Mint (issue 14) April 2016

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MICHAEL WAUGH By Lachlan Bryan

“My musical education was in the back seat of a Ford, driving down bumpy tracks on long country drives” says Michael Waugh, the Heyfieldborn singer-songwriter with just about as strong a claim to authenticity as could be imagined. His rural upbringing sits front and centre in the songs from his debut album What We Might Be, recorded with producer de jour Shane Nicholson on the central coast of NSW and released recently through MGM distribution. Whilst Waugh lists the likes of Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves and Kenny Rogers amongst his musical influences, his lyrical approach to the harsh reality of life outside of the

city invites comparisons to Don Walker or even Henry Lawson. “I wanted to give a voice to all of these stories, because they are about brave, beautiful, honest, undervalued and overworked men and women who taught me what to be,” says Waugh. “I’m honoured to have come from Gippsland and to be a dairy farmer’s son.” Waugh’s record is a welcome installment in Australian literary and songwriting traditions – and one that is likely to resonate with listeners long after it slips out of the new releases list. Michael Waugh will launch What We Might Be at The Melbourne Folk Club in Richmond on April 16th.

HIP TO BE COUNTRY By Lachlan Bryan

“Our mama’s don’t know what we’re doing / Why we stay out all night long I told mine I was a drug dealer / She said thank god you ain’t writin songs” Those are some of the lyrics from The Songwriters, a tune Willie Nelson wrote just a couple of years ago (at the age of 80!) and released on his recent Heroes album. They’re tongue-in-cheek, of course, but the song does sum up the life of the songwriter pretty accurately. I myself am lucky to live this life, and one of my favourite parts of the job is the bit where you get to co-write with other people. I’ve been doing that a fair bit lately – and it’s led me to some music I’d like to talk to you about.

that until I heard her in my living room belting out a tune that she, myself and Rob Draper had written just moments before (Rob himself is a fine writer whose songs have begun appearing on records across many different genres). Bex is off to the USA this month, having won the opportunity to live and write in Nashville through the Australia Council’s Nashville Residency program. This woman certainly deserves this opportunity and you deserve to check out her new record, Solitude. Sometimes, in this songwriting game, you get to write with your heroes. That’s quite a thrill, but it’s even better when the hero in question is also a friend and mentor.

Last week I had the chance to write a song with a Western Australian lass named Bex Chilcott – better known to the public as Ruby Boots. Bex has been on tour with The Waifs for the past few months, showing off her strong writing and stage presence to sold-out rooms all over the country.

Such is the case with Allan Caswell. If you’re not a country music fan, you may still know Allan’s work, as he composed the hit theme song to the classic Australian TV show Prisoner back around 1980. If you are into country, you’ll definitely know Allan as the writer of multiple hits and the winner of a staggering eight Golden Guitar awards.

She has a reputation as a vocal powerhouse, but I never truly appreciated

I’ve been lucky enough to write several songs with Allan (including the title track of

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my band’s new album The Mountain) and I can say from first-hand experience that noone embodies the Willie Nelson song more than he does. Caswell has a new record out called My Version of the Truth and, if you’re not yet familiar, I reckon it’s a pretty good starting point. Songwriting is a funny process – a bit of a dark art, if you will. But good writing is at the heart of good country music – so check the credits of your favourite country album and spare a thought for the dreamers, schemers and drifters who penned the tunes. You might even spot a Caswell, a Draper, a Chilcott, or even a Bryan tune amongst the track listings! Lachlan Bryan is primarily a singer/ songwriter. His third album, Black Coffee, is out now. He also moonlights as a gifted observer and music journalist, writing monthly for MINT Magazine on all things folk/country/bluegrass. If you’ve got a new release, upcoming show or you’d like to get in touch with Lachlan, drop him a line at lachlan@mintmagazine.com.au.

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