Andrew Palmer

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Gram Parsons was something of a musician’s musician, someone whose influence has far outlived his short and relatively underground career. Though he tragically died at the age of 26, he made the most of his limited time; by turning The Rolling Stones onto country music, by discovering Emmylou Harris, by recording with Elvis’ band and by essentially inventing the genre of Country Rock.

It’s no wonder then Brisbane singer songwriter, Andrew Palmer has had a 30-year-long love affair with Parsons music, ranging from his solo work, through to his work with The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers. Palmer has pulled together fellow friends, musicians and Parsons admirers, such as Phil Usher and Tim Kelly (pictured), to put together a live music tribute extravaganza on May 16th at The Junk Bar’s Skukum Lounge in Brisbane.

For people like Palmer, it’s not just the music that draws them to Parsons, it’s the man himself. As Palmer says, “I don’t think he ever sold out doing mainstream kind of music, his music has always been alternative. I felt akin to this music and I’ve managed to find people who had the same feeling about it”.

Palmer started out as a guitarist in The Colours, who was part of the ‘paisley’ scene in the early 80s, before moving onto blues, jazz and then in the past decade onto folk and country. In the last few years he has also become a vocalist. Palmer chuckles, “I’m one of these people that doesn’t like to stop in one genre”.

Although there is an element of Americana involved in Parsons fandom, Palmer is quick to point out that Australia has its own native scene as well.

“We had this country scene that started in the 70s with bands like The Dingoes and Country Radio, and they morphed into more mainstream kind of bands. A lot of the alt-country that happened in Australia was pretty much at an indie level. There’s always been an Australian country scene, it just sort of bubbles below the surface.”

He also mentions Tex Perkins, whose early years in Brisbane and then Sydney were heavily country influenced, saying, “He’s probably the pioneer of this kinda of stuff in this town”.

Brisbane continues to have a healthy scene, according to Palmer.

“Brisbane has a thriving music community, it always has really. There’s so many venues here, it’s unbelievable.”

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As a long time gigging musician, Palmer has had a front seat to the changes that have taken place in the industry. He notes that while it’s easier to get your music out to a global audience, there are less people who go out to see live music nowadays. However he is positive overall, saying, “I think with the event of new micro breweries and stuff, it just opens things up for entertainment. It’s not as lucrative but die hard music people will go. There are so many genres now and a lot less discrimination”.

You can’t help but thinks that Gram Parsons, who was a pioneer of combining genres, would approve.

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