MUSIC

Riley Catherall talks his debut album When I Go, Kasey Chambers and making his mother cry

COUNTRY BOY: Riley Catherall was studying jazz and blues, but the story-telling of Americana returned him to his childhood roots.
COUNTRY BOY: Riley Catherall was studying jazz and blues, but the story-telling of Americana returned him to his childhood roots.

EVERY time Riley Catherall's mum hears her son's song Mother Please it brings her to tears.

That's because Catherall's talk of "when I kick my spurs up I'll be gone" and pleas of "mother please don't wait up for me" is 100 per cent rooted in truth.

It's typical of the homespun stories and the raw emotion the country-folk singer-songwriter offers in spades on his debut album When I Go.

"We had bit of an unspoken tradition that when I first got my Ps and I had a bit of independence and freedom, I'd always be out into the middle of the night doing whatever P-platers do," Catherall said of Mother Please.

"Because we lived on a dirt country road, Mum would always wait up for me and make sure I got home safe. When I moved to Melbourne I obviously wasn't coming home every night so I wrote the song for her.

"It's definitely an important one for me and an important one for her."

Catherall grew up on a property in the Yass Valley, north of Canberra. At 15 he began playing pub gigs in Canberra where his dad would serve as his manager to be his legal guardian.

He later studied jazz and blues at the Australian National University in Canberra, but eventually the story-telling tradition of country and Americana called him home.

"I grew up with a real love for James Taylor and there was a point where I lost the passion for playing all of the notes all the time and realised I enjoy songwriting as the core focus of what I love about a song," Catherall said.

"When I first entertained being in the country world, that was at the core."

That shift led to a fortuitous introduction in 2017 at the Tamworth Country Music Festival where Catherall met Kasey Chambers.

Within a couple of days he was playing shows as Chambers' guitarist and they kept in contact, writing and performing together. Her father Bill Chambers also became a fan and produced Catherall's debut EP Venture In Vain in 2018.

"It was really nice having people of that calibre to take me under their wing and show me how the system works a little bit, who to listen to, where to go," he said. "I was really fortunate people like that helped me out so early on."

BRIGHT START: Riley Catherall's debut album When I Go explores his love of country-folk story-telling.

BRIGHT START: Riley Catherall's debut album When I Go explores his love of country-folk story-telling.

Eventually Catherall found himself in Melbourne embedded in its vibrant Americana scene. That led to him joining respected alt-country band Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes in 2019 as a guitarist.

Catherall features on The Wildes' upcoming album later this year and even co-wrote several of the tracks. In turn, working with one of Melbourne's premier Americana bands has been beneficial to his own music.

Lachlan Bryan (keys) and Wildes' Damien Cafarella (guitar) both played on When I Go and Wildes' bassist Shaun Ryan collaborated on several songs.

"I always hesitated about letting other people in on songs that were personal to me, but with Shaun I found someone who I connect with really well and we have the same ideas and respect for songwriting," he said.

Riley Catherall plays The Vic, Bathurst (September 9); The Old Bank, Dubbo (September 10); Petersham Bowling Club (September 23); Stag and Hunter Hotel, Newcastle (September 24); Canberra Irish Club (September 26) and Tumut Brewing Co (October 17).

This story Riley Catherall finds calling in homespun stories first appeared on Newcastle Herald.