Fixture of the Bellarine, The Blues Train has been holding a flame to the art of the Deep South originated music genre, the moody blues since 1994, spotlighting the best of Australian contemporary blues and roots artists. Now in a new series incoming in 2024, they will be highlighting the fearless females that make up the genre.
The ‘Women In Blues’ concert series will take over the tracks throughout April and May 2024 with a steamy selection of songwriters from the blues and roots realm, showcasing both emerging and established talent in the region and surrounds.
The lineup includes Ocean Grove family band, The Von Robertsons, award-winning Andrea Marr from The McNamarr Project, multi-instrumentalist Anna Scionti, Miss Lou’s Blues, bluesy-rockers Stonetrain, the swampy Snake Eyed Rollers, legendary blues lead Kelly Auty, and Melbourne representation from Nardia, Kaliopi & The Blues Messengers, Iseula, and Anthea Jewels Band.
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Additionally, returning members of the Blues Train family are fan-favourite, Laurel & The Painkillers join the lineup after opening the Queenscliff Music Festival teaser of the concert series. Playing exhausting sets spread across the Sunday 26 November programming on the rattling D Carriage, they put on a mighty performance for the QMF punters in a taste of what to expect.
“We did six sets, we played a total of six hours on Sunday. So I was exhausted. How I suffer is the energy levels. I don’t want to say fatigue, but by the end of that gig, by the end of Sunday, if you asked me my mother’s maiden name I wouldn’t have been able to tell you,” leading lady Laurel Parkinson laughs.
“It is such a high energy atmosphere, so you have to give 100%. We were on the D carriage which is the big party carriage so our job is to pump it up and roll out of that carriage. That was amazing but to get that energy you’ve gotta give that energy.”
It’s a task the band are no stranger to, having rocked the rails several times before. The thing that keeps them coming back though is the audience.
“When we play on The Blues Train, the people love the music. They are shouting, they are dancing and we just have so much fun,” says Parkinson.
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But the blues are not all rambunctious shakes, rattles and rolls. As the name suggests, there is a sombre that surrounds the blues, a melancholy entrenched in the start of Parkinsons and the Painkillers story.
“I lost my daughter and I was very depressed and went through the phase where I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t listen to any music, I couldn’t listen to anything and slowly I started listening to music again and like most musicians, they kind of have that game changer, that musician you heard that really just changed you. For me that’s Janice Joplin and Billie Holiday. It’s almost like you can hear her crying and her voice, it’s a really strange, unique voice and her phrasing…and when you see Janis Joplin singing, the passion and the emotion – for me it’s not so much technique. It’s like when I watch, do they make me feel something? It changed everything for me and what I do and why I do it.”
She continues, “I read a book by an author called Isabella Landay and it was called Paula, and it was about her daughter who had passed away. Reading her book was so comforting, what she would say and her experience, and I always thought once I started playing and writing music again, it would be really nice that people hear the songs and that they feel that comfort, that “oh I’m not alone”.”
Her music has punctured hearts since her 2018 debut album, and continuing into last year’s EP Keep On Moving Towards The Light, with the songwriting process providing solace for the seasoned singer songwriter and her listeners alike.
“The first album we did was called Songs from Isobel, that’s my daughter, and the song ‘Isobel’ is about her, and so many people say, “Wow, that just really touched me”. That means the world to me. Especially because my true passion is songwriting. That’s really the thing I love the most. It is an outlet for me.”
She confirms the band are in the process of writing new songs and about to head into the studio. Having received positive responses in their live form, the new tracks are lively and continue to extend the bands creativity.
“The music is developing and it’s energetic and fun. There are horns on one of the tracks. It’s really exciting,” she promises.
Opportunities are red hot to witness the powerhouse Parkinson in action. Ahead of the Women in Blues shows, Laurel and The Painkillers will be jumping aboard The Blues Train for shows on Saturday’s 27 January and 17 February 2024, respectively.
To book your ride head here.