Darren Hanlon, pretty folk and a piano

THE Far South Coast’s musical enclave of Candelo is in for a special treat on Friday night – partly because the town hall comes complete with its own piano.

Australian folk musician Darren Hanlon is bringing material from his new album, as well as a few friends from the US, to tinkle the ivories and pluck at the heart strings.

Backing him up on the tour are long-time collaborators Shelley Short and Adam Selzer, as well as Nashville piano virtuoso Micah Hulscher – the reason Hanlon has scouted for “unusual and interesting spaces in which we could all play…[and that] has a real piano”.

The fact the Candelo audience at his appearance supporting Sarah Blasko last year was “so friendly and they bought my CDs” may have had something to do with this week’s return as well.

“There’s a special energy there,” Hanlon said of Candelo.

“I always thought I’d try and get back there.”

Hanlon recently returned from the US deep south where he recorded his eclectic new album in five different studios with an extensive cast of musicians – some world-renowned players like Spooner Oldham and Howard Grimes, as well as random people he met on the street!

“I just wanted this project to feel completely organic and loose.

“I let fate lead me to whatever happened, I didn’t plan anything.”

What resulted is a suite of 12 new songs that highlights a new focus and energy in Hanlon’s writing.

He said the blues and soul of places like Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans have crept in, but he remains “pretty folk”.

“It’s still very much lyric-based, but perhaps a bit more simple lyrically as all these other elements creep in,” he said.

Now it is his American colleagues who are the tourists, piling on to the bus to take in venues like the Conservatorium of Music in Wagga and the Old Parliament House members dining room in Canberra before Friday’s stop in Candelo.

“For me it is wonderful to play with these guys,” Hanlon said.

“It feels a lot more refined than what I’m used to – it sounds professional,” he adds with a laugh.

“I was just making it all up before, now it’s legit!”

The tour is not just about the music – and searching for a piano – though.

“My band are all American at the moment so they are all wide-eyed staring out the bus windows being tourists,” Hanlon said.

“We stayed on a farm at Wagga last night and we were riding quad bikes this morning.

“Micah also got to see his first kangaroo, so the rest of the tour is all downhill from here.”

See Darren Hanlon perform with Micah Hulscher, Adam Selzer and Shelley Short in an all ages gig at the Candelo Town Hall this Friday night. Doors open 7.30pm.

Selzer will also perform as support act with a multimedia presentation of his new graphic novel, which is based on his tour of Germany with a heavy metal band and is a unique experience according to Hanlon.

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