Musical Lineup for the Sydney Finders Keepers Markets This Weekend

Melanie Horsnell
Image Courtesy of Melanie Horsnell

The glorious bi-annual Finders Keepers Markets are returning to Sydney for their Autumn/Winter event this weekend. If you haven’t been to a Finders Keepers before you should make an effort to check it out – loads of artists and designers showcasing their wares, some fantastic food and drink and of course live music of the acoustic variety.

Finders Keepers Sydney will take place at Carriageworks in Eveleigh (near Redfern) on Friday evening and during the day on Saturday. Entry is via a $2 donation. The musical lineup this time around includes Melanie Horsnell, The Green Mohair Suits, 200K, Andy Golledge and more.

For more information on Finders Keepers check out the official site here. The full live music scheduled is below:

Friday Evening
6:00pm – Melanie Horsnell
7:00pm – Annie Mckinnon
8:00pm – Jackie Marshall
9:00pm – The Green Mohair Suits

10:00am – Jack Shit
12:00pm – Night 0wl
12:45pm – 200K
1:30pm – Andy Golledge
2:30pm – DJ Dylabolical

Interview: James Daley from The Steamgrass Boys and Country Roads

Steamgrass Boys
Image Courtesy of Bellyache Ben and The Steamgrass Boys

Over the last couple of years Bellyache Ben and the Steamgrass Boys have become somewhat of an institution in Sydney. Bringing bluegrass and old timey music to the fans, heading to a Steamgrass Boys show means you’re always guaranteed a night of amazing, real music. We sat down with James Daley, mando player, singer and multi-instrumentalist for the band, about their music and their upcoming regular night Country Roads at The Oxford Arts Factory.

Gareth Hugh Evans: The first obvious question is how you got into bluegrass/old timey music to begin with? You’re family is musical right?

James Daley: Yeah I come from a very musical background, my father is responsible for that. He is an amazing piano and accordion player, as well as being a great composer of jazz and art music. My brother, sister and I all have him to thank for the musical genes. Music was everywhere when I was growing up it was hard to escape at times. I got into folk music in high school through all the usual suspects, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell etc, and from there I started to explore the less commercial American folk music, The Carter Family, Uncle Dave Macon, Doc Watson, and just fell in love with that sound. I also inherited a Mandolin from our great Grandfather, also very musical, who was responsible for getting my Dad into music – he bought my Dad he’s first accordion when he was 8 years old. After getting hold of the Mandolin I began to research and learn the kind of the music it was commonly associated which ultimately led me to bluegrass and old timey, and from there I have never looked back.

GHE: What I love about The Steamgrass Boys is the Australian influence you put on music that is so typically American. While so many other Australian bluegrass bands take on faux-American themes and tales your songs are uniquely Australian. How important is injecting an Australian heart into this music for you?

JD: Well from a song writing perspective it’s the most important thing. I love the sound of American folk music, but I’m not American. All my experiences are as an Australian, so to write about anything else just wouldn’t do. I see all to often though Australian songwriters, perpetuating American clichés and avoiding writing about what’s on their doorstep. We have such rich culture and history here that is really worth looking at. As I said I love the sound of American music, so negotiating that with my own experiences to find a unique and contemporary Australian voice, is my main focus and my biggest challenge as a songwriter.

GHE: This kind of music is exploding at the moment with more and more players coming out of the woodwork every day, especially in Australia’s cities. What do you think it is about right now and this kind of music that seems to have captured the cultural zeitgeist?

JD: It’s hard to pin point these types of movements, especially when you are in the middle of them. Social trends are incredibly complex with so many factors at play. Perhaps when it has passed we will be able to understand it a bit better. There are definitely a few things that have had a big impact though. A little movie called O Brother Where Art Thou might have something to do with it. If you can get George Clooney to legitimize something you’re on the right track. I think the banjo has a bit to do with it as well. It seems to be popping up everywhere in all sorts of music. Whenever an instrument has a revival, the music that is commonly associated with it, in this case bluegrass and old-timey is never far behind. I think the fiddle will be the next one, there seems to be a shortage of good young fiddle players at the moment. Also folk revivals just happen all the time not just through music either, and we are in one at the moment, which is great. People get to a point where they want to reconnect with the past and feel like they are part of a shared cultural heritage, or they want to simplify things to try and create more “authentic” experiences. It happens in pop music and culture all the time, the low-fi simplicity of 90’s grunge in response to the excess and extravagance of 80’s glam rock.

GHE: Let’s talk about Country Roads, the regular night you’re kicking off at the Oxford Art Factory. The night started as a one off concert featuring some of Sydney’s best alt-country acts, right? What inspired you to make it a regular night?

JD: There are so many great young bands popping up all over Australia playing this kind of music, so I came up with the idea to put on a concert showcasing some of Sydney’s best. I never intended for it to be regular thing but Oxford Arts had approached me about the Steamgrass Boys doing a monthly residency there. After the success of the first Country Roads show at the Vangaurd, I thought, what a great opportunity to make it a regular event, firstly, to showcase all of these amazing young country bands, and secondly to put a big spotlight on the scene. I really hope it will take off and turn into something that really galvanizes the community. It’s also a great opportunity for bands to support each other and work together.

GHE: The first one kicks off on the 18th April and features yourselves, Mustered Courage from Melbourne and 200K. That’s a pretty impressive lineup – how did you feel when you locked down these guys?

JD: Yeah it’s going to be a killer show. Those guys are all good friends of mine and they put their hands up straight away to be involved. I was always sure it was going to be a strong line up as there are just so many great bands floating around. I am really looking forward to seeing 200k, I have seen Johnny with Little Bastard and Matty with Fanny Lumsden, but not together, there is always something special about a brother duo. I’ve spent a bit of time with Mustered Courage, they are the real deal, amazing players and singers and the ultimate professionals, so great to have them on board. Comedian Luke Escombe will also be there on the night as the MC. He is a great person to have involved, ridiculously clever and very funny. Having the MC makes the show unique and more than just a gig. It almost gives it a grand Ole Opry feeling.

GHE: The bluegrass and old timey community seems pretty tight knit. How has the response been to the announcement of Country Roads? Have many of the local and national bands put there hands up to perform at upcoming nights?

JD: Yeah it is. One of the great things about playing this kind of music is the community you get to belong to. You meet so many great people and musicians. With bluegrass especially, there is this shared language among the musicians. You could be in an amazing bluegrass jam with people who you don’t even know their names and you are communicating in a very sincere and sophisticated way. It’s really special and I love that! I think you were there at Gulgong, when we were jamming with Mustered Courage and a few others from the festival. That was the perfect example – amazing! The response to putting the show together has been really positive. As I said Mustered Courage and 200k put their hands up straight away, and we have already locked in Fanny Lumsden and the Thrillseekers, The Green Mohair Suits, Lucky Luke and the Shooting Stars, Andy Golledge, The Morrisons, and British Blues for the upcoming months. I have also been in conversation with the people from Jamgrass in Melbourne about doing a joint event just prior to this years Jamgrass festival in October to help promote the festival to Sdyney siders. I think the idea at this stage is to have a small 1-day festival with about 7 or 8 bands, some Melbourne, some Sydney as ‘Country Roads presents The Road To Jamgrass 2013’. That sounds like a pretty good day out to me! So all the musicians are on board, now we just have to convince the punters.

GHE: What’s next for the Steamgrass Boys? Surely there’s an album on the way soon?

We have a few festivals coming up, a tour planned for later in the year, and obviously I’ll be running the Country Roads shows each month. There has been an album on the way for about 2 years. The songs are all there, we just need to raise the funds and assemble the right people. One thing I really don’t want to do is rush it, I am content to wait for the right time so we can produce the best album possible. Though sooner rather than later would be good.

Country Roads featuring Bellyache Ben and the Steamgrass Boys will take place at The Oxford Art Factory on the Thursday 18th April. Tickets here.

Country Roads Goes Monthly at The Oxford Art Factory in Sydney

Steamgrass Boys
Image Courtesy of The Steamgrass Boys

After a massive, sell-out night at The Vanguard last month Sydney’s Steamgrass Boys are taking their Country Roads night monthly. The shows will now take place at the Oxford Art Factory and will feature the best in folk, bluegrass, Americana and alt-country from around the country.

The first of the regular Country Roads nights is set to take place on Thursday 18th April. Along with The Steamgrass Boys the night will feature Melbourne Bluegrass legends Mustered Courage and local folkers 200K (brothers Johnny and Matty Took of Little Bastard fame). As with the original Country Roads the night will be MC’d by musician, comedian, pimp, and “Sydney’s sexiest man voice” Luke Escombe. Tickets are $10 and can be picked up here.

For more information on the first of these regular nights check out the official Facebook event here. And make sure you get your hands on tickets soon as the last show sold out well before the night.

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