Jenny Mitchell | Credit: Dave Simpson/WireImage (via Getty)

The Best of Country Music at BIGSOUND 2022

You know on election day when a bunch of volunteers are handing out pamphlets instructing you to vote for their respective parties? Well, imagine that, but instead of pamphlets they’re all carrying instruments, and you’re about halfway to comprehending the inspired chaos that is BIGSOUND.

From 6th–9th September, the long-standing music conference and festival returned to Meanjin’s Fortitude Valley for the first time in three years. More than 180 bands and artists played across dozens of venues during the three-day marathon. Here are Music Feeds‘ highlights of BIGSOUND’s country programming.

BIGSOUND Embraces Country Music

Perhaps the biggest area of expansion for BIGSOUND 2022 was the inclusion of country music. Headed up by local luminary Fanny Lumsden – who also served on a panel discussing the genre’s national community at large – a wide selection of country musicians converged on The Brightside throughout Wednesday’s festivities to showcase the strength, versatility and passion of this often-overlooked corner of Australian music.

Perth’s Siobhan Cotchin caught eyes with her glitter-finish Telecaster and proceeded to catch ears and hearts with her tender and endearing songs. Train driver turned alt-country troubadour Bud Rokesky made the most of a gathering audience by showcasing his unique storytelling and distinctive baritone croon.

Sydney’s Babitha offered a sultry and refined take on the genre through a set of introspective and soothing country-rock. Country-pop darling Melanie Dyer emphasised wry charm and heart-on-sleeve innocence with little more than her voice, acoustic guitar and stomp box. “This is how I started out,” she commented at one point, acknowledging the lack of a backing band. “I can still make a big sound, even when it’s just me.”

Siobhan Cotchin – ‘Fill My Cup’

From across the ditch came Jenny Mitchell, and you couldn’t have picked a better representative for New Zealand country music. Mitchell’s smoky, honeyed vocals were accentuated by an extensive backing ensemble, including her two sisters and a cellist for good measure. The set closed with a performance of Mitchell’s anti-harassment ballad ‘Trouble Finds A Girl’, for which Lumsden joined in on backing vocals. It was one of the more goosebump-inducing moments of the whole week.

Mitchell’s tenderness was offset by the rough and tumble sound of Bones and Jones and Andy Golledge. The former are a ragtag sextet that routinely swap instruments and go all-in to sing their rousing choruses, making for a boot-scooting good time. The latter, meanwhile, has carved out a niche as Sydney’s king of alt-country, and it only takes half an hour with the man and his band to see exactly why that is.

Golledge’s music is boozy, rowdy and rocking, but simultaneously heartfelt and personal. Beyond the quasi-ironic yeehaw agenda, that’s really what country music is all about.

Jenny Mitchell – ‘Trouble Finds a Girl’

Further Reading

The Best Innovators of BIGSOUND 2022

The Best of Rock at BIGSOUND 2022

The Best of Pop at BIGSOUND 2022

The Best of Hip Hop at BIGSOUND 2022

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