Over the last few years I’ve been driven to discover more about
There’s also a bit of bloody-mindedness involved – a sense that nobody else particularly cares about this music. Invisible in the media, absent from folklore, unavailable to purchase - the fact that nobody is telling me to look this stuff up seems as good a reason as any to hunt it down.
(In a media-saturated environment, I’m often conscious of sailing the seas of other people’s enthusiasms; perhaps having found reasonably under-explored territory so close to home I am excited by the obscurity itself, the way I can map my own thoughts and associations onto this stuff.)
More than enough tenuous theorising. I know for sure that I have a John Kennedy compilation called “From Woe to Go” – I got it for about five bucks from Red Eye in the late eighties, and used to listen to it sometimes but not quite get it. It had a slightly country thing going on (not least in JFK’s look) at a time when country music appreciation wasn’t a fitted-as-standard part of the indie-kid repertoire, or mine anyway.
My world is full of records that I didn’t quite get when I was younger – many of them I have since revisited with rewarding results. A while ago I downloaded a copy of “From Woe to Go” from the excellent Striped Sunlight Sound site, and have been enjoying listening to it while I push my crummy Pintara around the inner city.
I was a little apprehensive about JFK’s gig at the Rose in Erskineville; I’ve seen some pretty terrible shows there - it’s one of those
Kennedy’s voice is strong, his songs are interesting and the band were excellent. That last factor isn’t an uncomplicated asset for me – there’s a real tentative charm in some of his 1980s recordings that I think comes from uncertain indie types playing country-inflected music. Nonetheless, having a muscular roots band behind him had a lot to do with the success of this evening. Perry Keyes had the crowd cheering his solo on “Your Cheating Heart” – I’m not much of a guitar solo man, but I could definitely see their point.
It’s a genuine treat to hear someone singing about
The only two songs I really knew (apart from some predictable but well-realised covers) were “Miracle in Marrickville” and “