This Saturday inserts the third edition of the North Coast Songwriters Session into the fabric of our music history. Five of our region’s finest singer/songwriters will grace the sturdy stage of the Crabbes Creek Community Hall – which is also the third venue in this travelling treat.
This month’s sessions featured Kim Cheshire, Rebecca Ireland and Karl Farren – all sharing the stage together to discuss and perform their wonderful songs.
Special guest performances from Ben Wilson and Darya Schrueder will also keep the evening lively and entertaining.
Kim Cheshire penned his first songs for a school band called The Daize in Norfolk circa 1965, chiefly inspired by Cliff Richard and the Shadows.
He went pro in 1971 when he moved to London with Nimbus, a band that morphed from early 60s soul covers, via punishing tours of American air bases in Morocco, to knocking off disposable studio hits for London pop svengali Chris Andrews (Adam Faith, Sandie Shaw).
By 1973 Nimbus was sharing the bill with Thin Lizzy, Budgie, Man and following in the wake of UK pub rock pioneers Brinsley Schwartz. A meeting with Dave Robinson: publican of Islington’s Hope & Anchor Hotel and future founder of new wave cornerstone, Stiff Records, led to the recording of the band’s debut album.
After Nimbus split, he left London for America’s west coast, via Mexico, in 1977. The heady San Francisco scene nourished his craft and confidence as a songwriter. It was love, not music, that led him to Mildura in country Victoria as the decade turned. Picking grapes by day, discovering the curious strains of Irish-Australian bush music by night, it wasn’t long before his ever-present guitar – and the encouragement of others – led him on to the country pub stage.
Following broader musical opportunities to Sydney, and life continued through the 80s and 90s.
Kim’s first solo album of 2004 was co-written with Kevin Bennett (The Flood) and recorded with friends and comrades including bassist/ engineer Jeff McCormack, ‘on the smell of an oily rag and lots of goodwill’.
‘I haven’t always been out there playing gigs and making records but I’ve always written songs,’ says Kim. ‘I write whether I have a project on hand or not. I consider myself a writer, someone who just wants to get stuff off my chest. So when it came time to record this record, I had quite a backlog…’
Now a Mullumbimby-ite, Kim says he has had the absolute thrill of being embraced by the local music community in the northern rivers area.
Rebecca Ireland has been a local to the far north coast for around two decades – here she has found, among other things, her home…
‘I was dragged up out west of Sydney at the end of the train line by a crazy lady running the gauntlet of her own pain. A wild amphetamine-fuelled ride, we lived on the outskirts of her rages and raptures. Great music the likes of Muddy Waters, Supertramp, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Joni Mitchell pumped from our place all hours of the day and night giving my fractured childhood a great soundtrack. Mother went madder and I was a runaway on the streets of The Cross at age 14.’
She says it was around the local golden fires and the freaks that she was given her first guitar. ‘It was in the songs of all the wise souls that I learnt to sing my own song and I found a home in the hearts and hamlets in all corners of the region. They are elders, healers, magicians, faeries, artists, musicians and friends.’
‘I moved here in October 1998, arriving just in time to get to a fiftieth birthday party at the Kohinur Hall, practically straight off the plane,’ says Karl. ‘Talk about in at the deep end! Before that I’d been living in London for nearly ten years, having moved there from Dublin to study shiatsu and Chinese medicine.’
Raised in Dublin on a cultural stew of Irish ballads, his elder sister’s Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash records and sixties and seventies pop music on the radio, Karl’s influences have always been diverse. Having cut his musical teeth in countless informal sessions in Dublin, Karl later played guitar and sang with bands in Dublin and London, playing music ranging from Steely Dan covers to self-styled ‘Pimp Rock’. Since moving to Australia in 1998, Karl has continued to be involved in music, and he has found a new voice in writing and performing his own material. In 2003 his song Firstborn featured on the Fatherhood compilation album, alongside songs by Paul Kelly, John Butler, Archie Roach and Tex Perkins.
This is UnAmericana; backwoods soul music: melodic, literate, contemporary, yet rooted in an older, mythic soil; a rich and ancient sediment of storytelling and folk memory. Karl’s bruised tenor voice, whether testifying like a revival tent preacher or intimating in a tender falsetto, his finely crafted songs take you on a journey tracing songlines from the grit of working-class Dublin, through the peat bogs of an Irish glen to the red earth of the Australian bush; from the cool of a back porch in the Appalachians to the funky heat of the Mississippi delta.
Karl says what he loves about Mullum is that it’s such a mixed bag. ‘You get all sorts, shapes and sizes here, and everyone seems to find a place here,’ he says. ‘One thing I noticed straight away was that people, complete strangers, would greet you in the street. That didn’t happen much in London, in my experience, unless the person greeting you was Irish, Scottish, Jamaican, drunk or crazy – or any combination of the above. Mullum feels like a good place to raise my boy. It’s a real living town – a small town, but a town with a twist.
These three will delight and deepen you. Make the trip out to Crabbes and experience what everyone has been raving about.
Doors at Crabbes Creek Hall open at 5pm with the first act at 6pm. Great food available, BYO drinks. Entry is $15. Don’t miss out on this show!