Bootless and Unhorsed

Tamworth 2011

Salut. The Re-Mains return to the fray at Tamworth Country Music Festival in 2011 with four shows at the Courthouse Hotel, Peel Street, from Jan 19-22nd – all shows late – 11pm till stumps. The big news is the line-up – the return of Leigh ‘Keepin’ It Steel’ Ivin on pedal steel and electric guitars in cahoots with Uncle Burnin’ Love on banjo and electrics. While Leigh has been back on the road with the band, playing Darwin and Melbourne shows, this is the first time he’s reunited with UBL since 2006. Expect lots of Ronny and Keef-style lick trading, and I ain’t talking about the after-party (ies).

On bass, Tom Jones, returning for a one-off reprise as his role as the drunkest-man-standing-and-still-playing-bass from his pop-star status as Leah Flanagan’s double-bassist in Darwin. On drums, ‘Frisky’ Fisk of Marrickville, demonstrating why Mohawks are still punk, despite their tawdry immersion in the pages of Vogue. And, inevitably, yours truly, Dick Maley as Folksinger, despite rumours to the contrary that the job had been contracted out to Gibbo.

This does need some explaining, as different line-ups of the Re-Mains franchise have been circulating around Australia and Canada, with Dick Maley being the only common denominator, furiously trying to keep track of who remembers which songs so as not to launch into, say, ‘Same Road’, only to meet with confused silence from the uncomprehending mob on stage. Hence Buckets Drinkwater, CP Pyledriver and Sideshow Bridge, who also feature in contemporary line-ups will not be at Tamworth but will, however, be playing at the Lennox Point Hotel on Saturday January 29th.

The band will also be recording a new album during the Tamworth sojourn, the long-awaited ‘Country Rock And (that’s how we) Roll’. This will feature many of the live staples as yet unreleased, the likes of ‘Country Rock and Roll is Number One’, ‘Country Rock and Roll is My Hollywood’ and ‘Country Rock and Soul, the Hank Denfield Waltz’.

In further news, the band may well return to Canada in 2011, and will be looking forward to seeing old mates the Red Hot Poker Dots, back from the US, at the festival, as well as Den Hanrahan, Gibbo, Swaino, Virus, Mick Seigers, the Blues Cowboys and the Dirt Radio Band.

Sallyanne Ryan, who made the fabulous doco about the Nymagee Outback Music Festival, ‘A Day in the Dirt’, which has been showing and winning film prizes across the globe (Google it), will also be on hand, filming footage for her epic biopic about The Re-Mains. So get on down to Tamworth, people, for the latest instalment in the continuing saga of Country Rock And Roll. New album Inland Sea will be on sale, as well as a box set of all CDs, subscriptions to our website-only downloads of unreleased live track recordings and exclusive Meat Tray stubby holders.

Incidentally, the band has now been going for nine years, despite more line-up changes than the Melbourne Hit Men’s Association, near-death experiences, the Curse, and too much beer. And the CMF show on the 19th will be the band’s 806th show, since auspicious beginnings at the Winsome Hotel, Lismore on the 28th of February, 2002.

Publicity jobs

Leah Flanagan bio

Hailing from Darwin might be perceived as a disadvantage, given it’s as far from Melbourne as you can be while still in the country.

But Leah Flanagan has turned it into a distinct advantage.

Flanagan sings sweetly but wields a mean ukelele – as Darwin locals will attest, she’s been playing original songs to hot-blooded acclaim since she could swing a tune, and is the darling of the tropical north.

The release of her second album, Nirvana Nights, is not a tribute to that grunge band’s nocturnal habits, but to a small, defiantly seedy bar in Darwin where everybody plays. This testament to Flanagan’s home-town sums up the tone of the album.

Which is not to say it’s small-time – this is a beautifully recorded document of Northern soul, with full-blooded melodies and Flanagan’s voice – at times channelling Shirley Bassey, at others Lucinda Williams, dominating a succulent procession of profound musicianship from some of Melbourne’s finest players – Liz Stringer, Grant Cummerford, Matt Earl, Netanela Mizrahi, Mel Robinson, Emily Lubitz and Harry Angus.

Yes, she recorded it in Melbourne, where she travels frequently to play – when she’s not in Vancouver with the Black Arm Band, Berlin at the Popkomm Festival, Woodford Folk Festival, Adelaide Fringe or wherever else in the world she’s in demand.

The album, produced by Steven Schram (The Cat Empire/Little Birdy/Custom Kings) is a robust interpretation of her onstage persona – vividly human, quiet but possessed of a formidable strength and artistry. Bristling with gorgeous melodies and the kind of wry swing you might suspect of Tom Waits or Jolie Holland, there’s also the off-kilter catch of Martha Wainwright’s emotional torrent in Flanagan’s maturing, but already well-gravelled delivery.

But her home and family are foremost authorities – her grandmother’s acute effect on Flanagan’s world is registered in both Goodbye and Alyawarre Girl, whereas Nirvana Nights, the song, stories Darwin’s small but zealously hedonistic community.

This Alyawarre girl is taking her music beyond Darwin’s embrace to a wider world. Leah Flanagan’s second album announces a woman awake.

Northern Star Column

Post-Nymagee Column, 3/11/09

This weekend just gone was Nymagee Outback Music Festival, the annual gathering of the country rock and roll tribes from all over Australia. In the geographical centre of New South Wales, a little to the left of Condoblin, little to the right of Cobar, but nowhere near as back as Bourke.
You had the Junes from Melbourne, theGibbo and the Fugs from Tamworth, Neil Murray from the Endless Road, Den Hanrahan from Canberra, Leah Flanagan from Darwin, Jackie Marshall from Brisbane, Liz Stringer, Dangles the Air Guitar Champion Apparent and of course Hully and Tonchi, Directors from Bourke, spearheading the Lonely Horse Band.
The Re-Mains came from Coonamble, where we’d played the night before, myself in the red acrobatic plane built by Steve Reynolds in the States and flown over specially. Executing tight rolls over the tiny, one-pub and a couple-of-shacks township, boasting more burrs per square inch than a Lightning Ridge wether. And there was The Australian Beef Week Show, a living tribute to country rock and roll.

The line-up was tremendous, the performances ebullient and dramatic – the punters flocked from as far afield as Goonengerry and Wilcannia. We made it home Monday, weary, but revitalized by the family reunion.

Next Saturday night I’m playing two songs solo at the fabulous Blue Moon Cabaret in Nimbin. Another colourful, dramatic occasion that the world needs more of.