Interview: Riley Catherall

image003.jpgRiley Catherall has already appeared on this site because of his outstanding singles, ‘Watered Down Man’ and ‘Robin’. He’s an emerging artist who is already a very well-developed musician and songwriter – when we spoke recently I asked about his long musical history and about his introduction to country music. Riley is appearing at the 2019 Tamworth Country Music Festival – dates after the interview.

You started playing guitar at the age of four – did your parents encourage you to start, or was it your own decision?

Dad taught himself guitar. Some of my earliest memories involve him playing guitar for me. Mum was a piano teacher. So I think there was a combination of influences there. Much like a lot of kids get thrown into guitar lessons – and myself being a teacher as well – you see kids who get guitar lessons where their parents have sort of forced them into it, and once they get a little bit of independence they stop doing it. But I was hooked on it enough to continue it. There was definitely good encouragement there with my family, which was fantastic.

Was there a reason why you weren’t put on a piano?

Not really. Because I was the first child I think Dad was super stoked to have a son – ‘This one’s mine, we’re gonna do guitar’ [laughs]. My younger sister plays piano. Maybe Mum got her turn [laughs].

Did you enjoy playing guitar as a child or were there times when you thought, I don’t want to do this – I want to go outside!

From a young age I’d go into show and tell at school and sing a song. I was that kid [laughs]. I always had this entertaining mindset. I went through the stage of learning classical guitar – that’s how I started. Then you discover rock ’n’ roll – you want to be a rock star – and Mum’s getting really worried because I’m playing ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ in my bedroom at eleven years of age. I’m always inspired by new things, with the change of the seasons, so it’s good that [guitar] is such a vast thing that you can be introduced to new things. Nothing really gets stale; nothing really gets repeated. There’s just so many different versions of it.

Can you remember which songs you used to play for show and tell?

I used to play a lot of bush ballads. ‘Tenterfield Saddler’, ‘Redback on the Toilet Seat’. There was a couple of Australian Classics CDs that we’d have in the car on repeat that I’d then go into school and sing. My nana loved Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ so I used to go in and sing all thirty verses of that [laughs].

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The Wolfe Brothers headline at The Albert Hotel during TCMF 2019

unnamedThere’s a fair bit of coverage of Tasmanian band the Wolfe Brothers on this site, and there’s a reason for that: they’re great. Complete professionals who put on amazing live shows and continue to evolve because they want to make the best music they can. It is always a pleasure to interview them, and this time I chatted Tom Wolfe about their headline show at The Albert on 23 January during the 2019 Tamworth Country Music Festival, and about yet another big year during 2018.

 

It’s been yet another year of underachievement for the Wolfe Brothers: five Golden Guitar nominations, an ARIA nomination and national tours. When are you guys going to start putting in some work?

That’s a great question! One of the things we’ve been really good at is a great work ethic and I don’t know whether that comes from our parents but we’ve always kept gigging, kept working, kept writing … and it’s really cool. It’s really nice to see all this hard work starting to pay off a bit, with these nominations – especially at the ARIAs, it was so nice to be there and be a part of that. It was really gratifying. It felt like we were doing the right things.

 

The ARIA nominations in that country music category were a good representation of Australian country music. I was really pleased to see Fanny Lumsden in there with you guys and the others.

Absolutely. One of my favourite country music albums of the year has been Fanny’s album [Real Class Act]. It’s a fantastic album. But you’re right: we’ve really grown in Australian country music and we’re now recognising that diversity is the key. And the key is also picking each other up instead of putting other people down. That’s how we really feel, and I feel like we’ve had a lot of support this year, so that’s been really, really nice.

 
Continue reading “The Wolfe Brothers headline at The Albert Hotel during TCMF 2019”

Paul Costa to headline two TCMF 2019 shows

PC Promo copy.jpgMultiple Golden Guitar Award nominee Paul Costa is always a crowd favourite at the Tamworth Country Music Festival – so much so that for the next festival, in January 2019, he’s playing two headlining shows. Paul Costa and Friends will be at the Capitol Theatre on 19 and 26 January, I spoke to Paul recently about those shows and about his latest single, ‘Road Train’.

 

What is special about the Tamworth Country Music Festival?

It’s one of the biggest country music festivals in the world and we’re so lucky to have it here, accessible to us. For me, it’s helped my career a hell of a lot, building up a fan base. You’ve got country music fans coming from all over Australia. I started as a young fella playing in the street then progressed to my own shows, and now I’ve got two shows at the Capitol Theatre next year, so it’s been a continual ride. I guess I’d have to the festival a big salute for helping me get where I am.

 

Everyone who has visited the festival knows that there’s a lot of talent on Peel Street, and the performers aren’t just playing one show – they’re there day after day.

It is amazing you get caught up in the excitement and the atmosphere. I’ve always said that the atmosphere is electric. There are people who want to hear music, and sometimes they dance along to your music. But it can be fairly taxing [laughs].

 

Also, you’re outside and it’s a very warm time of year.

Definitely. But with the atmosphere your adrenaline starts pumping and you do it. When you’ve got the fans there who want to hear what you do, as a performer you find a way to do it.

 

The audience is never as close again as when they’re watching you on Peel Street. So many great artists, like you, start on Peel Street and I guess you learn so much about how to connect with an audience when they’re right in front of you like that.

It’s a great research and development thing [laughs]. Honing your skills as an artist. A lot of artists – Troy Cassar-Daley, Felicity Urquhart, Keith Urban – played on the street in Tamworth. Just to hold an audience is an art in itself, so without even thinking you do pick up those skills as you go along and they stick with you and become part of your style.

 

As you said, you’re playing at the Capitol Theatre and you have two shows, and I’ve noticed that you’ve spaced them really well so there’s one on each of the weekends, therefore capturing people who aren’t necessarily there the whole time.

Yes, that was the plan [laughs]. We normally spend the whole ten days there doing interviews and all the rest of it and that was always the build-up to the show. For the last seven years I’ve had my Capitol Theatre show on the last Saturday. And a lot of people I speak to say, ‘We’re only here for the first weekend’ or ‘We’re only here till Tuesday’. So we thought let’s try a show on the first Saturday, get everyone who wants to come on the first weekend as well as the last weekend, and we’ll see how we go. It seems to be shifting from where it used to be a build-up [towards the last weekend]. Because of school holidays I think the festival’s moved slightly later and holidays cut out towards the end of the festival now, so you get a lot of people who seem to be going just for the first weekend. So this is the first year doing two and we’ll let you know how it goes at the end [laughs].

 

Beccy Cole’s done both Fridays for a long time.

I think Adam Harvey’s another one who’s played two shows for as long as I can remember.

 

The show is Paul Costa and friends – can you reveal who the friends are yet?PC-Tam2019-A3-PREVIEW-002.jpg

Some of them are surprises and some of them want to be surprises. I can tell you that Ben Ransom – who opened the show for me last year – is going to be back opening the show on the last Saturday. He does a great job – he’s a great artist in his own right, doing very well on radio channels and that type of thing, so I’m happy to have him on board. But we like to keep the surprise guests a surprise otherwise it wouldn’t be a surprise [laughs]. In the past I’ve had Amber Lawrence, Aleyce Simmonds, Graeme Connors, James Blundell sang a couple of songs with me last year. So we always get some great artists and friends of mine.

 

It’s one of the really special elements of Tamworth that you have all these artists in the one place but also part of the country music industry is that you’re all so willing to collaborate and perform with each other. It makes it so special for the audience.

It does. It’s a funny thing – someone’s doing a show, but as soon as another artist comes up and joins them, the whole atmosphere lifts and the cameras come out. People want to capture that special little moment and that interaction. It doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect but just the way two, or three, artists interact makes it a little bit different and a little bit special.

 

Because you are there for the whole festival, and I know you’ll be doing media and other things because it does get very busy for the performers, is there anything you’re looking forward to seeing or doing?

I’m always there for the opening concert – I always like that. It’s a great to kick off the festival. I just like getting around. We haven’t filled our calendar yet for where we’re playing, so once that’s locked in I’ll check out what else is available. But I love to see as much music as I can. The Pickers’ Night is always a big, big plus. I love Lee Kernaghan and James Blundell, Amber Lawrence and Aleyce Simmonds – all people I know but I’m also fans of their music and how talented they are. I’ll see as many shows as I can.

 

You’ve also released a new single off the album, and that is ‘Road Train’, which is named after a person you met. After you met him and he told you his name and a bit of his story, did you make notes straightaway, thinking you might write a song?

When he stuck his hand out and said, ‘G’day, they call me Road Train’, I said back to him – without even saying hello yet – ‘Wow, that’s a great idea for a song’ [laughs]. He looked at me funny and then we shook hands. I got his phone number, and the idea stuck with me because you know when something will work. I got together with Drew McAlister, because I always figured it would be a contemporary rock song, and who better to write something like that with than Drew? While we were writing it we rang Road Train and started talking about his story. He was just a character. Some of the things he said, as they came out of his mouth we were writing them down. There’s a line about hauling cattle that’s precisely how he said it. He grew up on a farm but that wasn’t the life for him, he wanted life on the road. The album’s been out for a while but it’s one of those songs that almost every reviewer and a lot of fans mention as their favourite. So I thought if we were going to release another single, heading up to Tamworth, that would be a good one.

 

After I met Road Train, I was invited back to the same event, the Gattan Festival, twelve months later. I’d written the song and we played the song. Road Train was there and so was all of his family. And given that it was a song about trucks at a truck show, you couldn’t really go wrong. He loved it and the reaction was great, so that made it really special – and that’s even before we made the album. So Road Train was pretty happy.

 

When you have a song you know your audiences love, do you put it in the main set list or are you tempted to keep it for an encore? Keep them waiting for it.

It all depends. You always like to have a couple up your sleeve, and given that it’s a kickarse song, I always like to finish the set with high energy. It leaves people feeling pretty good.

 

The idea for this song stayed with you for a while. Before you write songs do you let ideas sit in your head and see which of them stay?

When I come up with the idea the challenge is writing it down. Even if I’m driving somewhere and I come up with an idea – a feel for it, or a melody – I’ll record that on my phone so I’ve got it for reference down the track. Plenty of times that’s happened. And once you’ve got it down and you go back to it, that will turn into a song.

 

Earlier in the year you were a nominee at the CMC Awards. How important has CMC become for artists and country music in general?

Very important. It’s one of our main outlets to get our film clips out so people can see them. Especially now they have the awards – it was a big thrill to be named as a finalist in the Male Artist category. There were some massive names in there, and some massive names missed out on it, so I felt very fortunate to be part of that, be invited and do the red carpet. Not to mention the CMC Rocks show – if you’re reading this, Tim Daley, I wouldn’t mind being on that show! [Laughs] Any time you like! It’s an international showcase at the highest level. So CMC is a big part of our industry now.

 

Obviously Tamworth is sorted, but after that, what are you up to in 2019?

Starting to work on new music at the moment. I was actually speaking to my producer, Matt Fell, only yesterday to let him know that we’ve started the process. It will be a little while before we head to the studio – the best work you can do is make sure you have your songs right and up to standard. I’m really getting that itch now to start to produce new music and get it out there.

 

There will be some touring. We’ve got a Rail and Sail holiday happening shortly through Tamworth Travel and they’re keen to do more, so hosting holidays might be part of it later on next year.

 

Look at all the places country music takes you – it’s wonderful.

It’s incredible, really. It’s taken me all over Australia and different parts of the world. I just came back from a three-week tour of New Zealand, and that was magnificent. We did eleven shows over three weekends, North and South Islands. I’m very fortunate.

 

 

Paul Costa’s latest album is Whisper in the Crowd.

Apple Music | iTunes | Sanity | Spotify

 

TAMWORTH COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL SHOWS

Saturday 19 January 2019, 10 a.m.

Capitol Theatre, Tamworth Country Music Festival, NSW

 

Saturday 26 January 11 a.m.

Capitol Theatre, Tamworth Country Music Festival, NSW

 

paulcosta.com.au

Single release: ‘Here We Go Again’ by Lizzie Steadman

unnamed (6).pngLizzie Steadman is a top 10 Grand Finalist in the upcoming 2019 Toyota Star Maker event, to be held during January’s Tamworth Country Music Festival. This won’t be far from home for Steadman, an Aboriginal singer-songwriter who grew up in a small country town near the country music capital. She was introduced to country music as a child, by her father, and taught herself to play guitar.

Steadman has worked as a jillaroo on some of Northern Territory’s largest cattle stations, an aged care nurse at Mutitjulu (Uluru), as a nurse in Tamworth and now as a caseworker assisting disadvantaged youths. That rich and varied experience working with people is possibly the reason why Steadman’s songwriting and singing is so heartfelt, as can be heard on her new single, ‘Here We Go Again’. This is a song in a traditional country style and Steadman’s voice captivates from the first note, then takes the listener through deep emotions. It was written with Shane Nicholson at a songwriting retreat at the Dag Sheep Station in Nundle, NSW, and produced by Steve Newton in Tamworth’s Enrec Studios.

Steadman was awarded the Troy Cassar-Daley Indigenous Scholarship to attend the CMAA Academy of Country Music in January 2018 and she was was a finalist in the Indigenous women category for the ZONTA International Women’s Day Awards. ‘Here We Go Again’ shows you why she has been given such recognition – it is a glorious song, and Steadman is a major new talent.

Listen on:

Apple Music | Soundcloud | Spotify

lizziesteadman.com

Single release: ‘When Your Light Burns’ by Chloe Styler

unnamed (18).jpgQueensland singer-songwriter Chloe Styler went to her first country music concert at the age of five, and the experience of seeing Lee Kernaghan live was the first step on her path to becoming an artist. Even though she’s now inspired more by Kacey Musgraves and Joni Mitchell, Styler performed as an opening act for Kernaghan in several shows during 2017.

Prior to that, in 2015, Styler attended the Junior Course of the CMAA Academy of Country Music, then the Senior Course of the Academy in January 2017, where she developed her songwriting and performance skills. She was mentored by Kevin Bennett and did some songwriting with Fanny Lumsden and Stuie French. Around the same time she released her debut EP and performed at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

This year, Styler was a grand finalist in the 39th Annual Toyota Star Maker competition and performed on James Blundell, Troy Cassar Daley and Lee Kernaghan’s TCMF shows. During the festival she was awarded the TSA Songwriters Salute Award for ‘Contemporary Song of the Year’ for her original ‘Control’.

Now the Gold Coast resident has released a lovely new single, ‘When Your Light Burns’, which was written with Lumsden and produced by Matt Fell.

The song was inspired by a lighthouse that has been on an island in the Great Barrier Reef for over 150 years. Styler has spent family holidays on the island and says that the lighthouse ‘has been a constant throughout my life … [it] reminds me that although I can feel alone, lost and completely unsure of what to do next, it will always be there to guide me.’

Listen on:

Apple MusicSpotify

www.chloestyler.com

 

 

 

Old Man Luedecke on tour in Australia

Canadian singer-songwriter Old Man Luedecke is a fairly regular presence in Australia, thanks to his dedication to touring here. And Australian audiences appreciate his charm and gentle sense of humour – and, of course, his music. For an example of all of that, see this video of ‘Low on the Hog’ from his latest album, One Night Only! Live at the Chester Playhouse.

 

Old Man Luedecke tour dates – go to https://festivalofsmallhalls.com/tours/summer-2018/ for details

Thu Nov 29
Brookstead Hall, Brookstead QLD*

Fri Nov 30
Maryvale Community Hall, Maryvale QLD*

Sat Dec 1
Cooranga North Memorial Hall, Cooranga Nth QLD*

Sun Dec 2
Mothar Mountain Hall, Mothar Mountain QLD*

Wed Dec 5
Koah Hall, Koah QLD*

Thu Dec 6
Forrest Beach Senior Citizens Centre, Forrest Beach QLD*

Fri Dec 7
Middlemount Community Hall, Middlemount QLD*

Sat Dec 8
Queen Street Hall, Yeppoon QLD*

Sun Dec 9
Bucca Hall, Bucca QLD*

Wed Dec 12
Rainbow Beach Community Hall, Rainbow Beach QLD*

Thu Dec 13
Thornville Hall, Thornville QLD*

Fri Dec 14
Springbrook Community Hall, Springbrook QLD*

Sat Dec 15
Mt Nebo Community Hall, Mt Nebo QLD*

Sun Dec 16
Eudlo Hall, Eudlo QLD*

Dec 27 – Jan 01
Woodford Folk Festival
woodfordfolkfestival.com

*With Lucy Wise

oldmanluedecke.ca

Album review: All the While by Little Georgia

unnamed (5)Little Georgia is an Australian duo comprised of Justin Carter and Ashleigh Mannix, and their sound comprises elements of folk, rock and some country. In searching for the right adjectives to describe their new album, All the While, the one that keeps coming up is ‘addictive’. ‘Hypnotic’ is also applicable, and not because the sound loops around but because there’s a beat and drive behind it that is both compelling and soothing.

Great music always requires a degree of alchemy – with eight notes in an octave, there has to be something indefinable that makes one song, one sound, different to another. In the case of Little Georgia, the alchemy is in the combination of Mannix and Carter. While singing alone they are perfectly find and dandy – more than that, even – but together there is magic. They’ve spent three years on the road, playing together around the world, so it’s likely not magic but solid work that has resulted in the ten wonderful songs on this album. It’s too easily, actually, to say that artists are ‘talented’ and ascribe their achievements to that – every time there is a production of high quality, it’s talent that’s brought them to a certain point but it’s always the work that takes them most of the way.

All the While also benefits from the familiarity that is clearly between the two members of the band. Mannix and Carter know each other’s musical nooks and crannies well, which means they can push and pull the other into interesting and curious musical places. It makes for nicely complex songs with rich texture, plenty of emotion and lots of great detail. That’s what makes them addictive: with each listening there’s always the sense that there’s more to find, so you’ll return, and find more, and know there’s still more. What a lovely gift to offer listeners, and what a great foundation for, ideally, more recorded music to come.

All the While is out now.

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify

littlegeorgiamusic.com