Trio of True Believers - By Mike Gribble


The trio was thrown together at the suggestion of management but Tex Perkins, Don Walker and Charlie Owen have become the kingpins of modern urban blues. The trio draws on love, lifestyle and anguish, sharing vocal forays and song material, with their debut album Sad But True providing a soapbox for their individual styles.

Perkins' inimitable vocal capacity could take the band to the top in the same way it assisted the Cruel Sea.

Don Walker's acclaimed songwriting adds a solid keel and Danielle, his original version of Chisel's Janelle -meant for his daughter - reveals a sense of long-time yearning to put the song right.

And Charlie Owen is showered with praise from Perkins for being able to play any style on guitar, dobro and lap-steel guitar. He also was the main motivation for Perkins' entry to the band.

"The history of Don and myself is that we're almost polar opposites," says Perkins. "But someone came up with an idea which had something to do with me and something to do with Don. They suggested (FM radio station) Triple J get us together for these things called Sunday Sessions, acoustic recordings played on Sunday afternoons.

Don Walker, Charlie Owen and Tex Perkins ... their last stand.

"I knew Charlie had been playing with Don in Catfish and I'd always known Charlie to be a fantastic guitarist. I jumped at it and said 'I'll do it but get Charlie as well'. It's almost two years since we did the Triple J thing.

"That set the parameters of the whole thing, the fact that it was acoustic; it began simply and very easily with piano, acoustic guitar and vocals. And we were writing songs to suit that set-up.

"We're trying to capture a modern urban country blues kinda thing. I'm not too keen on the folky aspects of country music.

"I like the shrinking and expanding line-up. We can get down to three people and, at one stage, there were eight people - and they're all some of my favorite musicians in the world."

While both industry and public enthusiasm for the trio is riding high, Perkins says this tour may be the last.

"I don't see Tex, Don and Charlie playing again for quite a while," he says. "There are no plans to do more studio work but that's not to say it won't happen.

"Don's recorded another Catfish album and he'll be promoting that. I'll have another Cruel Sea album out towards the end of the year, early next year. And because of that situation, we probably won't do this for a long time, if ever again."

They can at least remain proud of the Sad But True album, which covers a good deal of ground, from the amusingly charming Postcard from Elvis to Walker's sympathetic Barlow and Chambers and Perkins' slow blues at the album's close, I Must Be Getting Soft.

Perkins' doubts over the future of the trio reflect his outlook for the future, which he says is wide open.

"When this trio project was presented to me, it was a complete surprise," he says. "I really like to leave myself open to just anything and I think that works for me.

"I could have said 'Nah, I don't wanna do that' and everybody would have missed out on the whole thing.

"I don't have anything specific I wanna do. I just really like to leave myself open to opportunities like this."

Tex, Don and Charlie will play at the Tivoli Hotel on September 3.

1994 The Guide (Advertiser) (Sept)



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