Merry Christmas: Top 7 musical moments from 2015

Dec 24, 2015 • Nick Payne

I’m sitting at home listening to a Christmas record on the turntable, enjoying the company of extended family, and taking a moment to reflect on 2015 and some of the amazing musical moments that I’ve experienced. My top 7 moments — I couldn’t narrow it down to 5 — are as follows.

Here they are…

1. First gig where we had to fly the band in to meet us – Cygnet Folk Festival

Cygnet Folk Festival. #cygnet #Tasmania #australia #doublebass #dearorphans #seeaustralia

A photo posted by Nick Payne (@orphan_nick) on

We kicked off the year playing at Cygnet Folk Festival. Lyn and I had spent the Boxing Day to New Years break camping in the Snowy Mountains after which we made our way down to Melbourne and caught the ferry over to Tassie. Carlyn happened to be down there already, and Jo and Paul flew in the day before the festival. Jo hung round for another week exploring and we took some extra days down there too.

Cygnet is a great festival and Tasmania is beautiful. It was great to spend the time down there, but equally great to know that the guys in the band enjoy playing so much that they’re prepared to travel. Thanks Jo, Paul and Carlyn!

2. Hanging out with Megan Cooper, The Rain, Jen Mize, and Andrew Swift at Late Night Alt in Tamworth

Because we’d been down in Tasmania I decided it was too much to try and get everyone to take more time off to get up to Tamworth. I only had one solo gig on so decided to keep it short and sharp, and head up by myself. Instead of spending a whole week up there I drove up for a 24 hour blitz – midday Friday to just after lunch Saturday.

Despite being alone and not there for long I felt more welcome at the Tamworth Country Music Festival than I ever have. After playing a couple of songs with our banjo player Ben Thomas at Karl Broadie’s gig I bumped into Jen Mize and Andrew Swift. They dragged me out for sushi and introduced me to Harmony James. I then ran into Kel, Greg and Ian from The Rain and sat and chatted with them over a cup of coffee. As I walked down Peel Street Megan Cooper yelled out across the crowd and we went up to Late Night Alt and soaked up the atmosphere. I took my only photo of the festival – a selfie!

Thanks guys. I had a great time and I value your openness and friendship.

3. Releasing Old Sydney Town to radio and making it to number 33 on the Country Track Charts

In April I stuck my neck out and asked Kris Katsanis from KrisKat Publicity to service my song Old Sydney Town to country music radio. This is the first song from the solo album I’m working on and I wasn’t sure how people would take it – it’s not mainstream, but it’s certainly Australian, and old-timey, and country. Much to my surprise it spent two weeks in the Country Track Charts and number 37 and then number 33. I also did nine radio interviews, and Paul and I drove to Gosford to play some songs on Saturday Night Country with Felicity Urquhart, which is broadcast nationally. I received many kind words about the song.

Thanks Kris. More new music is on it’s way!

4. Recording 5 songs in Melbourne with Lachlan Bryan and the Wildes

Ready to hit record on "Salvation Jane". #dearorphans #recording #cp70 #melbourne

A photo posted by Nick Payne (@orphan_nick) on

In August I headed down to Melbourne and spent two days in the upstairs room of a friend’s house, that we converted into a recording studio, and recorded five songs with members of The Wildes as my backing band. Helping out was Lachlan Bryan on electric piano (my Yamaha CP70 that I’d carted down from Sydney), Shaun Ryan on the P-bass, Damien Cafarella on drums and Andrew Wrigglesworth from The Weeping Willows on electric guitar.

I knew most of these gents beforehand, but hadn’t actually played with them. The experience was scary, and awesome. It pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I needed it to. It’s so exciting to create something new and special with people you haven’t worked with before and I can’t wait to release these tracks sometime in the new year – thanks guys!

5. Playing my first festival as me – Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival

In 2015 I made my first festival appearance as “Nick Payne”. Whilst I was somewhat nervous, I was fortunate that it was at Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival which is one of our all time favourite festivals in the country.

I played my first set with Ben Thomas on banjo and Paul Sun on double bass. It was a super-intimate affair and it was great to play the sadder stuff and the audience was super-responsive. The next day Jolyon Gray joined us on dobro and mandolin, along with Lyn on guitar and backing vocals. We cranked it up a notch and I got Lyn to sing a song as well.

I was worried that I couldn’t pull this off by myself, but I did. I’m so glad I tried this and I look forward to more solo shows next year when the album comes out.

6. Discovering a new festival – Majors Creek Festival

This little festival called Majors Creek Festival opened up for applications for 2015 and I put one in. Much to my surprise we were accepted first time and as a result myself, Paul Sun, Ben Thomas and Carlyn Chen headed down to play a couple of sets.

Majors Creek exceeded all expectations and was a really well run festival, with a dynamic and contemporary line-up. We especially enjoyed jamming until 2am with Den Hanrahan and the Rum Runners. I also got to spend 45 minutes in the local church listening to April Maze play completely acoustically and reverberate around that beautiful space.

7. Old Sydney Town appearing on two “Best tracks of 2015” lists

Finally, I was humbled to have Old Sydney Town appear on two “Best tracks of 2015” lists. The first was on Timber and Steel and the next day on Unpaved.

I was especially blown away by Gareth Evans words on Timber and Steel.

I’ve had the pleasure of watching Nick Payne workshopping his convict folk song at jam sessions and festivals over the past 18 months and what he’s managed to capture on tape is pretty bang on what you’ll get live. I love the old time feel of this track and the fine group of musicians he’s managed to amass to accompany him (including many members of his band Dear Orphans) elevate the song to another level. I love the “behind the music” style of the video as well – very nice.

Thanks Gareth and also Les Thomas for thinking of me.

Thanks so much to my band and everyone who has listened and provided support throughout the year. Have a great Christmas and New Years and hold tight for more new music next year.


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