Review: Rosie by Thelma Plum

Images Courtesy of Thelma Plum

Although this is Timber & Steel‘s first article on Thelma Plum, it’s safe to assume that most of our Australian readers would have already heard of her by now. Even if you haven’t heard the name, it’s likely that most would have heard or overheard her stirring breakthrough ditty “Father Said” on the radio, perhaps without realising who it belonged to. That song, with its deep, hypnotic, fingerpicked guitar has captivated its way onto high rotation on Triple J and kickstarted Plum‘s ascendence. The first time I heard that song I was stuck in traffic on Adelaide’s city ring route and it seemed like traffic had somehow ground to a halt to observe the sanctity of it, as a sign of respect. As wrong as it seems, you don’t really expect to hear quiet, simple, beautiful songs on the radio anymore, and I’m glad Triple J are willing to make an exception but it certainly took me by surprise. I suppose if you remember where you were the first time you hear any song, then that fact speaks to its quality and its power.

“Father Said” is just one of six tracks unveiled to the world in Plum‘s debut EP, Rosie, which delightfully showcases her ability to craft more than just a wholesome folk tune. Despite still only being the tender age of 18, Plum seems to have a managed to successfully launch a second song to radio- the EP’s opener “Around Here”. Although built on a foundation of simple acoustic strumming, the wonderfully produced track builds with layers of poppy instruments to a blissful ‘walking on sunshine’ plateau before reaching it’s hand-clappin’ destination with a quirky chorus of “la-di-da fuck you”s. It’s a particularly enjoyable, light-hearted listen. The EP’s 3rd track “Dollar” is of a similar pop pedigree and is almost equally chanced at radio play. Although pleasingly arranged, what really carries “Dollar” is Plum’s vocal delivery- in particular her attitudinal, self-assured phrasing.

 

In contrast, Plum shows off another feature of her downright beautiful, versatile voice on her track 4 piano ballad “Breathe In Breathe Out”. It’s a moving, dramatic song- if it were written 15 years earlier it would have probably been used on the soundtrack to Titanic. Plum rounds out the EP with another slow-growing piano-ballad gem “King” and what seems to be a song for her pet dog Rosie, who, under the assumption that this whole EP was named for her, is the most spoilt pooch going round.

I was relieved to find that Rosie has been flawlessly recorded and produced, which can often be an unfortunalte barrier for unearthed artists in making that next step up to household name. Alas, stars are a aligning for Thelma Plum at the moment on the back of winning the Triple J Award for National Indigenous Music and the 2012 Deadly Award for Emerging Talent, and I’m sure she’ll continue to build upon her experiences playing bigger shows, most recently Byron Bay Bluesfest. Pair that with the fact that she’s an absolutely stunning gal, and I think you’ll agree that Australia’s found its next darling.

Buy Rosie by Thelma Plum from iTunes.

Go to Thelma Plum’s Triple J Unearthed Page.

Review: The Beast In Its Tracks by Josh Ritter (or, “The Overcoming of a Bogey-Artist”)

Image Courtesy of Josh Ritter

I decided to tackle this album review because Josh Ritter is an artist that, for a long time, has been on the top of what I like to call ‘my guilty folky’s list’. That’s my name for the list of important artists that I know every folk music fan should be intimately familiar with that I’ve embarrassingly never explored. Don’t judge me, but accompanying Ritter on this list includes acts like Bright Eyes, Ryan Adams, The Avett Brothers and Elliott Smith. For shame, right?.

Although I tried listening to each of Ritter‘s previous 3 widely acclaimed albums The Animal Years (2006), The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter (2007) and So Runs The World Away (2010), they never inspired me to keep listening when they were stacked up against a world of alternatives. Although I appreciated Ritter’s way with words and clever storytelling, I suppose this appreciation came out of a conscious analysis of his music instead of an emotional reaction, which is personally what I crave.

The first time I listened to Beast In Its Tracks I tried my best to approach it with an open mind, knowing the potential for it to fall to personal bogey-artist curse, but still my first impression was underwhelming. My usual background research on the album uncovered that Beast In Its Tracks is essentially a break-up album following Ritter‘s divorce, which gave me hope that the album would offer songwriting  that was raw, unrestrained, defeated, bitter and painful musically and not just lyrically. However, for the most part, I found that it was largely set to a background of upbeat, level, rhythmic pop-strummin’ n’ pickin’ without a great deal of dramatic variation, rise-and-fall or progression to support any kind of underlying storyline within individual songs that might conjure the emotional reaction I craved.

What I did begin to find though, on second and third listen, was a sense of melancholy. I read in Pitchfork’s review of the album that Ritter confessed to fans that the first songs that he wrote on the other side of his divorce were “too full of hatred and self-pity” to record. Instead of offering those emotionally dense musings from the winter of his despair, this album is obviously the product of the springtime of Ritter‘s ordeal (to reference Ritter’s own prose from the album): stories of him moving on with his life with one eye on the future and one on the past, with a sense of optimism and a sense of mourning. Once you come to terms with that, the album becomes a lot more accessible and that neutral balance of upbeat and downtrodden emotion makes a lot more sense and the lryics start to take you to a place where they are able to affect you. One of my favourite lyrics of all time echoes that wry, contradicting balance of emotions on display in this record perfectly:

“The first time I made coffee for just myself  I made too much of it, but I drank it all just cause you hate it when I let things go to waste”

That’s from a song called “Woke Up New” by The Mountain Goats, and just like much of The Beast In Its Tracks, it’s paired with chirpy chords and accompaniments and draws its power from a similar kind of melancholic place. Ritter‘s lyricism on this album is starkly honest and unapologetic. I find that most albums have a song that summarises it. A song that says in 3 minutes what the songwriter wants to say in 30. I think for The Beast In Its Tracks, that song is “A Certain Light”:

My new lover, sweet and kind
The kind of lover that one rarely finds
And I’m happy for the first time, in a long time

Came along and opened up the door
And though I know I’ve been in love before
Oh I feel it, so much more, than the last time

And she only looks like you
In a certain kind of light
When she holds her head just right

Its been winter, for a while
The north winds wail cut like a baby child
It was hard to think or smile
That brings springtime

But it did and now it is
The green green grass
Is come up green and its
Feeling just the way it did
The very first time

And she only looks like you
In a certain kind of light
When she holds her head just right

And anymore, it’d stretch the rhyme
So let me leave this where I started, 
I’m just happy for the first time
In a long time

In a long time

I love the sadness of that tainted joy, and that’s what this album is consistently about. If you listen through to the end of the album you’ll be rewarded by finding the album’s few catchier tunes as well like “In Your Arms Again”, “Bonfire” and “Joy To You Baby”, which perhaps makes the album a bit less accessible than it could have been if it had been front-end-loaded. Still, The Beast In Its Tracks is new ground for Ritter, concerned with personal experience and thoughts, making my impression of it to be far more relatable than his previous albums, although I admittedly gave up on them too early. Below are some songs from the album to listen to and a live clip of “Joy To You Baby” which I particularly enjoy.

The conclusion that I’ve taken from this challenge I set myself to overcome one of my bogey-artists and tick another name off of my “guilty folky’s list” is that if you’re not getting any joy from one of the world’s most beloved and renowned artists, there’s nothing wrong with the music, there’s just something wrong with you.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 29th March

TFIF

This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Melbourne singer-songwriter James Kenyon has announced a string of dates up and down the east coast this April. Details here

Fiddlers Feast released the video for their fantastic track “The Devil Went Down To Tamworth”. Details here

Timber and Steel favourites The Falls scored the support slot for The Lumineers’ sold out shows this weekend. Details here

– Country supergroup The Hillbilly Killers have revealed their first three tracks online. Details here

Darren Cross, one half of Sydney alt-country duo Jep and Dep, has just released his new solo single. Details here

– Details of the 2013 Festival Folk Sing album, Festival Folk Sing Judy Small have been released ahead of this weekend’s National Folk Festival. Details here

– We finally have an official video for the track “Run Boy” from Kaurna Cronin. Details here

The Snowy Mountains of Music have revealed the first artists on their 2013 lineup including Jeff Lang, Mikelangelo and the Tin Star and Mustered Courage. Details here

MoFo in Sydney announced its special April lineup that includes Lucy Wise and the B’Gollies and Mem Davis and the Kindred Spirits. Details here

– Next Saturday sees World Musician Day take over Sydney Park in Sydney’s inner-south with a lineup that includes The Crooked Fiddle Band, Betty & Oswald, The Lunch Mothers and more. Details here

– Regular Sydney night Upstairs and Underground is returning for 2013 with a folk-flavoured lineup. Details here

Communion Melbourne announced a massive lineup for next weekend including Willy Mason, Deap Vally, Jordie Lane and Playwrite. Details here

Interviews

“Ann Vriend (Canada) is a very regular and very welcome visitor to Australia and this week she’s touched down in Sydney to kick off a month of shows that will take her south to Tasmania and north to Queensland — with appropriate stops along the way”Ann Vriend chats to Bill Quinn. Interview here

“You could say that singer-songwriters are being opportunistic in that some of our traditional avenues might have even closed down. But then you could say the folk club scene is being opportunistic because they’re getting young, fresh, interesting talent to just revitalise their thing. It’s a happy marriage I think”Brett Winterford chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here

“Interviewing Andrew Cronshaw is a bit like watching Waragamba Dam in flood. There’s a mighty capacity, but the volume contained therein and the urge for it to surge out means there’s a fair old splashing and cascading over the spillway”Andrew Cronshaw from SANS chats to Bill Quinn. Interview here

“They’re just my favourites and I adore their music and I’ll hunt them down at every festival and sing along, and sometimes dance along, and that’s just the way it is and ever shall be, Wheezer World without end, amen. So yeah, I quite like the Wheeze and Suck Band” – Tony Pyzarkowski from The Wheeze and Suck Band chats to Bill Quinn. Interview here

“I interviewed Griff at Punchbowl Boys’ High School in Sydney’s south-west earlier this week and we spent a bit of time talking about the benefits to be had from inter-meshing music and education. And by and by we did discuss music, and Grimick’s first foray to the National Folk Festival this weekend” – Chris “Griff” Griffiths from Grimick chats to Bill Quinn. Interview here

Blog

“It’s no secret that we’re fans of beards here at Timber & Steel. From Joe Purdy to Ray LaMontagne, William Fitzsimmons to Josh T Pearson and obviously the likes of The Beards, we find beards to be synonymous with folk, blues and roots music. While at Womadelaide this year (which is essentially beard paradise) we took the opportunity to take some photos of some pretty cool beards”Thom Owen Miles and Arcade Photo document the Beards of WOMADelaide. Blog here

“At the beginning of the new year I drove to Melbourne for three days. There were no hot meals and we only stopped to sleep in the closest located motel off the Hume highway. If you’re road tripping this year to a festival, a new city or even just heading home; I recommend pillows, pit stops and a well-considered soundtrack for your journey. Behold – my tried and true top 10”Laurenandmoore gives us her top road trip tunes. Blog here

Reviews

Gigs

“After a couple of years of mud-inducing torrential rain the Blue Mountains Music Festival was this year blessed with un-seasonally warm sunny days and crisp clear nights – a combination that drew some of the biggest crowds I’d ever seen at the festival. The market stalls were humming, the venues were pumping and the atmosphere was electric – and of course the music was spectacular”Gareth Hugh Evans reviews the Blue Mountains Music Festival. Review here

“WOMADelaide has been running for 21 years now and I suppose they’ve essentially perfected it because for as long as I’ve been attending the festival it’s kept the same site layout, precincts, stages and amenities, which definitely contributes to the comfort levels of repeat attendees”Thom Owen Miles reviews WOMADelaide. Review here

“As the throng of spectators pushes to the front, I’m not the only one feeling claustrophobic. There’s dudes with dark armpit patches sharing stories about ex-lovers, a few oldies leaning on the far wall with a modest beer, groups of excited girls wielding handbags and a clear backwards cap to energy drink ratio. I get the impression that most of these people know each other. A crew of friends and family whistles and barks as The Pierce Brothers enter with a traditional, “G’day!””Laurenandmoore reviews The Pierce Brothers at The Evelyn in Melbourne. Review here

“There was so much happening on stage that I struggled to write it all down. One minute the horn section were dancing; then they were jumping; then they abandoned their instruments altogether as the piano had a jazz aneurysm. A few false endings and they finished with flashing lights and wailing. His Merry Men are such a visually engaging band and definitely brought their own house party tonight. I would love to catch these guys again on a bigger stage, with or without the pajamas”Laurenandmoore reviews His Merry Men at The Empress Hotel in Melbourne. Review here

Releases This Week

The Ash and Clay
The Ash & ClayThe Milk Carton Kids
iTunes

Gigs Next Week

Ann Vriend
Saturday 30th March – The Stage, Hobart, Tas
Sunday 31st March – Jazz at Mona, Hobart, Tas
Monday 1st April – private rural house concert, Tas
Tuesday 2nd April – Skwiz Cafe Gallery, Sheffield, Tas
Friday 5th April – The Upfront Club, Maleny, Qld

Ben Howard
Wednesday 3rd April – The Metro, Sydney, NSW
Friday 5th April – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane, QLD

Bluesfest
Friday 29th March to Monday 1st April – Byron Bay, NSW

Bobby Alu
Friday 5th April – Nayri Niara Festival, Bruny Island, TAS

Counting Crows
Saturday 30th March – Hamer Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 3rd April – Perth Concert Hall, Perth, WA

Dropkick Murphys, Frank Turner and Swingin’ Utters
Sunday 31st March – Panthers, Newcastle, NSW
Monday 1st April – Big Top Luna Park, Sydney, NSW
Tuesday 2nd April – Festival Hall, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 3rd April – Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide, SA

Eli Wolfe
Wednesday 3rd April – The Old Kirk, Yamba, NSW

Jack Carty and Jordan Millar
Saturday 30th March – Republic Bar, Hobart, TAS
Wednesday 3rd April – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 4th April – Cafe Le Monde, Noosa Heads, QLD
Friday 5th April – The Spotted Cow, Toowoomba, QLD

Jake Shimabukuro
Sunday 31st March – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Monday 1st April – Lizottes, Kincumber, NSW
Wednesday 3rd April – Lizottes, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 4th April – The Basement, Sydney, NSW
Friday 5th April – The Corner, Melbourne, VIC

Julia and the Deep Sea Sirens
Friday 5th April – Yours & Owls, Wollongong, NSW

Laneway
Sunday 31st March – The End, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 4th April – The Treehouse, Byron Bay, NSW

Luka Bloom
Sunday 31st March – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Tuesday 2nd April – Fly By Night Musician’s Club, Fremantle, WA

Michael Kiwanuka
Tuesday 2nd April – St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane, QLD

National Folk Festival
Friday 29th March to Monday 1st April – Canberra, ACT

Passenger
Saturday 30th March – Astor Theatre, Perth, WA
Wednesday 3rd April – Conservatorium Theatre, Brisbane, QLD

Patrick James
Friday 29th March – The Front, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 20th March – Barcode, Wollongong, NSW
Wednesday 3rd April – Republic Bar, Hobart, TAS

Paul Simon with Rufus Wainwright
Saturday 30th March – Hope Estate, Hunter Valley, NSW
Tuesday 2nd April – Entertainment Centre, Sydney, NSW

Seth Lakeman
Friday 29th March – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW
Sunday 31st March – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
Monday 1st April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT

Simone Felice with Jess Ribeiro
Saturday 30th March – Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan, VIC
Sunday 31st March – Boogie Festival, Tallarook, VIC
Wednesday 3rd April – Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 4th April – The Vanguard, Sydney, NSW
Friday 5th April – Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW

Sleepy Dreamers with Brightly, Run Rabbit Run
Thursday 4th April – The Workers Club, Melbourne, VIC

The Hillbilly Killers
Saturday 30th March – Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh, VIC
Sunday 31st March – Boogie Festival, VIC
Thursday 4th April- Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW
Friday 5th April – The Abbey, Canberra, ACT

The Lumineers
Friday 29th March – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 30th March – The Hi-Fi, Brisbane, QLD

The Starry Field
Friday 29th March – The Clever Duck, Cairns, QLD
Sunday 31st March – The Old Magistrates Courthouse, Townsville, QLD
Wednesday 3rd April – The Beetle Bar, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 5th April – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW

Tim Guy
Thursday 4th April – Lock n Load Bistro, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 5th April – Sol Bar, Maroochydoore, QLD

Wilco
30th March to 1st April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“The Japanese Whaling Song” – Martin Pearson with Liz Frencham

In 1999 I volunteered at the National Folk Festival after spending my teenage years ignoring folk music for the most part. The experience was amazing – when I wasn’t working I was absorbing every single artist and experience I could. And I’ve been going back whenever I can, including this year. So I thought I’d give you a little bit of a Folk Festival experience from the wonderful Martin Pearson – a man whose intros are always longer than his songs.

Communion Melbourne Announces Lineup for 7th April

Communion Melbourne
Image Courtesy of Communion Melbourne

Hold onto your hats Melbourne – you’re in for an absolute treat. Next Sunday the 7th April Communion Melbourne once again takes over the Toff in Town with one of their biggest lineups to date.

Heading up the list of artists is none other than Mr Willy Mason. Mason will be in the country next week for a string of dates and if you haven’t gotten tickets Communion Melbourne may be your only chance to see him – he’s practically sold out every single other show he’s playing while he’s in Australia. Joining Willy Mason on the Communion Melbourne lineup will be US duo Deap Vally, Timber and Steel favourite Jordie Lane and Melbourne alt-folk-rock four piece Playwrite.

Tickets for Communion Melbourne are just $18 and with a lineup like this are sure to get snapped up quick – pick them up here. For more information check out the official Facebook page here.

On The Road: A Folk Playlist

At the beginning of the new year I drove to Melbourne for three days. There were no hot meals and we only stopped to sleep in the closest located motel off the Hume highway. If you’re road tripping this year to a festival, a new city or even just heading home; I recommend pillows, pit stops and a well-considered soundtrack for your journey. Behold – my tried and true top 10.

1. Noah and the Whale – “5 Years Time”

Way back before Laura Marling broke Charlie Fink’s heart, this is what their music sounded like. I can’t resist a song lead by jolly ukulele chords so “5 Years Time” just gives me the warm fuzzies. Put this on your road trip playlist if your destination includes a beach or quaint country town. Guaranteed to inject a sense of wonder and adventure into any long journey.

2. Frightened Rabbit – “Old Old Fashioned”

When was the last time you felt victorious? This feeling occurs so rarely in our day-to-day lives that we need to be adequately prepared when the moment strikes. “Old Old Fashioned” is my victory song. I have it ready and waiting on days when I’m pre-empting the completion of something – the last day of a job, post-gig celebration or even just a new haircut. I also love the opening lyric, “Oh, turn off the TV. It’s killing us we never speak,” proving it’s greatness as a soundtrack for those who want to get away.

3. Gorgol Bordello – “Through the Roof ‘n’ Underground”

Years ago, someone recommended I watch Wristcutters: A Love Story and I’m recommending it again to you now. During most of the film, the characters are driving around a desert wasteland listening to Ukrainian gypsy punk band, Gorgol Bordello. For me, this song will always be synonymous with travel. Seriously though, watch this movie. It’s got Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon and bloody Tom Waits.

4. Bright Eyes – “Road to Joy”

Let’s face it. Most people like this album. It’s just a great album. The way it builds and swells between the verses; the explosive horn section; Connor Oberst’s unsteady vocals and crackling screams as he commands, “Let’s fuck it up boys – MAKE SOME NOISE!” Oberst pokes fun at his country and himself in this song; so it becomes like an enraged escapist anthem for me when I’m on the road.

5. Andrew Bird – “Fiery Crash”

This is such a travelling song. The lyrics force us to consider our fate as mortal beings and seize the day; although sonically the music is perfect for a road trip soundtrack with its glorious violin and catchy down-stroked guitar chords. Enjoy this one. Armchair Apocrypha was a legendary album and I’m still racking my brain as to why Bird isn’t a household name.

6. Daniel Johnston – “Ain’t no woman gonna make a George Jones outta me”

As the title suggests, Johnston reflects on the life of country singer, George Jones, who eventually became more know for his messy divorces, drinking and violent attitude than his songs. But what this country and blues tune offers during a long drive is a sense of willpower and righteousness. Listen to this one especially if you’re driving through any small country towns. It’s a great feeling.

7. Mason Jennings – “Godless”

Perhaps your reason for a road trip is a little less virtuous. Robbed a bank? Killed a man? This song is designed for people on the run. An utter folk-rock legend, Mason Jennings’s first release is still one of my favourite albums. This song in particular is hilarious and intense.

8. The Mountain Goats – “Sax Rohmer #1”

Maybe you’re on a long trip back home. In this case, John Darnielle’s wailing confession, “I am coming home to you with my own blood in my mouth,” will suit you just fine. Sure, it’s about death and impending doom, but that should get your adrenaline pumping for the big drive ahead. Do it, it’s a winner.

9. Neutral Milk Hotel – “Holland, 1945”

Jeff Mangum is another celebrated songwriter: “But now we must pick up every piece/Of the life we used to love/Just to keep ourselves/At least enough to carry on.” This song works really well on a road trip because of the upbeat tempo and distorted guitar (distorted everything, really). It’s addictive and fun. I recommend the entire album but you’d be stretched to find someone who doesn’t.

10. Violent Femmes – “Gimme The Car”

A picturesque snapshot of teen angst, this folk punk song got the lead singer expelled from school. Sure, you can listen to “Blister in the Sun,” but chuck this one on the playlist for good measure. This song was my introduction to The Violent Femmes and I’m never going back.

Upstairs and Underground Returns for 2013

Upstairs and Underground
Image Courtesy of Upstairs and Underground

Another of Sydney’s regular folk flavoured nights, Upstairs and Underground, makes its welcome return in April with a lineup featuring some familiar faces. Taking over the Gaelic Club (upstairs) on Saturday the 6th April, next month’s Upstairs and Underground will feature Bears with Guns, Liam Gale and the Ponytails, Edema Ruh and The Spoon Collectors.

Tickets for the show are $10 on the door with the night kicking off at 8pm. For more details check out the official Facebook event here.

Review: His Merry Men with The Bon Scotts, The Empress Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Photo courtesy of His Merry Men

His Merry Men with The Bon Scotts
The Empress Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 23rd March, 2013

Last Saturday night everyone was having a house party. There were backyard bonfires, beers and friendly encounters to be made. But in the midst all of this merriment, I headed over to The Empress Hotel for some late night tunes. Entertaining the patrons of the dark, pub-like venue were two headliners with, in totality, more instruments than band members.

This wasn’t just the final show of the tour. Local folk band, The Bon Scotts, were also farewelling their drummer, Jono. Their heart-felt goodbye featured everything from mandolin and banjo to hand-held harp – and that was just from one band member. Opening with “Lovesong for a Riot,” the band immediately caught my attention, showcasing their creative fusion of traditional folk, unique percussive elements and raspy, Scotland-inspired rock. An accordion and xylophone provided an eclectic music experience for the listener.

As the set continued, their compositions offered variety and energy. The bassist in particular had boundless kilojoules at his disposal, rocking out at the back like he’d just won the lottery. Three songs stood out for me: “The Way Home,” “Polluted Sea,” mainly for the lyric, “throw ourselves unconditionally into love,” and a hilarious but memorable song about dying at the hands of C.G.I. These dudes were sweaty and screaming, which combined with elegantly written lyrics is all I can ask for in a live show. They finished off with a glorious performance of “The Kids are Coming” and I was already liking their Facebook page.

It was almost a logistical nightmare as the 7-piece packed up their gear while a 9-piece simultaneously unpacked theirs. With heads held high, His Merry Men piled on to the stage, decked out in their finest pajamas for the last show of the Pillow Tour. There was a range of sleepwear on show, including everything from boxers and striped leggings to Mr. Men print flannels. Andy introduced the horn section on tenor saxophone before the electric guitar joined in with an explosive riff. The band confronts their audience with a confident blend of musical styles.

The ‘Robin Hood’ of this tale is Megan Crocombe, a force to be reckoned with in her tenacity and robust vocal acrobatics. She’s cheeky, uninhibited and wildly contagious as the male members joined her in “Summer Song,” chanting, “Got no job, got no future, but that’s okay cause we got the summer time.” My personal favourite, “Super Secret Spies,” is almost a tribute to James Bond but added an element of comedy to the show as the horn section struck various secret agent poses. A man sporting a polka dot onesie made eerie theremin-like noises on a launchpad while the singer yelped and howled like a lonely dog.

You can tell just by watching them interact that the members are good friends. They are completely comfortable on the stage and not just because they’re wearing pajamas. Moreover, each individual ‘merry man’ displays exceptional skill on his or her chosen instrument. Kudos goes to the guitarist in particular, who unleashed a tirade of fat and funky guitar riffs, which at different moments throughout the set borrowed from the styles of Jimi Hendrix, Tom Morello and John Mayer. This demonstrated not only his versatility as a musician but also his child-like passion for music that was palpable as he rocked out in socks and crab-print shorts like he was just practicing in his bedroom at three in the morning.

The band also performed “OP,” a sexy downtempo number with a drumbeat that reminded me of Cake’s “Shut the Fuck Up.” The Brisbane cohort also paid tribute to the resignation of Jono the drummer by inviting him on stage for a mellow tune and a bit of a cuddle. After a song involving some Spanish bull-fighting music and a barefoot trumpet solo, Megan thanked the crowd and the ceiling fan, ditching the mic stand for the final song.

There was so much happening on stage that I struggled to write it all down. One minute the horn section were dancing; then they were jumping; then they abandoned their instruments altogether as the piano had a jazz aneurysm. A few false endings and they finished with flashing lights and wailing. His Merry Men are such a visually engaging band and definitely brought their own house party tonight. I would love to catch these guys again on a bigger stage, with or without the pajamas.

World Musician Day Celebrations in Sydney this April

World Musician Day
Image Courtesy of Musomap

On Saturday the 6th April the folks at Musomap are taking over Sydney Park in Sydney’s inner-south for an even to to celebrate musicians. Kicking off at 12pm the World Musician Day celebrations will bring together the best of Sydney’s live performers for a unique event in an location that is accessible to everyone from the local community.

The lineup of musicians features a number of Timber and Steel favourites including The Crooked Fiddle Band, Betty & Oswald, The Lunch Mothers, Jeff Duff & the Sydney Street Choir, Chango Salsa Band, Natalie Magee, Duo Diavolo, Raphael Hudson & Sydney Lyric Opera, Ethan Blencowe, Andrea Ng & Friends and many more. People are also encouraged to bring along their instruments for a jam and to sign up to be in the running for a $1,000 peoples choice award.

For more information on World Musician Day in Sydney check out the official Facebook event here.

Special April MoFo Lineup Announced

Lucy Wise
Image Courtesy of Lucy Wise and The B’Gollies

After a successful March show last weekend Sydney modern folk night MoFo have jumped straight into announcing their April lineup – and it’s looking very special.

Currently in the throws of a Pozible campaign to fund her second album, Melbourne folk star Lucy Wise and her band The B’Gollies will be showcasing brand new music especially for the MoFo crowds. Joining Lucy Wise and the B’Gollies in support will be talented Sydney folkies Mem Davis and the Kindred Spirits.

The April MoFo will take place on Friday 12th April at The Gaelic Club Upstairs with tickets $20 on the door. For more information check out the official Facebook event here.

Snowy Mountains of Music Announces First 2013 Lineup

Jeff Lang
Image Courtesy of Jeff Lang

If you were worried that the festival season is drawing to a close as the cold weather begins to move in never fear – The Snowy Mountains of Music festival is just ramping up with its first lineup announcement for 2013. Held in Perisher over the June long weekend (Friday 7th to Monday 10th June), with eight venues showcasing over 120 acts, the Snowy Mountains of Music is just the cure you need from the winter blues.

The first lineup is headed up by the wonderful Jeff Lang (above) and also features King Tide, Mikelangelo and the Tin Star, Keyim Ba, Rapskillion, Mustered Courage and Los Chavos. Earlybird tickets are now on sale – for more information check out the official site here.

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