“From The Heartland” The band:
(Ross Hamilton, vocals, banjo, guitar, electric guitar, mandolin), Emma Hamilton (vocals, accordion, piano), Ray Schloeffel (1957-2002) fiddle, Mark Oats (fiddle), Kirk Steel (piano accordion),
and Thomas Hamilton (vocals, grand piano, keyboards, electric bass, drums, percussion and programming).
Arranged and Produced by Thomas and Ross Hamilton.
1. “Devoted To You”, a sensitive ballad made famous by the Everly Brothers, features a father and daughter duet by Ross and Emma and is given a unique new voicing with Thomas’ synths and pads.
2. “Hard Times” written by the genius American troubadour Stephen Foster and one of the first anti-slavery songs, features a hard-hitting arrangement that soars with Thomas’ pounding marching drums, bagpipes and electric guitars.
3. Danny Whitten’s song “I Don’t Want To Talk About It”, renowned as a Rod Stewart ballad, takes on a fresh look with country picking guitars, banjos and mandolins. Emma joins in on the choruses. Kick up yer heels. Hee-haw!
4. Another outstanding Eric Bogle song “A Reason For It All”, asks some really big questions about old age and how we deal with it. Thomas’ distinctive arrangement using church bells and chimes contrasts with the choir-like multi-tracked choruses by Ross and Emma.
5. Mark Oats rejoins us with his bouncing fiddles for this medley of Celtic tunes, “Merrily Kissed The Quaker’s Wife” and “The Athol Highlander”. The band falls in behind him and rises with his heat, then Emma joins in on piano to make a quirky interpretation of these vibrant melodies. In jig-time, it’s hard to keep your feet still!
6. Rita McNeil’s timeless song about miners “Workingman” is next and Thomas’ gospel-blues treatment gave us the opportunity to create our own family choir, with extensive multi-tracking and layering to surge towards the huge climax that the song demands. One of our all-time favourites! (Thanks Rita!)
7. Bruce Springsteen’s splendid love song in waltz time “If I Should Fall Behind”, features the five string banjo, accordion and grand piano over Thomas’ simple but effective drum pattern. Emma duets with Ross and Thomas harmonises on the choruses.
8. The mandolin, accordian and piano feature on the tender and moving Ron Hynes song “Sonny’s Dream”, about the autistic boy living alone with his abandoned mother and his restless wait for his father, the sailor, who never comes home again.
9. A complete change of pace now as the band journeys to Greece to play one of our most requested instrumentals “Never On Sunday” from the movie of the same name by the marvellous Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis. Multi-textured mandolins over Thomas’ synths and the bouncing rhythms transport the listener straight into the heart of Athens!
10. Back to Australia for another wonderful Eric Bogle classic “Shelter”, essentially Eric’s love letter to his adopted country. Hugely popular with school choirs, this song allows us to travel the full gamut with Thomas’ inspirational arrangement, starting very simply before gradually climbing to a powerful climactic finish with our own family choir and Emma’s soaring vocals.
11. On John Denver’s romantic love song “Leaving On A Jetplane” Ross and Emma harmonise over Kirk Steel’s piano accordion and Thomas solos on grand piano.
12. The album concludes appropriately with a most unexpected version of Johannes Pachelbel’s triumphant “Canon In D”. Quite by accident as Emma was practicing the piece for a school piano exam, our late great fiddler Ray Schloeffel stopped by and heard her playing. We snapped on the recorder and Ray joined her, taking the piece to a climactic ending. He later over-dubbed several violin parts and created his own string section which we carefully edited together and later performed with him after he tragically passed away in 2002.
We hope you enjoy our “From The Heartland”.