"I met him in a cell in New Orleans, I was down and out/ he looked at me to be the eyes of age/ as he spoke right out/ he talked of life, talked of life, he laughed, clicked his heels and stepped." - Mr Bojangles - Jerry Jeff Walker.

Adam Harvey was shocked when he saw the legendary Jerry Jeff Walker play a large Austin bar and not perform career song Mr Bojangles.

So when the singer-songwriter, born at Leopold near Geelong, returned from Texas he enlisted expatriate Nashville based guitarist Tommy Emmanuel to join him on a new version.

And, unlike the iconic Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's hit version song he had the right lyrics.

"In Jerry Jeff's book, Gypsy Songman, he says he gave this lady from the record company a demo and it laid in the band's car in the spare tyre well that was full of water and crap," Harvey, 34 and father of two sons, told Nu Country TV.

"When she asked the band to record the song they rummaged through the boot of car, found it and played it but got the lyrics wrong because of the crappy speakers. They quickly scribbled down the words and got a few of them wrong."

There was no such problem when Harvey and Emmanuel cut it for his duets disc Both Sides Now (Sony) - his eighth album.

"I was at Tommy's birthday party in Nashville having a drink," Harvey recalled.

"He said 'what are you up to?' I said 'I'm thinking of doing a duets album.' He said 'if you want me to play guitar on it let me know.' Twelve months later I made the call and he emailed me his guitar parts from Nashville."


He said his name Bojangles and he danced a lick across the cell/ he grabbed his pants for a better stance/ then he jumped so high he clicked his heels/ he let go a laugh, let go a laugh/ shook back his clothes all around/ Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles, dance." - Mr Bojangles - Jerry Jeff Walker.

Harvey, like former Geelong peer Adam Brand, harnessed roles on national TV shows to reach a wider audience way beyond a music genre ignored by the local commercial radio corporate chains.

"I met both Wendy Matthews and David Campbell on It Takes Two and they were natural duet partners for the album," Adam said.

"David Campbell wanted to do a Hank song and chose Move It On Over."

Harvey's strategy worked - he premiered the Campbell duet on Seven Network show Sunrise and his album debuted in the Top 20 on ARIA rock charts and is still the #1 country album.

The singer's makeover was complete when he scored a feature in Women's Weekly.

"I thought I was getting stale," Harvey explained.

"I had 10 or 12 songs written for another solo album but felt I needed to do something fresh."

The singer took inspiration from North Carolina born singing actor Randy Travis's duets discs Heroes & Friends.

"I saw him when he toured here and also on the George Jones 50th anniversary special concert DVD," Harvey recalled.

"He had everyone from George Jones to Clint Eastwood and Roy Rogers."

When Harvey and Troy Cassar-Daley recorded the Troy Seals penned Willie Nelson-Ray Charles hit Seven Spanish Angels they used a choir.

"Producer Rod McCormack hired a gospel choir in Sydney, the same choir that does the carols up there. We were downstairs in Sony building when the receptionist had a bunch of people in the foyer. I thought it was the choir. I said follow me down the hall and gave them sets of headphones, music charts and song lyrics. I said when 'you are ready we'll do a take.' A lady looked at me strangely, put her hand up and said 'we're here for the Damien Leith song competition. We won a free CD.' Luckily the real choir tuned up later."


Harvey is indebted to his tour as support for the legendary John Fogerty for the duet with Leo Sayer on a Creedence song.

"When I was doing the Fogerty tour I met Leo Sayer backstage at one of his gigs," Harvey revealed.

"I didn't realise he's a real diehard Creedence fan. He was out the back to meet John - a really nice guy. John used to come out and chat with us before the show. So Leo sang and played harmonica on Down On The Corner. It was a similar thing to Guy Sebastian. Guy invited me to see him at one of his concerts in Newcastle. I met Steve Cropper - someone gave him one of my albums. So we chatted about country. Steve said here's my phone number, come and see me in Nashville. He loves to sit around and talk country. Guy did a duet with me on Stuck In The Middle."

Other pop covers were Easy with Matthews, Have I Told You Lately with Renee Geyer and Bobby Womack song It's All Over Now with Shannon Noll.

The McClymonts joined Harvey on Joni Mitchell's title track, Beccy Cole on Johnny Cash hit Jackson and Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson on the Jimmie Rodgers classic In The Jailhouse Now.

Harvey plans a national summer tour with Cassar-Daley and Cole to showcase his disc.


But it was the filming of the video of the Roger Miller hit King Of The Road with Mallee Boy John Williamson that resonated with Harvey.

"We did the video in Oxford St in Sydney at the Supper Club," Harvey recalled.

"John said 'I'll go downstairs and get a beer.

He came straight back up and said 'there's blokes down there with their tongues in other bloke's ears. I said 'you never know John until you give it a go.' He got a bit of a shock"

But filming went on with no invasion by roadhouse Romeos. "The band were all in tuxedoes, so was the dance group and we were also in tuxes," Harvey explained.

It was a vast contrast to his support roles on tours by Texan Don Williams and superstars Brooks & Dunn and chart topper Dierks Bentley.

Harvey, winner of seven Golden Guitars, kicked the dew off the glass before and after the concerts on the eve of them quitting the road after almost 20 years together.

"There was obviously tension between the boys (Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn,)" Harvey revealed but no cash crisis.

"One of my best nights was their last night in Brisbane, sitting up in the bar of hotel and singing old Merle Haggard songs until 4 am. I don't know what they were drinking but it was $120 a round. Luckily I wasn't paying. Ronnie is one of the greatest country singers of all time. I sang Silver Wings and they all joined in."

Harvey will spend the next year promoting Both Sides Now and celebrating Geelong's second premiership in three years.

It was a joint celebration for Harvey and father Len, 64, subject of Way Too Fast from previous album I'm Doing Alright.

Len, a rigger at Alcoa in Geelong for more than 20 years, had a brush with death a few years ago.

Adam wrote the song after he spent a week visiting his father during his three-month stint in intensive care at Geelong Hospital when knee surgery led to septicaemia.

The Harvey patriarch survived to enjoy his retirement.

"Dad's on fire, he's still smoking 50 cigarettes a day but he has landscaped the front garden and came up and went fishing with me."


But Adam passed on another recording suggestion from Genie In The Bottle writing partner Kev Bloody Wilson.

"Kev, God bless him, wanted me to do Adam Harvey Sings Kev Bloody Wilson," Harvey revealed.

"People would be horrified but he wants to get together and write more songs."

But it's another comedic writer who collaborated with Adam for his next album of country originals.

"I've written some on my own and some with Matt Scullion," Harvey said of the writer who has landed five songs on Lee Kernaghan's ninth album Planet Country.

"Matt was living in Tamworth and called to say he had moved to the NSW Central Coast, just around the corner from me. He called and said he wanted to get together and write. I thought 'this will be a waste of time' but we clicked and wrote some good songs. Now he's over in America for three months trying to get a publishing deal."

Meanwhile Harvey is promoting Both Sides Now (Sony).

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