Read our look at the Summer Nights 2019 mini-festival
Summer Nights 2019
Mossvale Park, Victoria
By Rob Dickens
Mossvale Park (which is pretty much in the middle of not much) has some historical and horticultural significance. It is an example of 19th century landscaping that demonstrates how European settlement (through Francis Moss) sought to radically modify the natural and cultural landscape with mature exotic specimen trees. In 1946, it became an important regional park in the post war period. The location is actually Mossvale Road, Berry’s Creek.
in 1999 Ian Bevington decided he needed to bring live music to South Gippsland (regional Victoria, Australia) where he lived. Like-minded friends, family and complete strangers banded together to form The Lyrebird Arts Council which has a history and canny ability to book and present the best and most diverse live music available. Its two main outlets are regular shows at the cosy community hall in the heart of the small town of Meeniyan (*) and a one-day, annual concert at Berry’s Creek. Regarding the latter, the format and name has changed over the years but the 2019 edition Summer Nights features four acts from six pm to short of midnight, with a heavy emphasis on soul music. This was my third outing here.
Impeccably attired, The Rechords kicked off proceedings with their three-piece country rockabilly. Plying their trade for almost a decade with a multitude of shows including three European tours, the benefit of that hard work is clearly visible – a professional and tight presentation, with a twin lead vocal attack, layered harmonies and an ever-present foot-tapping groove together packing a fun wallop. Highlights were the self-confessed ‘silly’ “Could’ve Been Worse”, “Take The Line” and “Easily Loved (all from their 2010 album On The Wagon). By the time they got onto “Mockingbird”, the crowd was clearly warming to them and the collective mood was buoyed further by the boisterous “Goodnight, Good Luck, Good Bye”, while “Have You Seen (My Baby Tonight)” showed off the full extent of their skilled harmonies.
From Darwin, Caiti Baker‘s set paralleled the changing of the day, the light getting warm and velvet soft, the setting sun and the inevitable temperature drop. Baker released her debut album Zinc in 2017. Born into a musical household with plenty of eclectic music and a blues musician as a father, her tastes turned more and more to hip hop and rhythm n blues. She has been singing since her early teens and, as part of the electro-soul outfit Sietta, released two albums and two EPs. Solo since 2014 and reunited with her father who provided some blues lick and riffs on which she could augment her own layers.
In 2015 she signed to Perambulator Records, released awarded singles “Heavy On My Heart” and “Make Your Own Mistakes”.
Now a seasoned artist, she gives a strong impression of enjoying herself in the spotlight and tonight she performed with gusto and groove, not over embellishing her vocals with excessive coating (which can a common occurrence). Every now and then she reminded us as to the power and flexibility of her singing but, in the main, the focus was on ensuring the essence of her lyrics and the tempo tell her story. I particularly liked the monster jam “Wolf” (her self-proclaimed blues song) which was memorable, sensual and slithering. Her take on Tom Wait’s “Way Down In The Hole” was laudatory as was “I Won’t Sleep” a twin-tempo track about the dark path of regaining her identity after recovering from chronic fatigue syndrome for six years. A shining set.
Formed in 2008 playing soul covers as a nine-piece outfit Saskwatch have come along quite a way themselves. A debut album Leave it All Behind was released in 2012, followed by whittling down in band size after cutting the horn section, nine-piece outfits and economics not being a good pairing. The band released its fourth album in 2017 Manual Override, the first time the six-piece outfit have co-produced & mixed their own work. One of Australia’s premier live acts, today being their fourth Mossvale appearance, reflecting their drawing power.
The version of the band (I saw them for the first time in 2013) seemed rockier, somehow more grunt with less personnel. The set was replete with up-tempo material delivered at a pace. The enunciation for me was not that great and, despite best endeavours, I struggled to pick up much of the detail in lyrics and song-titles (either the sound mix was not as good as for the other performances OR I need my hearing checked!). The ominous vibe of “A Love Divine”, the regretful loss of “Don’t Wanna Try” and a flashback to the first song written, back in 1991 “Love To You” resonated.
Headliners The Teskey Brothers are a special deal. This quartet of young lads from the Yarra Valley just outside Melbourne is making a somewhat bold move. The band’s trajectory in Australia has been acute and pretty short, reaching total in-demand status. I predict they will be the NEXT BIG MUSIC EXPORT from these shores. Their recipe is an homage to the Stax and Motown sounds, adding their own individual shake and a dose of classic rock and blues.
The debut album Half Mile Harvest has been acclaimed, with its warm, analogue vibrations. Written by all four band members (this is a signature approach for this tight-knit bunch), the album was recorded in their own home studio, self-produced and released independently. An Australian album tour was quickly followed by sold-out headline shows in Los Angeles, New York and London this October. The band has another eleven shows coming up this February, covering Germany, Belgium, France, The Netherlands and the UK.
The set list tonight featured heavily from Half Mile Harvest (“I Love A Woman” (outstanding!), “Crying Shame”, Reason Why”, “Pain and Misery” (so raw), “Honeymoon” (a smouldering epic), “Louisa”, plus “Say You’ll Do” and “I Get Up”. A joyful cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” and the encore, a new song, the urgent “Right For Me” closed off proceedings nicely. Singer Josh Teskey’s distilled voice, Sam Teskey’s embellishments on lead guitar adding so much emotion, while the rhythm section (Brendon Love – bass and Liam Gough – drums) lay a mighty groove.
A couple of food stalls had under-catered for the crowd by all reports and the line for the ladies’ restrooms was daunting-plus. These seemed to be the only areas for improvement. Plenty of plusses – perfect weather, picture-book setting, four acts of soulful integrity from an all-Australian line-up, an amicable and sizable bunch of family friendly punters many of whom were on their feet for most sets, good food, craft beer and local wine, clothes stalls for those inclined. Compliments to The Lyrebird Arts Council and the helpful volunteer crew on a very attractive package.
(*I recall two particularly special shows at Meeniyan Town Hall – Steve Earle and the Louisiana super-group band Lil Band O’ Gold)
Read our look at the Summer Nights 2019 mini-festival
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