NEWS FLASH! Aussie Blues Guitarist within a whisker of Grammy Nomination
Recorded in Dockside Studios in Maurice, Louisiana with bass player and producer Charlie Wooton of Royal Southern Brotherhood fame, it’s just been announced that Australia’s own premier blues guitarist James Southwell’s latest album, The Dockside Sessions (Where The Wind Blows) is a strong contender for nomination in the forthcoming 60th Grammy Awards in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category!
Featuring some of America’s finest sidemen, among them keyboards player Michael Lemmler from the George Porter Jr Band, harmonica player Jason Ricci, Prince Percussionist Rafael Pereira and Doug Belote from The Eric Clapton and Tedeschi Trucks bands and mastered by six-time Grammy Award-winning engineer David Farrell, the album debuted at #1 on the Australian Blues Airplay Charts and has sat within the top 25 ever since.
Not bad for an album that Southwell, a finalist in both the 2014 and 2015 Memphis Blues Challenge, hadn’t even expected to make. He’d first met Wooton at the Narooma Blues Festival back in 2015 and immediately felt they’d found kindred musical spirits in each other. A few months later Wooton invited Southwell to come on over to record in the US.
“I was shocked and surprised and didn’t expect them to follow it up,” Wooton admits, “but they rang to say they’d booked the flight, Originally just to record a couple of songs that turned into a whole album. From nothing it went to being a full album in Dockside Studios”
“Best album I’ve ever been a part of,” is Wooton’s opinion, while on the subject of Southwell himself, Riotact reckons “James is not afraid to push his music past all previously existing boundaries and well past what most musicians consider the limits of what is safe.”
Released in June 2017, The Dockside Sessions (Where The Wind Blows) could just become the first album by an Australian blues musician to score a Grammy. The Recording Academy has added the album to the Contemporary Blues Album Category that voting members can vote for Grammy Award Nomination. So let’s all get behind it in whatever way we can and bring in the gold for Australia!
9th December NSW -The Day On The Grass – Wombat
19th-21st January NSW – with special guest Gail Page playing three full band shows, plus two solo acoustic shows at the 2018 Thredbo Blues Festival
26th January NSW – SS & A Club Albury 28th January NSW – Waves – Towradgi Beach Hotel
10th February ACT – A Beer Day Out Rocks The George Canberra
Tell us about the moment you decided to become a singer/writer? What did your family have to say about it?
I actually got into music from a very early age. I did the obligatory recorder and piano lessons, and my older sister and I used to make up songs and put on shows for our parents. However, the turning point for me was when my sister started taking guitar lessons when I was 8 years old (she was 11 at the time) and because I wanted to be just like her I begged my mom to let me go as well. I did acoustic lessons for 4 years and then went on to learn electric with another teacher, who encouraged me to record my first EP at the age of 12. My parents have both been extremely supportive of me throughout, driving me to gigs when I was a teen and coming along to cheer me on.
What inspired you to become an artist and who are your early influences?
I was very lucky to grow up with parents who loved music. My mother has always been into her rock music like the Stones, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, while my dad loves his soul music. I loved the classics like Etta James and Dusty Springfield but my passion always lay in rock music. I greatly admire Joan Jett, I’m a huge fan of Jefferson Airplane and Fleetwood Mac are an all time favourite of mine.
Tell us a little about your writing process, how does a song come along? What gets you going creatively?
When I’m writing solo stuff I usually start from the vocal melody up. I find a phrase or a line that really speaks to me and then I write around it. While in the band however it’s a lot more collaborative. Either Raff has a really good idea and fleshes it out or he gives it to me to do the vocal lines, as well as some great tunes that were born out of a jam session and a killer riff that we’ve just run with, much like Cheating Heart our current single (LISTEN HERE)
What current Local acts inspire you and why? What international acts?
I love Alpine because they’re quirky and fun. They mirror a lot of the attitude that I loved so much in No Doubt so it’s a throwback to my teens. Internationally I’m heavily influenced by The Donnas and Adele.
What are your future plans for 2017/2018?
At the moment we’re focussing on Aurora and getting some good mileage out of it because to be honest it’s a pretty solid album. We have already started tentatively looking at some new songs for the next album but we’re also bringing some old songs from Ascendancy and Autonomic out for our sets to keep things new and exciting for our fans.
On its latest release,“Way Back Home,” the Backtrack Blues Band has delivered an exciting harp and guitar-infused album that really hits the mark! The solid grooves, stellar guitar, electrifying harmonica, and vocals make this album one of the best blues releases of 2016. Reminiscent of the sounds of Paul Butterfield and the early Fabulous Thunderbirds, the songs on this record are true electric blues with lots of soul and energy. The band has won three consecutive Tampa Bay Music Awards for “Best Blues Band” and has performed at festivals and concerts around the world with blues music legends like Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B.King, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Gregg Allman, John Lee Hooker, Johnny Winter, and others. “Way Back Home” marks the band’s fifth album, and the critics have proclaimed it the band’s best work! “Way Back Home” is receiving worldwide airplay, placing it at #8 on Roots Music Blues Rock Radio Chart. Even more, “Way Back Home” was selected among the world’s top 50 blues albums of 2016!
“This is blues par excellence, raw essential blues and quintessentially this type of music is what the term was designed for! … In truth this album is the best I’ve been fortunate enough to review. Musically this disc is flawless, the arrangements and the vocals are superb and the instrumental renditions truly magnificent! It is a must for any aficionado of the blues genre,” – Tom Walker, Blues Matters Magazine
“Backtrack Blues Band has been delivering some of the finest blues to come out of the Sunshine State and continues to do so onWay Back Home. This album is a must have for all blues lovers. If it’s piano blues that gets your engine humming, then this album is for you. If you can’t get enough harp playing, you will be left breathless. This album is sure to make existing fans happy and bring numerous new fans out to see The Backtrack Blues Band,” – Steve Crowley, American Blues Scene
“The songs drip with guitar and harp and you just can’t help tapping your feet to the infectious rhythms. Their sound is reminiscent of the early electric Muddy Waters, with the harp getting plenty of air and there’s lots of tasty Texas-inspired guitar throughout,” – John Knighton, Fatea Records
It has already been a big year of touring for the band so
the girls took advantage of their road-tested tightness and went into the studio directly after their Bluesfest shows. Rhythm section, Tracy Stephens and Rohan Hems are a well-oiled machine of groove in the track that was recorded completely live on the floor of the newly refurbished 301 studios in Byron.
Well completely live with the exception of the awe
–inspiring backing vocals from Alabama’s Kristy Lee and ‘Williette’ Donna Hall from the legendary 70’s Southern Rock Group ‘Wet Willy’. Donna first jumped up with the Hussies and sang the song with the girls in a small bar in Mobile, Alabama and from the second she joined in the song took on a whole new dimension. Add the phenomenal voice of Kristy Lee (who toured Australia last year
for Bluesfest and Beth Hart/G – Love Supports) to the mix an d you got a bonafide vocal Dream Team. It’s a simple song but it’s got a Whole Lotta vibe and lovers of the Blues Roots and
Jam Band genres can file it in a category somewhere between Tedechi Trucks Band and Led Zeppelin.
1/09/16 19:00 – Brass Monkey – Cronulla, NSW
2/09/16 20:00 – Old Manly Boatshed – Manly, NSW
3/09/16 20:00 – Lazybones Lounge – Marrickville, NSW
4/09/16 20:00 – Lazybones Lounge – Marrickville, NSW 5/09/16 20:00 – Jindabyne Bowling and Sports Club – Jindabyne, 6/09/16 16:00 – The Smiggins Hotel – Perisher Valley, NSW 7/09/16 20:30 – The Smiggins Hotel – Perisher Valley, NSW 9/09/16 19:00 – The Acoustic Picnic @ The Music Lounge – Brookvale, NSW
11/09/16 16:00 – Hoey Moey – Coffs Harbour, NSW 16/09/16 17:30 – Mitchell Creek Rock n Blues Festival – Kandanga Creek, QLD 18/09/16 17:45 – Swell Sounds – Currumbin, QLD
18/09/16 11:00 – Mitchell Creek Rock n Blues Festival – Kandanga Creek, QLD 22/10/16 20:00 – Nightquarter – Helensvale, QLD
Play the single
and checkout the New Remix by London Producer “Friend O’ Mine”
If you haven’t yet, read through a QnA with the boys to kick off their latest EP The Door –
Q & A with Jack and Curtis………
What inspired you to become a singer in a band?
The meticulous strain of learning covers and not playing them perfect and or well. If it’s your own song you get to decide what’s perfect and what’s right. It’s a pretty good feeling playing your own music and seeing people in the crowd enjoying themselves as much as you do. Kinda if we get you off then we’ll get off kinda thing.
My old man played guitar when I was young and I always wanted to play. He got me a nylon string and off I went (he still has that guitar). Dad loved James Taylor, Paul Simon, Dylan, and all of those singer song writers, so I guess that is where it started. My teen years in the 90’s in the UK started the band/rock music for me. It was a great time to be around the music scene in England: Oasis, Blur, The Verve even The Spice Girls – ha ha.
Who are your early influences?
As I came to the understanding that I wanted to be a musician I really liked musicians that were unique and matter what they were doing you kinda knew it was them. Early on I was influenced by a lot of bands. I try and steal something from everybody. I am a bit of a guitar pedal addict so if they are using some sort of effect they are an influence. It’s my way of hiding that I actually have no idea what I am doing.
Tell us a little about how you write, how do the songs come? What gets you going creatively?
Usually Jack or someone would come in with an idea, then we try to flip it on its head and make it good, ha ha. No, we jam it out in the room with the boys try new and interesting ideas over the old ones. Really the songs only come together with us pushing each other to be different. I work really hard on them on my own, but no matter how hard you plan and think your idea is right everyone else’s is usually better. That’s the great thing about a band its amalgamation of lots of ideas.
What gets us going is being in that room together, when everything clicks and we all get a little smirk knowing this feels right; probably the beers as well.
Sometimes they just happen. The good ones just flow. It’s usually something I’m angry about. I get some chords going but the melody and lyric is what I find most important. Someone once told me to write what I know and feel don t try to fake it. Which is so true and the best tip I ever heard.
After that I take it to the band. Then they make some noises and change some parts and boom we have a new song. I would say one in every three we write makes it to the live set. One in four get recorded.
Your bio mentions “newsworthy angle/funny story or event’ tell us what went on there.
The Gibson Guitar endorsement was amazing. We had finished pre-production on our album ‘Burning In The Sun’ and we are hanging out in the studio. Marshall, our Publisher & Label) and all round Legend said ‘You guys need anything else for recording?’ Yeah some good guitars, we said and laughed it off. Next day phone rings, it’s Marshall – ‘Go down to the pro shop, they’ve got some GIBOs for you to use’. I jump in the car, the exhaust pipe falls off on the way over, get to the shop meet the Rep, top bloke, we walk out with a Thunderbird Bass, Nikki Sixx Signiture (took it out of the display case for us) an SG and a Vintage Les Paul.
Put about 15 grands worth of guitars in the back of my 1000 dollar car next to the broken exhaust I recovered from the road. A few months after that I was added to the Gibson Artists list. Now I put my fancy guitar into the back of my 1000 dollar car next to the broken exhaust.
What is the first record you bought and why?
It was a Wiggles tape, I was 7.
The one and only, Chesney Hawks, went halves with my brother it was a vinyl single, I have no idea why.
What current OZ acts inspire you? Ditto for international acts?
I am inspired by a lot of bands and artist we play with. The hard work they put in and the amazing talent that goes mostly unnoticed. Australia has a massive music community waiting to be heard. Tune into some community radio is my advice. International acts – at the moment I can’t stop listening to Jason Isbell’s last two albums.
Tell us a little about your music and what a crowd can expect at a live show?
I like to think or music is always evolving, I’m pretty sure we don’t play anything the same twice, we kinda feel each other out and hope that us having a good time shines through. We can get pretty loud but we love it that’s why we do it.
We really enjoy the live shows and I hope people see that when we play. As for the crowd we will take anyone who shows up, ha ha
Favourite artists of all time?
For me, it’s Radiohead , NIN, Queens of The Stone Age, Tool and the two Jimmys’ (Page and Hendrix) with a notable mention to Dave Gilmore. It’s hard though, I’ve been influenced by a heap of bands that I still listen to today. I could be hear all day naming people. Once you find an artist you go and find out who influenced them, it’ a never ending cycle.
Van Gogh. Can’t pick just one for music
You are backstage with ‘insert artist you adore or hate’, what do you say?
Kanye West can you please shut the fuck up
Where do you see Aussie music heading?
I’m really not sure, I’m hoping away from the computer. Hopefully, more performers and lesson button pushers. Don’t get me wrong there is a lot of talent in some of them and I enjoy it, wish more of them would use it as an instrument and less of a cheat.
I think we might be on the bottom of a cycle. The music industry is playing catch up with the internet and more home production and electronic music is flying around. We also have the reality music TV shows that are finally loosing their appeal. I believe that one band will come along and start up a big music movement again like Oasis did for the UK in the 90 s. Maybe it’s time for the smaller independent labels to rise as the big ones struggle. It’s music so you just have to wait and let it do its thing.
What are your future plans for 2016/2017
We are looking at playing as many shows as possible, doing what we love. Work on new material continue to work on us as band and just do what we do.
Tour Drink Sleep Repeat. Play shows keep writing and most importantly, enjoy it.
New self-titled EP from The Mezcaltones available May 20th
Sydney is a long way south of Mexico but The Mezcaltones still know a thing or two about sultry nights and dangerous days – not to mention sultry men and dangerous women. Blend Tarantino vibes with a mix of sizzling Mexican nights, add some Mezcal tequila (the spirit of Mexico) and you have THE MEZCALTONES.
The Mezcaltones embody the style and attitude of those famous Tarantino flicks, with a little Robert Rodrigues Tex Mex, the 60’s surf rock guitar sounds of Dick Dale and Link Ray, the lavishness of Mexican dance, the sexiness of Salma Hayek From ‘Dusk Till Dawn’, and… you get the vibe.
Comprised of six experienced musicians who came together through their love of cool tones, The Mezcaltones create down and dirty Tex Mex sounds. Their unique style transports you on a journey of intoxicating nights.
Based in Sydney, Halfwait is a three piece post grunge band composed of Jon Barca, Chris Tallon, and Nathan Stalenberg. ‘Fly Away’ is the first single off their forthcoming EP, which they are in the process of recording. The EP will showcase a new dynamic sound from the band, showing their growth from when they started in 2012.
Based in Sydney, Lily Duval has been performing in blues and folk clubs for many years and has now stepped out of the studio with two new original tunes. Taking her stage name from her Grandmother who was also a performer Lilly has developed a distinctive voice and style which has struck a chord with local community radio Blues Programs. Her writing comes from her own experiences and also long time influences such as Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and Janis Joplin.
Her latest release, ‘Weatherman’ was recorded at Damien Gerard Studios with the talented Scott Bird playing electric and acoustic guitar and with Andrew Beck on Bass. The addition of an Indian drum gives the track a fuller earthier sound.
The song was written to express Lily’s concern for people who are homeless. The lyrics came from a conversation with a young homeless man who spoke of his disappointment and resignation with life and why he felt for him life was easier on the streets, provided the weather was good.