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.

Sydney’s First Bluegrass & Old Timey Festival

Shelley's Murder Boys
Image Courtesy of Shelley’s Murder Boys

Sydney folk fans rejoice – a brand new event is hitting your calendars this month! The first Bluegrass & Old Timey Festival is heading to Yulli’s Brews in Alexandria on Sunday 19th May.

It sounds like the Bluegrass & Old Timey Festival is taking Sydney’s Yulli’s Sessions (previously Bluegrass @ Yulli’s) monthly night format and turning it up to eleven. The festival will kick off with an all-in jam where you can bring your banjo, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, etc and join in for some fine music.

Following the jam will be performances from some of Sydney’s finest bluegrass and old timey artists including Richard Galluzzi, Flat Rock Boys, The Plough, Whoa Mule and Shelley’s Murder Boys (above). This is going to be amazing – and best of all the whole thing is free!

The jam kicks off at 1:30pm with the performances from 3pm. For more information check out the official Facebook event here – the full schedule for the day is below:

1:30–3pm – Bluegrass/Old Timey Jam
3-4pm – Richard Galluzzi
4-5pm – Flat Rock Boys
5-6pm – The Plough
6-7pm – Whoa Mule
7-8pm – Shelley’s Murder Boys

Bluegrass @ Yulli’s for June 2016

Stillhouse Union
Image Courtesy of Stillhouse Union

Next Wednesday the 15th Sydney bluegrass night Bluegrass @ Yulli’s returns for its June session and it’s looking like a massive night of music.

As always the night will kick off at 6pm with an all-in jam. Anyone with a smattering of musical talent and a love of folk, bluegrass and old time music is welcome to come down with their fiddle, mando, guitar, banjo or whatever and join in with some of Sydney’s finest musicians. It’s serious fun.

Then from 8pm not one but two of Sydney’s favourite bluegrass bands will be taking to the stage to fill our ears with sweet sweet music. Burnt Creek Deviation Bluegrass Band and Stillhouse Union will no doubt get your feet tapping and your hands clapping.

Bluegrass @ Yulli’s takes place at Yulli’s in Surry Hills on Wednesday 15th June and entry is free. For more information check out the official Facebook event here.

National Folk Festival Interview: The Plough

The Plough
Photo of The Plough at The 2015 National Folk Festival by Sarah Turier

Last year NSW based bluegrass and old time band The Plough made their debut at The National Folk Festival and very quickly became one of the most talked about bands of the event. The Plough are back at The National again this year so we sat down with singer/fiddle player/mando player John Healy and guitarist Francis Duffy to talk about what we can expect from the band second time around.

Gareth Hugh Evans: You guys are playing at The National this year which will be your second time around for that festival.

John Healy: Yeah, it will be our second year in a row. We were pretty surprised to be picked up a second time. It was so good last time.

Francis Duffy: We had a great time last year. We’re pretty chuffed to be going back there again.

GHE: I went to a few of your sets at The National last year and it felt like each show there were more and more people there and you were building a bit of a buzz. Did you feel that from the stage.

JH: Well Francis reckons the first gig was good [laughs]! But yeah, I felt that. The last gig was awesome! We weren’t used to playing in front of so many people – it was quite overwhelming and pretty fun.

GHE: I also saw you guys pretty heavily involved in the Session Bar as well. For me the Session Bar is the heart of The National – it’s a place where you get to play with all of these amazing artists. What drew you to the Session Bar

JH: We’re so used to playing our stuff we want to expand and learn more actual old timey and bluegrass tunes. And just see our friends. Francis got to play with Gordie [MacKeeman]. He got to do…

FD: “Wagon Wheel”

JH: Yeah, “Wagon Wheel” with Gordie.

FD: That was my big moment.

JH: I think I got to play “Old Joe Clark” with Gordie. That was cool.

GHE: So tell a little bit about the origins of The Plough. Has it come out of the picking and jamming sessions in Sydney?

JH: Sort of. We started playing music together as friends and then came across the Bluegrass and Old Time Society and started going there a lot. We’d learn three songs to play at that gig – every month we’d learn three more songs. And we slowly built up a set and we ended up having enough to do a gig on our own. It was pretty slow but also really nice. We got to participate in the Bluegrass Society and also develop the songs we wanted to play and learn songs from other people.

GHE: So what solidified you as a band?

JH: I think the Bluegrass Society made us a band.

FD: I think at [the Bluegrass and Old Time Society], playing the three songs, is quite challenging. I think some musicians say they get up and play, even though they’re very competent, as it’s a good place to practice. You’re playing in front of an audience of musicians. And it’s a very supportive environment.

GHE: I’ve never been because it intimidates me.

JH: It’s not intimidating at all! It’s actually quite beautiful. You develop relationships with people and I guess you gravitate towards certain people to learn things from or people offer their advice to you while you’re playing. Like I remember we were playing one particular tune – “Goodbye Liza Jane” – and this guy walked over and he pointed out the note that we were missing. We added it in and it sounded really good.

FD: People are very supportive and encouraging. When you go there you want to go back and try and get better. It’s good having that monthly get together – I think John and I are quite religious about being there.

GHE: It nurtures community as well. There’s a very obvious, tight-knit group of people who have come out of the Bluegrass and Old Time Society in Sydney.

JH: It’s a really great community. And the nice thing about it is it’s kind of from old to young – it’s not just one bunch of people. That’s where I first started playing the fiddle. They have a sinners group – Safety In Numbers. A big group of people in a room learning a few songs. So I got to just scratch away on fiddle – it’s a really safe and open place to expand your use of an instrument.

GHE: So last years you guys headed to Europe for a tour of Sweden and Ireland. How did that come about?

JH: It sort of just fell together. Francis hadn’t been back to Ireland for a few years and he really wanted to go back. And I said “well I’ll go”. Then Daniel, who plays with us and is Francis’ son said “ok, I’ll go”. So then we thought we could go as a band and we saw that there were these festivals available, we called them up and they said “sure!”. We booked into a festival in Ireland and then we were on our way. We didn’t want to go straight to Ireland and we thought it would be great to stop in Stockholm [for a festival]. So we rang them up and they said “yeah, sure” and they put us into their lineup. And then I have a nephew over there and he booked a lot of smaller gigs for us. It just came together.

FD: It was really good and Sweden was beautiful. It was such a nice vibe, lots of great international bands. It was summer time so there was 24 hour daylight. It was very therapeutic – very pleasant. We played in this huge barn that could house 1000s or people. Being in the one spot for a few days and having that focus was quite nice – we’re all together, we hired a car together, we drove around together. We did the same in Ireland. It’s not like being on a holiday.

GHE: Was bluegrass and old time music popular over there?

JH: Not really. Just at the festivals. I think people liked what we did in the pubs but it was probably more novelty than anything. I think in Ireland country music is popular. We noticed we played a lot faster than the Irish bluegrass bands because they’re more country.

FD: Their choice in bluegrass is always leaning on country.

GHE: And the trad celtic stuff is obviously quite popular.

JH: Yeah, especially where we went to in Galway and the west. You’re tripping over it there. It was great to watch.

GHE: So what’s happening after The National? Any more overseas trips in the works?

JH: We’re thinking next year. There are a lot of other European festivals and I think Sweden would have us back. We’d really like to do it again because it was pretty easy and it was so much fun. Otherwise we’ll just apply for a lot of festivals and see which ones we get into.

GHE: Well thanks so much for chatting today! I’m really looking forward to seeing you guys at The National.

Jh: Thanks Gareth.

All of The Plough’s shows at The National Folk Festival are as follows;

Thursday 24th to Monday 28th March – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
– Friday 6:50pm – Bohemia Bar
– Sunday 1:20pm – Scrumpy
– Monday 10am – Scrumpy

Bluegrass @ Yulli’s For September 2015

Tawny Owl Stringband
Image Courtesy of The Tawny Owl Stringband

At the end of last month’s Bluegrass @ Yulli’s the organisers announced that they’d managed to lock in The Tawny Owl Stringband, something that got us very very excited.

The Tawny Owl Stringband is the new trad and old-timey project from Lucky Luke (Lucky Luke & The Shooting Stars), Jimmy Daley (The Morrisons) and Anna McInerney (Oh Willy Dear, The Morrisons). I caught the trio at a recent FolkSwagon and was really impressed with their sound and repertoire – definitely a band to watch over the coming months

This month’s Bluegrass @ Yulli’s takes place upstairs at Yulli’s restaurant in Surry Hills, Sydney next Wednesday 16th September. As always the night will kick off at 6pm with a jam where everyone is invited to bring down their banjo, guitar, mando and fiddle to join in followed by The Tawny Owl Stringband show from 8pm.

For more details check out the official Facebook event here.

CW Stoneking Announces Australian Tour Dates

CW Stoneking
Image Courtesy of CW Stoneking

Having spent a lot of time in the UK and Europe recently CW Stoneking has announced plans to head back home for an Australian tour this October and November.

The tour will see CW Stoneking revisit his latest album Gon Boogaloo and will take in dates in NSW, QLD, VIC and WA.

Check out the full list of dates below:

Friday 30th October – Manning Bar, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 31st October – The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 6th November – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 7th November – Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 12th November – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA
Friday 13th November – Prince Of Wales, Perth, WA
Saturday 14th November – Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle, WA

Stream the New Catgut Album Flying Spiders Over Texas

Image Courtesy of Catgut

Over the weekend Sydney old-timey trio Catgut quietly released their brand new album Flying Spiders Over Texas and they’ve popped it up to stream and buy online. The album was recorded by Gary Brown and features artwork by Emma Louise (above).

Take a listen to Flying Spiders Over Texas below and then pick up a copy from Bandcamp here.

Listen to the New Dom Flemons Single “Hot Chicken”

Dom Flemons
Image Courtesy of Dom Flemons

Another track from Dom Flemons‘ upcoming solo album Prospect Hill (due on the 22nd July) has emerged online and as expected it’s full of old-timey goodness. The track is “Hot Chicken” and it debuted last week on CMT Edge.

The song is written after a dish at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack in Nashville. “Hot chicken is essentially fried chicken with a cayenne pepper batter, rolled in cayenne pepper dust and served on white bread drenched in the stuff,” Flemons told CMT Edge. “We came in hungry, which was our first mistake. After a 40-minute wait in the small, packed restaurant front, we quickly tried our best to fill our hungry bellies. The chicken was burning up with heat and spice, and we all suffered through each glorious bite with tears in our eyes. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to write a song about it, featuring some ripping solos from Brian Horton and Keith Ganz.”

Take a listen to “Hot Chicken” below:

Man of Constant Sorrow: A Tribute to the Music of O Brother Where Art Thou?

O Brother

The impact of O Brother Where Art Thou?, the 2000 film from the Coen Brothers, and its amazing T Bone Burnett producer soundtrack continues to be felt across the folk scene, it’s probably no surprise that The Vanguard in Sydney is once again holding a couple of tribute nights. Following on from similar sold out nights over the last couple of years, the upcoming events will feature some of Sydney’s best musicians bringing the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack to life.

The O Brother Where Art Thou? tribute nights will take place on the 7th and 8th May at The Vanguard and will feature performances from the likes of The Morrisons, Ngaiire, Elana Stone, Brian Campeau, Lucky Luke, Marcus Holden and All Our Exes Live In Texas with the night MC’d by acclaimed comedian Tommy Dean.

Tickets to the nights are $25 and will likely sell out fast. For more information check out the official Facebook event here.

The Foghorn Stringband Announce Australian Tour

Foghorn Stringband
Image Courtesy of The Foghorn Stringband

If you’re heading up to the Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival in a couple of weeks you may have noticed The Foghorn Stringband on the bill. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, The Foghorn Stringband combine old time, country and even cajun music into one incredible folky stew and are currently touring their new record Outshine the Sun.

As well as appearing in Dorrigo The Foghorn Stringband have announced a full Australian tour with dates through NSW, ACT and VIC. Check out the full list of shows below:

Thursday 24th to Friday 25th October – Dorrigo Bluegras Camp, NSW
Friday 25th to Sunday 27th October – Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival, NSW
Tuesday 29th October – Kyogle Memorial Institute Hall, Kyogle, NSW
Thursday 31st October – Lizotte’s, Kincumber, NSW
Friday 1st November – Illawarra Folk Club, Wollongong, NSW
Saturday 2nd November – Sydney Bluegrass & Old Time, Annandale, NSW
Sunday 3rd November – Roxbury Hotel, Glebe, NSW
Tuesday 5th November – Front Gallery, Canberra, ACT
Wednesday 6th November – Yea Community House, Yea, VIC
Thursday 7th November – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 8th and Saturday 9th November – Bendigo Blues & Roots Festival, VIC
Sunday 10th November – Blackwood Academy, Blackwood, VIC
Tuesday 12th November – Burrinja Cafe, Upwey, VIC
Wednesday 13th November – Yinnar Hotel, Yinnar, VIC
Friday 15th November – Nerrigundah Ag Bureau, Nerrigundah, NSW
Saturday 16th November – Quarterdeck, Narooma, NSW

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