The Greencards bring bluegrass from across two seas.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Carol Young and Kym Warner, of the Austin-based bluegrass band The Greencards, grew up in the South. More specifically, the two hail from the southeast. Southeastern Australia, that is.
During a phone interview on a tour stop in Silverton, Oregon, Young, The Greencards’ bassist/vocalist, tells me a little bit about Australia’s bluegrass scene, but there isn’t much to tell.
“Bluegrass is pretty much nonexistent in Australia,” she says. “They [Australians] are very much into commercial crossover pop music over there.”
Despite wanting to be a country singer since childhood, Young never heard any bluegrass until she moved to Sydney when she was 17 years old. In Sydney, she ended up being a roommate with the banjo player for Australian country legend Slim Dusty. Young says that the banjo player, Ian Simpson, introduced her to bluegrass.
After becoming enamored with the music, Young says, she immersed herself in Sydney’s bluegrass scene. She says that there were about 12 bluegrass musicians in the city’s population of 3,773,000 residents. Luckily, one of the players was vocalist/mandolin player Kym Warner.
The two hit it off and moved to Austin in 2001. Shortly after moving to Texas, the two Australians met fellow expatriate Eamon McLoughlin, a fiddler from Great Britain who had been a member of the Austin Lounge Lizards for a couple of years.
With McLoughlin, Warner and Young started to back Texas musician Kelly Willis at some of her performances. Then, a couple of years ago, the trio took off on their own as The Greencards.
This past November, The Greencards released their debut album, Movin’ On. Tracks like “Life’s a Freeway” sound like pop music with down-home instrumentation, including McLoughlin’s impressive fiddle playing, while “Small Tots” is a classic-sounding bluegrass stomp with lots of soloing.
The release has been very well received, helping the young band to win the Best New Band Award at the Austin Music Awards this past March and a 2004 Americana Music Award nomination for New/Emerging Artist of the Year.
Despite the accolades and Young’s apparent love for her adopted home of Austin, there is one thing about Australia that she misses in the Lone Star state. “Texas is a great place to make music,” she says. “It’s a lifestyle thing there. The only problem I’ve got is that it is not near the beach.”
THE GREENCARDS PLAY PLAZA LINDA, 9 DELFINO PL. IN CARMEL VALLEY, AT 7PM ON FRIDAY. $10. 659-4229.