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Life on the road wasn't meant to be easy as
Joe Camilleri from the Black Sorrows tells DICKSON WOODS.
EltiHT weeks into a national tour
and Joe Camilleri is feeling fragile.
A virus, contracted two days earlier has sapped his energy, and the trjp down the mountains from Tamworth to Port Macquarie had produced three
All that, plus a lukewarm crowd the previous night, and a heckler with a strong desire to rearrange Camilieri's face, gave even more credence to Joe's belief that life on the road wasn't meant to be easy.
There were compensations though, like the 1959 Maton bass guitar that Joe had bought that morning at a music store in Tamworth. "It was just sitting there waiting for me," Camilleri said. "It had a price tag of $299 and I had $300 in my pocket - it was meant to be. And it's a
Camilleri uses his shopping excur sions as a form of relaxation when the music industry machinations become
"I used to play golf," he says, "but time always beat me, so now I shop. The Maton should sit well between my piano accordian salt and pepper shakers.
Joe Camilleri finds it difficult not to worry about the "crapola" associated with the release of a new album.
"I worry for my sake. I worry for the band's sake. There is a constant question mark hanging over my head. Can we chart? Will we chart? If we do chart, will vye chart too early? Or loo late? Are we popular? Are we too popular?"
This time around it is even more per sonal because Camilleri believes that the new album, Harley and Rose, is the best thing the Black Sorrows have done - which is saying a lot Considering the impact that the previous album, Hola On To Mi?, had when it was released in
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Joe Camilleri and the Black Sorrows.
Joe Camilleri: Fragile, handle with care
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FOR A staggering 52 weeks, the record
stayed in the Australian charts, clocking
sales of200,000 and spawning three hit singles.
Equally impressive were the overseas sales - largely in Europe and North America - of more than 150,000 albums.
When the Black Sorrows played to a packed audicnce at the MI DEM music industry con ference in Cannes, in January, the heavy weight crowd of international movcrs-and shakers showed their overwhelming approval with a spirited standing ovation.
"We had an advantage on our European tours because nobody knew who we were,"
"They had no idea that Joe Camilleri was oncc Jo Jo Zcp. To them, I'm a singer fronting a new band that plays good music.
"It's good for us because that way you know they like you because of the music and the performance, not for any other reason."
By his own admission, the Black Sorrows is very different to any outfit Joe Camilleri has fronted before - in its diversity, its adaptabil ity and its members capacity for hard work.
It is a band that gives vent to all of Camiller i's talents and creative leanings.
After some years of instability (they were performing for three years before they ven tured outside Melbourne) the, the Black Sor rows gelled conclusively in the months after the release of Hold On To Me.
The line-up - Camilleri, guitarist Wayne Burt and Jeff Burston (both ex-Falcons), plus drummer Peter Luscombe, bass player Rich ard Sega, violinist Jen Anderson and backing vocalists Vika and Linda Bell - has not changed since that time.
Camilleri has worked the touring situation
"The audience comes less for the music and more for the performance," he said. "Hopeful ly they have bought, or at least heard, the album, so they are there for the delivery.
"Live performance is the real thing, and to us the audience is the drug we crave."
The songs on Harley and Rose continue to examine themes raised on previous Black Sorrows's albums and through its perform
Life in the Heartlands, the simple joys and
heartbreaks of "normal" people living through the the best and worst of times.
"Our songs are about ordinary people. They're not 'special' or 'different', but they're no less dignified."
At the time of writing, Harley and Rose had sold 43,000, although Camilleri was unaware of this latest figure.
The album, itself, cost $250,000 to produce - a far cry from his independently made first album, which cost $ 1375.
"Everybody did it for nothing then. For a cup of coffee and a lot of fun - and less responsibility."
By the time the Black Sorrows get back home in late October they will have covered all of Australia, and Camilleri will have exactly seven days to go through his shopping before he heads off for a promotional tour of Europe and America - and Tamworth will be only a distant memory.
Joe Camilleri and the Black Sorrows will perform at the Canberra Labor Club on Sun day and at the Station Hotel, Jindabyne on Tuesday.