I’ve been hooked on the music of Bud Rokesky since seeing him play at Dashville Skyline last October and over the last couple of months I’ve been lucky enough to listen to an advance copy of his exceptional debut album Outsider, which will be released on February 17th via Rainbow Valley Records. I’ve got a review of the album coming soon and in it I say… “an exquisite album from start to finish, Outsider is a calling card from a staggering new talent.”
There are already three singles out there, check out the latest – ‘Baby And I’, plus ‘Floodlights’ and ‘Love My Baby More’ on Spotify and all the other streaming services. Bud was kind enough to put pen to paper and answer some questions for the semi-regular PTW column Six Strings.
What was the album that first led you down the dusty path of Americana music?
Between ages 5-10 I would wake Dad up very early and ask if I could play “DJ’s” which meant running to the hi-fi system and curating a morning’s playlist with his CDs and vinyl. That’s where I discovered his Born in the USA record, obviously by Bruce Springsteen. I remember not understanding the lyrics but being so overwhelmed with emotion from the power in the title track that I assumed it must be a love song- so I committed to hand writing the lyrics to give to a girl I had a crush on. Well, I only had a red pen handy, so the first “love note” I gave to a girl was the words to an anti-Vietnam protest song, written in blood red ink. In the years that followed, I don’t think I got any better at letting girls know that I liked them.
Describe your latest release ‘Baby And I’ in 100 words.
I was on the highway talking with a friend about life on a cattle station and the seasonal workers and seasonal romances that go with it. We spoke about the “uniform” of Ariat boots and Canterbury shorts and how driving around in the truck you might hear a traditional country song, followed by an old rap hit, right back to a new country release or classic rock song. Later that morning I sung the first verse and chorus into my phone and sent it to Alex Henriksson. That weekend I went to Alex’s studio where we finished the rest of the story, before I took it home and finalised the chords and structure.
What’s been the most memorable gig you’ve played?
The gig that first comes to mind is a semi-memorable Friday night at a blues bar which I can’t remember the name of and has since closed down. I’d just worked 15 hours in the truck and we had to play 3 x 45 minute sets of blues rock until 11pm – Rohin on guitar, DJ on drums and myself on bass. I’d never met DJ before and we certainly hadn’t rehearsed, also I’m no good at playing bass. I was so tired that Rohin has since told me he had a hard time not laughing each time he glanced over, as I looked physically ill, yet I was having the best time. I think the only reason I can remember some of the gig is because I’d been listening to ZZ Top on repeat for about two years and was almost living it- in a trio watching Rohin tear his guitar apart in front of a bar packed with people who were loving it as much as I was.
How did you learn to play your instrument?
Dad showed me an E major chord when I was 10, followed by the ‘Peter Gunn Theme’ since I loved the Blues Brothers. It wasn’t until I was 13 that he showed me how to play ‘Time of Your Life’ by Green Day and I took those chords and started writing songs with them. I did have guitar lessons, although unfortunately for the teacher I was locked onto the band Pennywise at the time and had no desire to master anything more than power chords. I hope one day soon I can take up lessons again properly.
What do you consider the finest song you’ve written?
The greatest song I’ve ever written is always whatever song I’ve just finished writing. Nine times out of 10 I’ll finish writing a song and believe I’ve peaked and can never write another decent song again.
If you could sit-in with one other musician (living or dead) who would it be?
Alan Jackson. He is one of the absolute greats and I really respect his writing and style of country music. He also has three daughters which would be incredible to sit down and talk with him about raising kids while maintaining a career as a singer-songwriter.
Do you feel there is a strong folk/country music community in Australia?
I feel there is an incredible country/folk/Americana community in Australia! Every artist I’ve met or played with is humble and kind and every audience member I’ve played for has been there for the music and the friends. Couldn’t ask for much more! However for the scene to keep growing, I’d like to see artists open up more in profiles, bios and interviews, and also document more interactions with music lovers. Then we could all connect and witness those connections on a deeper level, taking it that step further from community into family.
What’s been your favourite Americana release over the last year?
Chicamacomico by American Aquarium. It sounds to me like if the Gaslight Anthem, Jerry Jeff Walker and Drive-by Truckers made music together. Perfect for driving out solo to a Friday night rodeo.
What are your musical plans over the next 12 months?
Play more shows, write more songs, meet more music lovers, tour Australia and overseas, also release more music!
SUN FEB 19 – RIVERBOATS FESTIVAL, Echuca VIC
MARCH 10-13 – PORT FAIRY FOLK FESTIVAL, Port Fairy VIC
WED MAR 15 – MIDNIGHT SPECIAL, Sydney (w/ Tim Easton USA)
THU MAR 17 – TAMWORTH HOTEL, Tamworth (w/ Tim Easton USA)
FRI MAR 18 – BACK DECK SESSIONS, Maitland (w/ Tim Easton USA)