May 4th, 2020Music with Darren Lowe
THE Cartwheels. Contemporary country and country-influenced material. Always a surprise or two at every gig.
The new self-titled album is a gem, a lovely range of classic country material, played tastefully and with a respect for the traditions of the genre. These guys should know, Glenlyon couple Wendy Phypers and Dave Patterson and son Charley Phypers have played together now for many years, and are not afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves.
There are some lovely Australian references to places like Koondrook on the Murray, with tales of heartbreak, regret and joy. Recorded jointly in Nashville and at Richard Pleasance’s studio in Hepburn, the album features an array of guest musicians, as well as the core family band.
Music writer Darren Lowe caught up with Dave for a chat for The Local.
Darren: Great album, probably amongst your best work, a real nod to classic country, was that intentional?
Dave: Absolutely, our favourite style of country is the stuff that was recorded from the 40s to the 60s so we always knew that we were going to do a traditional sounding album, particularly since we were going to be recording with musicians whose bread and butter is playing that style. Wendy’s song writing tends to lean toward that style.
Darren: The song writing even deals with classic country themes of cheatin’, lyin’, etc but is nicely contrasted with some very Australian references, such as Koondrook and kookaburras, so it all seems to fit together quite naturally.
Dave: We love using local references in songs and Kookaburra Calling is a snapshot of one of our many camping trips to Koondrook on the banks of the Murray. Off We Go Again is also autobiographical and is about our trips to outback Queensland and the joy of open blue skies, straight roads and flat tyres.
Darren: Tell me about the players you have on the album.
Dave: We were lucky enough to have three players from the Nashville supergroup The Time Jumpers: Joe Spivey (fiddle), Jeff Taylor (piano and accordion) and Andy Reiss (guitar). The Time Jumpers are an 11-piece band made up of the best players in Nashville – including superstar Vince Gill. Wendy was lucky enough to do a guest spot on one of their shows and the crowd went absolutely nuts. It was the highlight of our trip for me.
We also had Craig Smith on guitar, who recently toured out here with Jim Lauderdale and Doug Jernigan on pedal steel. Doug used to play with greats like Faron Young and Ferlin Husk and had some great stories to tell.
Darren: I love how you’ve managed to include a number of country styles such as some Tex-Mex with the wonderful piano accordion work and some traditional/bluegrass.
Dave: Country music is a beautiful mix of different regional influences. You can hear the sounds of early New Orleans jazz in western swing or an old English ballad in a Kentucky mountain tune. I love that about any style of music so we are happy to mix it up a bit.
Kookaburra Calling just had this great cajun feel about it right from the start and Jeff and Joe totally got the sound we were after. We also love that although the music sounds like it’s from Louisiana, the lyrics are pure Australian.
Darren: The final song is a beauty, a very mature, well-written piece which rounds off the album beautifully.
Dave: Yeah, Heartbreaking World. Essentially the song is about life being tough but alongside that you have home and the ones that you love.
Darren: How was recording in Nashville?
Dave: Recording in Nashville was an amazing experience. We were fortunate enough to work with all the players we have listened to and loved for years and we totally immersed ourselves in the whole experience that is Nashville.
Of course working with Richard Pleasance is always fabulous. We recorded the drums and bass with Richard before we left. We have done quite a bit of recording with Richard over the years and it is always a joy. He is an amazing producer and musician.
Darren: Congratulations on the album again, I love it, even down to the cover with the crocheted quilt!