Hillbilly Goats make their way back home
FORMER Julatten band the Hillbilly Goats are back in our neck of the woods for Carnivale.
“We coming back to see everyone,” said Goat Girl and manager Mahney Wearne.
The band relocated to central Queensland in January 2016 having found it to difficult to be living so remotely from the main festival circuit.
“We’d played the Tamworth festival for six years,” she said, “and it became a kind of hub for us. People would come from everywhere and would want to bring us to their own town. It was logistically to be living up here so we moved.”
The Goats are booked a year ahead – everything from festivals to cruises – as their national following builds.
It seems there’s a healthy market for bluegrass music with punk energy and a didactic mission.
“It’s a visual show,” said Mahney. “We’re entertainers.”
“We’re passionate about the history,” Mahney said, “bringing that old music to life, and the old stories to life.”
“We play a lot of country festivals but we’re not country,” said Goat Boy Bryce Wearne.
“We are a precursor to country music, an earlier vein. So they lump us in with them.”
That’s fine because country festivals often need the energy that flows, deliberately, from the punked up old time string band that is the Hillbilly Goats. Way, way back, they were punk musos.
“When we formed the Goats seven years ago we had a first gig at the Courthouse, and Bryce and I looked around and decided we weren’t going to do a lot of slow, sad songs, said Mahney.
“People were at the bar for a reason. So we do everything with energy.”
So at country festival the Goats are often used early on to wake up the crowd.
Their rocked up show, based on multi instrumental players, show cases individual songs with a bit of history that explains what they are and how they fit in to music history.
Last year the Bryce and Mahney took a trip deep into the mountains of the US where this music comes from.
“We went up into the Blue Ridge Mountains, and way into Appalachia,” said Bryce. “We went to visit the archives, the universities and so on, to find out more. It turns out what we’ve already been telling audiences is 95 per cent.”
Immigrant Scots and Irish had been stashed way up in the mountains and hills as a barrier to the wild frontier beyond.
It was a very isolated existence. Their different musics and instruments eventually blended.
Then in the 1860s African Americans penetrated the mountain areas, bringing their banjos which were a blues instrument.
That was infused in hillbilly music too, giving rise later to other strains such as bluegrass, and down the road, good old rock and roll. Hail!
The Hillbilly Goats are a trio these days (not counting goat)