I was a folkie first. I am a 60’s Aquarian child, after all. My fave kind of country is country folk, so this is right in my basket. Also, I am a history major. So I can’t really go wrong with listening to the songs and stories of Bill Jackson.
Like a lot of artists that I love, I didn’t stumble on them until I came to live in Victoria. I had heard Bill’s name, but that was it. I bought an album, which was a compilation of many artists and went to the gig that matched the album, and even though I knew most of the artists and loved them, I only knew the one song by Bill. He was one of the stars of the day, in a star studded day.
If you threw into a big pot: Bob Dylan, Craig Stewart, Darren Colston, Lloyd Clarke, Levon Helm, Bill Chambers, Paul Kelly and Kevin Johnson, you would probably get something like Bill Jackson.
Even though this is Vol 3, it doesn’t matter. I have all three albums, now and even though they are connected, they don’t have to follow each other. That is not to say that I don’t recommend that you get all three, it is a great idea to have the whole set.
These songs are easy to relate to, as Australians and as members of the human race. I am proud to say that my grandmother was second cousin to Ned Kelly, thus my Irish side is well exposed. I totally relate to She Rode Like The Wind and Worth our Due. As far as I know, my nine nationalities were all free settlers, but I have always had sympathy and empathy for convicts, so tick Convict Blood. How cool that Bill and Ross have a man in their family who became a founding member of the Australian Union Movement and had a hand in a great strike in The Shed.
I live in Gippsland now, so Sons of Gippsland struck a chord with me, and the Boer War, which was another one of those wars that Australians gave a lot of lives to for the British.
A country folk song without whiskey in it is really not worth calling it a country folk song! there are two here, I take my whiskey neat (which of course is about more than whiskey) and Cut and Run.
Having said that I am from 9 nationalities, it should explain why I can relate to That’s Why I’m here. It is so relevant to a lot of Australians who are made up of many parts.
I am not only a product of the 60’s, I am a perfect example of all that rubbed off on me there. The politics, the music, the essence of what was learned, what was lost and what was discovered. These songs remind me of all of that.
Apart from great alliteration, Summer on the Somme is a stark reminder of the waste that comes from war, the sadness and the huge loss that can break hearts and a country.
The Ballad of Billy and Rosie is Bill’s family’s story, but it could be anybody’s story from this era. My parents lived through the Depression and World War II and met in the 1950’s. You inherit the stories, the truths, the myths and legends from your parents and you forge your own life, but you are always touched, somehow by those times.
Jesus take the wheel is a song about a person who gives a down and out beggar on the street some small change to make himself guild free – to quote Bill. I guess we have all seen this happen, quite a lot from guys in flash suits and ties and women with Gucci accessories, but there are some genuine people out there who give for the sake of giving.
Bill and Ross do that, they touch on subjects that we can all relate to and understand. I approached this review from that perspective, because I think that is what country music and folk music have in common and because it is so comforting to hear three chords and the truth in a world that doesn’t always provide that.
This album and the other two in the trilogy (which are different in styles but are alike in messages), provide a lesson or two and they are easy to listen to as well. That is not always an easy combination, but it is with Bill.
A slice of history, a slice of us and a slice of Australia. Beautifully played and the message is received. Covid delayed this, like it did many albums, but it is a beauty.
All songs written by Bill Jackson and Ross Jackson
That’s Why I’m Here
Sons of Gippsland
Cut and Run
Summer on the Somme
The Ballad of Billy and Rosie
I take My Whiskey Neat
She Rode Like the Wind
Jesus Take the Wheel
Worth our Due
Bill Jackson: Vocals/Acoustic Guitar, Harp
Kerryn Tolhurst: Mandolin/Electric Guitar/ Tricone Guitar/Lap Steel/Keyboards/Percussion/ Acoustic Guitar
Stephen Hadley: Upright Bass
Greg Field: Fiddle
Paddy Montgomery: Yayli Tanbur
Mischa Herman: Pennywhistle
Shannon Bourne: Electric guitar
Ruth Hazelton: Clawhammer Banjo
Produced by Kerryn Tolhurst.