ANDY BAYLOR AND THE BANKSIA BAND
@ THE LOMOND HOTEL,5.30-8.30
The Banksia Band plays original songs and tunes from Andy Baylor and features:-Denis Close on percussion, Sharkey Ramos on percussion, Sophia Dunne on violin and viola, Kate Connor on violin and Dan Witton on bass.
Andy and The Banksia Band offers a sensual,relaxed folk/roots sound which encapsulates the essence of Australian music-making and draws on U.S.A styles including Country, Folk, Cajun, Blues as well as West African High-Life guitar picking, Brazilian Choro and Celtic fiddle traditions.
Andy Baylor’s contributions to Australian music have been acknowledged by many artists, critics and music fans over the years. He pioneered “roots” music styles with his bands The Honeydrippers, The Dancehall Racketeers, Banana Oil, The Baylor Brothers, the Cajun Combo and others in an era when rock dinosaurs ruled the world. Andy has played with and learned from many Australian indigenous musicians and has collaborated with a who’s- who of Australian and American music. An acclaimed and varied collection of independently- produced CDs are testament to his dedication, imagination and talent.
“Andy Baylor’s music floats on air with blissful melodies and flowing dance tunes”…Jeff Glorfeld, the Age
“Melbourne’s perennial favourite roots rock musician”…the Age EG
“Andy Baylor has opted not to play the glamour card. His blues is poetry of the back verandah kind, citing John Lee Hooker above John Donne, with a come-as-you-are feel set to the rhythm of the Melbourne suburbs.” Michael Dwyer The Age,
“He’s performed in everything from orchestras to string bands, and, on his latest release, Andy Baylor has combined lessons learned from the lot. The cover art, drawn by Baylor, shows the artist in shadow, a look of wistful reflection on his face. His music is likewise thoughtful, speaking of life’s gentle joys but also it’s disappointments. Opening with a pair of Celtic-tinged instrumentals, Baylor builds a string band ensemble of acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle and viola. The music floats on the air, light but tinged with melancholy. Sidemen include Sam Lemann on guitar, Sharkey Ramos on drums and Garrett Costigan on exquisite pedal steel guitar. Baylor sings of love and loss- the title track and Down the Valley to the Sea- balanced by the primal rock of Bush Medicine, the bluegrass shuffle of Hard Travellin’ Newell Highway Blues, some blissful melodies and even some flowing dance tunes. The album was produced by Andy and mixed and mastered by the legendary Barry “Fats” Stockley at Fatsound in West Melbourne…..Jeff Glorfeld
THE BUSH IS FULL OF GHOSTS –ANDY BAYLOR 1997
Could this be the soundtrack for reconciliation? As Andy Baylor sings on Big Broad Land, “this land has many histories”. The title song tells us “the bush is full of ghosts” while Baylor recites a list of images Australian(not to be confused with cringe-inducing “Horstryl-iarna” atop the jogging rhythm section of the sterling Gary Young and Wayne Duncan and the lyrical steel guitar of the late, truly lamented Peter Linden, to whom the album is dedicated. The 12 songs are nicely varied in tone and delivery, whether they concern the road life and the home-grown honky –tonk, inner-suburban haunts, lost love, the moon and good times. Baylor, who sings in a voice unaffectedly Australian, is a master guitarist and fiddler. As a musician he has always seemed unusually sensitive to the needs of the ensemble and the song, whether he be working with the locals the Dancehall Racketeers and the Cajun Combo or visiting Americans Big Jay McNeely or Jimmy McGriff: The Bush Is Full Of Ghosts only confirms this view. Playing throughout is immaculate and delicately balanced, even when the band drops into a variation of the Suzie Q riff for King Boozoo, a tribute to Zydeco man Boozoo Chavis, or when Andy takes to the waves on the instrumental Surfing on The No. 15 Tram, which brings to mind a conjunction of guitarists Gatemouth Brown (Texas) and Ernest Ranglin(Jamaica) in twangbar heaven..
**** Ken Williams,The Age, Melbourne,
On his tenth independent release, Andy Baylor furthers his reputation as Australia’s answer to Ry Cooder – an inordinately talented musician whose years of experience enable him to effortlessly straddle almost the entire spectrum of roots music. This is one of those albums that could justifiably be reviewed in the country, blues, folk or world sections and yet it’s not deliberately or overtly diverse – it just organically mingles Baylor’s interests and experiences as guitarist, mandolinist, fiddle and viola player, singer, and listener of great music.
To oversimplify things for the purposes of abbreviated description, you can point out three manifest tones to Down Where The Banksias Grow: there’s the Americana side to it, informed by blues, bluegrass and country music; there’s the Celtic and African influences; and there’s the distinctly Australian tone that draws on both Indigenous Australian and bush balladeer traditions. Of course, there’s plenty of crossover and intermingling.
From the Americana side of things, immediate standouts are: ‘Fear Of Music’, a lilting ballad about, in Baylor’s own words, “fearing what you most love,” featuring some stunning pedal steel from Garrett Costigan (also featured prominently on ‘Down The Valley To The Sea’); the bluegrass flavoured ‘Hard Travellin’ Newell Highway Blues’; and gently waltzing album closer, ‘Mystery Waltz’.
African and Celtic flavours inform the cyclic instrumentals ‘First Light’, ‘The Red Grevillea Grows Round My Veranda’ and ‘East Brunswick High Life’.
As a singer, Baylor has taken on the weathered, unaffected tone of Australian story-teller, wise and gentle on songs like the title track, ‘Bush Medicine’ (which draws on Koori inspirations), and the melodically elegant ‘I Gaze Up At The Skies’.
While Baylor traditionally likes to organise releases and bands around more specific genres or focal points, Down Where The Banksias Grow assembles a versatile collective of musicians to showcase the breadth of Baylor’s talents and interests (including his own paintings in the sleeve art). Interestingly, it could be his most coherent statement yet.