Hip To Be Country (July 2014)

Southern Rock is a brand of country that doesn’t get a lot of attention these days, but for the average Australian weekend-drinker, it’s surely one of the most familiar sounds. Just think how many times you’ve heard a covers band or jukebox belt out Sweet Alabama or something by The Black Crowes (or even Kings of Leon – at least their early stuff).

For me, southern rock reflects the dichotomy of country music – the coming together of the redneck aesthetic with African-American soul.  It’s a potent and emotive style, usually imbued with strong musicianship, memorable riffs and powerful vocals. There haven’t been many Australian southern rock bands over the years (perhaps because the genre has such a strong American stamp on it) but for my money, Newcastle’s Adam Eckersley Band come about as close to authentic southern rock as a group of Aussies possibly could.

Adam’s no stranger to the mainstream Australian country scene. He’s married to Brooke of The McClymonts, and it is via the sisterly trio this winter that Victorian audiences are most likely to gain an introduction to the debut album (appropriately titled The First Album) from the AEB. On July 27 the band will support The McClymont’s at the West Gippsland Arts Centre in Warragul, following shows the two previous nights at The Palms at Crown and The Capital in Bendigo respectively. I’m pretty sure that Eckersley is destined for bigger things within the Australian, and possibly also American, music scene – so these Victorian shows might be a good chance to jump on the bandwagon early. Don’t forget who told you about it!

If you’re tastes lean further toward the folk field, I’m pleased to say that The Melbourne Folk Club is continuing to flourish on Wednesday nights at Bella Union (the ballroom of Melbourne’s iconic Trades Hall on Lygon Street). Shane Nicholson will be there on July 30th and Bill Jackson, one of my under-rated songwriting heroes, will be performing two weeks earlier on July 16th. Both will be previewing songs from much anticipated new albums – and both represent the kind of intelligent country music this columnist likes to spruce. Of course, every week at the Folk Club boasts a varied lineup, and punters would be well-advised to check out the likes of Cash Savage, Fraser Gorman, Al Parkinson, Tracy McNeil and The Yearlings in the month of June.

Oh and, in the interests of editorial credibility, I’ve resisted the urge to make this month’s column all about my own Victorian regional tour with Dan Waters and The Weeping Willows. Look out for our concept show – Follow Me to Tennessee – coming to The Caravan Club on August 9 and BAHA in Rye on August 22nd.

Lachlan Bryan is primarily a singer/songwriter. His third album Black Coffee won the 2014 Golden Guitar for Alt Country Album of the Year. He also moonlights as a music journalist, writing monthly for PEARL Magazine on all things folk/country/bluegrass. If you’ve got a new release, upcoming show or you’d like to get in touch with Lachlan, drop us a line.