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Review: Traveller

[ 21 October 2017 | Print This Post ]
21 October 2017

By Gemma Brosnan

FOR someone who has followed the folk, country and Americana scene from London to Austin and all kinds of places in between, I still wasn’t expecting to catch Robert Ellis with his new project over at the Coogee Diggers on a Thursday night.

If it wasn’t for the understated poster outside The Bunker catching my eye – and of course the knowledge that this RSL venue hosts some of the best alternative gigs in town – I would have thought the sunshine was blinding my wishful senses.

But it turns out, the ridiculously talented Texan was in town and has teamed up with two other Southern singer songwriters Jonny Fritz and Cory Chisel to trade verses, thoughts and licks with their new grassroots supergroup aptly named Traveller.

The Deslondes were in from New Orleans to provide support and their own brand of country folk infused with an old school swing that charmed the crowd and highlighted their virtuosity on a range of roots instruments.

When Johnny Fritz had finished signing merch on behalf of the band, it was finally time for Traveller to hit the stage. While Johnny is clearly extremely comfortable as the frontman, letting his country swagger glow in the lights bouncing off his blazing metallic jacket and making plenty of Australian tailored jokes in between – including trying to explain ‘Christmas Eve at Kroger’ to the audience – all eyes naturally fell on Robert as soon as the guitar solos started to flow, proving to everyone in the room that his kind of playing can outdazzle any kind of coat, including his own neon space inspired jacket.

With Cory Chisel providing a layer of seductive darkness to the lighter more humorous tones, it was a joy to hear this three free-spirited collaborators in such a small space. Tracks from their album to showcase Traveller’s collective talent sounded as familiar as old time country classics with their simplistically gifted story-telling and catchy hooks getting the crowd up dancing and singing along by the final blast of each chorus.

The solo specials which littered Robert’s performance on electric guitar were brought back to their acoustic roots with an almighty rendition of his crowd pleasing favourite ‘Sing Along’ to finish.

I was so impressed and delighted to hear such fine alt Texan country Down Under, I made it over to the Traveller’s closing show at Marrickville Bowls Club the following night.

It was a bigger, livelier venue and felt very much like being back in a Honky Tonk with the enthusiastic crowd hungry for nothing but the trio’s adventurous music and amusing Southern banter.

They delivered a rousing selection of offerings from ‘Get Me Out of The South’ to ‘Nobody Makes It Out’ and of course album title Western Movies to both satisfy the crowd and naturally leave them wanting.

Cory’s stunning solo performance of his track ‘Southern Arms’ was the one thing that brought the room to a hush and many listening close to the words close to a teary eye.

Robert found time to remind the crowd that he is also a brilliant keys player providing some funky jazz inspired grooves to accompany Johnny’s vocals before a solo spot to wow the room with his track ‘Elephant’.

The trio’s glorious harmonies on Johnny’s ‘Silver Panty Liners’ was the perfect finish for those lucky enough to catch them live and for those who missed out, their album Western Movies is only currently available to in Australia.

Check them out before they find time to travel somewhere in your direction soon https://www.facebook.com/travellertheband/



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