SPECIAL GUEST WRITER FOR ISSUE 87 – 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 Chambers, Busby Marou, Catherine Britt, Henry Wagons, Ruby Boots, Jordie Lane, Emily Barker, Shane Howard, Valerie June, Kevin Welch 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 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 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 single from his forthcoming album ‘Call Out For The Cavalry’ …now available for pre order… just saying. Gretta Ziller has been getting well-deserved 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 new-comers 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 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.