"I got lost looking for Luckenbach late one Saturday night/ but I found cowboys and fireflies and bikers dancing in the neon lights." - Looking For Luckenbach - Audrey Auld Mezera.

Van Diemens Land export Audrey Auld Mezera has travelled further north than other members of the expatriate Australian country music power base in the U.S.

Most our better known refugees - Keith Urban, Jedd Hughes, Jamie O'Neal, Sherrie Austin, Catherine Britt, Kylie Sackley, Natalie Howard, The Greencards and Tommy Emmanuel - live in or near Nashville.

But Audrey settled at Bolinas in Northern California with husband Daniel - formerly with the US Navy - who first met her 24 years ago when his ship docked in Hobart.

They kept in touch over the years and their romance blossomed during one of her U.S. tours.

Mez has swapped the sea life for a chauffeurial role in his Dodge Ram pick-up truck, driving Audrey from gig to gig around California.

"The thing that puts it into perspective for me is that there are 20 million people in Australia, and 35 million in California," Audrey says.

"I'm really blown out by the amount of great entertainers and musicians that you've never heard of, but they're out there working and it makes you really lift your game."

She maintains her links with the Deep South by touring and recording in Texas and spends more time in her homeland than many peers.


Audrey recorded most of third solo disc Lost Men And Angry Girls (Reckless) at the Boneyard and Music Cellar Studios on the Central NSW Coast on her summer return.

She enlisted guitarist Nina Gerber, who toured here with Mollie O'Brien, to play on a live cut of evocative biographical Half A World Away in San Rafael on the rim of the Nappa Valley wine belt in northern California.

Nina Gerber & Audrey>

"America is such a political entity in the world, and I'm living in Hippy Central, Ca. but it's still the Wild West", Audrey revealed after winning Chris Austin Song Contest at the famed Merlefest with Losing Faith from her 2003 album of the same name.

"The San Andreas Fault line runs through our lounge room, restraining orders are fashion accessories, the cops wear bullet-proof vests, the wealthy look 'Homeless.'"

Ironically, a couple of decades ago another Australian songwriter Reece Kirk earned healthy royalties when his song Our Love Is On The Fault Line became a big hit for Crystal Gayle - younger sister of Loretta Lynn.

So the singer feels comfortable delving into social comment on her adoptive home's foreign policy.

"Now the crows are counting the sorrows and joys/ of those getting high on the mesa/ who hide behind flags while they're counting their spoils/ dancing on dead men's faces."


Auld is equally vitriolic in Buck Hungry - a duet with Bill Chambers, ignited by his mandolin and Tim Wedde on accordion.

"It's a buck hungry world, full of side show girls/ and clowns for a dollar who smile as they swallow/ every lie they're sold."

The singer also adds a death double shot - essential country ingredients - on We Cry and Not I featuring Raechel Lee on background vocals.

That becomes a trilogy as Audrey and Bill do a live cut of Clinch Mountain Prayer - their Carter Family eulogy.

But the album highlight is the Tex-Mex flavoured Looking For Luckenbach, replete with accordion and name checks of Ray Wylie Hubbard, Waylon & Willie and the boys.

Other memorable tunes are wry Self Help Helped Me, mining metaphor of Down In A Hole and duet with Karl Broadie on Dublin Boy.

Also worthy is Last Seen In Gainesville - a song inspired by a missing person poster - on which Wedde trades accordion for organ.

Mezera joins producer and former touring partner Chambers and Dave Steel on a tour including her home state.

The Van Diemen's Land diva, unlike many expats, plunges into the wilds of Victoria.

The trio plays Manchester Lane in the CBD - September 28, Limelight in Geelong - September 29 and Meeniyan Hall - September 30.

And on October 1 they celebrate with The Flood and expatriate Kiwi Brent Parlane, enjoying a new kidney, at Harmony Row Vineyard at Piper's Creek near Kyneton.

Nu Country TV producer & fellow Tasmanian Kerry Richardson films that show.

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