Blues & Roots Work of the Year Nominations - 2008

Title Good Excuse
Artist The John Butler Trio
Writer John Butler
Publisher Family Music Pty Ltd

 

Title Funky Tonight
Artist The John Butler Trio
Writer John Butler
Publisher Family Music Pty Ltd

John Butler was born in California and spent the majority of his youth in Pinjarra in Western Australia. He found his forte with the guitar during his teen years and recorded his first release completely self-funded, a task which indicated the independent nature of John's career to come. (Butler would eventually form Jarrah Records with fellow West Australian band, The Waifs.) Searching for Heritage, released on tape in 1996, sold 3500 copies and enabled John to fund his first CD recording. In 1998, the first incarnation of The John Butler Trio launched John Butler/Self Titled followed in 2000/1 by the EP Pickapart, and was followed in April 2001, by the breakthrough album Three which remained in the national alternative charts for nine months rising to the number one position a record breaking three times. By the time Three reached platinum sales status in Australia the JBT was recognised and respected nationally as part of the Australian musical landscape both on the airwaves and the touring circuit. In 2003, Living 2001- 2002, a double live CD received much mainstream focus and acceptance indicating a bright horizon for John.

The debut of Sunrise Over Sea (2003) at number one in the ARIA charts created Australian music history. It was the first time a release by a completely independent Australian artist on their own independent label had rocketed to the top of the national charts. The album went on to achieve five times platinum status in Australian record sales alone and remained in The Association of Independent Record Labels (AIR) charts for a staggering 84 weeks.

During the last two years The JBT has been making new friends and winning over large audiences all over the world including two sold out shows at the legendary Fillmore East in San Francisco, a standing ovation at the celebrated New Orleans Jazz Festival, selling out the prestigious Grand Rex in Paris, rocking the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, becoming the highest selling act at the Cambridge Folk Festival and performing main stage at Glastonbury. In July 2005, a performance in Switzerland at the St Gallen open air music festival was recorded in analogue on two inch tape and critically captures the warmth of a JBT performance both in sound quality and atmosphere. The concert was released as the John Butler Trio - Live At St Gallen with a bonus DVD component and reflects the group's ability to make an impact on the international stage.

October 2006 saw the start of a new chapter for John Butler with the release of the single "Funky Tonight" from the album Grand National, an album which offered an inspiring collection of tunes with all the energy and unique sonic tapestry of a John Butler Trio live performance. It is more about love than injustice, more about ass-shaking than finger-pointing, and more about maintaining the funk than any particular hairstyle. It's about walking it like you talk it and hitting the dance floor!

PREVIOUS APRA MUSIC AWARDS

  • Most Performed Blues & Roots Work - Somethings Gotta Give - The John Butler Trio (2006)
  • Song Of the Year - Zebra - John Butler (2004)

Title I Thought About You
Artist The Beautiful Girls
Writer Matthew McHugh

Formed in 2001, The Beautiful Girls have transformed themselves over the years and their third studio album, Ziggurats, has only added to the band's reputation as musical shape shifters.

The 2006 release of their second studio album We're Already Gone highlighted the diversity of the trio. We're Already Gone received rave reviews, an ARIA Award nomination, a J Award nomination, two songs in the JJJ Hottest One Hundred and high rotation on radio across the country. With sell out national tours at venues such as Sydney's Enmore Theatre and Brisbane's Tivoli, The Beautiful Girls cemented themselves as one of the most exciting acts in Australia.

The Beautiful Girls now have record deals in Japan, Europe, Brazil, the USA, UK and Canada, territories they have also toured extensively through over the past five years.

Ziggurats is yet another curve in the band's sound. The influence of recent addition to the drum kit, Bruce Braybrooke shines through, resulting in a rockier, heavier sound to their pop skewed tunes.

Ziggurats was produced by Mat McHugh and long-time Beautiful Girls producer Ian Pritchett and mixed at the Ballroom in LA by Mark Needham.

"The new band's sound is punchier and more angular. Lyrically, McHugh has drifted away from the personal politics of relationships to a wider political outlook. The album, in particular the stand-out I Thought About You, are a convincing departure from the "roots" scene McHugh felt trapped in."

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD

Title I’ve Been Loving You Too Long
Artist The Hiptones
Writers Narmon Tulsi
Paul Wimbles
Stephen Smith

Like all great bands, The Hiptones is an organic creation much greater than the sum of its parts. Over the last 6 years an eclectic group of musicians came together from the "roots" music scene in Adelaide, South Australia. The Hiptones grew and coalesced in 2005 into the current line-up of Snooks La Vie on Vocals, Brother T on Hammond and bass, Steve Smith on guitar and Miguel Garcia on the skins.

While there are lots of bands that have their roots in the blues, there are few with a singer as good as Snooks La Vie. Less with a band that can entertain a crowd in a bar for five hours straight and even fewer that can write songs as good as the blues and soul classics that inspired them. The Hiptones is a roots band that can play with a style of their own and they write like they play.

They cruise around in a '62 T-Bird, wear funky retro clothes and play obscure vintage instruments. They listen to music most people have never heard of, but what they create together is very cool, very real and totally hip. In these days of artifice and contrivance The Hiptones are a band that truly care about the music. There has never been an air of despair about this band. These are 4 guys who consistently go all out to play to a room full of people keen to forget the week's work and grind and dance to music that speaks to the mind and the body.

The Hiptones sound is a gumbo of the roots music with a pop sensibility. Out front is Snooks, a white soul singer with an incredibly powerful voice. Brother T drives the bass and Hammond organ deftly bridging the gap between retro funk and new soul. Steve Smith lays down sublime guitar in the feel of BB King, also being able to provide that Atlantic R&B funk attack and Miguel on the skins can do it all.

Their current album Right Now is particularly special given that it brought the Hiptones to the attention of a major label - SONYBMG. That's extraordinary given that all the vocal takes are first and only takes, and the entire album (with the exception of Hound Dog) was recorded and mixed in four days at Woodstock studios with James Black producing during a Melbourne heatwave in January 2006.Hot from the start, the Hiptones debut full-length album is a set of songs stripped back to their essence. This album is for now - Right Now.

Title La
Artist Old Man River
Writer Ohad Rein

Ohad Rein was raised in places where life is particularly precarious. His childhood years and visits to Israel allowed him to experience their unique attitude to life - it's a place where heightened political tension and awareness of self-mortality transcend everyday living. The people there place an extra value on life - they aim to make the most of everything they do and appreciate everything they are. To know Ohad is to grasp his intuitive perspective on life and people, developed through these experiences and his extensive travels overseas. It runs in the music that floods through him.

The true spirit of Ohad Rein and his music is exemplified in the creation of the single "La". Ohad donates time each week to a music workshop for disadvantaged children in Sydney's West. In one such workshop the class decided to write a song together. In Ohad's words, I picked up the guitar and the chords for the song just rolled into the world, as if they were waiting to play themselves out. The melody came with them and all we needed was a first line." A young girl, looking out the window, began singing "The sun's coming up in the sky!" and the lyrics flowed, with the entire class singing along. The story of the song - told in the lyrics and delightfully depicted in the music video - is about learning to appreciate and live with what we have, even though sometimes things might seem in the way. The way the tune was written and the song's warm message is typically Old Man River. Even the way the song was recorded is so Ohad - a bunch of tipsy mates crammed into a studio, having a laugh and contributing their love to the music.

The creation of "La" is just an example of the approach to music and life which constitutes Ohad's very being. Music just pours out from him so naturally, from inspiration, to thought, to voice and guitar. The Old Man River band is an extension of this spirit and their spontaneous group creativity onto the stage and studio. It took a while to get right, he says, but now it's great. It's one spirit. One vision.

This guy is so fascinatingly inspired by music and life. It's the struggle to be noticed in a big busy city. Busking in New York to be able to eat. Immersing himself in people and their music. Travelling India, studying exotic instruments with their true masters. Experiencing and trying to understand different ways of life. Being inspired by everything. Friends, family, love.

And so the enthusiastic Old Man River journeys Australia, having already accompanied The Sleepy Jackson and Damien Rice, and about to begin a busy schedule gigging with The Violent Femmes, Bob Evans, Youth Group and Josh Pike. Old Man River's debut album Good Morning encapsulates the vision of Ohad Rein in one collection of infectious, warm and upbeat tunes. It's sunshine for your ears.