"I'm in the middle of Hobohemia waiting for a train/ my livelihood depends on crops, I'm counting on the rain/ my education don't mean nothing in these hard times/ I fill the boxes with fruit and I fill my head with rhymes." - Hobohemia - Bill Jackson.

Albury born, Sale reared singer-songwriter Bill Jackson had big advances on peers - he first visited Texas hot spot Austin before it was popular with faddists.

Jackson didn't have government grants or record company cash when he invaded the Lone Star State capital in the late seventies and eighties.

But he enjoyed post nuptials of Willie Nelson's redneck-hippie shotgun wedding that gave birth to a progressive Texas sound in Jan Reid's book The Improbable Rise Of Redneck Rock.

It's a sturdy sub genre that has outlived faux country fly by night vampires and refried rockers singing flat with grunge guitars.

So when Jackson sings about being in Austin "hanging out at the Armadillo, smoking joints and writing songs in perfect harmony," in the searing Hole In The Chicken Wire he hasn't pillaged it from a cyber chat room.

That memory is carved in Jackson's solo disc Diggin' The Roots (Soundvault) that he launches at East Brunswick Club Hotel on Wednesday October 11.

Tracey Miller, promoting her popular CD, also performs at Bill's lavish launch.

He name checks famed but long defunct Armadillo World HQ and aptly named Hole In The Wall that has spanned four decades.

Equally importantly the Melbourne University educated some time teacher enriches realism by daubing his timeless tableau with slices from his three siblings' lives and backing vocals by Olivia Nathan.


The hole in the chicken wire is not a hollow metaphor but entrée to a world that pre-dated his cassette recording debut with the Lamington Bros in 1981 on expatriate Australasian Barry Coburn's South Of The Border Records.

For trivia buffs expat Kiwi Peter Bain-Hogg - executive producer of SBS smash hit Rockwiz - sold Jackson's cassette from the boot of a Fiat 124 at Royal Melbourne Showgrounds during Shotgun Willie's debut Australasian tour.

Lamington Bros circa 1980 - Bill is far right

Sales stimulus for Jackson's tune was companion song - Dead Livers Nelson eulogy Love To Have A Joint With Willie that broke the commercial radio country boycott.

Jackson has a hot band - guitarist Shannon Bourne, bassists Marcel Yammouni and Damien Boyd, drummer Daniel Xuerub, organist Bruce Haymes who shares pianist duties with Marcel.

Mornington singer Anna Wright joins Jackson on Lucy's Life - a poignant vignette that sets the mood for the driving passion of Ghost In The Limousine.

Jackson sings of John Lee Hooker in the former and Robert Johnson in the latter - a dream sequence.

"We started out with good intentions but now we're nothing but rock stars."

He owes more to Tony Joe White than blues peers trapped in delta quicksand - "if this is the future, well, I don't like one bit/ it looks like peace, love and understanding took another hit."

Bill explores the flip side of love in Lucky When I Left and injects melodic Enigma with a poetic beauty - "just like Mona Lisa you always keep me guessing/ hanging in that beautiful space between leaving and a blessing."

Equally evocative Hobohemia - a beatific ballad with Mornington singer Anna Wright - and pathos primed biblical Gippsland sourced sibling Settlement Road.

Jackson finishes his eight-track disc with Peter Cole penned tune Who's The Dancer?


Bill, like Shipwreck Coast peer Shane Howard, enjoyed sporting prowess - he played in the St Pat's College senior footy team and captained its cricket first eleven.

Howard had an illustrious footy career before enjoying national success with his sister Marcia in Goanna and longevity as a solo artist.

Shane, who joined his brothers booting leather with Warrnambool Under 18's and his satellite suburb team Dennington, enjoyed a major vocal role on the MCG at the 2006 AFL Grand Final between the Sydney Swans and West Coast Eagles.

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