Category Archives: Australia

A Bit Belated: Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 Mixtape


Over the past few years I’ve put together an annual ‘peek’ into the Byron Bay Bluesfest, probably the most famous and grandest blues/roots festival in the southern hemisphere. Held in the stunning surrounds of Byron Bay on the northern coast of the Australian state of New South Wales, the Bluesfest has become a regular feature of many American and Australian blues acts’ itinerary.


This year, confronted with a new hectic pace of life, the festival came and went without my registering its Easter weekend occurrence. An old school mate who lives near to Byron Bay, recently and gently reminded me that the annual mixtape of Bluesfest offerings was long overdue!  And right she was!


And so, without any further comment, here is a musical souvenir of the some of the acts that headlined this year’s BBBF.


Rock on!

down under blues

Track Listing:

01 Mississippi Freight Train [James Cotton]

02 Drinking Muddy Water [North Mississippi Allstars]

03 Everybody Loves Me [Charlie Musselwhite and Charlie Sexton]

04 Get Behind The Mule [Booker T Jones]

05 Sweetest Waste of Time [Shane Nicholson and Kasey Chambers]

06 The Name Of This Thing Is Not Love [Elvis Costello and the Imposters]

07 Texas Flood [Jimmie Vaughan]

08 Pancho And Lefty [Steve Earle]

09 Way Back When [Ernest Ranglin]

10 Dis, Dat or D’udda [Dr. John]

11 Flying Machine [WAR]

12 Don’t Give That Shit to Me [Seun Kuti]

13 Ain’t Superstitious [Jeff Beck Group]

14 Lowdown [Boz Scaggs]

15 Devil Got My Woman [Gregg Allman]

16 A Change Is Gonna Come [Aaron Neville]

17 Oh My God [Michael Franti and Spearhead]

18 Bad Girl [Devendra Bahhart]

19 Vanishing Point [Boz Scaggs]

20 The Devil Never Sleeps [Iron and Wine}

21 Grey Blue Eyes [Dave Mathews]

22 The System [The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra]

23 Chokin’ Kind [Joss Stone]

24 Caution [The Wailers]

25 Ninety Nine And One Half [Buddy Guy]


Celebrations: 100 Fine American Songs in Three Volumes


As promised, to mark the rather unexpected milestone of 700 posts on the Washerman’s Dog and Harmonium Music Blog, I’ve put together the first collection of 100 songs.

To start, I’ve selected some juicy cuts, old favorites and fresher discoveries, that fall into the category of American roots music.  Alt country, honkytonk, Americana, country, folk, hillbilly, rockabilly bluegrass and gospel are some of the other labels for this sort of music.  I don’t post as much ‘roots’ music as I’d like, so I’m glad to kick the celebrations off with this century of tunes.

A Man I Hardly Know

Track Listing: (A Man I Hardly Know. Vol.1)

01 Long Walk Back to San Antone [Junior Brown]

02 A Man I Hardly Know [Loretta Lynn]

03 Beyond The Great Divide [Emmylou Harris]

04 Odds and Ends [Outlaw Social]

05 Twilight On The Trail [Clint Eastwood]

06 Wild Side [Son Volt]

07 Killing the Blues [Alison Krauss and Robert Plant]

08 Poquita Fe [Tish Hinojosa]

09 Old Habits [Wayne Yates and Co.]

10 Because the Wind [Joe Ely]

11 Been Down So Goddamn Long [Dan Brodie and the Broken Arrows]

12 I Feel the Blues Movin’ In [Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt]

13 What Little I Got Left [James Hand]

15 Mornin’ Pills [The Boonswagglers]

16 You Win Again [Keith Richards]

17 Reso Fandango [Megan Lovell]

18 Every Kind of Music But Country [Robbie Fulks]

19 Tarnished Angel [George Jones]

20 Drivin’ Nails in My Coffin [Asleep At the Wheel]

21 Old Rugged Hills [Olive & Eva]

22 The Ballad of Thunder Road [Robert Mitchum]

22 Tomorrow Never Comes

23 Old Friends [Chuck Prophet]

24 What You Gonna Do Leroy  (With Robert Plant) [Buddy and Julie Miller]

25 Rock Island [Buffalo Gospel]

26 Fast as You [Dwight Yoakam]

27 Long Black Road [Slim Dusty]

28 I Couldn’t Keep From Crying [Album Version] [Johnny Cash]

29 Fingernails [Joe Ely]

30 Highway Patrolman (Album Version) [Johnny Cash]

31 Sticks & Stones [Wanda Jackson]

32 Indian Queens [Nick Lowe]

33 Desolation Row [Chris Smither]


Unbroken Circle

Track Listing: (The Unbroken Circle. Vol. 2)

01 Hold To God’s Unchanging Hands [David Grisman]

02 Just Call On Jesus [Larry Sparks]

03 Please Take the Devil Out of Me [Caitlin Cary]

04 Wicked Saviour [Rex Hobart]

05 Softly And Tenderly [Hank Williams]

06 Fall on the Rock [Buddy Miller]

07 Tijuana Bible [Rom Russell]

08 Were You There When They Crucified My Lord? [Johnny Cash and Carter Family]

09 I’m Using My Bible for a Road Map [Porter Wagoner]

10 Rivers Of Babylon [Steve Earle]

11 Hide My Sin (A.b.o.r.t.i.o.n N.e.w Y.o.r.k) [Lorene Mann]

12 Brighter Mansion [Longview]

13 Sweet Forgiveness [Iris Dement]

14 Plow Through The Mystic [Jeff Black]

15 Hard on Things [Giant Sand]

16 Drifting Too Far From The Shore [Jerry Garcia, Dave Grisman, Tony Rice]

17 Almost Persuaded [Louvin Brothers]

18 Life’s Railway to Heaven [Patsy Cline]

19 Jesus Gave Me Water [Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver]

20 The Gloryland Way [Bill Monroe]

21 With God On Our Side (Live) [Bob Dylan]

22 The Far Side Banks of Jordan [Bluegrass Gospel Project]

23 Will The Circle Be Unbroken [Holmes Brothers]

24 Redemption [Johnny Cash]

25 I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling [The Handsome Family]

26 How Great Thou Art [Dolly Parton]

27 Radio Station S-A-V-E-D [Roy Acuff]

28 Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child [Charlie Rich]

29 Where The Soul Never Dies [Charlie Moore]

30 I’m A Man Of Constant Sorrow [Stanley Brothers]

31 Pharisee [Stan Rogers]

32 Peace In The Valley [Sons of the Pioneers feat. Roy Rogers]

33 There Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down [Brother Claude Ely]


Hungry for Love

Track Listing: (Hungry for Love. Vol.3)

01 Blue Moon Revisited (Song For Elvis) [Cowboy Junkies]

02 Hungry For Love [Patsy Cline]

03 Shine [Waylon Jennings]

04 Don’t Speak In English [Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodrigues]

05 Till Death Do Us Part [Ray Price]

06 It Makes No Difference [The Band]

07 If We Make it Through December [Merle Haggard]

08 I Can’t Help It [George Jones]

09 I Miss You Already [Duane Jarvis]

10 After the Gold Rush [Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt]

11 The Heart That You Own [Dwight Yoakam]

12 Thursday [Sam Baker]

13 Milk Of The Moon [Greg Brown]

14 Someday I’ll Get out of These Bars [Jerry Jeff Walker]

15 A Little More Time [The James Low Western Front]

16 B Movie Boxcar Blues [Delbert McClinton]

17 Neon Tombstone [Phil Lee]

18 Honey Where’s the Money Gone [Solomon Burke]

19 The Plans We Made [Lonesome Bob]

20 Firecracker [The Wailin’ Jennys]

21 Till I Gain Control Again [Van Morrison]

22 As Soon As I Hang Up The Phone (With Loretta Lynn) [Conway Twitty]

23 The Warm Red Wine [Willie Nelson]

24 Between The Daylight And The Dark [Mary Gauthier]

25 Before & After Love [Mark Halstead]

26 That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas) [Lyle Lovett]

27 Right In Time [Lucinda Williams]

28 Powerlines [Grant Peebles]

29 Let’s Think About Living [Teddy Thompson]

30 Poor Ellen Smith [Laura Cantrell]

31 Portland Oregon [Loretta Lynn]

32 The Race Is On [Grateful Dead]

33 In Spite of Ourselves [John Prine and Iris Dement]


Broad, Rugged and Soulful: Frank Yamma

Pirjantjatjara painting

Pitjantjatjara painting


There are no clear tribes or an accepted origin of the indigenous people of Australia, although they are believed to be among the earliest human migrations out of Africa. Although they likely migrated to Australia through Southeast Asia they are not demonstrably related to any known Asian or Polynesian population. There is evidence of genetic and linguistic interchange between Australians in the far north and the Austronesian peoples of modern-day New Guinea and the islands, but this may be the result of recent trade and intermarriage.

It is believed that first human migration to Australia was achieved when this landmass formed part of the Sahul continent, connected to the island of New Guinea via a land bridge. It is also possible that people came by boat across the Timor Sea. The exact timing of the arrival of the ancestors of the Aboriginal Australians has been a matter of dispute among archaeologists. The most generally accepted date for first arrival is between 40 000–80 000 years BP. In 1971 finds of Aboriginal stone tools in a quarry in Penrith in New South Wales were dated to 47 000 years BP. A 48 000 BCE date is based on a few sites in northern Australia dated using thermoluminescence. A large number of sites have been radiocarbon dated to around 38 000 BCE, leading some researchers to doubt the accuracy of the thermoluminescence technique. Radiocarbon dating is limited to a maximum age of around 40,000 years. Some estimates have been given as widely as from 30,000 to 68,000 BCE. Charles Dortch has dated recent finds on Rottnest Island, Western Australia at 70,000 years BP. The rock shelters at Malakunanja II (a shallow rock-shelter about 50 kilometres inland from the present coast) and of Nauwalabila I (70 kilometres further south) show evidence of used pieces of ochre – evidence for paint used by artists 60,000 years ago. Using OSL Rhys Jones has obtained a date for stone tools in these horizons dating from 53,000–60,000 years ago.

Thermoluminescence dating of the Jinmium site in the Northern Territory suggested a date of 200,000 BCE. Although this result received wide press coverage, it is not accepted by most archaeologists. Only Africa has older physical evidence of habitation by modern humans. There is also evidence of a change in fire regimes in Australia, drawn from reef deposits in Queensland, between 70 and 100,000 years ago,  and the integration of human genomic evidence from various parts of the world also supports a date of before 60,000 years for the arrival of Australian Aboriginal people in the continent.

Humans reached Tasmania approximately 40,000 years ago by migrating across a land bridge from the mainland that existed during the last ice age. After the seas rose about 12,000 years ago and covered the land bridge, the inhabitants there were isolated from the mainland until the arrival of European settlers.

Short statured aboriginal tribes inhabited the rainforests of North Queensland, of which the best known group is probably the Tjapukai of the Cairns area. These rainforest people, collectively referred to as Barrineans, were once considered to be a relic of an earlier wave of Negrito migration to the Australian continent, but this theory no longer finds much favour.

Mungo Man, whose remains were discovered in 1974 near Lake Mungo in New South Wales, is the oldest human yet found in Australia. Although the exact age of Mungo Man is in dispute, the best consensus is that he is at least 40,000 years old. Stone tools also found at Lake Mungo have been estimated, based on stratigraphic association, to be about 50,000 years old. Since Lake Mungo is in south-eastern Australia, many archaeologists have concluded that humans must have arrived in north-west Australia at least several thousand years earlier.

In 2012, the results of large-scale genotyping has indicated that Aboriginal Australians, the indigenous peoples of New Guinea and the Mamanwa, an indigenous people of the southern Philippines are closely related, having diverged from a common origin approximately 36,000 years ago. The same studies show a substantial gene flow between Indian populations and Northern Australia occurred around 4,230 years ago. Changes in tool technology, food processing and the Dingo appear in the archaeological record around this time, suggesting there may have been migration from India.

Pitjantjatjara is the name of both an Aboriginal people of the Central Australian desert, and their language. They are closely related to the Yankunytjatjara and Ngaanyatjarra and their languages are, to a large extent, mutually intelligible (all are varieties of the Western Desert Language).

They refer to themselves as Anangu (people). Pitjantjatjara country is mostly in the north-west of South Australia, extending across the border into the Northern Territory to just south of Lake Amadeus, and west a short distance into Western Australia. The land is an inseparable and important part of their identity, and every part of it is rich with stories and meaning to Anangu.

They have, for the most part, given up their nomadic hunting and gathering lifestyle but have retained their language and much of their culture in spite of increasing influences from the broader Australian community.

Today there are still about 4,000 Anangu living scattered in small communities and outstations across their traditional lands, forming one of the most successful joint land arrangements in Australia with Aboriginal Traditional Owners.

The name Pitjantjatjara derives from the word pitjantja, a form of the verb ‘go’ which, combined with the comitative suffix -tjara means something like ‘ pitjantja-having’ (i.e. the variety that uses the word pitjantja for ‘go’).


A 73,000 square kilometre tract of land was established in the north west of South Australia for the Pitjantjatjara in 1921 after they lost much land due to hostile encroachment by hunters and ranchers.

Extended droughts in the 1920s and between 1956 to 1965 in their homelands in the Great Victoria and Gibson Deserts led many Pitjantjatjara, and their traditionally more westerly relations, the Ngaanyatjarra, to move east towards the railway between Adelaide and Alice Springs in search of food and water, thus mixing with the most easterly of the three, the Yankunytjatjara. They refer to themselves as Anangu, which originally just meant people in general, but has now come to imply an Aboriginal person or, more specifically, a member of one of the groups that speaks a variety of the Western Desert Language.

In response to continuing outside pressures on the Anangu, the South Australian Government gave its support to a plan by the Presbyterian Church to set up the Ernabella Mission in the Musgrave Ranges as a safe haven. This mission, largely due to the actions of their advocate, Dr. Charles Duguid, was ahead of the times in that there was no systematic attempt to destroy Aboriginal culture, as was common on many other missions.

From 1950 onwards, many Anangu were forced to leave their homelands due to British nuclear tests at Maralinga. Some Anangu were subsequently contaminated by the nuclear fallout from the atomic tests, and many have died as a consequence. Their experience of issues of land rights and native title in South Australia has been unique. After four years of campaigning and negotiations with government and mining groups, the Pitjantjatjara Land Rights Act was passed on 19 March 1981, granting freehold title over 103,000 square kilometres of land in the northwestern corner of South Australia.

The sacred sites of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) possess important spiritual and ceremonial significance for the Anangu with more than forty named sacred sites and eleven separate Tjurkurpa (or ‘Dreaming’) tracks in the area, some of which lead as far as the sea. Ayers Rock and The Olgas are separated from the Pitjantjatjara Lands by the border between the Northern Territory and South Australia and have become a major tourist attraction and a National Park. The Central Land Council laid claim to the Ayers-Rock-Mount Olga National Park and some adjoining vacant Crown land in 1979, but this claim was challenged by the Northern Territory government.

After years of intensive lobbying by the Land Council, on 11 November 1983, Prime Minister Bob Hawke announced that the Federal Government intended to transfer inalienable freehold title to them. He agreed to ten main points they had demanded in exchange for a lease-back arrangement to the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service in a “joint-management” régime where Anangu would have a majority on the Board of Management. This was implemented in 1985, after further negotiations extended the lease period from 50 to 99 years and agreement was reached on the retention of tourists’ access to Ayers Rock. (Wikipedia)


Tonight’s selection is an album of very Australian outback music, Countryman by Frank Yamma.   The sounds are as broad and rugged as Uluru, the great stony hump at the very centre of Australia.


Frank Yamma

Frank Yamma

Frank Yamma is a traditional Pitjantjatjara man from Australia’s central desert and speaks five languages. An extraordinary songwriter and an exceptional guitarist, Frank Yamma also has an incredible voice, rich, deep and resonant. Regarded by many as one of Australia’s most important Indigenous Songwriters, Yamma‘s brutally honest tales of alcohol abuse, cultural degradation, respect for the old law and the importance of country are spine tingling. His ability to cross cultural and musical boundaries constantly sets new standards through his music.

The release of Frank’s latest CD Countryman drew immediate attention along with critical acclaim, attracting national play listing on Australia’s national broadcaster ABC Radio, “Album of the Week” on Australia’s foremost alternative radio station Triple R, bookings for Australian festivals including Port Fairy Folk Festival, Byron Bay Music Festival as well as international performance dates for the City of London Festival and Austrian Music Festival “Colours of Ostravia”, an invitation to showcase at this years WOMEX, UK distribution through Proper Records, a four page “Songlines Magazine spread on Frank and record label Wantok Musik, and his album featuring on BBC3.

“The voice grabs you first, a soulful shout of pain and yearning to connect and remember. But its the voice, relating hard tales with honesty and emotion, that makes this a raw, stripped-back classic.” “Album of The Week” Tim Cumming, The Independent (UK)

………..a gutsy and often pained set of ballads that veer between folk-pop and country. He saves many of his best melodies for the non-English-language songs, which include the epic and soulful Pitjantjara and Docker River, which sounds like an intense country weepie. Robyn Denselow, The Guardian (UK)

Pitjantjatjara singer-songwriter Frank Yamma’s deadliest album to date.. Yamma’s rich, powerful voice resonates and is as spiritually charged as any of the songs on Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu’s solo CD or Archie Roach’s albums. Tony Hillier, The Australian

… one of Australia’s most sought after indigenous artists. Yamma‘s heartfelt set of husky, beautiful songs hit the AWME crowd like a sucker punch… Jane Cornwall, Songlines/BBC3 – 5 Star Review

Frank Yamma

Frank Yamma

Evocative and occasionally heart-wrenching, Countryman is a plaintive cry from the Central desert, and a truly moving masterpiece. Seth Jordan, Limelight

The only way is up for Central Australian singer / songwriter Frank Yamma. Emma Sleath, ABC Alice Springs

Frank Yamma … received a standing ovation from a packed house for a performance that made up for any lack of polish with raw emotional power. Tony Hillier,Rhythms Magazine

Tony Joe White brought his swamp blues to Fremantle and pleased his baby boomer fans from way back. But it was Frank Yamma that was the real joy of the night. Fasterlouder

So overwhelmed were the audience with Yamma’s deeply emotional vocals and the poignancy of his songs that within days he was booked for, a big music festival in the Czech Republic and the City of London Festival. Bruce Elder, The Sydney Morning Herald

an absorbing and immensely moving listening experience.
Graham Blackley, Beat Magazine

From the opening two minutes of She Cried, you can tell that the latest album from Central Australia’s guitar hero Frank Yamma is going to break your heart, wipe away your tears, then make you cry some more… His honesty and emotion will tug on your heart like any deep Johnny Cash song would ….Tom Norton, Inpress


Track Listing:

01 She Cried

02 Kunka Kutcha

03 Docker River

04 I Didn’t Know Who You Were That Day

05 Remember The day

06 Nguta Waljilpa

07 Make More Spear

08 Calling Your Name

09 Down The River

10 Inside

11 Coolibah

12 Pitjantjara






Difficult Woman of Blue-eyed Soul: Renee Geyer

Renee Geyer

Renee Geyer

Before Joss Stone and before Amy Winehouse there was Renee Geyer. Her voice was discovered when she sang an impromptu number with a Sydney bar band in 1971. Though tortured by stage fright, she was quickly put into a studio with some of Melbourne’s crack musicians and her first album released. In 2013 she issued her 25th and is about to embark on a national tour.

“I do rhythm and blues,” Renee explained in an interview. “This genre of music picked me. I didn’t pick it. From a very early age I was listening to it on my transistor radio under my pillow. At fourteen or fifteen years of age I knew that this was the music I connected with.”

By 1975 her reputation as an exceptionally evocative and versatile soul singer took her to the US where she hooked up with Motown producer Frank Wilson who worked with Renee on Movin’ Along. The record was a hit in Australia and loved by R&B stations in the States as well but when DJs found out this hot voice belonged to a white Jewish Aussie they didn’t know quite how to promote it. Renee continued working in the States till 1980 when she moved home where she kept on singing and recording. Along the way she created an unassailable position as one of Australia’s most revered pop stars.  With R&B cogniscenti and collectors, Renee Geyer ranks as one of the great all time blue-eyed soul voices.

Renee’s signature songs are Man’s World, Foggy Highway and Difficult Woman, the last being the name of her memoirs as well. Indeed, like that other white Jewish female named Amy, Renee has lived a full and often difficult life.  Listen to the lyrics of Difficult Woman and you’ll get her perspective on it all.

With a new, very well received record of jazz covers in the stores and a tour set to begin,this is the perfect time to share a collection of her greatest recordings. (note the last track has some distortion).


The Best Of Renee Geyer

Track Listing:

01 Oh Boy

02 It’s a Man’s Man’s World

03 Sweet Love

04 Heading in the Right Direction

05 I Really LoveYou

06 If Loving You is Wrong

07 Shakey Ground

08 Stares and Whispers

09 Quicker Than the Eye

10 Say I Love You

11 I Can Feel The Fire

12 Baby I’ve Been Missing You

13 Do You Know What I Mean

14 You Don’t Know Nothing About Love

15 Crazy

16 Foggy Highway

17 Difficult Woman

18 I’m The Woman Who Loves You