Totally Biased Fan Review – The April Family Album Launch with Not Good With Horses – Django Bar, Marrickville, Thursday, 18th May

I had been looking forward to going to this gig for a while. Ever since I bought a copy of the album (pre-release date) in January at Tamworth, I knew that I was on to something good. I already knew Michael Carpenter from his wonderful producing of other people’s work, most people who listen to Alt. Country do know him for that.

As I have said before, I really do think that it is one of the albums of the year. We were all gifted with another copy as we walked in the door. The Django Bar is perfect for Country, Folk, Blues and Jazz music. A big band belongs upstairs in the Camelot Lounge.

The support act, Not Good With Horses were terrific. I had heard of Brielle before but I had not heard her band. They have a great sound. They sang mostly original tracks with a few classics thrown in. Their harmonies were spot on and the musicianship was very tight. I wasn’t sure what to expect but they were pretty awesome. They complemented The April Family’s style very well.

They may not be good with horses but they were certainly good with music.

After a whiskey run from Katie Brianna in the crowd, The April Family were fuelled up and ready to go.

Michael Carpenter, Casey Atkins and lead singer, Kylie Whitney make up the band/trio. Their album that they were showcasing is What We Know Now. (See album review on here from January). Each of the band members stepped up to the plate with little anecdotes and fun banter, with most of the jibes directed towards Casey.

They sang all of the songs off the album with a fun and unexpected rendition of Hopelessly Devoted to You with audience participation – sans Sandy Pants – thrown in at about the half way point.

Additional musos joined them on stage and slightly off stage… I have never seen a keyboard player sneak on to play her bit then sneak off again…this is a new showbiz trick.

If you haven’t got the album yet, please do, every track is a winner.

I am sure that we will hear more from this trio, if any future albums are as good as this first alternative country offering then we are going to have very lucky ears.  I had an advantage going into the night knowing the songs pretty well (about 100 spins on the stereo will do that to you). Next time, these folks will know the songs as well as they know Olivia’s song that Kylie sang.

The April Family are here to stay through many other months of the year and for many years to come.

 

I sincerely urge my Melbourne friends to go and see them on 27th May at The Retreat Hotel with Katie Brianna (singing as well as doing the Whiskey Run – double duties) and the incredible Gretta Ziller….wow, what a show that will be!

My Saturday Night Country Cheating Download….

Oh what to choose: If I was asked by Felicity Urquhart about 5 songs on the Download!

One of my favourite segments of Saturday Night Country is when Felicity asks musos what five country songs have had an impact them over the course of their life and why. It must be so hard to pick 5 songs. Well, I thought that I’d have a go. It is very hard getting it down to 5! They are not necessarily my favourites, they just left an impact at various times throughout my life.

My parents played lots of country music when I was a kid. It was not until I was about 7 or 8 though, that I had songs from the genre that struck me. This only covers two sections of my life: to my teens and to the age of about 29 or 30. I have had many music influences in my life. Country and Folk the most obvious.  I am 54, so there have obviously been more impact songs in the last 25 years!

 

The first country song that had an impact on me.  My sister and I bought Dad one of those KTEL compilations. I was about 8 and my sister was about 10. It had some classics on it but the song that I liked best was Roy Clarke’s “Right or Left at Oak Street”. I still love it. It is a bit folky, which is probably why I was first attracted to it. Previous to that, Dean Martin’s Shutters and Boards was big with me – as a 4 year old, I used to murder that song daily but I never realised that it was country until years later.  Those words have stuck with me: Right or left at Oak Street, it’s a choice I make every day, I don’t know what takes more courage, the staying or the running away.

The Banks of the Ohio – Olivia Newton John.  Not many Aussie gals of my generation didn’t want to be Olivia. It was always great to think that she was one of us and that she was doing so well overseas. I guess that I was about 8 or 9 when this came out and it was one of those songs that I just hummed and sang around the house all the time.  It would be considered a murder ballad these days. The Weeping Willows and Lachlan Bryan take note!

My Best Friend – Don Williams –  I guess that this song came out at just the right time. We had not long moved to Tamworth from Taree and I met my best friend, Tracey, who is still my best friend, 43 and a bit years later. It all seemed to fit. It is just a beautiful song. My two best friends are my anchors in life’s ocean.

Annie’s Song – John Denver – My Mum’s favourite country music singer, John Denver had to figure in this one. Like many 70’s teenagers, I was introduced to John’s music through the movies Sunshine and My Sweet Lady. I am a big John fan too, but I bought this album for Mum for Mothers Day when I was about 13 or 14. You filled up my senses like a night in a forest. How can you not love that line.

Sunday Morning Coming Down – Kris Kristofferson – This song is my favourite country music song of all time. It was also the song that made me put most of my other music tastes aside. I guess that I was about 15. I always loved Kris singing Kris songs best. He had lived every one of those songs and his voice seemed to fit the stories.  As an adult, I can relate to this song more (especially some of my days in my early twenties) and I can appreciate the poetry more.  I don’t think that there is a song in any genre that heightens the senses like this one does. The lines are just the best.

I am only up to 15 and I have covered my 5 impact songs already! Perhaps I should cheat and keep going through adulthood.

The Eagles were a big impact on me during my teens. Of course, I watched Countdown and I was that little teenage Rock Chick but I loved my songwriters like Billy Joel, The Beatles, Elton John and of course, my fave, James Taylor. Carole King was a fave too. However, when it came to country, The Eagles were probably my closest to it. I loved everything that they did.  Given my place of residence – Tamworth, and my easy going approach to life, Peaceful, Easy Feeling was probably a given. I used to cart my cassette player into the bathroom and sing to it in the shower.

When I was eighteen and a half, I moved to the big smoke of Sydney for work reasons. Country Music was put on the back burner for a while, though Ma and Pa played it still when I went home for visits.

I was continuing with my folk style of music and went and saw Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, America and the like. I also saw John Denver and Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton during this time. I guess you can take the girl out of the country…..

I went to see Kevin Johnson and I was hooked. I love all of his songs but the song that hit me was called “Oleanders” it is actually about a romance during the Civil War in America, but it made an amazing impact on me, and I am fascinated by history, especially American History.

In my late twenties I got back into Country Music very heavily, this was mainly due to the big wave of great music coming through from America. I think that the late 80’s early 90’s was one of the best eras of country music in America. So many wonderful artists.  Narrowing it down to 3 songs from my 20’s to my 50’s, it is hard. Crystal Gayle’s version of Take Me Home You Silly Boy (Tom Waits) has a special place in my life. It is just one of the most beautiful songs ever written. It makes me cry every time that I hear it.

Randy Travis came out with a version of “A Horse called Music” It is such an amazing song and Randy really does it for me on many levels. I think that Adam Harvey is the Aussie equal to Randy. They both have those beautiful melt your heart voices.

It is no secret to anyone who reads my blog or who knows me musically, that Mary-Chapin Carpenter is my favourite female country artist. I was tossed between her song, He Thinks He’ll Keep Her and Iris DeMent’s My Life. They both have amazing messages and incredible strength and beauty to them.

Again, though some of these are my favourite songs, the idea of the download is more to highlight songs that made an impact. I will be doing my favourite 100 songs soon, which will be a lot easier

This is only until I am 30. I am 54 now, so you can imagine the impacts since then!

Kaz’s Profiles: Australian Country Music Stars #8

Name: The Weeping Willows (Laura Coates and Andrew Wrigglesworth)

From:  Across the River of Gold from each other now together in Harmony

Of the 79 types of Country Music they mainly do: Alt. Country, Countryfolk (Folktry)

Best Songs: Travellin’ Man, Forever in My Dreams, The Pale Rider, Home for the Broken Soul, Acorns, North Wind

Albums: Till The North Wind Blows, Before Darkness Comes-A-Callin’

Sounds like: Bringing back the beautiful folk music of the 60’s with a new twist. Andy channels Bob Dylan sometimes, Neil Young at others and is pure Andy at others. Laura has one of the most beautiful voices in the universe. Together, they are……magic.

If you like: Peter, Paul and Mary, Lyn Bowtell, Aleyce Simmonds, The Seekers, Bob Dylan.

Fascinating Facts: Sometimes you feel like you are invading their privacy when you go to a Weeping Willows gig. Their performances are so intimate and they have so much chemistry that sometimes you think that you should go to the bar and get a drink. That magic, however, makes their music even more of a gift to the audience. They are sharing something very personal and each of their songs seems like one of their children to them – and to us. When I first heard The Weeping Willows, I felt like my 60’s childhood was coming back to me. I feel very close to these two, not just because of their beautiful music but because of their genuine warmth and affection that they have for their fans and the many things that we have in common. (apart from the fact that I can’t sing or play or look that good!) I have travelled to a few places far and wide to see them and I would do it all again – and will – they are incredibly talented people with big hearts. They were nominated for four Golden Guitars this year and various other awards. They are starting to break into the big time and it is about time. They were flat out at Tamworth and they were in big demand. America also knows a thing or two about our favourite trees, and the world is their oyster. Keep on their good sides, or you may end up the subject of a murder ballad.  Andy is a great guitarist, he is probably one of the best in the country. Laura could be a model in her Vintage dresses – I always try and guess what she is going to wear next, her main rival for the country music fashionista tag is Amber Lawrence….I am sure that they compare notes! I feel very much like a big sister to both of them. I am very proud of them and I hope that the world one day knows what I have known for a long time now. Thanks to Kate Naylor and Lachlan Bryan for introducing them to me in the first place. There are some things that I could say…..but I am staying MUM! Or big sister!

www.theweepingwillows.com.au

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Home is where it began – Billy Pitt and Jarrod Hickling

 

I have been facebook friends with Billy (only the name has been changed) for a while now. His posts are always thoughtful and his passion for music and family and friends is always paramount.

His thoughtfulness and passion translate into his music. I had a feeling that Billy would be good and his mate Jarrod is terrific too, I was just acting on gut instinct. Sadly, I don’t have the credits because I haven’t got the hard copy but from what my ears tell me, I can pick up influences and I can detect a lot of Billy in there.

Jarrod’s voice is very deep and strong and Billy’s is very sweet and rich in harmony. The  ying and yang combine very well on this album. I am sure that was a conscious choice. If you listen to some of the great duets in history, Brooks and Dunn, Simon and Garfunkel, Hall and Oates, they all have that balance.

The songs are a mixture of gentle country songs and those with good old reliable country music subjects: trucks, beer and love.  There are obvious influences of Aussie giants, Adam Harvey and Troy Cassar-Daley plus some of the classic American country singers like Tom T Hall and Don Williams and the like, and of course Merle and Waylon.  There’s even a touch of George Jones there too.

This is a country music album which sticks to its guns. It is pure country with a beautiful balance of great vocals, slick musicianship and songs that are easy to listen to and to hum to.

The songs are so playable. I have played them 5 or 6 times already. They will get plenty of spins from me.  These two are gold together and alone. One of the most pleasant surprises of the year and in my top 5 so far this year of best albums.

I can’t recommend  this album highly enough. This is almost a shared album, with alternate songs from the singers, but it works. A great album to mellow out to.

 

 

Songs:

Here For The Beer

King of The Kenworth

Angels in the Snow

No more coming home to me

Mamma’s Song

A good book and a good hook

That’s what your woman wants to hear

Like he don’t know she’s gone

Play a little country song

Go Back

Kaz’s Profiles – Australian Country Music Stars #7

 

Name: Lyn Bowtell

From: Queensland, but we don’t talk about that bit….we prefer to think of her as from the Hunter Valley.

Voice: Queen of Vocal Gymnastics, like Gold and honey with rich chocolate.

Of the 79 different types of Country Music she covers: Mainly country folk, country celtic, a little blues, soul and bluegrass – best at ballads. Award winning in the Alt. Country mode too.

Best songs: Hard to pick one that is not the best.

Sings: Solo, with award winning Bennett, Bowtell and Urquhart and with the award winning Bella.

Albums:  With Bella: Tumblin Down Ep and Gravity. Solo albums: hearts in the Country, Secret Songs and Heart of Sorrow with Bennett, Bowtell and Urquhart, self titled album.

Fascinating Facts: Probably the funniest female in Country Music, next to Beccy Cole. She can make your heart break and your frown turn upside down in the space of a song. As well as being one of the funniest, she is also one of the most sensitive country artists. She is very generous to her fans and she is well loved and respected within the country music community. It is now time for the rest of the country to know her as we do. Her songs are heartfelt and relatable. She is one of the most down to earth, humble artists. She is part of what is known as the Loveachat Pack: Beccy Cole, Kasey Chambers and Gina Jeffreys. A bunch of very funny and talented chicks who would put the Brat Pack and Rat Pack to Shame. To join the gang you have to know the password.  Her mum could easily join her on stage like the other ones from the Loveachat Pack have experienced….or indeed Melinda Schneider and other famous Mother and daughter acts. We were all shocked or surprised when Lyn went on the Voice but we are all glad that she has now, the whole world will know what we have known for a very long time, she’s da bomb.

www.lynbowtell.com

 

Kaz’s Profiles: Country Music Stars: Australian – #6

Name: Mike Carr – a.k.a. Michael Carr – a.k.a. God

From: Well, you know where God comes from!

Voice sounds like: Red Wine and Lindt Chocolate.

Songs are: About life, love and the whole damned package. They make you sigh, swoon and believe. Powerful messages, funny songs, songs that we can relate to.

If you like: Billy Joel (listen to the voice), Luke O’Shea, Darren Colston, Allan Caswell, Michael Bryers, Shane Nicholson.

Albums: Michael Carr, Legend.

Best Songs: All of them.

Fascinating Facts: Mike Carr,  in my opinion, is the best Country Music Songwriter in Australia. In fact, he is my second favourite songwriter of any genre in this country, Paul Kelly being my favourite. He has written or co-written songs for most Australian and some NZ country artists. He has only produced 2 of his own albums (damn, blast, pfft) but the hits and album music that he has written for others is immense. Some of these artists are: Seleen McAlister, Kaylee Bell, NeillyRich, Melinda Schneider, Adam Brand, etc. I think that only Allan Caswell outsongwrites him in Australia. He gets very little recognition for all of the wonderful work that he does. When Mike is not writing, he is part of the fab four at Tamworth with Luke Austen, Anthony Taylor and Dan Thompson at a long lunch time gig every day of the festival, where some fans, including a short, tubby blonde from Tamworth, always request a Mike Carr song. He also does late night gigs with the Springfields. It is safe to say that Mike is so busy helping out everyone else that he doesn’t very often get his own chance to shine. I believe that is on purpose sometimes. Mike is not one for the spotlight. He has a very close personal friend who does that for him, Buddy Goode, and a brother, Darren, who are more comfortable with that. His Dad, Warren, was the piano player for Col Joye back in the day. It is safe to say that the Carrs are a very talented family. Mike and Melinda have collaborated on a few projects, I would love to see them work on a few more together. He not only walks on water, he dances on tables, I have the picture to prove it. Considering that he wrote and sang a song about not being able to dance, he did ok! Hopefully, more people will read the fine print on albums and see just how many people Mike has helped out. We all hope that the legend has more than two albums of his own to show future generations. He has been part of the Outlaws and his b.v’s on other people’s tracks are also of note. There are a great many people who owe a debt of gratitude to Mike Carr, especially his loyal group of longtime fans who know how amazing he is.

He will blush at this. He is not one to blow his own trumpet, if he did, it would be the entire orchestra. Trust me, he is that good.

 

 

Kaz’s Profiles – Country Music Artists – Australian #5

Name: Darren Colston

From: Somewhere on a bend by the willow by the Murray River

Voice sounds like: nobody else’s. Distinctive, passionate, strong and soothing.

Songs are: autobiographical, powerful, heartfelt, about Australia, Australians and the lyrics are clever and meaningful.

If you like: John Denver, Luke O’Shea, Mike Carr, Jim Croce, Allan Caswell, Karl Broadie

Albums: Darren Colston, The Happiness Tree, Come By Chance, Bare Bones

Best Songs: Drinkin’ Through Memories of You, Come By Chance, The Happiness Tree, Moving The Mullock, On the Bend by the Willow, Fly Away, The Boundary Rider

Fascinating Facts: People at gigs often think that I am related to Daz – usually big sister or a cousin. I probably know Darren better than I know most of my own family. I would be proud to call him my brother, I am sure that he would be a little bit scared if he was told that he was part of my family! Darren has a very dry sense of humour. He is very sensitive and sincere and just a beautiful guy with the most amazing voice and his way with words is incredible. His music is great for doing the housework to, dancing down the street or singing along to. He can sing anything. I have been at gigs where the crowd has thrown requests at him that seem crazy but he can still sing those songs, sometimes better than the original. One of the best gigs that I have ever been to was Darren’s show at Mildura RSL last year. It was heartfelt and a great balance between fun and sheer talent. He only owns three shirts. When I win the lotto, I will buy him a new one, not that he doesn’t look good in red or black or white….oh sorry, he has that blue and white checked one too. Must get him a navy blue shirt, preferably with a big CFC in white on it. Yes, Darren has one fault, he is a Collingwood supporter, but I have forgiven him for that. I personally think that he is the most underrated artist in this country, next to that chick that I did the profile on before, Allison Forbes. Two incredible talents with unique gifts.  I have a few things on Darren but being a loyal big sister, I won’t go there! He has been mistaken for Kevin Costner and my Dad likes his music, (that is always a tough test for modern country music artists). He is a perfectionist. He is a giver. Daz is a very generous and thoughtful person and songwriter. He doesn’t know how good he is. Hopefully, one day, the world will know.

www.darrencolston.com

Kaz’s Country Music Profiles – Australian – #4

Name: Luke O’Shea

From: The Shire to be Shire to be Shire…..strong affiliation to Boggabri and Ireland.

Voice is like: an Irish balladeer crossed with an Aussie balladeer with a bit of something else in there that people can’t quite put their finger on.

Songs are: Aussie stories, autobiographical ballads and things that we can all relate to.

If you like: Eric Bogle, Kevin Johnson, Allan Caswell, Darren Colston, Mike Carr, Kris Kristofferson

Of the 79 types of Country Music he mainly sings: CountryCeltic, Countryfolk, Bush Ballads, Heritage Songs and Lovetry.

Albums: No Day Like Today, Listen to the Words, Caught Up in The Dreaming, Drover’s Wife, Sing You Up, Limited Edition Best Of, Prodigal Son

Best Songs: Listen to the Words, Sing You Up, Annie O’Shea, Lady of the Land, Begin and End In Love, Like Snow

Fascinating Facts: Only person to ever get Aleyce Simmonds to wear his hat. He was asked to run a male beauty salon with Michael Bryers. Michael was going to tease while he stirred. As a History Teacher, it is no surprise that many of Luke’s songs are well researched songs about Aussie legends and historical facts. I went to Luke’s gigs when there was only 3 people in the crowd. Now it is hard to get a standing spot. When Luke won his first Golden Guitars a few years ago, the applause was the longest in Golden Guitar History. Luke’s charity work often goes unrecognised. That’s the way he likes it but he does more for the underdog and the less fortunate than most country music artists. I know, because I have been a witness to some of his biggest charity drives. He was arrested for being too good looking shortly after his first Golden Guitars’ success….and also for fighting the good fight. Creator of more filler words in songs than anyone else on the planet.  His wife, Lizzie, has to put up with a lot from Luke’s Stalkers, but we love you too, Lizzie. One of the best songwriters in Australia, it took a long while for the greater public and official judges to recognise Lukie, but those of us with excellent taste – his stalkers and his peers – have always known how great he is.  With or without his Medicine Wheel, Luke is a national treasure. He has also been hailed as the Thinking Woman’s Country Music Sex Symbol. I like that.

lukeoshea.com