Bill Jackson has firmly established himself over the past few years as one of Australia’s finest Singer/Songwriters. ‘Steel & Bone’ was awarded Folk Alliance Australia ‘Radio Presenters Album of the Year’ in 2008 and his 2011 album ‘Jerilderie’ was enthusiastically received in the marketplace, so much so that the song ‘Something in Blue’ was covered and released on legendary Americana artist David Olney’s most recent album ‘When the Deal Goes Down’.
Jackson writes primarily with his brother Ross. The content is eclectic but never obvious – from love to war and everything in between. They also have that rare ability to entwine folklore into a folk/country/roots setting. Songs like ‘Kate’s Pretty Green Dress’, ‘Joe Byrne’, ‘Jerilderie’, ‘Honeymoon Gully’, CSS Shenandoah’ – extraordinary stories about ordinary people.
When reviewing ‘Jerilderie’ Slow Magazine said – ‘Jackson sings about relationships, Vietnam veterans, good food and good company – however it’s his relationship to the people and land in his life that shine through…from a man who should be a household name..’.
The Melbourne Folk Club wrote – ‘…we heard Bill for the first time at the Unpaved Sessions earlier in the year and he’s up there with Paul Kelly’.
Jackson tours exclusively with Pete Fidler, one of Australia’s finest musician’s. They have toured the US four times together. US website acousticmusic.com described Fidler as ‘ranking up there with a handful of people on my best of dobro/resonator players’ and of Jackson and Fidler being ‘joined at the hip’ in a ‘symbiotic musical relationship’. Bill Jackson has recently released ‘The Wayside Ballads Vol. 1 (August, 2015) and Vol. 2 (recorded in the US during Sept, 2015) will be released worldwide on May 2, 2016 through Laughing Outlaw Records.
The Wayside Ballads Vol. 2 – A Biographical Essay
A Biographical Essay by Shane Howard – April, 2016
I’m generalising of course but Australia doesn’t have much respect for folk music.
Australia doesn’t really have a folk tradition. Not like Ireland, England, Scotland, the rest of Europe or Asia or the Americas and Canada. It’s as if the roots of our Settler culture haven’t gone deep enough yet, in this ancient, Aboriginal landscape, for us to trust our own voice.
We respect other people’s folk music, but at home we consider it indifferently. We fall over ourselves for the inane and the banal that gets packaged and sold to us from the larger, commercial, cultural imperialists.
Real music is rock, or schmaltz or alternative or punk or classical and there’s a little room left over for folk, which is then relegated to generic labelling in with World, Roots and Blues. There are whole industries based around these genres, but folk is considered as if it were something that amateurs do on the weekends and not worthy of much attention or support. The ARIA awards, for example, have no folk category. “I close my eyes and I wonder if everything’s as hollow as it seems”, sings Bob Dylan on ‘Tryin’ To Get To Heaven Before They Close The Door’.
Bill Jackson is out there fighting the good fight and he’s been doing it for a long time. He’s a true folkie, in the Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez tradition, reminding us of our better selves, prompting our conscience and reminding us to give a damn about the unconscionable shit that’s happening in our world. Once the balladeers were the media, traveling from town to town, village to village, carrying the news. Bill’s comes from the same mould and is cut from the same cloth.
Jackson does this by marrying compelling melodies and fine musicianship to clever, witty, poignant lyrics that never underestimate the intelligence of his audience.
There is no iTunes category for the type of music Bill Jackson creates and performs. It’s not just folk, or country, or Americana, or blues, yet it contains elements of all those genres. But you’re not likely to hear Bill on mainstream radio anytime soon.
Undaunted, Bill continues on, touring and recording, garnering fans across the country, constantly winning new audiences in Australia, the USA and beyond. Of course he wants people to like his songs but he’s not about to sell himself short for a popularity contest. He’s coming from the grass roots, from the ground up, from the struggle of the 99%, who have to put up with the deceit and conceit of the kingdoms and corporations. His songs are gritty and real and come at you like a hammer, ringin’ in the mornin’. Take it or leave it, he’s telling it straight up.
by Shane Howard
Reviews & Press
Bill Jackson Taps into Roots Down Under Australian singer-songwriter Bill Jackson didn't set out to have a career in music, at least not at first. But it kept calling to him. And once he got the right guitar and the right people in his life, he answered that call and...read more
Thanks Steve Britt and Rhythms Magazine for this Review of 'The Wayside Ballads Vol...read more
An Australian artist who has recorded this album in Nashville with Thomm Jutz producing (and playing). It is an acoustic album but one that transcends easy categorisation as folk or bluegrass. It is indeed coming from that area but as drums are also featured adds a...read more
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/music-reviews-jake-bugg-monkees--ana-alcaide-edward-ii-way-out-west/news-story/4ee19ae6c49f596db4bbe10194bab189Bill Jackson’s fifth album was recorded last September in Nashville amid the buzz of the annual Americana...read more
While traditional folk music elements, including a dancing banjo, ooze out of the opening track Pink Jesus, this Melbourne singer songwriter soon shows his music to be more than that. Yes, there is a fiddle fiddling about in Ghost Of His Own and Rollin' Into Rosine...read more
“He did his time in Vietnam/ rolling on those rolling hills in pursuit of Uncle Sam/ and he sailed back home, with the song of the wind/ cried in his soul, blood of his kin/ he raised a family, chained to the wheel.” - Gippsland Boy - Bill Jackson/ Ross Jackson. The...read more
When an album opens with a song called 'Pink Jesus', one can presume that things will get interesting fairly quickly, and Bill Jackson lives up to his promise on this collection of eleven songs that incorporate musical and lyrical traditions of folk and country music....read more
This is a lively and welcome follow-up to Bill Jackson‘s The Wayside Ballads Vol 1 (2015), which was a colourful and insightful collection of tales about some larger-than-life personalities, many of whom have been unfortunately well forgotten. That release breathed...read more
Bill Jackson is either the most Americanized Aussie ever or the most Australianized American. To listen to his music he was raised either by dingoes or wolves, drives either a Holden or a Ford, eats either Vegemite or Southern Fried Chicken, votes--- well, both...read more
Melbourne-based, alt-country balladeer Bill Jackson has just released his 5th studio album The Wayside Ballads Volume 1. AM’s Greg Phillips sat down with Bill and album producer/guitarist Shannon Bourne to discuss how it all came together. Wasted on the wayside ...read more
Bill Jackson has staked a claim as a fine singer and songwriter (the latter with brother Ross) with a well-honed and unashamedly Australian sensibility and focus. His 2015 release The Wayside Ballads Vol.1 is a ruddy mix of tales of colourful, historical characters,...read more
Wayside – Noun – The side or edge of a road, way, path or highway; adjective – situated at or near the side of a road, way, path or highway Common idiom: fall by the wayside = to fail to continue, give up After listening to Bill Jackson’s The Wayside Ballads Vol...read more
Featuring input from a host of accomplished blues and roots players – including dobro, steel, and mandolin maestro Pete Fidler – Wayside Ballads reprises the thematic thrust of Jerilderie (2011), traversing some of the darker chapters and characters of Australian...read more
Bill Jackson's wandering ways have taken him from Melbourne to Memphis and just about everywhere in between, and he's now arrived at that fertile land where country, folk and rock warmly embrace over a few beers, the guitars come out, songs follow, and everybody has a...read more
Melbourne musician Bill Jackson takes us on a journey filled with the down and out, the lowdown and the downright unlucky with his latest release The Wayside Ballads, Vol. 1. Enlisting the help of fellow wayside travellersPete Fidler and Shannon Bourne,...read more
I've known Bill Jackson and his music for only a short time now, maybe between a year and two years. He's an Aussie, one of those storyteller singer/songwriters with a foot in folk and a foot in lore. To listen to his music, you might think he was from Austin or...read more