It was a caring, sharing Sabbath in the shadows of the South Oakleigh bowling club as children played soccer on the greens at dusk with paternal guidance.

Inside at the plush Caravan Club music mecca Sydney singer-songwriter Imogen Clark shared her manager Jeremy Dylan, bassist James Gillard and drummer Luke Davidson with headliner Jim Lauderdale.

With green kitty caged for the evening the luxurious padded seating was a pleasant paradise for early birds and beaus as the velvet curtains parted for the arrival of Imogen and her trio.

The singer, just 24, thanked the mature age audience for their early arrival - especially those who boomeranged from the 6 th Out On The Weekend festival at the Williamstown Steamworks.

Clark opened with the apt Late Night Girl from her second album Collide - the story of pawning her guitar, busking and living on food scraps to earn her air fare home from Hollywood.

She credited her manager Jeremy, who also filmed most of her videos, including Late Night Girl.

Clark also revealed more about her recent return from a touring and song-writing sojourn in Europe and the U.S.

Imogen also thanked headliner Jim Lauderdale for inviting her to share the bill.

She didn't need to explain her European tour defied climate change activists by being Johnny Diesel powered.

It didn't seem likely that any fans tonight were likely to chain and glue each other to the carpet.

But she followed album title track Collide with Push Me Down and Left Behind before a new song that was inspired by being stranded in London without a U.S. visa or her guitar.

“I wrote this on a piano at a friend's place,” Imogen revealed before delivering The Making Of Me solo on her stage right piano.

Clark also detailed growing up performing in Sydney clubs at the age of 13.

“It was a rough area of western Sydney , sometimes there was just one dude on a poker machine,” Imogen explained, “it was nothing like being here tonight.”

Clark also revealed her parents grew up in the Blue Mountains.

“They met at Macquarie University and were married on the campus,” Clark explained.

“This next song was inspired by mum's poem about wading in shallow water and drowning in an ocean.”

It was a perfect entrée for High Tide - also on her album Collide .

“I'm going to send you out on a positive note,” she teased, “this final song is called Bastards.”

It seemed there was little likelihood of this audience would act out her song hook - “I don't let the bastards bring me down.”

This resonated with the front row audience - especially former Bluestone and New Dream bassist Nigel Thompson who was enlisted by our one-time TV show host and DJ Heather Rutherford as our celebrity photographer.


“When love's so good, it's bound to stay and hang around/ it's understood it never should let you down/ and when you trust someone that much, it's all you'll ever need/ your heart will let you know when it's for keeps.” - For Keeps - Jim Lauderdale-Logan Ledger-Melba Montgomery.

Dual Grammy winning North Carolina born singer-songwriter-TV and radio show host Jim Lauderdale needed little introduction to his congregation.

So the Presbyterian minister's son left it to his third song that followed Could We Get Any Closer , appropriate in this intimate venue, and Where The Sidewalk Ends.

“This is the eighth time I have been to Australia but the first time I headlined a tour,” Jim, 62, said to his parishioners who shared his demographic and taste in roots country music.

It began as a gentle jog through the ages before he announced his co-writer on new tune The Secrets Of The Pyramids was Logan Ledger who was produced by T-Bone Burnette.

“Here's one I got lucky with after George Jones and Patty Loveless recorded it,” was his introduction to You Don't Seem To Miss Me that segued into Divide And Conquer.

There was little danger of Jim needing a Biblical conquest as he credited Texan Mando Saenz as co-writer of his 32 nd album title track Like People From Another World.

“We're having so much fun here, you are like people from another world in the nicest way,” Jim said as he reached for a towel.

“You fill me with heat, you are the best music lovers anywhere.”

It was a roller coaster of hits with credits to all co-writers.

“Logan Ledger is just 26 years-old but he loves old country music, the good stuff,” Jim explained.

“One day we were writing together and I asked him ‘would you like to meet Melba Montgomery? I then said ‘would you like to write with her'? Her husband Jack had passed away. She and Jack worked in George Jones band but they got married and left. We called her and wrote For Keeps.”

Jim and his octet then played For Keeps from his new album before he credited John Leventhal for What You Don't Know , penned 20 years ago, with the second husband of Rosanne Cash.

Then it was back to his new album and a credit to Louisiana co-writer Sara Douga for I'll Forgive You If You Don't.

“Have you been to New Orleans ?” Lauderdale asked his audience as he reached for a towel to wipe away perspiration after promoter Peter Foley opened a side door for a little breeze.

“You are a really warm audience. I'm sweating up here to a bell-pepper or chili pepper.”

Well, the pedal steel may have slowed the tempo but not the warmth of this band now augmented by a local horn section - Gus Rigby and Liam McGurry.

They embellished Jim's co-write with Nick Lowe on Always On The Outside .

“I also wrote many songs with Robert Hunter from the Grateful Dead who passed away recently,” Jim added as he recalled recording with the North Mississippi All Stars for an entire album that included their next song 13 Clocks that preceded a soul sessions song before the horn section decamped.

Next it was time for a travel tale to match Dale Watson's Tiger Airways lost guitar saga after a congregation question about Jim's battered acoustic axe.

“When I travel I have to be careful with my guitar because of the airlines,” Jim joked.

“I must get a guitar case one day.”


“You think you know everything/ but you don't know lots of things/ I know because one time I was just like you/ if the words come out before you think you don't know of what you speak/ then you come off sounding like a fool.” Listen - Jim Lauderdale-Buddy Cannon.

This was an entrée to new song Listen , also accompanied by a video on Nu Country the week of his tour.

“I wrote this with Buddy Cannon who produced Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Reba McEntire,” Jim explained of the song whose video was filmed by his manager Jeremy Dylan in the Blue Mountains .

“Jeremy was 12 when I first met him and he was already smarter than me. I go to China once a year to study tai chi and martial arts.”

The singer and joyous band followed with audience singalong Headed For The Hills - another song penned with Hunter who went to God at 78 on September 23.

He then reached back to 1979 for We Shouldn't Be Doing This penned in his L.A. stint when he stayed at the Magic Hotel where a young music fan worked the front desk.

“He was working on the desk when I first stayed there and said he liked the music of George Jones,” Jim recalled.

“When I returned later I opened Rolling Stone Magazine and saw the former boy on the desk was Jeff Buckley.”

This was a salient sequencing for pedal steel drenched Jones homage The King Of Broken Hearts and a heart wrenching solo version of another Robert Hunter song.

“Not many people know that song,” Lauderdale explained.

Apparently one invisible guest did - it was the moment the shrill ring of a mobile phone arrived song interruptus.

It wasn't The Pope recruiting late comers for midnight mass or a Spicks & Specks guest on the Sabbath royal telephone.

Instead the singer recovered for a Beatles inspired I Love You More and Imogen Clark joining the star for a duet on Where The Wild Roses Grow with the return of the horn section.

It was a hard act to follow but Lauderdale and his turbo charged octet closed with their riveting climax - Halfway Down - an historic hit for another Kentucky Coalminer's Daughter Patty Loveless.

It was late Sunday evening coming down and fans joined Jim and Imogen at the merch desk for autographed souvenirs.


Photos - Nigel Thompson - Nigel Thompson Entertainment of Malvern.

Review – David Dawson

top / back to articles