Who The Hell Does Chris Altmann Think He Is?
I’ve seen Chris Altmann perform five times now.
The first occasion was in September 2010 at Basement Disks in Melbourne where he launched his Que Paso album. I can’t recalled what instrument he played then but subsequently I’ve seen him play :
- piano supporting Joe Pugg,
- guitar, banjo and mandolin in Suzannah Espie’s band at her recent Sea of Lights album launch and
- lead and rhythm guitar at Basement Disks again at his own new release launch.
Last Saturday night (1 December) there was the “Chris Altmann Revue” at the wonderful Caravan Music Club in Oakleigh. Chris was playing drums all night this time and showcasing his second album Nothing But Nice Things. He had a wonderfully loose band that suited the music brilliantly. Singing drummers do it pretty tough – keeping the rhythm engine going while trying to find that extra emotion and rawness in voice is not an easy combo. My friend Ken reckoned that his vocals were a bit diminished by his drumming duties that night and he’s probably right.
BUT… the guy can play and seemingly play whatever takes his fancy. Oh and he can really belt it out vocally with a rich deep baritone and then let go with a sustained tuneful holler when he needs to. I love the effortless joy that he conveys on stage as well. And he can write. “Other Side of the Mountain”, a track from Que Paso is one of those songs that is so good, you swear that you’ve heard it before, that’s it’s a cover of a classic alt. country standard. Suzannah Espie does it beautifully on her aforementioned release and if there’s justice in this hill-of-beans world, maybe someone will cover it and provide Chris with the deserved cudos and, better still, a constant income stream. I’ve been thinking that none other than Mavis Staples would do the job on this one! In a songwriting sense, the new album is full of observations and insights, a little twist here and there so you’re not quite sure whether he’s being serious or sardonic. Nothing But Nice Things is an impressive and confident statement and a welcome addition to anyone’s CD collection.
He told Denise Hyland on her “Twang” show on Triple R last week that music was all that he could do. Well he doesn’t need to do anything else. Catch him if you can before he returns to Canada.
Who the hell does Chris Altmann think he is? Not sure but a lot of people like me think he’s the real deal.