When you think of pioneering Australia country music artists, you think of storytellers; Slim Dusty and John Williamson, that traditional balladeering style of country. One great Aussie singer/songwriter had the fortitude to mix that storytelling with a rockier sound to modernise the genre we now know as country. James Blundell is widely credited with being the man who changed the face (and sound) of today’s country music. With a brand new album due out next month, James is returning to one of his fave places to perform, The Broadbeach Country Music Festival, so he and I had a chat.
A new album due out 31 July. The first two singles (Hills of Brisbane and Casuarina) already released, is James excited?
“We’ve had wonderful responses with the first two songs so we’ll see what happens. I’m working with my favourite label (Karen Waters) so it’s been great and I can’t wait to get out on the road and play these songs live.”
James will headline the Broadbeach Country Music Festival this weekend and he can’t wait. The association between the Blundells and Broadbeach goes back to just after WWII with grandparents buying real estate in the area, so James knows Broadbeach and the Festival itself intimately.
“I’ve seen the changes in the Festival over the years and this year they have a monster on their hands. It’s this awesome street party of country music and there’s not another one in Australia, it’s such a great precinct and I think it’s just gonna get bigger and bigger. It’s just like the Blues on Broadbeach but more relaxed,” he laughed.
Speaking of relaxation, is the trusty surfboard packed?
“I’ve got a reasonably gentle schedule this time. I’ve usually got a board at a mate’s place, top end of Mermaid, and yes, if the waves are good I’ll definitely get a couple of hours in. When you’re a young surfer you used to laugh at the fat old guys on long boards waiting for a wave that doesn’t frighten them. I’m now one of them.”
We know he’s a great singer/songwriter and we know he’s an avid surfer, I’m wondering what a typical day in the life of James Blundell is. He laughs long and hard and ponders the question for a few moments.
“That’s a lovely question,” he continues “on the road is reasonably predictable. The days I’m not on the road, I usually get up 5:30am, if I’m not working on music, its quad bike, dogs on the back, trying to find sheep in the mountains. Once we’re done it’s usually repairing fences that are nearing 100 years old. This is a glorious period of my life, everything I’m doing I’m loving. When I’m sick of one, I’ll do the other. I love performing and being on the road, but it’s nice to come home too.”
Is James Blundell is trying to convince us that he’s just a normal, knockabout sort of a bloke?
He laughs when I mention this “probably more stupid than most really. Nah, I’ve got common sense and honestly it’s the thing that I believe has saved me numerous times through a career that’s had both highs and lows. I’ve managed to live through three marriage breakdowns on the front page of newspapers so without common sense it would be a problematic existence, but everyday normal person, absolutely.”
“At the risk of sounding complacent about the privileges of my lifestyle, thankfully there’s been enough rough stuff to make sure you don’t miss a minute of appreciating it. Life’s great. I’m still making music. I just cracked the half century, I don’t feel it, I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I’m loving where I am musically, so it’ll be this album and one more after that which takes up another five years. I don’t want to tour every night when I’m 60 so 55 I’ll be doing intimate singer/songwriter dinner shows. I can’t imagine not playing but I wouldn’t mind having a crack at writing a novel and I can do that on my mountain, but I don’t think I could afford a lawsuit if I was really honest in a book,” James laughs.
Our time is up on but I know it won’t be long until we find him on the stage at Broadbeach Country Music Festival. Doing what he loves best. Singing and performing for the fans, who not only got him to the top, but helped him stay there.
A James Blundell tell-all. Yep. I’m intrigued.
For details on James’ Broadbeach appearance and for all the artist lineup and stage times, head to http://www.broadbeachcountry.com/