DIARY - NOVEMBER 2002
HITCHES A RIDE WITH TODD SNIDER
only masters I did was a course in rock 'n roll/ with a foolish heart
that fell for souls who rang the devil's bell/ George Jones makes all
the women cry/ and he'll sing to me tender until the day I die."
- Devil's Bell - Bill Chambers-Corinna Steel.
was drinking with a bloke in Texas college town, San Marcos, when his
bar room buddy asked him where he was heading.
"I told him I was hitch hiking to Houston the next day to do some
gigs and he said 'no you're not, I'm going there tomorrow, I'll drive
you,'" Chambers told Nu Country TV.
Well, the duo had a few more drinks as you do in Texas bars, and the visitor
told the local his name was Bill.
It was only then that Bill's bar room buddy and benefactor said that his
name was Todd - Todd Snider, to be precise.
"Not the Todd Snider, I said?" was Grandpa Chambers bemused
The fast friends swapped yarns and picked and grinned until the early
hours at Cheatham Street Warehouse where Snider worked as a bus boy before
debuting for club owner Kent Finley.
Finley, author of hits including Mel McDaniel's 'Blow Up Plastic Girl,'
gave six-album veteran Snider - an Oregonian - his first live gigs before
his discovery by Jimmy Buffett on his Margarativille label.
SLEEPING WITH THE BLUES
who toured the U.S. four times with daughter Kasey, unleashed debut solo
CD, 'Sleeping With The Blues' (Reckless) in Texas before returning for
his launch in Melbourne on November 20, 2002, with Audrey Auld.
Ironically, Chambers is receiving more airplay in the U.S - especially
Texas - than in his homeland.
The laconic singer and son of a son of a lobster fisherman and trapper
owes his love of music to English teachers at Millicent High, just 20
miles inland from Southend in South Australia.
Chambers was raised on a staple diet of country and rock that he blended
in his band the 'Deer Stalkers' who stole Pinewood rock festival with
Hank Williams song 'I Saw The Light' in the summer of 1971.
Pinewood, featuring a mix of rock and country acts, was held west of Mt
Gambier and preceded Sunbury.
"I had a couple of great English teachers who taught music as well,
they got us into Bob Dylan and changed my life at the time," Chambers
now 51, revealed.
"They remembered the name when Kasey and Nash went to school there
after we home schooled them out on the Nullarbor for first 10 years. That
didn't do them any harm but it was socially a bit of change when they
went back home and had to fit into school. I grew up listening to George
Jones, Johnny Cash, Hank and the Amazing Rhythm Aces."
So it was no surprise when Chambers opened his American tour at Woody
Guthrie folk festival in Oklahoma he expanded his initial six-night stint
into a hectic five weeks.
"I loved Jimmy LaFave who was from Oklahoma," says Chambers,
"next time I played he came around to my gig and dropped in seven
of his albums and a few T shirts. I did a couple of Woody Guthrie songs
and most of my own. They invited me back next year in mid July. I'm an
huge Dylan fan. To hear Jimmy LaFave sing those songs it's about as good
as it gets."
Chambers opened for Guthrie and Dylan peer Odetta at famed Cactus Cafe
in Austin and shared stages with LaFave, Slaid Cleaves, Steve Poltz, Ray
Wylie Hubbard and others in Austin, Houston, San Marcos and New Braunfels.
DREAMING ABOUT TEXAS
'Dreaming About Texas' about a young senorita he met in famed Austin bar
La Zona Rosa when he toured with Kasey two years ago.
"But you could have heard a pin drop/ when we played the Nullarbor
Song/ and that girl stood there crying/ cause she knew in the morning
I'd be gone."
Chambers, who separated from bassist wife Diane in 1998, said his song
subject was not a romantic interest.
"I went back there recently and we caught up," Bill said of
a rare dream come true story, "we're good friends now. It was self-fulfilling.
'I'm dreaming about Texas, wondering if she ever thinks of me.' It was
a true feeling I had. It was not like a girl I was really going out with
or met in a bar one night and the more beer I drank the better she looked.
We got chatting and became friends that night and I wondered if I would
ever see her again. When I went back I caught up with her and we're quite
good friends now."
Chambers also played Threadgills and Continental Club in Austin before
Gruene - the oldest dance hall in Texas - in New Braunfels.
RAY WYLIE HUBBARD
"What an amazing place, the old dance hall floor's almost worn through,"
Bill revealed, "there's these old photos of everyone - Willie, Jerry
Jeff Walker. The night I played Ray Wylie Hubbard was there. He got up
as a guest. I had expatriate Australians Kym Warner on mandolin and Carol
Young on bass. I played the dobro. We did 'Up Against The Wall Redneck
Mother' and a great new song he has written - 'Screw You, I'm From Texas'
- sort of a follow up."
Chambers also played Houston venues 'Anderson Fair' and 'Mucky Duck' with
Cleaves and plans to return to Texas after his February U.S tour with
"I'm getting radio airplay over there," Chambers confided, "I
feel like I've got to work it a bit as I'm getting heaps of airplay over
there, honestly heaps more. Which is slightly ironic. It's easier to get
gigs there than in Australia. What the hell's going on? It's pretty funny,
I don't know what's going on. All you can do is do your music and have
fun. There's always someone who is going to listen to it, isn't there?"
Check out Heather Rutherford's Colorado interview with Bill on Nu Country
TV on Saturday October 25 at 8 p m.
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