2016 CD REVIEW
BENNETT, BOWTELL & URQUHART
GOULBURN VALLEY WOMAN INSPIRES TRIO
“She told me she was born in the Goulburn Valley/ she felt connected to the land/ her mother was a flame-haired Irish lass, her father was a Yorta Yorta man/ Goulburn Valley was the Garden of Eden you know/ water in that river, bush tucker on the plains/ and you could get anything to grow/ I was just a little girl when my only mother left this grievous world/ ah but brown-skin babies, they never have a say/ taken from their fathers to ‘Jesus Missions,' to see the light of a better way/ and we don't raise a fuss, if we know what's good for us.” - Goulburn Valley Woman - Kevin Bennett.
When NSW singer-songwriter Kevin Bennett needed to find a woman to illustrate his evocative song about historic victims of the stolen generation he ventured south of the Murray Dixon line to our rich dairying belt in the Goulburn Valley.
Bennett told his story from the viewpoint of a woman who was the daughter of an Irish woman and indigenous man.
It's a familiar story and also one of the powerful highlights of the bluegrass and roots fuelled debut CD by Bennett, Lynn Bowtell and Felicity Urquhart who have 10 Golden Guitars in their collective careers.
Bennett, a dual Golden Guitarist with acclaimed solo albums and discs with The Flood in his slipstream, is well qualified to write about the subject.
The singer, born in Baradine in western NSW, discovered he had indigenous heritage in 2006 - not Yorta Yorta like the song's heroine or the late Jimmy Little.
“It turned out that I'm from the Kamilaroi tribe of Northern New South Wales,” Kevin revealed in a previous interview.
“It seemed right that there was such a strong connection to Tamworth in a different part of my life.”
It may be a different tribe to that of prolific Grafton raised ARIA and Golden Guitarist Troy Cassar-Daley and Warrnambool singer-songwriter Lee Morgan but adds to the rich tapestry here.
Troy and Lee both have indigenous mothers and fathers of European ancestry.
“The woman in this particular story certainly existed in many parts of Australia of course, so it's a true story,” Bennett explained of his song source.
“Even when I started writing songs in my early twenties, I wrote about the things we were doing to Indigenous people. Those songs never saw the light of day, and now I'm not such an angry young man any more, maybe they shouldn't be released. However, I'm looking at a couple of them, and may do some rewriting.”
The trio bookend their album with I Hear Them All , penned by Old Crow Medicine Show co-founder Ketch Secor and David Rawlings who toured here recently with Gillian Welch, and Kieran Kane-Jamie O'Hara tune When We're Gone, Long Gone .
There's also a traditional bonus track delivered by Bennett and his female harmonists with clap sticks an optional extra.
Trivia buffs may note that Secor and Old Crow Medicine Show shared billing with a pre-fame Taylor Swift at CMC Rocks The Snowys at Thredbo in 2009.
And, of course, Kieran Kane and Jamie O'Hara performed as The O'Kanes before and after solo careers that brought Kane here at least a dozen times - often with Kevin Welch who recorded 2003 album Live Down Here On Earth with Bennett's band The Flood .
Welch and The Flood also recorded the DVD Live - Plenty Of Time .
MOONLIGHT BY THE LAKE
“So while you sit and whistle, Dixie/ with your money and your power/ I can hear the flowers growing/ in the rubble of the towers/ I hear leaders quit their lying/ I hear babies quit their crying / I hear soldiers quit their dyin', one and all/ I hear the tender words from Zion/ I hear Noah's water fall/ hear the gentle Lamb of Judah/ sleeping at the feet of Buddha/ and the Prophets from Elijah/ to the old Paiute Wovoka/ take their places at the table/ when they're called.” - I Hear Them All - David Rawlings-Ketch Secor.
This is not a confrontational anthem - more a personalised paean to the life-long pain of indigenous children taken from their biological parents or parent in a rural environment where they become disconnected from the sustenance of the soil.
Love Of Mine is a hedonistic live for today tale penned by the trio - while the bluegrass fuelled Brand New Truth uses more Biblical imagery to drive its message home, lubricated by snake oil references.
Bennett may be the vocalist on the droll The Best Thing ( That Never Happened To Me ) but it was co-written by the trio.
But he surrenders the vocals on his positive love song Hello Blue Sky where that optimism is written in the character's DNA.
Bennett's delivery of his collaboration with Ohio born writer Kim Richey on I'm On Your Side (Oh Brother ) is reinforced by the rich harmonies of his partners in rhyme.
But it's Felicity who sings lead on her collaboration with Bennett on the pathos primed Bring Back Love.
This is a true trio disc - especially their harmonies on the Kane-O'Hara tune When We're Long, Long Gone that originally surfaced in 1999 on Trio 2 by Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt.
The trio all play guitar on the disc with Bowtell (ukulele) and Felicity guesting on banjo while her singing spouse and producer Glen Hannah also adds percussion, ukulele, banjo and guitars.
Although Bennett, Bowtell and Felicity have performed concerts since 2015 as Country Heart And Soul they wrote their seven originals with supreme speed.
“We had exactly two days to write songs for the album and two days to record,” says Toowoomba raised latter day Hunter Valley singer-songwriter Bowtell.
“It was a pretty ridiculous schedule but we were amazed by how smoothly it went.”
The trio perform May 16-23 at the Norfolk Island festival and Gympie Muster in August with further dates south of the Murray Dixon line later in the year.
Dates will depend on Tamworth born Felicity's Saturday Night Country commitments on her popular national ABC radio show that airs here on 774-AM after the AFL match of the night.