Tim Stokes, Hotel Great Northern, Friday
The Tim Stokes Band brings something like a carnival to Backroom Friday with local talents all soaring from strength to strength. Recently Tim and band have had full dance floors jiving, festival appearances, awards and national tours flowing since launching debut album MeXico
Returning home from interstate tours, Tim’s journey from grassroots continues a meteoric rise. Music NSW business assistance, ACMF commendation, invitation to Woodford, artist of the week at ABC radio and Rage airplay are some notches in the melodic belt.
Gathering around Stokes is one-man-funk-train Wandering Eyes, and Luke Morris. Wandering Eyes, back from a QLD tour, has had a celebrated year with Splendour/Bluesfest appearances and is bursting to take you to groove-town. Luke Morris, a modern Neil Young, is flying high after releasing his self-recorded debut EP Good Heart Start.
It is hard to turn away from his hypnotic guitar and vocal melodies. A local night of rising talent to be enjoyed while you can still catch them close to home. Echonetdaily shared some gossip with Tim on the eve of the Northern gig.
Why is this gig like a ‘carnival’ ?
Carnivals are something special that come to town from time to time. They are entertaining on many levels and I like my live shows to be a reflection of that. Keeping the energy high and entertaining is what I like to do. I am attracted to all kinds of art, sculpture, music, dance, and enjoy including these aspects into my show where ever I can. This gig in the Backroom will feature some local art and some very creative musical talents; some of my past shows and film clip have had belly dancers and hula-hoop girls. Something like a carnival sets the intention that it will be fun and entertaining.
You were a chef; are you a full-time musician now ?
I was a chef and now I am full-time musician, touring around promoting my music and the album MeXico.
How is that working for you ?
It has been a blast and I have got to learn and experience so much with that. I found it was becoming harder and harder to be there for employers so that was a sign that I should just concentrate on the music, songs, promotion and future projects. It was not the easy path but it was never going to be. Sometimes it gets overwhelming but the cool thing to realise is there is a healthy growth always around it and I am doing the things this year I was dreaming about last year, so here is hoping the same for next year.
Does it feel risky letting go of the world of ‘real’ employment to become a musician?
Not risky, but from time to time confusing, as the industry is very complex. I decided many years ago that this is what I want to do and I was at a point that if I didn’t do it then I’d be looking back at the end of my life thinking about it. I have worked really heard to this point, I feel proud that I can support my life with music. I sometimes think about the consistency you can have in your life from working a ‘real’ job but it is probably comparable to owning any small business. There are things I can control and things I cannot; I try to focus my efforts on the ones I can. At its simplest level what I do is about getting gigs and playing them, then getting more and playing them.
How is the album MeXico travelling ?
It is going really well, receiving great support from community stations and has had some traction on Triple J. The single Ride On was played on ABC Rage for consecutive weeks at a prime morning time. All of this was exciting and not happening before its release. I sell a few online and through iTunes and lots at gigs. I still like it when I hear it and people who are buying it give me strong positive feedback. A lot of people who have purchased it comment that they and their kids love it, which makes my heart warm. It has fulfilled my expectations and I am looking forward to all the good things the next release will bring.
Is there a new one on the horizon ?
Absolutely, hopefully sooner than I know. We will be playing some of the new tracks on Friday at the Northern and capturing it with a live engineer that will hopefully go towards a live EP/album. I have many ideas of what I’d like to put; the current band is gelling together really well and they are as excited to record as I am, so maybe some studio time mid Jan for a release around Easter. The next project will probably feature some of my more gentle-natured songs, but until they are down we won’t know their shape.
What has been the highlight of the last 12 months ?
There have been so many highlights! Had some great gigs, met and played with some world-class musicians and trod some epic stages. I’d say the greatest gifts have been the musicians I have met, famous and not. This is the main reason I left my bedroom to connect with the world of music and those that play it. I have great friends/colleagues that I get to connect with from time to time on our circuits. Getting to know the complex people who play the music of the world is what puts fire in my soul.
The low point ?
All my low points have been lessons to learn from and there have been many. I’d say the biggest lesson is to keep myself healthy, balanced and rested. I felt exhausted after recording and releasing MeXico; it wasn’t until I took a surf trip to Hawaii that I realised how much I needed a break. Touring around is fun but tiring and I usually flake out for a few days after being away.
What are you working on now?
Right now I am working on the new recording and tours that take the music to major cities. I have been enjoying being in among the city folk and giving back to them recently. Also I’m working on international tours: Europe, USA, Japan and beyond are places I am keen to take the next recording to. In the interim I am fine-tuning the live show, and trying to keep the floor of my room visible…
Who are you listening to now ?
My favourite songwriter is Tiff Norchick; she is amazing and is about to release an orchestral recording of her songs – it is great. I’ve been digging Luke Morris’s Good Heart Start EP; he’s a friend. Also Otis Redding is where I find myself going back to often when the mood hits.
Tim believes live music exists in the hearts of those who support and appreciate it. ‘I’d like to send thanks to all those who support me, from the radio, press, smiling audiences, sound engineers, and fellow musicians. I wish you one and all a safe and Merry Christmas.’
Merry Christmas to you as well, Tim. Audiences can get very merry with Tim and his carnival of characters tonight at the Backroom, Hotel Great Northern.