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It's not easy being a blues artist in Australia. "This business
is bullshit, we all know that," Black Smith Hopkins sings
on his new album, The Vagabond, "I don't know where I'm
headed or where I'm gonna finish up." Later, he sings about
"living hand-to-mouth". Nicholas Hopkins-Smith might not
be prosperous but he is prolific - The Vagabond is his 12th
album in 14 years. "I enjoy creating music," Nick tells
Howzat! "It's an artistic outlet for me, even if it's not
financially rewarding." Unfortunately, you can't eat good
reviews. US magazine Blues Revue described Nick as
"the love child Iggy Pop and James Brown never had". Another
critic hailed him as "the AC/DC of the blues", while The
Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop called his self-titled
debut "one of the most exciting and dynamic blues albums
ever issued in Australia".
The Vagabond was inspired by a comic created by two
of Nick's brothers and their buddy. "It's a story about
a down-and-outer who is a vigilante," Nick explains. "He's
a bit like the Marvel character The Punisher." The album
is snarling, vibrant and authentic. Many people are surprised
that Nick is not black. "I take that as a big compliment,"
he smiles, even though he grew up on AC/DC, Billy Thorpe
and Chain, and splits his time between Melbourne and country
NSW. Nick launches The Vagabond at Cherry Blues on
Sunday afternoon. He's also appearing live on Max Crawdaddy's
Son Of Crawdaddy show on RRR on Thursday at 10pm,
doing a couple of songs with guitarist Paulie Bignell. Then
Saturday at 7pm, he and guitarist Les Stacpool will perform
live on Werner Martin's Hot Damn Tamale show on 3CR.
THE WIZARD OF OZ
Commercial radio doesn't play much Australian music, so
thank God for community stations. "It's so difficult for
musicians to compete with the international scene," rock
legend Ross Wilson told the Melton Weekly last week.
"If it weren't for community radio, so many great acts would
never be discovered." Ross is a regular on one of Howzat!'s
favourite shows, Lee-Roy Stancliffe's Living In The Land
Of Oz on Melton's 979fm, and he's agreed to do a benefit
gig to raise money for the station's forced relocation.
Ross calls Lee-Roy "one of the best rock journalists I've
met", so, in the spirit of High Fidelity, Howzat!
called on Lee-Roy to contribute to this week's column. Lee-Roy's
Top 5 2011 Albums: Abbe May's Design Desire, Fatty
Gets A Stylist's self-titled set, Go-Go Sapien's This
Body Is Wrong For Us, The Grates' Secret Rituals
and Ron S. Peno and the Superstitions' Future Universe.
Top 5 2011 Gigs: Blue King Brown and Ash Grunwald featuring
Vika and Linda at the Forum, The Brown Hornet and Manchoir
at the Evelyn, Clare Bowditch and Lanie Lane at Karova Lounge,
Skipping Girl Vinegar at Fairfax Studio, and They Will Have
Their Way: The Songs of Neil & Tim Finn at the Palais. And
Lee-Roy's Top 5 2011 Band and Album Names: Dancing With
A Dead Man, The Fearless Vampire Killers, Keep Calm
Carry The Monkey, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard,
and Rumble, Shake & Tumble. The 979fm gig is happening
at the Corner next Wednesday (November 23rd), with Ross
Wilson & The Peaceniks, Dave Graney, Angie Hart and Georgia
BEHIND THE CELADORE
Howzat! was a big fan of Motor Ace. Celadore also loved
'em. When we asked which three Aussie bands they'd love
to play with, they replied: "Crowded House, a re-formed
Motor Ace and Something For Kate." What's their favourite
Motor Ace album? "Can't go past Five Star Laundry,"
says drummer Dave Noordhoff. "It's the complete 'no frills'
pop/rock album. Such an honest portrayal of a great band
- every song is filled with melody and the hooks are undeniable."
Motor Ace took their name from a Soundgarden song; Celadore
comes from a classic movie. "It was suggested by a teacher
at Coops and Tom's high school," Dave explains, "and it
stuck. We later realised it was a reference to the movie
Donnie Darko, which none of us had seen at the time."
The title of Celadore's second EP, The Bright And Blue
(out now on Popboomerang Records), comes from the disc's
opening track, Bakery. "It seemed most fitting as
Bakery is partly about our lives as musicians, wondering
if this is how it will be, the best days we'll know, and
knowing that if it is, then that's all right." Celadore
launch the EP at Revolver on Saturday, November 26.
Jessica Mauboy and Stan Walker leap from 28 to 13.
Somebody That I Used To Know GOTYE (number 11)
Galaxy JESSICA MAUBOY & STAN WALKER (13)
Raining Diamonds RICKI-LEE (23)
Get It HAVANA BROWN (38)
The Getaway Plan bounce back, with their second album landing
All For You COLD CHISEL (number seven)
Making Mirrors GOTYE (13)
Fingerprints & Footprints POWDERFINGER (15, debut)
Requiem THE GETAWAY PLAN (17, debut)
Footprints - The Best Of POWDERFINGER (23, debut)
Rewiggled VARIOUS (25, debut)
They Will Have Their Way VARIOUS (26)
Vows KIMBRA (28)
The Very Best Of CROWDED HOUSE (32)
Falling & Flying 360 (33)
The Acoustic Chapel Sessions JOHN FARNHAM (34)
Ultimate Hits LEE KERNAGHAN (36)
Drugs And Booze BLACK SMITH HOPKINS
A Death In The Family JUAN ALBAN
Don't Say When THE FAUVES
Lo-Fi SOPHIE KOH
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