It's a long journey from the bucolic banks of the Clarence River at Grafton to the Yarra at Southbank but prolific Golden Guitarist- ARIA award winner Troy Cassar-Daley has made it a time or two in his 45 years in the unlucky radio country.

Despite a paucity of airplay on commercial corporate chains Troy proved a country boy can survive - with a little help from his friends on ABC and community radio and TV and talk station 3AW.

It may seem odd that talk back is a surrogate country radio medium in the big smoke but there was also another omen on the eve of the gig.

The Geelong footy team - boasting country music buffs including fellow indigenous guitarist-singer-songwriter Stevie Motlop and ruckmen Rhys Stanley (who signed with the Cats on a
pre-season holiday in Nashville ,) and Dawson Simpson - were in the country team that thrashed the corporate Collingwood city club the night before.

That was just a mile upstream at the MCG so your reviewer, raised on the Hopkins River bank on the Shipwreck Coast at Warrnambool, had Hank on his side.

Despite a Biblical bent for avoiding money changers in tawdry temples the trip to a casino was an oasis of sorts with padded seating mitigating arthritic ailments and replacing sticky carpets in beer barns.

Troy may have been from the bush but didn't beat around it as he opened with ninth album title track Freedom Ride that detailed the late Charles Perkins 1965 bus trip to outback NSW and Moree pool where he shirt fronted civic leaders for banning Aborigines from sharing the soothing balm of still waters.

He then segued into equally apt River Bank and This Old Hat, reaching back to his rural roots.

He also regaled his audience with humorous anecdotes about a previous Palms gig with Leopold raised fellow Golden Guitarist and Geelong fan Adam Harvey when the mists of time were muddied with booze chasers.

Troy revamped a medley of tunes from his tours with The Highwaymen - Johnny Cash's Walk The Line , Waylon Jennings Good Hearted Woman , Kris Kristofferson's Me And Bobbie McGhee and Shotgun Willie Nelson's On The Road Again.

He introduced band members - veteran drummer Doug Gallagher, pianist Vaughan Jones and bassist Simon Johnson - whom would be augmented in the second half of the show by a 10 piece swing orchestra.

Troy related the fly-in fly-out mining source of Two Weeks On, Two Weeks Off before performing it without duet partner Jimmy Barnes and showcased didgeridoo dexterity on his historic Dream Out Loud.

The singer also confided that singing spouse Laurel Edwards - long time breakfast host on former Brisbane country station 4KQ - had given him a personal critique on song he wrote in the recording studio, Country Is .

“I sang it to her and she said it sounded like crap,” he joked, “it later won a Golden Guitar .”

Troy also reached back for Leonard Cohen classic Bird On A Wire from his live album - again without Barnes - and his recent collaboration with Paul Kelly on Tennessee Rain before his pre-orchestral intermission .


The singer frocked up in a tuxedo for his return to the stage with his 10 piece orchestra, augmented by pianist Vaughan Jones father John.

My hearing may have deteriorated over the years but it sounded like the big country swing orchestra was named ATM.

That may have been appropriate in a complex where ATM'S outnumbered clocks by the dozen.

“I normally hate wearing suits,” he confided.

“I know it's not normal. I had to wear one to my wedding.”

I can empathise.

Channel Seven cameras caught dark-suited Carlton football club committee members playing with mobile phones during their belting by Geelong that lead to veteran coach Mick Malthouse's demise three weeks later.

But Troy was not singing the blues - he strolled down memory lane with songs he learned from his mum Irene and nana as a child in Grafton.

“Frank Sinatra sounded just like another country artist to me,” Troy recalled as he thanked Irene for the Chairman of the Board's Come Fly With Me , Willie for All Of Me and Nana for What A Wonderful World .

The artist also credited Texan Rhodes Scholar Kris Kristofferson with For The Good Times made famous by late Texan octogenarian Ray Price.

“Thank God he didn't sing it,” Troy joked of the Highwayman .

He also fondly recalled being summoned to Willie's hotel room before performing Crazy that first earned big bucks for the Red Headed Stranger when recorded by the late Patsy Cline who flew to God on March 5, 1963.

“It was like a bonfire in Willie's room,” he quipped as he segued into Green, Green Grass Of Home and Fly Me To The Moon.

“That reminds me of Virgin Airlines .”

It was that kind of night as next benefactors thanked were the dairy farmers and music buffs who skinned him of his beanies and tee shirts on the previous night in Warrnambool.

“I sold them all in Warrnambool,” he joked, “that figures. But I still have windcheaters on sale in the foyer here tonight.”

The artist chose a fitting encore - vintage hit Route 66 , written by singing actor Bobby Troup, first recorded by Nat King Cole in 1946 and also popularised by Austin western swing supremos Asleep At The Wheel and many pop chappies.

“The sound and lighting crew are driving from here to Charleville in Queensland for our next gig in 14 days,” he revealed.

One suspects the artist may have been a guest of Virgin as he decamped for a journey above the fly-over state - NSW.

And the verdict?

Troy 's pairing with a swing orchestra was a supreme success for this older music buff who first heard those classics in the green, green grass of Warrnambool.

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