Category Archives: INTERVIEWS

The Very Thought Of Yesteryear: Gregory Page joins In The Pines

Born in London in 1963 and coming of age in the United States in the late 1970s, Gregory Page, against all generational odds, is an old-school style crooner with a tender fascination for the music of the 1930s. With bittersweet lyrics and melodies drenched in nostalgia, Page’s songs pay loving homage to his musical heroes: dance hall favourites and jazz legends like Cole Porter and Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Harold Arlen and Al Bowlly.

He joined me on Pines recently to chat about his Australian tour, play some live music and soak the program in sepia. Stream away.

Gregory Page’s latest album is called My True Love and you can pick it up here.

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JOE PUG: Return of the playwright/ poet/ messenger

The Joe Pug story goes a little like this: clever kid with a way with words goes off to college to learn how to be a playwright. Makes it through a few years of study. Learns a thing or two about plot, structure, character. Learns how to be damn fine storyteller. Also learns that he doesn’t really care for college. He is unhappy. He wants out. He wants to pick up the guitar with serious intent.

And so the clever kid does what feels right. He drops out. Drives to Chicago. Crafts objects out of wood during the day. Crafts songs by night. And the rest, as they say…

Australian fans who caught Pug’s captivating shows here late last year do not need to be persuaded of the performer’s gift. With a cheeky grin and a good dose of Yankee charm he wooed his audience well. But the young troubadour showed more than just stagecraft. He delivered stories that were tender, pensive and moving. Deceptively simple images became plot points, three-minute soliloquys carefully reached crescendo. Slowly, surely the tragedy upon which all great Americana songwriting is built began to unfold.

When I spoke to him long-distance a few weeks back ahead of his current Australian tour, it seemed perhaps unsurprising then to find that the singer, who is currently writing songs for his sophomore album, had just begun reading perhaps the greatest tragedy of them all, Hamlet.

“I’ve never read it before,” he laughs down the phone.

“It was definitely compulsory reading, I just didn’t do it.”

I don’t blame him. I majored in English and spent as much time studying as I did actively avoided a whole bunch of required reading.

“The fact of the matter is I wasn’t ready to read Hamlet then. That’s one of the bogus things about school, you have to read books at certain times. Books and records, it’s very important that they come to you at the right time, otherwise they are totally meaningless.”

It’s a good point, well made. Readiness, as distinct from preparedness or willingness. Does he feel ready to record the follow-up to Messenger?

“I’ve been writing it for the last three months. Just putting a lot into the writing of the songs. Going in and cutting the record to me is the easiest part. This is the hard part right now, in the trenches, slogging out each song.”

Taking a break from the battlefield of crafting songs, Joe Pug has found his way back to Australia once more for a March tour. But even though we might be feeling ready for new tunes, I’m told those new songs will remain in the vault for a little while yet.

“Every time I play a new song someone will post it on youtube or something and then it’s not a new song anymore. I’m going to keep this album pretty close to my chest.”

And so the new stories stay safe guarded for now. But the old tunes remain: solid and aching and true. Well worth the price of admission. Well worth a few hours of your time. Well worth being ready for.

Joe Pug’s tour details are here. Thank me for it later.

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Missing Parsons: Misadventures in Rock ‘N’ Roll America

Highways, deserts, dim lit diners, truck stops, facial hair and the call of rock and roll. Recently on In The Pines, I had the pleasure of discussing all these things with UK writer Chris Price. He’s the co-author of ‘Live Fast, Die Young: Misadventures in Rock ‘N’ Roll America‘, a fantastic book that is a little bit about the USA’s rich musical history, a little bit about a bromance and a whole lot about the lengths one Gram Parsons fan would go to in celebration of his hero’s sixtieth birthday.

After weeks of distractions, I’ve finally put the interview up online, so stream away…

Missing Parsons by emma_swift

And here is a list of the tracks played between chatter:

What’s In A Name? Missing Parsons
Return of The Grievous Angel Gram Parsons
How Much I’ve Lied Gram Parsons
A Song For You Gram Parsons
Dark End Of The Street The Flying Burrito Bros
I Just Can’t Take It Anymore The Lemonheads

If you’ve listened all the way through, you will have heard Chris talking about the brilliance of the Glen Campbell classic ‘Wichita Lineman’ towards the end of the interview. Unfortunately I didn’t get around to playing that track on the show. But if you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, here it is courtesy of youtube:

There’s something sublime about a man in a brown suit and yellow skivvy combo gently crooning the greatest pop lyric of all time, don’t you think?

‘And I need you more than want you/ And I want you for all time’

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Dan Mangan (& friends) perform live @ In The Pines H.Q.

The start of a new year is always a good time to make good on some promises of old. Some are easier than others. I’ve barely picked up my guitar (fail), I’ve barely stopped to draw breath between beverages (fail) and I’ve barely saved a cent (fail again). But I have started keeping a tidy collection of interviews recorded at FBi 94.5. WIN!

If you missed my chat earlier this month with Dan Mangan and his band of merry Canadians (Gordon Grdina, Kenton Loewen and Colin Cowan), you can now stream it on this very blog. The band managed to escape torrential rain and giant spiders in Queensland just in time to make it to FBi Radio to sing a few songs ahead of their gig at the Oxford Art Factory.

It’s well fabled that there is something magical in the Canadian water that makes them hyper-musical, so the tale end of this interview features music from Gordon’s band Gordon Grdina Trio and Kenton’s solo project The Crackling. Colin didn’t have a cd on hand to share, but I will endeavour to play some of his group, Analog Bell Service on the show this week.

Tracks featured on the stream: Robots, Rows Of Houses (live), Sold (live), FWR (Gordon Grdina Trio) and The Three Of You (The Crackling).

Dan Mangan live on FBi 94.5 by emma_swift

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On the road with The Yearlings

It’s been nine years since Adelaide alt-folk duo The Yearlings (Robyn Chalklen and Chris Parkinson) met at a Jimmy Little gig at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. Four albums down the track, the pair have hit the road in support of their latest release Sweet Runaway. Sadly, tour commitments meant that Robyn and Chris couldn’t make it in to FBi studios for a live performance and a chat…. But they were kind enough to briefly answer some questions for In The Pines ahead of their Sydney show at Raval this Thursday night. For your enjoyment, I’ve added in some youtube goodness so you can hear what they’re talkin’ about.

What contemporary artists do you admire?

Jeff Tweedy, Daniel Lanois, Bo Ramsey, Lucie Thorne, Sime Nugent and Eileen Jewell

What old school artists do you admire?
Karen Dalton, Big Mama Thornton, Neil Young, Lightning Hopkins and Muddy Waters

What is your favourite album released in 2010?
Heath Cullen, A Storm Was Coming But I Didn’t Feel Nothing

If you could support any singer/band, who would it be?
Pieta Brown

If you guys weren’t playing in a folk/country duo, what other genres do you think you would pursue and why?
Bert Kaemfert style safari lounge music. We both LOVE baritone guitar.

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Fly away songbird: Sui Zhen heads OS

After a huge twelve months including an inspiring stint at London’s prestigious Red Bull Music Academy, Sydney songstress Sui Zhen is about to leave our shores once more. The singer, also known as Becky Freeman, has decided it’s time to pack her bags (and an acoustic guitar) and embark on a lengthy stint overseas ahead of the release of her two-years-in-the-making debut album.

Keen to take flight from the heavy heartache of a recent break-up and also keen to re-examine her approach to songwriting post-London, Becky flies out of Australia tomorrow. But she’s reassured In The Pines her jet setting ways won’t delay her debut record too much longer.

Speaking on FBi last week, Becky said the long-awaited debut had hit a few snags in the past because of a niggling perfectionism, but her time at the Red Bull Music Academy has inspired a more carefree approach.

“I guess I was just really obsessed with the technical aspects and perfect sound, when now I don’t so much care about perfect sound. I think the most interesting music has so many imperfections in it and that’s why it’s interesting.”

The carefree approach isn’t just limited to recording either. Becky has been gung-ho in her approach to song writing lately and has been sharing many of her new tunes (recorded on garage band) online. Her latest efforts are a series of love songs imaginatively titled according the order in which they were written.

Here’s Love Song 005 performed live on FBi.

Sad as it is that Becky won’t be playing shows in Sydney for a while, there is one last chance to see Sui Zhen in action and that’s tonight. She’s playing at Raval alongside Leroy Lee and Emma Davis. Tickets are available on the door.

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Time for some Old Crow Medicine

After months on the road as part of the alt-country wet dream that is Dave Rawlings Machine, the boys from Old Crow Medicine Show are giving up what could be the world’s sweetest old-time/bluegrass tour bus for a stint on the road on their lonesome in Australia.

It’s sad news for Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch, who will no doubt miss the fine contribution the Old Crow gang have made to the band over the past twelve months. But it’s great news for Australian fans of OCMS. What’s that you say? A second tour here in just under a year?

I spoke to the band’s frontman Ketch Secor this week about his newfound role in the ‘machine’, old school vs new school country and that ol’ man who so many call their biggest influence, Bobby Dylan.

The Old Crow Medicine collaboration with Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch for Dave Rawlings Machine is one of the finest things to happen to Americana for quite some time and it’s a damn shame we won’t be seeing them live here soon as well. In the meantime though, there are quite a few good videos of the band playing songs from the Machine debut A Friend of A Friend online inlcuding this version of the Ryan Adams/ Dave Rawlings co-write ‘To Be Young Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High’.

Australian tour dates for OCMS can be found here.

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