DIARY - 15 AUGUST 2003
When Coffs Harbour chanteuse Carol Young was discovered by Anne Kirkpatrick
in 1993 she spread her wings.
It was a long journey that landed her a role as a backing singer with
the pure country princess and then a recording deal in 1996.
But, with the irony that permeates our music industry, the singer followed
her then producer Mark Moffatt to the lucrative U.S. country scene.
Queensland born Moffatt, pedal steel guitarist for pioneer progressive
Australian band 'Saltbush,' headed to Nashville and toiled as a session
producer for fellow expatriates Barry and Jewel Coburn.
It was there, that Moffatt who had hits here with pop group 'The Monitors,'
produced Stacy Earle - sister of six times wed outlaw Texan Steve Earle.
But that's another story.
This one is about Young and partner Kym Warner - son of veteran South
Australian bluegrass picker Trev Warner - fleeing the unlucky radio
country and setting up base in Austin, the roots musical oasis in Texas.
They haven't yet reached the peaks of expatriate Australasian chart
topping superstar Keith Urban but that took more than a decade of hard
GREEN CARD GAUCHOS
Warner, long time compadre of the Chambers family, and Young found the
pickings slim in the local scene and hightailed it to Austin last millenium.
chose Austin - because of its vibrant roots country music scene that
gave birth to country-hippie musical nuptials back in 1973.
The shotgun wedding, depicted graphically in Jan Reid's book 'The Improbable
Rise Of Redneck Rock,' featured diverse talents of Willie Nelson, Steve
Fromholz, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Michael Murphey, Jerry Jeff Walker, Rusty
Wier, Kinky Friedman and a colourful cast of artists who broke the Nashville
Now, 30 years down the lost highway, there's been a couple of roots
country rebirths and Warner and Young are in the engine room. The duo
work in the not so cryptically titled country band, 'Green Cards,' and
have been doing a vast variety of live guest spots with Bill & Audrey
on their joint and solo tours of Texas.
But right now they have lucked out with their work on the second album
by local lad Ben Atkins who was discovered by prolific producer Lloyd
Maines whose daughter Natalie is touring here with the superstar 'Dixie
Chicks' in September.
Atkins, born in Henrietta (population 2675), studied first at Texas
Tech in Lubbock and then the country music university at Levelland.
He cut a four track demo that found Maines, still living in Lubbock,
where he made his name with the Maines Brothers Band which dates back
to the forties.
Thanks to an insurance pay-out for unseasonal hail damage to Atkins
battered pick-up truck he finance his band's debut disc, produced by
This time around Lloyd took a back seat and merely played pedal steel,
lap steel, and dobro on Atkins sequel, 'Mabelle,' produced at the 'Hit
Shack' in Austin by Warner.
Warner also played acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, bouzouki
and harmonises on 'Mabelle' which also features Young on harmonies.
Check out the review at the foot of this article for the role played
by fellow Aussie Rod McCormack - also a prolific producer, multi-instrumentalist,
songwriter, singing spouse of Gina Jeffreys and former junior cricket
CAROL YOUNG - FROM DORRIGO TO TEXAS
Carol Young, like many peers, was born into a country music family -
first at Dorrigo on the NSW Tablelands before moving to Coffs Harbour.
At 13 she was co-founder of the Coffs Harbour Country Music Club where
she won fans with her vocal prowess.
But it wasn't until 1993 when Kirkpatrick, whose dad Slim was born down
the coast at Kempsey, that she won national acclaim.
After going on the road with the pure country singer, Young was hired
as a session singer in Sydney and also toured with Jeffreys.
Young cut original songs 'I'm The Reason He Is Leaving' and 'Now We're
Through' and Susan Longacre-Lonnie Wilson tune 'The Time Has Come' -
a hit for Kansas chanteuse Martina McBride.
The disc was produced by McCormack and featured his Sydney A team.
She then landed a deal with indie label 'Roo-Art' and cut a five track
CD 'Only You' with covers of songs by Vince Clark and Coburn's hit writer
Zack Turner and Ed Hill.
Clark wrote the title track - originally a pop hit for English band
'Yazoo' in the early 80's.
More importantly the disc featured 'Getting Over You' which she wrote
with Heather Field and 'You'd Change Your Mind' - a collaboration with
Bennett, whose hot band 'The Flood' tour Australia with acclaimed Nashville
singer-songwriter Kevin Welch on his fifth visit in October-November,
also wrote 'Gone Already Gone' on Young's debut.
'Getting Over You' - inspired by a faded love - was penned at 4 a m
in the Sydney home of Field who has also moved to Nashville.
Field and Bennett harmonised on a disc that also featured Warner on
mandolin and Presley pianist Larry Muhoberac and late Frank Zappa drummer
Wackerman, who had also worked with Barbra Streisand, was in Australia
visiting his wife.
THE WARNER BROTHERS
Kym Warner hails from another of those country music dynasties with
music cred but little recognition in the big smoke.
Kym is the son of Trev Warner who was raised in Loxton on the Murray
River and moved to Adelaide when he was 11.
The Warner tree roots were deep - Kym's grandfather was a yarn spinner
and MC, his grandmother a pianist and great grandfather a fiddler.
Trev Warner played in a high school skiffle band with Doug Ashdown before
they debuted on an Adelaide TV show.
He also teamed with Carol Sturtzel in a duo and recorded with Dennis
Sidall as Trev and Dennis.
It was this generation - when Sturtzel's daughter Beccy Cole and Kym
Warner played with offshoots of the Chambers family group which became
the 'Dead Ringer Band' - that won them national exposure in their own
Trev played fiddle and banjo, Kym mandolin and Beccy rhythm guitar and
harmonies on the Dead Ringers four track debut 'A Matter Of Time' in
And on their first album, 'Red Desert Sky' in 1993, Kym played mandolin
and Trev added fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar.
And in 1995 Kym played electric rhythm and mandolin on the title track
and 'More About Love' on the Dead Ringers second CD, 'Home Fires.'
Kym also played swags of sessions and followed in his family slipstream
by winning diverse instrumental awards.
But national exposure and awards don't translate if you're a hired hand
playing with artists who don't win commercial airplay in their home
So Warner and Young fled Australia for a nation where county music exposure
is a right - not a privilege.
KYM WARNER WINS ACCLAIM FOR TEXAS TROUBADOUR
BEN ATKINS - MABELLE (Hightone-Shock).
"I remember that Friday night at the Al-Amera Club/ the band was
playin' them old songs that everyone seemed to love" - 'Mabelle'
- Ben Atkins
It's mildly ironic that Adelaide multi-instrumentalist Kym Warner and
partner Carol Young have found success in Texas capital Austin.
The Aussie duo toiled here for more than a decade before chasing their
dream to the roots country oasis.
And, there, like former Saltbush pedal steel guitarist Mark Moffatt
in Nashville, Kym is winning acclaim as a producer.
Ms Young harmonises for Texan singer-songwriter Ben Atkins on his second
Kym and Carol have not lost their sense of humour - the duo's work in
Austin band 'Green Cards' led to their Atkins role.
Ben hails from tiny Texas town Henrietta and this wondrous disc is their
entrée to international acclaim.
Atkins, son of a small town lawyer and schoolteacher mother, is cut
from the tree that gave us Robert Earl Keen and Slaid Cleaves and recently
Hayes Carll, Kevin Fowler, Adam Carroll and Houston Marchman.
The singer daubs his portraits of life in the slow lanes and big paddocks
with a brush dripping with rampant reality from way beyond the city
So it's bizarre that he punctuates his vibrant vignettes with a staccato
splashed cover of Kasey Chambers 'Last Hard Bible' with distorted vocals.
OK, Warner is a former Chambers sideman but Atkins should really leave
covers for lesser lights - there's no way you can improve on Kasey's
killer vocal on that classic.
Atkins, just 24, is too good an artist to be tainted by dead end deviations
from one of the best albums of the young millenium.
Having said that, Warner's pickers aided by Rod McCormack on banjo at
his NSW studio, do a superb speedy bluegrass cut of 'Milo Johnson' -
a Texan tumbleweed who flees into the Aussie outback.
Atkins mines the rich motherlode of his roots that led him to Texas
Tech in Lubbock and his Lloyd Maines produced debut disc with his band.
With true Texan humour it was paid for with an insurance claim for hail
damage to his pick-up.
Atkins kicks off his disc with the title track - a honky tonk heroine
whose hedonism is punctured by a two stepping, two timing devil.
"The last year brought in a flood/ that washed her hope away/ soul
was tainted with scars from all those sleepless nights and days/ thought
her fortune was told when Jesus took her child."
Atkins' music is a sonic soundtrack of life in Texas - a yearning to
flee his roots and a memories magnet dragging him back.
'Every Time You Turn Around' is replete with the tedium of losing footy
teams, dry counties and boring newspapers, reprieved by rooster fights
and illegal smiles across the Red River.
Sounds like Victoria.
Ben's character dodges bullets "which fly like an eagle in the
sky" in the wanderlust of 'I'm To Blame,' laced by Maines' pedal
There's a haunting beauty in evocative road love song 'I Don't Want
To Hide' - a quality shared with 'The Same,' 'I'll Come Around' and
'Ask Me Why.'
'Another Time and Place' was inspired by Atkins great-uncle, just 17,
on Normandy Beach on D-Day; 'Rivers and Pines' tells how his grandparents
met and eloped after living on opposite sides of the Red River.
"Her daddy frowns upon me as his feet walk the ground/ beside that
mule I guess his blind eyes/ they won't ever see that I ain't no fool."
Warner and Atkins have listened to many Maines proteges, creating an
organic sound awash with Warner's mandolin, bassist Brad Fordham doubling
on upright bass, Joel Guzman on accordion, Nick Connolly on B3 organ
and fiddler Eamon McLoughlin.
Atkins guitar and harmonica playing is augmented by guest guitarist
Jedd Hughes and Warner and Maines adding dobro and lap steel.
None of that would matter if the songs weren't good enough but they
are the freshest to invade these ears and well worth the ticket.
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