenomenon and how I think it might help find a home for us musical outcasts. So I guess at this juncture it seems that the answer to my question of how this might help Australian Roots acts find wider acceptance is that by using the Americana banner it will hopefully allow audiences (who comprehend the term) to perceive Australian acts as being under the same umbrella. I’d also imagine that the people promoting live shows here will see it as a promotional tool to help introduce new US Roots music acts (hopefully supported by our own acts) to Australian music fans. 89 Country In The Convict Capital Sydney-Country with Gareth Hipwell As another summer draws its jasmineperfumed blanket of humidity and a cloak of jacaranda blooms down upon the streets of Sydney, it seems there’s little for your columnist to do but to reflect on the year that was. On a preparatory note, I’m happy to report that I have yet to lose my footing on a slick of half-mashed purple petals on the footpath, which, as many of you will be all too painfully aware, has long been Sydney’s own sadistic slant on the banana-peel gag. Happier still, it goes without saying that 2017 has been an exceptional year for new Australian country music. Fanny Lumsden’s hotly anticipated sophomore outing Real Class Act delivered on every intoxicating promise, as did album number three from guitar slinging sophisticates Raised By Eagles earlier in the year. Sydney’s own bluegrass trailblazers The Morrisons delivered their magnificent self-titled debut, while Melbourne’s Gretta Ziller also made a stunning debut with Queen of Boomtown. The Woodland Hunters shone with Let’s Fall Apart, while Shane Nicholson’s profound insights on the human condition made Hell Breaks Loose one of the year’s most consistently rewarding listens, and Sandra 90 Humphries kept the honkytonk torch a-flame with her glorious Walk In Circles. O’Shea charted infectious new heights in country-soul with 61-615; captivating storyteller Kalesti Butler’s second album Airborne soared at the opening of the year, while countrypop breakout Melanie Dyer recently premiered irresistible solo debut Fresh. The Ahern Brothers (Steve Grady and Josh Rennie-Hynes) launched a self-titled debut of impeccable poise, and also debuting with an engrossing show of songwriting mastery were Carpenter Caswell, whose self-titled album will captivate fans of Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell and beyond. Likewise on debut, All Our Exes Live In Texas’ delivered their gorgeous When We Fall LP, setting a new standard for preternatural vocal harmonies and compulsive songcraft. From across the Pacific – and surprising no one – Margo Price delivered another instant classic in All American Made, while David Rawlings’ Poor David’s Almanack has been on regular rotation at Country Capital HQ since September, as has Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit’s towering The Nashville Sound since June. The year’s unexpected discoveries have been many and varied, but few so memorable as Valerie June’s engrossing opening set at the Enmore Theatre in October (June warmed up the crowd for Old Crow Medicine Show, whose riotous 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde show was another live highlight for the year). For sheer Aquarian wonderment and penetrating vocal phrasing, June’s was a mesmeric performance. Released earlier in the year, her The Order of Time sets a perfect tone for the lengthening days and balmy evenings of the encroaching season. And not forgetting Country Capital favourite Tom Dockray, who has a killer new track out in ‘Here’s To You (And Me)’ – if you haven’t already, be sure to give it a spin! Valerie June While the usually bustling live scene is slowing somewhat as Christmas approaches – not to mention another colossal Tamworth Festival on the near horizon – there’s still plenty of opportunity to catch some killer live shows this festive season. The wonderful Katie Brianna and Jemma Nicole join forces at the Golden Barley Hotel in Enmore on 7 December, kicking off at 8:00pm. Leadbelly Newtown hosts another instalment of the always-excellent Ramblin’ Nights on 17 January, featuring Rich Davies & The Low Road, The Weeping Willows, and Peta Caswell, while The East Pointers are at Marrickville’s Factory Theatre on 6 January, and Sweden’s First Aid Kit take to the Enmore Theatre on 3 April. First Aid Kit Rooty Hill RSL hosts a massive night of country-rock with its Rockin’ Country Christmas Party event on 16 December, featuring Christie Lamb, Viper Creek Band, and Troy Kemp. The Bunker at Coogee Diggers has Angeleno trad-country sensation Sam Outlaw (USA) on 3 December, along with rising star Courtney Marie Andrews (USA). Outlaw and Andrews also play Marrickville’s Camelot Lounge on 3 December. Also at Camelot Lounge are blues duo Joe Filisko and Eric Noden (USA) on 11 January, while Sister venue Django Bar hosts old-time and bluegrass ensemble Molsky’s Mountain Drifters (USA) on 7 January. Diesel is at Cronulla’s Brass Monkey on 8 and 9 December, before the venue hosts Bad Moon Rising – A Tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival on 20 January, Cash Live – The Concert Experience on 2 February, and The Eagles Show…Heart of the Matter on 3 March. Back in the Inner West, The Lazy Crows are at LazyBones in Marrickville on 28 January. Lizotte’s has Lazy Sunday Lunch with Beccy Cole on 10 December, while the Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL has your post-Tamworth comedown covered with its annual Tamworth Recovery Party on 8 February, featuring Allan Caswell, Neilly Rich and Sharnee Fenwick, along with hosts Bob Howe and Nicki Gillis plus the Hillbilly Heaven Band. If you haven’t already, be sure to get along to Redfern’s the Bearded Tit for Post To Wire’s monthly Red-Eyed and Blue afternoons, which have featured a slew of great acts in recent months, including Jason Walker, The Ramalamas, Tawny Owl Stringband, That Red Head, Ben Leece, Tim Easton, and many more, along with DJ sets from the one and only Chris Familton’s Post To Wire Jukebox. And be sure to keep an eye on the lineup at Staves Brewery’s Malt Room, which features an ever-changing lineup of country-roots acts. The same Jason Walker goes for favourite haunts Petersham Bowling Club, the Union Hotel in Newtown, Marrickville Bowling Club, the Gasoline Pony, and the George Hotel in Waterloo: all safe bets for a good time and great music. Until next year: tread carefully wherever there are jacarandas in bloom – especially if you’re wearing pluggers. Many’s the coccyx bruised by a slippery purple deathtrap lurking on a footpath. As always, if you have a gig to plug or an axe to grind, please feel free to get in touch with the writer at gdhipwell@ gmail.com. 91 Deep Down South Melbourne-Country with Guest Columnist - Andrew Swift For those of you that may have been following my journey so far, you’ll know that I’m reasonably new to the country music scene. In fact, despite having spent my childhood growing up on a farm in regional Victoria, I battled being described as even any sub genre of country music for some time. During my adolescent years the ignorance of Melbourne suburban culture had me believing that country was not something to aspire to. Regretfully, I held that mentally for most of my twenties, resulting in this red bearded fool feeling musically homeless. The story as to how I’ve come to love country music and embrace that it’s where I belong, is one for another time. The point is that my eyes and ears are finally open and the realisation of just how many talented singer songwriters and musicians flying the country flag in Melbourne has been a swift one...no pun intended! I’m not one to get into the politics of sub-genres but there’s no denying that Americana aka alt-country is the biggest pulse of the country music heart beat in Melbourne at the moment. So much so that on October 2nd artists and industry representatives flocked from all over the country packing the Thornbury Theatre as it played host to ‘The First Annual Australian Americana Honours Night’ awarding both Kasey Chambers & Brian Taranto (aka BT) from Love Police with Vanguard awards for their outstanding contributions and excellence in the americana music scene. The evening was a showcase to remember, with solid performances from Bernard Fanning, Kasey 92 Chambers, Busby Marou, Catherine Britt, Henry Wagons, Ruby Boots, Jordie Lane, Emily Barker, Shane Howard, Valerie June, Kevin Welch blend of international, local, female and male artists can be done and it can be done very, very well. In the build up to headline act Justin Old Crow Medicine Show and a show stopping performance by the only band that should still be playing Wagon Wheel, Old Crow Medicine Show. Though it was never in question, October 14th saw Love Police prove exactly why BT deserved his Vanguard award with the delivery if the 4th annual ‘Out On The Weekend’ festival. There was a heaving sea of people rocking rhinestones, truckers hats and denim shirts filling the Williamstown Seaworks while food trucks pumped out tacos, burgers and brisket rolls. The two stages flowed seamlessly with no overlaps, allowing a tide of people to roll back and forth throughout the day and into the evening making it possible to take in every song from the stellar line up. This growing festival shows that an even Townes Earle we had the pleasure to receive enjoy performances from Son Volt, Traveller, All Our Exes Live In Texas, Fanny Lumsden, Joshua Hedley, Raised By Eagles, Freya Josephine Hollick, The Deslondes, Lillie Mae, Robbie Fulks, The Davidson Brothers & in an outstanding first ever Australian performance, The Sadies. There’s been several notable releases come out of Victoria in the past couple of months including Michael Waugh and his endearingly bittersweet single ‘The C Word’ produced by Shane Nicholson, the debut self-titled album from country rock act The Iain Archibald Band was released via live stream on Facebook on September 16th, Dan Parsons continues to make women swoon all across the country with his sultry new single ‘Here Goes Nothing’, ‘Take A Little Time’ is the latest album from Brooke Russell & The Mean Reds, Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes teamed up with Shanley Del to teach us ‘The Basics of Love’, The Weeping Willows have a live release on bandcamp.com with all proceeds going to Mel’s On A Mission (Music & Memory), that Andrew Swift guy just released ‘Reckless Desires’ as the first Lachlan Bryan single from his forthcoming album ‘Call Out For The Cavalry’ …now available for pre order… just saying. Gretta Ziller has been getting welldeserved rave reviews for her debut album Queen Of Boomtown since it’s September release and Rick Hart had a sell out launch for his debut album ‘Let Me In’ at the Skylark Room. For those of you that haven’t heard of the Skylark Room in Upwey, it’s worth noting as a possible stop the next time you’re headed deep down south. We all know about the huge live music scene in Melbourne - in the city and its’ inner suburbs you’d find it difficult to find a bar without someone in a corner bearing their soul from behind a guitar or keyboard. However it’s rare to find quality venues in the outer suburbs, thank God for house concerts. However, 45 mins east of the CBD stands the Skylark Room, it’s proving to be a fantastic venue for intimate shows with an attentive audience that seem to come for the food and stay for the music. I can tell you that Victoria will be well represented at the Tamworth CM Festival with what seems set to be a mass exodus! I know The Davidson Brothers, Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes, Michael Waugh, The Weeping Willows, Small Town Romance, Iain Archibald Band, Pete Denahy, Gretta and a host of others are festival bound, along with newcomers Great Aunt, Gareth Leach, Rick Hart and many more. Gretta Ziller & I will be taking the long way to Tamworth as we embark once more on ‘The Great Australian Caravan Park Country Music Showcase’. We have 22 shows over 22 days in the lead up to the 2018 festival - delivering our stories and songs to caravan parks all along the Victorian & NSW coasts. Last year we tested the waters, so to speak, across 11 holiday destinations. Aside from taking in the views and swimming every day, the shows were far more fun than we ever Gretta Ziller expected. Hopefully this is something we can build more and bring other artists with us in the years to come. Even though I may have been a little more than fashionably late to the country music party, I’m glad that I’m here. The last few years have included an intense education on country music and its’ branches. I’m constantly learning and discovering new artists and I tend to discover a lot of older artists when I get called out for not knowing who they are. Until next time, you stay classy Country Update. - Andrew Swift. 93 Bluegrass Truth with Hamish & Lachlan Davidson One of the absolute best things about the internet is the increased accessibility to bluegrass music in Australia. This has been highly noticeable to us being involved in the scene for the past twenty years. When we started back around 1996, our parents would take us to regular jam sessions in Melbourne or festivals to learn, and in between these times, the musicians we met at such events would run off cassette tapes and mail them to us to learn tunes. We’d wear them out! It was extremely hard to find bluegrass CDs (especially outside of Midnight Skyracer a city) apart from the occasional find in a HMV store. There was one bluegrass mail order service operating in Australia for a time who would post a list of recent stock along with an order form, these guys made a few bucks out of us. Now, fastforward to modern times, one of our favourite things to do is search SPBGMA jam session videos on YouTube. The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (widely known as SPBGMA) hosts an incredible event at the Sheraton Music City Hotel in Nashville at the beginning of February each year. The event includes an Awards show, a national convention with a huge showcase line-up, a band contest with major prize money, up to $4,000 USD for the first-place winner. But to many, the main attraction of SPBGMA is the hotel jam sessions that happen all night long. The jamming culture 94 in bluegrass is very addictive where most pickers are willing to get together, lose all track of time and make music together. It’s one of the very reasons we were drawn to it all those years ago. If you’ve ever wondered about bluegrass in other parts of the world (apart from here or the US) we can tell you first hand after performing at the European World of Bluegrass (EWOB) in 2011 there is a strong scene in Europe with countless fine players and bands across countries such as Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and Czech; being a particular hot spot. Being much closer geographically to the US, many first-generation bluegrass artists toured Europe but never made it to our shores, including the Stanley Brothers back in 1966. If you’re in the Netherlands in May 2018 the EWOB festival has called it a day after 20 years, but a new event called European Bluegrass Voorthuizen will be held in its place, just a short distance from Amsterdam. An exciting new group to emerge out of Europe is the UK based all-girl band Midnight Skyracer featuring the Carrivick Sisters; Charlotte on Guitar and Laura on fiddle & dobro, Tabitha Agnew on banjo, Leanne Thorose on mandolin and Eleanor Wilkie on Bass. They’re about to release their debut album. Speaking of International bluegrass, our very own Pete Denahy has released a new album with three Japanese friends; Hiroki Maeta (mandolin), Tomoyuki Murata (guitar) and locally based Montz Matsumoto (banjo). With the addition of Aron Mclean (bass) the band is called Wide Island, a translation of Hiroshima, home town of Pete’s mum. Whilst the full band won’t be in Tamworth, you can catch Pete, Montz and Aron at their daily Bluegrass & Comedy breakfast shows held at Wests during the festival and pick yourself up a copy. Other places to find bluegrass at the 2018 TCMF include: The Coca Cola Battle of the Bluegrass contest; Bluegrass comes to Tamworth show on the morning of Fri 26th at the Capital Theatre featuring Kristy Cox, Karen Lynne, Pete Denahy, The Weeping Willows and Montgomery Church; Andrew Clermont’s Bluegrass Champions Supper Club at the North Tamworth Bowling Club on Sat 27th; and we’ll be hosting our own bluegrass night at The Pub on Thurs 25th. Thomas Kendall has been announced as the 2017 Australian Bluegrass Scholarship Winner. Tom plays guitar and mandolin and grew up in Essendon, Victoria. He first surprise to see fine Nashville fiddler travelling with him, Shad Cobb. We caught the Mile Twelve tour whilst they were in Melbourne, and they certainly presented a fine example of modern bluegrass with excellent musical arrangements and dynamic controlled use of microphones on stage. Their debut album Onwards which was released during their tour, produced by Stephen Mougin (Sam Bush Band) is well worth a listen, especially for NZ native banjo player Catherine (BB) Bowness exceptional skills on Ace of Hearts! The Peter Rowan band will be visiting us again in March and will perform at the Cobargo, Port Fairy and Blue Mountains festivals as well as various club dates to be announced. This time the band will include Patrick Sauber on banjo, Blaine Sprouse on fiddle and Paul Knight on bass. Rowan’s career includes singing lead and playing rhythm guitar for Bill Monroe and & bluegrass lead guitar pioneer Clarence White and two former bluegrass boys Bill Keith and Richard Greene. He then joined with Jerry Garcia (on banjo) and distinctive bluegrass fiddler Vassar Clements in a new band called Old and In The Way. With some exciting young musicians taking out IBMA Instrumental awards in 2017, another new record release we should mention is from Mike Barnett Thomas Kendall cultivated a passion for the music of the mountains in the suburbs, before venturing into regional touring with his band-mates, The Knott Family Band. Most recently, Tom has spent time recording with his band and attending festivals in the United States to hone his craft. We got to attend The Knott Family Band debut (self-titled) CD launch and it was wonderful to see so much support from young music fans and local musicians. Recently we’ve had visits from country singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks who made his first trip to Australia in October to play the Out on the Weekend festival; it was a great Peter Rowan the Blue Grass Boys in 1963, teaming up with David Grisman in the late 60’s before forming the super group Muleskinner along with country Mike Barnett titled Portraits in Fiddles. Mike recently joined Ricky Skaggs band Kentucky Thunder full time, replacing long-time member Andy Leftwich. This album has a huge list of legendary guest musicians and is full of energy so check that out too! 95 Book Reviews THE PASSAGE OF LOVE Alex Miller After thirty years and in an opportunity to review and celebrate both his own life and the life of loved ones, two time Miles Franklin Award winner, Alex Miller draws on reminiscences, notes, stories, love, and death, to create a moving and raw fictional novel that is the closest to an autobiography we are likely to read from him.Sitting in a New York park, an old man holds a book and tries to accept that his contribution to the future is over. Instead, he remembers a youthful yearning for open horizons, for Australia, a yearning he now knows inspired his life as a writer. Instinctively he picks up his pen and starts at the beginning... At twenty-one years, Robert Crofts leaves his broken dreams in Far North Queensland, finally stopping in Melbourne almost destitute. It’s there he begins to understand how books and writing might be the saving of him. They will be how he leaves his mark on the world. He also begins to understand how many obstacles there will be to thwart his ambition. THE BBQ COOKBOOK Just like Dazza, the hero of the movie The BBQ (played by Shane Jacobson), we can all be cooking up unique and tasty recipes for every occasion with this handy tome, whether it’s a relaxed afternoon get-together, an evening dinner party or the complete festive-season extravaganza. The book features more than 80 recipes especially created for Aussie barbecue conditions, as well as stunning food photography, movie stills and behind-the-scenes photos from the film shoot. Much more than a movie tie-in, The BBQ Cookbook has the lowdown on every tong-and taste-technique you ever wanted to master! The BBQ (in cinemas early 2018), is the story of Dazza Cook who wields his tongs over what he believes is the original BBQ brought to Australia by his ancestor Captain James Cook. But one weekend, his regular cookout, propped up by patient wife Diane (Julia Zemiro), hits a snag when he accidentally poisons the neighbourhood. With the help of tyrannical Scottish chef The Butcher (Magda Szubanski) and her sidekick Carver, Dazza enters an international BBQ competition to reclaim his dignity. In the Elite Steak Challenge, Dazza’s humble dishes are pitted against those of the world’s best... THE RED COAST Di Morrissey In The Red Coast, Morrissey returns to the red earth of the Kimberley, ancient setting of her earlier Tears of the Moon, with a passionate telling of resistance and resilience under its’ soaring big sky canopy. In the upheaval which separated Jacqui Bouchard from her adored son, she has finally rebuilt her life and settled in Broome, a magical remote town on the northwest Aust coast. But when a proposed mining development is unveiled, the town begins to tear itself apart. Rifts run deep, as friends, families and lovers are faced with a battle that could ruin their lives irrevocably. As everyone chooses sides, Jacqui confronts her own dilemma of staying to fight or leaving? Who to trust? FROM THE STARS ABOVE Peter Watt The Frontier Series first began back in 2000 with the release of Cry of the Curlew, beginning the epic tale of two families who are locked in a deadly battle from the moment squatter Donald Macintosh commits an act of barbarity on his Queensland property. Their paths cross in love, death and revenge as both families fight to tame the wild frontier of known settlement. For a hundred years (and twelve books) they have never forgiven, never forgotten. Now, the war between the Duffy and Macintosh dynasties will be brought to its cataclysmic conclusion. Private Patrick Duffy was forced to flee Malaya as a child, and left orphaned when his mother died in Changi prison. Michael Macintosh is forging his escape from his mother’s obsessive control. Sarah Macintosh ruthlessly crushes anyone who gets in her way, and fixated on her own legacy, she has ignored her family’s inheritance - a century old curse, to be paid in blood... THE TEA GARDENS Fiona McIntosh Set between the wars and in the dying days of the Raj, The Tea Gardens will take readers on an unforgettable adventure from UK seaside town of Brighton to India’s slums of Calcutta and the breath-taking Himalayan Mountains. Dr Isla Fenwick has a life that most modern women of 1933 might envy – her career gives her status, her pedigree adds freedom, and she is to be married to her oldest crush, the eligible Jovian Mandeville. First, however, Isla is determined to follow in the footsteps of her late mother and work at the coalface of medicine in India. To head up a midwifery clinic in a local hospital diving into the gruelling world of the hospital to the point of exhaustion in a culture she doesn’t fully understand, Isla will find her time in India tests her beliefs, her professionalism and much more. 96 OUTBACK LEGENDS Evan McHugh These people are very different, but they have much in common. They’re the salt of the outback, but they’re not from long ago and far away. You can rub shoulders with them here and now. They’re our outback legends. Enjoy these armchair travels and life stories as Evan McHugh, author of Outback Heroes catches up with some of the most remarkable and inspiring characters our country has to offer. From unsung heroes and heroines such as ‘mother of the Barkly’ Bernadette Burke, member of one of the world’s biggest women’s networks, to nurse June Andrew who went outback for five years and ended up staying a lifetime. You may not have heard of some of these people but you’ll be enriched by meeting them now. DIAMOND SKY Annie Seaton The Kimberley can be a paradise to those who can stand the heat, but it can also be deadly. The remote Matsu diamond mine is the perfect place for engineer Dru Porter to hide. Her insignificance in that vast landscape helps her feel safe and shielded from the terror she fled in Dubai. Security specialist Connor Kirk knows from bitter experience that beautiful women are capable of treachery. Sent to investigate ongoing diamond theft, he immediately suspects the inscrutable but capable Porter. Kirk’s investigation soon uncovers more than glitches in the mine’s security, exposing Dru’s secretive past, and ultimately exposing them all to murderous danger – from both the thieves and the desert. TIN MAN Sarah Winman It begins with a painting won in a raffle: fifteen sunflowers, hung on the wall by a woman who believes that men and boys are capable of beautiful things. And then there are two boys, Ellis and Michael, who are inseparable. And the boys become men. And then Annie walks into their lives, and it changes nothing and everything. Simplicity at its’ best, some books take a whole page to capture an emotion, a moment, an image, a setting – Sarah Winman can do this with just a single sentence. At 195 pages this is a leave-me-alone gorge - you will adore time spent with Ellis and Michael and as the pages dwindle you will be left bereft and miss them. You may never see sunflowers again without them popping into your mind. BURKE & WILLS Peter Fitzsimons Fitzsimons offers his take on the triumph and tragedy of our most famous explorers with his stirring story of the quest of Burke and Wills to be the first Europeans to cross the harsh Australian continent, with the expedition battling the worst of deserts, the boggy mangrove swamps of the Gulf, searing heat and flooding rains. Peter said: ‘I’ve always wanted to tell the stories of the colonial pioneers, and it really is a cracker of a story, with more twists and turns along the way than their final, tragic, erratic path. I was particularly fascinated by their interaction with the Indigenous people, who did their best to save them . . . until Burke pulled out his pistol . . . But I’m already ahead of myself. This is a prime piece of Australian history – and I can’t wait to tell you about it.’ RECIPE FOR LIFE Maggie Beer with Ralph Martins To have a healthy old age you must act now, whether you are 30 or 50. I have two great passions – sharing my love of cooking delicious simple food and improving the health and nutrition of older people. I hope this cookbook does both but it’s not for ‘old’ people, it’s for you. I have been delighted to work with leading Alzheimer’s researcher Professor Ralph Martins in recent years and I have learned that if we are to avoid Alzheimer’s and other lifestyle diseases it is what we eat today that matters. These are recipes for every day, for everybody, full of deep flavours and beautiful ingredients that will nourish you and your family. Nobody wants to eat worthy food that tastes like cardboard. For me, food without flavour is unthinkable! And so is the notion of restricting whole food groups. My recipe for life is to have a healthy attitude to eating – it’s all about balance, variety and choosing foods that give you the best chance of being in good health now and into your future. This is not a diet book – it’s a way of life. ~ Maggie Beer 97 kylie ryan jenny taylor & lipstick & spurs Please welcome to the stage... 98 Jenny Taylor and Lipstick and Spurs is a choir of grown up boys and girls, with choralography, costumes and camaraderie. Latest single, ‘Whistlin Dixie’ is a sweet intro to their work and style and one they say they ‘send out to the world as a little song of love lost and life found and the perfect Valentine’s day song for the disenchanted!’ Practicing the rare art of structural silliness and harmonic haphazardness, they are devoted to tunes and tales of wheat, tractors, heartbreak, dogs, horses and heroes. Yes, they are a country music choir; in fact, they are Australia’s premier Country Music Choir, perhaps Australia’s only Country Music choir Together they clip clop in harmony through the classic Americana of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and glimpse to the beauty of some of Australia’s divine country songs, such as Sarah Storer, John Williamson, Don Walker, The Triffids. Sarah Carol and Trish Anderson. Established in 2005 by Jenny Taylor the choir has delighted audiences at Festivals such as Tamworth, Whittlesea, Melbourne Fringe, and Darebin Music Feast. They are currently impersonating a choir which may travel to the US to do shows one day, and who knows they may just become that choir. The choir has collaborated with artists such as Suzannah Espie, Kutcha Edwards, Trish Anderson (Git), Sally Dastey (Tiddas). At the time of Take one part cleverly crafted song lyrics, add a generous helping of infectious melodies, blend with lavish amounts of rock, pop and rockabilly influences into her own unique style and you have Dream Chaser, the debut EP from emerging country music artist, Kylie Ryan. Hailing from the northern NSW town of Inverell and living in Wagga Wagga and Chiang Mai before settling in Sydney, it’s been quite literally a long, winding road for the songstress who counts Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Shania Twain as some of her biggest influences. Always a writer, be it stories, poems or songs, Kylie credits music as helping her through the tumultuous times in her life. Becoming a mother quite early put a hold on the singer/ songwriter’s dreams and she believed the possibility of a future in music had perhaps passed her by. A career crossroads coupled with the urging of her husband led Kylie to rethink this decision. The self-confessed late starter compares the protracted and nurtured distilling process of Tennessee whiskey to this delay and the satisfying outcome. Dream Chaser is a catchy blend of traditional and modern writing they were excitedly preparing for Melbourne Cup Day at Coburg RSL which would host the launch of ‘100 to 1’, a great new song telling the story of Michelle Payne’s 2015 Melbourne Cup win. www.jonpelianmusic.com/ lipstick country. ‘Got Me In’ is a positive, bouncy pop infused track, ahead of the powerful, rock driven anthem ‘Slow Me Down’, nominated for a 2017 ASAI song writing award and ‘That’s Our Love Song’ a rockabilly, blues peppered love song. Kylie changes pace and offers autobiographical insight with the deeply moving and emotionally charged ‘In Spite of You’; winding up with ‘Everytime’ a fun, fast paced party song co written with producer Stewart Peters of Blue Mountains based Soundshed Music Productions. Dream Chaser is an exciting, fresh introduction to the talented singer/songwriter ensuring Kylie Ryan will be an artist to follow into the future. vanessa delaine Gold Guitar Awards and her last album Runaway won sufficient acclaim to whet her writing and performing appetite and there is now no stopping this passionate songstress. Delaine’s first music video ‘Moon Blues’ received no less than nine awards from film festivals around the world including New York Film Awards and LA Film Awards. First single ‘Rainy Day’ hit airwaves followed by ‘Live For Today’ and people are just loving it – the latter was written at an unhappy point in her life, but the result is a positive message of owning the ‘now’ and forging a new reality. Where will she take it from here? Delaine is adamant she will navigate the future on her own terms and given her obvious excitement and passion and the fact she has already toured more than half of Australia showcasing her kind of country to audiences everywhere, means she won’t likely lack for motivation to embrace the next challenge or thrill on the road ahead. [AHR-CHUH-BAWLD] -NOUN Archibald is a masculine name, composed of the Germanic elements erchan with an original meaning of “genuine” and bald “bold.” Without intentionally setting out to live up to the derivation of their name, Iain Archibald Band are exactly that - a band of high energy musically gifted guys that are quintessentially genuine, fun, and most of all bold by pushing the boundaries of genre all in the name of great music and a top night out! Iain Archibald Band might be considered musically heavier than many of their contemporaries, and have created a signature sound blended from Aussie Rock & Modern US styled Country attracting one of the broadest audiences! Live, they show themselves as the true skilled entertainers that they are, with musicianship, intuition and most of all a solid cohesion and wit that makes them a pleasure to see with every show offering something new! Given this skill, their live show fits well into just about any festival, BNS, rodeo or event and the band have featured on the bill at many of Australia’s foremost events. For one of the longest, busiest, most competitive festivals in Australia, Iain Archibald Band are fully booked for the Tamworth Country Music Festival 2018. With a busy touring schedule, recent album release and a few other surprises in store, Iain Archibald Band is the must have band for your event, festival and venue! iain archibald band Delaine taps into a strong vibe to create an original blend of country blues music and new album Wild & Free demonstrates catchy songs fuelled with freedom, devil-may-care derring-do and plain old fashioned whimsy. Wild & Free was produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Michael Carpenter who also doubled on multiple instruments on the 12 songs penned by Delaine. Long time musical partner, Michael Barnard played guitar, slide guitar and blues harp, backing vocals by Kylie Whitney, Ella Sunde, Tiahn Barnard with piano and keys by Jade O’Regan. Overall an impressive wellspring of talent assembled on an album that Delaine is ecstatically proud of and the outstanding result only adds to the cathartic nature of the project, as she wrote the album after the breakup of her eighteen year marriage. “For the first time in years I felt renewed enthusiasm and verve for my life. I was enjoying being unshackled and wanted to express this in my music.” Delaine has previously won songwriting awards, NZ 99 Nashville Ramblings with John Lomax III NASHVILLE – The annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony is always a highlight and this year’s ceremony honouring Alan Jackson, Jerry Reed and Don Schlitz was no exception. George Strait, Allison Krauss, Vince Gill, Trisha Yearwood, Jamey Johnson, Charlie Worsham, Tommy Emmanuel, Steve Wariner were among those paying tribute at the induction of Alan Jackson, Jerry Reed and Don. Loretta Lynn surprised everyone by coming to induct Jackson, despite still showing effects of her recent stroke! Schlitz, writer of 50 Top-10 singles, with 24 going to #1, gave a truly remarkable induction speech, Alan was, for once, NOT at a loss for words and Reed’s daughters gave eloquent testimony for the late artist, guitarist, movie star. Congrats to Walt Aldredge, Dewayne Blackwell, the late Vern Gosdin, Jim McBride and Tim Nichols, latest inductees to the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. Ashley Gorley won Songwriter of the Year, Luke Bryan earned Songwriter/Artist kudos and ‘Blue Ain’t Your Color’ was picked Song of the Year. Chris Stapleton promised us two 2017 releases and so here comes From a Room, Part Two, featuring lead single, ‘Millionaire’, a Kevin Welch composition. Welch, 61, recently married his Australian sweetheart, Sarah and is working on a retrospective album and one featuring all new material. Garth Brooks has gone literary, issuing The Anthology, Part One, in mid-November. The book, detailing the earliest days of Brooks’ career, comes complete with five CDs, in- 100 cluding some previously unissued tracks. Brooks has announced the end of the three years plus, North American leg of his World Tour with a final tour stop in Nashville, where the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year has previously said he’d wrap up his historic Kathy Mattea and cast members of the Nashville TV series. Brad Paisley formally inducted Chris Young into the Grand Ole Opry family in October. A visibly moved Young recalled listening to the the Opry for the first time at age 4 and attending his first show when he was 8. Young’s latest, Losing Sleep, was released in late October Tracy Lawrence has a new album, Good Ole Days, coming out that features duets with Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Justin Moore, Craig Morgan, Big & Rich and others. Garth Brooks run. He will perform December 16th at Music City’s Bridgestone Arena. The Country Hall of Famer has not performed a full concert in the Nashville venue since 2010 when he played 10 shows to help raise money for a devastating flood that affected the city. Garth will also feature in a new documentary about the 35yr history of Nashville’s famed Bluebird Cafe where he landed his first deal in 1988. Other stars slated for cameos or roles are Vince Gill, Kelsea Ballerini, Hunter Hayes, Maren Morris, Old Dominion, Brothers Osborne, Kacey Musgraves, Charlie Worsham, Steve Earle, Pam Tillis, Shania Twain’s release, Shania Now, opened with 134,000 sales but fell to just over 13,000 in its’ 2nd week, a 90% drop. Is that the biggest opening week for a country release this year? No, From a Room, Part One crested 200k. The effort drew extremely mixed critical notices and tallied a score of 58 per Metacritic, ironically the exact score given to Miley Cyrus’ latest, Younger Now. Margo Price scored an 82 for her All American Girl release. Add another landmark accolade to the growing list of acknowledgements for Americana stalwart Jason Isbell, (who is set to tour Down Under next March including Bluesfest) After just finishing an incredible 6-night sold out run at the Ryman Auditorium, he will be the next Artist-In-Residence at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Delbert McClinton releases his new biography Delbert McClinton: One of the Fortunate Few (out Dec. 6), which chronicles his personal life and professional career from his birth in Lubbock, Texas, to revealing how ery interview - further solidifying his worthiness for the huge honour on country’s biggest night. Although eschewing country for pop music and moving upstate to New York two albums ago, Taylor Swift was still a winner on the night as she wrote ‘Better Man’ for Little Big Town to scooped Song of the Year. Delbert McClinton hearing a song by blues veteran Big Joe Turner changed his life and musical trajectory. The CMA Awards Live telecast on ABC TV in the USA jumped impressively in total viewers, adding nearly 2 million from 2016, with 14.3 million viewers. It was also up 10 percent in the key demo, averaging a solid 3.2 rating among adults 18-49. Just minutes after taking the biggest award of the night, Mr. Entertainer of the Year Garth Brooks (for the sixth time) made his way backstage to chat with press and fellow artists. After congratulating Little Big Town for their epic performance and big wins, Brooks took a picture with Jimmie Webb. And despite being the king of the evening’s awards, Brooks didn’t leave the premises until he stopped for every picture and ev- Keith Urban debuted a new song inspired by the Harvey Weinstein scandal on a politically charged night at the CMA Awards. The song, called ‘Female’, did not address sexual harassment, but was filled with various stereotypes some women will likely resent, such as “baby girl” and “woman child.” The song asks how it feels to hear such phrases as “hits like a girl” and whether the biblical story of Adam and Eve makes women feel second best. Urban won the Single of the Year for ‘Blue Ain’t Your Color.’ Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood celebrated their 10-year anniversary as hosts of the CMAs with jokes about politics, specifically, the tweeting habits of Donald Trump. “Maybe next time he’ll think before he tweets,” they sang to the tune of Underwood’s massive hit ‘Before He Cheats’. Carrie then summed up the evening’s mission statement. “Las Vegas. Charlottesville. New York. Sutherland Springs. Historic storms in Texas, Puerto Rico and Florida. The list goes on and on. This has been a year marked by tragedy, impacting countless lives, including so many in our Country Music family. So tonight we’re going to do what families do – come together, pray together, cry together and sing together.” In a special candlelit highlight, Underwood delivered a show-stopping performance of ‘Softly and Tenderly,’ remembering industry leaders lost this past year, including Australian luminary Rob Potts, and closing by honouring the victims of the Las Vegas tragedy. A clearly emotional Jon Pardi took home New Artist of the Year, one of three nominations he scored in 2017. His breakthrough ‘Dirt on My Boots’ from his second album, California Sunrise, also scored Song of the Year and Single of the Year nominations. Pardi’s hands visibly shook as he held Jon Pardi his trophy backstage. Colin Street, expat Aussie and formerly half of Qld duo Holloway Street is Pardi’s Production manager and FOH Engineer and a very excited one for Pardi’s win! Chris Stapleton won his second Album of the Year Award for From A 101 Nashville Ramblings Room: Volume 1, an album captured by producer Dave Cobb at historic RCA Studio A on Music Row, the place where so many classic Nashville records were cut. Stapleton won his first Album of the Year Award for his debut Traveller in 2015. And Stapleton took Male Vocalist of the year for the third straight year. “Every one of these guys is the reason I’m up here,” Stapleton said of his fellow nominees. “Luke (Bryan) took me out when nobody had even heard of me. Eric (Church) took me out when nobody had even heard of me. Thomas (Rhett) wrote songs with me. Dierks (Bentley) wrote songs with me. Every one of these guys deserves this thing.” Little Big Town won its sixth straight Vocal Group of the Year Award on a night that included a moving tribute to Campbell with their touching version of his ‘Wichita Lineman’ that featured an appearance by its writer, the incomparable Jimmy Webb. cord-extending seventh Female Vocalist of the Year award. She won the award six straight years before yielding to Underwood in 2016. Glen Campbell and Willie Nelson took Musical Event of the Year for their duet of ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ - a win and a song made even more poignant by Campbell’s death earlier this year. “Thank you, God, for just blessing our family in so many ways and sustaining us through our journey through Alzheimer’s disease,” said Kim Campbell, Glen Campbell’s widow, who accepted the award with children Ashley and Shannon. In the weeks after the horrific attack at Las Vegas’ Route 91 Harvest fest that turned Jason Aldean’s set into a shooting gallery, and left 58 country music fans killed and more than 500 Rosanne Cash Lead nominee Miranda Lambert, who sang a moving version of her song ‘To Learn Her’ took her re- Miranda Lambert 102 wounded, the traditionally close relationship between the National Rifle Assoc and country stars has come un- der intense scrutiny. When contacted by Rolling Stone, multiple country singers featured on the organization’s NRA Country website either refused to comment about their relationship with the NRA or clarified that they were not currently associated with the organization. Rosanne Cash published an op-ed in The New York Times encouraging country artists to distance themselves from the NRA, averring it “funds domestic terrorism.” However, few mainstream country stars – i.e., ones with hits on radio – have been willing to take any public stance on gun control at odds with the NRA. Tom Roland wrote Billboards’ first ever op-ed piece taking the Country music/NRA Country alliance to task, in which he says. “Its boiler plate boasts, “Respect. Honor. Freedom” It hails “love of country,” “respect for the military” and “local charities.” It does not mention that the gun manufacturers the NRA represents make the very weapons that were fired at country stars and their fans.” “It’s no secret,” NRA Country director Vanessa Shahidi told The Tennessean in 2015. “If you poll our members, they love country music.” That makes it likely that some of the country fans who were fired at on Oct.1 — perhaps some of the 58 who were killed — are NRA members and/or supporters. Thus, the organization’s target audience was turned into a target - with its own weaponry. “A genre that espouses three chords and the truth should be asking itself some very hard questions about the truth of the NRA.” Mr Roland concluded. John Lomax’s Adieu As this is my final column for Country Update. I want to thank Gayle Madill, who hired me in 1998 and Denise Torenbeek, who has vigilantly checked my copy since 2000. I thank you for reading this column for the past nineteen years and reflect on my Oz association. I first came to Australia in September, 1996, thanks to Laurie Dunn of Massive Records and the Dead Ringer Band. That January I became enchanted with the DRB’s Home Fires album and began working to get them a Nashville record deal. Early interest came from Almo Sounds, a new label launched by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, founders of A&M Records. Garth Fundis, then producing Don Williams and Trisha Yearwood, led Almo Sounds here. He too became fascinated with Home Fires, which I had pitched to him as “a contemporary Carter Family”. We both felt DRB could be a great counterpoint to the overblown Nashville productions filled with rock and pop elements. Laurie bought me a ticket and arranged a meeting with the group, who were then touring as Daniel O’Donnell’s opening act. I had dreamed of coming “Down Under” for decades, ever since my teenage years. I became even more charmed the more I listened to the Chambers’ homespun sound and family harmony. When asked for a snappy description for a marketing “hook” by Paul Kremen, the California-based boss of Almo Sounds, I replied, “The Judds times two” as the DRB comprised daddy Bill, mom Diane, son Nash and daughter Kasey, then just 19, but already a showbiz veteran with several hundred performances to her credit. They had won some minor awards and Bill had scored a Golden Guitar for writing Slim Dusty’s hit, ‘Things Are Not the Same on the Land’. I returned in January, 1997, making my first trip to Tamworth for the Festival and the CMAA Awards. I learned and met most of the key players in the Australian industry and saw a lot of talented musicians but I still felt the Dead Ringer Band had the best shot in the U.S. country market. James Blundell’s deal here with Capitol had ended without an album release and Keith Urban and his band, The Ranch, were about to sign a deal. My mission was to get the DRB a Nashville deal and manage them to stardom. I would become the “goto” guy to help sign other Australian country acts to Nashville deals and thus develop a true two-way street between our respective country industries. It would be a huge “win-win” for everyone and extend country music’s global reach. That dream did not eventuate for numerous reasons outlined already in my book ‘Red Desert Sky.’(Allen & Unwin 2001) I represented Michael Chugg’s Pacific Circle Music gathering twice, bringing seven Nashvillians down for the first such event, in 1998. “Chuggie” remains one of the most vibrant music biz go-getters I’ve ever met. I have him to thank for one of my life’s musical highlights – seeing Billy Thorpe and a small combo tear it up one memorable night at the Basement. I joined Nashville’s Sister Cities to assist their effort to pair up with Tamworth, a mission accomplished in 2012 with the assistance of Jeff Walker, Bob Saporiti and Garry Jackson. Now our country music capitals are linked and several educational and trade groups have already participated. Warren Fahey is due thanks for approving and releasing Beyond the Bitumen, a compilation CD Richard Porteous and I created to feature many worthy, lesser known Australian country artists. Joan Douglas, Dobe Newton, Cheryl Byrnes at Cap News and the legendary John Nutting were also of great assistance in my early days of Australian exploration, as was Trevor Smith. Anna Rose, was instrumental in helping the Sister Cities initiative succeed with her coverage. I could also always count on strong opinions from country broadcaster Nick Erby and promoter Rob Potts. The tragic death of Potts will, I fear, impact ongoing progress of a true two-way street between our country music artists and community. He, the late Jeff Walker, Dobe Newton, Bob Saporiti (retired from Warners), Stan Moress (now sidelined by illness) and myself all tried to build this boulevard. It’s sad that this dream of expanded commerce between the Australian and American country industries may founder but perhaps Jeff’s daughter, Christy and son-in-law, Matt Watkins and Rob’s son, Jeremy, can keep the fires burning. At 73, I will ride into the sunset to focus on book projects and trying to export tangible goods to a world wanting virtual music. It’s been a lovely ride though, and I will certainly miss these quarterly chances to keep Country Update readers in the know. Thus, after sixtyodd columns and over 150,000 words, I wish I could have completed that 2-way street but I gave it my best, now it’s time to make like a tree . . . and leave. 103 The Yackandandah Report Geoff Mack was my mentor for 25 years. I met him at the City Lights caravan park in 1992 and we hit it off immediately. To me, Geoff became a brother who was 50 years older than me. It was amazing how we never felt a generation gap in our attitudes towards music and songs. In this business of entertainment there are hurdles to overcome now and again and many of them are from the performers themselves – namely, pre performance anxiety. This isn’t something I suffer from too much, thank goodness, but when I’m doing a corporate comedy set I get a bit edgy beforehand mainly because I’m often going into untested waters; playing songs to a bunch of people who don’t know anything about me and who may just want to talk. It was at these times I would call Geoff; not for him advise me on what to do, but just to hear him say that he’d been in that situation and knew exactly how I was feeling. I really miss being able to do that. The things I learnt from Mack were the same things he was taught years ago touring with Bartons’ Follies after WW2. An old Irish tenor who was on the bill said to him, “It doesn’t pay to specialize; do a bit of everything.” And so Mack became a true show business utility man. He helped set up the tent, put out chairs, played in the band, performed solo, was a straight man to other comics and he loved it all. He was taught the golden rules of the business which included never turning your back to the audience, no dead time on stage, making sure every word you sang or spoke was heard in the last row, etc. When I turned 21, Mack’s gift to me was a 90 minute tape he recorded, strumming his old Gibson Super 400 (his own 21st birthday present; it once belonged to well known Sydney band leader in the ‘30’s, Harold Bloom) and he talked and sang as he told me the story of his 22nd year and beyond. It’s a story I have listened to countless times. I think about our usual gig times now. My own show is generally two one hour sets with a break. A pub gig is often three sets. Mack played in a club in Germany after the war where they played from eight at night til four in the morning. They had ten minutes off every hour to arrange music and half an hour off at midnight to eat. Now that’s a gig! Amongst all the knowledge Mack passed on, I think the most important is that “fame is fleeting”. All the big stars he knew as a kid are mostly forgotten now. Of course, if you become a legend, things are a little different but on the whole, names can be quickly forgotten, especially now with a “star” born every week on TV. Fame is fleeting. There are a few messages in that and a good 104 one to remember is that as an entertainer, your main job is to entertain, not to get famous. But then again, I guess that’s easy for me to say with my level of fame... well known in the bottle shop, Foodworks, Yackandandah. I had a great day with Mack the last time I saw him. I was coming back from the Music In The Mulga festival out of Eulo, QLD and took the opportunity to spend a day with Mack and his gorgeous wife, Tabbi, herself a wonderful performer in years gone by, and another of my inspirations in the business. We talked gags, guitars, travel and stars; the usual fare. Tabbi told the story of the time she was at a club in London and Danny Kaye made a visit. He did a song and got the whole audience singing and waving while he made his exit out the front door. The crowd was too busy waving and singing to hassle him as he got into the car waiting out the front. Mack sang me a few little snippets of songs he remembered from the old days on the road. Although his voice was crackling, the enthusiasm and timing were still all there in his delivery at 94 years of age. I was amazed at how sharp he stayed right to the end. I played Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival recently. It was my first time there, and I certainly hope it won’t be my last because it is now on my list of favourite festivals. I sang an old song from the thirties that Mack taught me. It’s a great old song that was sung by Hoagy Carmichael called ‘Huggin’ and Chalkin’ and it lay them in the aisles- not because of me, but because of how it was written. I’ve heard old recordings of shows Geoff and Tabbi did and the laughter was huge. It’s one of the best sounds in the world. I hope it never ends. RIP, my brother, Geoff Mack. FEATUR E A LBUM Reviews AMBER LAWRENCE AUSSIE AUSSIE CHRISTMAS KIDS ALBUM Amber will release her new kids album for a dinkum Aussie Christmas to get all the kids singing and dancing around the barbeque with these distinctly Australian songs. “Christmas is “the best day of the year”, and with the arrival of more nieces and nephews in my life, it just gets better every year for me. So I wanted to celebrate that with an album of uniquely Australian Christmas songs. I wanted to make music that will become a part of the great Aussie backyard family Christmas! It was a heap of fun to write, record and perform these 11 brand new songs!” said Ms Lawrence. Over the past three years, Amber has successfully created an alter ego – in the form of her ‘Kids Gone Country’ character. With 106 the viral success of ‘My Big Mack Truck’, ‘In My Belly’ and ‘My Grandma’ Amber is back with the next chapter. ‘My Big Mack Truck’ clocked up over 1.3 million video views on social media with a big reach and reaction in the US, UK, Germany, Norway and Switzerland. Featuring 11 original songs specifically detailing an Australian Christmas, there’s the fun – ‘Aussie Aussie Christmas’, ‘Swimming pool’, a bluesy tune, featuring a kazoo solo ‘I like Christmas’, a song featuring animals at their ‘Animal Christmas Do’ and the autobiographical– ‘My Aunty is the Fun One on Christmas Day’. Make no mistake, this album is not just for kids. It’s a feel good Christmas album, that will make you feel proud of the unique way we Aussies celebrate Christmas, make you laugh and no doubt make ex-pat Aussies homesick. DEAN BRODY BEAUTIFUL FREAKSHOW Dean Brody has an impressive list of accolades to his name, 16 Canadian CM Awards and two Junos and recently at the 2017 CCMA Awards he won Songwriter of the Year and Top-Selling Single of the Year with ‘Bush Party’. Just as the title of the album indicates, the new record is a fascinating mashup of Brody’s range of musical preferences, best epitomized by the title track, ‘Beautiful Freakshow’. From the pop-meets-country vibe of ‘Bush to touching reggae number ‘Beautiful Girl’ with echoes of traditional country, to the dynamic duet, ‘Little Blue Volkswagen’ featuring Sarah Blackwood, to the footstomping, country feel of ‘Soggy Bottom Summer’ featuring Alan Doyle, there is truly something for everyone on this record, and nothing to alienate any sector either, as it is all fine fodder for the ears. Brody’s ability to tell stories with genuine feeling and flair flows throughout. This collection will take it’s place firmly with earlier four albums: Trail in Life, Dirt, Crop Circles and Gypsy Road. Brody will return to Australia to the joy of many fans already cultivated here, for CMC Rocks Qld in March. OWL VALLEY BLUEGRASS SELF TITLED Brisbane/Gold Coast bluegrass outfit Owl Valley Bluegrass have been slowly toiling away for the last few years building a reputation in their home state and more recently venturing further afield via the festival circuit, a few pub and club gigs and pretty much wherever anyone is willing to soak up some good quality acoustic music. With a wealth of experience between them Stewart Porter guitar/vocals/ harmonica, Rob Davis banjo/ accordion/vocals, Dan Kerin fiddle/ guitar mandolin/vocals, Mark Webber double bass/vocals and Geoff Wright Dobro/mandolin/ vocals figured it was time to bite the bullet and commit their fine work to tape (or to be more precise, digital code) and offer it up for all to enjoy. With the help of master musician/ producer Rod McCormack this talented combo headed down into enemy territory to record their debut album at the McCormack’s studio on the Central Coast of NSW and other than a few blisters, lost picks and broken strings there were no reports of major casualties. The resulting album is a real treat, featuring a wealth of spirited picking and fiddling, and a mixture of both old and new tunes; the traditional ‘New River Train’ and banjo staple ‘Big Sciota’ and instrumentals ‘Fire on the Mountain’ and ‘Clinch Mountain Backstep’ sitting comfortably alongside Bill Munroe’s ‘Uncle Penn’ and The Dillards ‘Old Home Place’. More recent offerings include the Mark Knopfler penned Railroad Worksong (‘Working on the Railroad’) and ‘The Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ ‘Standing on a Rock’. There’s something for everyone here, bluegrass fans, folk freaks and old time country aficionados. Kim Cheshire PADDY McHUGH CITY BOUND TRAINS A Tamworth-raised hardcore troubadour who cut his teeth in Sydney’s heaving punk scene, Brisbane-based Paddy McHugh is a musical traveller with a gift for weaving a penetrating yarn. McHugh’s Sydney-inspired follow-up to Trials & Cape Tribulation (2014) is an unflinching storytelling masterwork enveloped in the grittier, seamier textures of Sydney – courtesy of so many loping country-punk rhythms and low-slung guitars. Traversing the human condition, McHugh’s narrators kick against the pricks of Australia’s first city: the bitter sting of poverty amid the hardscrabble contest for living space (‘City Bound Trains’); the shameful systemic disadvantage and neglect endured by Indigenous Australia (‘Meanwhile In Wilcannia’), and hangovers and come-downs of all kinds (‘Held Back Your Hair’). From the fatalism of ‘Down to Sydney’ to the note of proud defiance struck by roots jaunt ‘Sean McDonough’ – the tale of an Irish convict bolter finding accommodation with local Indigenous peoples – it’s an album of engrossing vitality, raw immediacy, and rare insight. Gareth Hipwell LO CARMEN LOVERS DREAMERS FIGHTERS The sixth studio outing from Adelaide-raised, L.A-based singersongwriter and actor Lo Carmen reprises the woozy, spell-like quality of preceding LP Everyone You Ever Knew (Is Coming Back To Haunt You). Recorded in Nashville and featuring a cast of supporting players whose credits include work with, variously, Jason Isbell, Lana Del Rey, and Kacey Musgraves – along with a guest vocal spot from folk icon Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy (‘Sometimes It’s Hard’) – Lovers is a gorgeous, narcotic dose of country-soul alchemy. ‘Lovers Dreamers Fighters’ sways along like a knot of spellbound couples haunting a honkytonk dancefloor at 2:00am, as Carmen exhales 107 Reviews her vaporous incantation into the ether with accompaniment from spindly mandolin and sparse drums. Mantled in alternately shivering and sighing pedal steel and fiddle, and recalling a serene and introspective Nikki Lane filtered through a benzodiazepine twilight, Carmen glistens like the eponymous adornments of the wonderful ‘Rhinestones in the Rain’. Gareth Hipwell LUCINDA WILLIAMS THIS SWEET OLD WORLD 25TH B’DAY RERELEASE Here, Lucinda reimagines her 1992 classic, Sweet Old World in a re-recording which includes fresh arrangments, additional lyrics and bonus tracks. 3rd track on the 1992 version of Sweet Old World, ‘He Never Got Enough Love’ is transformed with additional verses, new sound and new title, ‘Drivin’ Down A Dead End Street’, which was the song’s original title. The arrangements are tighter and rawer than the original and feature Williams’ fantastic touring/studio band: guitarist Stuart Mathis, bassist David Sutton, and drummer Butch Norton. Guitarist Greg Leisz, who actually participated in the early sessions for the 1992 album, adds his masterful playing to the 108 new recordings. If re-recording an entire studio album was not already an unprecedented move, Williams and company chose to re-record the four tracks that were not included on the original release. This Sweet Old World features new versions of ‘Factory Blues,’ ‘Dark Side of Life’, John Anderson’s ‘Wild and Blue’ and the John Leventhal/Jim Lauderdale penned ‘What You Don’t Know’. DUSTY RAVENS LOW DOWN JIMMY Album number two from Sydney’s premier Mexicali ensemble is a fatalistic journey into the desolate dustbowl, Old West, and borderland frontier – and into certain fearful corners of the human soul (see the circling ravens of ‘Along the Line’). Opener ‘Low Down Jimmy’ bursts onto the mesa-studded scene with a blast of Mariachi horns and percussive acoustic strumming, while ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ is a standout saddle-sore western plaint, and the whistling intro of ‘The Tale of Suzie Lee’ lends an unmistakably Morricone tenor to proceedings, giving way to mounting urgency in the face of so much desolation. There’s ample ominous, foreboding atmosphere throughout, all carried by forlorn pedal steel (‘Still Got Gold’) and mournful horns. Couched by sounds ranging from the sinuous Mexicali strains of ‘Federales Fight’ to the locomotive rollick through the mesquite of ‘Bordertown Train’, lead singer Andy Meehan and co-conspirator Maggie Raven relate their sepiatinted tales with palpable, almost airless resignation. Gareth Hipwell ANGUS GILL NOMAD Up and coming country singer and song writer Angus Gill releases this outstanding debut album previewed by his current chart hit ‘Roadworks’. At 19 years old Gill is already making waves as a fan favourite at Tamworth and other festivals, and was a grand finalist in 2017 Toyota Star Maker. The album has been written by Angus and Australian country music royalty including Adam Harvey, Gina Jeffreys, Luke O’Shea and Kevin Bennett. Angus has also lovingly shaped and created all 13 tracks at his Hot Plate Studios in Wauchope, NSW. The album features Angus teaming up with Kevin Bennett and Amos Morris on ‘Staring Out The Back of a Car’ dealing with the tragedy of the Stolen Generation, and duets with Adam Harvey on ‘P Plater’, which combines both Angus and Adam’s sense of humour. Gill has cultivated Reviews some fine mentors in a short career, having toured or co-written with The Black Sorrows, Mental as Anything, Glenn Shorrock (Little River Band), Sara Storer, Troy Cassar-Daley, Rick Price, Karise Eden, Adam Harvey, Felicity Urquhart and Gina Jeffreys. He has also co-written a music education anthem with Harry Angus (The Cat Empire) and John Foreman, which was sung by over half a million primary and secondary school students nationwide. TEX DON & CHARLIE YOU DON’T KNOW LONELY A gripping and evocative collection of 12 stories in song from the masters of the form, Tex, Don and Charlie. More than a decade has passed since the trio’s last album, 2005’s All Is Forgiven and their spectacular 1993 debut Sad But True. Bookended by a pair of Don and Tex duets (the muscular ‘What I Am’ as the opener, the ridiculously empathetic and beautiful ‘How Good Is Life’ to close proceedings) with the two of them alternating singing duties on the remaining numbers, complimented by Charlie’s masterful guitar work. The album’s lead track, Tex’s ‘A Man In Conflict With Nature’, is darkly hilarious – sketching the kind of 110 loose, uninhibited character your grandmother warned you against: the layabout who, after a winning tip at the dogs, celebrates with “three hookers and some sushi”. The song ‘Here’s As Good As Anywhere’ is an older, wiser, more calibrated view of the world that’s on offer, conceiving the album’s title: “You don’t know lonely/Till you’ve looked back down the road/ From one more town/Knowing she’s no longer there/And here’s as good as anywhere.” RHONDA VINCENT & DARRYL SINGLETARY AMERICAN GRANDSTAND Lead single, ‘One,’ is a slow love song that may sound familiar, as it was previously made famous by country legends George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Other standout songs include the title track, written by Vincent. When Vincent and Singletary were first trying to think of a title, American Grandstand stood out, which by definition is “to behave or speak in a way that is intended to impress people and to gain public approval.” This isn’t Vincent’s first venture into country music, as her previous Grammy-nominated studio album Only Me featured a combination of six traditional country songs and six bluegrass tracks, inc ‘We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds,’ which earns a rerun here. Add ‘After The Fire Is Gone,’ ‘Slowly But Surely’ and if you love traditional country music, and remember songs originally sung by well-known duet partners like George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, and Merle Haggard and Bonnie Owens, this is a must-have CD. THE JUDDS ALL TIME GREATEST HITS Wynonna and Naomi Judd made musical history throughout their career receiving eight Gold and eight Platinum records, 20 million sales and twenty Top 10 hits between1984-1990. Curb now brings fans the ultimate collection of those years together. The Judds – All-Time Greatest Hits boasts each of the twenty classic hits that helped to make them a household name. Some things just get better with time - beginning with 1984’s ‘Mama, He’s Crazy,’ ‘Grandpa Tell Me About The Good Old Days,’ ‘One Man Woman’1985 Single of the Year ‘Why Not Me,’ through 1991’s ‘One Hundred and Two,’ up to ‘You Can’t Go Home Again (Flies On The Butter),’ from 2011. The duo dominated like none before netting nine CMA Awards and seven straight ACMs at the height of their career. Good Day.’ That same positivity infuses the Bruce Hornsby-evoking ‘Stories to Tell’ with a sense of how powerful every single person’s narrative is. LEE BRICE SELF TITLED This album celebrates the family man, dedicated to his two sons, 9-year-old Takoda and 3-year-old Ryker, and new daughter Trulee Nanette, born in June, with wife Sara. Lead single, ‘Boy’ is a charming tribute and his sons also appear in its’ video. 15 tracks that take the listener to church, school, home and out on a Saturday night. They brim with wide-open emotional vocal performances, built on a bedrock of thick grooves, squalling guitars, tumbling drums and sheets of steamy B-3 organ. The album’s big, bold, yet immediately accessible sound is sure to please fans of country gold but it also boasts a newfound simplicity to tracks like the real life ‘Songs In The Kitchen,’ the soul-searching ‘What Keeps You Up At Night,’ and selfrecognizing ‘I Don’t Smoke,’ which scrapes Brice’s musical bone and features guitars by Warren Haynes. Music seems genetically hard-wired into ‘that guy in the neighbourhood everybody knows and loves’. It’s what gives ‘The Locals’ its’ sense of enjoying the ones who are happy right where they were born and raised – and captures the positive outlook in the face of adversity that tempers those facing life’s greatest challenges on the loping ‘Have a CHRIS YOUNG LOSING SLEEP At only 32 years old, country music star Chris Young has already had an enviable and prolific career, giving fans six studio albums in 11 years. Young knows his game, how not only can he expertly handle a ballad, but that he realizes slowburning tunes are his forte, that a mid-tempo song is his sweet spot. Melodic and relaxed, Young never raises a sweat not even when the amps are cranked, as they are on the title track and ‘Radio and the Rain.’ Everything on the album is an accessory to the song, and that includes Young’s vocals. He’s sensitive and shaded, keeping his eye on the melody, but he leans into certain phrases so he can emphasize a number’s emotional power. It’s a subtle skill that suits this soft music, an album that doesn’t make a big deal of its craft but succeeds precisely because of the work behind the scenes. Every element of Losing Sleep unfolds so easily, it feels inevitable, and it’s so polished it can seem like nothing but mood music, but repeated plays reveal that this endures because the songs work their way into the subconscious. TOMMY EMMANUEL ACCOMPLICE ONE Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler is among the many respected musicians who will be featured on Australian acousticguitar whiz Tommy Emmanuel‘s next studio album which showcases a variety of duets between Emmanuel and artists he knows, or artists who’ve inspired him. Knopfler plays on a song titled ‘You Don’t Want to Get You One of Those,’ which he also wrote. Emmanuel says this duet was inspired by their mutual love of country music guitar great Chet Atkins. “This song that Mark wrote captured Chet’s sense of humor so well and I had the time of my life in the studio with him conjuring ‘The Master’ as we laid it down,” Tommy recalls. Among the many other contributors is ex-Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, former Allman Brothers Band member Jack Pearson and frequent Jerry Garcia collaborator David Grisman. The record also includes a unique reworking of Jimi Hendrix‘s ‘Purple Haze’ featuring Dobro master Jerry 111 Reviews Douglas. Emmanuel describes Accomplice One as “this great journey through so many of the worlds I’ve inhabited through the years...playing with old friends, new friends, heroes, people I’ve been like an older brother to… and musically to jump around from bluegrass to jazz to blues to just pure songs, it’s like going to the world’s greatest buffet and picking out all my favourite meals.” MARGO PRICE ALL AMERICAN MADE Delivering on the promise of her 2016 debut ‘Midwest Farmer’s Daughter,’ – an album that took her from country underdog to breakout star - Price raises the stakes offering 12 new, original songs that explore long nights and hard days, wild women and cocaine cowboys, politics 112 and sexism, with plainspoken poetry and cutting insight. Real-deal country music may be the most prominent touchstone on ‘All American Made,’ with the genre’s éminence grise Willie Nelson dueting with Price on the heartstopping ‘Learning to Lose,’ but touches of classic soul and R&B inform many of the arrangements here, fusing two of Tennessee’s greatest musical exports. The funky ‘Do Right By Me’ grooves with gospel legends The McCrary Sisters on backing vocals, and the driving ‘A Little Pain’ features sweeping orchestration by Memphis legend Lester Snell (the man responsible for the string arrangements in ‘Shaft’). KENNY CHESNEY LIVE IN NO SHOES NATION Live in No Shoes Nation is a 29-track album and collects live highlights from Chesney’s various tours, stretching back to 2007’s Flip Flop Summer tour. Among the guests on the album: Taylor Swift, Dave Matthews, and Grace Potter. Among the track list is ‘Big Star’ with Taylor Swift, who opened for Chesney on that 2007 Flip-Flop Summer Tour. You can hear the crowd roaring in Nashville when Chesney yells out, “This song is about a girl who had a dream and followed it and I know from living in this town for so many years that there’re a lot of girls in the audience tonight with a lot of dreams in their head.” Chesney launches into ‘Big Star’ by himself before Swift entrees for the second verse - what is now a throwback to her country roots after her decision to go pop. Apparently, Chesney first met Swift at an airport when she was an unsigned teenager. Years later, Swift decided to surprise him at a show as a thank you. “She surprised me on my birthday and we were able to capture that moment for this record,” said Chesney. The album also features Eric Church, Mac McAnally and Old Dominion.