On a casual weekday arvo I sat waiting patiently for a connection call from a PR agency to chat to Australia’s most successful blues and roots songwriter. After listening to Zebra on repeat for a hefty chunk of my teenage years I’ll admit I was all of a flutter sitting there looking over my questions.
When the phone rang and I answered the most melodic half Californian, half Aussie accent was on the other end saying my name. No PR agency, no friendly assistant ‘putting me through’ to an international superstar. Just John Butler himself ringing my personal phone. I could’ve fallen off my chair.
But of course, almost instantly his relaxed and easygoing persona started flowing down the line as he told me he was just making up some cheese and vegemite sandwiches for lunch. As laid-back as ever, like I was chatting with a lifelong friend. And how, really, did I expect any different? Whilst presenting us with what can only be described as musical genius for close to two decades, he has also continually shown us that once the mic is off and the guitar is down, he’s just an ordinary guy.
And now that ordinary guy was chatting away to me about his Christmas holidays and New Year’s plans. Gulp.
So what is it that he has planned I hear you ponder? Aside from family time, he’s coming to visit us! Ok, not us at Glam specifically. But John and the rest of his trio are playing two intimate shows at the stunning location of Bird in Hand winery this January. A location, John told me, he hasn’t actually visited before. As a side note: He’s also never sipped on a glass of Bird in Hand Sparkling Pinot Noir before; which as a passionate South Aussie I personally found to be sacrilege! I strongly suggested he order a dozen for his Christmas Day celebrations. He said he just might.
The band does have a tendency to play smaller venues when visiting our humble State. John told me this is because they like to create a “sincere relationship” with their audiences. The smaller venues they play create a more intimate connection between themselves, their fans and the music.
He did go on to say they love playing to the crowds here in SA because we’re so “uninhibited and definitely not shy”. We think that could be politically correct code for ‘crazy’ but he seemed to think our kinda crazy was a wonderful thing, so we’ll take it.
We chatted for some time about his other favourite things about Adelaide, including, as he told me, our North Terrace skatepark that he loved to frequent. Eeeeep. It was with a heavy heart that I had to inform Mr Butler that his favourite thing about Adelaide, is sadly no more. I promised to give him a call once I’ve discovered where and when a replacement skatepark will be delivered. So if anyone gets the inside scoop on that, I have a very invested celebrity friend who’d like to be in the loop.
Needless to say most of my well researched, structured questions went quickly out of the window, as did our strictly allotted time frame as we casually went back and forth about the ways of the world.
We talked causes, politics and human connections. We talked of how these things have spilled into previous albums and whether they’d flow into the next that he is currently writing.
“There are a million and one things going on in the world that I feel super passionate about, but I don’t want to stand here and tell people how they should think and feel all the time.”
He explained that he’s never in it to write a hit (although he seems to manage it time after time) but rather write himself out loud in a million different ways.
“I’m really picky about lyrics but sometimes the music takes over from the words. Music comes easy, it feels easy” to create what he described as an overall experiential album.
As always with his messages, it all seems to come back to one important standpoint ‘Peace and Love.’ Trust me, I know it sounds so cliché to read on paper, but hearing John speak of the importance of acceptance and spreading love in these tumultuous times showed the honesty that does exist in the stereotypically ‘hippy’ phrases.
“Fear and misunderstanding and the thought of not being heard makes us think that we’re all so separate but we aren’t. I don’t know any sane person who doesn’t want the best for his friends, his family and his environment regardless of motive. And if we all want the same things then we’re not so different… We live on a giant ball, that means you can’t really pick a side, because there’s only one.”
So aside from the future of the world, which hopefully we can choose to steer in a positive direction, what lies in the future for John Butler and his trio? Well in addition to coming to play for two wonderful nights in Adelaide he’s going to re-release his very first busking album from nearly two decades ago on vinyl! Which will undoubtedly be incredible to sit and listen to, to see where it all began.
“Yeah man, then just create an earth shattering, mind blowing, world altering album that breaks the internet… and then I gotta do the dishes of course.” That’s a direct quote.
Unfortunately the Saturday 30 January John Butler Trio performance at Bird in Hand Winery is already SOLD OUT. However, due to the demand, they have put on a second show on the Friday. We suggest you snap up tickets quickly. We have no doubt this show will sell out too. You will get to enjoy songs from the 2014 album ‘Flesh and Blood’ plus of course, all the older hits.
CONCERT FRIDAY JANUARY 29th 2016
Tickets available at: https://events.ticketbooth.com.au/event/john-butler-trio-friday
Pre-booked picnic & BBQ boxes: $30-$50
Return bus transfers from Adelaide Metro: $25
Discover more at www.birdinhand.com.au