Entertainment

Graeme Connors' Muster connection

Graeme Connors
Graeme Connors Supplied

IN A perfect world, Graeme Connors really would have a seaside cabin in the mountains with views over Sydney Harbour – and so would we all.

His new song, In My Perfect World (one of 12 tracks on his new album, At the Speed of Life) is a story of impossible dreams and a love that wins out in the end.

But there is a sad edge to the album and a particular poignancy to the fact that it is to be launched next Saturday at the Gympie Region's Optus Country Music Muster.

Connors takes the main stage at 6.15pm and may well mention its dedication to the Muster's own Marylou Goodall, who died recently, after a long illness.

“I don't make a habit of dedicating my work to people,” he explains in our telephone interview. “But I have a lot of regard for Marylou and what she's contributed to the Muster.”

The Muster's former entertainment co-ordinator, Mrs Goodall first joined the Muster in 1985 when she and her late husband Chris hired circus tents for the event, as well as energetically volunteering.

“We all know she was unwell for some time but she was a real stalwart and made me admire her," Graeme said.

“I heard she was doing poorly and rang her. She said she'd miss being at the Muster.

“You try to be positive and tell people they can rally and keep going a bit longer, but she couldn't hang on any longer.”

He has a long association with the Muster but says he has trouble picking out one particular moment.

“It's so hard with the Muster because in the early days I remember always being so nervous, because it's a big show.

“We were riding a wave and things were going well. You'd do a quick sound check and then do your show.”

Connors was always, he said, too busy and nervous to do more than concentrate on his part of the show.

“Only in recent years have I been relaxed enough to really enjoy the Muster for what it is,” he said.

“What it is” included “the energy of the audience and the people in the front row with their faces lit up”.

“We've done it in the rain, wind and dry.”

Connors remains almost boyishly enthusiastic about his music and the life that goes with it, despite all that national and overseas touring over a career which has now featured 16 albums all up.

Carried away with the moment, I take a little risk and tell him I thought of Jimmy Buffet when I heard some tracks from the album, which has now taken up semi-permanent residency in my car stereo.

Some of the songs seem to fit the same Buffet pleasure receptors in the country music brain, and it is hard not to picture rich red sunsets at beer o'clock on yachts all over the world.

“But,” I add, “I hear it was Kris Kristofferson who was the big influence.”

Well, I'm partly right apparently. It is just a slightly longer story than that.

“Kris Kristofferson was a very early influence on me (to the point of producing Connors' first album).

“I toured with him and he introduced me to John Prine's music. That introduced me to Steve Goodman and he introduced me to Jimmy Buffet.”

Jimmy Buffet classics like Banana Republic and Woman Goin' Crazy on Caroline St are Steve Goodman originals, he tells me.

Like all the best ballads, the songs on Speed of Life tend to tell stories, some of them true or partly so.

“The Mouth of the River is a direct rendering of historical incidents,” he said.

It certainly is. It tells a subtle story of sadness and guilt and is based on a massacre of Chinese and Aboriginals on the Palmer River more than a century ago.

“Mosquitoville is based on historic events that I extrapolate further. Soldiers is a political comment about the age old problem of fighting in a never-ending war for peace.

“The Mighty Joe Rollino is straight out of The New York Times."

As the words say, his death really was recorded in a handful of lines on Page 14.

It was a nice irony – at 104 years of age, the carnival performer billed as the strongest man in the world, bent pennies in his teeth and trained his body and his mind to overcome physical barriers like pain, weakness and, for many years, death itself.

He was still doing his five-mile morning walk, part of the intense discipline that kept him alive, when it actually caused his death. He was run over by a car.

“It was chance, not time, that got Joe in the end,” the song says.

The album came out of Queensland's summer of disaster and in a way it proves that there can be a good side to almost everything.

“We had all that weather and cyclones and floods," Connors says.

“Obviously touring was disrupted and we were doing special spirit or fundraising concerts, so that gave me the chance to write songs and go for it.

“It was a lovely album to write.

“It has a real flow to it and it gave me renewed confidence.”

And all that will be a big help as Connors faces up to an intense and different year ahead.

“We're doing some unusual events, like a trip to Norfolk Is for a country music festival.

“Then we're going as a touring group on a boat cruise across Europe, via canals, from Amsterdam to Budapest.

“It's a 17-day trip for country music fans who want to have a trip and interact with the performers.”

It is a new and fairly imaginative way to turn boats into performance venues and follows a successful country music Pacific cruise.

“They had a few good bands and it's now being organised to go to all kinds of places,” he said.

Feeling confident after my half-successful observation about Jimmy Buffet, I tell him music must be harder than it looks, because it looks pretty easy.

“People might say the same about journalism,” he comes back instantly, “having lunch until the end of the day and then working for about and hour and going home”.

I tell him that was the good old days.

“Everyone else's job looks easy,” he said, “until you see what goes on behind the scenes.”

And Graeme Connors would know all about that, having recently become involved in helping his son Adam, a chef, start up a new restaurant in Mackay, where he lives.

Gympie Times

Topics:  graeme connors, gympie music muster




Good luck to Gympie Year 12s sitting QCS exams

PRESSURE IS ON: Rhea Dhillon, Georgia Hayes (back), Kate McDonnell, Belarna Pertot, Ella Moro and Neha Dillon (front) were among the Year 12 students at St Patrick's College who enjoyed a special breakfast this morning before their first QCS exam.

Gympie Year 12s are in the middle of their QCS exams

Why tele has become a 'viper pit' of moral degradation

'PRIME TIME FODDER': Clare Verrall and Jono Pitman in a scene from the TV series Married At First Sight. Supplied by Channel 9.

Letter writer fears for society and the decline of moral standards

'Be helpful in future'

News

MAN warned to co-operate with police in future

Latest deals and offers

Willy Wonka star, Gene Wilder dead at 83

A still of Gene Wilder in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Social media has already lit up with tributes to the late actor.

Gladstone couple's spontaneous Gympie Muster wedding

Craig Oglesby and Brenda Strong celebrate their wedding at the Gympie Muster with punters in front of the Main Stage.

The Gympie Music Muster was the perfect place for a wedding.

Australian Survivor's Peter: I'm no quitter

Australian Survivor contestant Peter Fiegehen.

ILLNESS forces castaway's early exit from Samoa.

Diva's sister on soliciting charge

FILE - In this May 14, 2016 file photo, Mariah Carey attends the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, in New York. Carey will appear on the Oct. 5 episode of the Fox series, \"Empire,\" the network confirmed Monday at a TV critics bi-annual press tour. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

Mariah Carey's sister has been arrested on charges of prostitution.

Tom Cruise private jets his gym kit around the world

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise charters private to take his gym kit around the world

Movie behind Depp and Heard split to be released

Soon you'll be able to see the movie that ended the marriage

Palm Lake Resort set to move in to Coast with 276 villas

Palm Lake Group has been given approval by Sunshine Coast Council to build a 276-villa over 50s resort and 120-bed aged care facility at the intersection of Caloundra Rd and Caloundra Mooloolaba Rd in Little Mountain.

New facility planned for Caloundra Rd

Warning for unit investors with price plummet prediction

The warning signs are flashing for one real estate sector in 2017 despite others performing the best they have in years and it's not going to be pretty.

One real estate sector looks set for a rocky 2017

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m