CANDELO’S own Heath Cullen has just returned home from a three-month stint in Los Angeles working on his new album, The Still and The Steep, which will be released Australia-wide on March 9 to coincide with a hometown launch celebration at the Candelo Town Hall.
In 2012, a love of American music from the 1950s and ‘60s led Heath from his Bega Valley hometown of Candelo across the seas to the US, and on a pilgrimage through the musical holy land of the American south, collecting stories and sounds with which to build his proverbial “difficult second” album.
Along the way he also befriended legendary drummer Jim Keltner (John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams), guitarist Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss), and bassist Larry “The Mole” Taylor (of the famed Woodstock band Canned Heat, and also a longtime Waits collaborator).
Cullen and this hand-picked ensemble set to work in a Los Angeles recording studio, recording live through the finest of analogue equipment, capturing the magic and spontaneity of music played together by people in a room.
The resulting work is a joyous, playful, and sometimes dangerous celebration, lyrically recalling the salty visions and conversations of his 2010 debut, A Storm Was Coming But I Didn’t Feel Nothing.
More than a reflection of Cullen’s sharp eye and poetic contemplation, his songs reflect a weary wisdom that seems impossible for his years.
The album, a journey through the back blocks of the wandering soul, is about the shadows, the mysterious, the unknown - the dark and the deep, the still and the steep.
Cullen initially met Ribot when visiting New York City, and the two guitar slingers soon hit it off, exchanging details.
Taylor came into the fold when Cullen opened for his band Canned Heat on their Australian tour and they shared their love of the great blues musician Nehemiah “Skip” James.
The whole picture finally came together after Cullen made a phone call to Keltner through a mutual friend in LA, and was surprised to learn not only had Keltner heard Cullen’s music before, but that he had been trying to get hold of him!
After the initial sessions, Keltner was so excited about making the record he came back to the studio in his own time (even leaving a Michael Bublé session early) to contribute some extra percussion.
Cullen also made many great contacts within the music industry in America and plans to return to the US during 2013 to showcase the new album and to lay the groundwork for the recording of its follow-up.
During his LA stay, Cullen lived in Echo Park, home to celebrities, amazing Mexican food trucks and just a stone’s throw from Dodger Stadium.
“The hot, dry Los Angeles summer consisted of long days sweating it out in the studio, and some amazing shows at nights - including seeing Neil Young and Crazy Horse at the Hollywood Bowl, supported by Los Lobos!” he said.
Crowd funding ‘fantastic model’ for artists
CANDELO musician Heath Cullen raised the money for his US trip through requests for online pledges.
“Crowd funding is a fantastic model for independent artists to fund their projects, as it offers the fans something unique and special in exchange for their pledge,” he said.
“I could not have come close to recording this album without the huge support of community, family, friends and fans.
“My initial pledge goal was set up to cover my airfares and studio costs, and within five days the total raised had surpassed that mark.
“In the end I managed to raise over half of my entire project budget through crowd funding.
“The Bega Valley community were tremendously generous in their support.”
His new album’s first single, From Father To Son, was launched today and as a gift to fans the song will be available for a limited time as a free download from Cullen’s website, www.heathcullen.com, or click the link below.
Tickets to Cullen’s CD launch at the Candelo Town Hall are also available now, on sale at the Candelo Arts Society website, www.cas.org.au.
There will also be tickets available from Magpie Music.
Tickets are very limited, so people are encouraged to get in early.