“Sometimes it’s really personal and a little bit out there.”
Bringing the music of the night back to the gritty basics, blues, funk & rock inspired Kris Smith is the modern day embodiment of a (white) John Lee Hooker, fearlessly breaking off into lead guitar riffs despite having no rhythm guitar behind him.
“I loved his [John Lee Hooker] old songs, where he played everything in E.”
Whilst on this occasion Kris stuck to covers, he does have a fair amount of originals under his belt, often about his childhood or relationships that haven’t worked out. He writes songs to get things out of his system, all about his life and experiences.
“I just try and speak the truth [in my songwriting]. Sometimes it’s really personal and maybe it’s a little bit out there, but I try to make it more meaningful than venting.”
Whilst he is a diesel mechanic by day, rebuilding big generators, ultimately he’d love to pursue music full time as it is where his true passion lies. He hasn’t got stars in his eyes though, he has the humblest of dreams..
“I would love to just study music and get better at singing and guitar playing, and if someone came up to me and said ‘mate you’re pretty good, would you come and play at my pub?’, that’s what I’m looking for.”
True to his aspirations, he is practicing his craft every opportunity he gets and he advises that
“If you wanna play standing up you gotta practice standing up.”
Whilst he is currently based in Perth, he’ll be moving to Melbourne so keep an eye out for this talent as he may very well be playing at a pub near you!
“Play with your audience, you can always play with yourself later at home.”
Alford (aka Matt Alford) is a champion of Americana. Garbed in trucker’s cap, flannelette and blue denim, he belts out heartfelt ballads of love lost and retribution. Alford strums his jumbo sized steel-string acoustic with powerful finesse while projecting a deep Johnny Cash vocal that also reaches up with folky urgency in the higher register.
Influenced by artists such as Brian Setzer; Reverend Horton-Heat as well as Cash, the journey to the guitar Singer-Songwriter began with the violin, which included formal training and later – support gigs with none other than: The Waifs.
Alford is heading abroad in August to the mecca of country; folk and all things ‘Americana’ to the ears – Nashville, where he hopes to crack many a gig or: ‘…just shop…’ (for guitars perhaps?) and Heartstrings is eager to see what comes about from this sonic pilgrimage.
The life of this Performing Artist is fused with other creative pursuits including drawing and the craft of making custom guitar straps (I’ve put myself down for a blue suede one…or I will…).
When asked for advice to give to other local Musicians Alford recommends playing with as many people as you can as much as you can and reckons that rowdy crowds and bars suit his sound (we can attest to that) we hope you can catch him in a rowdy bar near you before Nashville swallows up its best new import.
>> Alford has a gig on the 4th of July at the Owl and Pussycat (34 Swan Street, Richmond)
Doors Open 7:30pm and tickets are $10 – It’s gonna be a big show with Philemon as well!
“The live interviews helped me feel a stronger connection to the artists and their music.”
Heartstrings Melbourne proudly hosted its first showcase event on Sunday 15th June, and what a magical afternoon it was! We wanted to bring to life several of the musicians on our blog and showcase the amazing local music talent we Melbournians have at our fingertips. Nick Evangelou, Sabrina Salvatore, Sarlin, & Mario Demiraj definitely impressed and connected with our intimate audience at the Wesley Anne.
With standing room only, the Heartstrings crew piled into the Wesley Anne along with other local music appreciators to claim whatever limited floorspace they could find. For those unable to attend, we were even able to stream the event live online, providing some of Melbourne’s best local talent with a rare opportunity to reach an appreciative international audience.
Instead of listening to a parade of performers and a constant stream of music, we followed each performance with a live interview about their music and inspirations. Whilst each were fantastically talented musicians, we believe that it’s only once you get to know a bit about the person behind the guitar/piano that you truly understand what their songs are about and where they’re coming from. It’s only then that you gain true context for them as a musician.
Acoustic Café owners, Ian & Glenda continued to show their unwavering support for local talent by lending their years of expertise at the sound desk. Their support for local live music has been unconditional and we can’t thank them enough for their assistance and sharing our passion.
Perhaps the highlight of the afternoon was the climactic collaborative closing jam, featuring all performers plus yours truly! For several weeks we had been preparing our unique rendition of ‘The Weight’ by The Band. Sharing verses, solos, harmonising choruses, and inspiring a bit of a sing-a-long from the crowd, it was truly a very special ending to the show, creating a wonderful sense of community.
Regardless of whether or not you made it on the day, we eagerly hope to see you at our next event which we are already excitedly planning for you!
Settling into the very intimate Snug Bar waiting for the array of voices and instruments to fill the air waves, Noirin Lynch pops up to the microphone. Her international flight booked for later that evening did not stop this passionate performer from showcasing her talent; and what a unique talent it was – A Capella Irish Folk songs – taking the idea of ‘doing covers’ to a whole ‘nother level!
“I try and sing the songs that are worth passing on.”
Originally from Ireland, and only in Australia for a visit, Noirin tells us that back home they have ‘singer circles’ where people perform old folk songs unaccompanied that bear significance to them. More important than how well they sang it was whether they had the heart of it.
“It might be a song they got from their father, who got it from a traveller he met on the road.”
On a trip to France with one such singers group, Noirin recalls the special moment of teaching Irish lullabies to French mothers holding their babies.
“It was all these different cultures mixing and it was so beautiful.”
Working by day in community development with Catholic Parishes, she loves music however when asked about her musical aspirations she simply responded with
“I’d hate to lose the hunger or the heart for it.”
She also keeps her musical spirit alive playing in a band called Crag Road and last we spoke they’re putting the finishing touches on an album – so keep an ear out for that!
Overall, Noirin was impressed with our fantastic music scene here in Melbourne and encourages us all to soak it up
“Melbourne has really struck me in terms of its diversity and creativity – there are lots of opportunities here. Embrace them.”
“It’s safe to say ‘it’s just a hobby’, but it’s what I want to do.”
Anna Cordell’s smooth voice and captivating lyrics ensnared the crowd at Bar Oussou’s open mic from her first pluck of the guitar to the thunderous applause at the end of her set. Performing all originals, the folk singer-songwriter exemplified the talent that is on offer around Melbourne’s open mic music scene. After putting music on hold for a few years while raising children and working in the fashion industry, Anna is back to music and songwriting, drawing inspiration from a new outlook on life gained through her experiences as a young mother.
“It gave me a fresh perspective.”
Anna’s songs take inspiration from hard-earned life experience and this translates into powerful songwriting. She is singing from the heart and this is the source of her music’s raw power.
“[to write good songs] you need to do something that’s a bit painful.”
Armed with this new life experience, Anna is ready to take her music to the next level while at the same time balancing it with her home life.
“I think I’ve kind of gone beyond that [music being a hobby], which is sort of scary to admit. It’s very safe to say ‘it’s just a hobby’, but it’s what I want to do.”
The dream for Anna now is to work her way up in the folk music scene, and eventually travel around Australia playing at folk festivals and the like. She is also playing in a four-piece band and regularly gigging around Melbourne.
Check out Anna’s facebook page and watch this space, as we’ve received word she’s going to be holding a campaign to fund a new EP!