Don’t miss Troy Cassar-Daley performing at the Servies, touring with his latest album Freedom Ride.
Hi Troy. Tell us about your year so far …
Well, I look back in my photo gallery in my iPhone since the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January, and I sure have done a couple of miles. But I love the travel; I still don’t know why – I just like to move. I love my job and I’ve got itchy feet, so moving around and travelling is my perfect life. If I hadn’t been a country singer, I probably would have been a shearer’s cook or a youth worker.
Finally releasing my new album Freedom Ride in March has been a huge thrill; it’s always exciting to release an album. It’s so nice to have something new to share with everyone. I set myself a challenge to find 12 different stories, whether they were parts of my life or parts of other people’s. They become like 12 good friends, the songs, you know? You live with them like flat mates. I would describe my songwriting as leisurely, with a distinct focus on storytelling. Usually it’s a bit of scramble, but this time was really relaxed. I think country music, in general, is the heart of storytelling. You learn about someone’s life in one conversation and that is what a record is about, really.
A huge highlight for me this year was taking part in the 50th anniversary re-enactment of the Freedom Ride throughout regional NSW. I did a project on the original Freedom Ride at school, and everyone was picking people like Lionel Rose, Jimmy Little and Evonne Goolagong to do projects on. I decided to try and pick some sort of an event that was different. It was an amazing journey, just reading about the Freedom Ride. 30-odd years later, I got in touch with Rachael Perkins, Charles Perkins’ daughter, and she sent some beautiful bits and pieces for me to do some research on. I took all that stuff down to Paul Kelly’s house in Melbourne, and we sat there for a few hours scratching through documents and paper clippings and watching this little DVD, and then we wrote the song Freedom Ride.
For Paul and I, it was wonderful to then spend 10 days running through Walgett, Dubbo, Kempsey and right over to Moree on the 2015 Freedom Ride re-enactment.
The original freedom riders whom I met on the bus were fascinating people that still have a lot of purpose in their lives and had some amazing stories. I think it’s really important to just know that you still have an open mind [at the age of 45] to learn things on your way through life.
This time as you pass through our area with your latest tour, you’re visiting some smaller towns, like Armidale etc. What do you love most about touring regional Australia?
Firstly, the people appreciate us being in their towns, and it makes me want to give them the best show I can. Secondly, the places I visit have this charm, unlike big cities; it’s a true sense of community, and that’s special. Sometimes it might take us five or six years to get back to some towns again. We’ve got a big country to cover, and I always want to get back to the more remote areas in particular that don’t usually get a show. I live for it, and when you can get a day off in a town such as Armidale, I have had some of the best times.
And you’re known to come out after the show, give some of your time and have a chat to the audience too, which is fantastic. Tell us some stories about these moments? What advice would you give to local aspiring musicians?
These days we do small meet and greets before the show that are really enjoyable, then I put all my energy into my show! I’m always happy to meet my fans and have a yarn; people have such great stories to share. If there were one bit of advice I would give to younger artists, it would be to be prepared to play anywhere at anytime! A gig is a gig, and I did so many over my time. Coming through the ranks, I was sort of ready for anything that would give me experience. It’s an amazing job when you finally make a living out of it.
This year’s tour is called Freedom Ride. What can fans expect from this concert?
I love getting out of the road to play live. Heading out to play songs from a new album is both exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. I can’t wait to share the new songs with everyone, but at the same time I want to bring some of the older songs to the front of the list to be heard again. Call it a trip down memory lane and a new musical adventure all in the same show. We have changed it up a bit, so people are in for some surprises. An instrumental here and there which breaks it all up a bit and also some stellar background vision, which adds a real dimension to the show. My band are terrific musical and “on the road” companions.
Plans for the future?
To be the best dad for my teenagers Clay and Jem and the best husband to my girl, Laurel. My family is very important to me; we spend as much time together as we can, and we will continue to do so. The kids and Laurel recorded songs with me for the album and also performed with me in Tamworth this year. I hope we can do more of that!