The Waifs’ Vikki Thorn will join with Melbourne roots outfit Row Jerry Crow and a revolving cast of other talented folks as Keep The Circle Unbroken kicks off again in 2023 and crosses Victorian borders for the first time in its short history.
Joining Vikki and Row Jerry Crow across different shows will be the likes of Monique Brumby (Tas), Mick Thomas (Adelaide) and Debra Byrne and Kylie Auldist (Vic). Vikki and the other guests will each perform a mix of their own material and songs from the classic country and folk songbook which serves as a wellspring for the music of today.
Keep The Circle Unbroken began in 2020 as a series of concerts presented across many of Victoria’s iconic regional towns featuring an incredible line-up of Victorian musicians, spanning two generations, and inspired by one of the most influential albums in the history of popular music, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 1972 album Will The Circle Be Unbroken.
Keep The Circle Unbroken was initiated by Row Jerry Crow mandolinist and songwriter Delsinki – who is also known for his solo work and released his second album, the #3 ARIA Australian Country Album debutant City / Country, in March 2022 – and Row Jerry Crow fiddle player John Kendall (Uncle Bill). Row Jerry Crow is a collective featuring some of Victoria’s most revered musicians; it also includes Screaming Jets co-founder and songwriter Paul Woseen, Greg Patten (My Friend the Chocolate Cake), Coburg Tipping (Russell Morris) and Rob Hornbuckle (Masters Apprentices). Row Jerry Crow co-founder, the late Dion Hirini, best known for his work with Vika & Linda Bull, took part in the first Keep The Circle Unbroken tour in 2020.
With border closures and the like, the original performances saw a strictly Victorian cast of guests, including the likes of Tim Rogers, Mick Thomas and Kylie Auldist. 2023 will see it head out of Victoria for the first time, so it is only fitting that the list of featured artists this time is topped by Vikki Thorne, one of the most beloved singer/songwriters from the other side of the country.
The roots of Keep The Circle Unbroken go back to 1972 when Californian country-rockers the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band released an album that helped reconnect generations divided by the perpetuating Vietnam War, hippie counter-culture and a troubling Richard Nixon presidential term. Featuring collaborations with old time country legends such as Earl Scruggs, Roy Acuff, Doc Watson and Mother Maybelle Carter, the triple LP Will The Circle Be Unbroken – which was named after the classic song made famous by the Mother Maybelle and the First Family of Country music, the Carter Family – revealed an authenticity and spirit of togetherness that captured the imagination of rock music lovers and brought a whole new generation into the traditional music. In many ways it anticipated the more recent alt-country and Americana movements, which have similarly reached beyond country music’s traditional audience to appeal to audiences attuned to more alternative forms.
50 years after its original release, the spirit and music of Will The Circle Be Unbroken comes alive in the live show that is the concept of Row Jerry Crow’s mandolinist and songwriter Delsinki and fiddle player John Kendall. It’s a spirit that goes beyond just the music. Says Delsinki: “In a world that seems to be at each other’s throats every other second, and not LISTENING to each other, we wanted to create a musical message that would inspire everybody to stop and reflect on what is important in life. Putting our heads together we thought we’d get our eclectic bunch of mates all together in one room and show the connection and artistry that comes from music. We got an incredible response.”
This live show is an audible bridge stretching across generations, cultures, sexes, politics, race, and musical genre. The circle of artists represents the sitting around a campfire, being at the family dinner table, or at a traditional music session, like that which the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band created for the recording of their triple LP. And where the Will The Circle Be Unbroken album included fly on the wall studio conversations between players talking about the songs, Keep The Circle Unbroken cherishes the stories and revelations the artists bring to the stage with them.
For the early 2023 Keep The Circle Unbroken tour, Vikki Thorne and the members of Row Jerry Crow will be the only constants. They’ll pick up a couple of different singers and a banjo player is each different city or region. The featured artists will each perform a mix of their own material and songs from the classic country music and folk songbook – including of course songs from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s original Will The Circle Be Unbroken collection – which serves as a wellspring for the music of today.
KEEP THE CIRCLE UNBROKEN FEB 2023
Fri 3 Feb – Alter, Hobart
Featuring Vikki Thorn, Monique Brumby, Ange Boxall & Montz Matsumoto
Thu Feb 16 – Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne
Featuring Vikki Thorn (The Waifs), Debra Byrne, Bobby Valentine & Pete Somerville
Fri Feb 17 – Swan Hill PAC
Featuring Vikki Thorn (The Waifs) Paul Costa, Chloe Calleja and Elise Drake
Sat Feb 18 – Archies Creek, Vic
Featuring Vikki Thorn (The Waifs), Kylie Auldist and Gallie
Wed Feb 22 & Thu Feb 23 – The Garden of Unearthly Delights, Adelaide Fringe
Featuring Vikki Thorn (The Waifs), Mick Thomas, Cookie Baker, Koral & Taylor Pfeiffer
All tix links are at www.keepthecircleunbroken.com
Watch a video ‘Keep the Circle Unbroken’ from the original run: