Totally Biased Fan Review: Riley Catherall – Venture in Vain


A few months ago, this young fella pm’d me on facebook asking whether I would like to listen to his music or not. Ahem . …. I am but a humble fan of country music. I should have been asking him whether I would like to listen to his music. This young man is just awesome. He is a very special artist.

He plays the kind of music that I love the most, a little bit Shane Nicholson, a lot bit Riley. He writes about things that I can relate to, a lot about us. There is an Aussie thread here that is unmistakeable. A few sweet melodies, beautiful harmonies, gentle, sweet tunes with meaning and a future that is so bright, yes, that you have to wear sunglasses over sunglasses.

This young fella is a lovely bloke, who has only conversed with me over facebook pm’s and his own page, but he probably tapped in to what I love most music wise, songs that mean something, say something and make you feel something.

I missed out on his song launches because I was tripled booked. The joy and the difficulty of being a Victorian resident now is that you have a massive amount of riches when it comes to the best of Australian Country. Even folks like Allan Caswell recognise this.

I could listen to this young fella all day. I am not sure what led him to contact me in the first place, but who am I to question why? I am just so glad that he did. His music speaks to me, like the music of Darren Colston, Shane Nicholson, Lachlan Bryan, Michael Waugh, Mike Carr, Allan Caswell, Luke O’Shea, Brad Butcher and many other guys do.

Beautiful songs that will speak to everybody for years to come. Keep your ears and eyes open for this young fella.


Watered Down Man

House that’s meant for more


Maybe you were right

Meet me there



Totally Biased Fan Review: BBU at the Spotted Mallard – Melbourne Launch of “Weeds” – 17 November, 2018


After all of the years that I have gone to Felicity Urquhart and Kevin Bennett’s gigs, I have never officially met them. It took this Tamworth girl to move to a different state to actually do that. Considering that Felicity is a fellow Tamworth lass and I have reviewed many of their gigs and albums, it is very strange. Lyn Bowtell is a different matter. The poor gal knows that she is stuck with me, we’re a bit like cousins who keep meeting up at family reunions and always remember everything that we’ve done. All three are amazing talents individually and in other incarnations, and together, they are just pure magic.

If you are not impressed with their humour, their stories and above all their music and beautiful harmonies then you are either dead or very hard to please. You don’t have to be a country music fan to admire their obvious talents, or to be entertained by their stories and their incredible voices.

If you were putting a trio of country musos together, in many ways, these three would not be an obvious combination, on paper or on past recordings, but for two albums now and many awards and performances, it is like they are triplets.

(You can read my reviews of their previous two albums together on here and on my previous blogs, as well as other reviews on gigs and individual albums).

They are up for some more Golden Guitars in January at Tamworth. These three can sing anything. There is very little left for them to prove in their individual or combined careers.  Anything that sounds this good has to be shared with as many people as possible, so I hope that they keep recording and performing together and alone.

It is always a great sign when you see stars in the crowd. A good artist always appreciates a good artist. Gretta Ziller, Cathy Dobson, Clint Wilson, Rose Zita Falko amongst others were there.

And all of us who wish that they had as much talent as these three have in their little fingers were there too. An easy listening, sweet chilling, relaxed evening. Bravo.


Totally Biased Fan Review: Never Knew I Was Country – Benny Allen



I met Benny for the first time this year at the Winnebago Room at the new Caravan Club. Some band called Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes and some trees called The Weeping Willows were supporting them. We were both in the crowd. Five seconds into a just by chance conversation and it was like we had been buddies for years.  I had heard one of Benny’s songs before, but that was it. Sometimes, it is more than enough to get you liking someone’s music.

Obviously, from the all-star, not too shabby cast on this album, other people like Benny’s music too. He wrote all the songs, with only one co-write, the much loved single, Day One of Missing You, which opens proceedings, with some promising young fella named Allan Caswell.

In a year which has boasted some of the best Australian Country Music on record (pun intended), this album has been one of the ones that I have been looking forward to most. Benny sings the kind of songs that I love best. I am also prone to like singer/songwriters who play the piano….it is a quirk of mine.

If you get blokes like Glen Hannah, and Mr and Mr Magic, Fell and Carpenter on your team, you really can’t go too far wrong.  The story behind the single and first track on the album and how you would interpret it if you didn’t know the story, is typical of these songs. I like that. I like songs that are open to interpretation. I also like listening to a song 10 times and getting new ideas and thoughts about the song, like reading a much loved book many times or watching a movie or play many times and seeing and hearing different things. You can do this with a Benny Allen song.

Some of Benny’s songs on the surface seem simple and easy to listen to and understand. However, there are layers and different meanings and that to me, is the sign of a good song.

The best old country songs were simple, the best new country songs are complex. When you get songs from any era which are both simple and complex, then you get a great song. Lachlan Bryan, Luke O’Shea, Shane Nicholson, Darren Colston, amongst others, do this. Benny does it too.

Like all good country albums, there are songs about love, loss, drinking, the bloke upstairs and hard work and weekends and a war song.

You will be out of your chair and on to the dance floor when you hear When You Say I do.

At times, Benny sounds like Elvis Costello, at other times he is a mixture of Paul Kelly and I can hear a bit of Luke O’Shea in his lyrics and tunes, not so much the voice, but the sound of his music and the meaning of his words.

In the last few years, there have been a lot of war songs, which is natural, given the number of war anniversaries but We will remember is one of the better ones. Grab yourself a drink couldn’t be anymore country if it tried. I can see people swaying at gigs and holding up a beer or wine. It also has the feel of my favourite country music singer/songwriter of all time, Kris Kristofferson.  I love the duet with one of my favourite rising stars, Renee Jonas, When I’m With You Tonight and the final track, The Lord Above. My favourite song on the album is  All That I Could Ever Want. I was actually singing along towards the end of the first play….that is an awesome sign of a cool song.

The guitar work on this album is excellent….Mr Hannah, you’ve outdone yourself this time.

This album was well worth the wait. I love every minute of it.  Benny will be doing his Melbourne launch this weekend and another one in Tamworth. I will be going to the Tamworth gig. I am triple booked this weekend.

I had to listen to it with my headphones on my computer as my ears are not the best at the moment, but my ears do not deceive me. I can’t wait to crank this up on my stereo soon.

A big Yee Haa from me.

Day One of Missing You


Never Knew I Was Country

Thank God for Saturday

When You Say I Do

We Will Remember

Grab Yourself a Drink

All That I Could Ever Want

When I’m with You Tonight

Shelter from the Rain

The Lord Above

Released: 23 Nov 2018
℗ 2018 Benny Allen distributed by Social Family Records (Australia) Pty Ltd

All songs written by Benny Allen, apart from Track 1, Benny Allen and Allan Caswell

Produced and Recorded by Matt Fell, Mastered by Michael Carpenter

Benny Allen: Piano and Vocals

Glen Hannah: Guitar

Josh Schuberth: Drums

Matt Fell: Bass Percussion, Backing Vocals, Additional Keys, Organ and General Magic

Glenn Cunningham: Backing Vocals

Bill Risby: Piano

Renee Jonas: Vocals



Totally Biased Fan Review: No Wonder The World is Exhausted – Ben Leece

Ben Leece

Like Joshua Hedley’s album cover earlier this year, Ben’s album cover is very retro, and though you shouldn’t judge an album by its cover, it was a great start. The whole album package is fabulous, with all of the traditional things included, pics, song lyrics and credits and thank yous. Ahh, does this old music fan good.

Ben wrote all of the songs….tick. Shane Nicholson produced it…..tick tick …..Katie Brianna did backing vocals….tick.

The album was produced on the Central Coast of New South Wales…..the boy is from Quirindi…we have two connections right away. I was raised in Tamworth and Gosford, so I feel at home with this fella. On top of that, he loves to read….another tick from this ‘old school’ librarian.

All of that stuff aside, I have only just heard about Ben. With a song on the recently released Take Me To Town compilation and the subsequent gig at The Spotted Mallard in Brunswick last week, I now have had a taste of the content of this album, and the taste is full of flavour.

Like when I first heard a few bars from Imogen Clark and Allison Forbes and a couple of other rare gems, I knew that I was on to something good after a few lines. Most of us walked away from the marathon gig last week with a Ben Leece album in hand or at least the thought that he shone as brightly as some of the more well known artists on the day and in some cases, he was much better.

Having Shane Nicholson heavily involved in the album is a major plus. The man has the Midas touch. With the beautiful Katie Brianna supplying backing vocals and having Jeff McCormack mastering it, it is hard to go wrong. Pete Drummond, Jason Walker and Luke Moller are not so shabby either!

The album has a comfortable slippers feel but it is, on the other hand, enjoyably different to a lot of music doing the rounds. The album is over all too soon. It moves very quickly, although the songs are smooth and slow for the most part, with a sprinkling of more up tempo tunes.

It is so easy to listen to. Nothing (Not Anymore) is an instant favourite and probably a shower song contender this year at the Kazzies. It is very catchy but gentle at the same time.

Ben calls his songs “silly” in his notes, but they are far from that. Whether it is the Nicholson touch which makes them “unsilly” or not, the end product is 10 diverse and interesting songs which will be played many times on my stereo.

The song that stuck with me after last week’s gig was Highway Not The Dream.  On replay, it is even better. I like the steady rhythm and the lyrics are both playful and thoughtful.

Ben’s vocals vary according to the songs. He can sing a few octaves higher than a lot of guys, but then he can go crusty as well as sweet on others. His music is hard to categorise but it definitely has that Alt. Country/Folk/bluesy thread. Whatever genre you like to slot it into, it is just damn fine music. I was surprised to learn his age – 36 – he looks and acts much younger, not that 36 is old….I am almost 20 years older and I still feel young. His music is fresh and new too, which adds to the myth.

The musicianship is top notch, which you would expect from this gang of players. Sunny Side is a very country track…..with just the right amount of twang in the melody.

A lot of the tracks are delivered with a bright and breezy tone but they have a deeper meaning. There is serious lyric content here. Another one of my favourites here is Smoke Signals…..there are some very clever lyrics and some clichés which are manipulated slightly to fit in with the rhyme.

It may well be the year of the Ben in Australian Country Music. I keep running into fine Bens in this country world. They are almost taking over the Lukes!

Ben has the ability to change up in his music, so he can cross several lines.  The more up tempo A Hole fades into an almost The Weight intro (The Band) feel to Apple Tree, which could also fit into a Neil Young catalogue as well.

I can imagine Ben and Shane having some political conversations over a lemonade or two. Ben is subtle and sometimes not so subtle in delivering the messages, like Shane does. The more I play this album (up to the 5th play now), the more you catch the innuendo and the explanations of the songs.

He is definitely a talent to watch……and of course, required listening.


Totally Biased Fan Review: Marie Hodson at the Bayview Country Art Club with Dan Ebbels, Sunday, 11 November, 2018


House concerts are always fun. They are very personal, intimate gigs with good company, good food and always good music. It was my first time at Bittern and hopefully, it won’t be my last.

I am fairly familiar with the artist, though!  I have been a long time fan of Marie Hodson, who lives just down the road from where I grew up. Marie is one of the few singers that I know who can really sing a cover song and make it her own.

On this occasion, she ventured south to launch her new album, which I have reviewed on this blog recently. Marie mixes it up with all of her songs coming from classic country music songwriters, but they aren’t always their most famous songs.

Having performed a tribute gig to Patsy Cline, you would have to expect a few of her songs to be included. There were also songs from Marie’s previous albums and Dan also sang a couple of songs. Marie sang a lot of classics, some that people knew straight off, others that were surprises.

It was a nice, lazy way to spend a Sunday afternoon, listening to music that is extremely easy to listen to and to sing along to.  I am sure that we were all thoroughly mellowed out by the end of the day.

Check out Marie Hodson’s music while you can… there are murmurs of retirement, so don’t miss her if she is in your town.

Take Me to Town – Launch of the 3cd album set: Australian Alternative Country Compilation – 13 acts

Spotted Mallard


Saturday 10th November

Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes, The Weeping Willows, Bill Jackson, Katie Brianna, Ben Leece, Peta Caswell, Dan Brodie, Dave favours and the Roadside Ashes, Adam Young and the Down Main, Eaten by Dogs, Skyscraper Stan and the downtown flats.




It is always hard when you run a marathon of music together to keep it together. The Spotted Mallard has recently extended the venue to incorporate the bottom floor, which is a very intimate, cosy and quaint venue. The upstairs is still big and unique. Between the two floors, we trudged, willingly, between gigs. It started at about 3.30pm and finished a little bit after we left at about 11.30. It was a big day. Headed up by Golden Guitar Winners and leaders of the Alt. Country Movement, Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes with some guests, The Weeping Willows, who did their own set, there were some lovely surprises and old favourites. Peta Caswell was fabulous. Ben Leece (album review coming soon) was fantastic and Bill Jackson and one of my favourites, Katie Brianna were stars. Adam Young was pretty cool, with guest Crank Williams who also appears on the album.

The day showcased some of the best Alt. Country, part of the 47 artists who compiled the Take Me To Town albums (see review). Of course, it was hard to have everyone there, I am guessing that this show will go on the road and pick up other artists from other states along the way who appeared on the album. It was a mammoth undertaking to put this show together.

Despite some technical problems, it was a great day of music and proof that the Alt. Country scene in Australia is booming. Aside from the 47 artists on the album, there are about 500-600 top quality Alt. Country/Americana artists in this country who could appear on other albums and concerts… least.

We have a lot to be thankful for in Australian Country Music, and it starts right here.


Totally Biased Fan Review: Beccy Cole The Lioness Tour – with Libby O’Donovan and the girls and guys of twang

Village Green Hotel


Friday 9th November




I have said many times that Beccy Cole is the best entertainer that I have ever seen. She is the complete package. I have seen some of the best that the world has had to offer, including my favourite artist: James Taylor, who is awesome, but Beccy LIVE is just amazing. That explains why this was my 47th Beccy Cole gig. Sure, there are fans out there who have probably seen her more, but as someone who is somewhat particular in who one sees, it is the biggest wrap that I can give an artist.

I have seen James, Carole, Elton, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Reba, and many others, and this woman is still the best. She makes you laugh, think, cry and leave a gig feeling pretty amazing. Backed by some of Australia’s best, including her wife, Libby O’Donovan, who opened the show with Kelly Brouhaha, and Kazzie award winning drummer, Ali Foster as well as the guys of twang, the long Lioness Tour coupled with other tours that Beccy has been doing has been a marathon.

She played songs off her latest album as well as old favourites. My favourite album is still her last album, Sweet Rebecca, followed closely by LIVE at Lizottes, but the latest album, Lioness is pretty awesome, it is a close third. Libby’s album is one of my favourites of the year in any genre so it was always going to be a great night. It is more than singing and the quality of the songs, however. Beccy knows how to entertain. The crowd was subdued by Cole’ crowds standards and Beccy understands her audiences. She plays to them without losing her Coleness.  I think that she assesses her crowds quite early in a gig and she plays to their needs and wants. This makes her a very unselfish and egoless performer. At the same time, she is herself, sometimes cheeky, bawdy and always, always, honest.

She mixes it up, aiming to please all, and she makes you feel good. She tells her stories through songs and plain speak. Her songs tell her life story, in all its shades. She fills in the gaps and elucidates with her vocab.

The crowd was a mix of Cole devotees and new fans. If you have never been to a Beccy Cole gig, it can be surprising. If you have, you know that you are going to get 120% and more from her and her band.

Afterwards, she was lovely enough with Libby and Kelly and Ali to have a chat, even though they must have been buggered after a big tour.

Thanks champ….I look forward to the next 47 or more gigs.


Kazzies Honour Roll – 2018 Awards to be announced in December.


Kazzies 2016



Summary of The Kazzies, 2017
December 9, 2017 ~ Leave a comment
Sorry it took so long!
I left three off!
Video of the Year: High Hopes – Carpenter Caswell
Instrumental of the Year _ Ashleigh Dallas – Pushin’ The Bow
Album of the Year – The April Family – What We Know Now
Entertainer of the Year – Darren Coggan
Special Achievement Award – Fanny Lumsden
Male Vocalist of the Year – Brad Butcher
Female Vocalist of the Year – Aleyce Simmonds and Gretta Ziller
Not Just A player in A Band – Michael Carpenter
Female Song of the Year – Queen of Boomtown – Gretta Ziller
Band Song of the Year – Someone That I Never Knew – The April Family
Duo Song of the Year – Stuie and Camille – Wanda
Female Album of the Year – Aleyce Simmonds – More than Meets the Eye
Male Song of the Year – Rick Hart – To The Grave
Ambassador of the Year – Aleyce Simmonds
Male album of the year – From The Bottom of A Well – Brad Butcher
Trad. Country Album of the Year – Walk in Circles – Sandra Humphries
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi, – Lloyd Clarke I’ll Sing You A Song
Concept Album of The Year – Nomad – Angus Gill
Vocal Collaboration – Darren Coggan and Felicity Urquhart – Inasmuch
Roger Lloyd DJ award – Beth Brown – Yass Fm
Audrey Auld Courage Awards – Chalkie White, Merelyn Carter, Kate Hindle, Alice Benfer, Bob Browne and Grant Goldman
Stan Coster Fair Dinkum Songwriter Award – Lloyd Clarke
International Album – The Lonely, The Lonesome and The Gone – Lee Ann Womack
Duo Album: Tahi, Camille and Stuie
Band Album: The April Family – What We Know Now
Songwriter of the Year – Allan Caswell
Band of the Year – The April Family
Duo of the Year – Carter and Carter
Jump For Joy Awards – Phoebe Jay and Rory Phillips
The Wendy Wood Purple Mic Shower Song Award – Matt Henry, Garden of Needs
Karl Broadie More than just a song award – Little C Word – Michael Waugh
Special mention in this category to Amber Lawrence and Travis Collins for Boxes
Nathaniel O’Brien Shooting Star Awards – Tyson Lucas – Male, Kora Naughton – Female
Mall of Fame – Bob Browne and Grant Goldman
Producer of the Year – Michael Carpenter
John Minson Award for best Country Music Show Three Chords and the Truth – Jen Mize and Paddy McHugh
For all the nominations, please look at previous posts. Congrats to you all, you are all winners.