DIARY - 23 FEBRUARY 2005 -
SUNSHINE HARVESTER CD REVIEW
HARVESTER - SUMMER RAIN
rain soggy and wet/ won't you come thumping down/ rain, rain soggy and
wet/ won't you whirl around." Rain Song - Moana Kerr-Andrew
association and timing are soulful siblings in the music industry
Melbourne band Rusty Truck became Sunshine Harvester after it
discovered another U.S. group of the same name.
It's debatable whether the multi-national agricultural combine
company will provide sponsorship for the group.
the band could harvest hay from hell if it could prove release of its
Rain Song was perfect timing and a reversible role for the family
in their biblical parable.
The boy, aged 9, performs his rain song and his family is rewarded when
their farm is destroyed - not just by drought, but fire.
But it was obviously not life imitating art - just as Rain Song
surfaced on community radio the drought broke in Victoria.
Sunshine Harvester singer Moana Kerr - a former Nu Country FM DJ - arrived
at the resurrected station at the Paris, Texas, end of Collins St after
the station's Beer Can Hill studios burned down on Monday June 26, 2000.
But, like peers, she survived and became a Nu Country TV interviewer
while writing and singing with her band.
Kerr, a prolific expatriate Kiwi writer, penned Rain Song with
Carringbush toy maker Adrian Deakin who once played ukulele and guitar
for the band.
But here Kerr, partner Leo Kahans banjo, fiddle, mandolin and vocals,
double bassist Rod Boothroyd and acoustic guitarist Brian Fitzgerald
drive the harvester.
With a little help from Kerr's mentor Paul Cumming - guitarist for Dirty
Hanks and host of the Movin n Groovin hour as Elroy Flicker on
PBS-FM - on dobro.
The Dirty Hanks were an innovative band on the Melbourne honky tonk
circuit in the nineties before Cumming became a paraplegic in a car
Cumming chose not to drive after drinking and was a passenger in a car
involved in a tragic accident.
The band veered from its bluegrass base to Appalachian and gives Kerr
a chance to exploit death on her originals When I Die, heartbreak
on Don't Say It and choosing between country and city beaus on
Should I Ask?
And, of course, tossing death, poverty and a strategically disastrous
graduation from moonshining to cash crops and prison in the blender
for narcotic narrative Wherever You Go.
Not only does the song character lose his mother in the first verse
to be raised by a drunken father but serves three years instead of the
original sentence of two.
That's where Moana trumps Steve Earle in Copperhead Road - maybe
the sequel will be geographically correct where the anti-hero succumbs
to running a speed lab in the garden state.
The sequencing works as it precedes Rain Song and her lost highway
homage Calling Of The Road.
Now that does mean Kerr is the band's accessible peak?
The most radio friendly song is the jolly Boothroyd tune The Best
Place where his vocals impact on memorable refrain - "there's
one thing better than Paris in the sun/ it's having someone to join
in the fun."
Light and shade is a wondrous thing and Sunshine Harvester's collective
clout makes this a joyous journey.
It's unclear if oft-covered Stephen Foster tune, O Suzanna, and
staples In The Pines and Holy Ghost Building are ballast
And back to timing - Sunshine Harvester launches its CD at Wesley Ann
Hall, nee Ruckers, on Beer Can Hill in Northcote - on Saturday February
Wesley Anne Hall is at 250 High St, Northcote - on the same side of
the drag as the Peacock Inn and opposite acclaimed Northcote Social
Club that hosts Kevin Welch, Kieran Kane and Fats Kaplin on Wednesday
Also on the bill is Glaswegian Alex Legg whose album Healesville
received a rave review in Beat Magazine many moons ago.
"The venue itself is charming, not unlike the Ryman, it used to
be a church and they have put in church pews, so it should be very special,"
Kerr told Nu Country.
Also competing for country bucks that night are Keith Urban and Sam
Hawksley at The Palais, Kieran Kane and Kevin Welch at Milano's in Brighton
and Cyndi Boste at Cornish Arms.
"We're off to America at the end of April, to go to Merlefest,
where Alison Krauss is performing!," Kerr added.
"Then I'm going down to Georgia to the Lewis Family Gospel Bluegrass
festival, to see James King and Jim McReynolds and Virginia Boys. Leo
heads to Nashville."
ALEX LEGG REVIEW
Scot singer-songwriter Alex Legg has an advantage over many peers
- he has released his Australian debut disc with little hype.
But with seasoned stealth he fires both barrels by sequencing his
riveting title track as his entrée.
Healesville is a hook heavy belter that enables Legg to daub his
powerful imagery with tasty harmonic licks.
The singer, who arrived here in August, 2003, benefits from fresh
eyes on our bush from a Croydon domicile.
unlike some peers, the tempo doesn't flag after the entrée -
Medicine Cup drips with moving metaphors and Too Many Children
is a vibrant vignette on shattered childhood dreams.
Sweet Mayo and The Halloween Dance are powerful paeans
to nostalgia although Legg probably didn't arrive at the whim of an
Legg excels with an ambiguity of imagery - especially in Some Old
Junk Shop and a dash of redemption in The Mighty Fall.
He laces rollicking Upright Song with whimsy and A Passionate
Man - melodic melange of Steve Earle's Galway Girl and Johnny
Come Lately - with agrarian phosphate.
And midst the observations of life there's a romantic tinge in the laid
back Cold In The Doorway, replete with Legg on mandolin, and
evocative finale Who Are These Strangers.
But best song, narrative wise, is He Didn't Know His Daddy (But He
Sure Could Rock N Roll) with a Syracuse sting in the tail of the
There's shades of Joe Ely and Jerry Lee Lewis in a piano primed melody
and Dixie fried imagery "from Texicana to the Blue Bayou."
So who can readers use as a yardstick?
Well, perhaps Legg's music is a country folk hybrid reminiscent of fellow
expatriate Scot Steve Boyd and John Hiatt.
Legg, who has collaborated with Wind Beneath My Wings writer Larry Henley,
exercises far more vocal restraint than transplanted Glaswegian Jimmy
Legg launched Healesville at the Cornish Arms, Brunswick, on
May 15, 2004.
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