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Headed to Australia!

Headed to Australia to play at a big festival in Hunter Valley. One show, bam. In and out. It’s a huge country festival put on by the large and mighty CMC (Country Music Channel). It’s interesting how differently we’re perceived as a band depending on what country we’re playing in. There are a number of reasons for this, party the integral tastes of the country/area in question and partly how we’re marketed. Canada has been our original petri dish. We’re from Canada, and that’s where we started playing our brand of country music years ago as the Corb Lund Band. It was the mid/late 90s, and ‘alt-country’ was hot, so we got grouped in with that scene. Richard Buckner, Neko Case, Calexico; that was the scene. Our music was never that arty, and I think a lot of that crowd thought I was kind of a cheese ball because we played more of a 70s country thing at the time, and my tunes were often very literal story songs and not as poetic as a lot of the stuff being done around me. (Abstract word paintings aren’t a strength of mine; some people excel at it.) As we progressed, we (surprisingly) started getting played on country radio stations in Alberta, (notably in Red Deer very early on) and this was a pleasant bonus, because we have a very different sound than most of the other music being played on those stations, although my lyrical content is legitimately very rural. We get less of that airplay now, although occasionally we get a little blip on country radio. But because of our infiltration at country radio early on, to this day our audience in Canada is pleasingly schizophrenic. There are a lot of straight up country music fans who like us, and about half the festivals we play are with radio country acts who we have very little in common with, in my opinion. The other part of our Canadian audience is made up of folk festival patrons, songwriting fans, aging punk people and other underground, subcultural types. This mix is something I’m very proud of, and when I see a bronc rider standing by an old metal head in a Slayer Tshirt at one of our shows, it makes me happy.

In America it’s a different story. I’d say almost all of our audience at this point is into original/indie/underground country music. There’s a lot of that in Texas. We see very few mainstream country fans at our shows in the US. Unlike Canada used to be, the corporate country scene in the states is way too high powered and locked down for us to ever grab any airplay on that format (I think…never say never, I guess..), but we get a lot of support from satellite radio and Americana/roots stations down there. The clubs and festivals we play in the US are almost exclusively venues that cater to original indie country, which suits me fine. It’s a lot of fun and there’s a ton of vitality and I feel much kinship with the bands we get to play with. It’s funny; I think I have much more in common with indie rock bands than I do with commercial country acts. More on this in a minute.

Through a quirk of marketing, and a less restrictive definition of country music in Australia, we are viewed as a straight up country act there. We get lots of mainstream radio and video play, which is very cool. We’ve played a few folk/roots festivals over the years, but primarily we play big country festivals and country music venues. It’s very strange because most of the acts we play with there are nothing like us, but we have great audiences there who love our music, so I’m not complaining. I feel bad sometimes though, because I know there is a large audience in Australia that is into less commercial music and I’m sure they would dig us, but they generally don’t get exposed to us because we never play those types of clubs in Australia. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all.

The UK is different again; there we play exclusively to folk/songwriting/Americana fans because basically, commercial country music doesn’t exist there. No radio stations play it to speak of, and the only country music that is really embraced in the UK is the cool stuff; Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, that kind of thing. The way that we are marketed and perceived in different areas of the globe is a very interesting social experiment that I get to watch unfold in front of me every night.

OK, I’m off to see the Aussies!

18 Comments

  • Lizzie Jane Says

    A chain-smoking, mohawked Vancouverite punker introduced me to Corb last summer; it was odd watching him sing along whimsically to September, but it was cool too. A reminder that people are not necessarily what they seem at all.

  • Blair Armstrong Says

    I love old punk, Surf, East Coast Fiddle, Johnny, Bob, Colin, Stompin Tom, Gordon Lightfoot, Cowboy Junkies, The Hip and everything in between. I think a lot of Canadians love a hard driving rural sounding indie country twang that is all Canadiana, such is Corb Lund. There really is no niche, just a sound that chills you to the bone. We love you man, don't change 8-).

  • Bill Studley Says

    I'm basically an old time country music fan but love me some old rock and roll, all kinds of music. Some of it commercial, some not, but Corb's songs pretty much hit me where I live. Keep 'em comin' Corb! I'll keep listening.

  • Judy Pitts Says

    lucky lucky…

  • Ironically, I got introduced to Corb Lund's music through his Australian contacts; very interesting given that I was living in Portland, OR at that time. He was a guest on the ABC's Saturday Night Country that I was listening to online, I checked him out and was suitably impressed. I now live in Cheyenne, WY, and would be very pleased if he turned up as a Cheyenne Frontier Days act.

  • Jill Pruett Says

    Ironically, I got introduced to Corb Lund’s music through his Australian contacts; very interesting given that I was living in Portland, OR at that time. He was a guest on the ABC’s Saturday Night Country that I was listening to online, I checked him out and was suitably impressed. I now live in Cheyenne, WY, and would be very pleased if he turned up as a Cheyenne Frontier Days act.

  • Kurt Says

    The reason we love you in Australia is because you take the time to come down here. We are very limited in the US/Canadian Country acts we get and will come out in force whenever you guys are here. I saw you at CMC Rocks the Hunter and you guys were awesome. Hope you come back soon.

  • Local independent station played "Cows Around." Fell for the chord structures, the Western sound (Ex Coloradoan) and the bass lines.

  • Jolee Bell Says

    Well at least you get the credit you deserve in Australia. In the states everyone has their head up their ass, a bitch to capitalism and all the conforming non-creativity. Its easy to clump people in categories..hippie, white trash, hick, punk…whatever. When music can transcend all that is when you know its good. Your music started up a spark in me (ok, clique), but seriously, livin in the states, we dont hear you, and Im not fortunate enough to live in Texas. Im in this wishy washy half glow of folky Seattle. ive been eating your words and beats like Ive been starving..from there, I found Hayes Carll, fell in love with his idiocintric voice, he led me to Shovels and Rope, fell in love with her voice…and I was revived on the table just like that, after flat-lining on Country via american radio. yes folks, Im a believer, and it only goes on.. someone said Carry Anne was the next Emmy lou, so I was led to Emmy Lou and now Im addicted to Luxery Liner, night and day, all i want to hear, that and Ryhthm Guitarr. which led me back to Corb’s blog on Sally Rose. Ive been posessed. Im no where near Honky Tonk. God please help me.

  • jenny linden Says

    i wondered down to the stage at cmc hunter valley australia had never heard of corb …watched his set and loved the band …was the highlite of the festival …come back next year corb

  • Josh Says

    Heard you on the radio here in Cold Lake, it was a pleasant surprise from just hearing that “new” country they keep playing, ugh. to bad you’re alternative style isn’t what’s popular now. where did the depth in music go? the poetry and vivid stories; not just in country, but all genres, its sad really, then again I guess every decade has its share of poor music (in my opinion, anyway) but I’m not sure its ever been this popular. anyway, I better stop rambling, keep doing what your doing sir. and I’ll keep buying you’re albums.

  • John Says

    Thank God for those rare indie radio stations, and thank God I moved to Knoxville last year or I never would have heard of you guys. Enjoyed the hell out of your show in February at Barley’s Tap Room in Knoxville. Hope to see y’all here again soon. Keep up the good work.

  • Cheryl Maracic Says

    I tell all my Australian friends about Corb, found him on CMC years ago, saw him live here in about 2009 at a little Country Music venue, in Petrie Queensland and the lady introduced the band as the 'Hurtin Alber-tains. What a great show. I am sorry to say that I have had to be far away each time that he has toured since that first time. I will get to see him and the band again. It's good to also see him mentioned in OUTLAW MAGAZINE out of the US. It used to be hard to buy Corb's music, so when we went to Canada, I bought all of his CD's which were in the store. Now I buy online. Great voice Corb and wonderful band.

  • Erin Says

    My husband introduced me to Corb Lund back in 2000 when we started dating at the U of L, I think we have seen Corb and the Hurtin’ Albertans play 10 times, including some sweet concerts at Olds College which is close to where we farm. The “farm and ranching” songs resonate with us because we have actually experienced things like “who else will take a run at you in a fit of bovine rage”. Farming is a great way of life and we love that Corb has kept that as part of music for so many years. Hopefully we will be able to see you in Ponoka again this year, if we are done in the field that is.

  • I am a crazy fan of your former band The Smalls…I started going to your concerts when I was 16, and unfortunately missed your little reunion:( Just went to the Reve show last night, and was blown away by the change, as I hadn't heard much of your new music…but I loved it, thank you! A great performance, loved the quirky poetry…the talent in the band was mesmorizing…you all make it look so easy. P.S. CORB: always thought you were smokin' back then…now even more so. Age has refined your beauty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Next time you're touring out West, check Golden, BC out!!!!!!!!

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