Review: Sal Kimber and the Rollin’ Wheel at the Workers Club, Fitzroy.

Sal Kimber and the Rollin' Wheel
Image Courtesy of Sal Kimber and the Rollin Wheel

Sal Kimber and the Rollin’ Wheel, supported by Fingerbone Bill
6th August 2011, The Workers CLub

Fingerbone Bill, dressed casually in flannel shirts and jeans, beers in hand strolled onto the stage, took their positions at one of their beautiful (and multiple) instruments and quietly introduced themselves. They opened their fantastic set with “Jerry Brown”, a typical country song. It was a powerful mix of banjo, guitar, smooth vocals and harmonica and bass that immediately grabbed everyone’s attentions, drawing them in from all of the beautiful candlelit rooms and alcoves of The Workers Club that they were hiding in. As the people gathered, the men on stage delivered gem after gem, their incredibly passion, power and musicianship clearly evident as they all swapped instruments and played with equal proficiency no matter what. At one point a member of the crowd called them “show offs” and when everyone was finally in their right positions again he, amid laughter, said “that’s more like it!”

As my first real experience with a live country set strode on with brilliant Rob Johnson cover tracks, slide guitars, and astounding originals, one vibrant couple with some obvious knowledge up their sleeves began to dance passionately, drawing claps and smiles from the surrounding crowd and some very appreciative words from the band. This was set to a piece that was a tale about a ‘”county girl”, a quintessential country song, the guys on stage with vibrant smiles on their faces. After a magnificent set they finished with what I thought was their standout song, “Blood on the Bluegrass”, a haunting and melodic track about (as “all country is”) drinking, death, and going to jail. These guys have CDs, I strongly suggest you buy them!

With the crowd already rolling in, fancy dresses and embroidered shirts amidst us all, Sal Kimber and the Rollin’ Wheel started their set up amid an appreciative roar and the excitement, already boiling, practically spilled over. Also dressed in their finest “modern ball gowns”, Sal and Beth “Buffy” Kimber, Jacob Cole, Trent Mackenzie and Cat Leahy ( all in smart shirts) opened their set with a moody, guitar and bass driven track that had everyone from the word go. Despite some technical issues that never entirely got resolved everyone was dancing, everyone was smiling and everyone had a beer. With much clapping and cheering the rich, honey tones of Sal rippled over the room and thus they began!

One of the things that I found the most engaging was not only the raw and absolute power in Sal’s voice, but the musicianship itself and the beauty of each instrument. I was particularly taken with bassist Trent Mackenzie, who had not only a stunning blonde wood instrument but also held everything together through their whole set with extraordinary ease and excellence and the obvious experience of a well-seasoned player. Likewise their drummer, Cat Leahy, also had a striking set and delivered some delicious drum lines and small solos throughout, keeping the crowd on its toes. Sal spoke joyfully of her new banjo, named Kathleen, amid friendly banter happening both between the large crowd, (who Sal suggested only came and cheered because they were “all my friends”) and the band itself. She spoke about being grumpy and tired and apologised to her lovely band for snapping at them, which prompted her to write a song for them aptly called “Rolling Wheel”, a fantastic piece of music featuring her on banjo, a piano accordion played by Buffy and lead guitarist and housemate, Jacob “Jakey” Cole.

As the end of the night approached, the playing of “Beat Gets Louder”, an amusing introduction called forwards all dancers, and, the whole room erupted, the small space a mass of swaying and writhing bodies. Just as impressive on stage as in studio, the reaction from the crowd was really great to see, and if at all a measure of the albums imminent reception, exceptionally promising. Stay on the lookout for the clip for this song due for release early this week. The set was full of new tracks inspiring great amounts of excitement for the album release, (expected October 14th), and true to the ballroom with a twist theme everyone was dancing. This is something I’m greatly looking forward to listening to, and looks to contain some really strong and moving pieces, scattered among a lot of songs with incredibly catchy beats. They are a truly spectacular vision of modern, alternative country rock, with just enough quirkiness (think xylophones) mixed in with their strong feel to keep everyone happy. However despite their full sound and booming charm, my favourite song of the night was a relatively simple one, with just Sal and Jake on slide guitar, her rich voice and his gentle playing absolutely enough. Definitely stay tuned for more from this great Melbourne band!


  1. August 15, 2011 at 16:01

    […] on the heels of our review of Sal Kimber and the Rollin’ Wheel’s single launch show comes the video for that very same song. The track is “Beat Gets Louder” and the video, […]

  2. August 24, 2011 at 16:18

    […] a taste of what you’ll get on the Sal Kimber & The Rollin’ Wheel tour check out our review of the band’s recent show at the Workers Club in Melbourne and then watch the clip for their latest single “Beat Gets Louder” below: Share […]

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