Bluegrass singer-songwriter Kristy Cox and honkytonk artist Travis List have a few things in common – they’re both Australia, they both now live in Nashville and they’re touring Australia, together. Recently I spoke to Kristy after the first weekend of the tour, and there’s still time to catch them – the dates are all at the end of this post.
How do you and Travis List know each other and how did the idea for the tour come together initially?
Travis and I have known each other since I was eleven years old. We grew up in the same South Australian country music community. He went to Nashville nine years ago and I moved over a couple of years ago. We were just talking and said we should go back to Adelaide and put on a show in Adelaide – neither of us had played in Adelaide for a while. And that just kind of formed into a whole tour, which is pretty exciting. We just kept booking shows and it’s been going really well.
So you’ve had one gig already?
We’ve done one weekend and it was very successful and a whole lot of fun.
I’m intrigued by the idea of you both coming from the same SA country music community. So you grew up somewhat surrounded by country music?
Yes, the South Australian Council for Country Music – there’s a lot of festivals and talent quests and clubs and things over here that really encourage young up-and-coming musicians and singers, and that gives children a place to get on stage – they do a lot of walk-ups and things. They’re very encouraging of young people who want to be involved in the country music community.
That’s the first I’ve ever heard of the council – but you and Travis are proof that it works.
Jedd Hughes came through it. Jake Nickolai came through it. Back in the day Kasey Chambers and Beccy Cole. We’re all from South Australia.
Are there any other South Australians that you know of doing bluegrass in Nashville?
Kym Warner from the Green Cards. The Green Cards have been nominated for a couple of Grammys now. He’s probably one of Australia’s – well, he’s an expat now, he lives in Austin, Texas – one of the best mandolin players to ever come out of Australia. His father, Trev Warner, was one of the founding players of bluegrass in Australia and he still lives here, in Adelaide. Bluegrass music has a pretty heavy following here in Adelaide and a lot of pickers … It’s great. It’s just getting bigger and bigger and bigger every year.
So you’ve had that community growing up and now you’ve moved into a different kind of community in Nashville – I guess it’s good to have someone like Travis there, who’s familiar, to give you a sense of home or a sense of community.
I think there’s 300 Australians who live full-time in Nashville now, so that’s quite a lot, and that ranges across all different kinds of industries. Having Aussies over there is a great way when you’re feeling a little homesick. We had Christmas with Tommy Emmanuel and Rick Price, because they both live over there. Us Australians get together as much as we can. We did a Fourth of July Aussie-themed barbecue – we just made an excuse to cook some lamb chops on the barbie. We definitely stuck together, us Aussies over there.
Well, that’s nice! And apart from that it’s good for creative collaborations, such as the one you have now, with Travis.
Yes, it’s a great way to form new friendships and meet new people that we didn’t really meet or have a chance to get to know back here in Australia.
For this tour, have you put together a touring band and, if so, are you sharing it?
Yes, we’re sharing the same band. We’ve actually got Georgia Fall opening for us, for the tour, and James and Paul in that band are just the most fantastic musicians, and they’ve worked really hard to learn Travis and my material. So they open the show and do their country-rock thing that they’re good at, then I get on and we kind of move the stage around the little bit and I do my bluegrass thing, and then Travis obviously finishes the night with his honkytonk stuff. It’s a great way for the audience to get nice a taste of every element of country and bluegrass music all in one night. It’s working really, really well actually.
I was going to ask how you came to choose Georgia Fall but it sounds like a very cleverly thought-out way to get an opening band and a touring band at the same time.
We were actually going to take a different band and the guys in Georgia Fall said, ‘We would love to learn your material and play for you’. So especially with the bluegrass stuff they really rose to the challenge because it’s quite a different style of music. It’s worked out really well. We were planning on taking them anyway. I just think that they’re a great group of people and they’re definitely playing music for all the right reasons so they have similar values to us. We’re having a lot of fun on the road with them – it’s great.
Did you have to arrive a bit ahead of the tour in order to rehearse?
No, we did a bit of a run-through about three hours before our first show. True musician style! Well, Travis and I have been touring in Europe for five weeks and we had our first show [here] the day after we landed from London so there was no time for any rehearsals, unfortunately.
You launched your new album in Tamworth in January and it sounds like since then you’ve been pretty flat out.
Yes, I haven’t really stopped yet, I’m kind of looking forward to a bit of a break after this tour. I think I’ve got six weeks before Tamworth so I can have a bit of a holiday and spend some time with the family. I fly back to America and then come back to Australian again. It will be nice to stop. I think I’ve done six trips to America and two trips to Europe in the last eighteen months. So I’m ready to put my feet up a bit.
When I spoke to you last year you were telling me about your publishing deal and the amount of songwriting involved. It must be difficult to keep up with songwriting commitments let alone writing for your own album, if that’s separate, in the midst of all that travel.
To be honest, these last six months I haven’t done a whole lot of songwriting. I’ve been doing a lot of radio touring over in the US, promoting the new album and the label booked me in to do a brand-new album in March so I guess I’ll start writing for that once this tour’s over. But the writing side, unfortunately, has really been put on the backburner to give way to the touring and the promoting of the album. But that’s okay – can’t do everything.
And I guess it depends on how people write – some people need that vacuum. They need the time and the mental space in order for the ideas to come. Some people like to write on the road. But it seems like most people do need a little bit of brain space to create.
Yes. I’m definitely one of those people. [laughs]
And how’s your voice holding up in all of this? Because it’s a lot of work for a voice.
It’s fine – as long as I eat good vegetables and get a good night’s sleep, it’s no different to talking all day, really. I eat very healthy. I’m a bit of a caveman dieter – I eat vegies and meat. No bread, no pastas, no sauces. You’ve really got to keep up a healthy lifestyle in order to keep up with the demands of doing this kind of thing. It’s really important. If you don’t have good fuel it’s like running a car that needs diesel on petrol – it’s just not going to work.
Friday, 5th September 2014 Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall Silverton Hotel- 5:00pm 12 Layard St, Silverton, New South Wales TICKETS: $25 BOOKINGS: (08) 8088 5313
Sunday, 7th September 2014 Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall Prarie Hotel- 5:00pm Cnr High St & West Tce, South Australia TICKETS: $25 BOOKINGS: (08) 8648 4895
Monday, 8th September 2014 Coming Home Tour with Travis List Prarie Hotel- 5:00pm Cnr High St & West Tce, South Australia TICKETS: $25 BOOKINGS: (08) 8648 4895
Friday, 12th September 2014 Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall Dubbo RSL- 8:00pm Brisbane St, Dubbo New South Wales
Saturday, 13th September 2014 Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall The Abbey- 8:00pm Federation Sq, O’hanlon Place, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory TICKETS: $25 BOOKINGS: http://theabbey.com.au/2014/05/coming-home-tour-kristy-cox-saturday-september-13-2014/
Saturday, 19th September 2014 Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall Rooty Hill RSL- 8:00pm 55 Sherbrooke St, Rooty Hill, New South Wales TICKETS: $25 BOOKINGS: http://totalcountry.com.au/Live-Country-Music-Shows-Rooty-Hill-RSL/kristy-cox.html
Wednesday, 25th September 2014 Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall Casino Golf Club- 7:o0pm West St, Casino, New South Wales TICKETS: $20 BOOKINGS: (02) 6662 1259
Thursday, 25th September 2014 Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall Lismore Workers Club- 7:30pm 231 Keen St, Lismore, New South Wales TICKETS: $20 BOOKINGS: (02) 6621 7401
Friday, 26th September 2014 Coming Home Tour with Travis List and Georgia Fall Grafton District Services Club- 8:00pm 107 Mary St, Grafton, New South Wales BOOKINGS: (02) 6643 2895