These days I’m a full-time worker (ah, yep — nice-sounding studio albums don’t pay for themselves!), and I have learned to love the mornings*. The air is crisp. The light can be starkly vivid, and I love the smell of coffee and hot breakfasts, especially at airports for some reason.
But there’s a ‘night time me’ that makes life hell for ‘morning me’. And he’s been around for a lot longer.
My childhood was peppered by many a night being awake ‘after bedtime’. You see, when the cousins of an only child (me) go to bed, and the adults stay up to play cards, eat peanuts and drink KB and Tia Maria, it becomes a fascinating world...
City living. I love it, and being in Melbourne doesn’t hurt. The coffee. The food. The culture. The weather (jokes).
Having grown up in a new estate suburb, similar to that found on any Australian city fringe, I’d grown familiar with the isolation resulting from a lack of public transport, and the estate being so young that it had virtually no historical identity. And you couldn’t WALK anywhere; any kid who couldn’t drive—which is every one of them between the age of 0 and 16—was tethered to the neighbourhood to ‘make their own fun.’ It was like living in the countryside without the charm.
To me, writing very personal songs in the blues, at first anyway, seemed like a strange thing to do.
Usually, the lyrical subject matter comes across as a more generic formula — subjects like, "What happened to me this morning/today/this year", "Aren't we all having fun drinking and eating Southern-style food?", "That's it, I've had enough of yo' shit; I'm outta here" are the poetical go-to places for content.
But a member of my own family—a blues-loving road nomad of sorts himself—deserved a song of his own: Bill Carroll (Sr). And I thought that more people should know about him, via "Wild Bill".
For blues lyrics that talk about relationships, sentiments usually fall into two loose categories — pleading someone not to leave, and threatening your other half that you will do exactly that, if they don’t start behaving. And then there are the stories told in past tense — “she/he did this, and now she/he is no longer here”, to paraphrase just about everyone. And if the person who has left takes everything including the dog, well…you might even have a country song.
What is worse, however, than taking everything of value in the blues is someone having the audacity to take the trivial stuff, like in Albert King’s ‘I Got t...
Lyric writing can sometimes be like drawing blood from a stone. But sometimes the pen just flows. After an amazing trip to the US in June 2014, I realised where the blues really came from. And subsequently, I absorbed via osmosis a little bit of how to write about your home town.
And it’s not just the human rights history that has had the blues as a soundtrack. What I noticed about a lot of US citizens is their ease of conversation. Complete strangers will exchange life stories on a Greyhound between cities, or during the few minutes they’ll spend waiting on a mocha in Starbucks. A kind of call and response, if you will,...
Actors who become singers — we all know the story, huh? Quite often, when an actor achieves a certain level of notoriety—and gathers subsequent wealth—the temptation to blow some cash on studio time, some expensive session musos and put out an album is immense.
And the results can expose some harsh truths, particularly the one that says, ‘stick to your day job’. The production is usually world-class, as is the band. But the weakest link is often the star spearheading and financing the project. And the summary of its parts only add up to thirty-odd foot of well, you know what.
It was some time in the late 90s. It was maybe a Foreday Riders gig, but more likely a Whose Muddy Shoes Gig. It was definitely at the smelly old Oxford Tavern in Wollongong. Without a shadow of a doubt, it was Ray Beadle on guitar.
Me, I was a slightly cocky young guitar shredder hanging out at my favourite pub in the Illawarra, checking out as many bands as I could, sometimes 3-4 nights a week. On this night, a guy who was not too much older than me was sitting in with veterans, and tearing the blues a new backside on his beaten up black Paul Reed Smith.
I’m a child of the 80s. Naturally, my ear has been bent towards a taste for slick production and playing.
As an only child, you don’t get much say or older-relative influence in the music you’re exposed to. On FM radio (AM until the late 80s for even the most adult contemporary stations) I was subliminally fed sweet harmony, chorused guitars and compressed walls of sound. I still love that today – Huey Lewis and the News, Little River Band, Hall and Oates, you name it.
So, I’m a little slower to warm up to music of the more ‘organic’ or raw-form kind.
With this, my earliest blues guitar heroes were Stevie Ray Vaughan, R...
Acoustic blues is a part of the blues that I’ve really only ever admired from afar. Being primarily an electric player, of course my heroes have held Stratocasters, Telecasters, 335s and Les Pauls.
But over the last couple of years I’ve been noticing the acoustic guys, especially those with gospel blues leanings. For some reason, the blues seems to become more significantly, well, bluesy, when filtered through or derived from the American church teachings from the first few decades of the 20th century. Yes, I know one obvious connection: the call and response of field workers and the solace found in the Bible at the tim...