ROOTS & ALL – ISSUE 86

Bangalow Bluegrass Festival/Mullum Fest/Out on the Weekend

It sometimes feels like either the years are getting shorter, I’m lapsing into dementia or music festivals are no longer solely a summer activity; these days they seem to be appearing with ever increasing frequency during the yearly calendar, with The Bello Winter Music 2017 Festival in Bellingen NSW only happening a few weeks ago, Splendour in the Grass the triple J inspired celebration of youth culture here on the north coast of NSW and The Broadbeach Country Music Festival right in the heart of Queensland’s Gold Coast both just wound up and with frost still on the ground and our winter woollies insulating us.

Playing it safe and sticking to only sunny daytime performances these chilly musical celebrations will then be closely followed by The Bangalow BBQ and Bluegrass Festival on the 12th Aug featuring The Eastern (NZ) The Morrisons (Syd) Sara Tindley (local) and many more and as always preceded by the delightfully entertaining (warm, cosy and comfortably rustic) A&I Hall Variety Show featuring both, acts from the next days festival line-up along with an assortment of local talent on the evening of the 11th Aug) https://www.bbqbluegrass.com.au/

What looks to me to be the killer alt country lineup for any of the festivals coming up is Out On The Weekend 2017, Melbourne 14 October 2017

Including Justin Townes Earle, Son Volt, Traveller (Jonny Fritz, Robert Ellis & Cory Chisel) Robbie Fulks, Joshua Hedley, Raised by Eagles, Fanny Lumsden, Davidson Brothers…  https://www.outontheweekend.com.au/

November brings us the tenth anniversary of the 2017 Mullum Music Festival this year featuring a huge and as always eclectic line up of classy International and home grown roots performers with British born New Orleans based pianist /singer songwriter Jon Cleary and his Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Canada’s Frazey Ford, Nashville based Canadian alt country songstress Lindi Ortega, Melbourne based New Zealander and alt country crooner Marlon Williams, along with festival regulars King Tide, Sal Kimber and the Rolling Wheel, Lucie Thorne, Liz Stringer, Tin Pan Orange, Suzanna Espie. Top local acts, Sara Tindley, Hussy Hicks, Jimmy Dowling, Rebecca Ireland and much heralded newcomers William Crighton, Victorias Tesky Bros and many many more! http://www.mullummusicfestival.com/

Byrds founder Chis Hillman teams up with producer Tom Petty for new solo album Biding My Time.

A few years back I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with Byrds and Flying Burrito Bros founder and alt country/country rock pioneer Chris Hillman. Hillman, touring here 2012 with duo partner Herb Pederson, playing their bluegrass meets southern California country rock retrospective, was an absolute delight to interview. We talked the Byrds, The Flying Burrito Bros, Stephen Stills Manassas, the deification of Gram Parsons, and his stint, along with Pederson in the highly successful 90’s Desert Rose Band and his desire to make at least one more solo album.

With the recent announcement of Biding My Time, a collaboration with Tom Petty (as producer) I think it’s fair to assume that this could be that album. At 73 years of age, a time when many are considering slowing down their workload Hillman is preparing a touring schedule to fulfil promotional duties for the album’s Sept 22nd release and although he is looking in a lot better shape than many of his contemporaries I don’t think I’d be taking liberties to suggest that Biding My Time might possibly be his last.  Recorded at Petty’s southern Californian studio, this is an album mixing old and new material and featuring a reworking of both Hillman’s all time favourite Byrds track, Pete Seegers/Idris Davies ‘The Bells of Rhymney’ featuring Pederson and ex Byrds cohort David Crosby on vocal harmonies and another Byrds song, Gene Clark’s original B side for the hit single ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ ‘She Don’t Care About Time’.  There’s also ‘Here She Comes Again’ a previously unrecorded (except for live version recorded in Australia) co write with Byrds front man Roger McGuinn that also gets another chance. But far from being a trip down memory lane, along with these revisited gems are new Hillman originals, album highpoint ‘Restless’,  along with ‘Such is the World We Live In’, the gospel inspired ‘Given All That I Can See’ and a rewritten song originally from 1968 The Notorious Byrd Bros album where ‘Old John Robinson’ becomes ‘New Old John Robinson’. There’s a cover of Petty’s ‘Wildflowers’ and the Everly Bros classic ‘Walk Right Back’ to complete an album reportedly as good, if not better than any in Hillman’s already highly regarded back catalogue.

New Country Radio Show Three Chords and the Truth has hit the Queensland airwaves.

The original expression “Three chords and the truth” now considered a staple of the modern country music lexicon can generally be traced back to iconic Nashville tunesmith, the late Harlan Howard who not only used this time worn template to create numerous modern day classics, such as ‘Heartaches By the Number,’ ‘I Fall to Pieces,’ ‘Busted’ and many more. Harlan also saw it as a reminder to songwriters keen to introduce more pop influences into the country genre, that the essence of what has made country music such a potent force for exploring the human condition really is that simple.

Songwriters Jen Mize and Paddy McHugh obviously felt an affinity when they decided that it was time to create an alternative to the mainstream country music formats generally preferred by Australian radio programmers with a new and vibrant radio show that also offered an in depth look at music with meaning: truth telling, within the ever expanding plethora of roots music sub genres.

The pre-recorded show which airs every Thursday night from 6 to 7pm on 98.9 FM and the National Indigenous Radio Service on Queensland’s Gold Coast is a breath of fresh air for country fans. These two smart, concerned and passionate songwriters have created a show that offers the listener the opportunity to discover some of the great roots music acts that rarely get heard on Aussie radio, exploring the genre’s trailblazers, outlaws and boundary riders and whenever possible, bringing them in to perform live in the studio, offering them the opportunity to both explain the motivations and desires behind their compositions and discuss how that might bring attention to issues both political and social that are relevant to our local communities and the world at large.

Podcasts of each show are made available weekly following the broadcast and can be found at http://989fm.com.au/news/three-chords-and-the-truth/