Matt Lye and Jamie Kasdaglis have a deep connection to the Gold Coast. Better known collectively as the James Street Preachers, the duo have been living and performing on the Gold Coast long enough to see the cultural shift happening and they’re proud to be part of it.
Jamie Kasdaglis (guitar, piano and vocals) had been performing with Wiley Reed in Gold Coast clubs in the 90s when he first started playing with Matt at The Loft, Chevron Island.
“It was these sessions that lay the future foundations for The James Street Preachers,” says Matt (bass, guitar, vocals). “It’s not something that’s happened overnight.”
“We met in ’96,” adds Jamie, “at a jam sessions. And instantly had a great connection that has seen us gig and jam together in various groups for the last 20 years before we got together as the Preachers in 2014.”
Having played locally for 20 years, Matt says the pair have played all sorts of venues “some great, some not so great.”
“We have seen many venues open with such promise, only to close not long after due to various reasons,” Matt said. “However these days there seems to be a growing demand for live music, especially when there are great venues tailor-made to support live music.”
Pretty much from the time The James Street Preachers formed, they found their spiritual home in the form of Nobby Beach boutique bar The Cambus Wallace, becoming somewhat of a house band. And they’re quick to point out they have regular gigs in a heap of other Gold Coast venues like Etsu Izakaya and 19Karen’s exhibition opening nights.
“They were our first regular musicians,” says Dave Ferry of The Cambus Wallace. “They came in and said they play Chicago-style street blues, and I said ‘sweet how about you come and play on Wednesday’?”
“When they finished that first Wednesday I asked them if they wanted to come back every week,” Dave said.
“Live blues just fits so well in the venue,” he added. “And it doesn’t overshadow everything else, people can sit back and enjoy their dinner and drinks, and you can just see them ‘feeling’ the blues.”
The James Street Preacher’s reach extends beyond that of Gold Coast’s boutique bars and restaurants though.
“We have performed at festivals and enjoy the fact our audience ranges in all ages,” said Matt. “There seems to be a resurgence in blues and roots music with growing interest in what we do coming from a younger generation of audience who seem to be fed up with commercial music and are looking for a sound that’s more organic, raw and satisfying to the soul,” Matt said.
“The Cambus Wallace have given us the opportunity to showcase our style of blues music. And it’s so good to see festivals such as Blues on Broadbeach giving great support to local artists and showing how strong the quality of entertainment is on the Gold Coast,” Matt said. “It’s a great time for music here right now.”
In terms of the future, the pair don’t see too much changing.
“We just want to play good blues and that’s really our main goal,” said Jamie. “We play together because we love it, we love the music and it’s something we see ourselves doing for a long time to come.”
“It would be great to spread our wings more preaching the blues by playing more festivals and touring and we are currently collecting new material for a new release,” Matt added. “So our current plans are to get back into the studio and see what we can create. It’s not a quick process by any means.”
And if you’re worried that ‘spreading their wings’ might mean growing beyond the confines of The Cambus Wallace, you’ve no need to worry.
“We like the ‘house band’ feel. It fits with the whole vibe of the place,” said Dave Ferry. “You know, everyone knows everyone and that includes the musicians. Most people are on first name basis with them, and we like it that way.”
“That said, when there’s good touring blues artists coming through the GC we’ll book them for a show.”
The James Street Preachers are at The Cambus Wallace on Wednesday 7, 14 and 28 June. Joshy Dredz makes an appearance on Sunday 4 June, Matthew Armitage on Tuesday 6, 20 and 27, Herbie Walker on Sunday 11 and 25 June, Mescalito Blues on Tuesday 13 and Angelo Pash on Sunday 18 June, plus you can catch DJ BRCKS on Turntable Thursdays.