For the last 10 weeks, Mustered Courage, a bluegrass quartet from Melbourne, Australia has been zigzagging across America in a white conversion van that, according to the band, hasn’t always been the most dependable.
“When we’re traveling down the road, it’s a lot better than when we’re on the side of the road, I’ll tell you that much,” said banjo player and lead singer Nick Keeling.
“We’ve had a couple of van breakdowns,” added guitarist Julian Abrahams.
They've also been crammed into small hotel rooms, eaten food of varying quality and had to dodge cars in some larger northeast cities while trying to cross the street.
Keeling is originally from Austin, Texas, Abrahams is a native Australian. The two met at school where they were studying jazz. Later they would play together in a hip-hop band.
“Jazz actually has a lot of similarities to bluegrass the improvisation is such a key element to bluegrass music. Jazz is all about soloing and playing as many notes as you can, or as little notes as you can,” said Abrahams.
“Nick and I played too many notes in jazz, so we got ousted and banned from playing jazz; blacklisted and banished to the wasteland of bluegrass music,” said Abrahams with a grin. “Hip-hop? Well, we just didn’t want to be mid-30 year-old white rappers from Australia, so we thought we might be more suited to playing bluegrass in our 30s.”
Legislation upheld by Australia's Highest Court will force companies to strip logos from cigarette packs in that country. Starting in December, tobacco companies will no longer be allowed to display their brand designs, logos, or colors on packs of cigarettes to be sold in Australia. Instead, packs will come in a plain shade of olive, complete with graphic health warnings and images of cancer-riddled mouths and sick children.