Benny Walker is no stranger to Bendigo. He’s featured at most Bendigo Blues & Roots Festivals so far and has played at so many of our local venues over the years he probably knows them as well as a heavy drinker or taxi driver – he gets around so much.
After an uncharacteristically long absence from Bendigo, the Indigenous troubadour from Echuca will be back here on Saturday, July, 23 to launch his new single, Oh No You Don’t.
He’s been far from idle though. “Since the Through the Forest tour I’ve been playing a bunch of shows as well as writing and recording. I’ve done a full lap of the country as well as a month touring Canada in August of last year.”
Oh No You Don’t tackles mental illness – not something we hear about much in the tunes we hear on daytime radio. “The song is written as a triumph over, and a big “F you” to mental illness. Feeling that you’ve learnt to, for the most part, be one step ahead of anxiety, knowing the familiar warning signs and using your own experience to deal with it.”
Oh No You Don’t has a more contemporary soul vibe to Walker’s trademark blues and roots sound. It was recorded at Way Of The Eagle studios in Melbourne with ARIA Award winning producer Jan Skubiszewski, who has previously produced The Cat Empire and John Butler Trio. It’s an interesting addition to Walker’s growing catalogue after two EPs and the three LPs including the lauded Sinners and Saints and last year’s Through the Forest.
Not surprisingly, he’s working on a new album. “I don’t have a title yet but hoping to have it out by the end of October.”
And he explains what he likes about playing in Bendigo. “The people. It’s as easy as that. Since the beginning of the Bendigo Blues & Roots Music Festival, I’ve watched the music scene and the crowds grow steadily. It’s been a real joy to watch.”
Benny Walker’s love of, and involvement with, music goes way back. “My dad is a guitar player and his father, Archie was a guitar then pedal steel player. My mum’s dad, was a jazz saxophone player. I grew up with jazz, country and blues influences mainly. My parents put me into piano lessons at the age of eight. Two years later Dad showed me a couple of chords on his guitar and I was hooked.”
He plays at The Old Church On The Hill on Saturday, July, 23. The acoustics in this wonderful old building are just perfect for Benny Walker live. He’s supported by Morgan Bain and Albert ‘Skip’ Skipper.