Welcome to "How The West Was (Probably Not) Won (This time… but may well be one day)" - my multi-part recounting of the adventures I had with a good friend on a recent tour of Western NSW... hope you like light reading!
I’d been thinking for a while that there was a need, maybe for my own curiosity or perhaps an overblown sense of faux-altruism, to take my music in the opposite direction to what most people aim.
No, I don’t mean to the bottom of the charts, although one could occasionally be forgiven for thinking that was my aim, instead I refer to west, rather than east. To the outback, rather than the capital cities.
A regular rant of mine comes up when bands announce “regional” tours, then hug the coastline – and I can’t argue definition, I’m sure the tours fulfil the definition of “regional” but I’m talking about the spirit here.
Midnight Oil, INXS, Cold Chisel and countless other acts whose music I’m regularly asked to play instead of my own have made the trip, so why aren’t we, as regional musicians ourselves, looking at the opportunities in that direction?
Kangaroos could be one reason. Or Goats. Both are regular obstacles on any long drive west and let’s be honest, you’re not getting anywhere in western NSW without a series of long drives.
With all this in mind I set off on a Monday with a friend of some 33 years to take some music on a little western circuit – Cobar, Bourke, Lightning Ridge and Coonamble – a taster for a bigger idea in 2018.
My travel companion, Mr Dale Freeman (of Civil Hands, another cool Dubbo rock band) was armed with enough hand drums to conduct some workshops of his own and enough podcasts to drown out my self-righteous proselytising regarding how playing my own songs was something something important for blah blah… ooh look – red dirt!
Gig #1 – Cobar
At times I didn’t think this gig was going to happen. Only because the venue was worried we’d be playing to an empty club. It was Monday night after all. In Cobar. “Don’t worry”, I assured them, “I’ve played to nobody plenty of times”. Maybe not the best elevator pitch I’ve ever employed but anyway… I could say the crowd was many times bigger than expected but they expected zero and as we all know many times zero is zero and there was definitely more than zero there. Two people tapping along, some nice encouragement from another and two free beers bought by some kind soul for us starving musicians because he enjoyed the tunes but couldn’t hang around. All in all quite a successful night, based on expectations.
Despite the vision for me doing being that this was taking my songs on tour, it’s not all about my songs. Or any songs even. It’s about the stories and the connections. Why would anyone who is not quite familiar with the layout of my hometown care about the “Streets of Dubbo”? I can only think it’s the same reason I had REM’s “Leaving New York” on repeat despite never having visited New York. I could feel something in what Michael Stipe was singing. I’m not there yet, but if I can connect you all to my songs with the stories behind them then I’m on my way.
To be continued...