Australian-born, East Nashville resident Anne McCue comes to Mullumbimby for a wonderful Sunday Session in both solo and trio modes.
Bluesy songstress and multi-instrumentalist Anne McCue will be launching her sixth studio album Blue Sky Thinkin’.
How did moving to Nashville change or broaden your musical offerings?
Well it was quite a culture shock moving to Nashville from Los Angeles. In fact, moving from Melbourne to LA was less of a shock. That was weird but more in a sci-fi kind of way – it was like being in Australia but everyone had American accents, was very polite and driving on the wrong side of the road. It was like a strange dream! LA has really good restaurants and beaches and great weather. So coming to Nashville in the dead of winter – it was freezing – and finding that there were next to no restaurants that served healthy food was a mind bender. It took me a while to adjust.
Of course, the best thing about Nashville is the musicians and over the years I have gotten to know quite a few. The level of musicianship here is mind-blowing and it definitely inspires me to lift my game. Also, now there are a lot more healthy restaurants, which is a relief.
Who are the artists that you look toward for inspiration?
With this new record I have gone back to the 1920s, 30s and 40s: Billie Holiday, Memphis Minnie, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Peggy Lee, Hoagy Carmichael, Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian. They called it swing music but to me it’s just early rock’n’roll. It’s dance music, it’s blues with a fun twist. Swing music pushes, it’s contagious. I love the old blues and the old jazz, before it became too slick and intellectual and watered down.
What have been the career highlights for you thus far?
Having a song – Stupid – in the same box set as Bob Dylan, The Byrds and hundreds of other folk-rock artists was a thrill. Of course, touring with Lucinda Williams and Heart in the US was fantastic and a lot of fun. Having a song on the same CD as Leonard Cohen and John Coltrane (Artist’s Choice). That was before music really became digital and Spotify wasn’t invented yet so you could make a good living as an independent artist. For me though, I don’t feel my career highlights have happened yet – maybe I’ll be 70 when I really catch a big wave. I’m willing to hang in for a few more decades to find out.
How would you describe your songwriting process?
It has changed over the years, since I started writing with other people. I wrote three songs on the new album Blue Sky Thinkin’ by myself and that is an organic process. I usually come up with a guitar part and then build the song from there. With co-writing, you can go in with a title, such as Things You Left Out In The Rain, which I wrote with David Olney and John Hadley. And then you sit and play around with it for a few hours. Those guys are great to write with – it’s a lot of fun. You play around with the words and the chords for a few hours and voila! – you have a song that you can all agree on. I wrote four songs with my friend Bob Saporiti. It’s always fun hanging out with Bob, whose stage name is Reckless Johnny Wales. I seem to get on well with those baby-boomer guys. Because my parents were older, I have a strong connection to the WWII generation and the baby boomers.
How do you approach a song onstage? Do you like to change your arrangements or style from time to time for particular songs?
I definitely love to jam, so most songs will be at least a little different every night. Of course there are some songs that are more structured – my set will be a mix of styles – swing, rock, blues, folk etc.
I am often playing with different bands from city to city so I have to be ready for something new every night. It certainly keeps the material fresh!
What do you believe is the essence of a great album?
Making sure every song is great is a good start. I personally love listening to whole albums – I know that may be a bit old fashioned. With this new album, I recorded 12 songs and then, after listening for a while, I decided to write and record six more songs because it wasn’t gelling as a whole. It was going all over the place stylistically. It was a hard decision because a couple of those other songs turned out great. But I thought it was worth it. Also, I think you have to have a sense of the overall sound being in harmony with the songs – the lyrics, the mood – they all have to coincide. When I produce other artists that’s what I think about.
What should we expect for your show in Mullumbimby?
I’m playing with some great guys – Matt Bone and Grant Gerathy. I suppose we will rock, then we’ll swing, then we’ll folk and then we’ll play some blues. It will be a great jam and I can’t wait!
Court House Hotel Mullumbimby Sunday at 3pm. Presale tickets $23 + bf: trybooking.com/130529; tickets at the door $25.