In honor of Australia Day Jan 26, I decided to pull together some fun facts about their blues roots.
“Australia has a long history with blues music… it’s important to cast an eye back across our history in the genre to see how deeply its tendrils have snaked through our musical landscape throughout the years,” wrote Brandon John for Tone Deaf.
“People have been singing the blues in Australia for a long time and we’ve produced some great acts. Dutch Tilders, Margaret Roadnight, Chain, Dave Hole, Collard Greens and Gravy, Fiona Boyes, Ash Grunwald and the Foreday Riders are just a few that spring to mind,” writes ABC Radio National. We’ll add Paul Marks, Carson, Fitz Hat & Cara and The Teskey Brothers to that list.
“Pioneers include Molly Byron who started at the Tivoli as a teenager and in the early ’30s. She was touring the country billed as ‘Australia’s Premiere Blues Singer’ and performing numbers like “Roll On Mississippi Roll On” and “River Stay Away From My Door.” A 1945 newspaper profile described her as the first singer of ‘hot and sweet numbers and blues to be done in Australia.’ In that same article she describes herself as a ‘scat and blues’ singer who prefers ‘negro spirituals that suit the low deep tones of her voice.’” In the ’40s and ’50s there was Georgia Lee. “Her 1962 LP Sings The Blues Down Under is probably the first Australian blues LP and has haunting tunes with very Australian themes like the title track, where she sings of wailing dingoes and crying crows. In the same period Les Welch cut many blues discs. The story goes that he sounded so authentic that American singer Helen Humes gave him the nickname ‘Spade.’”