This concert was recorded live at the Bright Courthouse in May 2018 and it features the songs and music of Gary.
The concert also features Gary’s regular guitarist Rudi Katterl and regular studio musicians Chris Mangan (bass), Jo Ellis (violin and vocals) and Brian Dwyer (drums).
This is an intimate performance that enables the listener to experience Gary at a typical live performance. The concert was designed for the listener to hear some of the stories behind Gary’s songs as well as to share in the humour, fun and poignancy of actually being there on the night.
Gary is better known in Ireland where he lives for many months each year and where he does most of his song writing these days.
Gary has performed at major festivals in Ireland. His songs are imbued with his love of the ocean and wild west coast of Ireland. His songs are influenced by the great traditional protest movements, songs of compassion, social justice and intimacy.
This CD is an opportunity for the listener to feel as though they are actually there on the night it was recorded.
CD Review by Tony Smith
In an age when over produced video clips pass as music, the real musical experience provided by Gary Banks and friends is like a breath of fresh air.
They risked a live recording at the Bright Courthouse and the payoff is commendable.
The listener experiences being in the audience on the night with the ‘laughs, the clicks, the squeaks, the fun and the friendship’.
As well as constant collaborator guitarist, Rudi Katterl, Banks thanks Chris Mangan (bass), Jo Ellis (fiddle vocals accordion), Brian Dwyer (drums) and The Janes (vocals).
The first 11 tracks were written by Banks and arranged with Katterl.
The final track the traditional ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ was an encore.
This is genuine folk music.
Katterl is a Wandiligong resident and so a Bright local.
The guitar work on this album is as sharp as that of Dire Straits.
The richness of the guitar accompaniments lifts these songs and maximises their appeal.
Although Banks quips that Katterl contributes guitar and interruptions, all of the songs flow beautifully.
While Banks lives along the Great Ocean Road in southern Victoria he spends part of the year in Connemara on Ireland’s west coast.
He praises the people there for their sense of community, commitment to social justice and celebration of the arts.
A sense of social justice shines through in several of Banks’ songs, especially ‘Not in My Name’ which deplores Australia’s savage treatment of asylum seekers, warmongering and sweat shops.
Banks is also quite emotional about his relationship with his father who grew up in lighthouses around the Victorian coast.
And he has a great tribute song to Pete Seeger.
Banks mentions Seeger’s rendition of Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land Is My Land’ at President Obama’s inauguration, thus establishing a link in the tradition of great folk songs and their writers.
Banks fits quite readily into this company.
‘Rising Water’ protests lack of action on climate change.
The overall theme of this concert and CD is the sea from ‘The Great Ocean Road’ to ‘Errislannan’ and ‘The Lighthouse Boy’.
The shoreline has been a strong influence on Banks’ song writing.
The Ocean Road has basic lyrics including the Bay, the Port and the Quay.
Banks tells of writing ‘Touch’ after seeing a photo of soldiers sea bathing at Gallipoli, a photo which I have also found affecting.
Banks finds hope in the idea of the sea as a means of escape and connection, ‘the roar of the sea brings you closer to me’.
‘Go’ is advice to a child considering leaving home.
It is echoed in the child’s final meeting with the dying father ‘go if you have to’.
Banks admits to being a hopeless romantic and says this is a curse but his writing is not at all sentimental.
The lyrics are always sincere.
‘Shadowlands’ – between darkness and light – is a tribute to unsung heroes getting on with their lives.
‘Adjusting to the Light’ is about a relationship breaking up when footprints in sand make a lonely sight.
‘Errislannan’ was inspired by a famine memorial ‘calling me down to the ocean and the wild Atlantic shore’.
‘C’mon Jo’ exhorts the fiddle player to ‘play it long the way only you know’ and is a jaunty and happy sound.
More folk musicians should take the risk and record live albums.
Gary Banks has shown that the product is authentic and artistically admirable.