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Australia's best blues live at the FCC

By: The Wires Newsletter Posted: January-01-2006 in
The Wires Newsletter

Cambodia can brace itself for a jolt of world-class boogie when two of Australia's most acclaimed blues acts play Cambodia in December.

The Backsliders,Australia's award-winning, all-star blues ensemble, will make their Cambodian debut when the band plays the FCC Angkor on December 7 and December 8 at the FCC Phnom Penh.

In addition to the Backsliders' two shows, New Zealand singer-songwriting powerhouse Paul Ubana Jones will play four shows at the FCC in December. Jones will play the FCC Angkor on December 10 and 11, and the FCC Phnom Penh on December 14 and 15.

All six shows kick off at 9 pm and admission is free.

Few acts to play Cambodia are as highly acclaimed carry as the Backsliders. The rocking blues band is led by Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst and guitarist and vocalist Dom Turner, who was named Australian Songwriter of the Year in 2004.

Called the pioneers of their own genre and playfully described as "Delta blues meets Wall of Sound", the Backsliders mix straight-ahead "amped-up" electric blues with "way down South" unplugged acoustic numbers.

The group, really an all-star roster of Aussie bluesmen, have been writing, recording and performing blues for 20 years. Australian music critic Doug Mulray recently called them "the best acoustic blues band in the country".

Founding member and key songwriter Turner specializes in "bottle-neck" slide guitar influenced by "a blend of Delta blues, Piedmont blues, rock, dub and sounds of Asia".

Turner is a highly regarded speaker on blues and roots music and frequently appears on Australian Broadcasting Commission radio programs and at festivals. In 2004 Turner was voted Songwriter of the Year at the Australian Blues Awards in Goulburn, NSW, and he has a sculpture in recognition of this honor at the Goulburn Visitors Centre.

Drum and percussion virtuoso Rob Hirst of Midnight Oil is "an acclaimed name synonymous with the best of Australian music". Hirst is a founding member of Midnight Oil. He was the band's drummer, songwriter, and backing singer for 25 years. In 2003 he published "Willies Bar & Grill," the story of Midnight Oil's tour of the US just after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Joining Turner and Hirst are two of Australia's most dynamic harmonica players; the legendary Brod Smith and award winning ''harp" genius Ian Collard. The two play alternate gigs with Turner and Hirst setting the grooves and either Smith or Collard firing up the amps to fuel the musical maelstrom.

The band's most recent album, ''Left Field Holler," has been called "an eclectic mix of hard hitting, frenetic new blues anthems mixed with poignant ballads again taking the band to new limits."

And as if that wasn't enough, Kiwi singer-songwriter Paul Urbana Jones will also return to play the FCC Angkor and Phnom Penh this month with his trademark 1979 Martin guitar. Jones plays December 10 and 11 at the FCC Angkor and December 14 and 15 at the FCC Phnom Penh. All shows start at 9 p.m.

Jones first played Cambodia last year following the release of his first live album, "Live: The Christchurch Civic." Now, his burgeoning Phnom Penh fan base can again delight in Jones' original work and soulful interpretations of rock classics from "The House of the Rising Sun" to "Hoochie Coochie Man."

Having played with musicians as legendary as punk siren Patti Smith and folk poet Bob Dylan, Jones is authentic rock 'n' roll royalty. He's recorded seven eclectic (and often iconoclastic) albums and has opened for blues artists such as Taj Mahal, Ben Harper and Keb Mo.

A music critic in 2003 labeled Jones a "wise creator of powerful compositions, tender ballads, shuffling blues and acoustic poetry". And another wrote, "His original work is filled with fond, sincere statements about love and life".

Jones' background is as eclectic as his music. Born in London, Jones' mother hails from Yorkshire mother and his father is Nigerian. Jones was playing guitar by the age of 11. After attending "music college" in London, where he studied guitar and cello, Jones forged the solo acoustic style that has become his trademark. He is known to his fans as a soulful singer and virtuoso guitarist, and he has been called "blessed with rich timbre and biting wit".

But Jones still slips from any convenient musical labels. As the Evening Post newspaper wrote in 1998, "Trying to describe just how good Paul Ubana Jones is, is like trying to define why the Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the world - words pale in comparison."

The Backsliders
Dec 7, FCC Angkor
Dec 8, FCC Phnom Penh

Paul Ubana Jones
Dec 10 & 11, FCC Angkor
Dec 14 & 15, FCC Phnom Penh

All shows start at 9 pm. Free admission.


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