Keep The Circle Unbroken – Live

Australian A-List Live Collaboration

Photo: LTTL

An All-Star Australian Nod To The Classic Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Collaborative Albums

Coolart Wetlands and Homestead Concert

14 March 2021

By Rob Dickens

The Verdict

Let me be clear. This was no post-pandemic placebo.

We’ve all been starved of live music for sure, so much so that even the sight of a blazing mixing desk is extraordinarily comforting. The warmth and intrigue of live performances, shared with friends and other music lovers is something we’ve missed so much for so long.

So, as music returns to our venues, we are susceptible to gushing over-reaction led by sheer goodwill alone.

Keep The Circle Unbroken is the best live music I’ve experienced in a very, very long time. My spirit has been joyfully uplifted by witnessing it. Yours will be too. Go see it!

Hats off to the organisers Robin Griffiths (MOTH) and Julie Ebbott (Coolart). The Coolart Wetlands and Homestead is a stunning live music venue.

The Concept

A host of Australia’s most cherished music artists have joined together, recorded an album and hit the roads of Victoria for the Keep The Circle Unbroken Tour this March.

Keep The Circle Unbroken is a series of concerts presented across regional towns featuring a line-up of Victoria’s musicians, spanning two generations and performing songs inspired by one of the most influential albums in the history of music, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s landmark album Will The Circle Be Unbroken.

The Format

Photo: LTTL

The circle of artists (‘in the round’) represents sitting around a campfire, being at the family dinner table, or at a traditional music session. Following the success of the original on-line concert performed during lockdown in 2020, the show has garnered snowballing interest evolving naturally into a tour with a swag of dates in Victoria’s regional towns across March.

There are six more dates left.

The tour and its resultant album was the concept of Row Jerry Crow’s mandolin/songwriter Delsinki and fiddle player John Kendall and supported by the Australian Council for the Arts.

The Coolart Show

Given that many of the artists are in demand with other projects, the personnel does vary from show to show, but not the quality of musicianship nor the emotional tribute to the classic music that is presented. Today’s list of acclaimed musicians was Jimmy Phoenix, Olivia Nathan, Hamish Davidson (The Davidson Brothers), Maxon, Aimee Francis, Mick Thomas (Weddings Parties Anything, Mick Thomas’ Roving Commission), Paul Woseen (The Screaming Jets), Bobby Valentine, Delsinki, Bix, John Kendall (Uncle Bill), Rob Hornbuckle (The Masters Apprentices) and Jeff Consi (The Badloves).

Made even more poignant on the day was that founding contributor Dion Hirinis passed away suddenly during the tour (his service is today).

Highlights were the languid “Drifting Too Far From Shore”, the Mick Thomas/Paul Kelly-penned “Sunshine”, two rousing instrumentals “Gold Rush” and “Orange Blossom Special”, “Keep On The Sunnyside”, “Sounds Of Then” and the rousing finale of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”.

Paul Woseen – Photo: LTTL

The Full Set List:

1. Hit Parade of Love (Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys)

2. Gold Rush (Byron Berline)

3. Drifting Too Far From Shore (Charles E Moody)

4. Keep On The Sunny Side (A.P. Carter)

5. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams)

6. Our Sunshine (Paul Kelly/Mick Thomas)

7. Rolling In My Sweet Baby Arms (traditional)

8. Sounds Of Then (Gang Gajang)

9. Swing Low Sweet Chariot (Wallace Willis)

10. Freeborn Man (Keith Allison/Mark Lindsay)

11. Helping Hand (The Screaming Jets)

12. Angel Band (Hascall and Bradbury)

13. Beds Are Burning (Midnight Oil)

14. Fly Away (Albert Brumley)

15 Orange Blossom Special (Ervin Rouse)

16. Will The Circle Be Unbroken (A.P.Carter)

Photo: LTTL
Photo: LTTL
Photo: LTTL

About Will The Circle Be Unbroken

The roots of this concept started back in 1972 when the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band released an album that reconnected divided US generations at odds due to the perpetuating Vietnam War, hippie counter-culture and a troubling Richard Nixon presidential term. Recorded with country sensibilities, Will the Circle be Unbroken was created to bring together two generations of musicians and a divided nation and to plant the seeds of hope for a better future. It became one of the most influential albums in the history of music.

Featuring collaborations with country legends such as Roy Acuff, Doc Watson and Mother Maybelle Carter, the album was pioneered by celebrated banjoist Earl Scruggs. Across thirty eight songs, the release captured the imagination of rock music lovers, penetrating the mainstream whilst staying true to its raw, unadulterated aesthetic.

The album has spawned two double-album sequels which feature a remarkable array of musicians at the top of their game.

The Australian concert performance channels the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s recording approach, spanning generations, musical backgrounds and paying the most dutiful homage to music that has preceded.

Photo: LTTL

About Coolart Wetlands and Homestead

Coolart Wetlands & Homestead is a 35-hectare estate located in the small hamlet of Somers on the Mornington Penninsula.

Coolart lands were originally inhabited by the Bunurong people, part of the Kulin nation. The name Coolart derives from the Bunurong name for nearby Sandy Point – Colourt.

The Homestead was constructed late in the 19th century. Coolart Wetlands & Homestead has been a working farm, a grand coastal retreat for Melbourne society families and, since the 1970’s, a heritage estate and wildlife sanctuary for the public.

It is available for booking and the surroundings make it an ideal music venue.



Australian A-List Live Collaboration

Australian A-List Live Collaboration

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Author: Rob Dickens

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