Bill Jackson's folk implosion 


Bill Jackson focuses on blending Australian stories with the best of US folk-country music.

Bill Jackson focuses on blending Australian stories with the best of US folk-country music.

Wongawilli Hall

Sunday, November 25

Tickets: At the door

It's been a busy five years for Bill Jackson.

In that time the folkie from the Gippsland has released four albums and toured the US three times, with stopovers including Memphis and Nashville.

"I've been writing songs forever, but I suppose it's only been in the past five years that it's really taken off," Jackson says.

His music has been described as groundbreaking roots, and accolades include the Folk Alliance Australia Radio Presenters Album of the Year in 2008 for Steel & Bone.

Describing himself as a folk-country artist, Jackson says the listening rooms of the US, such as the famous Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, draw him back every time.

"It's really inspiring and we've built up a nice group of friends," he says.

"There's a huge respect for songwriters in America.

"There's a genre there called Americana which essentially melds roots and folk ... what we do is try to marry the Americana with stories from home."

Brother Ross has co-written many of the songs, and Jackson admits it's hard to pinpoint the inspirations behind his music.

"It's always hard when people ask where your songs come from," he says.

"They're just experiences like travels, family life, love.

"It's extraordinary stories about ordinary people."

Jackson's family life has also been busy, with him and wife Ruth Hazleton enlisting the help of a nanny to look after two-year-old Joey so he can join in their travels.

"We're very conscious to be parents first and musicians second," he says.

And when he's not touring or recording, Jackson is busy working a routine job for a publisher.

"I've got to work as well - it's hard to make a living just out of music," he says.

"At the end of the day, for me it's about my music. Anything else that happens is a bonus. That's the way you've got to look at it."

Jackson has followed the well-worn path to folk music, growing up listening to Bob Dylan, playing acoustic guitar as a teenager before joining rock bands and then turning back to folk.

Wife Ruth has also joined Jackson on stage and plays the banjo.

"There's music in the house, but we're usually too tired," laughs Jackson when asked if the couple regularly jam in the lounge.

Jackson aims to return to the US next May to work on some new material, backing up from playing at the International Folk Alliance Convention in Memphis in 2010 and playing gigs at The Bluebird Cafe. His latest album, Jerelderie, was recorded in Nashville.

It will be Jackson's first concert at Wongawilli and he says he and good mate Peter Fidler will play material from the past five years.


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