Humanitarian Journeyman

Read our review of Kevin Welch Live Caravan Music Club Melbourne

Kevin Welch Caravan Music Club – photo David Harris

Kevin Welch

Caravan Music Club

22 April 2018

By Rob Dickens

Kevin Welch’s bio is very impressive.  (Info taken from KW website).

Born in California (Long Beach), his family finally settled in Oklahoma.  He got married (to Jennifer Patten), moved to Nashville, started writing for Tree International.  Wrote for ten years, got some songs taken up and started to earn some money.  Three kids came along.  In the 1990’s, Welch got a record deal after some heavy pitching from Steve Earle and others when he made two albums.  After a big night on vodka Kieran Kane, Harry Stinson, Mike Henderson, Tammy Rogers, and Welch decided to start their own label, Dead Reckoning Records and subsequently released twenty-one records over the next seven years (!), toured individually and also together as a collective (with Fats Kaplin and Allison Prestwood).

Kevin and Kieran started traveling together as a two-man show, making a live record in Melbourne, Australia, called 11/12/13.  Welch then completed a record with friends from Denmark, before Kane Welch Kaplin made a record with no bass or drums, along with a companion record with their friend David Francey, the Scottish/Canadian poet and singer (who also teamed with Kane in the outfit Go Jane Go sometime later).  Three more albums with K W K followed.  Then, in 2010 Welch crafted his first Texas-based record (on Music Road Records which was started by his late friend Jimmy LaFave) and moved to Texas when he tired of some of the things going on in Nashville (he had been in Music city for thirty years).

In 2017 Welch married his Australian sweetheart Sarah and ‘inherited’ her teenaged and six-year old twins.  Add to the familial group a boy born in Wollongong “healthy and mellow and sweet as a baby koala”, they now divide their time between Shoalhaven in New South Wales, Australia and the Texas Hill Country.

Tonight he was at The Caravan Music Club in the southern suburbs of Melbourne.  Now The Caravan Club has become an intrinsic part of the Melbourne music scene with impresario Peter Foley having a good ear for great music and a knack for showcasing same in a cosy and respectful environment.  The Club has recently moved to a new venue and this was my first foray there.  The new room is a delight – the sound was crisp, the audience attentive and an intimate atmosphere blended with the smell of paint as last-minute renovations are being made.  Hats off to Peter and the gang!

I have seen Kevin perform live a couple of times before (at the old Caravan Club and at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco, both in 2013).

Now, as you would imagine reading his back story, Welch is no stranger to Australia – as he said on the night given his circumstances and the time he spends Down Under “you are stuck with me”.  It was a matinée show which sometime provides a clarity and focus that you don’t always get at night.  He was solo, just the one guitar, engaging stories, heartfelt observations and a wonderful trove of songs.  The set list included early on “Millionaire” (recently recorded by Chris Stapleton).  He then displayed some of his earlier, significant and Oklahoma-centric material – “Flycatcher Jack And The Whippoorwill’s Song”, “Early Summer Rain” (about renowned native American artist T. C. Cannon), and portrayed vividly the dirty tricks in “Sam’s Town”.  His humanity was also evident on a topic very close to the audience -the fire-ravaged town of Marysville was the subject of Welch’s song of the same name and his rendition in this place was poignant.  As well, we were treated to two new songs from his forthcoming release (estimated August this year) called “Dust Devil” and “I’m A Flower”.  An even newer tune written for a Denmark movie on the plight of refugees was moving.  He closed with “Life Down Here On Earth” the wonderful, driving pair “Come A Rain” and “Jersey Devil” followed along with Ron Davies‘ “Dark Eyed Gal”, “Too Old To Die Young” and John Hiatt‘s magnificent “Train To Birmingham”.  (Support act The Weeping Willows provided nice depth to some of the final songs).

His hair is more grey than when I last saw him, and he now sports a full, flowing beard.  What has not altered though is his sharp songwriting and compassion.

Kevin, we are lucky to be stuck with you.


Read our review of Kevin Welch Live Caravan Music Club Melbourne


(Feature image also by David Harris)



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Author: Rob Dickens

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