Untamed and vocally melodic like wolves in the wild, the powerful pack of Country craftsmen The Wolfe Brothers certainly live up to their name!
From their boyhood beginnings of Tasmanian comradeship, brothers Tom and Nick Wolfe, together with fraternal friend Brodie Rainbird, have cracked their magic whips to whirl up a sandstorm of sensational songs; and without a tear in sight, they are about to hit the road on an extended tour of their ‘No Sad Song’ jamboree.
The borders are being continually blurred between the definitions of country music; where now we see the expansion of instrumentation; and even the introduction of hard rock elements, such as are found in The Wolfe Brothers hits ‘Hit The Road’ and ‘Throw ‘Em Back’. When we consider the origin of country music in the 1920s, beginning in Appalachia, United States; and combining European, Irish folk and African traditions, the contemporary definition of country music tends to become increasingly obscure; yet vocalist, guitarist and bass guitarist Tom Wolfe maintains that “it’s a really exciting time for country.”
Willie Nelson is quoted to have rationalised the country genre as “Three chords and the truth”; and Tom similarly defines country music with his reflection “Honestly, I still think it’s the same… for me, country music is not so much whether it has instrumentation or how it sounds; I think it needs to be the truth; and it needs to be coming from a real place. The great thing about music is there [are] no rules.”
To encapsulate the ethos within his group of rambunctious raconteurs, Tom continues “All you can ever really do is be yourself; and that’s something we’ve tried really hard to be…it’s taken us a few years to find our sound and to find our groove”, while admitting that some of their material is ”pretty rockin’…it’s not light! Then at the same turn you can go and listen to things like Country Heart, obviously…I mean, there’s your three chords and the truth!”
More than a musical style, country is a culture in itself; and a reflection of that culture shines through The Wolfe Brothers’ music. According to Tom, one of the most influential Australian cultural issues woven into their compositions is the work of the Australian Armed Forces. As Tom imparts, “On our Country Heart album, we’ve got a song called Hey Brother, and we actually found out yesterday we just got nominated for a couple of Golden Guitars”; and following the Spirit Of The ANZAC tour with Lee Kernaghan, “we met a lot Veterans…a lot of service men and women…a lot of them are living with PTSD…there’s a lot of men and women out there who are really struggling; and they’ve gone and done these incredible jobs serving our country; so that’s been a really, really special song…and we’ve considered that an honour to sing.”
Incorporating their rural origins into a new target, the Brothers would next like to direct their compositional energies towards “our farming communities…they really are the backbone of the country…there was a time the country was literally fed off a sheep’s back…I think we need to not forget about those people…that’s probably the next one we’re chasing.”
While immersed in the enriching musical nourishment known as Nashville, the Brothers discovered that “The amount of songwriters that…write like a normal 9-5 job…that’s what they do; they write 2-3 songs a day…there’s this incredible creative inspiration of all these creative people…me and Nicky in particular get into this real work zone…I absorb myself into song and stories…there’s something very special about coming in with an idea, and at the end of the day you’ve got a song. I’ve probably written more songs with Australians in Nashville than anywhere else!”
The Wolfe Brothers’ friendly affiliation with musical mentor Lee Kernaghan has been an invaluable education; and as Tom reflects, “what we see every night is someone who really genuinely cares…every night he’s trying to make it better.” Another Australian Country musician admired by Tom is Keith Urban, having met Keith following a “life-changing” concert; and a collaborative venture in the future could be a very likely possibility.
The resounding message Tom would like to convey is that “We’re trying to sing from our life…everyone has a story to tell; and everyone’s got something special to give, so don’t ever hide that.”
When & Where: Gateway Hotel, Geelong – January 11. Tickets via www.thegatewayhotel.com.au
Written by Renée N. Abbott