Australian country music star Adam Brand believes in karma.
It rescued him from writers' block when he was locked in a Nashville room with major American hit maker Harley Allen.

The duo, depressed by the World Trade Centre bombing two days earlier, were searching for a spark of inspiration.

"We were feeling pretty bummed out," Brand told Nu Country TV, "we did not feel like writing something up or quirky. Then I pulled out this photo of a four-year-old boy who was suffering leukemia. I had done a concert that had raised almost $50,000 for him. Suddenly the words flowed."

The result is the song, 'Smile' - a highlight of Brand's third album 'Built For Speed' - which he premiered at the 30th annual Australian Country Music Awards in Tamworth in 2002.

Brand, born in Perth and raised in Wallington near Geelong and Colac, carries his picture of his little mate Macabe everywhere with him.

"Macabe and I became mates after a charity show I did at Ilfracombe near Longreach in western Queensland," Brand revealed, "I have this photo of Macabe gaffa taped to my song book. Even though he was in pain when we met before the concert the music made him smile. We really bonded."


Brand, 33, and veteran hit writer Allen had been introduced by expatriate Australasian Barry Coburn - Allen's publisher.

"It was definitely karma," says Brand who won seven Tamworth gold guitars for his first two albums.

"I was a bit shell shocked as I was in this room with a bloke whose songs had been hits for Alan Jackson. I said to Harley 'this is a little mate of mine who has leukemia. He's only four years old and his whole world has fallen down around him. Look at the smile he's got, his eyes are smiling and there's this beam on his face. If we can find the energy to smile we can get through it. Half way across the world the little fellow helped us write a song that two grown-ups could not get an idea on."

The karmic connection didn't end there for Brand whose song source is now living back home with his family on their cattle station.

"When I left Australia Macabe was still going through his treatment for leukemia," Brand added, "I only found out three weeks later when I got home he had been given his clean bill of health. I also found out we had written the song on his fifth birthday - September 13."

Brand, Gina Jeffreys and Lee and Tania Kernaghan are among many Australian country artists raising funds for cancer research and other health projects.

"I like to focus my attention on kids," says Brand who lives at Nerang in Queensland, "health hardship in the bush is something we see a lot more of. Because we tour we see so much more of it in country areas. You see families suffering because they have to move their whole lives, firstly from the country to the city, for treatment. For people in the country it's awesome."


Brand, twice wed, included two other songs penned with American writers David Lee Murphy and Bob Regen on his album.

Already winning exposure in his former home state is Dirt Racer - a home grown original penned with guitarist Glenn Hannah and race caller Wade Aunger.

Brand, a former stock car driver, features a cameo by Warrnambool based national sprint car champion Max Dumesny.

"Max is leading on points at moment," says Brand, "he's a bit of a legend in motor sports in speedway circles. He's twice Australian sprint car champion and he's won the series four or five times. He's leading now and might do it again."


"Well, living in the city puts a lock on your door/ and you can't appreciate little things no more." - Wayne Burt-Adam Brand.

As a latter day city dweller Adam Branch has a fierce desire to honour his rural roots - even if it meant revamping a 24-year-old song written by a suburban songsmith.

Brand reached back to 1975 for Beating Around The Bush - the Jo Jo Zep tune penned by Wayne Burt whose songs have been covered recently by Leslie Avril and Jane Saunders.

"It's a great old rock number and I thought it made a great country song," Adam says, "I rang Wayne and asked if he minded me changing a few lyrics to personalise it for me and what I'm doing in the country scene."

Brand returned to Perth to film a CMT video for the tune.

With lyrics like "say goodbye to the smog, say goodbye to the queues/ it's been two long years and I've paid my dues" it wasn't hard to illustrate the yearning for the wide open spaces.

Brand, one of many bush bred country artists, didn't have to dream up a bush yearning.
"We built a little shack and put it all on the back of two ton truck and drove it through the main street of Perth in peak hour traffic with a filming car behind us," the prolific singer-songwriter revealed on the eve of an east coast tour which brings him to Victoria this month.


The song ignited Brand's second album 'Good Friends' - his debut for indie Compass Brothers Records created by producer-manager Graham Thompson and veteran country music power broker Jeff Chandler.

Brand, burning bitumen on the road and awards circuit, makes no excuse for sucking fumes of petrol heads for inspiration and plaudits.

The former stock car racer's original tunes 'King Of The Road,' 'Last Man Standing,' 'Losing Streak' and 'Dirt Track Cowboy' pitched his music to our equivalent of the lucrative NASCAR market in the U.S.

'Dirt Track Cowboy' is the theme music for the Premier Speedway at Warrnambool where country king Lee Kernaghan broke the world record with 797 dogs in utes in March, 2001.
Brand fanned the flames of that fanatical following with Don Walker's intro song 'Big Old Car' and his own tunes 'When I Get My Wheels' and 'You're A Revhead.'

"In When I Get My Wheels there's a close parallel to the kid wanting to be Craig Lowndes," says the former stock car racer who left Perth for Sydney in 1997 in a fully loaded 1986 XF Ford ute, "I've done lots of shows at speedway tracks, it's a real part of the people who come to see me. It's definitely not contrived, they would spot a fake a mile away."

Brand, who won awards for a duet with Sydney chanteuse Melinda Schneider on 'Love Away The Night,' is no one truck pony.

The singer straddles the white hat line between progressive and roots country with a commercial clout - a virtue on a level playing field.

But here in the unlucky radio country there is a paucity of metropolitan commercial airplay so Brand and his peers are reliant on community radio, the ABC and pay TV channel CMC that have given him a solid support base in the bush.


"Then I came home one morning, found your note pinned to the door/ saying if this is a perfect love I don't want it any more/ but I wish you every happiness/ and may you always have the best of the good things in life." - 'Good Things In Life' - Adam Brand-Graeme Connors.

Adam, like many peers, has mined ruptured romance for the fertile fodder of reality.- especially 'Good Things In Life' which he wrote in Mackay with Graeme Connors, father of five sons.

It really is my own story," Brand says of an ill-fated marriage that leaves him deep in the shadows of serial altar amorists Steve Earle and the late Harlan Howard who provided the hedonistic 'I Did What' for 'Good Friends.'

"I got engaged at 17, we moved into a commission home and both worked different shifts.

We were married until I was 25. But I didn't write the song until May last year when I visited Graeme at his home in Mackay. Some times it takes writing a song like that to finally shut that chapter in your life. I thought I had dealt with the whole marriage and divorce thing. It was quite an emotional time, good therapy. I didn't know it was happening, it was back there in the sub conscious I guess."

Such an experience made it easier to be able to interpret Walker's tune 'Little Girl' - a companion song of sorts for Michael Thomas's 'Father's Day.'


But it's Walker emotive song 'Little Girl' - saga of a broken marriage seen through the eyes of a young daughter torn between two parents - that is destined to jerk tears and stand the test of time.

"Some would say the world is lost/ in court rooms as the details/ of the custody and court costs/ are read aloud to the parties/ I believe my world is saved, by a little girl watching her daddy shave."

Although Brand, a dental technician by trade, didn't burn out in a custody clash he has ploughed positives from the heartbreak of marital mayhem.

"I came up through step families," says Brand, "I have three sisters but there were no children in my own relationship which ended in Perth. But I knew about all the emotion that went into that song. It comes from deep within the soul."

The success recipe, of course, is being able to balance heartbreak with the joy of a relationship that is successful - like the positive love song Everyone Man Likes You.

"That's about my lovely lady Anne Marie," Brand revealed, "we met before I left Perth and she was my salvation in the tough times. We drove from Perth and she supported me when I was writing and struggling to find success. "

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