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Tex appeal: Perkins offers show of support for local musicians

Culture

From fronting rock bands including Beasts of Bourbon and the Cruel Sea musical projects with Charlie Owens and Don Walker, a successful solo career and touring as Johnny Cash in The Man in Black stage show for more than a decade, Tex Perkins has had a long and varied career.

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The Brisbane-raised singer-songwriter’s latest foray into live performance has again taken him into unfamiliar territory – online.

His latest project, The Show, is a monthly, live-streamed series filmed in a shed on his property and featuring musical performances from Perkins and his guests.

“I can only claim to be a survivor,” Perkins told InQueensland during a Zoom interview from his home in the Northern NSW hinterland.

“I started in this industry back where we were handing each other cassettes and basically I’ve been through the vinyl years, the CD years and now we’re in the era where nobody likes to pay for music at all, apart from being in the same room at the same time as the performer.”

The Show is a ticketed event – a link to the stream can be purchased via Oztix for $15 – that is streamed via YouTube and while Perkins is the first to admit the idea of using an online platform to deliver live music audiences is hardly revolutionary, he said he was determined to ensure The Show had production values that made it worth the prie of admission.

“Back in March, when the world shut down and therefore our industry evaporated and all avenues to perform were completely stopped, I think the 24 hours of the entire musical community of the world, all sort of just plummeted into a sort of a state of depression … and then we all woke up and went, ‘wait a minute, we could go online,” Perkins joked.

“Then everyone started to do gigs in front of these things,” he said, holding his smartphone up to the screen. “But personally, I won’t even answer a FaceTime call, I mean what we’re doing now is a real struggle for me.”

Perkins was quick to point out it’s not just any old shed he’s been filming The Show in, explaining that it was built for the express purpose of entertaining.

“A couple of years ago we built a shed to basically have parties and entertain and it’s got a stage and it’s got a PA, so it had kind of the infrastructure to do The Show, and coincidentally, a lot of the people that live near me are musicians – and they had cameras.

Perkins described the first episode as being created out a “sense of desperation but also a sense of responsibility”.

“We had the all the ingredients, the infrastructure and the technical personnel and the talent within arm’s reach so I think we felt a sense of responsibility that we needed to do this and, and, and we could offer something that was a little better to watch than people sitting in front of computers and phones.”

He acknowledged it was difficult to try to get people to watch live music – especially at a time when many artists were giving free performances online – but said he had been able to make a modest profit from The Show.

“We haven’t made a lot of money but we’ve made enough to pay the people that helped us make The Show,” he said.

Perkins said the most gratifying part of producing The Show has been using his platform to provide a boost to other Northern NSW-based musicians.

“I’ve used artists that are within arm’s reach of me like so they’re in the Northern Rivers area and all of them have been around for years and they’re all incredibly talented, and I’ve always loved their work but they don’t all have a really large profile,” he said. “So it’s actually been really great to help you know present these artists to … well at least my audience anyway, I was about to say a wider audience but it’s my audience, whatever that is.”

Which begs the question, what does a typical Tex Perkins look like these days, and what is Perkins most likely to be recognised for by a person in the street?

“It could be anything and that’s kind of been the secret of my longevity, that I’ve been not only able to but willing to do different things and create stuff that was directed at different people … I don’t want to use ‘demographics’, but there, I just did.

“There’s a rock ‘n’ roll crowd who I can play to in sort of 200-capacity, standing-room nightclubs, then I’ve had mainstream success – and most people know me from the Cruel Sea – but then I’ve done all sorts of other things. Every time I do some something, you win something, you win some and you lose some as far as audiences go.

“With The Man in Black, you’re applied to all sorts of people and I guess what I really learnt is the broad section of people that love Johnny Cash – there are people in their 60s, 70s and 80s, but there are also 18-year-olds and 30-year-olds. But I guess my core demographic is people my age you know, in their early 50s – I guess they’re the people that understand my journey better than other people.”

On this month’s episode of The Show, which will stream from 6pm on Sunday, July 26, Perkins will be joined by Lucie Thorne, who has released a dozen albums, including the Australian Music Prize-nominated Black Across the Field.

Northern NSW-based singer-songwriter Lucie Thorne will be a guest on the next episode of Tex Perkins’ The Show.

“She’s amazing, she’s a true troubadour, that travels the world with their electric guitar and she’s got something really unique and, but not only that she fits so beautifully and effortlessly into my music.

“I’ll actually be singing some old Dark Horses songs with her and nobody has harmonised with me on those songs better than anyone has and she, she really helped me breathe new life into some, some old tunes.”

Perkins said he would be performing one song in particular with Thorne that he knew a certain section of his fan base would be pleased to hear, a number he said he has “been asked to play so many times, even though it’s not a hit”.

“A lot of people ask me to play [Cruel Sea song] ‘The Honeymoon is Over’ and I understand that because it was a hit but a lot of people are obsessed with a particular Dark Horses tune, this song called ‘Please Break me Gently’ and I’ve been fascinated with people’s fascination with this song, so that is the big selling point of the show with Lucy Thorne, spread the word,” he laughed.

Although he has been enjoying the experience of producing The Show over the past few months, Perkins said he was excited to have “some real actual gigs coming up” in the next few weeks.

“I’m doing the Miami Marketta, which will be 100 capacity and they all pretty much sold out within a few hours, so people are quite keen to get back into a room with musicians that actually are in the same room as them.”

For tickets to Tex Perkins’ The Show – Episode Four, visit oztix.com.au

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