It was bittersweet driving to Lizotte’s last night. As I sat in my car outside the train station, waiting to collect my husband, I heard the news on the radio that “The Cubbyhouse” would close its doors in April. Long-term readers will know how much I adore this venue. A night out at Lizotte’s always feels like a treat. The food is amazing, the wine is good, the service friendly, and the entertainment top notch. I’ve been lucky enough to see artists like Jimmy Barnes, Amos Lee, Daryl Braithwaite, Richard Clapton, and Darren Percival there, in surroundings that are so beautifully intimate. The Newcastle arm will remain, and I’ll look forward to attending shows there, but I will miss this place terribly. How wonderful it was to have a venue which could attract such stellar talent and bring it to music lovers in such relaxed surrounds just 15 minutes from my home.

All those thoughts of how much I’d miss it ran through my head last night as I did my best to soak it all in. I savoured my wine, the crispy tempura prawn entrée, and the always impressive battered flathead and chunky chips. The combination of seafood and pinot grigio put me in a chilled space for the appearance of support act Simon Meli. I didn’t even mind that I was sitting behind a pole which prevented me taking decent photos. I was just excited to see this Voice alum stripped back with just an acoustic guitar, and performing the originals we didn’t get to experience on the show. I’m not sure if he’s improved since his time on the show or whether the TV didn’t do him justice, but his voice blew me away. There’s such a rich, warm quality to it. On The Voice I was impressed by his showmanship, but I didn’t feel he was one of the program’s strongest vocalists. After seeing what he can do just sitting on a stool, playing a guitar, I think perhaps I underestimated him. I loved his originals, but his closing cover of “Ramble On” was the highlight.

Then it was Thirsty Merc’s turn to take the stage. It’s been such a long time since I saw them play, and they took me on a real trip down memory lane with their set. It was so cool hearing how they breathed new life into their material. So often an acoustic show delivers the same songs with quieter instruments, but Thirsty Merc took the opportunity to play around and make those early songs something new. I won’t lie, it wasn’t always successful. I felt the slowed-down version of “My Completeness” was sleepy, with none of the spark of the original. But with great risk comes great reward. “Katie Q” was a bit of a filler track on the band’s first album, but the jazzier live version had me tapping my feet. “Emancipate Myself,” the song that turned me on to the band all those years ago, and “Build a Bridge” were also real highlights.

This show had me feeling nostalgic, but it was about so much more than rehashing the past. Thirsty Merc might be closing the door to the first ten years of their life, but the inventiveness they showed in this set prove there’s still plenty of life in this Aussie band.

Image source: Thirsty Merc Facebook page

Even grey skies and relentless rain couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm for catching Rai Thistlethwayte at Lizotte’s on Friday night. Catching the Thirsty Merc frontman solo was always going to be a rare treat, especially at my favourite venue.

With my belly full of salt and pepper squid and succulent pork belly I was ready to listen to the sweet sounds of local talent Jacob Pearson. I’d heard a lot of buzz about this youngster, and was thrilled to experience him first hand. His voice sat somewhere between Jeff Buckley and Howie Day, although his tunes reminded me more of John Mayer in his early coffee house days. Just like Mayer he’s a dab hand at the guitar, and the ukulele as well. He told us the way Rai Thistlewayte’s music had influenced him early in his career, and it reminded me how young he was. He seems much more seasoned than his years would suggest. He’s cute too; with the right exposure he could definitely be the next big thing. It’s a shame too many people chatted through his set because it was something special.

That feeling of witnessing something rare and precious continued as Rai took to the stage. He seemed to revel in these intimate surroundings, which were perfect for road testing new material and treating us to some of his favourite Thirsty Merc cuts. While singles were represented, the setting also gave Rai the opportunity to play his some of those album tracks that didn’t hit the charts. Personally I preferred these; I still don’t think I’m over the mass saturation of airplay “20 Good Reasons” received. The superb new tunes definitely have me excited about the next album. In this intimate setting with the hushed crowd I could focus on every lyric and every note and really take them in. Rai chatted easily with us, telling us about his recent songwriting trips and the tours he’s been taking. Lizotte’s facilitates that kind of show experience, the breaking down of the barrier between artist and audience. He encouraged us to get to our feet for a stomping new number and to sing along loudly with “In the Summertime.”

On leaving it was back to reality. The summery Thirsty Merc tune almost made me forget that The Coast is dark and gloomy at the moment. A good gig does that though. It takes you away from the real world and just lets you live with the music for a while. I think it’ll be hard to go back to those sweaty Thirsty Merc pub gigs after this one. The delicious food, comfy seats, and excellent music left me feeling positively pampered. What a way to ring in the weekend!

Image source: own photos

With their current single “Tommy & Krista” soaring into the iTunes top 5, Thirsty Merc have decided to extend their Rock Ya Socks Off tour.

Following a quick trip across the ditch, the Sydney band will rock its way around Oz through August, September, and October. It’s clear they’re not feeling any signs of fatigue as they’ve confirmed a massive 29 dates.

Tickets to the following shows go on sale tomorrow from the venues and usual outlets.

24 August 2011 – Whalers Hotel, Warrnambool
25 August 2011 – Ballarat Regent Multiplex, Ballarat
26 August 2011 – Gershwin Room, Esplanade Hotel, St Kilda
27 August 2011 – Live at Catalyst @ Bridgeway Hotel, Pooraka
28 August 2011 – Sandbar, Mildura
31 August 2011 – Sussex Inlet Tavern, Sussex Inlet
1 September 2011 – Marlin Hotel, Ulladulla
2 September 2011 – The Cube, Campbelltown
3 September 2011 – Wyong Leagues Club, Wyong
4 September 2011 – Panthers, Penrith
8 September 2011 – Hoey Moey, Coffs Harbour
9 September 2011 – Panthers, Port Macquarie
10 September 2011 – Club Forster, Forster
11 September 2011 – Caves Beachside, Caves Beach
14 September 2011 – High Road Hotel, Riverton
15 September 2011 – Grand Boulevard Tavern, Joondalop
16 September 2011 – Charles Hotel, North Perth
17 September 2011 – Latitude 28, Geraldton
18 September 2011 – The Ravenswood, Murray River
22 September 2011 – Sharkies, Cronulla
23 September 2011 – Metro Theatre, Sydney
24 September 2011 – SS&A, Albury
28 September 2011 – Surf Club, Noosa
29 September 2011 – Springfield Lake Hotel, Springfield Lakes
30 September 2011 – Beenleigh Tavern, Beenleigh
1 October 2011 – Coolangatta Hotel, Coolangatta
28 October 2011 – Young Services Club, Young
29 October 2011 – Mulwala Ski Club, Mulwala
30 October 2011 – Club Barham, Barham

Image used with permission from Anouk Van Meeuwen Publicity

The clip for Thirsty Merc’s song “All My Life” has taken out the gold award in the music video category at last weekend’s Australian Cinematographer’s Association Awards.

The clip was directed by Adrian Van de Velde in conjunction with director of photography David Knight. The duo has collaborated with Thirsty Merc’s lead singer Rai Thistlethwayte for the last five years, and with this award under their belt I guess those efforts have paid off.

If you haven’t seen this moving video, you can watch it below.

The annual Red Hot Summer tour will wind its way through regional Australia in January, and it’s shaping up to be a cracker.

Jimmy Barnes will headline the event with special guests Noiseworks, and Thirsty Merc. The McClymonts will also join the shows in Morwell and Mannum. I don’t blame them for not playing all the dates; can you imagine coping with all that testosterone from the blokey bands?

Acts of this calibre rarely get together on one bill, let alone in regional areas. If you’re in the vicinity you don’t want to miss these shows.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 05:  Jimmy Barnes of Cold Chisel performs during a Cold Chisel concert at ANZ Stadium on December 5, 2009 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

2 January 2011 – Warrnambool Racecourse, Warrnambool
6 January 2011 – Mulwala Water Ski Club, Mulwala
8 January 2011 – Mary Ann Reserve, Mannum
9 January 2011 – Riverside Soundshell, Mildura
15 January 2011 – Bonnie Doon Hotel, Bonnie Doon
16 January 2011 – Morning Star Estate, Mount Eliza
22 January 2011 – Eureka Stadium, Ballarat
23 January 2011 – Latrobe Sports and Events Grounds, Morwell
29 January 2011 – Cassegrain Wines, Port Macquarie

“Tommy and Krista” is one of my favourite cuts from Thirsty Merc’s third album Mousetrap Heart. I was thrilled to see it reaching a wider audience as a single, and now I’m thrilled all over again to see the band has created a film clip to match the song’s charm. I love the retro feel of this official music video. What about you?

Thirsty Merc are hitting the road again with a brand new tour to promote their brand new single “Tommy & Krista.”

The song is one of my favourite cuts from Mousetrap Heart with its piano pop hooks and fantastic lyrics. It’s clear that Australia agrees, with the song becoming the fifth most added on radio in its first week.

The tour will see the band play 24 shows all around the country this October and November, starting with dates in regional New South Wales. The lads are a well oiled machine at this point, having played some 300 dates together.
Tickets to the following shows go on sale from the venues today.

12 October 2010 – Soldiers Club, Leeton
13 October 2010 – Bended Elbow, Geelong
14 October 2010 – Mac’s Hotel, Melton
15 October 2010 – HQ, Adelaide
16 October 2010 – The Hi Fi Bar, Melbourne
20 October 2010 – RSL Club Resort, Dubbo
21 October 2010 – Hoey Moey, Coffs Harbour
22 October 2010 – Bowling Club, Yamba
23 October 2010 – Harrigans, Harrington Waters
24 October 2010 – Caves Beach Resort, Newcastle South
27 October 2010 – Players Bar, Mandurah
28 October 2010 – Settlers Tavern, Margaret River
29 October 2010 – Astor Theatre, Perth
30 October 2010 – Prince of Wales, Bunbury
3 November 2010 – Powerhouse, Toowoomba
4 November 2010 – Joes Waterhole, Eumundi
5 November 2010 – The Hi Fi, Brisbane
6 November 2010 – Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast
12 November 2010 – Wrest Point Showroom, Hobart
13 November 2010 – Saloon Bar, Launceston
17 November 2010 – ANU Bar, Canberra
18 November 2010 –Grand Hotel, Wollongong
19 November 2010 – Metro Theatre, Sydney (All Ages)
20 November 2010 – A Day In The Desert Festival, Kalgoorlie

Image source: The Harbour Agency

When Thirsty Merc burst onto the scene in 2003, I thought they were one of the most original local acts I’d heard in some time. But when they followed up their debut EP and self titled LP with a lackluster sophomore effort, Slideshows, I began to wonder whether we’d already seen their best.

It’s been three years since the release of Slideshows, and as I listened to their newie Mousetrap Heart today it seems the time away from the spotlight was a smart decision.

From the opening title track, this disc feels like the fresh Thirsty Merc of old. It’s got deep grooves and the quirky lyrics that endeared them to me all those years ago. This first single is a standout, but thankfully it’s not the only one. “Tommy and Krista” is a classic story song, with beautifully painted characters and a smile-inducing melody. “Bettie Page,” a nod to the vintage pinup model sees the boys rock out. It’s a welcome change of pace in this album of radio-friendly pop rock.

As any Thirsty Merc fan knows, the accessible nature of their music isn’t a criticism. Here Thirsty Merc have built on the promise they showed all those years ago; that originality is still there but it’s been given a bit of spit and polish by Los Angeles-based producer Matt Wallace. It’s not surprising to know he worked on Maroon 5’s Songs About Jane, as many of these songs would have sat nicely on that recording. There are a few missteps; “All My Life” is musically brilliant but contains lyrics so generic it’s hard to believe Thirsty Merc penned them, and the final two tracks seem sleepy and aimless. But no album is perfect. Thankfully though, with Mousetrap Heart, Thirsty Merc has come awfully close.

Mousetrap Heart hits all Aussie music stores today.

Image source: Thirsty Merc website

I recently brought you a live and acoustic take of Thirsty Merc’s new single “Mousetrap Heart.” Now the band has unleashed an official film clip for the song which gets its official release today.

To celebrate the band has announced a bunch of dates all around the country. It’s been far too long since I’ve seen the Thirsty Merc boys doing their thing live, so I might just have to get myself to one of these shows! Tickets for the following gigs are on sale now.

30 June 2010 – Southern Cross Club, Canberra
1 July 2010 – Waves, Wollongong
2 July 2010 – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
3 July 2010 – Metro Theatre, Sydney
7 July 2010 – Karova Lounge, Ballarat
8 July 2010 – Bended Elbow, Geelong
9 July 2010 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
10 July 2010 – The Governor Hindmarsh, Adelaide
14 July 2010 – Hoey Moey, Coffs Harbour
15 July 2010 – Northern Hotel, Byron Bay
16 July 2010 – Hi Fi Bar, Brisbane
17 July 2010 – Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast
18 July 2010 – Villa Noosa Hotel, Noosa
21 July 2010 – Prince Of Wales, Bunbury
22 July 2010 – Fly By Night Musicians Club, Bunbury
30 July 2010 – Hotel New York, Launceston
31 July 2010 – Republic Bar, Hobart

The album’s still some time away, but this video from Thirsty Merc’s forthcoming release Mousetrap Heart has me wanting more. The classic grooves and quirky lyrics of the title track seem like a bit of a return for the Aussie lads, although even in this raw mode I can tell we’re in for something a bit slicker. That should come as no surprise as the Aussies are currently in Los Angeles working with producer Matt Wallace, the man behind Maroon 5’s sound. I can definitely hear his influence in this hooky tune. More please!