DIARY - 17 FEBRUARY 2009 - FELICITY URQUHART
FIRST PAST THE POST
had to be small to ride in the silks/ you had to work hard to learn all
the skills." - Ernie's Daughter - Felicity Urquhart-Mick Thomas-Chuck
host Felicity Urquhart is riding high in the saddle - because of some
bright sparks in her family.
First there is her late grandfather Ernie Walmsley who sowed the seeds
of one of the highlights of her sixth album Landing Lights.
The revered jockey-trainer regaled the Tamworth born singer with yarns
about his life and career including the meeting of her mum and dad.
Urquhart embellished the true-life romance - Ernie's Daughter -
with Weddings, Parties Anything-Sure Thing icon Mick Thomas and Chuck
Then there is guitarist fiancé Glen Hannah who proposed to her
in quaintly named Indiana town New Harmony during a break in the recording
of the album in Music City.
The couple will wed here in March on the eve of Felicity's tours with
two of her idols - Ohio born Kim Richey and famed Texan troubadour Rodney
Felicity developed her love of western swing, showcased on a previous
disc with the Feral Swing Katz, from Ernie.
The singer has overcome mainstream radio ban to adopt a high profile from
hosting roles on Sydney Weekender, Golden Guitar Awards, CMC and Nu Country.
She also opened for Waylon & Willie, Merle Haggard and The Pope and
was flown by chopper from a Hunter Valley writing workshop to entertain
the former U.S. President George Dubya Bush and John Howard during APEC
for a Garden Island BBQ on Sydney Harbour.
So it's no surprise she had a Melbourne Cup field of seasoned songsmiths
keen to collaborate with her on Landing Lights, produced in Nashville
by Brad Jones.
They included Richey, frequent co-writer Randy Scruggs, Mark Selby, Robert
Lee Castleman - Alison Krauss major song source - and expatriate Adelaide
guitarist and singer Jedd Hughes.
WHAT ERNIE'S DAUGHTER TAUGHT HER
made a pass and tried to court her/ to win the heart of Ernie's daughter/
she was proud to be the daughter/ who was blessed by holy water."
- Ernie's Daughter.
ascension from busker to major artist is a triumph for the singer, raised
in the Peel River country music capital.
And, it was there the upholsterer's daughter scored spring from her dad
as well as spark from her grandfather.
Not quite like the same charge that Ernie applied to some of his mounts
that disrupted his pre-war riding.
Felicity wrote Ernie's Daughter about the post war romance of her
mum and dad who met at a Tamworth dance after Ernie swapped riding for
training horses at tiny Bingara in the New England Tablelands.
"Ernie grew up on the Central Coast in a little country town called
Jilliby and went to Sydney and did his apprenticeship," Felicity
told Nu Country.
"It was the era of Phar Lap and he raced there until he got banned
for using a battery on a horse. I asked him why he needed a battery and
he said to give it a little more get-up and go. After the war they lifted
the ban - he was able to ride again."
And it was after a rural riding stint that included three Cameron Handicap
wins at Newcastle on Homeleigh Dick from 1946-9 the song seeds were sown.
"He went out to the country and started training horses for my Nan's
dad," Felicity revealed.
"She met pop through her dad's horses - she had an eye for him and
thought he was pretty alright. They got married and had a family."
THOMAS AND CHUCK JENKINS
was the equestrian romance of one of those foals that ensured Ernie's
Daughter had a happy ending.
"The song was finished but it was all over the shop when I took
it to Mick Thomas and Chuck Jenkins in Melbourne," the singer
"I was sitting in the kitchen at Chuck's place in Brunswick and
playing if for the fellows. We literally knocked it into shape - they
had a couple of cool things to add.
Mick added a line about the spring carnival and helped polish it.
I need reinforcement when I'm writing. I love co-writing for that
Felicity's mother was also elated with the song.
get brownie points with mum, baked dinners for the rest of my life,"
"She grew up with jockeys and trainers and was eyed off by all the
But not by George Adams - a Bingara bootmaker and SP bookie and father
of Northern Daily Leader journalist Anna Rose.
lights guiding me through lonely nights/ touching down, back to you/ safe
and sound/ when I see those landing lights." - Landing Lights
- Felicity-Jedd Hughes
It was an
11th hour writing session with Jedd Hughes, born at Quorn, north of Adelaide,
that inspired her title track.
Hughes, a graduate of the country music course at South Plains College
at Levelland, near Lubbock in West Texas, joined the band of another Coalminer's
Daughter, Patty Loveless, before releasing his solo disc Transcendental
for major Nashville label MCA.
"Landing Lights is another family song," Felicity confessed.
"It's also about my partner Glen Hannah - we're getting married in
March. I was literally leaving Nashville for home on my last writing trip
before going back to record. I left the apartment I was staying in and
called Jedd as I had couple of hours to kill. I said 'let's work on a
song'. He started playing a little melody on his guitar. I said 'I just
want to get home to see those landing lights.' We just started writing
it as we related to that concept of looking forward to going home to the
ones who support you. We got the bulk of the song out and finished second
verse by email. He came to the studio and played on it."
So did Hannah,
known for his guitar work with many local acts including Kasey Chambers.
"Glen and I have been going out together for eight years," the
"When first met he was playing with Anne Kirkpatrick. About two years
ago Anne said 'when is it going to happen?" Well, it happened when
we were away recording this album. We had a couple of days off and went
to New Harmony - hometown of Mickey Grimm who plays on the album. Glen
proposed to me in New Harmony, very cool. There are 900 people in the
town. It was founded by the Harmonists. When we got back to the studio
Brad said 'what did you guys get up to?" I said we got engaged. He
said 'you Aussies don't muck around."
Ironically, Jewel Blanch - the first Australian country starlet to record
in Nashville - was born at tiny Harmony Hills between Armidale and Glen
Innes in the New England Tablelands.
I can't tell you when expatriate Australasian publisher-promoter Barry
Coburn proposed to Jewel but they were living in another Armadale before
I drove their getaway car to Tullamarine when they eloped to Christchurch
for their wedding.
But I digress.
IN THE MALL
grew up on the flood plains/ across the great divide/ in a painted wooden
fold house, out on the eastern side/ of a slow flowing river that split
the town in two/ between the local legends and the trippers blowing through."
- Girl In The Mall - Felicity-Mark Seymour.
has long been one of Felicity's strong suits.
So it was no surprise when former Hunters & Collectors singer Mark
Seymour seeded Felicity's life story narrative Girl In The Mall.
"I told Mark my story on a trip to Tamworth when I invited him to
play a show with me at the 2008 festival," the singer recalled.
the festival I got his email - he said 'you told me that story at
your mum and dad's place over toasted sangers I just got a total understanding
of you and your family and upbringing - the town of Tamworth and how
it changes for festival and how you started. We've got to write your
story. I said 'what, are you serious? If it wasn't for Mark saying
this is worthy of a song I probably wouldn't have written it. My first
guitar was an old nylon string crappy thing - then after that I had
more money to go and get a cooler guitar. I bought an acoustic Fender
for about $500. I made $90 in the first half an hour when I was busking
on my first day - my first year of Tamworth High School. l was 12.
Even then I re-invested from my busking and the extra money I got
from dad helping in his workshop where he worked as an upholsterer."
GOOD FUN WITH KIM RICHEY
all good fun until somebody cries/ people come undone when somebody cries/
where are you going to run too now." - All Good Fun - Felicity-Kim
joint Australian March tour with Kim Richey - her co-writer on All
Good Fun - is serendipitous.
"I was in the front row of her Tamworth show in 2002, I already had
her albums," Felicity recalled.
"The years went by and we went our own way. Bill Page of Mushroom
Publishing said 'have you heard of Kim Richey?' I replied 'I love Kim
Richey.' He said 'how would like to write with her. I said 'I would love
to. Where do I need to be and when? I couldn't believe it. It was incredible
- she was someone I looked up to. She's amazing - all the incredible people
I write with they make me lift my game to their level. I find them very
inspiring. We wrote two songs in two days at her Nashville home. When
she comes out to do the tour with me we also have some songwriting time
Felicity and Kim perform at the Apollo Bay festival from March 27-29 at
the start of their national tour.
Richey was born in Dayton, Ohio suburb of Zanesville, named by Ebenezer
Zane - great, great grandfather of Western novelist Zane Grey.
She first toured here in January, 2002, with seasoned songsmith Jim Lauderdale,
Canadians Fred Eaglesmith and Jason McCoy and expatriate Tasmanian Audrey
Kim, 52, has written hits for artists diverse as Trisha Yearwood, Radney
Foster, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Loveless, Lorrie Morgan and Cyndi
The singer's father drowned when she was just two and landed songs in
movies diverse as Happy Texas and Field Of Dreams.
She is touring to promote her sixth album Chinese Boxes.
with me everywhere I go/ waiting in the corner for my shadow." -
Little Cricket - Felicity-Robert Lee Castleman
exciting were sessions with truck driving troubadour Robert Lee Castleman.
Felicity recorded two songs she wrote with Castleman - Little Cricket
and Time For A Change.
"I was left a CD of his when I was looking for songs for the
previous album My Life," says Urquhart.
"I was over in Nashville writing but also wanted to record one
of his songs. Alison Krauss doesn't write but recorded his songs -
she took several of his songs and made them unique. I asked if he
had any songs I could record - next thing I know I have this CD of
his on my doorstep that Robert dropped off. I didn't get to meet him
that time. I was playing his songs over and over and came home and
said I've got to record one of those songs on My Life - the only cover.
Robert Lee a copy of the album - I hoped he would say thank you and say
he liked what I had done. I then got this incredible email saying I liked
what you did and I love your whole album. Glen produced it. Robert said
'we should meet next time you are in town.' I was really happy - I took
him up on that. We went to dinner and I was really nervous about meeting
this guy who had written all these great songs for Alison. It was an incredible
night and he talked about 'Ali this and Ali that.' I was getting to know
the character behind these heart-wrenching songs. He said 'how long are
you in town for - we need to write.' I almost fell off my chair. I would
so love to write with him. When you write with Robert Lee it's like a
marathon. It's so intense and a real test of stamina and concentration
level, learning from all his writing techniques. We would write and there
was always a break for lunch, serious time out. Then we would saddle up
again. It was a big day, early in the morning until late at night.
"He would later ring up and say we need to change that. I've never
written with Guy Clark but from what I've heard from Jedd it's like that.
Every word has a purpose - meticulous."
Also a meticulous writer is Texan troubadour Rodney Crowell - with whom
Felicity is touring here in April.
"I only found out last night I'm touring NSW and NSW with Rodney,"
"It will be a great experience."
leave the ground, touch the sky/ faster, faster like a runaway train/
Rollercoaster see the stars in your eyes/ while it lasts, enjoy the ride."
- Rollercoaster - Felicity-Randy Scruggs.
also resurrected her writing with Randy Scruggs - one of the sons of bluegrass
"We wrote and finished four songs this project," Felicity added.
"I love writing with Randy and also him as a human being. He has
a genuine warmth and also an incredible musician and personality. I really
click with him. We have written so many other songs. I love all these
songs, that didn't make the album, to be there as well.
Rollercoaster was the first song ready for the album. It was written after
seeing those television shows about making stars - both here and overseas.
I had the chorus and sang it to Randy. It didn't take long to finish.
He also came in and played guitar on the album."
listened to the stories of an overnight sensation/ and cover bands who
never got that far/ and the legend of a lonely girl with a hand-me down
guitar/ and a thousand voices singing in the mall." - Girl In
The Mall - Felicity-Mark Seymour
is no stranger to high profile concerts and tours.
She has opened for Waylon & Willie, Merle Haggard and The Pope and
toured the U.S. with The Feral Swing Katz.
And she has also performed overseas for Australian troops and Federal
police officers - most recently in the Solomon Islands.
But she was sceptical when approached in a Sydney pub and quizzed about
a secretive sin city gig.
"I was playing at the Vanguard in Sydney and this gentleman said
'what are you doing on this certain date?" Felicity confided. "I
said 'that's when the big APEC thing is on.' I said I'm not sure. I have
a writers' thing on, I was all very candid. He said we might have a performance
for the Prime Minister for you. I said 'yeah right,' and laughed it off.
He said 'and the President.' I said 'the President of the U.S., well,
I'm not sure. I have this songwriter's workshop and that's where my priorities
are at the moment. Next day my manager (Joan Douglas) called up and said
'did you say no yesterday to performing for the Prime Minister and the
president?' I said 'there was this gentleman and I didn't really know
how fair dinkum he was. I did say my heart is about writing songs. Joan
said 'they're prepared to chopper you into the BBQ lunch from the Hunter
Valley and chopper you back. You won't miss too much at all, just a couple
of hours.' They wanted someone to represent the Australian country genre
because the President was a country fan. I said 'forget the politics I'll
be able to tell the grandchildren one day.'
and her band scored international publicity for their short set on Garden
The recently departed president, like Rick Perry (successor as Texas Governor)
who befriended 2008 Australian Of The Year Lee Kernaghan at a function
in L A., is a genuine country fan.
"Afterwards we had photos taken with George," Felicity added.
"He asked if I had been to Texas. I said 'no but I had been to Nashville.
He said 'well done, come on over.' I was even more intrigued by Condoleeza
Rice. She was there as well - she has a real air about her. She was fascinating
to watch. The PM was lovely. He came up and thanked me and my band - the
personal touch. And we had the best security of any gig. My old guitar
case was checked out for foreign objects. Landing on Garden Island was
very dramatic with the Secret Service everywhere. The band all got to
meet George and the PM.
We did three songs. It was great to represent Australia."
Especially when there were no fly by night dance divas, refried rockers
or rappers within shooting distance.
AND CARTER & CARTER
a previous Nu Country TV host, will also record a new hosting role for
Series #12 that begins in June.
She filmed her previous hosting role at the Lilydale home of Golden Guitar
winners Carter & Carter.
Felicity was touring and staying with Merelyn and David Carter who recently
moved to a farm at King Lake with their animals.
The Carters had a narrow brush with death when the bush fires engulfed
King Lake last weekend.
Luckily the duo and family survived and will feature on Nu Country TV
on Saturday February 21 and 28.
We will feature two of their video clips filmed in the King Lake area
that now resembles a horrific moonscape.
CLICK HERE for TonkGirl's gig guide
for Felicity and Kim Richey tour dates.
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