CURRENT BANDS AVAILABLE FOR HIRE:-
KAREN LYNNE BLUEGRASS CIRCLE
Karen Lynne has a style of music that ranges from Country,.. to Bluegrass,.. to Folk and everything in between. Probably the Industry’s quietest achiever, her long career now includes ten albums, twelve major Award wins, over forty major Finalist Nominations, three International tours, many Top 10 Radio Chart hits, a number of overseas Chart hits and most recently, a place in Country Music’s Historic ‘Hands of Fame’.
Karen is based in the Blue Mountains and is also Australia’s foremost female contemporary Bluegrass artist. She is a multi-Award winner and has Awards and Finalist Nominations for both her singing and songwriting. She has toured in both the UK & Europe three times the most recent – a 6 week tour which included a support to top US Bluegrass act “Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder”. She sings with a team of fine Australian Bluegrass musicians, including her husband Martin Louis, three times National Australian Banjo Champion. Karen’s Circle of Bluegrass showcase a repertoire of songs & tunes using traditional bluegrass instrumentation – flat-pick guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dobro & double bass and who perform both traditional and contemporary style bluegrass and a number of original songs. This format is a 4-7 piece Bluegrass Band featuring herself on vocals and a team of A class players – on banjo, guitar, mandolin, Double Bass, Fiddle & Dobro (depending on gig budget and the size of the line-up required), a system which works well due to the difficulty in ensuring the availability of the same line-up every time as most of the top Bluegrass players work with a number of different bands to make their living wholly from music in Australia. In past her band has included many great Australian players including: Jim Rush; Nigel Lever; Martin Louis; Quentin Fraser; Liz Frencham; Bruce Packard; George Jackson; Daniel Watkins and many of these players still work with her when they are available.
Her latest Bluegrass album is a gospel bluegrass album called “Shine Your Light”, produced by Jerry Salley and recorded in Nashville with top USA bluegrass players. Previous to this, her album ”Wishing Well” was released through ABC Records under their ABC Heartland Label. It was a compilation album made from tracks from her previously released ‘Changes’ bluegrass album, along with new material and was released to exceptional reviews. Her independently released ‘Changes’ album was hailed a ‘truly International album, in the class of Alison Krauss & Rhonda Vincent’, the first 3 singles reaching the Top 5 on the Australian Country Chart. It is a solo contemporary ‘Bluegrass & Acoustic’ album, jointly produced by Rod McCormack and Herm Kovac – two of the industry’s best producers and featured the ‘A team’‚ of Australian Bluegrass musicians.
There is a special, haunting quality in Karen’s voice and this, combined with a mixture of great songs, including her own original compositions and collaborations with some leading writers including Heather Field, Allan Caswell, Richard Porteous, Pat Drummond & Mark Selby (USA) makes her unique. Previously she worked on a long term basis with Sydney bluegrass band ‘Acoustic Shock’‚ and her collaboration with them resulted in a fine Bluegrass album called ‘Blue Mountain Rain’ which collectively to date received 9 major Award Nominations and won the top Award for ‘Best Independent Release’ in the 2003 Victorian & National Country Music Awards. One of the tracks (a self penned song called ‘This Ring’) was selected for use in an Australian movie. Most notably this release placed Karen as the first Australian Female Artist to release a complete Her lengthy career success was also recently honoured with Karen being announced as one of the 2008 inductees to the Country Music Hands Of Fame. Being such an Inductee is a great honour for an Australian Country & Bluegrass performer.
KAREN LYNNE & ACOUSTIC SHOCK
Acoustic Shock Bluegrass Band was founded by mandolin & guitar player Nigel Lever. Nigel was born in England and was influenced by the Beatles and other popular bands, but by his early 20’s – whilst living in Switzerland he began playing a lot of English, Irish and American folk music. It was during this time Nigel heard his first Bluegrass band and from that time decided that was where he wanted to be. He has been rewarded for his dedication by winning two 2nd placings in the Mandolin section and a 2nd placing in the Guitar Section of the Australian Bluegrass championships and also a 3rd placing in the Guitar section of the Telluride (USA) Bluegrass Guitar Championship.
Nigel met up with guitarist Jim Rush, born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland and also someone who shared his passion for Bluegrass. Jim was introduced to traditional Country music via the radio, and grew up listening to such greats as Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzel. Later he was exposed to Folk, Blues and subsequently Bluegrass. Jim played guitar on a part-time basis for various bands in both Scotland and England until 1983 when he came to Australia. It was in his new home of Sydney that he discovered the “Bluegrass and Traditional Music Society” (a group a enthusiastic pickers and listeners who gather regularly) and teamed up with Nigel. Jim was particularly hooked on Bluegrass “flat-pick” style guitar – his playing strongly influenced by Clarence White, Dan Crary, Tony Rice and Hank Snow amongst others. Jim has recieved Top 3 placings in the Guitar “Flat-picking” section of the Australian National Bluegrass Championships for many years running!.
The Sydney Bluegrass Society was also the place which facilitated their meeting with Banjo player, Martin Louis. Born in Sydney, Martin grew up listening to regular pop music but could never find a musical style that he was comfortable with. That was until he stumbled across some music from the “Hamilton County Bluegrass Band” (a New Zealand based band). Martin became hooked on the sound of the Banjo and at the age of 23 figured it was not too late to learn to play. His influences include Don Reno and Earl Scruggs. He’s an exceptionally clean and sensitive player with a true traditional feel and this shows with two wins and a number of 2nd and 3rd placings in the Banjo section of the Australian National Bluegrass Championships.
Originally a 3-piece, the band only added a bass player when necessary or when funds allowed, but in the last few years they have found it necessary to obtain a full-time Double Bass player. More recently, the role has been filled by Quentin Fraser, who not only plays a great Bass, but is also a top class Guitarist & Dobro player.
While they still work as an ‘all male’ format, they are now often joined by Bluegrass/Country & Folk Singer Karen Lynne. Karen has been singing Bluegrass for over ten years and is Australia’s foremost female Bluegrass artist. She is also well known in the area of Country & Folk Music where her Albums have gained various nominations in the Australian Country Music “Golden Guitar” Awards and a number of Wins & Finalist nominations in the Australian Independent Awards. Many of her Bluegrass singles have reached the top 5 on the Australian CM Chart – a singular achievement for bluegrass songs in Australia. In 2006, Karen was selected as a Grandfinalist in Sydney’s “Golden Saddle Awards” and in January 2007 she won a ‘TIARA’ Award for Songwriting – for the Bluegrass song “Blue Mountain Rain” (Co-written with Richard Porteous). She was also named a Grandfinalist in the 2006 Australian Independent Country Music Awards – in both the ‘Album of the Year’ & ‘Female Vocalist’ categories and a Top 10 finalist in the Bluegrass & Traditional Country Category – Vic & National CM Awards .
She also Won the “Female Vocalist” category in the 2006 WARP Gold Medallion Awards (voted by Radio Presenters) and more recently, in March 2007, she won the very prestigious ‘Frank Ifield International Spur Award’. This award included an international single release and within just days of it’s release the track had entered the UK & European Country Chart at No.3 and was No.1 on the corressponding Independent Top 10. Within two weeks the single rose and gave Karen her first international Chart No.1 on the main chart along side a corressponding Number 1 on the independent chart. In Feb 2004 Karen took out Top Honours winning the ‘Bluegrass & Traditional Country’ category in the VIC & National CM Awards and she also picked up the Award for ‘Top Female Vocalist’ in the 2003 Australian Independent Country Music Awards. There is a special, haunting quality in Karen’s voice and this, combined with a mixture of great songs is her secret to success. Her influences are vast – from Judith Durham to Mary Black to Dolly Parton, in Bluegrass specifically her influences include Rhonda Vincent, Alison Krauss, Claire Lynch & Lyn Morris.
These days Karen works extensively in Bluegrass band formats and her collaboration with “Acoustic Shock” resulted in a fine Bluegrass album called “Blue Mountain Rain” which collectively has now received 9 major Award Nominations and has also won the Award for ‘Best Independent Release’ in the 2003 Victorian & National Country Music Awards (Australia). Most notably this release placed Karen as the first Australian Female Artist to release a complete Bluegrass Album. The album also contains guest contributions from many other great Australian Bluegrass players on this wonderful and ‘ground breaking’ Australian release – including Ian Simpson, Mick Albeck, Andrew Clermont & Kym Warner.
Other songs from this album have picked up a number of notable credits including – two Top 10 Nominations in the National Australian “Golden Guitar” Awards (Instrumental Section for Martin Louis & Ian Simpson for their Banjo Duet “Big Ben” and also for Karen Lynne in the “Female Vocal” section); four Award Nominations in the Victorian Country Music Awards – (Top 5 for Karen Lynne in the”Female Vocal” section, Top 5 for Acoustic Shock in both the “Group” and “Instrumental” sections and the Win for “Best Independent Release” selected from over 530 entries); two Top 5 Award Nominations in the Tamworth Independent (TIARA) Awards for Acoustic Shock (“Instrumental” & “Group” Sections) and a Top 4 Award Nomination for Karen (“Independent Female Vocalist of the Year” category) of the Australian Independent Country Music Awards with her self-penned Bluegrass Track “This Ring”. This song was the first single to be released from the Bluegrass album and not only made the Top 5 on the Australian National Country Music Chart & the Top 10 in the USA HMG Bluegrass Charts, but has been subsequently picked up for use in an Australian Movie. The subsequent singles have also charted excellently on the Australian National Chart, a very difficult thing for Bluegrass music to achieve in Australia.
The band adds Fiddle players when funding permits and they have been invited in the past to play at many Festivals throughout Australia, including Maleny, Illawarra, Tamar Valley, Apollo Bay, Port Fairy, National, Mt Beauty & Katherine Music Musters and appear regularly at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.