DIARY - 14 NOVEMBER 2004 - CORRINA STEEL
STEELS HERSELF FOR WAYWARD TOUR
gonna find me a reckless man who chases the big sky/ maybe a river gambler
or a shotgun Sam with a wandering eye/ trade this wedding band for something
less permanent/ just don't settle on a shoe that doesn't fit." River
Gambler, Corrina Steel-Jeremy Edwards.
are a powerful inspiration for Camden born country singer Corrina
There was the night in a Tenterfield pub when drunken footballers
caused her to flee the stage and cry in her room upstairs after
she performed western swing and country songs by artists diverse
as Bob Wills and George Jones.
And then there was a night in Memphis when her car caught fire and
ended chances of seeing Jones play the Ryman Auditorium - Nashville
home of the Grand Ol Opry.
never performed in a covers band after her experience in the town
eulogised by the late Peter Allen.
But the singer
still sings the praises of Jones and one song by late singing actor Hoyt
Axton on her acclaimed debut disc Wayward that she launches at
The Cornish Arms on November 24.
The launch is a curtain raiser to her appearance on the Nu Country stage
at the Arts Centre Summertime Grooves Concert Series on Sunday January
Steel is not your average country singer - she bares her heart and soul
in song and is not reluctant to talk about her inspiration.
AT PARIS TEXAS END OF COLLINS ST
who made her radio debut as a DJ on Nu Country FM at the Paris, Texas,
end of Collins St in 2001, is prolific.
She wrote 10 of 11 songs on her debut in settings diverse as a Lismore
farm house, an Ettalong Beach motel with Bill Chambers and the back of
TAB tickets in a tiny pub at Mallangene.
Her Nu Country era, with exposure to the most eclectic music in the western
world, was an extension of her childhood listening near Camden south of
"I was born in a little town south west of Sydney," Steel said,
"out near Camden. Dad named me Corrina after Merle Haggard's version
of Corrina, Corrina. He grew up in the bush near Warragamba. He would
have been hovering around a little wireless back in the late forties like
a lot of people back then down in the valley where he lived. It's now
the Warragamba dam. They flooded the valley. They were all packed up and
moved. They dug up the graves."
Corrina and her two elder guitar-playing brothers grew up listening to
their father's vinyl county music.
"My brothers played guitars and were more into Led Zeppelin and AC-DC.
Now they have Jerry Lee and Johnny Cash. Gone back to it. We couldn't
pick up many stations - missed out on mainstream pop stations. The first
CD I heard was Crossroads - the Ry Cooder soundtrack to movie."
Steel left her country home and school at 15, to ply her music in a country
duo with now deceased performing partner Greg Bain.
"I left school early, I thought I was in gaol," Steel revealed,
"I was 15 when I went to Sydney. I was playing with a friend from
where I grew up. Went to Tamworth for first time at 16. We were doing
a bit of duo stuff. He passed away when I was 21. He was into Neil Young
side of country. He was a bit of a cowboy - we never got into the city
side. We played mainly out in the boondocks. We managed to write a couple
of songs together but never been able to get my hands on them. Greg Bain.
I was also in this heavy swampy blues band about seven years ago."
FIRE NEAR MEMPHIS
later spent 12 months living in Memphis with Kenny Brown - adoptive
white son of blues artist R L Burnside.
"I needed to go over and see where all the music I loved came
from,' Steel recalled.
"He taught me to play slide guitar. My desire to play slide here
is not as strong as it was over there. I fell back into songwriting
It's like every man and his dog is playing slide guitar here.
One of R
L Burnside's sons played in the North Mississippi All Stars. While living
there I attempted to drive up to see George Jones perform at the Ryman.
The car broke down the night before. I was in Memphis. I had been at Junior
Kimbrough's Juke Joint the night before. The car caught on fire. Those
sorts of things happen when you hang around Junior's."
returned here and retreated to a remote farm near Lismore for writing
sessions for her album with writers diverse as Jeremy Edwards and Steve
"We wrote Move On there," Corrina added.
"I had known Jeremy for a long time. He was in a band and is making
his own album. It was my lyric idea and his melody."
Steel also finished River Gambler with Edwards.
"I wrote lyrics to that on the back of a TAB ticket in a little bush
pub at Mallangene - between Casino and Tenterfield. It's an Aboriginal
word. Maybe a big TAB ticket or two or three TAB tickets. A big night
at that hotel is about 10 people. There's a lot of reckless cowboys up
there, real characters."
Steel called her CD Wayward (Snakedrive-Shock) about soul searching
for her muse.
CHAMBERS MOTEL SESSION
Corrina duets with Bill Chambers who plays dobro and slide guitar on three
tracks on a disc that featuring fiddler Mick Albeck - former spouse of
"I wrote Paradise Lost with Bill in a motel room at Ettalong
Beach," says Steel.
"It was a cheap little motel room with a glorious view. We had a
bottle of wine, a couple of guitars and it came out of nowhere in a couple
Steel included one cover - I Dream Of Highways penned by late singing
actor Hoyt Axton whose hits reach back to the sixties for artists diverse
as The Kingston Trio, Three Dog Night and Steppenwolf.
"I'm a huge fan of Hoyt," confessed Corrina, "I only discovered
him in the last three years. I go in full bore into finding everything
they ever recorded. I'm even surprised a lot of musicians don't know of
him. People are not aware of him - thought if I put it on there would
bring him to a few people's attention. It's a gentle song that Bill and
I do acoustic. Bill has been a mate of mine for a long time. He wanted
me to make an album and a was a huge inspiration."
Steel also filmed a video for her autobiographical tune Western Star
at Picton on Razor Back Mountain.
"It took the longest to write," says Steel, "I wrote it
with Steve Wood. I had the lyrics. I have just done a video clip with
a dog named Rocky and an old station wagon. It was very desolate, very
dry when we recorded it. There was a drought there. It was about growing
up in a small place."
as small as Tenterfield the night she cried herself to sleep after fleeing
from stage when drunken footballers abused her musical choice.
"We were playing old western swing and old American country, and
this bunch of drongo football players were yelling out, 'Play country',"
"I thought that's what we were doing, but they got quite angry about
One of them yelled out, 'Play some Shania.'
"So I put my guitar down, left the band with it, went upstairs and
swore I'd never play in another covers band again. And I never have."
In hindsight Corrina says she had maybe another option on the night.
"I love Tenterfield Saddler. Maybe if I had sung that it would
have placated them."
Instead Steel reverted to performing original tunes that bring her to
the Cornish Arms with her band on November 24.
And, of course, the Arts Centre lawn - Sunday January 30, 2005 - for the
Nu Country TV concert, a highlight of the Summertime Grooves Series.
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