Wes Carr has perfect teeth. I know this because I saw them from the front row last Saturday night. Teeth were very much on my mind that day; it had begun in a dentist’s chair at 8.30am.
Wes’s makeshift stage was in my friends’ garage in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville (they call it a ‘shed’). Calico covered the walls and fairy lights winked from underneath the fabric. This smallish, affable guy with his guitar and harmonica was the winner of the 6th series of Australian Idol, in 2008. We lucky invited guests were treated to a night of mighty fine singing interspersed with anecdotes and reflections from this very erudite thirty two year old.
Now Wes is his own manager, having relinquished his association with Australian Idol and the Sony Music Australia juggernaut in November 2011. He performs low key backyard concerts when not performing at advertised gigs. When Wes commenced his ‘no frills’ style of entertainment he was soon inundated with requests. He told me six thousand at last count. He calls them ‘Tea light Tales’. See below from his website:
“Tea light Tales for me as an artist is such an incredible experience. To be able to share my music with fans directly without the constraints and barriers that traditional venues can sometimes have. It’s breaking down the wall between the audience and artist that is what makes the house concerts so special. The bonus for me is that I get to meet so many incredible people along the way across the globe. The theme for the nights is that you provide tea lights and I’ll provide the tales!”
My friends and hosts last weekend first saw Wes perform at Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland. http://www.woodfordfolkfestival.com/
Since 2012 Wes has been recording under the moniker Buffalo Tales. Wes’s musical style is described thus on his website:
“The incarnation of Buffalo Tales sees him return to his organic singer/songwriter roots and is an intimate and natural fit with folk and alt (sic) country overtones that lets his music speak for itself.”
He lists Michael Jackson and George Harrison (his favourite Beatle) amongst his inspirations. He has taught his son Willow (2) to moonwalk already.
It was a perfect night for a back yard gig. The cool spring air carried a scent of jasmine with it. The streetlight behind the shed stood in as a halo for our solitary performer. Planes passed randomly way above our heads, a reminder that the airport and its industry were not far away. And fruit bats cast their devilish black silhouettes over the darkening sky.
I kept Wes’s mug of green tea full during his performance. It couldn’t get any lower key than that! He was pleased to be performing so close to home that night – he lives in Bondi – and the previous night he literally walked down the street for another pre- booked backyard gig.
Wes invited our host Brian to jam with him towards the end of his routine. A fitting birthday present for our generous friend! Hostess Charlie was performing her own style of dance on the concrete floor, trance like and completely immersed in the moment. A western whirling dervish.
Wes interspersed his acoustic numbers with more anecdotes, mostly to do with how each song on his current album Roadtrip Confessions came about. He shared with our small crowd one of his career highlights: playing in front of four thousand indigenous Australians on Groote Eylandt, fifty kilometres off the coast from the Northern Territory. He performed for three and a half hours and ran out of songs. It took him three planes to get there and as life’s serendipity would have it, he encountered three ex-girlfriends during the trip. This little snippet of information caused an eruption from the audience.
Wes has a (very patient?) wife at home in Bondi, Australian actress Charlotte Gregg who is mum to his son Willow. He comes from humble beginnings, the sleepy town of Gawler in South Australia. There is definitely something of the country boy about him. He is very disarming. And charming. He pecked me on the cheek on his way out after the gig as if I was a familiar friend. I didn’t mind!
Wes’s Idol experience was the elephant in the room. Most of the guests asked about it. He graciously proffered a response to each question, never seeming to tire of the subject that brought him local instant fame six years ago. On Saturday, clipped hair and beard and an arm’s length away from where I sat, his commanding cheeky presence moon walking across the stage in the mega production that was Australian Idol seemed light years away.
Wes was nominated for the Nickelodeon Australian Kids Choice Awards and the ARIA Music Award (for his single ‘You’), both in 2009. He has played with the likes of Missy Higgins, Don Walker (Cold Chisel), Paul Mac, Lior, Andrew Farriss (INXS), Ben Gillies (Silverchair). He is also well travelled, his latest album referring to his experiences in Amsterdam, Tennessee, Los Angeles.
Recently he joined the local cast of the concert drama ‘Rolling Thunder Vietnam’ for their Australian tour. He is certainly keeping himself busy. One of the guests last Saturday night offered to help him set up a database. This came after his admission that keeping up with his fan base and his self-styled marketing campaign can be a bit overwhelming. His Facebook page currently has thirty five thousand ‘likes’.
Thanks cheeky Wes for a memorable night! To find out more, here is the link to his website: