The 2014 Songwriting Awards of the AUSTRALIAN SONGWRITING ASSOCIATION were held on Monday 24 November, 2014.
Two of Brian’s songs had reached the “short list” in their respective categories - “Get It Right This Time” (Folk) and “Hardie’s Men” (Australia), and on the night “Hardie’s Men” was selected in the top 10 for its category.
On the following day Brian received advice that “Get It Right This Time” had been awarded first place in the Folk Songwriter’s Category of the 2014 Indie Music Channel Songwriting Awards. In addition to that award Brian’s songs “Oldest Roadies On the Earth” and “Mid Life Crisis” had also been chosen in the Top 5 of the Folk Category, and “One Hour With You” was selected in the Top 5 of the IMC’s Jazz Songwriter Category.
“Get It Right This Time”, “Hardie’s Men” and “One Hour With You” will appear on BRS-T’s CD “Stripped Bare” which will be released in March, 2105. Samples of these tracks can be heard on the “Music” page of this site.
“Oldest Roadies on the Earth” and “Mid Life Crisis” appear on the EP “Oldest Roadies On the Earth”. The disc version of the EP is now available for sale (in Australia only) via this site and digital versions should be available shortly. Samples of these tracks can be heard on the “Music” page of this site.
Brian Ralston's Selftort EP NOW ON SALE!
BRIAN RALSTON'S SELFTORT WINS ABC EXHUMED N.S.W
On Thursday night 15 August, 2013 Self Tort appeared as a Sydney finalist for the ABC's "Exhumed" competition - a search for "the best bands you've never heard of". The competition was the brainchild of James Valentine, who, amongst other things is the Afternoon shift presenter on 702 ABC. James is also the leader of The James Valentine Quartet, is the voice behind "Come Dine With Me Australia" and is, in his spare time a writer of childrens' books. James was, in a former life the saxophone player for the celebrated Australian band "The Models".
James set up the inaugural "Exhumed" competition in 2012 via 702 ABC. So successful was the 2012 competition that he decided to not only reprise it, but take it "nationally", and, while we're about it, why not turn it into a television show as well.
For those who have followed Self Tort's history, it will be realised that, until recent times, it had been a band comprising 1 (Brian Ralston), although he had collaborated with a variety of musicians. One of those musicians was Lilo Blyton who recorded fiddle on Self Tort's "A Two Grand Wager", "Once is Enough" "You'll Want Some More From Me" and "Oldest Roadies On the Earth". It was decided that Lilo and Brian would form a duo to be eligible for the competition and would enter "Oldest Roadies" as it seemed to fit the demographic of the competition.
On 23 July, 2013 Brian received a call from James' producer, Laura, enquiring whether he would be interested in an on-air interview with James Valentine that afternoon. The interview took place, and for the first time in Self Tort's existence one of its tracks was played on "mainstream radio". The decision to enter the competition had been justified. During the run up to the Sydney final James interviewed and played tracks of a number of entrants to the Sydney competition, including one Self Tort's favourite bands and good friends "Men With Day Jobs"
After the original interview with James, Brian was kicking himself. James had asked: "And when did you guys form?". Brian replied "Actually we formed so we could enter the competition". Although this was within the rules, and James had, during promotions for the competition announced that if bands made the final they could supplement their lineups, there was the sense that a spot in the final would not be offered to a duo of guitar and violin that had only just formed.
On the following Monday Brian noticed a "missed call" and "voice message" on his phone. On listening to the message there was no doubt - it was decidedly from James Valentine, to the effect of: "Brian it's James Valentine of the ABC here. Could you give me a call back....like NOW!!!!!!!!!!". On Brian's return call James said that he would ring Brian straight back. Although assuming that Self Tort had in fact made the Sydney Final, Brian did not suspect that the return call from James would be recorded to be played during James' show later that day. Most of James' calls to the finalists were answered with the anticipated explosions of excitement, surprise and joy. When James rang Brian answered "Hi James", which when broadcast later in the day did seem to indicate a sort of smug anticipation that Self Tort knew it would make the final. That could not be further from the truth.
That smug impression was compounded when James asked if Self Tort would be available to perform at the Basement on 15 August. Brian still can't comprehend why he responded "What day of the week is that", given that he had no social engagements booked for some weeks, and would have killed anyone who tried to stop him playing that night whichever night it might have been.
Brian claims that he felt almost "Assange-like" over coming hours. He knew by 9am that Self Tort had made the final at the Basement, but by then realised that James was going to use the telephone conversations to announce the winners during his show which was to start at 1pm. He passed the information to a closed group of associates that he could trust to not spill the beans.
Before the call from James, Brian had, in a vain hope that Self Tort might get through, spoken to Ben Hewson, with whom he had played on occasions at the Bundeena Bowlo Thursday "jam session" nights asking if he would be interested in playing bass if Self Tort got through. The aim of bringing Ben in was twofold - to fill out the sound of the band and to significantly reduce the average age of the band. The rules permitted members being under 30 years of age provided the majority were over that specified age.
After being told that Self Tort had made the Sydney final, Brian called on Graham Doust, whom Brian had known for approximately 50 years, and who had been the drummer in "Sirrah" with Brian during the 70's. Graham was keen, subject to a few caveats: he didn't own a kit; he hadn't played drums for a number of years; he lived in Coffs Harbour (which Brian already knew); he would not be able to travel to Sydney until the day of the final. Otherwise, a piece of cake.
In February, 2013 Brian had attended the Songsalive Australia Song Comp Awards at UTS in Sydney. Although Brian was ecstatic about winning awards for "Best Unsigned Song of the Year" and "Old Pants New Pants Publishing" awards for his song "One Hour With You" (released on the "Tortology" CD), his efforts were shaded by the accolades showered upon Chris Stafford who had four out of the five songs in the "Jazz/Swing/Latin" section (he won with "You Had To Be There") but also took out the main award of the night: "Songwriter of the Year". Brian and Chris kept in contact after the awards night and, after Self Tort had been declared a finalist in the Exhumed competition, Chris passed on his congratulations, mentioning that if we were short of a bass player he would be happy to be involved.
After a quick consultation with my mate Ross Ward from Ross Ward's Ward's Express (who also moonlights as my guitar mentor), whom I knew was a friend of Chris, this became a no-brainer. Ben was happy to transfer to guitar and suddenly we had a band.
Graham's inability to attend a rehearsal prior to the day was a potential impediment. As was the fact that Chris is based in the Hunter Region and Ben is based at Maianbar near Bundeena. And Self Tort only had 10 or so days to get it right.
(Spoiler alert) - as you will have gleaned from the heading of this article Self Tort won the Sydney Final. But the path there and the magic evening of the Sydney "Exhumed" final needs to be explored in a coming article.