Hip To Be Country (May 2014)

Normally I have the luxury of devoting at least part of my monthly Pearl column to answering the big questions in country music, musing on the work of the great masters or peppering my paragraphs with insightful witticisms on fans and follows of this simultaneously exhalted and maligned genre. Not so this month – thanks to the fact that there’s simply too much live country music to talk about!

I’ve waxed lyrical enough about the great Bob Dylan on these pages, so it would be wrong of me to devote any more space than is absolutely necessary to plugging the ‘Bob Dylan Birthday Weekend’ gigs that are taking place at the Caravan Music Club in Oakleigh from May 9 through 11.  ‘The Bobheads’ are the hotshot tribute band making the music at each show – a ragged collection of Melbourne music scene stalwarts Ash Naylor, Steve Hadley, Peter Luscombe and Bruce Haynes along with special guest singers Chris WilsonShane HowardDeborah ConwayLiz Stringer, Ross Hannaford, Mick ThomasSuzannah EspieLisa Miller, Charles Jenkins, James Griffin, Van Walker, Gallie and more. Needless to say, I’ll be making it along to at least one of the shows (though not the one on the 9th, as my own band The Wildes are playing in Coburg at The Post Office Hotel). But I wasn’t planning to go on about Bob Dylan.

Instead I’ll turn my attention to another artist to whom I am rather biased – Tamworth-bred songstress and four-time Golden Guitar nominee Aleyce Simmonds. Aleyce’s 2013 album Believe continues to light up the country music charts, and she is heading to Victoria for three full-band shows at the end of the month. Revolver in Prahran, Melbourne’s new country home, plays host on May 30 whilst Nar Nar Goon Hotel (May 31) and The Commercial Hotel in Koroit (June 1) round out the tour. Look out for special guests at the Revolver show, including PEARL contributor Louise MacGregor and editor Simon Imrei, opening the show with their duo ‘After Meridian’, and yours truly on keyboards.

Melbourne Folk Club is an exciting new development happening in Melbourne’s inner suburb of Carlton, hosting the best established and upcoming alt-country, folk and country blues singer-songwriters. In May alone you can catch Sal Kimber, Brendan Welch, Sweet Jean, Grand Salvo, Marlon Williams, Mick Thomas and Susanna Espie. The venue is Bella Union at The Melbourne Trades Hall, and the shows happen each Wednesday from 8pm.

Country is strong south of the NSW border these days – and it’s a good thing too. If you’re looking ahead to the winter that awaits us do not fear – even down here on the Peninsula the country sparks will be flying – thanks to a visit by Sydney’s raucous Lil Bastard to Baha Tacos in July. But more about that next time around…

Lachlan Bryan is primarily a singer/songwriter, with his third (golden guitar winning) album Black Coffee out now. He also moonlights as a gifted observer and music journalist, writing monthly for PEARL Magazine on all things folk/country/bluegrass.