By LACHLAN BRYAN
It’s tempting to say that November marks the start of festival season, but in truth, for country fans at least, the festivals happen all year round. At the time of writing, I’m making my way from the Mildura Country Music Festival on the Victoria/NSW border to the Dashville Skyline Festival in the Hunter Valley. I’ll follow these two immediately with an appearance at The Murwillumbah Country and Roots Fest (just inland from the Gold Coast) and will then board the Radiance of the Seas for “Cruisin’ Country” – a floating Australian Country Festival that makes its way from Sydney to Vanuatu and back.
But while festival tickets often come at a premium price, fans can rejoice at the prospect of cheaper ‘sideshows’, where major acts (particularly those coming from overseas) play at local venues. In the past month, three such acts visited Melbourne. Sam Outlaw, Dawes and The Jamestown Revival were all in Australia for the Out on the Weekend festival, which took place in Williamstown and was headlined by local legends Tex, Don and Charlie. These are all acts that sit squarely within the Americana genre that I bang on about so often in this column – it’s the ‘cool’ end of country that has more in common with Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash than Garth Brooks and Shania Twain.
But enough of looking back – there is plenty to look forward to for Americana, roots and country music fans. First on the list is the brilliant bluegrass mandolin-player Chris Henry. Keen observers will know Henry as a key member of the acclaimed Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band – veterans of several Australian tours and amongst the finest purveyors of the bluegrass form in the world. Henry’s own band is known as The Hardcore Grass, and they’ll be bringing their virtuosity to Elsternwick’s Flying Saucer Club on Thursday 12 November. Tickets are available now.
At the very same venue in November you can also catch Canyon – West Coast Sound. These guys are more than just a covers band – they have mastered the works the great west coast artists of the 1970s – Jackson Browne, The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Crosby, Stills and Nash, the Band, Emmylou Harris and The Doobie Brothers, just to name a few. Canyon nail the vocal harmonies and the iconic guitar riffs to take you on a nostalgic musical road trip not to be missed.
Finally, a heads up for fans of great songwriting. Ron Sexsmith (pictured above) is a Canadian songwriter of the highest order, and he’ll be at The Caravan Music Club on Friday 27 November. This show is certain to sell out – so be sure to get online now and grab your tickets. You won’t be sorry!
Lachlan Bryan is primarily a singer-songwriter. His third album Black Coffee is out now. He also moonlights as a gifted observer and music journalist, writing monthly for mint 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 him a line at email@example.com