Live ’n’ loud: Mul­lum Mu­sic Fes­ti­val pulls the right strings ...

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAYCONTENTS -

COM­BIN­ING four-part a cap­pella har­monies with vir­tu­osic pickin’ on all-string in­stru­ments, Mus­tered Courage is the mod­ern an­swer to a bom­bas­tic blue­grass band.

Nick Keel­ing, Ju­lian Abra­hams, Josh Bridges and Paddy Mont­gomery make up the quar­tet which has mus­tered its sound from a med­ley of mu­si­cal back­grounds – in­clud­ing RnB, Greek folk, jazz, coun­try, clas­si­cal and Brazil­ian mu­sic.

Banjo player and lead singer Keel­ing says the ab­sence of a drum­mer means Mus­tered Courage is mind­ful of its rhythm.

‘‘The hard­est thing is mak­ing the au­di­ence feel the beat with no drums,’’ he says.

‘‘We have to lay it down and make it re­ally strong. (The mu­sic) needs a pulse and that can be a chal­lenge with only string in­stru­ments. It’s twice as ex­ert­ing. We are all about multi-task­ing.’’

Keel­ing says that the en­ergy and drive be­hind the tra­di­tional genre en­sures Mus­tered Courage is al­ways de­vel­op­ing its sound. ‘‘We lis­ten to a lot of new string-band mu­sic,’’ he says. ‘‘I guess we take on a lot of high-coun­try, new acous­tic and mod­ern string sounds as well. It’s tra­di­tional and more pro­gres­sive with a lot of melodies. The mu­sic holds a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties – there are many places to be taken.’’

Mus­tered Courage formed three years ago in Mel­bourne and has re­leased two al­bums – a self-ti­tled de­but in 2011 and more re­cently ‘‘in­no­va­tive blue­grass’’ al­bum Pow­er­lines.

Keel­ing says the band is work­ing on a new record which will en­com­pass ‘‘the good old’’ clas­sic blue­grass themes: ‘‘Love, loss, mur­der and trains’’.

‘‘They say it’s not blue­grass un­less you are killing some­one you love,’’ says Keel­ing.

‘‘The songs can get poppy at some points or oth­ers are built into rock and blue­grass.’’

Keel­ing says the fact ev­ery­one in Mus­tered Courage can sing gives each mem­ber a chance to ex­press them­selves.

‘‘We are all singers and we all do four-part a cap­pella har­monies now – not a lot of peo­ple are brave enough to at­tempt that,’’ he says.

‘‘I love how it seems to push the in­ten­sity all the time – whether we take it down to a bal­lad or acapella, there’s scope for en­ter­tain­ment.’’

Last year, the band took out the Mu­sicOZ Coun­try Artist Of The Year award.

Mus­tered Courage’s jazz and folk el­e­ments and im­pro­vi­sa­tion skills have made them fes­ti­val favourites around Aus­tralia, in­clud­ing hyped gigs at Wood­ford Folk Fes­ti­val, Gympie Mu­sic Muster and Tam­worth Coun­try Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.

The band has some new songs ‘‘tick­ing along’’ which it hopes to show­case at The Mul­lum Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.

The four-day ‘‘big­gest lit­tle mu­sic fes­ti­val in Aus­tralia’’ sees Mul­lumbimby come alive with mu­sic and Keel­ing says Mus­tered Courage can’t wait to be part of that magic.

‘‘Our live show is very en­er­getic with light­en­ing fast fin­ger pick­ing on gui­tar, banjo and man­dolin,’’ he says. – ROSE SADLEIR

Mus­tered Courage, The Ba­sics, Raul Mi­don, and more play The Mul­lum Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, at Mul­lumbimby, in north­ern NSW, from Novem­ber 21-24. Visit mul­lum­mu­sicfes­ti­val.com for the full pro­gram.

Mus­tered Courage’s Nick Keel­ing, Ju­lian Abra­hams, Josh Bridges and Paddy Mont­gomery.

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