Playing over 2000 shows since his debut album in 2006, James Southwell has established himself as one of Australia’s leading blues performers. Forté chat with James ahead of his upcoming National Tour.
Hey James, thanks for having a chat to us today. How are you and what have you been up to at the moment?
I’m great! Very busy, but wonderful! Getting all things sorted for the Live DVD/CD being released, the new studio album I recently recorded in Louisiana, and of course the upcoming tour!
You have your upcoming 17 date Album Launch Australian Tour coming up for the summer. How are you preparing for that one?
We’ve just booked another date, so now we’re at 18! As for preparation, it just comes down to playing guitar and keeping the dialogue rolling between myself and the amazing muso’s I have in the band. We’ll also be having a couple of days of rehearsal before the first date too – just to grease the bearings!
And the album itself? How was it putting all that together, many late nights and early mornings?
Countless. As for the actual studio time, that was four days. Four days in the studio, with five months after and years before. I’ve been writing the songs on this new record for years.
You will be touring alongside Charlie Wooton, have you guys had much to do with each other before this tour? Will you guys be getting up to any crazy antics along the way?
I met Charlie a year ago after I saw him play at Narooma Blues Festival. I loved his playing and his amazing stage presence so we got in contact and flew him over to play at the 2016 Thredbo Blues Festival, and we really hit it off. We started working on tunes, then he threw the idea out of me going to the states to play some shows. That soon turned into maybe recording a few songs, which then turned into smashing out a full length studio record! As for crazy antics, DEFINITELY! But you’ll have to come along to the shows to see what kind…
As part of the tour, you have a performance at the Bruthen Arts Festival in February next year which has been running for 22 years. Have you ever performed there before?
I haven’t played at it, no. But I have been aware of it for years. I’m really looking forward to making my debut there.
The Bruthen festival will be quite an intimate performance (with a town population of 640), do you approach these types of performances different compared to a large show or festival performance?
I don’t really approach gigs differently. The only real difference I guess is, at smaller shows there is much more opportunity for interaction with the people at the show. Intimate is definitely the word. It’s so much easier to bridge that gap between stage and audience with 100 people compared to 1000.
You’ve been touring for many years (since 2006) with a crazy amount of performances so far. How do you keep your performances fresh each time you revisit a place/festival?
Songs are always growing and progressing. Every time we play, there are subtle differences. That keeps it fresh. But also we try to keep the performance lively and exciting. Hopefully making people forget if they’ve seen us before by the new and energetic performance they are witnessing in that moment.
We hear you’re also heading to tour the States after the Aus tour. Will you be spending any down time over there?
I’m not sure how much downtime I’ll have while state side. But when I have time I like to simply get in the car and drive. Find a town I’ve never been to, find some accommodation, ask a cab driver to take me to somewhere with beer and good food, then google if there are any gigs about. Wake up and do it all again. But as I said, I’m not sure there will be much time for that this time around. So it seems from now until April, I’ll be out of breath!
Thanks again for the chat, any famous last words or anything else you would like to add?
Love is the only thing that matters in life, the rest is just rubbish.
When & Where: Bruthen Blues Festival @ Bruthen Inn Hotel, Bruthen – February 18
James’ new album The Dockside Sessions (Where The Wind Blows) is set for international release by MGM on March 3.