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The Traveling Wilburys Sessions set to rock the FAC

Monday 25 January 2021

Sam Smee, The Traveling Wilburys Sessions

We recently chatted with music director Sam See to find out more about his inspiration to create The Traveling Wilburys Sessions as tribute to the Wilburys and its superstar members.

The Traveling Wilburys was a true supergroup. Combining giants of popular music – George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne – the band formed in 1988 after a discussion between Harrison and Lynne led to a Bonus Track on a Harrison’s next European single, which led to a much-anticipated full album.

Now their songs have been re-imagined for Australian concert audiences, with a special performance at Frankston Arts Centre on Friday 19 February.

Why are The Traveling Wilburys important to you?

In 1988, a friend at WEA records sent me an unlabelled cassette, if you remember those, of this new record from the US. I certainly recognised some of the voices but at first listen, I thought it must be imitators. It turned out to be the Traveling Wilburys. My daughter had just been born and we were sleepless. In the first place, the record seemed to soothe her and secondly, I loved how joyful it was and how it drew from all the music I love, rockabilly, country and rock. There are some cracking songs on it, which still sound fresh today.

 

How long has your band been playing together?

The promoter of this show was my manager in the early 70s. He came to see our act Field, See & Mason late last year and called me the next day to ask if we would do this Traveling Wilburys show. I was intrigued by the idea because they never played live and I thought we could put our own slant on their sound while still honouring the original.

 

What should audiences expect from The Traveling Wilburys Sessions?

As it says on the tin, the show is called the Wilburys Sessions, so we draw heavily from their records, particularly the first, which was recorded while Roy Orbison was still alive. The Wilburys was a band of friends assembled almost by chance and we have also added a number of their own songs to showcase their remarkable contribution to popular music. 

 

Have you played in Frankston or on the Peninsula before?

James Black, our keyboard player just had a reminder of his link to Frankston when he received a copy of Mondo Rock’s Summer of ‘81 album recorded live at the Pier hotel in Frankston. Most of us played at the Pier regularly until the disco curse saw it close down as a live venue. A few of us grew up in Bayside.

 

What is your personal highlight of the show?

The band has a great groove and my favourite parts of the show are the harmony vocals. Field, See & Mason are well-known for our harmony blend. We have been singing together on and off for many years, so it’s a bit like pulling on an old boot! Adding the extra vocals the other Wilbury players provide has been a joy and I know audiences will feel that.

 

What did you miss most about not being able to perform to a live audience during recent restrictions? 

Playing to a live audience is very much part of our DNA, so the adventures of 2020 were hard to take. We did a bit of live streaming and YouTube clips - obviously a very different experience. I wrote a song about whacky conspiracy theories being promoted by some people: “5G” about the conspiracy tied up with the phone system and the virus, and “Retail Therapy” about not being able to go shopping during lockdown.

 

Do you have a story of the best/funniest /unusual audience reaction / encounter you have had from a past show?

Last year we were on the Rock the Boat music cruise and I was sitting in with an old friend Tim Gaze. I hadn’t had much to drink, honestly, but the boat rocked and I rolled and I fell off the side of the stage. Warren Morgan, legendary pianist and wit said, “Tell Sam not to worry, it’s just a stage he’s going through.”

Lindsay Field, Glyn Mason and Sam See - The Traveling Wilburys Sessions

 

A little more about the band:

Sam See (music director, vocals and lead guitar) wrote “Reasons” which John Farnham still performs in every show he does. He has also worked as music director on Steve Vizard’s Tonight Live, for John Farnham and Brian Cadd and as an original member of Sherbet and Flying Circus.

James Black (keyboards and guitar) was music director on RocKwiz, and is known for his contribution to Mondo Rock and the Black Sorrows.

Lindsay Field (vocals and guitar) and Angus Burchall (drums) will be familiar to anyone who has seen the John Farnham band since the release of Whispering Jack.

Glyn Mason (vocals and guitar) is a legendary voice among musicians since his contribution to bands such as Ariel, Chain and lately, Field, See & Mason.

Paul Cartwright (bass) is carving out an impressive resumé as a first call player with Glenn Shorrock and Brian Cadd.

Book tickets now to see The Traveling Wilburys Sessions at Frankston Arts Centre on Friday 19 February, 7.30pm.

 

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