So Rudely Interrupted
Greg Quill and Kerryn Tolhurst are credited by many music historians and critics as being among the first musicians and songwriters to shape the unique fusion of Australian country, folk and rock music that has become a major influence in the nation's cultural legacy. Together in Country Radio, they forged an instantly recognizable sound in the early 1970s. As songwriting partners they created unusual and memorable songs from allusive and familiar elements - Australian stories, landscapes, characters and sentiments - not found in the pop music of the era till then. Tolhurst's grounding in country music and blues, and his innovative flourishes on acoustic resonator guitar, electric lap steel and mandolin, reinforced Quill's experience in folk, bush and contemporary songs. Two of their best-known collaborations, 'Gypsy Queen' and 'Wintersong' - characterized by Quill's evocative lyrics and Tolhurst's ringing mandolin and soaring slide guitar - are staples of the Australian musical repertoire, acclaimed classics performed and recorded by many artists over the years and still played consistently on radio. The album Country Radio Live, which contains the enduring favourites 'Silver Spurs', 'Last Time Around' and 'Terry's Tune', is a testament to a musical journey that encompassed countless national tours, television appearances, headlining performances at major rock festivals, and support tours with international icons of the era - Fairport Convention, Elton John, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Stephen Stills, and Santana, among others. Quill learned his craft in the folk music and singer-songwriter clubs and cafés of Sydney and Melbourne in the late 1960s. An early album, Fleetwood Plain, was released to critical acclaim in 1970. Country Radio came to an end in 1974. After one last collaboration, 1975's The Outlaw's Reply - with Tolhurst's instrumental work infusing Quill's songs with whimsy, romance and rage - and a farewell performance at the Sydney Opera House, Quill left to continue his musical career in Canada, assisted by a grant from the Australian Council For The Arts. So far from the sources of his musical inspiration, Quill eventually put away his guitars. He started performing again only recently, in folk and concert rooms in Toronto, and has a residency at the market-district honky tonk, Graffiti's. After Country Radio, Tolhurst was a founding member of The Dingoes, which continued to expand the parameters of Australian country rock by marrying rhythm and blues with bush music, country and folk. The band was known for it's muscular style and distinctively Australian edge. The Dingoes were both enormously popular on Australia's pub concert circuit and darlings of the critical media. Great things were predicted for them and they seemed destined for international success when, on the heels of their hit eponymous debut album in Australia - it contained Tolhurst's 'Way Out West', 'Goin' Down Again' and 'The Last Place I Ever Wanna Be' - the band was signed to a U.S.-based management company and record label, A&M. The Dingoes toured North America and recorded two more albums, Five Times The Sun, with the Tolhurst-penned favourites 'Smooth Sailing' and 'Waiting For The Tide To Turn', and Orphans Of The Storm, between 1977 and 1979, when their long run came to an end. Tolhurst had played in Melbourne in the late 1960s with The Adderly Smith Blues Band and the country outfit Sundown. He emerged after his stints with Country Radio and The Dingoes as one of the most distinctive and expressive lap steel guitar and mandolin players in the recording world. First settling in Woodstock, N.Y., then New York City, he established himself as a songwriter in the American market -- he wrote Pat Benatar's 'All Fired Up' and Little River Band's 'Man On Your Mind', both Top 20 Billboard hits in the mid-1980s -- and as a session musician and record producer. He performs in and around New York with several bands, most frequently with Bucktooth Johnson, but concentrates on producing. Dividing his work schedule between New York, Austin, Tex., and Australia, Tolhurst has produced roots artists as diverse as American singer-songwriter Bruce Henderson, veteran R&B songwriter Jimmy Norman, and notable Australian country-rockers The Pigram Brothers and Goanna, R&B outfit The Black Sorrows, as well as singer-songwriters Cyndi Boste, Shane Howard, Jeff Lang, Paul Kelly, and Russell Crowe. Tolhurst teamed up again with his former Country Radio partner Quill after an all-night jam session in Melbourne in 1999 during which the bare bones of a dozen new songs emerged. In sessions in New York and Toronto, Quill and Tolhurst have written and recorded material that contains the strength of their past collaborations and best solo efforts, tempered by maturity, wit and an abiding faith in each other. The resulting CD, so rudely interrupted, picks up the threads of their musical lives 30 years on. It was released in Australia April 7, 2003.