DIARY - 12 JANUARY 2005 - DAVIDSON BROTHERS
FROM YINNAR TO JERSUALEM RIDGE
Rose Monroe - daughter of late bluegrass king Bill Monroe - joined
them on stage at her dad's annual festival on his farm at Rosine deep
in the heart of Kentucky.
And bluegrass legend Del McCoury dedicated a bluegrass version of
the Joy McKean penned Slim Dusty hit Lights On The Hill to
It's a long way from the Gippsland dairy belt hamlet of Yinnar to
the Kentucky home of bluegrass.
But Hamish Davidson and younger brother Lachlan have made the joyous
journey in the pluck of a banjo and caress of twin fiddles.
Now the Davidson Brothers headline our free Nu Country TV young guns
concert at the Arts Centre lawn on Sunday January 30.
Hamish, 21, and Lachlan, 19, are joined by hotshot ABC Music guitarist
and singer Jake Nickolai and Toowoomba troubadour Kim McKenzie, both
19, and acclaimed Camden chanteuse Corrina Steel.
bluegrass band Barnlaid and veteran Sunraysia raised roots country band
The T-Bones add a dash of experience to the lavish concert.
The Davidson Brothers are the latest in a brace of young Aussie country
artists who have headed overseas to explore greener pastures - or bluer
They joined fellow expatriates Keith Urban, Kasey Chambers, Catherine
Britt, Jedd Hughes, Audrey Auld, Sherrie Austin, Jamie O'Neal and Greencards
in the Aussie posse invading the biggest country music market in the world.
The duo represented Australia at International Bluegrass Music festival
in Kentucky and the Bill Monroe festival after a gig at Nashville's famed
And back home they have made the finals of the Australian Country Music
Awards in Tamworth for the second year in succession.
The independent instrumental Hunter Valley Breakdown, produced by former
Redgum picker Hugh McDonald, was their entrée.
Now the lads are writing material for their second album to be produced
by acclaimed producer and writer Rod McCormack - husband of country princess
Gina Jeffreys and studio wizard for artists diverse as Adam Harvey, Beccy
Cole, The Wheel and Bella.
The Davidson Brothers have blazed a hot international trail since their
late teens - and have a huge debt to their music loving parents.
- THE SOURCE
Hamish and Lachlan were the eldest of three children born to schoolteacher
Fay and business analyst husband Alan Davidson in the rich Gippsland dairy
The family lived in the sleepy hamlet of Yinnar, population 531, where
Fay taught at the local primary school and Alan worked in the paper mill
in nearby Maryvale.
Folks worked from dawn to dusk and played music at night and weekends
in the town that took its name from the Aboriginal word for Woman.
The town's web site describes Yinnar as Where Art meets Agriculture Yinnar,
established in 1874, is a tranquil rural township that is home to an eclectic
and successful arts community.
"Yinnar juxtaposes halcyon country life with a vibrant and modern
"A close knit and vibrant community with a superb range of facilities
for all age groups.
"With many residents in the township originating from early ancestors
and pioneers in the region, there is a sense of "living history"
and continuity with the land.
"A dilapidated old butter factory has come back to life as the Yinnar
Art Resource Collective (ARC), a centre of creativity and contemporary
"The collective includes private studios and public access areas
for print-making, ceramics, metalwork, painting, and drawing. The large
gallery holds monthly exhibitions.
"Like its neighbouring town Boolara, Yinnar was established with
the construction of the historic Morwell Mirboo North railway line."
Yinnar is south of Morwell and renowned for its beef and dairy cattle.
Fay and Alan
Davidson played bagpipes when the sun went down and at weekends in their
it was no surprise that their genetics seeped through to sons Hamish
When the boys were aged eight and six their parents treated them
to their first fiddles - bought from a visiting music teacher.
And at 12 while still in primary school Hamish received his first
banjo after Fay saw an ad in her school newsletter.
"Mum bought it for about $200," Hamish revealed on the
eve of their Nu Country gig, "I still have it in my collection.
It now bears Charlie Daniels autograph - I asked him to sign it
on his 1998 tour."
creativity of Yinnar, where the duo returns for triumphant homecoming
concerts, was a fertile font for their music.
They soon became string wizards on banjo, fiddle, mandolin and guitar
with Hamish also mastering piano.
has been in big demand on studio sessions for artists embracing rock,
pop, world, jazz, country and ethnic music.
And, of course, frequently hired for national tours by mainstream Australian
country stars diverse as Lee Kernaghan, Adam Harvey, Sara Storer, Troy
Cassar-Daley and Beccy Cole.
The boys also tour interstate as The Davidson Brothers in between occasional
gigs in Victoria - often as hired hands for peers such as producer McDonald.
EAST FOR DONCASTER
family moved from Yinnar to Melbourne in 2001 and use the luxury of a
pool in the leafy confines of their picturesque two-storey East Doncaster
home for writing, picking and grinning.
It's their oasis in the big smoke where they retreat when not studying
or on the road spreading the bluegrass gospel here and overseas.
The Davidson Brothers released their award winning debut independent album
Stay All Night in October 2003.
They then released their EP Where I Want To Be, produced by Hugh
McDonald of Redgum.
Original songs from that EP landed them in the finals of the Australian
Country Music Awards in 2004 and 2005.
In 2004 it was the biographical title track, replete with a bonus bluegrass
mix, and this year it was their original instrumental Hunter Valley
We won't list all their achievements here.
Check out their web site for that impressive CV at www.davidsonbrothersband.com
At the 2003 Tamworth Country Music Festival in January 2003 they won Country
Entertainer of the Year.
Other highlights include graduating from the Country Music College in
Tamworth and playing banjo and fiddle on a number of tracks for The Man
From Snowy River soundtrack.
In October they also won Best New Act in Victoria at the Tertiary Recreation
and Entertainment Awards.
They were came runner up in the National Final of the National University
Band Competition, representing Victoria at which Hamish won Best Overall
Musician. Hamish is also the current Australian Bluegrass Fiddle Champion.
was a long winding road that led to them representing Australia a
decade later at the International Bluegrass Association festival in
Kentucky late last year.
And although the duo made the finals of the Golden Guitar Awards in
Tamworth in 2004 and 2005 they rarely work in adoptive home city Melbourne.
The Davidson Brothers plough greener fields in Kentucky, Tennessee
and the Aussie bush.
"We rarely play here in Melbourne," Hamish confessed to
of our work is interstate or in the country where we receive plenty of
ABC and community radio airplay. It's harder in Melbourne where it's more
word of mouth."
The Davidson Brothers performed Gympie Muster and Tamworth to crowds between
"Ironically the biggest crowd we enjoyed in Melbourne was at Carols
By Candlelight where there was about 30,000 people, " Hamish quipped.
GREENCARDS AT THE STATION INN
So it was
no surprise they made the most of their whirlwind tour of bluegrass state
Kentucky and country music world HQ in Nashville.
The lads flew out of Melbourne in late September and returned home in
October after a breathtaking entrée to the biggest music market
in the world.
On their first night in Nashville they ventured to famed bluegrass venue
- the historic star-studded Station Inn.
"We organised to meet Catherine Britt at the Station Inn," Lachlan
told Nu Country,
"we wanted to have a look at this famous bluegrass venue. Josh, our
mandolin player who arrived in Nashville earlier, said guess who's playing
tonight - The Greencards. They were there as part of Americana Music Awards."
The not so cryptically named Greencards feature expatriate Australians
Kym Warner and singing spouse Carol Young, originally from Dorrigo and
Also in the band is English fiddle player Eamon McLoughlin.
The Greencards made their debut disc Movin' On in Austin, Texas,
where Warner also produced Texan young gun Ben Atkins second album
Kym Warner hails from a country music dynasty with music credibility 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.
Kym won four Aussie National Bluegrass Mandolin Championships before moving
to Texas, while Young was twice nominated for Golden Guitars.
Although the band found plenty of session and live work in the Texan capital
they have moved to Nashville to be closer to the industry and bluegrass
And further away from LA. from where Warner was deported after returning
from Tamworth in 2004.
Warner and Young were heading to Austin and disembarked at LAX only to
discover that, because Warner had previously filed for a change of status
to his work visa, his passport was missing a necessary stamp from the
As Warner was handcuffed and led to a holding cell to await a 17-hour
return flight to Sydney, bassist Young had to beg the Feds to let her
collect her house keys and credit cards from him.
"They just can't break the rules for anyone nowadays," she sighs,
adding that officials got "a bit of a laugh" from the group's
FESTIVAL AT ROSINE
back to the Davidson Brothers.
living thousands of miles from Kentucky the duo won its role on the
annual Bill Monroe bluegrass festival at Rosine through persistence.
"I heard the festival was on the week before the IBMA festival
in Louisville that we had been booked for," Lachlan revealed.
"I kept emailing this bloke who lives on Bill's farm. But he
was always out doing tours. He wasn't sure about booking us. He didn't
know if we would fit the festival, So I sent him over our first album
Stay All Night that opened with the Bill Monroe track Going
Back To The Old Home.
It was all about going back to Rosine. He said that's exactly
what he wanted. It was a real thrill, playing on the outdoor stage
to 10,000 people. It ran all weekend so we went to the baseball with
Dad in Cincinnati - two states away - and came back on the Sunday.
We felt like picking again."
And it was
no shock they were adopted by their hosts and other artists.
"We ended up getting back on stage again when we were rehearsing
Bill's daughter Carolina Rose Monroe asked me to play fiddle with her,"
"We also played with Ronnie Stowman. She was a star on the Hee Haw
TV series for 20 years."
But like many peers they were caught short with their modest supply of
their music for sale.
"We sold out of CDS on our first night in Kentucky," Hamish
added, "so next time we will have a new album and a lot more copies
of it. Rod McCormack will produce it."
Getting booked at the IBMA festival in Louisville was a little easier
- especially when veteran bluegrass band Hot Rize, who toured here in
1987, went into bat for the duo. Hot Rize and alter ego Red Knuckles &
The Trail Blazers performed at the Mittagong bluegrass festival long before
singer Tim O'Brien enjoyed solo success.
"It came about because of Hot Rize," Hamish revealed.
"It was Peter Wernick who plays banjo and steel guitar. I got to
know him when he was president of IBMA. Being Australian stands out like
dog's balls. We also got to know Tim O'Brien on this trip."
The festival was held at a 20-storey luxury hotel in the thriving city
of Louisville. Inside was a huge auditorium and many other bars where
artists jammed at the drop of a banjo.
"We were on the main stage in the ballroom," Hamish recalled,
"we followed John Cowan from New Grass Revival on the same night
as Rhonda Vincent, Del McCoury, Jim Lauderdale, Tom T Hall and many others.
We played for 40 minutes. There were about 10,000 people at the festival.
There was music on all 20 floors."
duo was warmly accepted on and off stage.
"I walked up to Rhonda Vincent because the photographer who did
her album cover also did ours," Lachlan confided.
"He had moved to Australia. She half recognised me before I started
speaking. We also spoke to Alison Krauss's band and met Del McCoury."
It was McCoury, who toured with six times wed warrior Steve Earle
until the Texan's profanities wounded his ears, who welcomed the duo
in an unexpected way.
"Del did Lights On The Hill and dedicated it to us," Hamish
"We didn't know he was going to do that. He said he hadn't played
Slim and Joy's song for six years and dedicated it to us. It took
our breath away."
Brothers are realistic about the competitive nature of the U.S. music
scene and the need to build a power base at home.
Lack of metropolitan commercial radio airplay for country and bluegrass
music has tempted them to follow their dreams to Tennessee and Kentucky.
But they are resisting offers to perform, record and tour overseas until
they're ready. And they want to use Australia as their music launch pad.
"We like working in Australia but going overseas we realised we could
be successful over there, even just working on the bluegrass circuit,"
"But it's a matter of timing. We need a new album to sell at our
concerts there. We also want to finish our professional courses here."
Hamish has spent four years studying chiropractics in Bundoora and Lachlan
also has tertiary studies as an option.
"The week before my engineering course started at university I got
a call from Lee Kernaghan to tour with him," Lachlan, now 19, confessed.
"I knew I would regret not taking Lee's offer so I deferred my engineering
Meanwhile the boys are planning their new album with Rod McCormack.
"We're writing material for the album right now," Hamish says,"The
landmark local bluegrass album is Trev Warner's High Rolling recorded
before Rod had a bigger studio. We're confident we could make another
landmark album with Rod's expertise."
the Davidson Brothers rarely play in Melbourne they pull crowds on those
"We have doubled crowds in venues each time we play there but there
is not a lot of work without radio exposure," Hamish says.
"We received more airplay on the ABC and community radio. We have
had a lot of support from John Nutting on his national radio show."
And their exposure embraces outreaches of the unlucky radio country.
"In the smaller towns everyone listens to the local radio station,'
says Lachlan, "in the cities like Melbourne they say 'how do you
hear country music?' It's usually word of mouth for our music. We have
done singles on the NFS disc that goes to radio all over the country.
People in far North Queensland are hearing our stuff on radio and email
us to get more."
The bluegrass boom has also been ignited by the huge selling Cohn Brothers
movie O Brother that sold huge amounts despite being treated like a leper
by commercial radio.
And, of course, occasional commercial TV variety shows like long time
country fan Bert Newton's Good Morning Australia and Pay TV channel CMC
now available in the big smoke for Foxtel, Optus and Austar subscribers.
The huge sales of Dixie Chicks, Alison Krauss, Keith Urban and Kasey Chambers
also opened the door to Ten Network show Video Hits.
Don't forget Nu Country TV - Saturday 8 p m and Tuesday 3 p m - C 31 for
Series #3 of the Peter Hosking produced and directed and Michael Wormald
Host Heather Rutherford interviewed Hamish and Lachlan for Episode 3 that
airs on Saturday January 22.
It's a preview for our Nu Country TV Concert sponsored and presented by
the Arts Centre.
The Davidson Brothers are joined on the concert by fellow young guns Jake
Nickolai and Kim MacKenzie, both 19, Corrina Steel, Barnlaid and The T-Bones.
They perform the Arts Centre free Summertime Grooves concert series -
2.30-5.30 pm on Sunday January 30.
Info - www.theartscentre.net.au/summertimegrooves/
/ back to diary