Christine Wheeler was lead singer and manager of multi-award winning Australian Celtic band Wheelers and Dealers for ten years. She co-wrote the song ‘Woomera’ for which Wheelers and Dealers won a Musicoz award in 2003. The second CD from Wheelers and Dealers, entitled ‘Full House’, won the National Folk CD Award for 2007. Christine is a musician with the Musica Viva in Schools program; she directs and community choir The Heathens and sings renaissance song in an acapella quartet ‘Canon Fodder’
‘Rain in the Mountains – Songs from Henry Lawson’ is a unique musical performance of poems from Australia’s iconic poet with contemporary settings as varied and beautiful as Lawson’s timeless words. This album is a taste of Australia’s cultural history in song.
Henry Lawson had a gift for conveying powerful feelings in the straightforward language of ordinary people, and the settings on this album enhance the power of these extraordinary lyrics. From country waltzes and Irish style slip jigs to exquisite, introspective airs and lively comic turns, jazz-tinged ballads and upbeat rocking anthems, There are musical settings by writers as diverse as country music icon Slim Dusty, John Schumann of Redgum fame, jazz composer Ade Monsbourgh and folk icon Chris Kempster, as well as several of Christine’s originals.
Led by Christine’s classic folk voice, the album features some exceptional musicians with diverse backgrounds from the Australian Chamber Orchestra to Midnight Oil, Slim Dusty’s Travelling Country Band, the Flying Emus, Mara!, Equus, The Catholics, the Renaissance Players and Wheelers and Dealers. Influences from Celtic music underpin the whole sound.
The CD has received considerable airplay on ABC radio, specifically on ABC Classic Drive FM and on ABC Local Radio’s Australia All Over.
Inspiration for the project stemmed from Christine’s prior involvement in a voluntary project to produce a second edition of an entire book of musical settings of Lawson’s poetry – 140 different poems set to music by more than 80 composers. Her efforts to promote the songbook, called ‘The Songs of Henry Lawson’ on behalf of its publisher, the NSW Folk Federation, led eventually to a Cultural Partnerships Grant from the Blue Mountains Council. This CD was the product.
With a distinguished career as a classical violinist, Rebecca Daniel brings class and originality to this project, for which she wrote the string arrangements. Her credits include membership of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, orchestra leader for Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, The Sound Of Music and Beauty and the Beast; and performances on the Movie soundtracks to Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Black Robe.
Leigh Birkett is a skilled and flexible accompanist and harmony singer, best known for his ongoing collaboration with Irish songwriter Martin Doherty. His signature arrangements are one of the reasons the cd ‘Rain in the Mountains’ is receiving such an enthusiastic response. His artwork adorns the CD cover and sleeve.
Veteran of many Tamworth Country Music festivals and recipient of a Golden Fiddle award, Simon Watts has toured nationally and internationally with a range of music theatre shows, bluegrass bands and jazz groups during his 30 years as a working musician, including Geraldine Doyle, Bill Gibson, Shades of Green and Handpicked. He is a versatile solo performer.
One of Sydney’s most sought-after bassists and studio engineers, Michael Vidale played in Wheelers and Dealers for 7 years. His bio reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the Australian country scene, including Slim Dusty, the Flying Emus, the Whitlams, the Bushwackers, Anne Kirkpatrick, to name a few. Michael also mastered the album.
Gary Daley – Gary is a major talent in Sydney’s jazz scene, a teacher and composer. His bands include The Catholics and recent projects include Sanctuary Project, Bungaribee
Midnight Oil’s guitarist Jim Moginie swapped his major talents on this album for a few tracks of humble whistle playing on the album he was making at the time, with his acoustic band Shameless Seamus and the Tullamore Dews (Irish Music with a Heavy Bottom)
Sound recording engineer for the album, Andy Busuttil is also an accomplished percussionist and wind player. Andy created the band Skorba and is part of the very successful world music outfit Equus.
‘Christine has a voice that matches the warmth and clarity of your end of day malt’ (Springboard Media, UK).