Time And Place

Best known as frontman of The Whitlams, Australian music legend Tim Freedman is bringing his Aria chart topping alt- country project and new album to Bellingen Memorial Hall this month.

What: the whitlams black stump duo
Where: Bellingen Memorial Hall
When: 29/06/2024, 7:00pm

The Whitlams Black Stump formed in 2021 and sees Freedman and long-time Whitlams drummer Terepai Richmond joined by an A Team of roots musicians.

Their debut album Kookaburra showcases the new project with reworkings of some of the Whitlam’s best-known songs including No Aphrodisiac and Blow Up the Pokies, combined with new works infused with classic Americana, banjo, fiddles, and pedal steel guitar.

Freedman says the slide into country music was a relatively easy one and began on a solo tour in 2021 when he discovered one of his songs was being played on country radio stations out west in NSW.

“I started getting played on radio with a song, “Man about a Dog”, that I’d never intended to be country. I think just being out there in the rolling hills and playing small theaters made me realize that it would be a fun experiment and I had to scratch that itch.”

Self-described as a parochial songwriter, Freedman says clothing his stories in a country music coat felt like a natural progression.

“You can always sort of tell where an American country artist is from because of the towns that he’s name checking, “And I guess I always felt confident enough to be able to put my own territory into song and it was appreciated from the start. People love hearing about themselves and their own, and their places, from a stage.”

“So, you know I’ve written a song about East Timor straight after Dilly Massacre, a song about Sydney getting the Olympics straight after they were awarded in 1994. I wrote a song about poker machines in ‘99 when I saw them destroying the culture in Sydney, and I’ve written songs about falling in love in Melbourne as opposed to Sydney.”

“Country music does a similar thing. All the way back to well, the great bush ballads, which were about towns and cattle runs and musters and, you know, they were memorializing events, about time and place.

“I see myself as always having been in that tradition in a way. I’ve always seen myself as sort of folk pop artist.”

Perfect then that the album is named after and opens with a cackle from one of Australia’s most iconic birds. For Freedman, calling the album Kookaburra was a way to encapsulate what the new Whitlam’s project and album is about.

“It was a way to sum up that we’re proudly telling Australian stories. And that also we’re taking a little turn into traditional music.

“Plus I’ve always considered the kookaburra my totem. I stop what I’m doing whenever I hear them. I just think they’re magic. They’re like these dogs in the trees.”

The Whitlams Black Stump national tour has rolled out with different combinations of musicians in every town and city and the Bellingen show is a unique duo with Freedman and Ollie Thorpe on electric guitar, slide guitar and pedal steel.

“We can access a lot of different moods together, a lot more than if I was playing solo,” says Freedman.

“In particular the piano and pedal steel is a lovely combination. I play the piano a bit lower and Oli plays pedal steel up where a string section often is so we can really add some melodies that are there on the album and also ring out some emotion. The pedal steel is known as the crying machine; people hear it with the right lyric and they start crying.

“So, I’ll bring in a few of the poignant Whitlam songs about errant friends and do few more of the reflective songs ‘cause it suits that instrumentation beautifully.”

What: the whitlams black stump duo
Where: Bellingen Memorial Hall
When: 29/06/2024, 7:00pm