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On the road with Harvey and Cole

Adam Harvey and Beccy Cole perform songs from their chart topping album, The Great Country Songbook Volume II, in a two and half hour show at the Saraton Theatre on Friday August 18. Tickets are on sale at the theatre or through its website.

When Adam Harvey answers his phone, he’s friendly straight off the bat; and he’s uttered the word ‘mate’ five times before the interview proper. His Aussie accent is more obvious than it is when he sings, but the deep register remains.
Discussing the compunction musicians feel to make music, he says, “I always say: ‘The stuff I do on stage, I do for nothing; I just get paid for the other 20 hours a day when away from home, travelling or whatever; but the music stuff you always do that for free.’
“That feeling is multiplied when you get to share it on stage with a really great friend. Beccy and I have been friends for 20 years. I think she’s the best live entertainer I’ve ever seen; so it’s just awesome to be on stage with her.”
Harvey and Beccy Cole were in Nowra, touring their album of duets, The Great Country Songbook Volume II, which has spent a week or two at the top of Australia’s country music chart. Harvey took the call as he prepared for the show’s sound check at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre.
The album is a sequel to 2013’s controversial, platinum-selling The Great Country Songbook, which Harvey recorded with Grafton favourite son Troy Cassar-Daley.
“Australian country music is turning itself inside out over claims by John ‘True Blue’ Williamson that it’s not Australian enough and has become way too American,” the Sydney Morning Herald reported in December 2013.
Williamson, who quit his 10-year tenure as president of the Country Music Association of Australia over the issue, aimed a good portion of his criticism at Harvey and Cassar-Daley’s album, which had been nominated for six Golden Guitars. Harvey and Cassar-Daley withdrew the album from the awards and issued a joint statement saying they were “concerned the controversy would fragment the country music community”.
“At the [2014] Tamworth Country Music Awards after party, I went up to John Williamson and shook his hand and said, ‘Mate, I’ve been wanting to thank you for so long: you gave us more publicity for that album than we could have ever bought’,” says Harvey.
“And with sales of around 100,000, it’s a testament to those old songs. It’s amazing how many people my age or 30 or 40 come up and say: ‘God, Dad used to brainwash us with these songs on his cassette player in the car.’”
Harvey says he’s not expecting any Golden Guitars from volume II; “I don’t think we’ll even nominate it, to be honest. I guess the only one we might be up for is the highest selling album, which is not judged … it just goes from the ARIA charts.
“I never recorded this thinking we’ll win lots of Golden Guitars … it’s just the music I love; it’s where my heart is, with real traditional country music, paying tribute to our heroes.”
In the promotional material for the album/tour, there’s an anecdote where Harvey’s wife, Kathy, is in tears, after he tells her about plans to record and tour the album with Beccy Cole. Kathy insists they will have to record her favourite song, Storms Never Last, to receive her blessing.
Harvey laughs heartily when asked about the context of the tears. “Because Kathy knows what a bad, bloody influence Beccy is [laughs]; she leads me astray.
“Beccy Cole, mate, I’ll tell you what: she’s good value. Mate, she loves a practical joke, she loves a party and, yeah, we have a great time on the road. Beccy and my wife have been best friends for years.
“It was funny, because in the early days when we toured together, the little old ladies would come up after the show and say, ‘I don’t know how your wife let’s you go on tour with Beccy Cole?’ And, of course, back then I was never allowed to tell anyone that my wife had more chance of picking up Beccy Cole than I ever did.”
Wearing her heart on her sleeve, Cole ‘came out’, as a gay woman, on ABC television’s Australian Story in 2012.