A&E » Arts

The bluehouse raising the roof with songs and stories



Who: The bluehouse

Where: MY Place

When: Friday, Feb. 21, 8 p.m.

Imagine driving across North America in a pre-loved yellow taxi complete with checkered strips. Two of your best friends are squished in the back and the trunk is full of guitars. You paint your band name, the bluehouse, down the side and take off for the music-making stomping grounds of a bygone era. Nashville, Memphis, Houston and over to California. Up to Canada to take in the Rockies and a special stop in Whistler.

This is the life three Australian women, successful musicians with a string of sell-out shows, are experiencing as you read this very page. Samantha Harley, Jacqueline Walter and Bernadette Carroll have hit the highway and are on their way out west for the first time and you can bet there’ll be some hilarious tales of the trip to intersperse between songs from their insightful second album, Six Minutes of Breathable Air .

"We’ve got the coolest touring vehicle known to exist," gushed singer Harley. "It had the clappers driven out of it as a cop car, then for five years it was a cab, but now it’s ours to hoon all over the place and we’re loving it."

Harley’s excitement is signature bluehouse behaviour Audiences around the world are lining up to catch the cheeky jokes, the poppy folk songs and the sad and side-splitting banter that’s become their inspirational trademark.

The bluehouse is testament to trying something new. Three smart, funny and talented souls met at a pub in 1995. One was a school teacher turned waitress, the second was a windsurfer turned lecturer and the third was a body piercer turned real estate agent. A chance meeting, a good chuckle and a sing-a-long led to the end of their day jobs and the beginning of a magical journey that’s taken them all over the world. Combining their collective singing, song writing and story-telling talents, these girls have become one of the best selling indie acts in Australia and play to record crowds on the international folk and fringe festival circuit. Their unique winning formula of songs and stories was a natural progression.

"We started out just doing the music but we had a really crappy guitar that kept going out of tune, so we had to fill in time while we fixed it and our act just developed from there," said Harley.

"Because the three of us are such good mates, we’d just tell really personal stories, or funny anecdotes about the day’s events, like any girls do. You know, have a bit of a chat, no holds barred, the only difference being there’s an audience there. But the reactions we got were real. Tears one minute and hysterical laughter the next. The audience will cry and then bend over doubled just laughing their guts up. It’s amazing to witness and so we’ve kept going with it."

Harley, Walter and Carroll clock up 10 years together this month and show no signs of splitting.

"We all think it’s a miracle but we know there’s magic here and that’s the priority for us. When you think about it though, most overnight sensations have been together for 10 years. It’s the norm when it comes to cracking the market."

And the market they want to crack is North America.

"We’re so excited to be here. The audiences seem to love what we do and there’s so many people and places to play, it’s mind-boggling. It’s creating lots of interesting things for us."

That would include a third album, to be recorded in the States in March. In the meantime, it’s the taxi, the touring and perhaps a few snowboard lessons along the way.

Opening for the bluehouse will be The Whistler Singers with selections of traditional choral music from Hungary, Japan and Europe as featured on their debut CD. Tickets to the special Celebration 2010 event are $20 for adults.

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