There will be bands. There will djs. There will be FBi presenters doing their best to lose their dignity. There will be a trip to Pie Face on the way home. Come and sing and dance and play with us tomorrow night. Kings Cross Hotel, 8pm sharp. Whiskey, good times, dancing provided. BYO debauchery, cowboy boots, parental consent form.
Tag Archives: In The Pines
Actually, today was quite the perfect Sydney autumn special after yesterday’s overwhelming downpour. I sure hope you kept your thirst quenched and your feet dry in the manic Monday rain. Me? Well I’m still recovering from this cursed cold that’s been keeping me down. Contrary to popular belief, epic use of whiskey only works wonders when you’re intoxicated. And to think it was only a month ago I was blogging about my February detox!
If you caught tonight’s In The Pines, hopefully you heard the first half of the program, which featured the lovely sounds of San Diego crooner Gregory Page. He is in Sydney after playing the super drenched but wonderful Blue Mountains Folk Festival on the weekend. I will endeavour to get the interview up online as a stream shortly but for now I can tell you that we discussed Al Bowlly, songwriting in Hyde Park and retro microphones.
Also featured on tonight’s show was another of the highlights from the Blue Mountains Folk Festival, Frank Yamma. Frank’s debut album is called Country Man and has just been released by Wantok Musik. His voice is golden. Soak it up.
And we heard from Middle Brother (that’s two weeks in a row, this could get dangerous) and revisited one of this year’s more experimental folk albums, Destroyer’s Kaputt. Good times.
A mix of tunes old and new and in-between, heartbreakers and heart-warmers, songs of love and lust and hardship and survival. We heard classics from Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette, contemporary heroes like Lucinda Williams, Neko Case and PJ Harvey alongside newcomers like Sydney’s Holly Throsby, New Zealand’s Tiny Ruins and Nashville’s Caitlin Rose.
It was wonderful to share so much great music with you and to make radio infused with greater meaning and purpose. Of course, I always try to put together the playlist with a special sense of care and to give it that little bit of tenderness, because after all I am passionate about all things americana and folk and country. But tonight felt extra special. I’m a feminist. I’m proud of it. I’m proud of the many improvements that have come about since the first International Women’s day one hundred years ago. And I am proud of the women at home and abroad who continue to fight for equal rights for all women across the world. Solidarity sisters. We have won many battles. We have many battles to go. Keep up the good fight!
If you missed the program, you can check out the playlist under the appropriately marked tab.
And as an added bonus, here are some live tunes from performers featured on the program who make me glad to a woman and a country music nerd. Happy International Women’s Day y’all x
This week’s Mid-Week Mixtape is courtesy of Sydney solo artist Bryan Estepa. Bryan writes great country infused pop songs, the kind that Ryan Adams might have written post-Love Is Hell if he took anti-depressants and listened to more albums by The Beatles.
A recent review published in a much more widely read publication than this blog described aforementioned songs as ‘country rock-cum-pop’ but to my ears that sounds less like Estepa and more like an obscure porn genre that can only be found in adult stores in Nashville and Austin. So it’s country ‘infused’ pop, okay? Make of that what you will…
On his latest album Vessels, Estepa wraps tender lyrics around seemingly effortless and catchy melodies. Of course, that effortlessness only seems to be so, as Bryan claims on his website to have suffered significantly from writer’s block before recording the album!
Still, writer’s block or no, he has managed to scrape together some words about the following songs that have inspired him over the years.
The Bee Gees – To Love Somebody
A song that instantly connects me to my childhood. Of my uncles and mother harmonising to this tune and the Bee Gees greatest hits on repeat during the long drives on our school holidays. This is the Gibb brothers writing a song for Otis Redding. He sadly did not get the chance to sing it but this version can last me a lifetime of listens. Brilliant.
The Jayhawks – The Man Who Loved Life
This was my first introduction to this fabulous band and pretty much got me hooked from the first line. People seem to overlook Sound Of Lies when talking superlatives about the Jayhawks back catalogue. Which is a damn shame as it’s an amazingly textured album. Louris’s guitar lines and arrangements, especially with this song is quite remarkable. As for memories, this conjures up my first time driving through Texas where I picked up this album in a thrift shop near San Antonio. Worth every $3.99 spent.
Elliott Smith – Ballad Of Big Nothing
There’s only a few artists who I never ever tire of listening too, no matter how many repeat rotations happens with their music. Elliott’s music is one of them and this song shows everything great about this man in 2 min and 48 seconds. His voice always tugs my heart at the right places and I’m constantly at awe at how his songwriting makes it seem so simple yet is very much complex and intelligent. This always brings me back to my working stint in the USA where all I had was a cassette of his 2 albums, Either/Or and XO to keep me company for two months and got me through it unscathed!
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Texas Flood
There was a time when I fancied myself as a guitar shredder and part-time bluesman, jamming to every blues song I can get my hands on. The (Good) intervention and discovery of ‘alt-country’ & 70’s west coast rock changed the game a bit for me but my one guitar hero that’s still constant to this day is Stevie Ray Vaughan. Though I loved Hendrix, Clapton, Page etc, it was SRV’s guitar playing that really connected to me on a deeper level. Every note and run he plays has so much conviction and soul. The fact that we lost him just as he was reveling in his sobriety is a tragedy. Listen to ‘Texas Flood’ and you will know exactly what I mean
You Am I – How Much Is Enough
My late high school and University years was pretty much soundtracked by the million You Am I shows I went too. I idolised and worshiped this band and realised that we had our own world-class live band in our backyard. Tim Rogers & co, influenced my early songwriting a lot and made me want to be onstage. I remember the excitement by myself and all the crowd before each gig and would many times climax for me during their encore with ‘How much is enough’. I always left You Am I gigs sweating, exhausted but bloody happy!
Bryan Estepa will be launching Vessels at the Annandale Hotel on March 17. Supports include Dave McCormack, Matt Purcell & the Blessed Curse and the Bernie Hayes Quartet.
Ah, Valentine’s Day. A couple of months ago I blogged about a rather undignified February 14 a few years back that involved over-indulging on gin and chicken, recalling that it was probably the best Valentine’s I’d ever had. Perhaps disappointingly, perhaps unsurprisingly, as yet another February scrambles past the half-way point, I can assure you that the gin and chicken Valentine’s remains the best one yet. Which is not to say I didn’t have a lovely time yesterday. I did. But it was mostly unremarkable. I stayed true to my February detox (yawn), finished my book (next!) and took Archie the spaniel for a stroll down King Street.
Archie raced out into the night with his usual goofy enthusiasm, dragging me reluctantly behind in my less than glamorous stretch pants and Hall & Oates t-shirt combo. Making a cracking pace in the Carlisle-esque summer rain, we passed restaurant after restaurant, packed with couples young and old, cute and not-so-cute, making declarations of love over three course meals, moderately priced white wine and tasteful bunches of flowers.
It was sweet. It was heart-warming. It was kind of cheesy. I should have been hating every second of it. I should have been sorting a playlist of heartbreaking classics in my head to remind me of why I like being single. But who am I kidding? While I do like being single, I also like a bit of sap. My favourite movie (after Sex, Lies & Videotape) is Gone With The Wind. My favourite country song is ‘Always On My Mind’ and I’ve read way too much poetry to pretend I don’t care about romance.
Which is why, instead of compiling a list of tunes more fitting of my current ‘status’ (think Pernice Brothers ‘Not The Loving Kind’, Neko Case ‘Hold On, Hold On’ etc) I’ve put together some of my favourite duets for the blog this week. Some of them are by real couples and some of them are by mere singing partners… but they’re all good. And they all make me wish I could teach Archie to bark in tune.
Waylon Jennings & Cheryl Ladd – Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
He was an outlaw. She was one of Charlie’s Angels. The dialogue at the beginning of this video makes it pretty much my favourite clip on the internet.
Waylon Jennings & Jessi Colter – Storms Never Last
If I were Jessi Colter and I’d been side of stage to witness Waylon’s outrageous flirtation with Cheryl Ladd in the previous clip, I’d have created a mighty big fuss. And then looked at what a dreamboat he is and gotten over it. Storms never last.
Rita Coolidge & Kris Kristofferson – Help Me Make It Through The Night
If he’s not standing impossibly close with an open neck navy shirt and a look of total adoration, he’s just not that into you. I take back what I said about Cheryl & Waylon. This is my favourite clip on the internet.
June Carter & Johnny Cash – Jackson
It would be plain wrong to document country duets without Johnny and June. You’ve seen the movie. Enough said.
Linda Ronstadt and Hoyt Axton – Lion In The Winter
I love this song. I love Hoyt’s awkward arm over Linda’s shoulder. I love the way she sings ‘ca-all’. Consider yourselves lucky I love y’all enough to spare you Aaron Neville.
Donovan & Crystal Gayle – Catch The Wind
Just because I’ve spared you Aaron Neville, it doesn’t mean I’m going to spare you a dose of Donovan. This video is worth it for Crystal Gayle’s hair alone. I would tell you this is as sappy as it’s going to get but there’s still a Kenny Rogers video to come.
Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn – You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly
Unfortunately there’s no video for this one. But I really like the ugly pink jacket Conway is wearing on the vinyl that has been used as the graphic. And teamed a white skivvy! I think we all know the reason the ‘kids’ have terrible dress sense.
Sheena Easton & Kenny Rogers – We’ve Got Tonight
I know it seems like a glaring omission to leave out Dolly & Kenny’s ‘Islands In The Stream’ but I have blogged about it before, and it doesn’t feature a creepy/cringeworthy/awesome bit of play acting from Kenny that comes across as him pressuring a young Scottish pop star to start a family.
Happy February 15 everybody xxx
If you’ve ever wondered what a breaking heart sounds like, wonder no more. It is strong and sweet, full of sorrow and grace. It is fragile and full of breath, warm and tender, sincere and soaring and as you might imagine, it literally breaks. As it moves steadily, mournfully towards a chord change it cracks on high, becoming so full of air it is almost silent. It is the voice of Emmylou Harris: country music legend, silver siren and purveyor of the saddest of sad songs.
If you were lucky enough to see her at the State Theatre as part of the Sydney Festival last week, you will know that when I write “saddest of sad songs” I mean no embellishment. From her early days singing alongside Gram Parsons, to her biggest solo hit ‘Boulder to Birmingham’ and beyond, more than any other female country artist, Emmylou Harris has trademarked pain. It lingers large in every song, in every line, in every note and over two nights (yes, I went to both shows) she and her Red Dirt Boys showed us that pain can also be beautiful, uplifting and life-affirming.
Playing classic covers, a hint of gospel, a dash of bluegrass and some heart-stopping a cappella, Emmylou and the band showed us why country music (despite its many detractors) is so adored by those who to choose to embrace it. Crowd favourites like ‘Pancho & Lefty’ and ‘Making Believe’ were nestled comfortably alongside her more recent songs like ‘Bang the Drum’ and ‘Michelangelo’. There were moments of humour, such as when Emmylou noted the beauty of the State Theatre and observed that “if we had a theatre like this in the States, we’d have knocked it down by now and built a mini-mall.” There were moments of embarrassment, such as when Emmylou lost track of herself and the band during Red Dirt Girl and had to back track a verse or so. And there were moments of precious sadness so exquisite I am sure I was not the only person in the room wiping away tears. In particular, her tribute to the recently deceased Kate McGarrigle, ‘Darling Kate’ and her cover of Steve Earle’s post-rehab lament ‘Goodbye’ were especially moving.
As an indie geek who made the conversion to country more than a decade ago (via Ryan Adams Heartbreaker) it is no news to me that Emmylou Harris is great. But if I have learned anything in recent years, especially as a radio broadcaster, it’s that many remain resistant to the genre’s achy, breaky charms. I have spent countless hours trying to convert fans of Bon Iver’s For Emma Forever Ago, Beach House’s Teen Dream and Tallest Man On Earth’s The Wild Hunt to country bands traversing similar themes of heartache and desire, albeit with a little more twang. Some people get it. Others get a cold chill at the mere mention of a banjo. As such, I understand all my crushing on Emmylou might be lost on FBi listeners, who are probably more inclined to be lining up for any number of more hip Sydney Festival shows over the next few weeks than reliving moments of Emmylou Harris magic in their mind.
However, if you have a feeling that this country music thing might not be so bad, get your hands on an Emmylou Harris record. Play it over and over again, let it tend to all your heartaches and keep your fingers crossed she comes back to Sydney soon. You won’t regret it.
n.b. This review was first published on FBi radio’s FLOG. You can check it out again here, same words different format.
On a winning Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago, with no date scheduled and no dog to give all my undivided love and attention to, I decided to indulge in two of my favourite past-times: getting drunk and eating chicken. It was a whole barbecued chicken, with succulent herb stuffing and crispy charcoal on the wings. It was a whole bottle of gin, of the Bombay Sapphire variety, served with generous amounts of tonic in a tall and seemingly bottomless glass.
Depressingly, and I’m probably propelling myself towards a lifetime on the shelf by admitting this, it’s the only memorable February 14 I’ve ever had… Oh, romance! But I do love gin. And I really love chicken.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I also love Tennessee’s Those Darlins and especially this song:
Why am I telling you this? Those Darlins stopped by Sydney earlier this month and blew my tiny mind. With three girls out front and a boy on the drums for good measure, the band are the perfect combination of garage rock, trailer park harmonies and finger lickin’ good times. I meant to blog about it at the time but their Sydney shows coincided not only with a hectic schedule of festive boozing but also with my birthday. So basically what I’m saying, is that from mid-December until now I’ve been too intoxicated to blog about how good they were and how you were a damn fool if you missed the gig. I have sobered up now, sigh, and am happy to let you know that the band have plans to release their sophomore album in 2011. Woo-hoo! As a preview to the record, they have released a 7 inch of their newest song, ‘Nightjogger’. Feel like buying a belated Christmas gift? You can pick it up