Thank Folk It’s Friday – 2nd August


This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– Our latest New Music Monday featured new songs and videos from the likes of Ben Harper, Chance McCoy, Lloyd Spiegel, Lucie Thorne, Shelley’s Murder Boys and Sheryl Crow feat. Jason Isbell. Listen and watch them here

Releases This Week

Karine Polwart
Scottish SongbookKarine Polwart

Teskey Brothers
Run Home SlowThe Teskey Brothers

Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

FolkSwagon #200 feat. Naked Strangers, Darby, Sasha March, Lola Sola


Wednesday 7th August – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Gigs Next Week

Amber Lawrence
Friday 2nd August – Deniliquin Club, Deniliquin, NSW
Saturday 3rd August – South West Music Regional Conservatorium, Deniliquin, NSW
Friday 9th August – Oberon RSL Club, Oberon, NSW

Big Possum Stringband
Thursday 8th August – House Concert, Sydney, NSW

Bob Evans
Friday 9th August – The Basement, Canberra, ACT

Bonnie Kay and the Bonafides
Friday 2nd August – The Unicorn Hotel, Sydney, NSW

Brad Cox
Friday 2nd August – Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Wednesday 7th August – The Station Resort, Jindabyne, NSW

Catherine Britt w/ Aleyce Simmonds
Saturday 3rd August – Royal Theatre, Quirindi, NSW

Darwin Festival
Thursday 8th to Sunday 25th August – Darwin, NT

Dope Lemon
Friday 2nd August – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 8th August – Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 9th August – Palais Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Emma Russack
Wednesday 7th August – The Jazzlab, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 9th August – Sideway, Canberra, ACT

Fanny Lumsden
Friday 2nd August – Herbert River Crushers Hall, Ingham, QLD
Saturday 3rd August – Dimbulah Memorial Hall, Dimbulah, QLD

Fred Smith
Friday 9th August – The Junk Bar, Brisbane

Fleetwood Mac
Friday 9th August – RAC Arena, Perth, WA

FolkSwagon #200 feat. Naked Strangers, Darby, Sasha March, Lola Sola
Wednesday 7th August – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Garrett Kato
Friday 2nd August – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 9th August – The Newsagency, Sydney, NSW

Harrison Storm
Thursday 8th August – Grace Emily, Adelaide, SA
Friday 9th August – Four5Nine, Perth, WA

Hein Cooper
Saturday 3rd August – Milton Theatre, Milton, NSW
Thursday 8th August – Cambridge Warehouse, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 9th August – Lansdowne, Sydney, NSW

High Tea feat. Lisa Caruso
Thursday 8th July – House Concert, Sydney, NSW

Honky Tonkin’ feat. King Arthur
Thursday 8th August – The Rook’s Return, Melbourne, VIC

Illawarra Folk Club feat. Elijah Wald
Friday 9th August – City Diggers, Wollongong, NSW

Jess Ribeiro
Friday 2nd August – The Rye Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 3rd August – The Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine, VIC
Friday 9th August – New Hall, Point Lonsdale, VIC

Katie Brianna
Friday 2nd August – The Tamworth Hotel, Tamworth, NSW
Wednesday 7th August – Lizotte’s, Newcastle, NSW

Little Georgia
Friday 2nd August – Music on the Hill, Red Hill, VIC
Saturday 3rd August – Portland Arts Centre, Portland, VIC
Sunday 4th August – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Mick Hart
Friday 9th August – The Entrance Leagues Club, The Entrance, NSW

Mojo Juju
Friday 9th August – The Lighthouse, Darwin, NT

Montgomery Church
Friday 2nd August – Hume Conservatorium, Goulburn, NSW

Muso Next Door Sydney
Friday 9th August – Secret Show, Sydney, NSW

Natalie Henry
Sunday 4th August – Quill & Compass, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 4th August – The Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle, NSW

Neil Murray
Saturday 2nd August – White Gums, Alice Springs, NT

Paddy McHugh and Claire Anne Taylor
Friday 9th August – North East Artisans, Benalla, VIC

Peta Caswell & The Lost Cause
Friday 2nd August – Marrickville Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 7th August – Lizotte’s, Newcastle, NSW

Porch Light Sessions feat. Frank Sultana, Hollie Matthew, Chris Neto
Thursday 8th August – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Sam Shinazzi w/ Dave Favours & The Roadside Ashes
Sunday 4th August – The Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Sea Shanty Session
Wednesday 7th August – The Brother’s Public House, Melbourne, VIC

Shane Nicholson w/ Raechel Whitchurch
Saturday 3rd August – Carrington Hotel, Katoomba, NSW

Shelley’s Murder Boys
Saturday 3rd August – Django at Camelot, Sydney, NSW

Simon Imrei
Friday 2nd August – Music on the Hill, Red Hill, VIC

Skyscraper Stan
Friday 2nd August – Scottish Price, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 3rd August – The Milk Factory, Brisbane, QLD

Slim Dime
Sunday 4th August – The Taproom, Castlemaine, VIC

Stanley Records Showcase feat. Ben Leece, Peta Caswell, Katie Brianna
Wednesday 7th August – Lizotte’s, Newcastle, NSW

Sydney Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Get-Together
Saturday 3rd August – Annandale Neighbourhood Centre, Sydney, NSW

Sydney Shanty Club
Wednesday 7th August – Spawn Point Small Bar, Sydney, NSW

Taste Of Tamworth feat. Carter & Carter, Lyn Bowtell, Jayne Denham, The Weeping Willows
Friday 2nd August – Alexandra Town Hall, Alexandra, VIC
Saturday 3rd August – Commercial Club, Albury, NSW
Sunday 4th August – St Mary of the Angels, Nathalia, VIC
Friday 9th August – Knox Club, Melbourne, VIC

The Bottlers
Friday 2nd August – Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney, NSW

The Hillbilly Goats
Friday 9th August – Mooloolah Valley Country Club, Mooloolah Valley, QLD

The Jarrah Celts
Saturday 3rd August – Toodyay International Food Festival and Avon Descent, Toodyay, WA

The Little Lord Street Band
Sunday 4th August – The Moon, Perth, WA

The Royal High Jinx
Friday 2nd August – Tabcorp Park, Melton South, VIC

The Weeping Willows
Friday 2nd August – Alexandra Town Hall, Alexandra, VIC
Saturday 3rd August – Commercial Club, Albury, NSW
Sunday 4th August – St Mary of the Angels, Nathalia, VIC
Friday 9th August – Knox Club, Melbourne, VIC

Thelma Plum
Friday 9th August – Miami Marketta, Gold Coast, QLD

Tobias Hengeveld
Sunday 4th August – The Post Office Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Tripping up the Stairs
Wednesday 7th August – The Fiddler, Sydney, NSW

Thursday 8th August – The Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Song For Ireland” – Dick Gaughan

New Music Monday – 29th July

Shelleys Murder Boys
Image Courtesy of Shelley’s Murder Boys

Ben Harper – “Uneven Days”

“Uneven Days” is Ben Harper at his most emotional and tender. Accompanied by piano and strings, Harper has smoothed all the edges off his visceral voice to deliver a truly beautiful song.

“The song “Uneven Days” attempts to explore the depths of how dependent we can become on other people for our own sense of wholeness and stability,” Harper explained. “The only thing more hazardous than oversimplifying relationships is overcomplicating them. Love and surrender are synonyms. Even if I remove love from the equation, mental health and day-to-day perspective maintenance is a razors edge. Maybe acknowledging the unavoidable uneven day, or uneven days, helps avoid uneven months or even years.”

Chance McCoy – “Whippoorwill”

Multi-instrumentalist Chance McCoy continues to play with genres with his upcoming solo album Wander Wide, due on the 20th September. The latest single “Whippoorwill” is probably his folkiest to date, drawing on an old timey style of songwriting, accentuated with jangly guitar and rhythmic fiddle. Probably my favourite from Wander Wide so far.

Lloyd Spiegel – “Track Her Down”

Australian acoustic roots singer-songwriter Lloyd Spiegel has found a really cool groove with hie new single “Track Her Down”. With brass stabs, funky electric guitar and Spiegel’s bluesy voice, “Track Her Down” brings Memphis to Australia.

“”Track Her Down” isn’t really about a person or a place,” Lloyd Spiegel explained. “It was probably an amalgamation of several women I met over the years who I wanted to get to know better but simply didn’t have the time and had to keep traveling. The greater story of the song is that the lifestyle I lead often doesn’t allow me to have anything but fleeting connections with people, and I don’t take those connections lightly; I carry them a lot more seriously than people may imagine.”

Lucie Thorne – “Golden Plains”

Singer-songwriter Lucie Thorne has delivered another beautiful track from her upcoming album Kitty & Frank, due on the 26th August. Similar to the previously released “Wheogo Hill”, Thorne is leaning heavily on ambient synths and driving drum beats to compliment her striking voice.

Kitty & Frank see’s Lucie Thorne cover the true stories of frontier woman Kitty Walsh and her lover, the bushranger Frank Gardiner.

“When I tell people I’ve written a concept album about bushrangers, many jump to the conclusion that it’s all fiddles and lagerphones!” Lucie Thorne said. “It couldn’t be further from it! I knew this whole wild Kitty & Frank story could live in any sound world, it’s such a timeless romantic tragedy. As I was working on the text, I
suddenly realised I was going to make a kinda art/pop album brimming with synths.”

Lucie Thorne will be touring the new album through September, October and November – full dates are here:

Friday 13th September – The Corridors Project, Cowra, NSW
Saturday 14th September – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Sunday 15th September – The Town Hall, Candelo, NSW
Friday 4th October – Music on the Hill, Red Hill, VIC
Saturday 5th October – Old Church on the Hill, Bendigo, VIC
Sunday 6th October – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 17th October – Camelot Lounge, Sydney, NSW
Friday 18th October – McCrossin’s Mill, Uralla, NSW
Saturday 19th October – Community Arts Hall, Wauchope, NSW
Sunday 20th October – Grand Junction, Maitland, NSW
Thursday 14th November – The Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 15th to Sunday 17th November – Mullum Music Festival, Mullumbimby, NSW
Friday 22nd November – Cooee Arthouse, Aldinga, SA
Saturday 23rd November – The Wheatsheaf, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 24th November – Memorial Hall, Ashbourne, SA

Shelley’s Murder Boys – “Airds”

After teasing us with a bunch of social media content from the studio over the last few months Sydney based old-time band Shelley’s Murder Boys have finally released their new single “Airds”. The surprisingly upbeat track is taken from the band’s upcoming album Above is a Roar and is about “problems with no solutions, and strength in the face of adversity” according to the band. The track is a modal exploration of the old timey style with Shelly’s unique voice and distinctive fiddle playing taking centre stage – beautiful stuff.

Sheryl Crow feat. Jason Isbell – “Everything Is Broken”

The latest track from Sheryl Crow’s collaboration album Threads, due on the 30th August, is possibly my favourite yet. On “Everything Is Broken” Crow teams with Americana favourite Jason Isbell for a country-blues-rock belter that harkens back to Elvis, Roy and Johnny without being kitsch or distasteful. The relentless rhythm guitar, splashy drums and blues harp all make this track, as of course does Isbell’s superb voice.

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 2nd February


This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

Jake Bugg has announced acoustic tour dates this April. Details here

– Brisbane based singer-songwriter Paddy McHugh released the video for his latest single “Down To Sydney”. Details here

The Decemberists announced details of their new album I’ll Be Your Girl. Details here. Details here

– Award winning folk duo Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker are touring Australia this April. Details here

– New South Wales based alt-country duo Smith & Jones released their new single and video “Your Achin Heart”. Details here

– Alt-country, folk-noir duo Jep and Dep released their latest clip “Lune Cassee Reve”. Details here

– Groote Eylandt born singer-songwriter Emily Wurramara released her new single “Ngarrukwujenama”. Details here

– Roots music legends Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite announced their second duo album No Mercy in This Land. Details here


As always Benji and the Salt Water Sound System have their flock of devotees who seem to follow every event across the land, people who have stayed for the journey as the band evolved out of Ben’s earlier project Southerly Change into the current lineup. The band still has the same feel and a lot of the same personnel, though the tracking of life is leaving the trace of its touch on the face of the band – Elizabeth Walton chats to Benji and the Saltwater Sound System. Interview here

Releases This Week

José González & The Brite Lites At Svenska GrammofonstudionJosé González

Newton Faulkner
Hit The Ground RunningNewton Faulkner

The Wilson Pickers
Live!The Wilson Pickers

Tim Hart
The Narrow CornerTim Hart


Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

The Wilson Pickers

The Wilson Pickers

Americana super-group The Wilson Pickers launch their new album Live! in Melbourne.

Saturday 3rd February – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Gigs Next Week

Adam Eckersley & Brooke McClymont
Friday 9th February – Rooty Hill RSL, Rooty Hill, NSW

Aldous Harding
Friday 2nd February – St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Hart’s Mill, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 3rd February – St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Footscray Community Arts Centre, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 4th February – St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 7th February – The Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne, VIC

Alice Skye
Sunday 4th February – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Friday 9th February – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Andy Golledge Band
Saturday 3rd February – The Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Appalachian Heaven Stringband
Sunday 4th February – Peninsula Folk Club, Frankston Bowling Club, Frankston, VIC

Ben Salter
Sunday 4th February – The Tramway, Melbourne, VIC

Bighouse Arts 1st Birthday Bash feat. Bob Harrow, Brooke Russell, Jumpin Jack William, Archer, Perch Creek, Immigrant Union, Coastbusters
Saturday 3rd February – Bighouse Arts, Melbourne, VIC

Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival
Friday 9th to Sunday 11th February – Carrington Hotel, Katoomba, NSW

Brian Campeau
Friday 9th February – Edinburgh Castle, Melbourne, VIC

Bungendore Country Music Muster
Saturday 3rd February – Bungendore Showground and Racecourse, Bungendore, NSW

Cass Eager
Friday 2nd February – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – The Basement, Sydney, NSW

Charm of Finches
Friday 2nd February – Selby Folk Club, Melbourne, VIC

Colin Hay
Friday 2nd February – Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Friday 9th February – Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo, VIC

Courtyard Sessions feat. Lady Lyon
Friday 9th February – Seymour Centre, Sydney, NSW

Darcy Fox
Friday 2nd February – Red Cup Cafe, Box Hill, VIC
Friday 9th February – Lillies & Lattes, Sawtell, NSW

David Ryan Harris
Saturday 3rd February – The Jazzlab, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 8th February – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Davidson Brothers
Sunday 4th February – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

Dan Sultan w/ The Teskey Brothers
Saturday 3rd February – Twilight at Taronga, Sydney, NSW

Dan Walsh
Friday 2nd February – Neil Tonkin Park, Perth, WA

Emily Wurramara
Saturday 3rd February – Yalukut Weelam Ngargee Music Festival, O’Donnell Garden, St Kilda, VIC

Emma Russack and Soda Eaves
Thursday 8th February – Fitzroy Library, Melbourne, VIC

Fanny Lumsden
Friday 2nd February – Savernake, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – Tumblong Hall, Tumlong, NSW
Friday 9th February – Neerim Memorial Hall, Neerim, VIC

Father John Misty
Friday 2nd February – Laneway Festival, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 3rd February – Laneway Festival, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 4th February – Laneway Festival, Sydney, NSW
Friday 9th February – Forum Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Festival of Small Halls Summer Tour feat. Claire Anne Taylor, The Small Glories
Friday 2nd February – Toormina, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – Eastern Dorrigo Community Hall, Ulong, NSW

FolkSwagon feat. Liam Gale & the Ponytails, Mama Schultz, Cookie Baker
Wednesday 7th February – Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW

Fred Smith & Liz Frencham
Friday 2nd February – Maleny RSL, Maleny, QLD
Saturday 3rd February – Oodies Cafe, Bundaberg, QLD
Sunday 4th February – Brolga Theater River Stagem, Maryborough, QLD
Monday 5th February – House Concert, Cooloola Cove, QLD
Wednesday 7th February – House Concert, Nana Glen, QLD
Thursday 8th February – Dorrigo Wholefoods, Dorrigo, NSW
Friday 9th February – McCrossins Mill, Uralla, NSW

Free Fallin’ – A Tribute To Tom Petty feat. Sweet Jelly Rolls, Jeremy Edwards, Jason Walker, Smith & Jones
Friday 9th February – The Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW

Fresh Off the Boat
Friday 9th February – The Gaelic Club, Sydney, NSW

Freya Josephine Hollick
Saturday 3rd February – The Lost Ones, Ballarat, VIC

Saturday 3rd February – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT

Gretta Ziller
Sunday 4th February – The Union, Melbourne, VIC

Grampians Music Festival
Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th February – Halls Gap, VIC

Grizzlee Train
Saturday 3rd February – Miami Marketta, Miami, QLD

Hana and Jessie-Lee
Saturday 3rd February – Thebartonia Summer Festival, Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA

Hello Tut Tut
Saturday 3rd February – Open Studio, Melbourne, VIC

Honey and Knives
Friday 9th February – 5 Church Street, Bellingen, NSW

Honky Tonkin’ feat. King Arthur & James Ellis and the Jealous Guys
Thursday 8th February – The Rooks Return, Melbourne, VIC

Illawarra Folk Club Volunteer Thank You feat. Pukichi, Witches Leap, The Water Runners
Friday 2nd February – City Diggers, Wollongong, NSW

Imogen Clark
Saturday 3rd February – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Friday 9th February – Rooty Hill RSL, Sydney, NSW

James Kenyon
Tuesday 6th February – The Gasometer Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Jhana Allan & Mel O’Neill
Wednesday 7th February – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC

Jim Lawrie
Saturday 3rd February – The Gasometer Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Jimi Hocking
Thursday 8th February – Hume Blues Club Inc, Melbourne, VIC

Joe & Harmony’s Trippy Hippy Band
Thursday 8th February – Sutherland Acoustic, Tradies, Gymea, NSW

Kasey Chambers
Saturday 3rd February – Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth, WA

Lady Lyon
Friday 9th February – Courtyard Sessions, Seymour Centre, Sydney, NSW

Leah Flanagan and Alice Skye
Sunday 4th February – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Liam Gerner – Banjo vs Lawson Bulletin Debate
Tuesday 6th February – The Drunken Poet, Melbourne, VIC

Friday 2nd February – Pop Up Park, Werribee, VIC
Saturday 3rd February – Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth, WA

Live @ The Retreat feat. The Stetson Family, Duncan Phillips, Rosie Burgess Trio, The Special
Sunday 4th February – The Retreat, Melbourne, VIC

Lucy Rose
Friday 2nd February – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Sunday 4th February – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Monday 5th February – The Lansdowne, Sydney, NSW
Wednesday 7th February – Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberra, ACT
Friday 9th February – Festival Theatre, Adelaide, SA

Mal Webb and Kylie Morrigan
Thursday 8th February – Bar 303, Melbourne, VIC

Margret RoadKnight and Laura Jean
Saturday 3rd February – MPavilion, Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne, VIC

Mark Lucas & The Deadsetters
Tuesday 6th February – The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney, NSW

Matt Walker
Saturday 3rd February – The Gem Bar, Melbourne, VIC

Mimi Gilbert & Merpire
Sunday 4th February – Some Velvet Morning, Melbourne, VIC

Mitch Power
Sunday 4th February – The Union, Melbourne, VIC

Montgomery Church
Saturday 3rd February – Rydges Hotel, Jindabyne, NSW

Mount Eliza Music Festival
Saturday 3rd February – Melbourne, VIC

Mr. Alford & Jess Holland
Sunday 4th February – The Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle, NSW

Neil Murray
Friday 2nd February – Red Velvet Lounge, Cygnet, TAS
Friday 9th February – Hamilton Institute of Rural Learning, Hamilton, VIC

Old Mates Block Party feat. The Lockhearts, Papa Pilko And The Binrats, Neon Heart, Hobo Magic, The Ugly Kings, Fox Company, Andy Golledge Band, Pan-Pacific Grand Prix, Johnny Hunter, Eightball Junkies, Particles, Hello Bones
Saturday 3rd February – The Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Papa Pilko and the Binrats
Friday 2nd February – Hotel Steyne, Manly, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – The Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Pickin’ in the Park
Sunday 4th February – Banjo Paterson Park, Sydney, NSW

Pierce Brothers
Saturday 3rd February – Apex Park, Wangaratta, VIC

Porch Light Sessions feat. Mike McCarthy, Stephanie Cherote, Emerald Ruby
Thursday 8th February – Porch Light Sessions, Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

Raised by Eagles
Sunday 4th February – Noisy Ritual People-Powered Urban Winery, Melbourne, VIC

Red Dog Studio Session XV feat. Thompson Springs, Alanna Eileen, Steph Miller, Chasing the Dream, Clouydbird
Saturday 3rd February – Red Dog Studio Sessions, Sydney, NSW

Rick Hart
Sunday 4th February – The Taproom, Castlemaine, VIC

Romisounds & Jimothy Andrews
Friday 9th February – Glenorie RSL, Glenorie, NSW

Quarry Mountain Dead Rats
Saturday 3rd February – The Gasometer Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Sam Buckingham
Thursday 8th February – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Sass The Patriarchy feat. This Way North, Bitch Diesel
Wednesday 7th February – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Simon Rudston-Brown
Sunday 4th February – Bombini, Avoca Beach, NSW

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
Friday 2nd February – Hart’s Mill, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 3rd February – Footscray Community Arts Centre, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 4th February – Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney, NSW

Stella Donnelly
Saturday 3rd February – Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth, WA

Saturday 3rd February – Mount Eliza Music Festival, Melbourne, VIC

TEK TEK Ensemble
Saturday 3rd February – The Bearded Tit, Sydney, NSW

The Ahern Brothers
Friday 2nd February – 63 First Ave, Sawtell, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – Stag & Hunter, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 4th February – Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, ACT
Thursday 8th February – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave, VIC
Friday 9th February – Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

The Backsliders
Saturday 3rd February – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW

The Beez
Friday 2nd February – Woodville Hall, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – House Concert, Medowie, NSW
Sunday 4th February – Humph Hall, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 8th February – Django Bar, Sydney, NSW
Friday 9th February – Arcade Circus Shed, Katoomba, NSW

The Black Sorrows
Friday 9th February – Bird’s Basement, Melbourne, VIC

The Bushwackers
Friday 9th February – Harmonie German Club, Canberra, ACT

The Cat Empire w/ Allysha Joy
Saturday 3rd February – Melbourne Zoo Twilights 2018, Melbourne, VIC

The Demon Drink
Saturday 3rd February – Mt Gravatt Marketta, Brisbane, QLD

The Djangologists
Saturday 4th January – Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

The Drunken Poachers
Friday 2nd February – The Nightjar Festival, Geelong, VIC
Saturday 3rd February – The Gasometer Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

The Emerald Ruby & Stephanie Cherote
Wednesday 7th February – The Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 8th February – Porch Light Sessions, Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW

The Gypsy Scholars
Friday 2nd February – Lass O’Gowrie Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Friday 9th February – Hotel Steyne, Manly, NSW

The Long Johns
Friday 2nd February – QPAC, Brisbane, QLD

The Shack feat. Joel Havea, Phillip Bracken, The Mighty Resonators
Saturday 3rd February – The Music Lounge, Sydney, NSW

The Swamp Stompers
Friday 2nd February – Bellevue Hotel, Tuncurry, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – Stag and Hunter Hotel, Newcastle, NSW

The Waifs
Saturday 3rd February – Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth, WA
Sunday 4th February – Mossvale Park, Berrys Creek, VIC

The Wilson Pickers
Saturday 3rd February – The Spotted Mallard, Melbourne, VIC

This is A Robbery w/ Quinton Trembath
Friday 2nd February – Newtown Cemetery, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – Small Shows, Sydney, NSW

Thompson Springs
Saturday 3rd February – Red Dog Studio Sessions, Sydney, NSW
Friday 9th February – The Townie, Sydney, NSW

Tim Hart
Saturday 3rd February – Front Bar & Gallery, Canberra, ACT
Friday 9th February – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW

Tim Hulsman Trio
Saturday 3rd February – Martians Cafe & Bar, Deans Marsh, VIC

Sunday 4th February – CERES Joe’s Market Garden, Melbourne, VIC

Vanishing Shapes
Sunday 4th February – The Ori, Newcastle, NSW

Witches Leap and Pukichi
Friday 2nd February – Illawarra Folk Club, City Diggers, Wollongong, NSW

Sunday 4th February – The Post Office Hotel, Melbourne, VIC

Friday Folk Flashback

“Vincent Black Lightning” – The Del McCoury Band

Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite Announce New Album No Mercy in This Land

Ben Harper
Image Courtesy of Ben Harper

Grammy award winning, roots music legends Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite are coming together again with the announcement of their new duo album No Mercy in This Land, due for release on the 30th March.

This will be the pair’s first release since their hugely successful 2013 release Get Up!.

Charlie Musselwhite is that very rare and hallowed place where blues past, present and future collide,” Ben Harper explained. “He transforms notes into emotions that feel both hauntingly familiar and brand new, as if hearing them for the first time every time. He is a living legend whose harmonica playing should be beamed into outer space to search for other life forms.”

“On stage or in the studio – working with Ben Harper holds the same excitement I experienced working with Chicago blues legends back in the day,” says Charlie Musselwhite. “I think it is safe to say that Ben has reinvented the Blues in a great way: playing modern while preserving the feel. I am honored and privileged to be a participant in this project.”

The full track listing for No Mercy in This Land along with a trailer for the album is below:

1. When I Go
2. Bad Habits
3. Love And Trust
4. The Bottle Wins Again
5. Found The One
6. When Love Is Not Enough
7. Trust You To Dig My Grave
8. No Mercy In This Land
9. Movin’ On
10. Nothing At All

Thank Folk It’s Friday – 6th June


This Week in Folk

All the News From The Week That Was

– American newgrass five piece Trampled By Turtles released their new single “Wild Animals”. Details here

Mustered Courage are heading to the US for pretty much the rest of the year, but before they go they have a handful of shows planned on the East Coast. Details here

– UK folk legends Martin & Eliza Carthy have released their new single “Happiness” from their new album The Moral Of The Elephant. Details here

Melody Pool and Marlon Williams have announced a co-headline national tour this July and August. Details here

– Next week Sydney folk night Porch Light Sessions is set to feature Dave Calandra, Christopher Coleman and Elana Stone. Details here

Timber and Steel favourite Imogen Clark is heading out on a three city joint tour with Darcy Fox and Paige Renee Court. Details here

– Melbourne singer-songwriter Marmalade Ghost has released his debut single “This Chest of Drawers”. Details here

– Australian singer-songwriter Stu Larsen has released the video to his new track “Thirteen Sad Farewells”. Details here

– NSW duo Siskin River released their debut video “Up”. Details here

– Americana old-timey artist Dom Flemons has confirmed a solo album for July and has released a new single “But They Got It Fixed Right On”. Details here

Matt Walters has released his highly anticipated new single “NightWalk”. Details here

– The UK’s Monument Valley has released his new single “Plans”. Details here

– Monthly Sydney jam night Bluegrass at Yulli’s returns this Wednesday with an appearance from Not Good With Horses. Details here

– Sydney gets the Autumn/Winter Finders Keepers Markets tonight and tomorrow with music from folky artists like Leroy Lee, Brian Campeau, Martha Marlow (above), Fanny Lumsden & The Thrillseekers, Bec Sandridge, Hannah Marjorie, Boy Outside and more. Details here

– We got a stream of the new Kaurna Cronin single “Goodbye to You” ahead of its launch in Adelaide tonight. Details here

– Brisbane’s Brianna Carpenter will help you chase the winter blues away with her new video “In Our Hearts”. Details here

Fanny Lumsden and the Thrillseekers have announced details of their 2014 Country Halls tour with Ruby Boots. Details here

– Sydney’s Huckleberry Hastings has started drip feeding his new mini-album and art project with the release of his track “The Sick”. Details here


“After two successful runs in Australia in recent times with Pieta Brown, showcasing the Love Over Gold album, Lucie is back on the road solo, albeit with long time collaborator percussionist Hamish Stuart, and teaming up for a double bill in Bacchus Marsh with Liz Stringer”Lucie Thorne chats to Billy Quinn. Interview here

“From humble beginnings in 1998, in a small venue that sat 20 in the audience, Michael Johnathon has built the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour into a public broadcasting colossus, heard and seen around the globe each week from its current home in the Lyric Theatre, Lexington KY”The Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour’s Michael Johnathon chats to Billy Quinn. Interview here

Releases This Week

McNeill and Heys
Any Other MorningJack McNeill and Charlie Heys

Oliver Downes
At The EndOliver Downes


Timber and Steel Recommends – Go To This Gig

Kaurna Cronin

Kaurna Cronin

Adelaide’s Kaurna Cronin has spent the last month touring up and down the east coast and tonight returns to his home town to launch the new single “Goodbye to You”.

Friday 6th June – Pirie & Co. Social Club, Adelaide, SA

Gigs Next Week

Bluegrass at Yulli’s feat. Not Good With Horses
Wednesday 11th June – Yulli’s Upstairs, Sydney, NSW

Friday 6th June – The Unorthodox Church of Groove, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 7th June – 5 Church St, Bellingen, NSW
Sunday 8th June – Upstairs@199, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 12th June – Avoca Beach Picture Theatre, Avoca Beach, NSW
Friday 13th June – The Foundry 616, Sydney, NSW

Christopher Coleman Collective
Thursday 12th June – Porch Light Sessions, Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney, NSW
Friday 13th June – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW

C.W. Stoneking
Wednesday 11th June – St Stephen’s Uniting Church, Sydney, NSW
Friday 13th June – St Michael’s Uniting Church, Melbourne, VIC

Daniel Champagne
Tuesday 10th June – Burps, MacKay, QLD
Wednesday 11th June – Bellevue Hotel, Townsville, QLD
Thursday 12th June – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns, QLD

Finders Keepers Sydney w/ Leroy Lee, Brian Campeau, Martha Marlow, Fanny Lumsden & The Thrillseekers, Bec Sandridge, Hannah Marjorie, Boy Outside
Friday 6th and Saturday 7th June – Australian Technology Park, Sydney, NSW

Graveyard Train
Wednesday 11th June – The Northern, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 13th June – The Zoo, Brisbane, QLD

Isaac de Heer
Saturday 7th June – Wheatsheaf Hotel, Adelaide, SA
Sunday 8th June – Red Poles Winery, Adelaide, SA

Jeff Lang
Friday 6th June – Nexus Arts Centre, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 7th June – Fly By Night, Fremantle, WA
Sunday 8th June – Ravenswood Hotel, Ravenswood, WA
Thursday 12th June – The Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Friday 13th June – The Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns, QLD

Josh Pyke with Jack Carty
Friday 6th June – Montrose Town Centre, Montrose, VIC
Saturday 7th June – The Memo, Healesville, VIC
Friday 13th June – Fannie Bay Gaol, Darwin, NT

Justin Bernasconi
Saturday 7th June – Pizza and Wine Club, Kyneton, VIC
Friday 13th June – The Bendigo Folk Club, Bendigo, VIC

Kaurna Cronin and Ben Whiting
Friday 6th June – Pirie & Co. Social Club, Adelaide, SA

Kim Churchill
Friday 6th June – The Prince of Wales, Bunbury, WA
Saturday 7th June – Alice & Sharni Present: Theth & Gibson, Adelaide, SA

Little Bastard
Thursday 12th June – Rad (Yours & Owls), Wollongong, NSW
Friday 13th June – Newtown Social Club, Sydney, NSW

Melbourne Folk Club feat/ Matt Walters, Anika Moa, Tim Guy
Wednesday 11th June – Bella Union, Melbourne, VIC

Paul Green and the Other Colours
Saturday 7th June – See Change Festival, Huskisson, NSW

Peak Festival
Friday 6th to Monday 9th June – Perisher, NSW

Ruby Boots
Saturday 7th June – The Astor Lounge, Mount Lawley, WA

Friday 13th June – FBi Social, Sydney, NSW

Friday 6th to Monday 9th June — National Celtic Festival, Port Arlington, VIC
Tuesday 10th June — Vic Folk Music Club, Ringwood, VIC

The April Maze
Friday 6th to Sunday 8th June – Palm Creek Folk Festival, Townsville, QLD
Wednesday 11th June – House Concert, Mullumbimby, NSW
Friday 13th June – Dundurrabin Community Centre, Dundurrabin, NSW

The Audreys
Friday 6th June – Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW
Saturday 7th June – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Sunday 8th June – Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 12th June – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave, VIC
Friday 13th June – Kyneton Town Hall, VIC

The Beards
Friday 6th June – Wollongong Uni, Wollongong, NSW
Saturday 7th June – The Abbey, Canberra, NSW
Sunday 8th June – Captains, Batemans Bay, NSW
Wednesday 11th Jun – Carrington, Katoomba, NSW
Thursday 12th June, The Railway Club, Darwin, NT
Friday 13th June – The Railway Club, Darwin, NT

The Folk Informal feat. Enola Fall, Karl Christoph, Benjamin James Caldwell, Direwolf
Thursday 12th June – FBi Social, Sydney, NSW

The Paper Kites
Saturday 7th June – The Railway Club, Darwin, NT
Friday 13th June – The Northern, Byron Bay, NSW

The Pierce Brothers
Sunday 8th June – Hotel Brunswick, Brunswick Heads, NSW

Todd Sibbin and the Acadian Driftwood
Friday 13th June – Jade Monkey, Adelaide, SA

Top Half Folk Festival
Friday 6th to Monday 9th June – Mary River, NT

Friday 6th June – Barwon Club, Geelong, VIC
Saturday 7th June – The HiFi, Melbourne, VIC
Sunday 8th June – Karova Lounge, Ballarat, VIC
Thursday 12th June – The Abbey, Canberra, ACT
Friday 13th June – Yours & Owls, Wollongong, NSW

Friday Folk Flashback

“Better Way” – Ben Harper

I’ve always said that one of the positives that comes out of having a government as divisive as the one Australia has right now is that it motivates the previously politically apathetic to take a stand. And one of the best ways to vent our frustration at the political process is through music. I believe in a better way.

Weekend Awards Round Up

Golden Guitars
Image Courtesy of the CMAA

The long weekend was also a massive weekend for awards with the Golden Guitars, triple j’s Hottest 100 and The Grammys all vying for attention. If you were too busy to take everything in never fear – we have a nice little Timber and Steel friendly wrap up for you here:

triple j Hottest 100

Vance Joy

As you’re no doubt aware the top spot was taken out this year by the folky “Riptide” from Australia’s Vance Joy, pipping favourites “Royals” by Lorde and “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk at the post. Vance Joy also came in at number 95 with his track “Play With Fire”.

Other notable Timber and Steel faves to make it into the list include Boy & Bear, Josh Pyke, Matt Corby, Dustin Tebbutt and more. The full list of winners can be found here with a snap shot of our favourites below:

1. Vance Joy – “Riptide”
8. Matt Corby – “Resolution”
41. Boy & Bear – “Southern Sun”
44. Dustin Tebbutt – “The Breach”
55. Boy & Bear – “Harlequin Dream”
75. Mikhael Paskalev – “I Spy”
87. John Butler Trio – “Only One”
88. Josh Pyke – “Leeward Side”
95. Vance Joy – “Play With Fire”

The Grammys

The Grammys

Due to the sheer number of categories at The Grammy’s it’s very easy to look past the glitz, glamour and mounty hats to find some amazing music being recognised. Big winners on the folk, roots and country side of the fence include The Civil Wars, Ben Harper, Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Steve Martin & Edie Brickell and many more.

We’ve listed our top categories below – check out the full winners here.

Best Country Solo Performance
Darius Rucker – “Wagon Wheel”

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
The Civil Wars – “From This Valley”

Best Country Song
Kacey Musgraves – “Merry Go ‘Round”

Best Country Album
Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park

Best American Roots Album
Steve Martin & Edie Brickell – Love Has Come For You

Best Americana Album
Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell – Old Yellow Moon

Best Bluegrass Album
Del McCoury Band – The Streets Of Baltimore

Best Blues Album
Ben Harper With Charlie Musselwhite – Get Up!

Best Folk Album
Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture Of You

Best Regional Roots Music Album
Terrance Simien & The Zydeco Experience – Dockside Sessions

Best World Music Album
Gipsy Kings – Savor Flamenco

The Golden Guitars

Lachlan Bryan

So many of our favourite artists have spent the last couple of weeks up in Tamworth for the Country Music Festival which culminated in the Golden Guitar awards on 25th Januray.

We’re really proud that Timber and Steel favourite Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes walked away with Alternative Country Album of the Year for Black Coffee, Ashleigh Dallas was named the Qantaslink New Talent of the Year and that Ted Egan was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Check out the full list of winners here.

Finally Timber and Steel favourite, The Mid North, also walked away from Tamworth winners with both the Battle of the Bands and Buskers Competition gongs under their belt. Definitely a well deserved win!

The Mid North

Which Side Are You On? – A Political Playlist

Woodie Guthrie

A criticism often leveled at modern music of is that no one sings political songs anymore – a statement that is both blindly false and shows up the lazy listening practices of music critics everywhere. Political music is as prevalent as ever and spans every genre – from Beyoncé’s take on modern feminism and Pink’s pleads to the president in the pop realm right through to Rage Against The Machine and even Green Day cramming their rock records with political messages.

And of course folk, country and roots are well represented when it comes to the modern political music with many seeing these genres synonymous with the struggles of the common man. As you head out to vote today we thought we’d get you in the mood with a list of ten modern political songs from some of Timber and Steel’s favourite artists

1. Ani DiFranco – “Which Side Are You On?”
In re-imangining the traditional classic (made most famous by Pete Seeger) Ani DiFranco provides a clear bridge from the political music of the mid 20th century and the modern age.

2. Gemini Downs – “Will You Marry Me?”
Marriage equality has gained momentum as a political issue in Australia over the last couple of weeks. We think this track by Adelaide’s Gemini Downs perfectly captures the sentiment of the issue.

3. Ben Harper – “Better Way”
Ben Harper wants to wake us from our apathy and empower us to find a better way: “What good is a man who won’t take a stand? What good is a cynic with no better plan? I believe in a better way”.

4. The Lurkers – “Who’s Got A Padlock And Chain?”
The Lurkers don’t just sing about politics – they live and breathe politics. While others are content to sing about metaphorically chaining themselves to the train tracks, these guys are actually out there chaining themselves to train tracks.

5. Les Thomas – “Song for Selva”
Singer-songwriter and folk evangelist Les Thomas has done so much for refugees in this country, using his music to build awareness, raise money and truly make a difference.

6. John Butler Trio – “Company Sin”
Through a stone at John Butler’s back catalogue and you’re guarenteed to hit a political reference. We thought this track about mining in far north WA would be a nice inclusion for this playlist.

7. Flogging Molly – “Rise Up”
Folk and punk are genres that have been linked with politics for as long as they’ve existed so including a folk-punk anthem in this list was a must

8. The Decemberists – “This Is Why We Fight”
I think the title of this track says it all.

9. Michael Franti & Spearhead – “Yell Fire”
Another great song in the people-take-action tradition of folk and roots music. And very catchy as well!

10. Old Crow Medicine Show – “Levi”
“Levi” does what so many great political songs have done in the past – using the story of an individual to make a comment about a wider issue, in this case war.

Interview: An Afternoon with Mélanie Pain

Melanie Pain
Image Courtesy of Mélanie Pain

On a most beautiful and sun drenched Parisian afternoon in Le Marais, Janine Estoesta met with Mélanie Pain (a front woman for Nouvelle Vague) to discuss her latest album and recent tours. Pain already reaching critical acclaim for her new album and her work as a solo artist, talks of her past work both as her own and with her previous collective.

Janine Estoesta: So, Bye Bye Manchester – you released it last year?

Mélanie Pain: In Australia, yes. It was the first release and I don’t know, it always happens. It was like when I released my first album, I am very close to my producer in Australia and he’s really quick to release things. I send him the album and he says, ‘yeah, it’s OK, I’ll release it in six months.’ And, it’s different timing in Europe, it takes more time and I’m recording more songs and you know, tour a little bit before releasing the album. So, it’s kind of – I release my album one year ago and the same album will be released in France and the UK and in Canada in September. One year apart. In between, it was released in Germany and in Asia.

JE: What is your fan base like in Asia?

MP: It’s good, like, I’m doing really good, but every time I play in Singapore I’ve got a bit of follow up and, I don’t know. It’s just people that like French music and these big events and I really like going there. They’re really receptive to the culture.

JE: So, you’ve kind of just been touring this year – it’s kind of like huge blocks isn’t it?

MP: Yep. I’ve been touring non-stop ever since last November, I think. So, I’ve been in Australia in January – great tour – and then, I’ve been to Singapore and then to England and then I don’t really remember. It’s just – I’ve been touring a lot. And, I’ve been to the US for five weeks with Nouvelle Vague. So, on the road non-stop.

JE: So, you’re collaboration with Ed Harcourt. Amazing. How did that come about – did you guys just want to work together?

MP: I’m a big fan of him and I think he didn’t know me (laughs). I’m a really big fan and I just sent him a message on Facebook like, ‘hey. Here I am, I really love your work, I’m in Manchester writing my new album, I don’t know. Maybe, I can come to London and we can meet and we can work together?’ And, he instantly asked me if I wanted to come and spend three days in his studio in London. So, I went there, I didn’t know him, so he picked me up at the Metro station. It was really weird, like, I went from Manchester to London and I got out of the Metro to wait and thought, ‘is this really him? Maybe it’s a joke, maybe it’s a Facebook – maybe, it’s a trick or something.’ I was waiting and suddenly I just saw this guy, all tattoos everywhere, big sunglasses, on a bike and he said, ‘hey! Are you the French girl?’ (laughs) OK, so that’s the real one. And, we’ve been working in his studio for three days and we wrote three songs and we did a duet called “Black Widow” and I invited him to sing with me at a jazz cafe in London in April and we keep kind of trying to work together. He invited me back in a pub to do a support of one gig and he comes to south of France for holidays so we’re probably going to try and meet there. It’s amazing how Facebook – I still can’t believe I just messaged him on Facebook and then meet the real person out of the Metro, he picked me up and then straight to his studio. And, he is a genius. He is a genius.

JE: He is. You guys really compliment each other really well. Was there anyone else that you wanted to collaborate with?

MP: Yeah, I wrote all the songs and then I asked this guy called Albin de la Simone who is kind of getting big in France now. And, he helped me find the sound of the album and everything, he just produced it. I’m really happy to work with him, he’s really famous in France too. He’s a kind of genius as well (laughs). But, on this album, Ed Harcourt was the only one that I wanted to work with as a vocalist because I really wanted “Bye Bye Manchester” to really be my kind of baby. The first album was written with a lot of people, with a lot of “featurings” on it and this one was really more, ‘OK, I’m going to be in a bedroom and write all the songs myself,’ and Ed Harcourt was the exception (laughs). But, I really wanted it to be all personal, because I’ve been working with Nouvelle Vague for ten years, my first album I worked with five or six different people. So, this time was like, ‘OK, this is my album, this is me.’

JE: So, that’s why Bye Bye Manchester sounds so different to “My Name” – with all those influences from other people, is this album definitely Mélanie Pain?

MP: Well, “My Name” is really different. It was two completely different processes. You know, I wasn’t a singer ten years ago. Then, this guy from Nouvelle Vague – I sung a demo for my boyfriend who was looking for a singer for his project, he was a musician. I was always surrounded by musicians, but never really take a mic or played an instrument. And, I recorded this demo and he gave this demo to everyone saying, ‘listen to this track, I’m looking for a female singer.’ And, the guy that was doing Nouvelle Vague at this point called him and said, ‘who’s that girl that was singing on your demo?’ And, he said, ‘oh, that’s my girlfriend! But, she’s not a singer.’ Then, he said, ‘but, I like her voice, can she come?’ That’s how I became a singer, this guy just liked my voice. I came and I recorded the first Nouvelle Vague album with him and then six months later, he called me and said, ‘OK, there’s one gig in Paris, do you want to do it?’ and, I said, ‘yes!’ And then, six months later he said, ‘OK, there’s a tour in America, do you want to do it?’ and I said ‘yes.’ You know, I began like this and while I was touring with Nouvelle Vague people were come with songs for me saying ‘why don’t you sing my song?’ That’s how “My Name” was created. People were coming to me with great songs and I loved it, I wanted to sing it. Then I asked, ‘can I change the words? Can I write my own lyrics?’ and that’s why I think “My Name” is really, lots of musical references because all the people were coming and saying, ‘oh, I see you doing folk, kind of sixties style,’ it was hard with “My Name” to keep a musical direction. It was kind of, I just sang all the songs that I really liked and I wrote two or three songs on the album at the end. But, it was not really, you know – compared to “Bye Bye Manchester” it was so different. I went to Manchester and didn’t listen to any music and I played with my little keyboards and played with what I can, which is nothing – because, I’m not a musician. I kind of found my sounds and my way of writing, just by myself, without any reference or musical knowledge (laughs). It was really on instinct, I was like, ‘OK, that’s what I want to sing.’ Because, I was frustrated at the end of “My Name,” to sing other people’s lyrics and other people’s songs. I need to sing something that is deep inside me, and I’ve been doing that with Nouvelle Vague for years, so I was ready now. I don’t know, I think in the future, I think “Bye Bye Manchester” is the first stone in my career as a writer and singer. Because, it’s the first time I really own all the songs. So, we’ll see how it goes, but I’m really proud (laughs). It’s hard for me to sing my first album songs live and everything.

JE: So, that’s why there were that three year hiatus between My Name and Bye Bye Manchester?

MP: Well, I had a baby as well. Took me a bit more than a year (laughs) and then it took me a big year to get really confident about my writing, because it was hard. And, I kept touring all the way during this period. It was hard for me, that’s why I really felt the need to go into one place without anyone, just in my bedroom with the stuff I bring from Paris and that’s it – I got to write. Ten or fifteen songs and just go. That’s how I did it because it was so hard to be on tour, have a baby, come back, be on tour again and find time in between stuff to just concentrate on writing songs. I think I just had really high expectations. Everything I wrote for six months, I just threw in the bin and thought, “you’re never going to be a writer.” Yeah, I lost faith at some point. I don’t know, I wrote one song, I wrote “7 ou 8 fois” and that’s what I want to do, I found a base that I can build on.

JE: So, what’s the kind of story behind Bye Bye Manchester?

MP: I realised when I was writing all the songs, they were about going somewhere else. Start a new life, kind of this sort of stuff. I called my album Bye Bye Manchester because Manchester is really a city where people are so proud to be Manchurians, you know, Manchester people. They are really proud. Everyone wants to go out, they want to leave Manchester because, the weather is shitty, maybe it’s too strong of an identity city, and sometimes you really feel like you just have to go away and that’s why all the things in my head were gathering in Manchester. And, that’s why I called it “Bye Bye Manchester” because you have to say “bye, bye” to everything you know to kind of, of course, a bit later come back and be strong about where you are and everything. Every song is about this fantasy to go away and you only want to go away because you will be able to come back. So, the song “7 ou 8 fois” it means “seven or eight times I tried to do this, I tried to,” I tried to just move on. It’s this eighth time it worked and I can kind of come back to it. So, it’s kind of this feeling that, deeply, you want to go, but in fact, you don’t want to go – you just want to be happy where you are. I don’t know. Manchester was great for this – my dream was to go into Manchester and write an album. Because, I am a big fan of Morrissey and The Smiths and all these new wave – Joy Division and Buzzcocks – everything down there. To write good music, you have to be English and live in Manchester or Liverpool. And, it’s all about this ambiguity all the time, you know? Why do you want to leave? Why are you really sick of where you are? All the songs are talking about this, and I don’t know. I just realised that I completely said goodbye to my other life, becoming a singer and the fact that it was really important for me to do that and I didn’t know. The fact of deciding this strengthened everything else, so voila. It was all about these feelings. But, it was not really conscious, I really wrote all these songs and at the end I said, “Oh, my God. They’re all talking about-” This song called “Ailleurs” is meaning “Somewhere else” and “Bye Bye Manchester” obviously, “Je Laisse Tomber” means “I quit everything.” And, all these lyrics, they were all talking about the same thing and how important it was for me to take all these big decisions in my life. I was living in South of France and decided to go to Paris, then in Paris, I decided to quit all my work and everything and become a singer and then when I was a singer, I decided to write my own songs. And, all of these decisions are not enough. I have to change to recreate my life and everything. So, that’s it.

Becoming and singer and writing my own lyrics and own songs was really important to me. I needed to find my way of communicating with these people that were coming to my concerts, so I was, “OK, I have to be true, I don’t want to sing other people’s songs all the time.” So, yeah.

JE: And, that’s obviously how it was in the beginning with Nouvelle Vague?

MP: Yes. I really learnt everything with Nouvelle Vague, I’ve been doing with them a thousand shows, I think. And, everything I know, all the confidence I have on stage is from this experience. As well as all the traveling I did with them, we were traveling all the time everywhere. It was really important. I never traveled before Nouvelle Vague and then suddenly, I was never in Paris. The first five years, when it was really successful, I was just flying everywhere and that really opened my mind about what I really liked. I didn’t want to stay in the same place, I really liked to meet people and be in danger all the time in different environment and different cultural challenges and stuff like this. So, yeah, I think this was really the big impasse for me, to travel and to make my own stuff. So, it’s good.

JE: Bye Bye Manchester really blew my mind away, it was so different. But, now it makes sense, because it’s really you. Which is another thing because you’ve always been this strong female and feminine presence in music. Having major influences like Smiths and Joy Division, would you say that that’s where you’ve gotten your stage presence from?

MP: I don’t know. What was amazing for me, going on stage for the first time in my life, with Nouvelle Vague ten years ago – it’s going to be ten years next year. I never went on stage in my whole life, I never did theatres or anything. And, when I was on stage, it was really natural. I just had to sing the songs and talk to people and make them laugh and just tell them how I feel. I was like, “oh, my god, it’s quite simple.” Like, for me, it was kind of – I was very shy at the point, I wasn’t the person that I am now. I had this strength that I didn’t know about. I could go on stage and be completely comfortable and look in the eyes of the audience and try and see what they want. I was completely okay with them being bored or super happy, or talking, I’m really interested in that. I really like when I sing a song to see, ‘oh, this one is bored, this one is happy (laughs).’ I really like that, I’m not scared if they don’t like me or, shit, I’m not dressed up or whatever. I don’t really think about it, I’m just sharing this unique moment with people and it’s unique. I do a lot of shows, this day is Tuesday and it’s ten-fifteen and this guy is yawning, it’s unique and I’m never going to live that again. I’m like this and I don’t know about having any role model of artists, I just like people that come on stage and you can really see their personality and they are themselves, they’re not building a character or whatever. Oh well, they’re building a character but it’s actually them, but kind of, a stronger version of them. I’m a big fan of Nick Cave and PJ Harvey, all these guys they just go on stage and you just want to look at them. And, you’re like, ‘I just want to go and have a beer with them afterward,’ I don’t like people coming on stage and you just don’t know who they are. I don’t know, I really like people where you can really feel their personalities. And, I realised that I could do that, that I can actually do that and be exactly the same. I really remember when I was having my baby, I was touring with him – he was like two months old – and, I was just breastfeeding backstage and just giving the baby to my sister and just going on stage and I was exactly the same person. People were saying, ‘Don’t you need some time to be -?’ and, I was like no, I don’t want to be another person. Like, if I could go on stage with my baby on my breast then I would go. Because, for me music is – well, I’m not this kind of artist where I just want to hide, I just want to be myself.

JE: Now, do you have any underground or unsigned musicians that you’re really interested in, at the moment?

MP: Well, I have a lot of friends that are doing a lot of interesting stuff. They’re all kind of getting signed. Well, there’s not this kind of “signing” event anymore. Like, they’re all releasing their stuff, even if they’re doing it by themselves. I really like this band called Team Ghost, electro stuff. I don’t know, there’s a lot of stuff that I know and like, but underground… I don’t know if it exists anymore. Suddenly, they have a website and they’re all over Facebook and YouTube. I remember I went to a Ben Harper show when he released his first album and I don’t know if he was even big in America at the time, but we were like ten in the venue and all sitting down with Ben Harper in the middle. Oh, my god, this was really underground. And, one year later…

JE: Do you prefer doing smaller and more intimate shows as appose to bigger venues?

MP: I like both, in fact. I’m not such a fan of big venues. Even with Nouvelle Vague when we do big venues. Just in terms of space, it’s a really long way to see the peoples faces and you’re like, ‘what is that?’ So, I’m more into small shows and I don’t know, Sydney Festival was in Town Hall and it’s a beautiful, beautiful venue with one thousand people. This is the biggest that I can kind of like, more than this is just ridiculous. In Paris, I do this little club, I did two shows and then I’m going to do three around September, October and November in this small like two hundred sitting little theatre. And, I really like that, people really listen and you feel you have time. You have your time and your space. Really intimate, I like it.

JE: So, I know that you’re still with Nouvelle Vague but, do you miss that constant group setting?

MP: Mmm… Not for the moment. I like being by myself and kind of controlling everything and it’s faster and quicker and more rewarding (laughs). No, more the moment I just miss the fun with Nouvelle Vague. It’s great conditions and when you tour it’s always a lot of people, it’s always really easy. It’s a bit more complicated with my shows., you really have to try and you really have to set up everything. It’s less comfortable and it’s a lot of work and a lot of energy but, really, I feel so happy when I just tour by myself. I can still do both though and get my balance with the collective and the solo. We’ll see. I’m still amazed that Nouvelle Vague is still touring so much.

JE: Um. So, what’s your take on chocolate milkshakes?

MP: (laughs) If ever I taste a good one, I’ll be happy! I don’t know, it’s always so artificial to me. I want someone to make one for me with real stuff, real chocolate, real milk, real ice-cream. But, I love fruit, so if it’s good, I love it!

First Listen: Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite, Get Up!


image courtesy Ben Harper

Those lucky enough to catch Ben Harper’s recent solo shows were treated to an eclectic mix of songs that showcased more than his exceptional song-writing, vocal and slide guitar talents.  Audiences were given a peek behind the curtain into his life and process through covers of Eddie Vedder or Bob Marley songs, or or through stories of working with Jeff Buckley or Heath Ledger. A wide diversity of influences, a history rooted in the folk tradition and collaborations with many key artists of our time mean that audiences have come to expect a Ben Harper album to shift between rock, blues, roots, folk, funk and soul in a heartbeat, often within the same song.

Get up! is Harper’s twelfth Studio Album, and follows last years By My Side.  By My Side was referred to as a “retrospective” to accompany the solo tour, rather than a “Greatest Hits”, but when an artist has such a substantial body of work, any greatest hits style compilation can come to be seen as a full stop in a musician’s career, rather than an exclamation mark. Those afraid of a post-greatest-hits-lull will be dissapointed, as this collaboration with master harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite carves out new sonic territory for Harper and contains some great songs to boot.

Opening track “Don’t look twice” is a standout, and blends a confident and understated vocal with a catchy, rumbling bass and remarkably restrained harmonica from Charlie Musselwhite, it also sets the tone for an album firmly rooted in blues.  Tracks like the gorgeous “All that Matters Now” or aggressive “blood side out” stick close to the traditional blues formula, but modern arrangements and wonderful harmonica hooks stop them becoming stuck in an old-time blues rut.

At the less traditional end of the spectrum  “I ride at Dawn” is structured like a standard 12-bar blues, but the arrangement of echoing slide guitars lends it an ethereal and ghostly quality and a bleak, stark ending.  “We can’t end this way” is a Bluesy polka beat overlaid with gospel backing vocals, country guitar and slightly unhinged harmonica.  The vibe is curiously optimistic and energetic and you can’t help smiling at the sheer exuberance of the track that somehow becomes more than the sum of it’s parts…

Title track “Get Up” is a great title track, not only because it’s a great song but because it best exempifies the feel of the entire album.  Here a bubbling baseline and restrained percussion fuels lends this track a 70’s psychedelic drive to the low-end,  before a guitar break that first tickles at the subconscious, and then reinvents itself in the second break to haunt and pry at the edges of melody whilst the harmonica eggs it on.  From here a game of musical cat and mouse ensues that seems to spontaneously avoid ever becoming a riff or tune – This is enjoyable modern blues from two masters of their craft, with the band (comprising Jason Mozersky on guitar, Jesse Ingalls on bass and Jordan Richardson on drums) providing a solid backbone for Harper and Musselwhite’s musical dialog.

For this reviewer the highpoints of this album are in it’s less traditional arrangements, whereas the driving roadhouse-style blues of “I’m in, I’m Out, And I’m Gone” or the angry “I don’t believe a word you say” don’t really offer much that is new.

If you are looking for the memorable folk alternative riffs of ‘burn one down’ or the magestic  outpouring of ‘Morning Yearning’ you’ll find that here in more measured amounts, Get Up! is an album that stays firmly in blues territory, and has a sound all of it’s own.   Harper’s vocals are set back in the mix a little and Musselwhite’s harmonica is restrained, confident and strong throughout – here’s an artist who knows how to play as part of an ensemble.  Perhaps because of Musselwhite’s contribution, Get Up!  is truly an album where vocals, slide guitar and harmonica are given shared responsibility in pulling the tracks together and songwriting is given a back-seat to a joyful explosion of musicianship.

Whilst this album seldom strays from the blues, Harper’s eclectic musical loves and broad array of inspirations means there is little here that feels formulaic or stale.  A worthy step in Ben Harper’s continuing journey, Get Up reinforces that Harper is a musician at the top of his game, with many suprises left in store.

Get Up! is available now. Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite will be appearing at this year’s Bluesfest.

Bluesfest Gets Even More Lineup Additions

Ben Harper
Image Courtesy of Bluesfest

Yes that’s Ben Harper at the top of this article. Yes Harper has already been announced on the Bluesfest lineup. Twice. But he’s going for round three as his duo show with Charlie Musselwhite heads up the latest round of artists added to this year’s Bluesfest.

Ben Harper first came together with Charlie Musselwhite at Bluesfest in 1996 so it’s kind of poetic that the two of them are back 13 years later to play a duo show at the festival. Also in this round of artists are Timber and Steel favourites Skipping Girl Vinegar, Kim Churchill and Genevieve Chadwick plus a whole lot more.

Bluesfest takes place in Byron Bay over the Easter long weekend, Thursday 28th March to Monday 1st April. Check out the full list of artists added today below (with the full lineup over at the official site):

Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, Zac Brown Band, Manu Chao La Ventura (Second Show), The Music Maker Blues Revue, Ironing Board Sam, Major Handy, Pat Wilder & Dr. Burt, Leonardo’s Brdie, Nicky Bomba’s Bustamento, Skipping Girl Vinegar, Allen Stone, Kim Churchill, Shaun Kirk, Genevieve Chadwick, Brother Fox

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