The Dancehall Racketeers – Western Swing in Australia

Dancehall Racketeers Prince of Wales Hotel 1984

So much of the foundation of my playing was with the Melbourne based, Dancehall Racketeers –  a dedicated western swing band (Australia’s first) that was located about as far away as you can get from the originating hotbeds of Fort Worth and Tulsa etc. Actually then Melbourne, with such a vibrant live music culture, was one of the best places to locate bands and musicians who were faithful to many musical styles that had been neglected, discarded or modified beyond recognition from their halcyon days. Continue reading “The Dancehall Racketeers – Western Swing in Australia”

Playing Bluegrass in the USA – is it like bringing sand to the beach?

BGP at Bean Blossom 2014

Once you’ve been playing bluegrass a while it is almost a given to be on every non-American’s bucket list to visit the US and play there. Just as certain, however, is answering questions about whether it’s a case of bringing sand to the beach.

With Bluegrass Parkway, we have made three band tours there. In 2005, 2009 and 2014 and all three trips left us with unforgettable experiences. We go there not in some misguided attempt to conquer, but to be inspired, soak up the culture and buy a cool instrument (or two). Continue reading “Playing Bluegrass in the USA – is it like bringing sand to the beach?”

50th National Folk Festival

The Baylor Brothers at the National Folk Festival 2011This year the National Folk Festival will be celebrating its 50th festival and I thought it might be a good time to reflect on such an important and often overlooked cultural event.

The National, the NFF, or simply ‘the folkie’ as it is often called has played a very significant role in my life – I’m about to perform at my 22nd one in a row and my 23rd overall, but it was the first one I attended as a teenager that really inspired me and helped to define the kind of life I was going to lead. Continue reading “50th National Folk Festival”

Travelling with Slim Dusty

Slim Dusty and Donal Baylor 1986

On the recent Bluegrass Music Cruise from Singapore to Darwin, there was an interesting occurrence – there were three musicians in separate bands who had all toured extensively with Australia’s most famous country music singer, Slim Dusty. What was especially interesting, however was that the three of us: Paul Trenwith, Peter Denahy and myself each represented a different decade in Slim’s storied career and it made me think and reminisce about that time.

Many people are curious about what it was like to know and work with Slim – he was after all, a nationally famous celebrity yet still had a very down to earth image of being an everyday Australian. Continue reading “Travelling with Slim Dusty”