THE multi-tasking Sarah Blasko continues her orchestral ride around the country with a couple of shows at Sydney Opera House on Sunday and Monday. It won’t be long, however, until one of her entourage departs the Blasko nest to fly, free as a bird, on his own and, more surprisingly, without his first name. Ben Fletcher, who brings his considerable talents on a variety of instruments to Blasko’s live and recorded work, is setting out solo after the Blasko tour, with a debut album, Upon Ayr, to be released next month coinciding with a series of shows to promote it. Fletcher, once of the bands Bluebottle Kiss and the Devoted Few, has spent two years of downtime from Blasko projects in various parts of the world, including London, Sydney and Stockholm, putting together his album, which takes its name from the west of Scotland town of Ayr where, he tells us, the surname Fletcher was first recorded in Britain. Ben, of course, is a more recognisable word than Fletcher in the Scottish vocabulary, with a variety of meanings including ‘‘within’’, ‘‘parlour’’ and ‘‘a really high mountain’’ (as in Ben Nevis). It seems the musician isn’t so willing to be identified with any of those things, however, and henceforth shall be known only as Fletcher. That’s Fletcher. The artist formerly known as Ben Fletcher. I reckon Ben would have had more legs, but what do I know? ACTUALLY, here’s something I know. Looking particularly pleased with himself at the Mushroom Group 40th anniversary party I mentioned last week was Melbourne-based singer Dan Sultan, whose career appears to be taking a few dramatic turns. Sultan, who is about to set off to the US for a series of performances with the indigenous collective the Black Arm Band, has been building his career slowly, with his second ARIA Awardwinning independent album Get Out While You
Can attracting much attention from the industry as well as the public. Now it appears Sultan is upping his strategy for global stardom, or at least more mainstream recognition at home. Michael Gudinski took great pleasure in announcing Sultan’s signing to Mushroom’s Liberation label last week. Last year Sultan split with his long-time guitarist and song writing partner Scott Wilson and has also parted company with manager Buzz Thompson. Michael Parisi, former Festival Records managing director, is now looking after Sultan’s career. We can expect to hear new (and apparently a little different) music from Sultan later this year. WHAT a pleasure it was to see Wally de Backer, accompanied by Kimbra, take the coveted record of the year trophy at the Grammys on Monday (Australian time); and just as rewarding to see how pleased he was to be presented with the award by Prince, a man, said de Backer, who helped influence him to become a musician. De Backer’s success at the US awards, also taking best pop duo performance and best alternative album, was the culmination of an amazing 18 months for him, during which the singer turned his relatively modest Australian popularity into global stardom, significantly on the back of that song, Somebody that I Used to Know. After a long period of international touring, the Victorian singer can look forward to some time off. De Backer, a mild-mannered and slightly shy individual, hasn’t always looked comfortable with the level of fame that has befallen him in the past 12 months. One suspects there will be a long period away from the spotlight before the follow-up to his winning album Making Mirrors appears.