William Crighton’s tantalising journey towards music success continues to pick up steam at a hectic pace.
This week he landed in Kansas City, Missouri, for a four-day showcase at Folk Alliance International (among the huge list of talent attending are Aussies Liz Stringer and Ruby Boots).
Next week, accompanied by Matt Sherrod, drummer extraordinaire and producer of Crighton’s debut album, he will be performing across Canada in tandem with Canadian blues rocker Terra Lightfoot, who toured with Crighton in Australia last year.
After he touches down in Australia next month Crighton’s got four dates with Vikki Thorn (The Waifs) in NSW and then Bluesfest at Byron Bay at Easter, where he’s scored four performance slots.
It was two years ago that Crighton, who lives in Bellbird with his wife Jules and two young daughters, launched his powerful self-titled debut album full of vivid imagery that challenged the mind – killing a pedophile priest, losing a mate to suicide, questioning religion, living in the bush. The music, combined with his overpowering stage presence and intense vocals (and a band to match), caught the attention of an audience eager to sample something new.
“In the last 12 months we played a world music fest, folk fest, country, rock and blues … we’ll show up anywhere that will have us,” he says in a phone chat before heading to North America.
“There’s always a new challenge, you never know how it’s going to go. Each show is different to us. Each show has a different feel. That’s part of the excitement, part of the reason we do it in the first place.
There’s always a new challenge, you never know how it’s going to go. Each show is different to us. Each show has a different feel. That’s part of the excitement, part of the reason we do it in the first place.William Crighton
“I’m trying to make a living at it, and that’s starting to unfold a bit more.
“The catalyst is the feeling you get when you play live. How the crowd will react …”
The year ahead already looks exciting. Crighton anticipates releasing his second album, perhaps as early as April. And he’s booked to play two major festivals in the UK, including Boomtown Fair in Winchester, followed by an extensive European tour.
Crighton has never been hesitant to put new music in front of an audience, or do covers. Nevertheless, the power and emotion of the first album has set high expectations for album number two.
“It will different to the first,the inspiration is different,” he says of the new album. “The context is different. I’m not living at Barrinjuck with Jules and the kids. I’ve been busy touring and playing, so the focus has come in and out, I focus and then do something else. That’s been the way it has unfolded over the last 18 months.”
Once on stage, Crighton leaves no doubt his beliefs and his music are entwined. And that’s not about to change.
“For everyone who hates you, someone will love us,” he says, discussing a performance in January at a sheep station outside Tamworth.
“Fifty per cent of the crowd had never heard of me. That was an interesting dynamic, especially telling stories. It does make some people uncomfortable. I don’t why, it just does. It reinforces that art is subjective.”
His own journey of discovery will be reflected in the music on the new album, bet on it.
“Your politics are part and parcel of you as a performer: life is political,” he says. “It’s hard to separate the two. I don’t know how you could do that. I am very passionate about protecting our environment. I’m not just saying that, but trying to investigate.
“I recently went to the Adani coalmine protest camp, and spent some time. I talked to the locals, getting a decent overview … I’ve been trying to focus on fact-finding missions. In order to educate myself. So I am not a hollow drum. It is important in this day and age not to educate just by being passionate, but having the tools.”
Full throttle, full speed ahead.