Totally Biased Fan Review: Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes with The Weeping Willows – Winnebago Lounge, Caravan Club, Sunday 2nd September

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I loved the old Caravan Club.  I travelled down from Sydney on 4 occasions just to go there to gigs. It had a great atmosphere and the best acts. It was also close to the station, which is good for a public transport gal like myself. That said, times change and public transport situation aside (and I have friends to take me to the new location), the new place does have elements of the old place and it certainly does have the same great acts and some new ones now and then.

I hadn’t seen Lachlan and The Wildes for a while, they have been busy touring overseas and in other parts of the country. It was good to hear them again, singing songs from several of their albums, including their fabulous 2018 album, Some Girls Quite Like Country Music. I now have the t-shirt to prove it and I will wear it with pride.  I have said it before, but I love it when Lachlan plays the piano. Of course, DCaf had to play 5,000 instruments and honorary Wildes, The Weeping Willows, joined them for most of the set. Shaun just plays quietly in the background while the others do the talking, but this is the best line up of the Wildes.  It is nice having them all back together.

I got ahead of myself though. The Weeping Willows started proceedings It was an awesome set as usual and they must be sick of seeing my face. They did well just to stand up on stage after a massive year of touring and appearing at just about every festival in Australia lately.  Apart from that, they have been recording with other artists and they got married! What a big 2018 they have had and it isn’t over yet. They are heading off for a tour of the USA soon as well as appearing at several festivals here and supporting other artists in the coming months….no wonder that they don’t have time to record another album yet! As always, Andy’s picking and Laura’s beautiful voice dominated and they sang songs from both of their albums as well as a couple of new songs and a cover. I had heard these recently at Kristy Cox’s gig but they were brand new to a lot of the crowd and they went down well.

Lachlan and The Wildes even featured a song from their first album (yes, I do have it) as well as songs from other albums which was good. Many acts tend to only feature their current one. It is nice to hear a smattering of songs from all of the albums. The room was packed but comfortably and featured many of the usual suspects, devotees of these two fine acts who always thoroughly deserve a full house.  Fine musicianship, murder ballads, beautiful harmonies, folks who obviously know each other inside out and have an amazing chemistry and songs that are rich in thought and composition – what more could a fan ask for?

I always feel inspired to write after I hear Lachlan play. He is one of the finest singer/songwriters in the country and he never lets me down in his gigs or on his albums.

Bravo to two fine acts, may there always be encores.

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: John Flanagan String Band at Merri Creek Tavern, Northcote, Saturday 1st September

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I finally got to see John Flanagan LIVE!  In an interesting move, the first half of the gig was dedicated to a favourite band of the String Band, Stray Birds which most people in the crowd hadn’t heard of, but they were good songs and each member of the band contributed in presenting a story about the now broken up band and their music. It was a unique tribute, considering that most tributes these days are to dead rock and country stars or megafamous bands that are too pricey to go and see.  Good music is good music and it doesn’t really matter about the fame level. Everyone in the band was in good form and played and sang with a high energy and joy level. Their passion for the music was obvious.

However, after a short break and some departures from the band, John started to sing the songs that we know and love from the songwriter that we know and love – himself. It was great to hear all the songs that I have been spinning on his cds. I would have loved to have heard a few more of his songs, but a night only lasts so long. The venue was sold out and we were all pretty jam packed into a small space but time went fast and my leg recovered after some quick stretches at intermission.  With standing room only, there was no room for air guitar, though I was tempted!  I only managed a few pics as it was hard to get a pic without someone’s head in the way. It was good to see that someone of John’s talent was able to have a sellout crowd on a busy Melbourne evening. The average age of the crowd was late twenties to thirties, which is great.  Together with John’s parents, I think that I was the oldest person in the room and I loved every minute of it.

John sounds as good LIVE as he does on record. The band were all cool, very polished and they were having so much fun. They were as crammed on the stage as we were in the room but it didn’t really worry anybody that much.

The folky, bluesy, easy stylings of the band made for a very relaxing Saturday night. I had been waiting for a long time to see this mob in the flesh and I wasn’t let down a bit. All the songs were great, we all left wanting more and rest assured, the next time that I see a gig on in my vicinity, I will be going to it.

Thanks for the music, the stories and the laughs. It was a cool night.

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Roots and Branches – Kristy Cox and The Weeping Willows: Sale Greyhound Club, Sale

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A perfect example of showing how a good old Aussie gal can make it in the big time to little or no fanfare and come back to our shores and knock ’em dead and go to places outside the big cities to do so. Kristy Cox is the real deal. She hit the ground running from Nashville on Thursday and has performed every day since she arrived. She is in Bendigo today. She is mixing it on this tour with The Weeping Willows, who can bend to just about any style of music, including the 79 types of country. Our Bluegrass Queen, with the Prince and Princess of Alt. Country/Americana. Match made in Heaven.

The Weeping Willows opened the show with some of their hits off their two fine albums and a couple of newies. One that I had heard, the other one which I hadn’t, and I think that it might be their biggest hit yet if they release it as a single. Can’t wait for album number 3!  They sandwiched this tour in with the European trip that they just did with Lachlan Bryan and the Wildes and Imogen Clark and an American Tour in a litlle while, which will feature a couple of gigs with Kristy.  Their gentle humour, amazing chemistry and beautiful harmonies, together with Andy’s fine pickin’ and Laura’s expert thigh slapping and egg shaking, make them a pretty special pair. Of course, I am totally biased.

Kristy sang a few off each album with great aplomb. I really don’t know how she did it,  looking awesome and singing and playing with gusto.  I would be off my face after all that jetlag, travelling and performing!  There was a lot to choose from in Victoria last night, but I wasn’t going to miss Kristy.  No big ego here, and God knows, she has a reason or two to be proud and excited about all of her achievements in the U.S.A. and here.

As a fan, I am very proud. As an Australian, I am even prouder. With Hugh and Josh along for the ride and The Weeping Willows doubling up to back her up on guitar and vocals, it was a pretty great combo.

I was sitting at a table with fellow rowdy country and bluegrass fans, and we were probably the loudest in the crowd, with Kristy’s folks and a dancer who showed us a step or two.

The Sale Greyhound Club is quite a lovely set up, with a beaut room to have music in. The crowd was pretty strong in numbers considering that there was lots on.  They were a bit quiet, but I hope that was just because they were taking the music in.

We were very lucky to have such quality folks come to sing and play for us in the country.  This tour is on the back of Kristy’s recent release, Ricochet. It has some awesome songs on it, including my favourite which Kristy sang, Sweet English Rose, a collaboration with Allan Caswell.

I reviewed this album earlier in the year on Country As, which you can go to by following the link on the side here.

It was a shame that Kristy’s hubby, Travis List couldn’t be there too, but their young daughter Adelaide has had a whirlwind few days and he was on parent sitting duties!

Kristy is a Golden gal, The Weeping Willows are a Golden Couple. There was a lot of sun shining down on us last night, despite the chilly wind and rain outside.

Thank you for the music. Happy travels, Kristy.

Totally Biased Fan Review: Sally-Anne Whitten and Allison Forbes at The Retreat

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This will be a totally, totally biased review. These gals are my “Tamworth Sisters”. I was so chuffed that they were appearing together (with Alwyn and Trev and Alwyn’s son) in my new home state. I recently saw them in Tamworth and Allison was here earlier in the year, so I have been lucky. Not only are Sal and Allison two of my fave singers (and people) but together with one of Australia’s finest guitarists and producers, Alwyn Aurisch and at one of my fave Melbourne pubs, The Retreat at Brunswick, a girl can’t really ask for more.

Allison was up first, with Alwyn and Trev joining her for a few tracks and Sally-Anne coming up for a few songs too. The two have written songs with each other and have performed with each other on albums and at gigs. It shows. They work with each other well.

Sally-Anne calls her music funktry or soultry. Allison calls hers punktry. I think that whatever the label, they are both amazing singers and songwriters and they always deliver.

Sally-Anne featured a lot of the songs from her latest album as well as some songs from her last album and some classics. Sal and I have talked about our music heroes over the years and we have even turned up at the same gigs sometimes! It is not a surprise that her influences (and mine) have effected her music.

The crowd was appreciative. They listened to all of the music and sang along, we even had some folks meandering through to the beer garden who stopped and paused to listen for a while.

To get such quality performers for free at a great venue is an awesome thing. These two girls never fail. They often surprise newcomers to their music and they are always good value.

If you get a chance to spin one of their discs or go to see them live, please do. These gals are two of the best in the country in any genre.

 

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Andrew Swift,Megan Cooper, and special guests Mitch Power and Gretta Ziller – House concert at Monica and Bruce’s.

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A lovely evening with great music, company and food….gosh Monica!  I finally got to hear Swifty sing more than a hand  full of songs. He wasn’t very well but you would never know, he hit all the high notes and sang most of my faves from the album…..the album that not all of us can pronounce! (It is one of the best of the year though….see my review…it will be on Country As – link is here). He was well supported by Megan Cooper who launched her album down here last week. It is a beauty too, also reviewed on this blog.

House concerts are great for us fans, probably more so than for the artists, as we get to talk to them and hound them a bit….sorry….I am very passionate about music and I tend to get excited around my faves. I don’t mean to be pushy, but what an opportunity. Beautifully assisted by the wonderful Queen of Boomtown (multi-award Kazzie winning and big award nominated,) Gretta Ziller and the Muso/Comedian/nice guy, Mitch Power.

We were very spoiled by 4 of the best Indies around. Fabulous music, stories and all artists had a great sense of humour. It was a fun night, with all of the elements that a country music fan wants. The Alt. Country scene in Melbourne is alive and well and all of those from different states are welcome to come down and enjoy the appreciative crowds and warm atmosphere….even in Winter.

Monica and Bruce do a a beaut job of presenting these evenings. They always have a great mix of artists on and it is a gig that I would gladly pay 100 bucks to go to.

It was just like being at home with the family, singing along to familiar songs and having a good laugh.

Totally Biased Fan Review – Hats Off to Hats Off – A review of the Tamworth mid year festival

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Hats Off to Tamworth is the mid-year much cooler Country Music Festival in Tamworth. Above are a few pictures of some of the gigs that I went to. I kicked off on my arrival on Thursday night when I went to see Sandra Humphries (on her farewell tour before retirement), Anthony Taylor, who has been around for a while but is now well and truly hitting his straps with an amazing album this year, and veteran, Alby Pool at South Tamworth Bowlo. A packed crowd listened and watched as the three artists sang mainly traditional country songs with a few originals thrown in. There were a lot of musos in the crowd who appreciate these three very much. I hope that Sandra reconsiders one day, and after a well earned rest comes back and sings us some more songs. We will miss her.  It was a good way to start the festival off.

On Friday, I did one of the first of my live crosses to Gippsland FM and met up with my best friend. Then on to see Don Costa at Shopping World, which is like not only traditional but mandatory when you go to Tamworth at either festival. Don sings country standards and he sings them well. For a sample, I will be reviewing his latest album soon. Don sweetly gave me a mention. In the end, I am just a fan.

Then on to see a few of the Tamworth Songwriters Association mob at Tamworth City Bowlo. I met up with may mate, Melissa Robertson (more later) and Kylie Adams-Collier and caught her set there. I also saw Brendan Smoother for most of his set. I had to leave then, as I amusingly related, I had to go and see Brendan Smoother!  I did beat him to his gig! The Brendans was a definite highlight for me. It was set at Carmen’s, a lovely Italian restaurant. Brendan Smoother and Brendan Nawrocki played some well known songs as well as those known best to us fans. I was honoured by Brendan N when he played the song that he sent for my birthday via video and facebook a few years ago. Brendan S sang me via request, what I call The Chimney Song, off his album. The boys have something special planned with some others soon and I can’t wait.

On Saturday, I headed off to Centrepoint Arcade to hear my mate Melissa Robertson sing a few songs. As always, she was top notch. Melissa will have a new album soon and currently has a top 10 song with Red Head at Heart. I also caught a couple of songs from Bec Nethery (the real red head) before I had to head off to the P.O. Hotel to catch mine host, Wendy Wood. Ah, a sweet voice and a great gal.

Off then to the Kora Naughton album launch at The Family Hotel (Moonshiners). Hosted by David Carter (Carter and Carter), a high energy spectacular by Kora was supported by pocket dynamo, Rory Phillips and a host of Country Music Academy graduates as well as a hot band  – Simon Johnson, Rod Motbey, Vaughan Jones and Ali Foster.  Kora’s album (reviewed here) is amazing, especially for a debut release by a 16 year old This girl will do big things.

Then on to Aleyce Simmonds and Brad Butcher. Sadly, I only saw Brad perform as time restraints made me have to leave to go and see Luke O’Shea at North Tamworth Bowlo. Luckily, I will be seeing Aleyce and Brad soon in Victoria. Sorry guys, did my best. I at least got to hear a couple of faves from Brad!

Then off to Luke O’Shea and he was awesome as always…over 3 hours of entertainment from Luke with dinner and a chat and photos. Luke is one of the most talented and nicest guys in Australian Country Music. It was an awesome night. Just Luke and his guitar and that was more than enough. Sister Mel and I re-created our photo with Luke that we had taken 5 and a half years ago.

Sunday, I started the day at The Hopscotch Cafe with Sally-Anne Whitten and hubby and extraordinary guitarist, Alwyn Aurisch. They were gems as always, singing and trying to keep warm at the Alfresco cafe.

I then did my second cross after arriving at Tamworth Town Hall for an extravaganza which included: Eloise Newell, Finnian Johnson, Jess Holland (oh my gosh, she just gets better), Johanna Hemara, Allison Forbes and Steve McAuley (the birthday bashees), Sal and Al, Sarah Byrnes, Rae Beth and Trev and others. It was a wonderful afternoon of ad lib and fun performances.

There were lots of other things going on on the Saturday and Sunday, but you can’t go to everything. There were a lot of singer/songwriters out at The Dag and a tribute to The Dallas Family, as well as a celebration of Tamworth artists (most of which I got to see at other things.) Adam Harvey, Matt Scullion, Michael Bryers, and others had gigs on too, but they all clashed. I think that they should have more things on during the day on Thursday and Friday and perhaps include the Monday as well.

It is an awesome little festival, though, in my old hometown, and considering that it is still virtually in its infancy compared to the January festival, it goes alright.

So it is Hats Off to Hats Off.

Thank you big time to James Stewart Keene, Melissa Robertson, Luke O’Shea and The Brendans in particular. A very big thank you to Wendy Wood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Michael Waugh, Lloyd Clarke and Rick Hart at Bruce’s Casa del C’downs, Saturday 30 June, 2018 with Jason Clarke and Rich Davies

Three multi Kazzie award winning/nominated artists on stage at once. That’s a treat. To have the added bonus of Jason Clarke (son of Lloyd) and Rich Davies, that’s the cherry on the top.

Bruce hosted this house concert with a packed crowd of diverse fans of good music. Lloyd  Clarke started proceedings with some songs off his E.E.P and some new songs that we will hopefully hear with the next 12 months on another E.E.P.  I will forgive him for not singing two of my favourites, February Sky and his big hit, Threading the eye of the needle, purely because the other songs and stories behind them were so good. It was nice to hear and meet Jason Clarke, Lloyd’s son as well.  Lloyd is one of Australia’s finest songwriters. I always enjoy listening to his songs. They have a wonderful mix of being history, story and Australian, with things that you can really understand and feel attached to because, essentially, they are our stories too.

Rick Hart did a couple of songs between Lloyd and Michael. Gammy and I were honoured to have Rick dedicate the songs to us, our favourite Rick songs, but then all of Rick’s songs are my favourites!

Michael and his current touring duo partner, Rich Davies who is no stranger to Victorian crowds, combined well for the last set. Michael sang his heart and gut wrenching songs laced with humour and connections for us all. He gifted us with some previews of some new songs from a third album coming up probably next year…..hmmm, I will try to be patient. Michael’s songs always strike a chord with me. They always have something in them that brings back a memory or something that is relevant to my family or friends.

His songs are even more appropriate for me now, as I live in a similar area to where Michael grew up……just down the road, so to speak.

I knew that Michael and Lloyd would make a good combination. They have a lot in common and they write songs in a similar frame. I was a very big beaming fan last night, with three of my favourite guys performing, and some great backing and assistance from Rich and Jason.

Bruce made sure that the atmosphere was great, food was plentiful and everybody was comfortable and happy – especially Queen Kaz in her specially reserved throne er chair. (Sorry Monica – it’s yours next time!)