Big Tobacco Company – Alternative Progressive Metal from Ohio

BTC_01
Image courtesy of Big Tobacco Company

When opportunity and access to the appropriate hardware of the trade allows, I like to go on a whim and speak with random bands and artists.

On one memorable occasion, I was connecting with an Icelandic MOR band (Dikta) and within the week their interview with me was on radio in Canberra. I had some lovely chats with their management in LA as well.

So it was that in March, I connected with Bobby Ullmann from Big Tobacco Company on Twitter. My intention then was to do it almost guerrilla interview style and have it up and available within days.

Here we are in May, and apart from one hour of power in the Belmont Public Library, New South Wales, this is the first time I’ve sat using a computer and keyboard in more months than I can rightly remember. #peripatetic

Enough about my technological challenges.

Big Tobacco Company come from Cincinnati, Ohio and their sound has the sort of raw, rough edge that you might expect coming from people who live on the southern edge of the cold and forbidding waters of Lake Erie. Or it would be if I got the name of the city right, because that’s Cleveland that’s on Lake Erie.

Ok, I have no idea about American geography. I have Google Maps. I’m just guessing that if you’re that far up the country, it’s going to be colder than balls – except for maybe a week or two in July and August.

High tech interview setup at St Marys Rugby League Club, NSW, Australia

As is my wont, I did minimal research before our interview. Some might call this ‘laziness’; I prefer ‘living in the moment, all spontaneous and shit’.

No, seriously, it’s served me well in the past to not know too much about the interviewee before diving into a stack of questions, guided more by their responses than any predetermined views about the music, the genre, and the band’s ethos.

And so it was with Bobby. My surprised responses are genuine.

Big Tobacco Company have a new self-titled album out now, and you can listen to tracks and buy them individually or en masse via their website.

On a stunning, clear, late summer lunchtime in St Marys in far, far western Sydney, Australia I pulled up a pew in the rugby league club and had a great chat with Bobby. Here ’tis:

You can follow Big Tobacco Company on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bIgtoBacCocoMpaNY/

Fun fact: WordPress informs me this is Overheard Productions’s 200th post on this website. Well, break out the creaming soda and vegemite Jatz crackers! 🙂

Advertisements

[Audio Interview] David M McLean, Skinny Devil Music Lab and Lexington Music Awards

dmmc
Image courtesy of David M McLean

David M McLean is yet another of those prolific musical entities that are the engine room of independent music. You know the sort of person who slogs away in the foreground and background, tirelessly making things happen and ensuring the world is a music-filled and art-filled place to live, breathe, and hear.

A writer, composer, guitarist, producer, teacher, and possibly most front-brain right now, the brains* behind the Lexifest music awards for Lexington, Kentucky.

* Refer to the audio for how the brains and brawn of this event are distributed and attributed.

Late last year, I spoke with David as he sat in his truck with his cell phone somewhere on a cool Lexington KY evening. We spoke so long that my intention was to break the interview into two parts. However, after a series of technical gremlins and many edits later, I’ve whittled this down into the one sound file.

Part of the editing leaves the back end of our chat slamming like a door in a stiff breeze, so apologies for my abruptness!

I’m looking forward to hearing about Lexifest 2017, and here’s hoping the blizzards stay away from town in the run-up this year!

sdml
Image courtesy of David M McLean

Interview: Michael Johnathon of Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour

Image courtesy of Woodsongs dot com and Michael Johnathon. Photo by Larry Neuzel.
Image courtesy of Woodsongs dot com and Michael Johnathon. Photo by Larry Neuzel.

Image courtesy of Woodsongs dot com and Michael Johnathon. Photo by Larry Neuzel.

From humble beginnings in 1998, from a small venue that sat just 20 people in the audience, Michael Johnathon has built the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour into a public broadcasting colossus. Woodsongs is heard and seen around the globe each week from its current home in the Lyric Theatre, Lexington KY.

The program showcases bands, performers and troupes from across the broad spectrum of bluegrass, Americana, roots, acoustic and alt-country, and a few others around the blurred edges of folk.

It’s a 100% community and volunteeer-run operation, making its longevity and sustainability all the more remarkable. And laudable.

It gets even better than that – but you’ll have to listen to the interview for the part that rocked me back on my heels.

And upturned kayak.

The show has reached an eye-watering 750+ episodes as of April 2014, many of which are freely available from the Woodsongs website in audio and video formats. Apart from its legion of individual listeners, Woodsongs has spawned a string of coffeehouse groups which meet to experience the show as a community.

The log cabin. Image courtesy of Michael Johnathon.
The log cabin. Image courtesy of Michael Johnathon.

And it’s not like Michael has anything else to do with his spare time.

Like being a singer-songwriter of many years standing. Or touring. Or arranging other concerts. Or building a log cabin and surrounding structures plus landscaping and bridges etc. bare-handed. Or being a father of two adult children (and two more on the way in one hit).

No, I lied. He’s all of that and more.

An just get a load of where he got his folk beginnings from. I can only interpret my silence at hearing who his neighbour was in upstate New York as a little mild shock and awe.

On a chilly autumnal morning in Sydney, I stepped off the Manly* Ferry and found a suitable-ish place to record an interview over the shaky airwaves from Australia to Lexington, Kentucky. A picture of my luxurious chair in the ‘recording studio’ appears below.

* For international audiences, ‘Manly’ refers to a suburb and location on the north side of Sydney Harbour named ‘Manly’. We don’t believe in forcing gender stereotypes onto our aquatic transport vessels. Actually, if anything, we refer to them as ‘her‘ for the most part. Continue reading

From the archives: Fred Smith — Taking ‘Texas’ to Tasmania (and Tilley’s, Tempe, Turning Wave…)

'Texas' by Fred Smith
‘Texas’ by Fred Smith

Fred Smith: Taking ‘Texas’ to Tasmania (and Tilley’s, Tempe, Turning Wave…)
First published in Trad and Now magazine, June 2008

Two more weekends and I’ll be going home
My home’s a nowhere
But a nowhere where I’m known
Where the sheep are nervous
And the men are all good blokes
Take me back to where the people get my jokes

From ‘American Guitar’, Texas (2008) by Fred Smith

So saying the above (or rather, singing the above), Fred Smith did literally head home — to Australia.

Fred’s first chance to play ‘American Guitar’ to a live audience came on his last night in the USA, after three years, coincidentally in a town called Frederick. (His first gig three years earlier had been, just as coincidentally, in Fredericksburgh).

The next morning after its debut, Fred hopped on a plane and returned to Australia via a two week tour of Canada.

Avid Trad and Now readers may have followed some of Fred’s adventures in these pages as he tripped around the USA from house-husbanding to house concerts, from suburban conventionality to folk conventions, and to a string of gigs, festivals and song contests along the way.

Fred has now been back in Australia for about six months and he’s appreciating the return to his old neighbourhood. Launching his ‘Texas’ album at Tilley’s Devine Café in Canberra last month, Fred relates a quote on topic: ”Home is the place you go where they’ve got to let you in.”

‘It’s good to be home!’ Continue reading