Joe Pug and Courtney Marie Andrews @ The Landsdowne Hotel ** 11 Jul 2017



Joe Pug is a fabulous storyteller with a sly sense of the absurd. Besides that, he is a wry and warm   folk singer/writer carrying on a tradition of singing his own songs and bringing others songs to life.

Another Tuesday evening at The Landsdowne in Sydney brought out some fans of Pug’s and of live music. Joining Joe tonight was Courtney Marie Andrews, originally hailing from Phoenix, but who has been a touring/recording musician for a good decade with Jimmy Eat World and Damien Jurado. Her voice is a mixture of folk and country and if you want to make a comparison to her style, throw Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris into the blender and you come up with a Courtney cocktail

Honest Life, her latest release on Fat Possum records, is worthy of a listen, so check it out.

Mr Joe Pug is a raconteur with a keen eye on the human condition, no matter how messed up it might be. Tonight while displaying an excellent set list of his own material, including “I Do My Fathers Drugs”, “Not So Sure” and “Veteran Fighter”, he touched on a couple of covers.

The first cover was “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal” written by the Texas born Billy Joe Shaver. The song itself is a diamond. Prefacing the song with the story of Billy Joe’s shooting of a man in Lorena, Texas, was hilarious and probably enlightening to most in the audience. I highly advise you google Billy Joe and check out his quote about shooting his harasser in the face. It is definitely worth a laugh.

Pug has rediscovered himself, moderated his touring schedule, and has found joy in eating healthy, being at home and connecting with life outside of the honky tonks and hotel rooms. He seems to be having a joyous time connecting with his fans and playing live and that is a boon for all of us who care for his music.

Pug has a melodic delivery that is reminiscent of John Hiatt, one of his influences and it came across as clear as a brightly lit room tonight. After stating that “Hymn 101” was the climax of the show, and someone yelled out “Play some old stuff”, to which Pug answered, “No, I am going to play Carole King’s Tapestry from start to finish”, he proceeded with a short encore.

Andrews came out for a song of her own and then Courtney and Joe became Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty with a cover of  “Insider”  from Petty’s Hard Promises record. It was a splendid end to a sweet evening of folk and for this listener, who is off to see Tom Petty in NYC in 2 weeks the joy of synchronicity was lovely.

Dashville State Of Mind

I don’t know how many times I have had conversations  around local Australian music during this decade where it begins: “So, have you heard any of the musicians who hail from the Dashville Community”? Or maybe I have to bring up the Gumball Festival and the 2 recent Dashville Skyline Cosmic Festivals to maybe see if they have any idea what I am about to ramble about.

What is Dashville? Is it a place? Is it a state of mind? Is it just a cover for the Johnston Family so they can build a solid local empire around music events like the aforementioned ones while playing music and enjoying the company of like-minded souls like William Crighton, James Thomson and Jason Walker to name a few.  Well, it is all of these things and more.

At The Bearded Tit in Redfern (an excellent bar just to hang in) Dashville On The Road was rolled out for a decent sized gathering of music fans and friends of the Dashville tribe.

Having been to the first two Dashville Skyline Festivals and watched a number of these artists play before I was not surprised to hear growth in their music and a certain confidence and relaxation in their delivery.

Arriving when we did, the gig was in full flight. Magpie Diaries were up and delivering a captivating set of rock and Americana. For the next couple of hours the other Johnston Brother and his outfit Baghead played; Lyle Dennis belted out a few numbers and Melody Pool sang her socks off. There were others on the close to 4 hour hoedown, but alas, there were other things on our plate earlier and apologies for missing out on some!

There always is a surprise when you hook up with the Dashville team. This time around there was a magical addition of a saxophone to the mix. It was an instant recognition of tone and style that caught my ear as I sipped my first Shark Lager. The warmth and ability to connect with whomever she played with was apparent throughout and Cassie Bofinger is someone I want to hear blow some more.

Considering that Cassie played with each and every act  it seems everyone in this little clan of musicians feels the same way about her talent.

What I admire and receive from watching these individuals create music is that they  truly enjoy their mission and the people that come along to share the journey are truly lovers of good, home made music. It is a rare experience….

If you missed this little event, keep your eyes plugged into Dashville on the intertubes, hook up with them on Facebook and don’t forget that Dashville Skyline is on the October Long Weekend.  It is the best little camping festival in Australia because of the music, the venue, the food and most of all, the people. (

See you there or somewhere down the trail.


Ben Ottewell-The Landsdowne Hotel-4th July 2017



Ben Ottewell-The Landsdowne Hotel-4th July 2017

The Landsdowne is back on the music map and it was an intimate group of under one hundred for this stop on Ottewell’s short spin around Australia. Ben joked during the set, as he drank from an iced glass of yellowish liquid, that he was fuelled by the urine of his support act. Whatever was keeping him going was perfect because his unique vocal style and excellent guitar work was splendid to hear.

With 3 solo albums to his name now, the lead guitarist still attached to the band Gomez (by name only of late), gave us a good selection of new songs and others from his solo catalogue and 4 from the Gomez ranks.

Ottewell is a fabulous guitarist and even he mentioned during one song, how he misses the electric guitar, but his acoustic performances of these numbers are arranged very well. His solo work continues to mature and with his latest record “A Man Apart” his lyricism and delivery rates highly.

You could tell by the reaction of the crowd during the four Gomez numbers that the audience was made up of fans of that band. Rhythm And Blues Alibi was a highlight and as with Gomez, you can lose yourself in the music. There were even some who stood, swayed, and danced a bit.

Tijuana Lady, quite possibly yelled out at every gig Ottewell plays, closed the show. If you do not know the song, have a listen on the clip below. If you do know it, well, listen again anyway as it is a classic piece of work. (move bottom)

The electric guitar may find its way into Ben’s hands next year with the 20th anniversary of his band Gomez coming up. They have been quiet for a while; let’s hope they bring it on next year.

Set list:

1-Steal Away

2-A Man Apart


4-Patience and Rosaries

5-Free To Run


7-Rhythm and Blues Alibi




11-Better Lie


12-Red Dress

13-Bring It On


15-Tijuana Lady         



Gomez may be on a very lengthy hiatus….some wonder if it is forever…at least there is time for one of their lead singers and lead guitarist to come down and grace our shores once again.

Ben will be showcasing songs from his latest release “A Man Apart” and his other 2 solo records…and from good sources, quite a few Gomez covers.

See you there…..supported by Buddy…and my buddy, Ben!
busch and ben