The Tamworth Hotel, various dates
I first saw the Scotland-born Broadie playing at the festival in 2005, and fell in love with his music almost straightaway. The first song on his first album, Nowhere Now Here, sealed the deal. Since then I’ve seen him play several times and the lustre has never worn off. Broadie is one of Australia’s greatest singer-songwriters and live performers, and his popularity at the festival increases each year for very good reasons: he’s exceptionally good live, whether he’s playing with a band or on his own (as he appeared with the Like Minded Felons, James Blundell and Nik Phillips, at the Southgate Inn) and, as one fellow punter told me in the ladies’ loo, ‘He’s so entertaining’. Broadie’s on-stage ease makes his audience feel relaxed, so we’re more inclined to settle in for a few sets, knowing we’re in good hands. And, as he is now the proud papa of three full-length albums and an EP, he has more than enough material for a few hours on stage.
Most of Broadie’s 2007 Tamworth band – not his usual touring outfit – were back, and the calibre of their playing only increased the value for punters. Danny Widdicombe from Brisbane took on lead guitar duties with aplomb; Victorian Johnny Kendall added his sublime fiddle skills to the mix. Kendall is perhaps Broadie’s greatest live collaborator – an intuitive, versatile musician who reads between the musical lines of the songs and finds all sorts of delightful nuances (he was also much in demand to play with other acts during the festival). Michael Roberts – who produced Nowhere Now Here – took keyboards and about twenty other instruments; every time I looked he was playing something new and it all added to the layering of the songs. Wrangling all these talents together was the very solid rhythm section of Greg Gillett on drums and Stevie JB (full name unknown). I should also mention that everyone except Stevie contributed to backing vocals. At one time I thought that if anything blew up on the stage Australian music – let alone country music – would never recover from the loss of all these talented folks.
Karl Broadie’s gigs are always a highlight of my Tamworth and it was wonderful to see lots more people this year enjoying this divine music. It is too easy to take a performer like Broadie for granted – he doesn’t demand attention in the way of some ego-challenged musicians; he allows his music to speak for him, and it’s also too easy to take this music for granted when it seems to pour out of him so effortlessly. But it’s harder than it looks, and from some of the comments I overheard it seems like lots of people are starting to appreciate the effort he goes to. It couldn’t happen to a more worthy fellow.