Deep Down South

With Gretta Ziller.

Hello readers! I’m writing this article on my first Sunday back in Melbourne after the Tamworth Country Music Festival, and I must say the only thing that has eased the post Tamworth blues that we all experience, is coming back to a perfect Melbourne summer! For those that don’t know what that is, it means there was more than one occasion in the past week I wore a jumper (it was heavenly!!)

I realise that this issue is already jam packed with post-Tamworth reports but I did want to add my two cents worth regarding the festival.

Each year I like to take a walk to soak in the cacophonous wall of noise that are the buskers on Peel Street, to my utter surprise and total delight this year I ran into a new(ish) Melbourne trio Embers. I have to take a moment to gush over this trio, brothers Chris Nomad & Pete Belair, join with Emma Edwards to create this simply amazing Rockabilly meets ‘Civil Wars’ sound! Chris & Pete are most definitely not new comers to the music scene with Chris (who sings like Roy Orbison with a dash of Sturgill Simpson) having, amongst other things, spent time touring the world playing double bass with Brian Setzer’s Rockabilly Riot! Pete whose guitar playing was probably one of the raddest things I saw this festival, has also toured internationally with psycho-billy group Nekromantix.

But the one thing that blew my mind is that you would never have known that Emma, with a voice that is as sweet as it is sad, is that this is her first musical project! These guys are definitely worth checking out and hopefully will be back in Tamworth in 2019!

Another Melbournian who made their Tamworth debut is Ben Mastwyk, the funky upbeat first single ‘This Country’ from his second album is out now with the album Winning Streak due for release June 1, with the album launch at the Melba Spiegeltent the same night.

Definitely not new to Country Update readers, the Tamworth CMF or the Melbourne alt country/americana scene, I would like to make mention of Lachlan Bryan & the Wildes, I was fortunate enough to play on the same bill as these guys twice during the festival, they showcased a few songs from the forthcoming album (see story these pages) and Dang, I was blown away! I have always been a fan of LB&TW’s writing but these new songs are witty and sad and poignant and have raised the bar for all of us. Some Girls (Quite) Like Country Music is out now.

One of the things I really enjoy about the Tamworth festival is how it’s always evolving, a few years ago it felt like Alt country & Americana music was a tiny whisper in the Australian country music scene but this year despite a pneumonia outbreak flattening and hospitalising a number of artists, it was a robust roar across the festival, with nights like Americana in the Park growing stronger, Allison Forbes’ Medicine Show Sessions and Late Nite Alt continuing to support Alt country & Americana music. With new venues like The Welders Dog, and the continued support of venues like the Tamworth Hotel it really is an exciting time!

Back to Melbourne, there are some exciting releases coming out the first half of this year. One I was very lucky to hear some tracks of well before its release was Michael Waugh’s sophomore album The Asphalt & The Oval released February 16. This second album is darker than his first but still manages to ooze with that rural charm we loved in his first album. Michael has a gala launch at the Spotted Mallard in Brunswick March 23rd with The Weeping Willows, Scott Cook, Aleyce Simmonds, Mandy Connell, Lindsay Martin and Rich J Davies.

Secondly, it would be very remiss of me not to mention my good friend & tour buddy Andrew Swift’s latest album Call Out For The Cavalry (also featured earlier in Country Update) out March 2. I realise anything I write about this album, especially about the outstanding backing vocals (by me!!), is totally biased but if you haven’t heard this man sing before you are doing yourself a disservice.

Speaking of men that can sing, I know I’m not the only one that has been swooning over Anthony Taylor’s voice for years and finally this Tamworth Festival he released his debut album Music Man and it does not disappoint! Produced by Simon Johnson, it is unabashed classic country – honky tonk with a double shot of Texas swing – and it is amazing!

Also coming in May is Freya Hootenanny Hollick’s new, as yet unnamed album.

It was a sad day in the south east of Melbourne last year when it was announced that the iconic Caravan Music Club was to shut down, but thankfully, and much to the relief of thousands of south side music lovers they have found a new home at the South Oakleigh Club and will be reopening in April. So thank you, Peter and all the folks involved for keeping the Caravan Club going.

Finally I would like to congratulate all of this years’ Golden Guitar winners especially the Victorian representatives The Davidson Brothers on their wins in the “Bluegrass Recording of the Year” and “Coca Cola Instrumental Of The Year” categories.

I would also like to take a second to congratulate Melbourne’s favourite duo The Weeping Willows, Andrew Wrigglesworth & Laura Coates on their recent marriage. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing them much love, happiness & slightly sad music in their future together. 

Thank you Country Update for allowing me to ramble and gush for 900 or so words, I hope I’ve done this amazing magazine justice. Till next time & next article,

I hope you’re loving life wherever you are in the world.

xo Gretta