Hill­billy Goats make their way back home

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - DAINTREE BLOCKADE — EXCERPT III - Shane Ni­chols

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)

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