"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 Deakin.

Word association and timing are soulful siblings in the music industry badlands.

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.

< Sunshine Harvester

But 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 accident.

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 or bonus.

And back to timing - Sunshine Harvester launches its CD at Wesley Ann Hall, nee Ruckers, on Beer Can Hill in Northcote - on Saturday February 26.

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 March 16.

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."



Expatriate 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.

And, 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 English magistrate.

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 tale.

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 Barnes.

Legg launched Healesville at the Cornish Arms, Brunswick, on May 15, 2004.

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