DIARY - 23 JANUARY 2005 - REVIEW OF KETTLE OF FISH
the farm has been dry for six straight long years/ what else can a man
like me do/ but go down to the mines with a shovel and pick/ and dig up
some diamonds for you." Thinking Of You - Paul Hicks.
singer songwriter Paul Hicks thumbed south down Lost Highway 31 from
Oxley to the big smoke in 1984 he was best known for his football
Hicks and three brothers booted, marked and chased leather for Wangaratta
Rovers - one of the teams that Collingwood champion Bob Rose coached
to a premiership.
The long lean leather magnet took the road less travelled with sport
while he developed a profession with a business degree at Swinburne
to Europe, Asia and Africa and on his return soaked up passion for music
as an office volunteer and DJ at aspirant Beer Can Hill radio station
Nu Country FM.
The singer noted a vast void in the market so he formed the Haybalers
and Broken Spoke with fellow DJs Hans Herdina, Red Smith and Nu Country
technician Rodger Delfos - a Dead Livers guitarist.
After the station burned down on June 26, 2000, and resurrected at the
Paris, Texas, top of Collins St in 2001, Hicks spread his wings again
when it didn't win a licence.
DJ and veteran actor Peter Hosking recruited Hicks and fellow disc
jockeys Red and Heather Rutherford in 2003 as hosts of Nu Country
TV on popular Victorian community station C 31.
Hicks, confidence boosted by his profile, tried a cerebral challenge
- writing songs for the most neglected genre in the unlucky radio
Broken Spoke performed on C 31 and community radio to promote its
CD while Hicks built a hefty catalogue without a home.
So he lured
a bunch of higher profile peers to embroider tunes road tested beyond
the city limits on the Shipwreck Coast and the shrinking suburban skull
the disc with guitarist Craig Pilkington and plays acoustic guitar with
studio band including Broken Spoke drummer Ron Mahney, bassist John Edgar
and vast cast of guests.
The include pedal steel guitarist Garrett Costigan, Bill Chambers on lap
steel and guitar, Greg Hunt on fiddle-mandolin, organist Bruce Haymes,
Peter Somerville on banjo and Dave Evans on accordion.
So you have the roll call - what about the music?
Well, Hicks did his research and avoided the alt country quicksand of
peers and cut a roots country disc that will surprise skeptics.
The singer dug deep into his travels and psyche and bares heart and soul
on a disc that he entrées with A Little Better Than That
- saga of a honky-tonk temptress with a ring on her finger and cheating
on her mind.
It's a surefire staple of the genre and sibling of drinking song Just
Cause I Was Falling In Love, Continental love of The Time I Get
To You, ignited by accordion.
He laces love tunes The Only One, replete with travel stained imagery,
Comin' Home and Before You Say Goodbye with suffice lachrymose
lava to jerk tears.
But equally importantly message songs such as the biblical title track,
given a rollicking piano priming by Haymes, and Broken Child are
personalised to add country credibility.
Sequencing is impeccable - the biographical If It Sounds Good segues
into a vat of vitriol poured into Almost Gone and the metaphorical
rural requiem finale Thinking Of You.
This release will be swift solace for Hicks who lost his mother and father
to illness in less than 12 months.
They would be proud his sympathetic instrumentation and production ensure
he is a Wangaratta mile ahead of the Australiana clones and alt country
YOUNG GUNS BLAZE AT ARTS CENTRE
peers diverse as teenage Toowoomba troubadour Kim MacKenzie, Jake Nickolai,
Camden chanteuse Corrina Steel and The Davidson Brothers pick up the torch
on the Sabbath.
The artists, augmented by seasoned Sunraysia saddletramps The T-Bones
and suburban bluegrass band Barnlaid, perform at the Nu Country TV concert
on the Arts Centre lawn in St Kilda Road.
The Arts sponsored concert, designed to give exposure to young local artists
ignored by commercial radio in their homeland, is an accurate barometer
of our talent depth.
It's given exposure on surrogate radio - Nu Country TV - Saturday @ 8
p m - Tuesday @ 3 p m - on C 31.
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