CHAMBERS, SHANE NICHOLSON & BILL CHAMBERS
PORT FAIRY FOLK FESTIVAL
It was fitting
Kasey Chambers and singing spouse Shane Nicholson chose the 32nd Port
Fairy Folk Festival to preview their new duet CD Rattlin' Bones.
picturesque Shipwreck Coast tourism retreat is due east across the
border from Southend - the South Australian Limestone Coast port where
the Chambers clan spent summers fishing for their supper.
Kasey also reminded her capacity crowds how her folks trapped foxes
and rabbits on the Nullarbor during long cold winters.
And, of course, listened to the recorded music collated by family
< photo by J Koppel
So it was
apt this was an acoustic show with Bill providing lap steel, banjo and
guitar and Nicholson swapping guitar for banjo on some songs.
It was a
stripped down version of their Central Coast combo the Lost Dogs who have
also performed in Sydney and Tamworth.
The trio kicked off with a trip through Chambers back pages with staples
Last Hard Bible and Not Pretty Enough - yes, songs one and
two at this concert in tent No 1.
The performance was big on harmonic & bucolic bliss on This Flower,
Hank homage A Little Bit Lonesome, Don't Need You Around and Bluebird.
With acoustic shows there're also more room for anecdotes.
So the audience learned Chambers and Nicholson named their infant son
Arlo after Arlo Guthrie before honouring family patriarch Woody with a
spirited revival of his classic Do Re Mi.
Chambers also tapped into her rich family tree by introducing her sire,
sporting a new locally purchased hat, as Hillbilly Chambers for his revival
of Illinois born bassist and singer-songwriter Rowland Salley's song Killing
The Blues from his second solo disc Frozen Ground.
Bill's delivery owed more to the original by Chris Isaak sideman Salley
and the John Prine version than the recent rebirth by Allison Krauss and
it was changing of the guard to Nicholson - raised in Kingscliff in
south eastern Queensland on a more urbane musical diet.
"I was a fan of Shane for five years before we went out together,"
"I thought it would be cheaper if he was my husband - now that
we're married he has to play for free."
Maybe it was appropriate that Nicholson performed the Tom Waits song
Picture In a Frame.
Shane Nicholson - photo by J. Koppel
The Captain when I was 17, I'm 31 now," Kasey explained, "It's
the only song I have played in all my gigs."
But Chambers confessed she did not write or know the author of her a capella
nod to gospel - The Mill Was Made Out of Marble.
She may have not known that Joe Glazer was the writer but she had no trouble
with the verses.
"The mill was built on a garden/ no dust nor dirt could be found/
the air was clean and it smelled so sweet/ with the flowers and the trees
"It was quiet and peaceful in heaven/ there was no clatter or boom/
and we heard the most beautiful music/ as we worked at the spindle and
Or the chorus - "and the mill was made out of marble/ the machines
were made out gold/ and nobody ever grew tired/ and nobody ever grew old."
It was a riveting performance that was followed by The River and
a trio of songs from their new disc Rattlin' Bones - featuring
14 of their original songs.
and I spent all of last year writing for this album that will be released
on April 19," Kasey said in her preview.
"Well, we also gave birth to our son Arlo."
The singer also has another confession - the bottomless pit of song
"Rattlin' Bones was the first song we wrote together,"
"It was also the first song Shane wrote with his pants off."
It's also the first song on the new album.
So it was
no surprise their performance and death driven lyrical content were carved
out of the arches of the gospel temple that Buddy and Julie Miller built.
song sentiments were a stark contrast to jovial revelations about intimate
No doubt more family fables and song sources will be expanded upon on
the trio's regional tour that starts 18 miles due east of Port Fairy at
Warrnambool on May 7.
Chambers bragged that she had lured Nicholson into her unique rural culture.
"I've still got my own teeth and I don't eat road kill," Nicholson
retorted before their spirited performance of another new tune Woe
Is Mine - the new disc's finale.
But the most salient signpost to the content of the new album was Chambers
intro for Sweetest Waste Of Time.
"We wrote this song after spending a week together listening to nothing
but Gram and Emmylou," Chambers confessed.
The result was a template for not just that song but maybe the entire
Sure, this sneak preview cameo was drenched in memories of Buddy and Julie
Miller and Gram and Emmylou.
But that wasn't the way this generous 20-song set finished.
Chambers delved into more modern history for the blissful Pony and
then way back to her solo career birth for the rollicking We're All
Gonna Die Some Day with Bill back on banjo.
But it was not a Chambers song that was the trio's final encore.
Instead they departed with the latter day Texan and Maine born March tourist
Patty Griffin's Flaming Red - a parable about a pair of holy red
It was something none of the combatants or few of their chair bound, tent
show fans sported in this steamy Shipwreck Coast sauna.
able to soak up more of the trio's musical marriage on Rattlin' Bones,
out on Liberation Records in April, on their regional tour - the musical
marathon steering a wide berth of the big smoke.
Maybe a financial bonanza for the bush and welcome relief from the agricultural
and musical drought beyond the city limits.
And, of course, it will be a true reflection of support and reach of regional
and rural radio and decentralised denizens than myopic metropolitan mainstream
CLICK HERE for Tonkgirl's Gig Guide
with all tour dates.
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