Image Courtesy of Lime and Steel
Blue Mountains-based folk band Lime and Steel are hitting the road this month, making sacrificial offerings to the gods of automobile reliability and keepgoingability from Melbourne’s CBD up the east coast to Brisbane planned (with a stop-off in the nation’s capital).
Lime and Steel began as a rootsy folk duo of Paddy Connor and Ben Scott, but over the years, their composition has changed, and indeed, their compositions have changed. Look, as much as a banjo and a set of uilleann pipes are going to keep you firmly catalogued under ‘F’ for ‘Folk’, if you go and add a pub rock drummer and a jazz bass player, you’re bound to start to develop a stellar groove somewhere along the road.
Paddy says that the band definitely has a love for bluegrass and Americana (with two-fifths of the lineup from the US of A, that’s more or less inevitable), but always with an Australian intonation.
“When we’re not singing a bogan bluegrass love song, its always about the underdog and the dirty stories in Australia’s culture. We’re all about Howard’s black armband view of Australia’s history: who the hell cares about a happy white armband mateship story of who we are?”
Anyone who’s seen or heard Lime and Steel will know that their music is delivered with a generous scoop of political commentary, though Paddy feels this comes across more in the stage banter and intros than the actual songs themselves. The last two years has particularly provided an embarrassment of riches for pondering our political landscape.
“There’s plenty of material for political anthems,” Paddy agrees. “That said, I’ve always been a bit wary of really overtly political songs: at least when there’s an easy message to read. I’m always drawn to writing songs that paint a few shadows and make you think about what might be hiding there in the dark. There the songs I can listen to over and over: when my imagination is sparked. That’s the genius of writers like Paul Kelly.”
Lime and Steel are on the roll with their current record, Won’t Back Down, and to tell the tale of it, is to recite something of an epic ballad of its production and realisation.
“We took quite a few hits at it, and there were some major obstacles along the way. A [band] baby was born, the studio was at one point evacuated for bushfires, our recording producer (jazz musician Neil Duncan) got cancer and ended up with an arm amputation. We had to persevere!
“But we’re loving this CD. The mastering (by Michael Lynch) was sweet too.”
Lime and Steel are equally suited to both the festival scene and to intimate pub gigs, as anyone who’s seen them at The Turning Wave Festival, or The Old City Bank in Katoomba can attest.
They’re also having a secular world-sized punt on attracting a crowd to the re-imagined Smith’s Alternative venue in Canberra on the evening of the AFL Grand Final, so they’d love their Canberra fans and newbies to get along to that one. Pop in after Floriade?
“We’ve had a busy old touring year in 2015, and it’s not letting up. We do talk of taking our American band members back to their homeland, but that’s talk at the moment. Our next mission is always the next gig.”
Speaking of which, you can catch Lime and Steel in the not too distant future:
Friday 18th to Sunday 20th September – Turning Wave Festival, Yass, NSW
Thursday 1st October – Yarra Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 2nd October – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave, VIC
Saturday 3rd October – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 24th to Sunday 25th October – Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival, NSW
Saturday 31st October – Oktoberfest at the Old City Bank, Katoomba, NSW
Friday 13th November – Trade Winds Folk Club, Newcastle, NSW