Review: The Beautiful Girls

Photos by Stuart Bucknell Photography

The Beautiful Girls, Animal Ventura & Mesmeriser
The Metro Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 16th December, 2017

In the sweltering Sydney summer, the ice cool reprieve of The Metro Theatre’s ample air conditioning was a welcome starter to an evening that promised rays of Morning Sun.

To start the night off, the swaggering, lackadaisical tunes of Mesmeriser, the likes of which you’d expect to hear wafting across the sand dunes late on a summers day, set the tone early. Their chilled beach rock vibe with solid melodies with smooth vocals made them a natural match for The Beautiful Girls 15 Year Learn Yourself / Morning Sun Anniversary tour. A confident, solid set jam packed with tracks to warm up the growing crowd.

Taking a slight turn away from the beach feel, the funky vibe of Animal Ventura got the crowd moving. I love watching musicians use looping pedals well, and watching Aragones use one with a drum pad make a rich loop was nothing to sniff at. His vibrant guitar and vocals gave a contemporary feel to an indie singer songwriter sensibility. His musical treatment gives an uplifting feel to his sound, with vocal stylings reminiscent some of my favourite Jamie Callum tracks.

Just watching him build the loop for ‘Jungle’ was entrancing and then the delicate acoustic guitar danced over the basey loop giving it all a lightness and colourfulness. His vocals shifted to a more sultry tone trickling over the intricacies if the music below it. Transitioning again for the next song, in to a reggae beat demonstrating a stylistic breadth without skipping a beat, brought up comparisons to the likes Xavier Rudd’s rhythm heavy tracks.

So we know that back in 2012, The Beautiful Girls called it a day. Only it’s worth marking special anniversaries so seeing them for a 15th Anniversary was a fun affair for all.

Kicking off the set with title track ‘Morning Sun’ a more electric undertone to the indie acoustic sensibilities lifted the lyrics to a higher level of clarity and connection with the enraptured audience. From the outset, it was all confidence and cool, with the now large crowd rocking along and singing the choruses. Although it’s been a while between tours, their instrumentals lets them groove and connect with each other with subdued showmanship.

Upping the tempo with a heavy drum intro and setting the scene for a party vibe, ’10:10′ had the crowd going while showcasing their great indie rock solos. The rockier party sound continued with ‘Don’t Wait’ with the lyrics punctuated, rapping across The Metro in a fiery staccato. Even though the trio have been away from the stage for a while, they are still great at connecting with each other through their instruments, tone and staging, and translate that harmony to the crowd with gusto. So much so, that when it came to ‘#1 Style’, they had the crowd exploding with anticipation.

Of course, the crowd were there to hear some of their favourites how we remember them, so as McHugh switched to his acoustic, we knew some nostalgia was nigh. With a beautiful deep resonating riff the crowd recognised ‘Lose Yourself’ and the great showcase unleashed vocal styles reaching into higher registers, then rumbling along along below.

Familiar opening chords, to the crowds delight, announced a rousing rendition of ‘Dela’ and had a Paul Kelly-esque storytelling sensibility and the crowd eloquently singing along, and when ‘Periscopes’ arrived the crowd visibly swelled to greet an old favourite with crystal clarity to each lyric sung. To keep the momentum going, ‘Let’s Take The Long Way Home’ treated the audience to an impromptu harmonica replacement as McHugh had forgotten to bring his instrument and instead the crowd were urged to freestyle their own rendition of some jazz harmonica. Hilarity ensued.

And of course, and The Beautiful Girls gig could never be complete without ‘Music’ taking over the entire space, with the crowd singing word for word and McHugh hoping he can pull off some kind of 1980s hip hop over the eager audience singing.

It was clear they were delighted to be back on home turf, hailing from the northern beaches of Sydney. The production and planning for their show was evident, with striking lighting and great performances across the board. It was clear that even though the years have passed, they are still very comfortable and at home on stage. The Beautiful Girls continue to be a great band to see. The show demonstrated the great variety to their style, built out of years of experiences and recent space to grow their back catalogue to a new maturity. It was a night transporting us all to the tropics and a more reggae come Caribbean tone to their current musicality.

The whole show hangs together cohesively with common tones and styles echoing through all three acts, but with enough diversity between them to allow each act to feel fresh and different. For a bit of nostalgia, a guaranteed dance and every opportunity to sing along, you can still catch The Beautiful Girls on their 15th Anniversary Learn Yourself/ Morning Sun tour. If you’re looking for a fun, chilled vibe with a side serve of summer, this is the tour for you.

For more photos of the show, see Stuart Bucknell Photography‘s Timber and Steel Facebook Album.

You can catch The Beautiful Girls on tour at:

Thur 28 DecWoodford Folk Festival, Woodfordia QLD – TICKETS
Thur 4 JanMiami Marketta, Miami QLD – TICKETS
Fri 5 JanThe Northern, Byron Bay NSW – TICKETS
Sat 6 JanThe Hoey Moey, Coffs Harbour NSW – TICKETS
Sun 7 JanCambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW – TICKETS
Thur 11 JanVilla Noosa, Sunshine Coast QLD – TICKETS
Fri 12 JanThe Zoo, Brisbane QLD – TICKETS
Fri 19 JanWesternport Hotel, San Remo  VIC – TICKETS RSVP
Sat 20 Jan – Corner Hotel, Richmond VIC – TICKETS
Sun 21 Jan – Grand Hotel, Mornington VIC – TICKETS

Watch the New Xavier Rudd & The United Nations Video “Flag”

Xavier Rudd
Image Courtesy of Xavier Rudd & The United Nations

Xavier Rudd’s new project Xavier Rudd & The United Nations keeps making noise with festival appearances and the release of their new album Nanna in March. Their latest single is the reggae infused “Flag”, complete with a picturesque new video.

Check it out below:

To celebrate the release of “Flag” Xavier Rudd & The United Nations will be heading out on a massive national from August – check out the full list of dates here:

Sunday 9th August – Darwin Festival, Darwin, NT
Thursday 13th August – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns, QLD
Friday 14th August – The Venue, Townsville, QLD
Saturday 15th August – Magnums, Airlie Beach, QLD
Sunday 16th August – MacKay Entertainment Centre, Mackay, QLD
Tuesday 18th August – Pilbeam Theatre, Rockhampton, QLD
Wednesday 19th August -Moncrieff Theatre, Bundaberg, QLD
Thursday 20th August – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 21st August – Coffs Ex Services, Coffs Harbour, NSW
Sunday 23rd August – Miami Marketta, Gold Coast, QLD
Thursday 27th August – Club Forsters, Forster, NSW
Friday 28th August – Civic Theatre, Newcastle, NSW
Saturday 29th August – Central Coast Leagues, Gosford, NSW
Sunday 30th August – Dubbo RSL, Dubbo, NSW
Wednesday 2nd September – Katoomba RSL, Katoomba, NSW
Thursday 3rd September – Panthers, Bathurst, NSW
Friday 4th September – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 5th September – Waves, Wollongong, NSW
Sunday 6th September – UC Refectory, Canberra, ACT
Friday 11th September – Palais Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 12th September – Odeon Theatre, Hobart, TAS
Sunday 13th September – Country Club, Launceston, TAS
Tuesday 15th September – The Capitol, Bendigo, VIC
Thursday 17th September – Kay St Saloon, Traralgon, VIC
Friday 18th September – Costa Hall, Geelong, VIC
Saturday 19th September – Mt Gambier Gaol, Mt Gambier, SA
Sunday 20th September – The Gov, Adelaide, SA
Wednesday 23rd September – Goldfields Art Centre, Kalgoorlie, WA
Thursday 24th September – Civic Centre, Esperance, WA
Friday 25th September – Albany Entertainment Centre, Albany, WA
Saturday 26th September – Belvoir Amphitheatre, Perth, WA
Sunday 27th September – 3 Oceans Winery, Margaret River, WA
Saturday 3rd October – Caloundra Music Festival, Sunshine Coast, QLD

Watch the New Xavier Rudd Video “Come People”

Xavier Rudd
Image Courtesy of Xavier Rudd

Australian roots singer Xavier Rudd has revealed the first single from his upcoming album Nanna. The single is “Come People” and is a reggae heavy track featuring his band The United Nations.

Nanna is due for release on the 13th March. Watch the video for “Come People” below:

Xavier Rudd & The United Nations will be touring through March – the dates are here:

Thursday 19th March – The Forum Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Saturday 21st March – The Metro, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 22nd March – The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 27th March – HQ Complex, Adelaide. SA
Sunday 29th March – West Coast Blues & Roots, Fremantle, WA
Sunday 5th April – Bluesfest, Byron Bay, NSW

Interview: A Rainy Afternoon With Bobby Alu

Bobby Alu
Image Courtesy of Bobby Alu

Nothing can be said about Brisbane’s music scene nowadays that isn’t anything but a great thing. Janine Estoesta had the chance to catch up with Bobby Alu in the quaint little suburb of West End in the midst of ceaseless rain and locals that loved to revel in such an endearing neighbourhood. Spend a little time with Bobby Alu on a very beautiful rainy afternoon in Brisbane…

Janine Estoesta: So, you’ve been killing it – amazing live, the band and your stage presence.

Bobby Alu: Oh, I appreciate that. Yeah, it’s been fun. Yeah, it’s kind of getting to a – kind of – a really good stage at the moment. We’re recording another album, a new album and that just – everything’s just kind of falling into place a bit. It’s not like – it all feels nice. Everyone, the vibes are great, you know. Like anything it’s hard work, but all the hard work got a lot of return. Yeah, it’s wicked.

JE: So, you have those festivals coming up too. Like, The Apollo Bay Music Festival – have you played there before?

BA: I have, yeah, with Oka last year. I was so into it, it was awesome. Yeah, so Oka, we played the main stage maybe the Friday or Saturday night and we did a gig in the pub as well. I just remember it being cold that weekend, it was freezing. But, I do remember – this would be great for Bobby and the organisers contacted me end of last year. And, I was like ‘shit, yeah!’ so yeah, it worked out well.

JE: Incidentally, my friend and I were at Jet Black Cat this morning and the woman who owns it loves you and your music –

BA: Yeah! Shannon!

JE: Yeah! Have you played there yet?

BA: No, not yet. We will definitely. I got a single launch coming up in April, that’ll be the time that we’ll be hooking up. Yeah and she is awesome, what she’s started – that’s old school.

JE: I’m really glad that you’ll be playing there.

BA: Yeah, I love to support those little businesses and just hip shit that’s happening.

JE: It’s such an intimate venue – would it be a full band?

BA: We just probably do a little – everyone would have a uke or something. We chop and change.

JE: Yeah, I saw the one you put up on Facebook the other day, which was just the drum solo.

BA: Oh yeah, yeah. That was cool, eh?

JE: Aboslutely. Did you just wing that?

BA: No, I taught them that. I just thought we would try it out; it’s a big part of my life. That was one of the first instruments that I learned. My mum found this little old newspaper clipping that she posted on her Facebook to try and embarrass me. It’s a picture of me like dressed up in like traditional Samoan gear when I was three years old. [And] There was this full article about – I don’t really remember it and I was playing the drums. I was like ‘holy crap, I completely forgot about that’, so yeah, we put that – I put that into the set and we did a few songs and the crowd lost it at the noise. It’s insane, they were fully into it. Yeah, gonna do it a bit more, a few more beats and we’ll throw it into the set.

JE: So, do you predominantly identify yourself as a drummer or a singer or ukulele?

BA: Well, my whole life would have been a drummer and I think which is partly why this past year and so forth has been quite amazing for me because I feel like I’ve switched over. Because, I’ve always written songs and sung for recreation – yeah, just with writing and ukulele and stuff [and] I kind of feel like I’ve come into myself a lot with Bobby Alu, especially now with the new album. Yeah, so it’s quite exciting, you know, two years ago I would’ve said I was predominantly a drummer but now, things are different.

JE: Is it a cultural thing – is that where it all kind of stems from?

BA: Yeah, I guess so. It definitely stems from my roots, like where my mum’s from and I grew up – you know music’s no big deal. It’s just like – it’s just around in the house, just kind of listening. Or, when there’s a birthday people just grab a guitar and have a jam, so like, yeah I guess it does stem from that but it’s no big deal. It’s just a way to communicate for me – it’s just what I love to do. I love to play music and I love to write songs and I love to share music and play music with my friends.

JE: So, it’s kind of like just a whole big jam?

BA: Yeah, exactly. It’s a lifestyle, and you know, where the choices I’ve made have been lifestyle choices. This is what I enjoy doing and it’s all I wanna do. Yeah, I feel quite lucky to have found that and I will do my darndest and my best to make sure that that happens all the time.

JE: So, in terms of unknown artist, do you have any favourites?

BA: Yeah, well in the sort of like – yeah, I’m into heaps of different styles of music but in my kind of style, where Bobby Alu has kind of been pigeon holed, in the sort of reggae-roots sort of genre, there’s a really good scene in Brisbane. There’s a couple of bands that are doing really well and we’re kind of building a little scene together – a band called Kingfisha and they’re going to be playing at Apollo Bay. They just released a record and they’re playing in WOMAD, I think next weekend, they’re good friends of mine. They’re really just great – amazing. Singer, Anthony (Forrest), is one of the best voices in Australia by far, you know, just the tone, effortless, really great to listen to, I really like them. I really like Kingfisha. But, there’s just so much – there’s endless stuff, you know?
Yeah, there’s just so much shit going on that you don’t even know about too. Yeah, Brisbane – but also, every city’s got their little, you know – but yeah, Brisbane is just great.

JE: Yeah, I love Kingfisha. They’re actually doing a few gigs in Melbourne and also, Dubmarine.

BA: Yeah, Dubmarine. Yeah, Dubmarine’s in the pocket there, Dubmarine’s great – they’ve got some new stuff coming out. Yeah, we’re all just – there’s a big group of us. We watch each other evolve in the past five years and kind of like, [it’s] beyond the music now. It’s friendship as well, you know, I think we all get pretty happy when another one is successful or breaks out. We’re all supportive and it’s great to know that your friends are doing well.
Yeah, because it’s quite tough when you’re trying to start out, you know, the roots genre is quite popular but it’s not that popular. Australia’s quite a small area and it’s hard to make ends meet. But, you know, we all know how hard it can be – big ups. We all help each other out.

JE: And, touring all around the world, you are pretty well received everywhere. [Even] that first gig that you played with Bob Dylan and Ben Harper in the line-up at Bluesfest.

BA: Yeah, our dressing room was next to Ziggy Marley’s and that was a bit surreal. I remember, like, one of the earlier Blues Festivals around 2003 or four, I saw Ben Harper play and I was like, “shit, I’d love to play that festival,” you know? And, that was at the beginning of when I really wanted to do music and I started doing it, worked with heaps of different bands and then had my own sort of project. Then, all of the sudden I was on the same stage. Yeah, it was pretty overwhelming, you know? [I was] Very grateful to be able to do it. I guess now progressing from a sort of up and coming young artist to getting more work out there and pretty much doing what we do and that’s what we’re going to do, keep making music, play music. [And] you know, if we get to headline those stages then – bam.

JE: So, are you thinking of going international again?

BA: Yeah, definitely. Like I said before, I made a bit of a lifestyle choice and you know, really, really love traveling. I love sharing my culture and Aussie culture and the band’s – just our thing globally. There are so many cool things around the world and just to be able to share your stuff – it’s just amazing. You know, that’s pretty much it for me, we’ll release this record and then we’ll try and get overseas. We’ll go to the places where the music will really fit, like California coast and Canada in summer – traveling the world. As much as you make those lifestyle choices, you gotta be realistic, you know? Yeah, we’ll just do what we do and eventually we’ll get there. Yeah, it’s all a bit surprising, it kind of all just happened; you know it’s a lot of hard work, but we’re up for it. We’re just trying to get all these new songs out, one step at a time. As long as we’re enjoying it, it seems to be the formula. When you’re enjoying it other people are.

JE: Now, do you have any guilty pleasures?

BA: Guilty pleasures … Well, let me see. I love video games! Yeah, I know that a lot of people – I can understand why people think they’re a waste of time. I kind of see it as “switch off” time and I believe the switching off is as important as switching on. So, yeah I would quite happily – I love having a plan and smashing it. But, when putting that stuff aside, I also believe in wasting a week – it’s the same with movies, I can watch any bad movies. I love bad movies. I love the stuff that you can just switch your mind off. Yeah, like chick flicks. I’m not the sort of person that watches a film then gets real pissed off if it’s really shit.

JE: I have to ask this to everyone, because I am in love, but what’s your take on chocolate milk?

BA: Love it. Absolutely love it. The thing with chocolate milk is I prefer it out of a carton, as appose to a plastic bottle.

JE: Like, Big M?
BA: Big M, yeah that’s alright. I’m an Oaks man myself. Yeah, I love Oaks only out of a carton, out of a plastic bottle is not the same. It’s something about the carton as appose to plastic. I love chocolate milk, I would just smash it.

JE: And, do you fish? You strike me as a fisher.

BA: I don’t do much fishing, no. but, I like the idea of it and I think at a stage in my life I’ll be a fisherman – yeah, definitely. I really like the idea of kind of fending for yourself a bit, you know? Kind of, I just like the fact of sitting in a boat on the ocean, casting a line out and getting a fish would be great. Actually, I was in Broome, maybe September last year, and the guy that picked us up from the airport took us fishing. Down near James Price Point – we caught a few and went and cooked it up and just ate it right then and there and it was just – it was nice. My future [laughs].
But yeah, life’s crazy at the moment, you know, I like to take it slow – but, man. We’re really consumed by this new album, you know and touring with other bands.

JE: Yeah, absolutely. With the new album, do you have a tentative date for release?

BA: Yeah, September/October.

JE: Will you be launching that here (Brisbane)?

BA: Nationally! So, we’ll do that. For now, there’s going to be few gigs in April here, then Byron, down in Tassie and Western Australia and finishing up at Apollo Bay, then my home town the Gold Coast. Nice little run.

JE: Do you have collaborations in the mix or anyone that you would want to sit down with and do collaboration with?

BA: Yeah, I do actually! For now, the new album, just collaborating with my band, I think the difference between my first album and this one was that the first album I did was completely solo. It was a bit of an experiment. I played all the instruments, trying to figure out what would happen and it all kind of started something – which was awesome. Now, I’ve got this amazing band that are my mates and Paulie B [Bromley] who’s the producer and the guitarist in the band. He just finished up playing with The Beautiful Girls and his other band was George. He’s a great friend and very humble and amazing, he’s got a good knack for it, he’s very good at it and he’s a mate, so we’ll be making music together for the rest of our lives. Good to have him on board. And then, he has a mate who has been a friend for thirty years and plays bass in my band. Then there’s my drummer, a drummer called Grant – his nickname is ‘Ding Dong’ – he used to play for a band called Ray Mann Three, a band from Sydney and he’s a really good mate. We’re a big supporter of Ray Mann stuff. So yeah, that’s my collaboration, good little mix. Between that, that’s the core, so we’re writing together and playing together. There’s a heap of other artists. I got a lot of respect for Mat McHugh, you know, he fronts The Beautiful Girls – oh well, he is The Beautiful Girls. Had a few good conversations with Mat, he’s one of those musos that seems to play it from his own bat, you know, original music for over a decade, for ages. He always writes good songs, I’ve got a lot of respect for him. You know, we’ve talked about jamming in the future. And, of course, my band mates from Oka and we had a jam with Xavier [Rudd] last week, so Xavier’s in the mix there. We’re just jamming.

Bobby Alu’s “You Know” Single Tour dates are below:

Friday 5th April – Nayri Niara Festival, Bruny Island, TAS
Sunday 14th April – Hotel Brunswick, NSW
Friday 19th April – The Joynt, Brisbane, QLD
Saturday 20th April – Big Pineapple Festival, Woombye, QLD
Friday 26th – Sunday 28th – Apollo Bay Music Festical, VIC
Saturday 4th May – Mandala Arts Café, Gold Coast, QLD

Bluesfest Interview: Grace Barbé

Bluesfest Sunday
Photo and interview by KT Bell

So the world now knows, thanks to the Royal Couple’s recent Honeymoon, that Seychelles is a wonderful place to visit, but Grace Barbé [pronounced Bar-bay] has been telling Australian audiences about it’s beauty and culture, through song for years. We sat down with Grace before her sets at Bluesfest and found out a whole lot more about the island paradise than we bargained for!

KT Bell: For a lot of our readers who aren’t aware of your music, it’s more a celebrations of your culture with a lot of different influences. What can audiences expect from your show?
Grace Barbé: Well, the name Grace Barbé Afro Kreol, it was originally just Grace Barbé, but I attach the Afro Kreol now to it because the Afro gives you an idea of African funk music and the Kreol is my culture and who I am, so I thought it was really important to give that away. And people immediately think of those styles of music, which is exactly what I do, so it’s a combination of reggae, Indian Ocean Island music, Créole music and African music – Afro beat, Afro funk – and a little bit of pop.

KT: You sing in a couple  of different languages, what kind of effect does that have on your audience?
GB: I find that the Australian audience have been really good, very open and they have managed to embrace the style of music, because it’s feel good music. You can’t go wrong with reggae first of all, everybody loves reggae, so whether I sing it in English, French or Créole, it doesn’t really matter. They can groove, and I think the most important thing is if you are singing in a different language, make sure your music grooves and people can groove to it. If they cannot understand the language, they can understand the music and music connects everybody. I’m pretty lucky that I can sing in English, French and Créole, so I get to experiment and play, not just with the different rhythms, but with the languages as well and see how I can connect with the audience through those different styles and different languages.

KT: Timber and Steel focuses on folk, and the folk tradition has a lot of storytelling. How important is storytelling to you and your music?
GB: Absolutely, it’s just within the past few years that I’ve actually really paid attention to storytelling. I find that a lot of indigenous cultures use that. My culture, the islands were uninhabited, so nobody lived in Seychelles before it was discovered. So you have the European settlers coming in with the African slaves, settling in Seychelles, and through that, the Créole people were born. Then the Chinese and Indian came to settle to trade, spice trade. If you look at the [world] map, you’ve got the African continent, Mama Africa, then you’ve got the Middle East, Seychelles is right smack in the middle of the Indian Ocean, right there, tiny tiny. So it was a perfect trade route for the Arabs to hide away and trade and for the Europeans to actually settle. So that’s the history basically and the storytelling is all connected the the African culture, where I’m from. So, the past few years I realised that I’ve got to, especially learning about my culture, because I grew up in W.A., I was born in Seychelles, but the recent trip to Seychelles was fascinating because I got to learn a lot more about my culture. It’s only been in the past few years that I have realised I have something very special and very unique; where I’m from and the world don’t know much about it. And it’s my duty now as an artist getting it out there, to promote that. I’m the only Seychellois [pronounced Seychelle-wa] promoting Seychelles music out there, places like Bluesfest you know, you  wouldn’t find another Seychellois act on the bill. It’s very rare, we’re so small, 85,000 people, so it’s my duty, not just to promote my style of muisic, but I can use this as a fantastic tool to promote my culture, and other causes I’m passionate about, the environment, the culture and the music of course.

KT: Do you prefer playing these big festivals or a more intimate gig?
GB: Both. I still love my intimate settings because my style of music, it’s very soulful, and I’m very passionate about it and that’s where I started. I actually started in the community, the Seychellois living in Australia who don’t get that here. Again, starting to play with the community, to please the community and sing songs and folklore, Créole folklore music to the community. Then I started to be involved in outside communities and of course playing at venues, pubs and bars.

KT: So what can we expect to see from you for the rest of 2011?
GB: Well, I’ve got my second album coming out towards the end of the year. I’m releasing my single very soon, off the album. I’m playing my single tonight, I’m not giving it away, just to test it out, because I like to test my songs before I record it and see how it goes. So far it’s been very, very good, very positive response from the audience.

KT: I’m really looking forward to seeing you tonight and your album later this year. Let us know if you’re touring, I’m sure we’d like to see much more of you.
GB: Thank you very much.

Country of Origin:
Australia (Western Australia)
File Under:
Folkloric Afro-Reggae
Sounds Like:
An Aussie Soul Sister

Spotlight On: Cass Eager

Image courtesy of Cass Eager

Another artist I have enjoyed and yet neglected to share on the Timber and Steel stage! I was first introduced to Cass Eager back in 2009 and had her perform at a folk, blues and roots festival I used to run. Battling against the inclement weather, as the clouds parted and the sun finally shone, Cass’ sweet, soulful voice echoed across the broad green field rejoicing in the title track from her 2007 debut album and a crowd favourite ‘Beautiful Day’. It is a moment I that will stay with me for years to come. I was delighted to discover recently that she has a new band, The Velvet Rope, backing her and a brand new five-track EP Down on my Knees for us all to discover.

I was trying to find a way to describe Cass’ sound, and it is best summed up in a quote from website: “Her voice and music are sometimes funky, at other times soaked with an alt-country twang, and sometimes she rocks it out down and dirty. But when you get down to it, the woman is a sworn soul sister through and through.” In no way new to the scene, Cass Eager has toured extensively both and at home and overseas, has appeared at some of Timber and Steel’s favourite festivals including Peats Ridge, Bluesfest and US showcase SXSW, and performed more faves John Butler Trio, The Cat Empire, Ash Grunwald, Lior and Jeff Lang to name just a few.

Most interesting is her close ties to bluesy rock trio, Chase the Sun. My initial introduction to Cass was with only accompaniment by the trio’s blues guitarist Jan Rynsaardt who was a part of her original band for her debut album. She has played a number of times with them in the past and is currently touring with the Trio and her new band, The Velvet Rope, includes Chase the Sun‘s Bassist Ryan Van Gennip! But there must be some magic to the combinations, because not only has Cass Eager been nominated for Best Group and Best Female Vocalist for the 2011 Australia Blues ‘Chain’ Awards, but Chase the Sun are also nominated for Best Group and Best Album – should make for some interesting times on their Family Vacation Tour together.

But back to the woman in question, not only is she a fabulous musician who can transition smoothly between genres, from reggae to roots detouring through folk, blues and soul, she also chooses a wonderful variety of instruments for each track to transcend any one style. From using beautiful native Australian bird calls to open her debut album and employing slide guitar, ukelele, harmonica and stompbox to colour each track, to a cheeky Christmas release, Santa’s Got Soul, full of re-worked classics that have none of that chintzy jingle bell sound, and arriving at a new destination in her musical and physical travels to deliver a “a darker, sweatier, more layered sound” complete with slide ukelele and castanets.

And if all of that doesn’t sound like enough from just one artist, she’s played for Prince Harry on his recent Australian visit and was asked to give him guitar lessons, she takes much of her inspiration from her humanitarian efforts in East Timor playing numerous benefits for Timor and other causes and has toured the Middle East and Solomon Islands entertaining our Armed Forces. Goodness knows when she finds time to write.

No matter what backing band she is with, Cass Eager, while moving away from just straight folk and roots, is well worth seeing wherever you can and I’m looking forward to exploring her latest EP.

Country of Origin: Australia (Sydney)
Sounds Like: Janis Joplin and Ben Harper’s love child
File Under: Roots, alt-country, soul, blues


Bob Marley’s Final Performance Released

Bob Marley

The man whose name is ubiquitous with reggae music, Bob Marley, will have his last ever performance released as a double album next year. Recorded at Pittsburgh’s Stanley Theatre in September 1980 (less than a year before cancer took him), the record will feature Marley’s concert in its entirety. The record, titled Live Forever: The Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA, September 23, 1980, will be released on the 1st February next year. The full track listing is below:

1. Greetings
2. Natural Mystic
3. Positive Vibration
4. Burnin’ and Lootin’
5. Them Belly Full
6. The Heathen
7. Running Away
8. Crazy Baldhead
9. War/No More Trouble
10. Zimbabwe
11. Zion Train
12. No Woman No Cry

1. Jamming
2. Exodus
3. Redemption Song
4. Coming in From the Cold
5. Could You Be Loved
6. Is This Love
7. Work
8. Get Up Stand Up

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