Country and western is the traditional way to refer to country music. It is a style that began in the south of the United States in the 1900’s . Borrowing from genres such as blues, western, bluegrass, Appalachian folk music, hillbilly music and more recently rock and roll and pop. It is helpful for to understand the roots of country for any country artists hoping to enter a Sydney Recording Studio.
Country music usually consists of a fairly simple form with a focus on lyrical content and story telling. From ballads to up tempo hoe-down style dance music, it uses a range of topics. Some of the most famous Australian Country songs were written about the harsh landscape and life as a farmer. This was the same in Texas and many other southern states. Life as a rancher or as a cowboy was often sung about and dramatised over several verses. Like all other forms of pop music there are always love ballads and romantic songs. Stringed instruments are the most popular instruments in country. This includes electric guitars, banjos, acoustic guitars, pedal steels and lap steels and also fiddles.
The term country came to notoriety in the 1940’s and replaced the terms hillbilly or Western. It has become phenomenally popular in the United States. Country music stations are the most listened to nation wide during the evening commute in rush hour. It’s about sentimentality and the stories and ideas that give people hope and something to dream about even when stuck in a big city.
The Australian Scene
The Australian country music continues to dazzle with very strong song writers and bands. It is Australias most successful original music scene and has its own charts. Adam Brand and people like him have put Australia on the map by performing in the USA and excelling at the very music that came from there. Modern Australian artists such as Troy Cassar-Daley, Lee Kerhaghan, Troy Kemp, Keith Urban (who is actually from NZ but spent much of his career in Aus), and Casey Chambers have done extraordinarily well in Australia and have huge followings both in the cities and in regional areas. Adam Brand encapsulates classic Australian sounds and mix them with powerful hard hitting American rock genres.
Country artists are particularly active and encouraging during times of severe hard-ship such as drought, bushfire or flood. Often they fly out to remote locations and perform to people who otherwise may not have access to music or arts.
Icons of Australian Music
Slim Dusty is one of the best know country artists in the world. Slim rocketed to success after releasing his famous song “A Pub with No Beer”. The song is a hit internationally and he was the first Australian to have an international hit record. It was considered typical “Occar” Australian and recounts the different characters of the outback and their desperate need for a beer in the lonely Australian desert
It’s lonesome away, from your kindred and all
By the campfire at night, where the wild dingoes call
But there’s nothing so lonesome, so morbid or drear
Than to stand in a bar, of a pub with no beer Now the publicans anxious, for the quota to come.
There’s a faraway look, on the face of the bum.
The maids gone all cranky , and the cooks acting queer.
What a terrible place, is a pub with no beer.
The Stockman rides up with his dusty dry throat.
He breasts up to the bar, pulls a wad from his coat.
But the smile on has face, quickly turns to a sneer.
When the barman said sadly, the pubs got no beer.
Slim is famous for encapsulating country Australia and has been compared to the great bush poets such as Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson. Some of his works are actually poems and have been recounted in many a Sydney Voice Over studio. Bush poetry requires skilled voice over artists who can enter a voice over studio with a knowledge of the genre. Slim himself also has written many songs about the Trucking industry and life on the road. Him & his wife were patrons for the National Truck Drivers’ Memorial in Tarcutta, New South Wales. A quote from one of his lesser know songs “Along the road of song” encapsulates some of his conection with the road.
“‘Neath the gumtrees by the roadway,
As the sun goes down outback
I lay at rest in peaceful reverie,
Then I thought of all the songs I’d sung
About the outback track,
And that is how this vision came to me.”
This Australian icon has won an unrivalled 37 Golden Guitar Awards and is in the Aria Hall of Fame. He was a prolific song writer and when he died at age 76, he was recoding his 106th Album.
Slim Dusty is remembered by his arts centre has been founded in Kempsey New South Wales which was his home town. It was opened in 2015 and designed to keep the legacy and music of Slim Dusty alive.]
His daughter Anne Kirkpatrick is also a renowned country singer and songwriter. Anne carries on the legacy proudly and has won Golden Guitar Awards at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 1979, 1991, and twice in 1992. Anne also won an ARIA Award for Best Australian Country Record in 1992.
One of the greatest Country Icons of the 80’s was John Williamson . John plays awareness songs and is very vocal and active in supporting the Red Cross and various wildlife funds including Wildlife Warriors world wide. His famous hit “True Blue” was adopted by the Australian Cricket team and encapsulated concepts and lyrics that helped people understand what it was to be truly Australian. It was recorded and produced in a Sydney Recording Studio and still is played on country radio to this day.
Modern movements and changes
Modern artists write and perform quite differently to the simplicity of land and travel ballads. Slim Dusty provides an example of simple folk song telling. Recent artists produce modern pop sounds and harder rock edge. The songs have quite dazzling high budget video clips and are usually sung with American accents. Often young Australian Artists will not use a Sydney Recording Studio and send their song stems to Nashville to try and get the same sounds as the American artists. However there are quite accomplished Sydney Recording Studios such as Crash Symphony Productions that successfully emulate the Nashville sound and can mix Country music in an authentic way.