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Jim Conway – Harmonica

Renowned blues musician Jim Conway is an extremely adept harmonica player. His unique style is familiar to blues fans as well as jazz and country music listeners.

Jim’s storied career featured Australia-wide tours with US blues performer Brownie McGhee, The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, The Backsliders, Jim Conway’s Big Wheel and even Circus Oz.

Musical History

Mr Conway played with the Conway Brother’s Hiccups Orchestra during the mid 1980’s. They toured Great Britain, playing at festivals including Edinburgh, Capitol Music Festival and Newcastle. In 1988, the Conway Brothers performed at more big festivals: Houston International, World Expo and Perth.

Jim teamed up with the Backsliders towards the end of 1988, touring across Australia at festivals including Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Womad, East Coast Blues and Gold Coast’s Jazz and Blues Festival.

Jim quit the Backsliders in 2006 to concentrate on his own project band, Jim Conway’s Big Wheel. The Aussie group were already an established force on the Australian music scene since they began recording and doing gigs in 2002.

While departing from the Backsliders was a big call for Jim, after almost 20 years, it also led to new musical relationships. The Brewster Brothers, who were the driving force behind hits of the Angels, were a notable music collab for Jim.

Arts Contributions and Recognition

As a session musician, the harmonica legend helped artists that include Shane Howard from the Goanna Band, Men at Work’s Colin Hay, Jon Lord from Deep Purple, Slim Dusty, Anne Kirkpatrick and Pat Drummond.

Jim has also been behind the music for cinema and radio projects. Examples include the telemovie “The Riddle of the Stinson” and the comedy “The Honourable Wally Norman”. Production credits include Big Wheel’s “Little Story” and co-producing two Backsliders albums: Hellbound and Sitting On a Million.

A doco on his contribution to music in Australia was televised on SBS in 2000. Jim received the Centenary Medal to acknowledge his immense contribution to the Arts and Music.

A photo of Jim by Greg Weight won the 2003 Prize for Photographic Portraiture. As well, a painting of Jim by Greg Warburton featured in the 2006 final for the Archibald Prize.

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Bands

Best Oz Rock Bands of the Early 2000s

When it comes to Australian bands from 2000 to 2010 that genuinely rocked the music scene, there are plenty to consider. Indeed, from Silverchair to Wolfmother to Grinspoon, these Oz bands have brought some tremendous Australian rock music to those living “down under” as well as rock fans from over the world. Groups like the Bee Gees, The Easybeats, Men At Work did pave the way, but these bands have held their own.

Powderfinger

Powderfinger

Powderfinger is an Australian band from Brisbane. The original lineup first played in 1989. The group consists of Bernard Fanning (vocals), John Collins (bass), Ian Haug (guitar), Darren Middleton (guitar) and Jon Coghill (drums).

Collins and Haug attended the University of Queensland, where Haug met Bernard Fanning in an economics class in 1990. The two discovered they had similar interests in music and were both singers. Fanning took over lead vocals from Haug in the embryonic version of band and also played guitar and harmonica. Jon Coghill – another UQ university student – became the new drummer towards the end of 1990.

Powderfinger has won numerous ARIA Music Awards — ranking only second to Silverchair in the number of these awards. Powderfinger has produced seven studio albums. These include:

  • Parables for Wooden Ears (1994)
  • Double Allergic (1996)
  • Internationalist (1998)
  • Odyssey Number Five (2000)
  • Vulture Street (2003)
  • Dream Days at the Hotel Existence (2007)
  • Golden Rule (2009)

Some of the big hits from Powderfinger include “My Happiness” and “These Days.” These rock songs were labeled No. 1 on Triple J’s Hottest 100 in 1999-2000.

Fanning has enjoyed solo success during and post being with the band, with a style drawing from jazz and folk to produce a Christian music sound but generally without the accompanying spiritual lyrics.

Jet

Jet

For an Oz rocker band like Jet, selling over million albums says a lot about their ability to bring a flavour of rock music that is great for fans who enjoy garage rock, hard rock, alternative rock and indie rock. Hit songs by Jet like, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” “Rollover DJ,” “Cold Hard Bitch,” “She’s A Genius” and “Seventeen” are tunes that charted in the US, UK, Canada and Australia.

And while Jet took a slight hiatus from 2013 to 2016, their rock music was quite impactful from 2001 to 2013. Jet’s studio albums, Get Born (2003), Shine On (2006) and Shaka Rock (2009) are biggies from the band. And brothers Nic Cester (vocals, rhythm guitar, piano, tambourine) and Chris Cester (drums, percussion, vocals, guitar) have kept the rocking tunes going from those early years. And Cameron Muncey (lead guitar, vocals) and Mark Wilson (bass guitar, keyboards, harmonica, backing vocals) have been there from the beginning.

Grinspoon

Grinspoon

For these blokes from Lismore, New South Wales, rocking out to bands like Nirvana was not uncommon considering that they got their start in the age of alternative rock, post-grunge, and indie rock. And Grinspoon’s own unique sound of Australian rock music tended to contain elements of that distinct, ’90s genre. Indeed, in 1994, Pat Davern (guitar), Joe Hansen (bass guitar), Phil Jamieson (vocals, guitar) and Kristian Hopes (drums) put together a band that would go on to put out seven studio albums. These include:

  • Guide to Better Living (1997)
  • Easy (1999)
  • New Detention (2002)
  • Thrills, Kills & Sunday Pills (2004)
  • Alibis & Other Lies (2007)
  • Six to Midnight (2009)
  • Black Rabbits (2012)

When it comes to awards and recognition, Grinspoon won two ARIA Music Awards. And Grinspoon was also recognized as the Breakthrough Artist for their Album, Guide to Better Living and also “Chemical Heart,” which scored the “Single of the Year” in 2002. To be succinct: Grinspoon rocked Australia.

Silverchair

Silverchair

Silverchair’s sound was a breath of fresh air when they hit the scene with their first album, Frogstomp (1995). Additionally, this rock trio were still in their teens when their brought great fanfare for lovers of alternative rock.

As for Silverchair’s hit’s, “Straight Lines” was ARIA’s Song of the Year in 2007. And other hits like “Emotion Sickness,” “Ana’s Song (Open Fire),” got plenty of attention from music fans and media alike for their reflections of personal aspects in the songs.

Regarding Silverchair’s other albums, Freak Show (1997), Neon Ballroom (1999), Diorama (2002) and Young Modern (2007) provided new sounds and styles along the way.

For a three-piece group of Oz rockers consisting of Ben Gillies (drums), Chris Joannou (bass) and Daniel Johns (lead vocals/guitar) like Silverchair, being one of Australia’s most popular bands, Silverchair has held records for most wins of the ARIA Music Award. While the group has been on a hiatus since 2011, their awards speak volumes about Silverchair’s ability to rock!

Wolfmother

Wolfmother

When it comes to Australian rock bands that are solely from the 2000s to the present Wolfmother is one of them. While the band put out their first studio album titled, Wolfmother in 2005, Andrew Stockdale, Chris Ross, and Myles Heskett were the original trio that played together before officially playing as Wolfmother in 2004.

Their current lineup, however, includes Andrew Stockdale (vocals, guitar), Brad Heald (bass), Hamish Rosser (drums) and Leo Munoz (keyboards, touring only). Wolfmother blends high-pitched vocals of Stockdale with a fast, grinding sound and Jimi Hendrix styled riffs on songs like “California Queen,” which is on their album Cosmic Egg (2009).

Considered a band that embraces elements of Hard rock, blues, rock stoner, rock neo-psychedelia and also heavy metal, this Australian band provides a refreshing wave to the era when MC5, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, Queensryche and Rush reigned supreme with songs like “Joker and the Thief,” “Dimension” and “In the Morning,”

While their other albums, New Crown (2014) and Victorious (2016) brought consistency to their body of musical work, Wolfmother brings a distinct sound from where their origins lie (Sydney).