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Byron Shire
June 15, 2024

Double Trouble with the Stetsons & Suzannah

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We may be regional but we are certainly not starved for entertainment. This Sunday at Club Mullum, Suzannah Espie and The Stetson Family launch their new albums. Espie’s remarkable Mother’s Not Feeling Herself Today is a foot-tapping spine-tingler, and the Stetson’s True North will have you on your feet. The Stetson’s Nat Budge, spoke with The Echo about her band.

Tell me how the Stetson Family got together?

The Stetson Family are not related by blood, but we’re family in the sense that we’ve known each other for eons. Three band members, Nad, John and Colin were in a synth-pop band in the mid-80s, supporting bands like The Eurythmics, The Monkees and touring with John Farnham during his You’re the Voice peak! Twenty years on we swapped our synths, capes and mullets for real instruments around the time O Brother Where Art Thou came out and Colin’s banjo addiction took hold. We then hitched up with Andy Carswell, John’s childhood friend of 45 years, who was gallivanting around the world with My Friend the Chocolate Cake, and Luke Richardson who was a double bass player moonlighting as a hardware-store assistant working across the road from Nad. Seven years on we’re all still here and all still talking to each other – just like a normal family!

You have a strong live following – how have you concentrated on growing that audience?

Playing, playing and more playing! Like most Australian musicians, we all have to have day jobs, but our weekends and annual leave are mostly spent playing at gigs and festivals around the country. We always say thanks to our loved ones on our CDs and that seems to make up for not getting to spend that much time with them (plus they often come on tour with us – the extended Stetson Family!).

What are the albums that have influenced you?

As mentioned earlier, O Brother Where Art Thou brought about a new wave of mountain and Americana roots music, combined with the soaring popularity of musicians like Gillian Welch and Old Crow Medicine Show, so they’re our main influences – too hard to pick albums, it’s just more about the vibe and the breadth of appeal of this style of music. It’s hard to be sad when there’s a banjo involved.

Tell me about the concept for this new album?

Nad and John were invited to Nashville in 2012 for the International Bluegrass Music Association Songwriter Showcase. We then released the album O Winding River into the United States that achieved some mainstream chart success and received stellar reviews. Based on the momentum that was gathering, we began writing the new album True North and two years later released it in Australia and the US where it’s getting miles of airplay and is again charting on Americana and Roots music charts!

What should we expect for your local show?

This will be a special show as we’re double launching with our good friend, Suzannah Espie, who’s also touring her amazing new album, Mother’s Not Feeling Herself Today. Suzannah is a guest on our album and Nad is a guest on Suzannah’s album – so we’ll be joining each other on stage at the launch. Both albums contain dark and dusty songs telling tales of the human heart, through to upbeat thigh slappers that will get people off their seats. Special guest, awesome fiddle player Gleny Rae, who also plays from time to time with both Suzannah and The Stetson Family, will join us.

Club Mullum (Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club) Sunday 7.30pm

Pre-book Tickets: www.trybooking.com/160321 $25+ bf. Tickets $30 at the door.

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