With the dawning of a new year, it gives me enormous pleasure to be able to announce that Buried Country, after a phenomenal rebirth in 2015, is now about to take a step into an altogether new realm as a live-concert touring roadshow. With a house band led by Brendan Gallagher (producer of Jimmy Little, L.J. Hill and Kutcha Edwards) providing backing behind a rotating cast of guest-star singers, the show is a celebration of the music and the lives featured in the BC book/film/CD, and after rehearsals up in Tamworth during the festival there – along with maybe a couple of quiet little hit-outs, alongside a special screening of the Buried Country film on January 20 (details below) – the show is expected to get on the festival circuit during 2016.
The idea came up, as many great ideas do, at the late end of a long night in a small bar in Melbourne, when Mary Mihelakos asked me, Have you ever thought of putting Buried Country on the stage? To which I replied, Well, yeah, for about a nanosecond – until I realized I couldn’t do it without… someone like… – YOU! And so a monster was born.
Mary is a well-known and much-loved figure on the Melbourne music scene – she is Sticky Carpet herself! who may talk the talk (does she ever!) but also walks the walk – and with her long-standing association with Koori music, no-one could be better qualified to get this thing up on the boards and on the road. From that point, with a good bit of encouragement and (on-going) support from Songlines in Melbourne, I can’t even remember that there was any great deliberation before Brendan Gallagher was appointed Musical Director; it just seemed natural. Brendan, who’s just completed work on a brilliant new album by Kutcha Edwards, promptly enlisted some crack pickers including multi-instrumentalist Jason Walker (who has notably been playing a bit lately with Roger Knox) and Cruel Sea drummer Jim Elliot (whose CV includes a stint behind Kev Carmody). With the band now seemed to have been christened the Backtrackers, the line-up is completed by Buddy Knox on guitar and Teangi Knox on bass, and with my good self acting akin to an old-fashioned A&R man, we’ve been working on shaping a set list built around the singers and the repertoire drawn from the two BC CDs and beyond.
If Roger Knox always used to be billed the King of Koori Country, then Auriel Andrew is the Queen, and though both were slated to rehearse with the show at Enrec studios in Tamworth, Auriel can now unfortunately no longer make it due to ill-health in the family; our best wishes go out. But Roger will still be gracing us with his presence, and grace is not a word used lightly. Other top talents also coming to the aid of the party include Warren H. Williams, Mop and the Drop-Outs, L.J.Hill, Leah Flanagan, Luke Peacock and maybe even some more surprises.
Some of these folks will appear as ‘Stars of Buried Country’ to accompany the screening of the film the NFSA’s presenting on the evening of Wednesday, January 20, as part of the festival’s Aboriginal Cultural Showcase, which has its own open-air free stage on the corner of Peel and Brisbane Streets. So if you’re up there in Tammy, we’ll hope to seeya…