Murray in full flow for tour
IT'S the first time rootsy rocker Pete Murray has toured solo in Australia, so Valley music-lovers are in for something very special when he takes the stage at the Yamba Bowling Club on Wednesday night.
With four critically and commercially successful albums already under his belt, Murray is no stranger to hitting the great open road to play live to his fans, but the tour he's about to embark on now is one of a kind.
"This is the first time I've done a solo tour - in Australia anyway - so it's going to be very different," Murray teased.
"I'll be playing stomp box, acoustic guitar and harmonica. I kind of want the show to be really open to the crowd. If people want to hear something or ask a question they can. I want it to be fairly casual and make it feel like the audience is part of the show.
He won't be doing it all on his own though. Joining him for a select few songs along the way will be beatboxer and slide-guitarist Nathan Kaye, along with one of his roadies who is handy with the bass guitar.
With this tour set to be a little different, it's fitting the album that kicked-it off - Blue Sky Blue: The Byron Sessions - is a unique beast too.
"It all kind of started when myself and management were talking about what to do next, so we started talking about the idea of me doing a solo tour and the idea of a recording I could take on the road, something fresh for the fans," Murray said.
He said he wanted to avoid doing a greatest hits kind of project and the idea surfaced to revisit some of his previous work with the help of a few collaborators.
To test the waters Murray said he sent the title track from his 2011 album Blue Sky Blue to Natalie Brown of the funky Byron Bay collective, Blue King Brown, who ended up writing a rap section for it, performed by rapper Fantine on the album. Murray said he'd been blown away by the sound and Blue Sky Blue: The Byron Sessions was born.
"That song came back sounding fantastic so we thought we'd get some other artists involved so it was basically just a matter of ringing a few friends to see if they were free and luckily everyone was," he said.
Trawling through his contact book Murray managed to assemble a star-studded list of collaborators which reads like a who's who of contemporary Australian music.
Among the artists to make their mark on the album are Ash Grunwald, Scott Owen from the Living End, Katie Noonan and Powderfinger alumni Bernard Fanning and Darren Middleton. As to choosing to revisit an album only two years after its release, Murray said Blue Sky Blue was a natural fit.
"It was really just about finding the right songs, so what were the right songs? The last album (Blue Sky Blue) was an electric album so to go back and do acoustic re-interpretations of those songs just seemed like the obvious choice," he said.
Murray said he was extremely proud of how the new album sounded and he couldn't wait to share the new/old tracks with his fans.
He said while he loved spending time in the studio and working on new projects, it was always great to get back on the road. When asked what some of his favourite experiences had been on stage, he considered carefully.
"There's been heaps of great moments so it's hard to pin point one. One would definitely be the first time every person in a crowd sung the words back to me during a song - that was fairly early on during a sold-out show in Sydney. There were probably about 400 people in the crowd," he said.
"So that was full-on - when you hear that for the first you're like 'wow, that's amazing!' - that's something I'll never forget."
But for Murray it was also the little moments of joy and emotion he saw in the audience which kept him coming back to the stage and doing what he does.
"Seeing people cry, hugging each other during a show - that's pretty incredible; it really is," he said.