The John Flanagan Trio

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The John Flanagan Trio

John Flanagan may be a Melbourne native, but he’s also quite familiar with the regional festival scene. After growing up going to Port Fairy Folk Festival, John is taking his new trio to Newstead Live! In a matter of days.

Your last album, Meet Me In Between, was released six years ago. How has your sound and songwriting style progressed for your new album, There’s Another Way to Where You’re Going, in that time?

When I recorded my first (and only) solo album I was only just getting started as a folk, singer/songwriter. I had written songs for a few years as part of a jam/rock band although ‘Meet Me In Between’ was my first step into writing and performing under my own name.

Since then, developing my craft as a songwriter is something that has been a big focus for me and hopefully this comes across on my latest release. I recorded the latest album ‘There’s Another Way to Where You’re Going’ in Nashville with producer Viktor Krauss. He’s a very talented arranger and producer and so there are a lot of subtle layers that enhance the songs without taking over. The latest album is a very slick production with some world class musicians playing on it, however there is still a focus on keeping the emotional rawness at the core of it all.

You said your new album “ties together stories of the outsiders”. Is there a particular situation or a moment in time where you felt like you were an outsider?

I walk a narrow line between extroversion and introversion, I feel that I get energy from being around other people but I also need my time alone. There are many times when I have felt like an outsider as I think would be true for most people. There was a particular time when I was in the early years of high school where my best friend from primary school started getting into drinking and drugs and hanging out with the cool kids. That didn’t feel right for me and it took me a while to find another group where I fit in. I ended up finding some friends who are still my good friends today and this was a significant part of my formation.

You’ve spent a lot of time at music festivals, from Port Fairy Folk Festival when you were younger and you’re soon to perform at Newstead Live! Music Festival. How have regional festivals made an impact on you as a musician?

I think my musical development owes a lot to the music I was exposed to at festivals from a young age. There is such a diversity of musical styles at festivals which you probably wouldn’t otherwise come across growing up. Also, my mum would buy CDs from the festivals so a lot of my heroes at the time would have been local Australian folk and blues acts like John Williamson, Greg Champion and Andy Cowan.

You’re a Melbourne native and you’ve actually done a song on the city itself (about High st in ‘High On High’). Do you have any favourite hidden getaways in the city?

If I tell you they won’t be hidden any more! But in all seriousness, obviously I have a soft spot for the music venues. Some Velvet Morning in Clifton Hill and Open Studio and The Wesley Anne in Northcote are cute, smaller music venues with a great vibe and good mix of music. Some other cool small bars are Joe’s Shoe Store in Northcote, Rooks Return in Fitzroy, Mr Wilkinson in East Brunswick. I also love good restaurants like Yong Green Food and Smith & Daughters in Fitzroy and The Abyssinian, an Ethiopian restaurant in Kensington.

We’re always after secrets in beard grooming and care, how do you keep such a healthy looking beard?

When people ask me the same thing about my head of hair I say ‘it’s the natural oils’, translation: ‘I rarely wash my hair’.  For the beard it’s similar, it’s nothing particularly special. Every now and then I trim it with the longest setting on the beard trimmer. Either that or I am part of a secret beard grooming society and we can’t share the special grooming techniques. I will say that I would probably wash my beard more often than my head hair.

What’s in store for you in the upcoming year?

My album is out on February 4 and then Sal Kimber and I have our Southern Summer Halls tour of regional Victoria during Feb. The two of us will also be joining forces for a more stripped back, intimate National tour, hitting WA, TAS, NSW, ACT & QLD during March, April, May. Busy times but should be an exciting year!

When & Where: Newstead Live! Festival, Newstead – January 22-25