November 1, 2021

Justine Clarke takes country music road trip on ABC TV series

Justine Clarke takes country music road trip on ABC TV series

Going Country, Justine Clarke’s road trip in a 1959 FC Holden into the heart of Australian country music, has its premiere on ABC TV and ABC iView tomorrow at 8:30pm.

Over two parts, Clarke travels to locations which inspired the songs and the lives of artists.

Directed by Kriv Stenders (Slim and I, Red Dog, The Go-Betweens: Right Here), the series has appearances by Paul Kelly, Kasey Chambers, Briggs, Troy Cassar-Daley and Fanny Lumsden, amongst others.

“There’s a personal side of this story,” Clarke revealed. “My family is musical. My mum was a dancer, my dad was a singer. They met performing. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember.

“I love all kinds of music. I even sang American country in my first band, but Australian country… it feels like uncharted territory.”

Although better known for jazz and children’s music, the first singer who made an impression on her was US country performer Loretta Lynn.

It was the way Lynn sang honestly about her poverty-stricken childhood as a coalminer’s daughter and the way she escaped that cycle.

In the 1990s, Clarke performed in bands including the country and western The Honky Tonk Angels.

There was also the punk band The White Trash Mamas and the avant-garde Cardboard Box Man and a stint as a backing vocalist in Sydney band Automatic Cherry, which also featured The Cruel Sea guitarist James Cruickshank.

In 2014 she and Tex Perkins did shows paying tribute to Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra.

In 2016, she and Josh Pyke made ‘Words Make The World Go Around’ to raise funds for the work of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

On Going Country she travels to Broken Hill, Silverton, Capertee Valley, Tooma, the Colo River, Blackheath, the Central Coast, Kempsey, Tamworth, Little River, Melbourne and Sydney.

She not only learns why country music was a precursor to punk in its rebelliousness and appeal to the young, but also why its major role in reflecting the resilience and spirit of Aussies.

It also shows why it’s as much a voice to First Australians as hip hop.

One highlight of Going Country is Troy Cassar-Daley and Briggs reworking the former’s ‘Shadows On The Hill’ about a massacre on a river in Gumbaynggirr country.

Emily Wurramara tackles stolen generation anthem ‘My Brown Skin Baby They Take Him Away’ written in 1964 by Bob Randall of the Yankunytjatjara people.

He wrote while he was flying over a remote part of the Northern Territory. He was taken from his mother at age seven and she died from grief.