Corb Lund Band - Cornish Arms Brunwick - 31st January 2004

Canadians The Corb Lund band rolled into town to play two shows on their first trip to Australia. Hailing from the province of Alberta, Canada the visit by Corb and his cohorts had been eagerly awaited by those who had heard their music after the Australian promoter had distributed promotional copies of the latest album mid-2003.

A smart move by the promoter saw a low cover charge attract a reasonable crowd for an act that had only minimal airplay on community stations. First song of the night, Even count on you, saw the band on stage with no fanfare and immediate comparisons being made with Texas acts Robert Earl Keen and Pat Green.

No Roads Here the next song, a fast shuffle would have been home in the dance halls of Texas and enticed a couple of dancers to pretend that they were on a hardwood floor.

Corb Lund - Photo by Bill Bogwardt

Lund introduced The Truck Got Stuck by telling the audience that since arriving in Australia he had modified the storyline to include Australia's own Holden ute. The song a humorous talking blues about life on the land taking its toll on machinery is sung/spoken by Corb in his heavy Canadian accent.

Roughest neck around saw Corb singing about some of the toughest types you will ever meet that work the oil fields from Alberta to Alaska and Texas. Playing an acoustic guitar with tooled leather scratch pad, wooden wrist rest block and sweat bands Corb displayed hints of punk stylings in attitude and his playing.

Short Native Grasses (Prairies of Alberta) a waltz, saw a few of the Canadian expats in the audience become melancholy. Kurt Ciesla from Alberta on the bass bow set the mood and evoked the winds on the wide-open prairies and the ghosts of pioneers and native ancestors of the land. Similar imagery is created in the song Holes in your dreams where "dreams are a dry shade of brown". Rounding out the band on drums was Mr Case International himself Brady Valgardson.

A trilogy of lighter hearted songs saw a change in the mood. Song for the big bass and fiddle explained the problem of travelling with the double bass because it won't fit in the overhead locker on the planes but it being worth it once it gets to its destination. The first cover song for the night 16 Tons by Merle Travis and the Corb Lund penned Jack of Diamonds/Time to switch to whiskey, a drinking song about beer and rye whiskey had the buckle bunnies dancing off stage and the drinkers yahooing.

The tight sequencing of songs continued with We used to ride em a song about washed up rodeo riders and rodeo stock in a field of dreams. She won't come to me anymore the only love song that Corb sings about a horse and how she wheels and lopes around the ring. The Shel Silverstein song Cover of the Rolling Stone a hit for Doctor Hook closed the first set.

A brace of songs from the new CD including the title track Five Dollar Bill saw the 2nd set open in the manner of the previous one. Daughter don't you marry no guitar picker has duelling interchange between bass and guitar in its hook. Guitar pickers aren't the only profession singled out to avoid marrying, other occupations mentioned included bible thumpers, claim jumpers, internet stickers, dirt-poor farmers and snake charmers. (Gonna) shine up my boots is a real Saturday night song, about going out on the town with $20 and having a good time.

Having recorded and spent time in Austin Texas it would be only natural for the Corb Lund Band to pick up on some of the sounds of that area. A Spanish/Latin bracket showed this was the case.

Corb Lund - photo by Fish Griwkowsky

The Don Gibson song Seven Spanish Angels better known as a Ray Charles song was followed by Where is my soldier a song with a Tex-Mex norteno sound and ended with Spanish Armada a song about Conquistadors and adventurers.

The Johnny Cash song I Hear the train a'comin got the show back on track. Lund confessing that since the death of the pioneer of country music, the man in black he has revised the lyrics, although this was not immediately evident to this reviewer.

Corb Lund writes about topics he knows first hand, working as a ranch hand and trying his luck on the rodeo/cowboy circuit. Bucking Horse Rider is a slower song and suited to two stepping. It refers to old trophy saddle won down in Calgary rodeo with a reference to old Cheyenne. The subject matter a retired rodeo rider "likes them a little wilder than most", and "he's the last one to boast". Although living a hard life "he's been dry now for months". The idiomatic terms used reveal the writer to be at home in rodeo circles. A song about Copenhagen Chewing Tobacco brings a wry smile to those familiar with this disgusting habit and those who partake. It includes the line that "Good Copenhagen better than bad cocaine" a notion that might be uttered by ranch hands.

The comedy romp Lament for Lester Cousins is a song in the folk troubadour tradition. The song has a great guitar hook a story about a young boy falling on hard times and then finding redemption. It was revealed that this was the song that captured the ear of the promoter and was the cause of the band finding themselves in Australia it also created an impression with those hearing it for the first time.

Having been on the road for 18 months visiting Europe, the UK, America and now Australia it is only right that the Willie Nelson song On the road Again was sung by the band and closed the show.

Another Willie song Crazy was performed admirably as the first song of the encore. However the show stopper was an original Your game again. A rather apt subject matter for a song drunken, smoky bar after midnight. It made a big impression on the audience in summing up the situation that occurs in bars all over the world when in a drunken stupor you can't remember the name of the person you are talking to even though you have already been told a number of times. It includes the immortal lyrics "I forgot forgot forgot your goddamm name again" which is sung in a scattergun stutter.

All up it was a solid performance by a band with no profile but that showed enough to suggest that a big future awaits. Hopefully further tours will eventuate and they will return to these parts of Australia on subsequent tours unlike another Canadians performers who have snubbed Melbourne after receiving a warm reception on a previous tour. - Peter O'Keefe 2004

1. Even count on you
2. No Roads HerE
3. Short Native Grasses (Prairies of Alberta)
4. The Truck Got Stuck
5. Roughest neck around
6. Holes in your dreams
7. Song for the big bass and fiddle
8. 16 Tons - Merle Travis
9. Jack of Diamonds/Time to switch to Whiskey
10. We used to ride em
11. She won't come to me anymore
12. Cover of the Rolling Stone

2nd Set

13. Five Dollar Bill
14. Daughter don't you marry no guitar picker
15. Seven Spanish Angels - Don Gibson
16. Bossa Nova
17. Where is my soldier
18. Spanish Armada
19. Hear my train a'comin
20. Bucking Horse rider
21. Copenhagen chewing tobacco Good Copenhagen better than bad cocaine
22. Another cocaine song
23. Lament for Lester Cousins
24. Spanish guitar
25. (Gonna) Shine up my boots
26. On the road again -Willie Nelson


27. Crazy - Willie Nelson
28. Your game again

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