By Robert Catto
I've been a fan of singer-songwriter Tami Neilson since I first saw her play, at a bluegrass society in a community hall / library in New Zealand in 2010. Which, I should add, is not one of my usual haunts!
I'd had a call from her sound engineer to say I should really come along, I'd enjoy the show, and to be honest I was a little skeptical - sure, she's a Canadian-New Zealander (like myself), but...bluegrass?
Fortunately, I ignored that, and went along.
Tami's not the kind of performer you can label so easily. Her music gets described as country, soul, rockabilly, retro - plus, apparently, bluegrass - and in a sense that's all true, but her songs are also new, original, and yet also, immediately, classic.
I read an interview where she explained it best - her songs are more about an era than a genre. A way of working, a style of recording, a tone that comes from a time when musicians worked together in a single room to make a record, rather than overdubbing every part until it's all perfectly controlled.
I saw Tami play several times after that first show. But, having left NZ in 2012 myself, I've been observing her career from afar as it exploded like, appropriately, Dynamite (the title of her 2014 album); so naturally, when she and her band were finally doing a show at a club here in Sydney, I booked the moment it went on sale...and am I ever glad I did.
A week after this show, Tami and her Hot Rockin' Band of Rhythm were off on her first tour of Europe - Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK - before returning to Canada in October, no doubt via her home in Auckland along the way.
I'm so pleased to see the rest of the world discovering a talent New Zealanders have known about for a few years now. I know how hard she's worked for this overnight success - it's well earned, and more than a little overdue.
It's about time the time caught up with her style, really.