Bound For Beechworth

by | 25 Jul, 2008

Southland heads east to Beechworth for the Kelly Country Pick

Submitted by Wendy Jackson for the Australian Bluegrass Blog


With over 160 years of bluegrass experience in their line-up, you’d think they’d be grumpy old has-beens fit only for back porch somewhere. Well you’re pretty darn right there because, that’s where they like it – being on the back porch playing more bluegrass more often. All the Southland players are from that finest old south land, South Australia, where the fields have turned brown, the dog has run away and the John Deere’s been sold.

Southland is:

Phil Parker – lead singer and guitarist. Phil has a clear and powerful vocal style, perfect for the great lyrics of this music. He has a commanding knowledge of harmony theory and technique, and ensures everyone knows their parts and remembers them! He can spot a missed note or harmony blooper from 50 paces. He’s been in a number of Adelaide bluegrass alliances, unions, collectives and ventures over the years, as well as a solo performer, and has an amazing repertoire, in fact some have styled him the Bio-fuel Bluegrass Jukebox. Phil brings a wealth of songs, experience, talent and surprise to the band – he’s always got a new song.

The Bridgland brothers – Geoff and John have been playing bluegrass since they mistakenly started the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys in their garage at home in 1968. Failing to learn from their error, there have been several bands over the years and occasionally several at once. Geoff plays 5 string banjo as straight as he can and is sometimes allowed to irritate the old time fiddle for a short while. He sings baritone harmony. John plays mandolin and sings the tenor harmony. John is also an accomplished guitar botherer and scribbler, producing a welter of lyrics and instrumentals. The brothers enjoyed the 50’s but haven’t grasped anything musically since the 60’s.

Paul Thompson – Paul plays second guitar and is equally at home with flatpick or the Scruggs thumb style and works with Phil to build that unstoppable wall of sound that instantly distinguishes Southland from the Rex Humbard Choir. He shares sparkling lead guitar breaks with the mandolin and 5 string. Paul is also a varnish menacing mandolin player and joins John Bridgland for twin mandolin instrumentals. He is also no stranger to the tenor and baritone parts and shares the wailing work. Having been involved in the music since the early 70’s, he too has realised the full potential of a life devoted to bluegrass in Australia, but is hanging on bravely.

John Hyland – John’s main instrument with Southland is the dobro, and he has a driving attack style with the steel. He is now being encouraged only to use it only on the dobro. He’s also a highly competent guitarist and 5 string player, and an animated, entertaining singer, in the lead role as well as with harmony. Multi-instrumentalist and multi-talented, John is at home with a variety of roots and bluegrass styles, ancient and modern. Like the rest of the band, John also comes from long term involvement in the bluegrass community and is also slaving away at fame and fortune in other working bands at the same time as Southland.

Southland presents bluegrass and old time country the best they know how, for boys who never grew up on a farm, never had an uncle named Pen and never lost all their money but a $2 bill. Well, not often anyways. And they love to share their music.