Last week a friend said I hadn’t added anything to the blog on the website since the 2013 tour. I thought shit, that would be right. Two Tamworth’s ago as I made that long drive home I didn’t feel to clear on the path forward regarding the band, music, song writing, the lot.
The last show at the Albert in 2013 had left a darkness in me that resulted in what was the end of The Wagon as I knew it. I don’t tell stories after the fact although I had to field my fair share of rumours and concerns from people I had never met, and certainly never had the front to approach me. That time has passed. As George Strait sings, Fool me once shame on you, Fool my twice, shame on me.Last years Tamworth went along way to wiping the memory with Scotty Dogg and Den Hanrahan joining the Hitman and me into relaunching the Wagon the way it should be played.
Only The Hitman and myself remained as permanent members, and with a new drummer and Den Hanrahan offering to fill in I kept doing some shows even some Outlaws of Country shows, Had the pleasure of playing with Jeff Mercer, of which a finer country feel on guitar you might never find. My heart was not fully in it, but I have never been a quitter. Playing with Den Hanrahan was like a cool breeze on a hot day. Hadn’t had that much fun since playing with Kinnon Holt, the greatest Outlaw Guitar slinger in this great southern land. Hanrahan punches his way through a song, just tears solos to pieces, all with a Larakin grin, infectious love of a song that just carries you along with it.I love this guy.
I was asked after my fathers funeral, by Greg Hirst who is the Brotherhood President, and a biker minister if my old three piece Blues Rock Band, Warning could reform to play the 20th anniversary of the Silverwater Bike Show. It forced me to start back on the lead guitar, and as the show approached, my confidence grew. It was fun playing the old songs, and being with my old band was great. The stories, good laughs with old friends. It was the songs though, Rory Gallagher, Johnny Winter, ZZ Top. BB King, BTO, SRV,George Thorougood, down home rocking blues. The show was fun, and when I got offered a BVH show which was a blow out, I took it and did it as a three piece. I was so use to the extra players in Chucks Wagon I doubted I could do it, but I did it anyway. It was better than I thought,, not as good as I wanted, but the good feeling stayed with me. I did a few that way this year, started even liking the space in the song, it could breathe, the song did the talking.
So, when Tamworth rolled around this year, three of the shows I did three piece, I knew it could work, and it was fun. We once again didn’t have a drummer, Simon Wale , had been playing back with us, but had Festival commitments, so Grunter Bedford lined up Ronny Rhindo, local Tamworth sticks man. I cant tell you the amount of times me and the Hitman have driven towards shows with drummers we hadn’t played with, meeting them at the show, it goes with the territory inbands that dont make good coin. There have been some awesome win’s . Scotty Dogg last year, Jacob Cook to name a couple, but Ronny Rhindo though , bloody hell, he was simply a delight. Great bloke, great feel, all class. I wanted to bottle him. The shows were fun. The first night we headed to the Crabpot to relax, the craziness was soothing. The second show was better than the first and then me and Harding headed back to Sydney.My Family, my other passion, had to be served. Part of me laying low has been I have had to pay back the money on albums, film clips. my choice. my responsibility. I shook a few hands, my hand shake is good.
We had planned to only do four shows this year , on both weekends. I headed back to Sydney though with a lot of joy in my heart, knowing Ronny would be there the following week and Den at the first show.
When we hit town again on the Friday, it was with a good vibe. Headed to Nundle to catch the Remains. The anti Tamworth Festival. at Nundle I was able to breath, listen to Mick Daly weave his dishevelled magic Country Rock and Roll with Bones and Scotty Dogg driving the bed the Leigh swaggers all around in. Hanrahan filled in the last set like a glove. He and Daley are brothers from another mother. Chewing the fat with Matt Nightingale, Pete Fidler, Gibbo floating, the adorable Adam Young, effervescent Sarah Carroll, Glenny Rae and Dougie Ball passing through to the show down at the hall. Standing underneath the verandah of pure Australian heritage. I knew i was being rejuvenated with all that was good about Rock and Roll, the real Rock and Roll.
Over the 7 years I have been playing Tamworth I have seen my favourite Blues, Boogie and Country Rock and Rollers run out of town. I have been lucky I suppose. My songs are probably a straighter country than the bands I love, and I write singer songwriter type lyrics. Not good enough to break the big end of town, and not cool enough to brake the Alternative end of town. I know who I am. I am grateful for the work. For the folks that come to my shows , regulars, not many, but they all count to me. You know who you are. I know you to. Thank you
Seeing 8 Ball and Doug Bruce get Nominated for Golden Guitars I felt envy and hope.Seeing Luke O’Shea win three years running after winning last year, I felt joy.
I haven’t got an idea right now how to get even close, but I was glad to see their success.
The Saturday show at The Albert Hotel was a good moment in the history of the Wagon. Den was just pumped, new amp, new guitar, full of love and power. Ronny was in his groove from the weekend past, and then there was Harding, The Hitman. He is my last man standing, loyal to the cause, a man of few words, plenty of road stories, but few words. He however has told me clearly he believes in the songs.This he has voted with his feet . We go back a long way, and the strength of that connection has been underestimated at times.
With this behind me I strapped the guitar on, and hit out. Let the songs do the talking. It felt good and right, but what meant the most to me was looking to the back of the room and seeing David Major beaming one of his beautiful smiles at me. I am to sensitive as a man, makes me hard to get on with, hard to get to know.Easy to hurt and anger. A need to be understood, I wrote it out in Wreckless on the first album.. Having people I admire tell me what we are doing counts means an enormous amount to me. I know it should not. I see others that seem to shun it completely. Its a candour I cant muster. That Saturday was what Rock and Rolls about to me. By the time I played Family Man, it moved a room. I’ve been in those rooms, It is the reason Music is my compass, my light, my access to the spirit. It was good to be the co-creator on this occasion. The rest of the day after a gig like that is a breeze, nothing else matters. I’ve seen my surfer friends like that once they are surfed out. Giving and being given to all at once. After a feed , letting the Hipshooters do their thing right in front on my, was amazing, Anton and Billy, crackerjacks, and Ronny literally carried his kit across the street and did another three sets with them. Digging deep, doing exceptional!.
By the Sunday, the last show was a pleasure, lunchtime, , great crowd, singing original songs and some Merle Haggard and others. I was grateful for the shows, thanks Dallas Vee and the Albert Hotel for having us, giving original country music ago. Every year I head back there, new albums to sell, make some new friends, see some old ones. It’s a privilege really, to be able to play. I have fantasies of grandeur, they are elusive, but Tamworth , The Albert, well that is real. The people that make there way there every year , to have fun , hear music, that is real. Thank you for pulling up a stool, and tipping your hat in our direction. I hope we gave you something in return.
Heading back from Tamworth sun going down, Jason Boland and the Stranglers, Randy Rogers Band on the stereo, and then some early Richard Clapton, Mi-Sex, Rose Tattoo , George Strait to get me home. All good, all part of my mixed up musical Aussie DNA.
2015 is just starting, two trips to the USA planned for this year, some cool connections made with Ruby Dee and the Snakehandlers on their Aussie tour. Might just take up their offer to back me in Austin, make some more magic. As REK says, The road goes on forever,,,, I pray I am that lucky.