In the early hours of 19 April 2016, Scottish-Australian artist Karl Broadie succumbed to a cancer that had been diagnosed only weeks before. I first met Karl just over eleven years before that date, during the Tamworth Country Music Festival. I saw him play first – the logical way to be introduced to a singer-songwriter – and can still remember how, upon arriving in town, I was hustled to the Imperial Hotel by a friend who knew him. We arrived after he’d started playing, and after a long drive from Sydney, his music was the perfect beginning to the festival. I remember thinking how unique his sound was, and how incredible his stage presence. He would close his eyes while he was playing guitar and his face would change. He was in the moment, in flow, in a state of grace – whichever term you like for that.
Because my friend knew him, I subsequently met him and mentioned that I’d seen that Imperial gig. ‘Yeah, I saw you sitting there,’ he said, smiling. In a small venue, it’s no surprise that one curly-haired person recognised another: the tribe can be close that way.
I saw him play again that festival. I saw him play so many times over subsequent years that I lost count. I gave his albums as gifts, always trying to impress upon people that Karl was something special, because he was.
When I first started making this blog a real concern, in the second half of 2011, it was because I’d been very sick myself and, sequestered at home for months, I wanted that time to be productive. That illness took me away from my previous life, including going to gigs on a regular basis, and I never really returned to it in the same way. So I didn’t see Karl play as much, but was still aware of what was going on in his life, via a different personal connection. He remained one of my favourite songwriters and performers.
All of Karl’s albums bar one were released before the end of 2011, so that’s why there are no reviews of them on this site (and I bought the last one, A Side B Side Seaside, so long after its release date that I decided not to review it). This, then, will be my only opportunity to say that he was one of the best songwriters I’ve ever encountered. So many of his songs contain those moments of magic that music lovers know – the moments when everything in life seems perfect. He knew lyrics, he knew melody, he knew nuance and tempo and tone.
So if you do not know his music, please go and listen to it. Start with Nowhere Now Here, his first album, because it shows no signs of a man learning his craft. It’s a mature album, full of wonder. You might be like me and just want to stay with that one for a while, but his second album, Black Crow Callin’, is also fantastic, so don’t wait too long. Then move on chronologically and chart his life and musical progress through the documents we have left: his songs.
Like me, you may come to think that it’s impossible that he’s dead – he’s just across a slip in time, still singing, still closing his eyes as he plays his guitar. It’s what I’d like to believe.
Melburnian Sean McMahon has some form in the alt country department, as a member of bands Downhills Home and Western Union, which would explain why his new album with his new band, Shiner, doesn’t sound like a debutante effort. It’s not an alt country album, though – not entirely. But that’s to be forgiven when McMahon and The MoonMen blend alt country with a bit of psychedelic rock and blues.
Canadian artist Matt Andersen’s last album, Weightless, was a blues tour de force, and it sounded like Andersen’s voice was made for the genre. On his latest album, Honest Man, it turns out that blues wasn’t the only type of music that suits him. Honest Man has influences from gospel and soul, and Andersen sounds even more comfortable with those, if that’s possible.
Honest Man is out now.
I’m a big fan of Sal Kimber and have been so enjoying John Flanagan’s new album, There’s Another Way to Where You’re Going. This talented pair are touring together. Catch them at one of these venues:
Sat 9th April Grand Pooh Bar Hobart, TAS
Fri 15th April Front Gallery Canberra, ACT
Tues 3rd May Brisbane Unplugged Brisbane, QLD
Fri 6th May Django Bar Sydney, NSW
*JOHN FLANAGAN ADDITIONAL SHOWS
Sat 23rd April The Song Room Tanunda, SA
Sun 24th April The Wheatsheaf Hotel Adelaide, SA
My love for Karl Broadie’s music arose the very first time I attended the Tamworth Country Music Festival – I’d only been in town for ten minutes when a friend insisted that we go to his show at the Imperial Hotel. One song in, I was hooked on his incredible songwriting and his almost ethereal way of connecting with an audience. I would see him play many more times and listen to his albums over and over. He has written some of my favourite songs – and possibly some of yours too.
Karl is now very sick and in need of all kinds of support. The Australian country music industry is offering the most tangible form of support it can, as a fundraising show to be held on 17 April at Rooty Hill RSL. Kasey Chambers, Adam Harvey and Catherine Britt will be at this event to help raise funds to support Karl in the cost of his treatment. As if that magnificent trio weren’t enough reason to attend, Brooke McClymont, Adam Eckersley, Luke O’Shea, Jasmine Rae, Harry Hookey, Katie Brianna, Caitlin Harnett, Adam Young and Den Hanrahan will also appear.
Further information further and links on how you can support the cause can be found at www.kbsupportfund.com.
In case you’ve not heard Karl’s music before, here’s one of my favourites, from the album Black Crow Callin’.