|Dimensions||21 × 15 × 1.5 cm|
Innes Campbell has been playing guitar since age twelve. He has immersed himself in bluegrass for the last ten years and worked hard to create his own sound. This hard work culminated in his first prize at the National Bluegrass Championships in Tamworth in 2009. Since then Innes has gone from strength to strength, performing at numerous festivals last year around the country (Dorrigo, Tamwoth, Woodford, Gympie Muster) to high acclaim. He has also managed to secure a strong local following in Brisbane by himself and with local musicians George Jackson, Michael Patrick and Markus Karlsen as ‘Innes and Present Company’. The band get the crowd going with lively instrumentals and touching ballads sung with heart and harmony, well as some surprising arrangements of contemporary songs. Innes is also a gifted songwriter who writes memorable songs that are thought provoking and lyrical, and sings them honestly in his own laid back but melodic vocal style. He is making his way as a tunesmith too, with one of his compositions ‘Brumpkin Breakdown’ in the running for a Golden Guitar nomination at Tamworth in 2011. When solo performing he has a soft spot for old Scots songs (particularly Burns) and (sometimes) bad jokes. For which he doesn’t apologise
Innes + Present Company – Something Quick and Neat
CD review by Chris Spencer
Innes in this instance, is Innes Campbell, a guitarist, in fact the Queensland bluegrass guitar champion of 2009.
Present Company includes mainly George Jackson on banjo and fiddle, Luke Moller on mandolin and fiddle and a variety of bass players.
I suspect that when Campbell plays live he hires whoever is available.
It’s interesting that Campbell chooses to have 2 fiddle players – I’m not sure I can tell which is which when they play separate solos!
The album is a mix of traditional songs such as “Clinch Mountain Backstep”, “Beaumont Rag”, “Wheel Hoss”, “St Ann’s Reel”, “Old Train” and “Big Sandy River”.
I am not familiar with most of these – perhaps people with a better appreciation of bluegrass music might recognise these, although “St Ann’s Reel” is a folk tune rather than bluegrass.
This is one of the tunes on the album where I confess I don’t miss the vocals – it’s an opportunity for all players to have a work out on each of their respective instruments.
Of the other songs, Campbell who writes most of the music and lyrics to the original ones, sings on each with the exception of “Bumpkin Breakdown”.
I find his voice pleasant; it’s not a strong voice, but its sound is in keeping with the generally easy-going pace of the songs.
Some of the harmonies are delicate, particularly on “What I Can See”, where the singer is critical of intellectuals not making much sense to the common man – and he names names! (This track also features some fine acoustic guitar playing by Campbell).
I found the strongest track to be “Scottish Rain” which is not a folk nor bluegrass song, being more of a ballad, but the song soon had me singing along.
This is not a ‘dedicated’ bluegrass album, so fans of this genre, might be disappointed, but they would appreciate the high quality of playing.
I think Innes has done a good job of marrying folk and bluegrass and readers of this magazine will find plenty to enjoy.
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