The Over Down Under

This week, in the midst of the Americana Music Association convening and good-timing, I joined several hundred AMAers at what’s become an annual tradition: the “Aussie Lunch” at the Second Fiddle, with free barbecue and a lineup of roots music artists from Australia. For the past few years, an organization called Sounds Australia has been helping Aussie artists find new audiences and distribution channels around the world. And part of that effort has been to send a contingent to AMA, led by the wild and wonderful Dobe Newton, he of the legendary Bushwackers band and double-take inducing suits.

Dobe collaborated with the Roots team to curate this week’s lineup, a quartet of acts that craft country music, from edgy to mainstream. It should be a fascinating voyage of discovery.

James Blundell appears to be the most experienced of the bunch, having carved a place for modern country music in and from Australia even before that Keith Urban fellow. In a career that got going in the mid 1980s, he’s won nine Country Music Association of Australia Golden Guitar Awards and an ARIA, the Australian Grammy. His most recent album is “Portrait of a Man,” which has earned raves from the Aussie press. He’ll start our show with energy and intensity.

Newcomer Ange Boxall has distinguished herself with a fine debut album called Writing Letters, a project that features collaborations with Nashville folks and Roots friends The Wrights, J.D. Souther and Jim Lauderdale. With a vibe that recalls Patty Griffin and Tift Merritt, Ange is being hailed as one to watch by the roots press here in the UK. Even better known in Nashville is Catherine Britt, who spent six years here in the 2000s pursuing a country career. Famously tapped by Sir Elton John for greatness, Britt reached the US Top 40 as an artist and worked with Kasey Chambers, Kenny Chesney and other leading voices. A little earthy, a little celestial, Britt is grounded in deep country music but spangled with fresh ideas.

And we’ll close the night with a married duo that’s getting lots of attention in their recently adopted Nashville home. They’re Jay and Mark O’Shea, who perform under just their last name. She’s been part of the band INXS and a songwriter with major pop hits. He’s a artist/writer from Queensland who’s recorded or written numerous Australian country chart-topers. Together, their sound is bright and romantic, perhaps leaning to the pop side of country, but sincere and winning for sure.

So no need to book a 15-hour flight. Australia comes to you at the Loveless Barn this Wednesday. We’ll say G’day and get down (under) to business.

Craig H

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