As we hurtle towards the end of another year, it’s hard not to look back at all the things that have happened; even if events that transpired mere weeks ago feel like they took place on a different planet altogether.
Ben Leece has had a very interesting year; like many artists of the country persuasion – he found himself performing at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
“With [Leece’s old band] The Delta Lions we got into a cycle, so it was maybe five or six years in a row, booking the same venue” Leece explains. “The year the band broke up, we didn’t go, and we kind of fell out of the cycle”
Leece did eventually find a spot at the festival – performing an afternoon set inside a Hungry Jacks. Ironically, the fast food chain sits less than 100 meters from The Australian Country Music Hall Of Fame.
“I turned up and there was no one in there…except one other guy” Leece said. “So whoever was playing before us finished, and we both walked up to set up, and realised that this spot had been double booked.”
“There was this standoff of who was going to pull out, because it looked like a shitty gig [Laughs]. We ended up splitting the time spot; my capo broke first song, the power was cutting in and out, you could hear the kitchen over the top of the music. It was just the worst.”
Luckily, Leece’s luck was quick to turn around. A text from pervious collaborator Tori Forsyth saved the festival.
“Tori messaged me to say ‘hey, this show at the Welder’s Dog has sold out, do you want to come and open’” said Leece. “Just perfect timing. So Tori kind of saved it, and I played that show which was pretty cool.”
The Newcastle-based singer/songwriter has a much larger schedule for 2019’s Festival. He currently has six shows lined up; including taking part of the Take Me To Town showcase.
Take Me To Town is a 47-song compilation album released Post To Wire, Mother Hen Touring, and Stanley Records. Across three CDs; the compilation captures all aspects of the Australian music that falls under the banner of ‘Alt-Country’. It’s a far cry from Garth Brooks and Luke Combs – but still captures those indelible sounds that Country have built its stake on.
Leece’s song ‘Twenty One’ features on the compilation, and he has had the pleasure of playing many of the showcases created to launch this compilation. At the shows across Brisbane, Melbourne, Newcastle, and Sydney – Leece noticed one common theme.
“Everyone was really cool” Leece said. “Over the years, sometimes you don’t necessarily click with everyone on a bill, but with these shows; it was really cool hanging out with everyone.”
For the past three months, Leece has been touring around the country promoting his new album No Wonder The World Is Exhausted. Released by Stanley Records; it’s an essential listen for any fans of Country music. Leece shows his natural knack for honest and emotive songwriting. Paired with a brilliant backing band, and the production talents of Shane Nicholson, it’s one of the finest albums out of NSW this year.
This Thursday he starts to put a pin in his album tour, with his final Newcastle show of the year. Ben Leece & The Left Of The Dial will be taking the stage at The Wickham Park Hotel, supported by Boots Porter and his band. It’s a free entry show; featuring two extremely talented songwriters backed up by impressive bands.
Boots very generously worked on a couple of film clips we did for the record” Leece explains. “So I thought it would be fun to bring him in and do something away from that.”
“Sometimes you need to book a show together in order to catch up [Laughs].”