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

When The Blues Slide Back To Town

backsliders kit
Words and Pictures by Elizabeth Walton. Interview at Narooma Golf Club, Narooma, NSW

When God made good musicians he sent them to church on Sundays. When he made really great ones, he sent them to the mouth of the Mississippi, to drink from the unholy waters of the delta blues. For even God could tell the devil was onto something there. Something driven and raw, something eternal that surpassed all sense of time, something that could get the people onto their feet, now, then, and always. And so it was that The Backsliders began, and no matter how much they drank, their cup remained full, as they continued flooding the dance floors of the nation for over 30 years.

That’s the way the story goes with legendary outfits, those who capture the sound of an era, but capture it in a way that isn’t gimmicky or contrived, isn’t hemmed into a stylistic paddock that is quickly overgrown, all weeds and useless stems that can’t be whittled or chewed. The Backsliders’ unique form of blues isn’t a style that the crowd comes to like then quickly forgets, like moths chasing the light around the next contemporary sound. This is a style that has easily stood the test of time.

When the best music has been on the scene in a continuously evolving format for an entire generation it becomes a backdrop for our times. A great song can track a moment in time as freshly as a scent, a taste, a remembrance of an old friend or even your favourite dog. But when a project has continued to be there in the landscape of the culture for as long as The Backsliders, it becomes something even more significant than just one song that throws you back to year dot.

You hear the sound at the festivals down south, up north, in the city, all around the country, and the songs become the aural licks for the great Australian drama of our times. You hear it in the Tim Winton screen adaptations of the dirty Australian ballads of the outback, that sound. That vision is there when you hear this very Australian form of blues. And it’s there in every other epic Australian drama of our times as well, from the softer cliched stories of Sea Change, to the harsher scenes of Underbelly, those tales that trace the seedier side of the national narrative and our love of the outsider, the lost larrikin, the dangerously compelling stories of the evil who walk among us. For The Backsliders aren’t just hot performers, their themes are there on the screen too.

These are the songs that fit so snugly into the storyline it’s as though the music was an extension of the scenery, a backdrop, and the song itself has become the dialogue, the lyric.

hirst and turnerSo goes the story of The Backsliders, a band put together a generation ago by Australia’s favourite bluesman Dom Turner, with his iconic high voice reminiscent perhaps of the growling plantation gospel singer Pops Staples. The outfit was joined in its adolescence by searing hot rock drummer Rob Hirst who may now be pushing into his mid 60’s, but he looks like he’s been bathing all these years  in the fountain of youth. Turner and Hirst both do.

The Backsliders are an outfit with not just national but international respect. And despite 30 years in action, the music is as fresh and relevant today as it ever was. There is not a quiver of energy held back from Rob Hirst’s intensely delivered searing hot rhythm, yet he plays this particular set straight off the tarmac from a world tour with Midnight Oil.

fast sticksDespite his own hot blooded performance, Dom Turner maintains a cool hand, barely breaking a bead of sweat. “It’s easy to maintain our momentum,” Turner says, “because we have always had the understanding that working on our other projects gets you coming back with something fresh”. Working with a rotating line of three harp players – this set featuring Joe Glover – also brings an individuality to every performance, something Turner is keen to capture, which is the basis for the decision to stick with the simple three part lineup – one string man, one harp man, and one percussion man, front and centre.

“Playing as a trio gives us the freedom to pursue that grittiness as an art form – we can seek out the imperfections and impurities of early acoustic blues, and our material can have its own unique structure, so we’re not limited to a 12 bar blues format. It’s highly improvised, based on that very African style emanating from the North of the Mississippi.”

“If we used a bass player we would all have to move at the same time, but this way we can follow those African and also at times South East Asian beats more fluidly,” he says.

 

Turner creates his sound calling on the subtle timbre of a glass slide, searching for that gliding sustain and the sweetness of the glasswork over the frets. When he moves to a metal slide he leans towards a heavier chrome style that produces less friction and a leaner sound. For this tour he uses three guitars and a mandola, selecting each for its sonic differences, rather than just the economy of time in altering the tunings, which for the most part remain tuned to various open chords.

With improvisation at its core. communication for the band is essential, so the men prefer their stage lineup positioned for optimum line of sight, an important departure from the standard setup of kit in back, strings out front. It certainly allows for a highly visual experience of Hirsts’ high energy infectious playing. The drum kit is a somewhat sentimental assemblage of an old marching band drum, an ice bell, piccolo, two snares and hand made cymbals that serve as clanky hi hats, finished with a high tech Dyson fan to help the rhythm man bring down the heat.

When the band kicked off back in the 80’s the iconoclastic sound was nudged along by a washboard and a reinforced hatbox fitted with a mic inside. The collaboration with Hirst has seen a move to a more tribal sound, which is created in part by writing songs separately, then working on them together in the studio, for the continuing roll of recordings the band produces. The next installation is due for sketches, directions and ideas in the coming months, but the album won’t reach its zenith until the band gets together within the sanctum of the studio.

 

The Backsliders put an unmistakably Aussie spin on the deep traditions of the delta blues, an art form arising from the darkest sorrows of the downtrodden, the forgotten, the ripped off oppressed and poverty stricken. It’s a style that originated from the starving disenfranchised blacks of the American south, whose fight against oppression overreached the Civil War’s success in remaining impossibly inhumane long after the war was won. These conditions still impose the questionable will of powerful men during times of the greatest hardship and suffering, often when a helping hand is needed the most. It’s a suffering that still goes on today, long after the storms of Hurricane Katrina have passed on into legend, not just for the way she lashed at the heart of New Orleans, but for the way the powers that be gave very little warning, with next to no planning, and the way the then President barely turned his head while America’s greatest roots tradition drowned alongside the most mighty songsmen of the South, like so many disregarded notes and souls.

So the world has come to treat its roots musicians, a forgotten underclass, amongst whom those most talented are those most likely to be found in a burger joint, flipping refried beans or taking out the trash. And this is the sound The Backsliders have summoned from the murky swamp to translate into an endless realm of Australian anthems, distilling the essence of the troubles of the South, in all its desolation and heathen ways. Their delivery is a sound that defers to the Australian wide open landscape for its meaning, rendering an antipodean condition to their interpretation of Cajun influenced blues, with their ditties of moving on, getting away from it all, getting your bags packed and getting lost, losing all sense of that purpose which once flashed before you, before your dreams got flushed away.

viewThe Backsliders have a long history touring the far south coast of New South Wales, playing the blues festival at Narooma that finished when its saviour hung up his saddle a few seasons back. No one has taken up the mantle, and the old festival office remains For Lease, fronting the road as the Pacific Highway heads up the hill and meanders around the town. Yet the band still returns to the scene, creating their own scene now, where old mates put on the big party at the biggest venue in town, and easily fill the Narooma Golf Club on a lazy Sunday evening. The festival scene may have been the birthplace of the romance with the coast, but the story has outlived the event. After all, nothing speaks summer in a more sultry seawater way than the Mississippi blues, especially in its local incarnation, hollered out so loud by The Backsliders.

Upcoming live dates for The Backsliders are below:

Sunday 28th January – Waterfront Cafe Church Point, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 3rd February – Lizottes, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 3rd March – Girrakool Blues and BBQ Festival, Central Coast, NSW
Friday 16th to Sunday 18th March – Blue Mountains Music Festival, Katoomba, NSW
Saturday 19th to Sunday 20th May – Blues on Broadbeach, Broadbeach, QLD

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nights Sweats Announce Live Album Live at Red Rocks

Nathanial Rateliff
Image Courtesy of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nights Sweats

Blues-rock outfit Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nights Sweats have announced plans to release their debut live album Live at Red Rocks on the 10th November.

The album is the band’s first ever full length recording and features 18 songs from their August 2016 show at Denver’s iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

The full track list is as follows:

1. Failing Dirge with Preservation Hall Jazz Band
2. I’ve Been Failing with Preservation Hall Jazz Band
3. Look It Here with Preservation Hall Jazz Band
4. Intro
5. Howling at Nothing
6. Wasting Time
7. Mellow Out
8. Early Spring Till + Intro
9. You Should’ve Seen the Other Guy
10. I Need Never Get Old
11. Shake
12. Out on the Weekend
13. Thank You
14. I Did It
15. Trying So Hard Not to Know
16. S.O.B. with Preservation Hall Jazz Band
17. S.O.B. Reprise with Preservation Hall Jazz Band
18. Having a Party with Preservation Hall Jazz Band

As a taster of Live at Red Rocks check out a video of the first two tracks from the album “Failing Dirge” and “I’ve Been Failing”:

Watch the New Video from The Teskey Brothers, “Louisa”

The Teskey Brothers
Image Courtesy of The Teskey Brothers

Melbourne soul revivalists The Teskey Brothers have just released the latest video from their amazing album Half Mile Harvest, the catchy southern soul track “Louisa”

The video features features the band in a foot chase through their hometown of Warrandyte, Victoria. Check it out here:

The Teskey Brothers have already announced a bunch of WA and festival shows over the summer and have now added headline shows in Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney, with Timberwolf in support, as well as a very special appearance at next year’s Melbourne Zoo Twilights and Bluesfest.

The full list of upcoming dates for The Teskey Brothers are below:

Thursday 2nd November – St John’s Anglican Church, Fremantle Arts Festival, Fremantle, WA
Friday 3rd November – Ravenswood Tavern, Mandurah, WA
Saturday 4th November – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA
Sunday 5th November – Clancy’s Fish Pub, Dunsborough, WA
Tuesday 7th November – Perth Blues Club, Perth, WA
Thursday 9th November – Prince of Wales, Bunbury, WA
Friday 10th to Sunday 12th November – Blues at Bridgetown Festival, Bridgetown, WA
Friday 17th to Sunday 19th November – Strawberry Fields, Tocumwal, NSW
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th November – Queenscliff Music Festival, Queenscliff, VIC
Thursday 30th November – Jive Bar, Adelaide, SA
Friday 1st December – The Foundry, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 2nd December – The Basement, Sydney, NSW
Friday 8th and Saturday 9th December – Fairgrounds, Berry, NSW
Friday 8th to Sunday 10th December – Meredith Music Festival, Meredith, VIC
Saturday 30th December to Monday 1st January – NYE On The Hill, South Gippsland, VIC
Friday 26th January – Melbourne Zoo Twilights 2018, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 3rd February – Twilight at Taronga, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 29th March to Monday 2nd April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW

The Teskey Brothers Announce Festival and WA Shows

The Teskey Brothers
Image Courtesy of The Teskey Brothers

Since Melbourne band The Teskey Brothers released their album Half Mile Harvest earlier this year they’ve been on an absolute tear.

The boys wrapped up a huge, sold out national tour last month (including four massive nights at Melbourne’s Corner Hotel) and they’re keeping the momentum going with a bunch of festival appearances right up until the end of the year plus a string of dates through WA this November.

On the festival front The Teskey Brothers have been announced for Meredith, Queenscliff, Lost Picnic, Caloundra, Dashville Skyline, Wave Rock, NYE On The Hill, Fairgrounds, Blues at Bridgetown and Strawberry Fields. Check out the full list of upcoming dates below:

Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th September – Wave Rock Weekender, Hyden, WA
Friday 29th September to Sunday 1st October – Dashville Skyline, Hunter Valley, NSW
Friday 29th September to Monday 2nd October – Caloundra Music Festival, Caloundra, QLD
Sunday 15th October – Lost Picnic, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 2nd November – St John’s Anglican Church, Fremantle Arts Festival, Fremantle, WA
Friday 3rd November – Ravenswood Tavern, Mandurah, WA
Saturday 4th November – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA
Sunday 5th November – Clancy’s Fish Pub, Dunsborough, WA
Tuesday 7th November – Perth Blues Club, Perth, WA
Thursday 9th November – Prince of Wales, Bunbury, WA
Friday 10th to Sunday 12th November – Blues at Bridgetown Festival, Bridgetown, WA
Friday 17th to Sunday 19th November – Strawberry Fields, Tocumwal, NSW
Friday 24th to Sunday 26th November – Queenscliff Music Festival, Queenscliff, VIC
Friday 8th and Saturday 9th December – Fairgrounds, Berry, NSW
Friday 8th to Sunday 10th December – Meredith Music Festival, Meredith, VIC
Saturday 30th December to Monday 1st January – NYE On The Hill, South Gippsland, VIC

Listen to the New Karl S Williams Single “Blood to Give”

Karl S Williams
Image Courtesy of Karl S Williams

Blues and roots singer-songwriter Karl S Williams has just released his new single “Blood to Give”.

Produced and recorded by Matt Redlich (Holy Holy, Ball Park Music, Emma Louise, Husky), the track is an awesome, stripped back piece of bluesy storytelling.

“Life is hard and unkind to all of us at times, I guess I went digging for suitable metaphors for that experience,” Williams explained. “In some ways the song is also an address to an industry wherein the sensitive are shepherded inexorably toward the precipice.”

Take a listen to “Blood to Give” below:

To celebrate the release of “Blood to Give” Karl S Williams is hitting the road this week for an east coast tour including appearances at the Wintermoon Spring Festival, Caloundra Music Festival, Wildwood Music Festival and the Kyneton Music Festival. Check out the full list of dates here:

Thursday 7th September – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Friday 8th September – The Edwards, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 9th September – Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW
Sunday 10th September – Brass Monkey, Cronulla, NSW
Thursday 14th September – Bearded Lady, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 15th September – Soundlounge, Gold Coast, QLD
Saturday 16th September – The Northern, Byron Bay, NSW
Friday 22nd September – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 23rd September – Barwon Club, Geelong, VIC
Saturday 30th September – Caloundra Music Festival, Caloundra, QLD
Sunday 1st October – Wildwood Music Festival, Port Macquarie, NSW
Friday 6th October – Music On The Hill, Red Hill, VIC
Sunday 8th October – The Taproom, Castlemaine, VIC
Saturday 21st October – Kyneton Music Festival, Kyneton, VIC

C.W. Stoneking Adds Brisbane and Fremantle Shows to Solo Tour

CW Stoneking
Image Courtesy of C.W. Stoneking

Having already announced a handful of rare solo shows in Meeniyan, Sydney and Melbourne C.W. Stoneking has just added a couple of extra dares in Brisbane and Fremantle.

These are C.W. Stoneking’s first solo shows since 2014 so are going to be pretty special. Check out the full list of dates below:

Saturday 7th October – Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan, VIC
Friday 20th October – Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 21st Octover – Mojos Bar, Fremantle, WA
Thursday 26th October – Howler, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 27th October – Howler, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 28th October – Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 29th October – Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney, NSW

C.W. Stoneking Announces Rare Solo Shows

CW Stoneking
Image Courtesy of C.W. Stoneking

Old-time blues and roots favourite C.W. Stoneking has been laying low since supporting Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats earlier this year. But that’s all set to change with the announcement that C.W. Stoneking is planning on hitting the road this October for a limited series of intimate performances in Victoria and New South Wales.

These will be C.W. Stoneking’s first solo performances since his Heavenly Sounds tour back in 2014 – so they’re definitely not to be missed. Check out the full list of dates below:

Saturday 7th October – Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan, VIC
Thursday 26th October – Howler, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 27th October – Howler, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 28th October – Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 29th October – Lansdowne Hotel, Sydney, NSW

The Teskey Brothers Announce Headline Tour

The Teskey Brothers
Image Courtesy of The Teskey Brothers

Melbourne blues-rock band The Teskey Brothers are having a killer year. Their debut album Half Mile Harvest, released earlier this year, has already hit #2 on the iTunes chart and their recently announced tour has already seen two of the their three home town shows sell out.

“We can’t quite believe the response Half Mile Harvest is getting,” Josh Teskey from the band said. “We are so excited to play The Corner Hotel, one of Melbourne’s most iconic venues were we have seen loads of bands play and now we are doing three shows there! It’s all pretty crazy but we’re just so thrilled that people are connecting with the music. That’s all we ever hoped for with this album.”

Speaking of that tour, The Teskey Brothers have a whole bunch of dates around the country kicking off at the start of July. The full list of dates are below:

Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th July – Bello Winter Music Festival, Bellingen, NSW
Thursday 13th July – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW
Friday 14th July – Junk Bar, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday 20th July – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 21st July – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC *SOLD OUT*
Saturday 22nd July – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC *SOLD OUT*
Thursday 27th to Sunday 30th July – Echuca Winter Blues Festival, Echuca, VIC
Friday 4th August – Music on the Hill, Red Hill, VIC
Saturday 5th August – Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan, VIC
Saturday 12th August – Ed Castle, Adelaide, SA

The Snowdroppers Call it Quits With Final Tour

The Snowdroppers
Image Courtesy of The Snowdroppers

Sydney blues-rock favourites The Snowdroppers have announced after ten years together than they’re calling it quits. Over the last decade The Snowdroppers have established themselves as one of the country’s favourite live acts with thee albums, an EP and countless festival appearances, tours and more under their belt.

But before they hang up the tenor banjo The Snowdroppers have announced one final tour this October and November. The shows will see The Snowdroppers play their Too Late to Pray album in full as well as a selection of their favourite tracks from over the last 10 years.

Make sure you snap up tickets now because these are guaranteed to sell out – check out the full list of dates below:

Saturday 21st October – Transit Bar, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 28th October – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 4th November – Jive, Adelaide, SA
Saturday 11th November – The Brightside, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 18th November – The Wickham Park Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 25th November – The Factory Theatre, Sydney, NSW

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