DIARY - 3 AUGUST 2003
FINDS FAITH AND THE AMERICANA CHARTS
"So don't tell me about L.A or the House of Blues/ it's got everything
to die for and everything to lose/ and I say yeah I'm doing well/ I'm
staying here and you can go to hell." - 'Losing Faith' - Audrey Auld.
Tasmanian born singer-songwriter Audrey Auld has the Dali Lama and cool
Canadian troubadour Fred Eaglesmith to thank for helping her mend her
broken heart with former partner Bill Chambers.
Eaglesmith gave Audrey spiritual guidance by suggesting she read the Dali
Lama book, 'Transforming The Mind.'
"It was a really good book for me to read at that time," says
Auld who has recently been performing with both Fred and Bill in the U.S.
on a tour that enabled third album 'Losing Faith' to reach #22 on the
prestige Americana airplay charts.
"It just made me realise you need to get to the place where the love
is still alive - you can still express and feel that and lose all the
Losing all the bad stuff enabled both parties to move to a different level
- Audrey owns Reckless Records - the indie company that distributes their
duet album, Bill's solo disc 'Sleeping With The Blues.'
"We're very close and very good friends," Auld confides.
"The whole concept of losing faith is losing faith in something I
really believed in. I likened that to a religion and you really believe
in something then reality starts beating you up and you have to acknowledge
it's not what you think it is. That's what losing faith is about. You
just have to let go. There are some angry songs but I like to think they're
empowered songs, not just negative done me wrong songs. I feel the album
is more about me and expressing yourself and a fundamental change in a
Bill and Audrey, like predecessors Hank and Audrey and George and Tammy,
reaped hay from the ashes of ruptured romance.
But unlike Hank, who went to God in the back of Cadillac at 29 on New
Year's Eve in 1952, Bill and Audrey are living apart but work together
occasionally on two continents as keepers of the roots country flame.
But this time around it's Eaglesmith, whose discs are else available here
on Reckless, who is sharing bills with Bill & Audrey. That, of course,
is after he tours nationally with Bill and Kasey Chambers - see our tour
guide for details.
But in Melbourne Audrey, Bill and Fred, who regularly perform together
in Australia and overseas, play the 'Corner' Hotel, Richmond, on September
2 and 'Cornish Arms' in Brunswick on September 3.
is indebted to Bill - not just for the acrimonious angst for her
songs - but also career advice.
So what are those handy hints?
Well, swim away from the shallow local venue pool and dive into
the U.S. country scene, the biggest in the western world.
Audrey wrote 'Doin' Well' about that guidance and included it on
drove me nuts. I'm very conscious of not riding on the Chambers shirttails.
It's an easy thing to do. Anything I achieve I want to know I've got it
from my own work and own music. He would ring me up. I would say stop
it, I have my own path."
Audrey has, of course, performed in Austin and Nashville - two of the
musical oases in benefactor Bill's tour guide.
And also all over the musical oasis of Texas where Americana radio stations
play her back to back with artists diverse as Kevin Deal, Ray Wylie Hubbard,
Joe Ely, Waylon & Willie, 'The Waifs,' Eaglesmith and the Chambers.
Audrey also stayed with another performing partner Mary Gauthier in Nashville
and played the famed Woody Guthrie fest in Oklahoma with a diverse cast
of roots country heroes and heroines.
And she has visited the cyber sty at the legendary KPIG in Freedom, California.
TAROONA TO TEXAS
It's a long journey from Taroona High in Hobart to Woy Woy via Austin
and Nashville but Audrey has made every painful post a winner on a lost
highway akin to that of Hank & Audrey of whom Ms Auld sang in Fred
Eaglesmith song 'Alcohol & Pills.'
The four year duet career and ruptured romance with Chambers ended in
a bitter sweet split that prompted many of the 13 songs on 'Losing Faith'
but it also gave her the inner strength to resurrect her life and career.
The show must go on in the fine tradition of true troubadours so neither
partner spat the dummy although Bill, 52, is a father again - a boy named
Chambers played banjo, lap steel, dobro and various guitars and harmonised
on 'Losing Faith.'
So when Bill was opening for and playing in Kasey's band on her U.S. tours
he was also earning American greenbacks for the couple.
Reckless Records is a thriving cottage industry for Audrey whose catalogue
includes two solo albums, a duet disc with Bill, a brace of albums by
Eaglesmith and tribute discs to him.
And it was Fred, who duets with Audrey on her tune 'B Grade Affair.'
Eaglesmith also gave Auld advice on her most revealing song - 'Your Eyes.'
"I wrote it about myself, wrote it as 'My Eyes' and Fred said 'why
don't you change it to your eyes,' It made it a more self empowered song."
It's not clear if Fred suggested leaving clues to the identity of the
lover who hurt the Van Diemen's Land vamp.
"Now the chambers of my heart hold all your secrets/ all the things
that you'll never say/ as the flames I watch the Phoenix rise/ but still
your eyes give you away."
So Audrey, were there any prizes for guessing?
"It was just about humour really for anyone who knows," Audrey
quipped, "some people don't know and it won't mean anything."
Not all artists fan the flames of faded love as such a salient signpost.
But very few are as honest as the singer whose candour is a beacon for
"It wasn't hard to bare my soul, we were brought up to be very honest,"
Auld revealed, "the thing I love about country music is there's room
for honesty. That's what you aspire to. Have your heart on your sleeve
but in a way that's not cheesy, schmaltzy and corny.
There are some angry songs. I like to think they're empowered songs, not
just negative done me wrong songs"
She has no qualms admitting her suffering, while painful, enabled her
to write the best songs of her career.
"We lived together for about four years, it was pretty intense,"
Auld confessed, 'we were writing and touring together and having really
long periods of absence when Kasey was touring overseas. He was gone for
five weeks on her U.S. tours. One year he was gone more than he was at
home. That's really tough on any relationship. If there's anything that
needs resolution there's no way it's going to happen when the two people
are in different countries."
US ALL HAIL HOLBROOK
Hill country hamlet Holbrook is a Hume Highway speed trap that has haunted
me since I worked on the Albury Border Mail in 1969.
It was also the source of Audrey's tune 'Our Lady Of Sorrows' - inspired
by a church which earns considerably less than the NSW Government from
local speeding fines or the incredible hulk.
The hulk is an huge black inland submarine that lurks in the town's main
street - it has its own ablutions block but not the bakery where Audrey
wrote her song.
"My parents decided to bring us without religion, plenty of philosophical
input but I'm not into any organised religion," Audrey revealed.
"I was reading Tibetan Buddhist stuff while I was driving up to Sydney
I heard Kasey's Baby Jesus song on the radio which is fine If you have
a Jesus to pray to. When I got to Holbrook there was this beautiful shrine
of Mary at 'Our Lady Of Sorrows' church. We stopped, went to the bakery,
sat around and had our jelly cakes."
In the interests of accurate research my partner and I stopped at the
same bakery on a recent return trip from Sydney. Unfortunately I chose
a hamburger with the lot and no new song came to me.
My partner had to make do with 'Jodie' - a song I wrote about her 22 years
ago and was recorded by Wolverines singer Darcy LeYear and B J McKay and
on hold for Alabama while we worked together for five years on the Sydney
Alabama eventually passed on the song but my partner returned 27 years
after we met. And the first person she met at our reunion at a Kinky Friedman-Billy
Joe Shaver concert at The Basement in Sydney was Audrey.
So I guess karma works in a very special way if you're a couple of Presbyterians
from the Shipwreck Coast of Victoria on a pit stop under the gaze of Mary
and her flock of sheep and beef cattle in Holbrook.
Auld's album is an odyssey which punctuates her heartbreak with tunes
on the pitfalls of the music industry - 'Next Big Nothing' and 'Doin'
Well' - but ends on a high on a duet with Nashville singer Kieran Kane
on his song 'Harmony.'
So is the life of Auld who left Tasmania at 21 and traded her career in
movie animation for the rigors of writing, performing and running her
own record label.
"It's hard for people who are not in the music industry to really
appreciate the life of a musician," Auld says.
"I'm actually seeing a guy now who is a mechanic, I have to be very
patient and gentle with him because I'm realising there is a lot to understand,
you can't rush it."
"I still adore him and I would like to continue to write songs with
him," said Auld of the singer who recently became father of a new
Audrey and Fred Eaglesmith will be filmed for Nu Country when they perform
at the 'Corner', Richmond, on September 2 and 'Cornish Arms', Brunswick,
on September 3.
Keep watching this space for episode times on Nu Country TV which debuts
on Channel 31 at 8 p m on Saturday October 4 and is repeated during the
Trivia buffs may be interested to learn the Cornish Arms is on a strip
of Brunswick where cattle once roamed in mid 19th century on the original
Maybe fans of Auld, Chambers and Eaglesmith can round up their descendants
- the livestock not the family - as extras for Nu Country TV.
/ back to diary