Australian troubadour Kim Churchill arrives in the US as the hand-picked support act for Billy Bragg¹s North American tour, which kicked off in Englewood, Colorado, on March 23.
For Churchill, receiving the invite from Bragg was a surprise; the two met at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in 2012, and according to Churchill, fun ensued.
"Like a lot of things that happen in the music industry, it was a matter of a conveniently placed bottle of scotch. We just got talking and we got on really well and we were both playing the same stage so we got to see each other play," Churchill explained.
Churchill, a hypnotizing guitarist who expresses his love of surfing and the natural world in spare, gorgeous songs that bring to mind artists like Donovan Frankenreiter and Xavier Rudd, has a new album, Detail of Distance, which came out in the US April 9.
At just 21, Churchill has released two previous studio albums and toured non-stop, from Australia's East Coast Blues & Roots Festival to Montreal's International Jazz Festival and all parts in between, splitting his time between prolific songwriting and the sea.
Churchill picked up his first guitar at age 4 and began classical training at 6, often bartering good grades for new instruments. "My dad would say if you can get an A, I'll get you a new Fender guitar, so I would put in two hours in the morning, grab my board, catch a few waves, and make the school bus by 8:30, then again in the afternoon."
He went on to Australia's Classical Music Academy, graduating with highest honors. His hands tell the story of his technique one has substantial fingernails and a duct-taped thumb, the other is thickly callused. YouTube videos reveal them banging, tapping, fluttering and picking the strings producing multi-layered melodies and thumping rhythms. This album belongs on the shelf near the works of Ben Harper, a fellow surfer and guitar prodigy.
Detail of Distance was produced by the late Todd Simko (Pure, Be Good Tanyas, Marcy Playground etc) in Vancouver in 2012. The album is a revelation, incorporating distorted electric guitars, strings, horns and electronic rhythms. On up-tempo rockers like "Seasons Grind" and "Bathed in Black," Churchill employs wailing harmonicas, driving guitars and a soaring chorus. The title track begins with more introspective acoustic guitar, which builds as droning effects take hold, evolving into a tune wouldn't be out of place on a Junior Kimbrough album.
For more information on Kim Churchill, visit kimchurchill.com.
KIM CHURCHILL ON TOUR w/ BILLY BRAGG
Apr 19 Cat¹s Cradle Carrboro, NC
Apr 20 Keswick Theatre Glenside, PA
Apr 22 Rams Head Onstage Annapolis, MD
Apr 23 Café Cultural Lavaltrie, Canada
Apr 24 Theatre Granada Sherbrooke, Canada
Apr 25 Birchmere Alexandria, VA
Apr 26 Ithaca State Theatre Ithaca, NY
Apr 27 Town Hall New York, NY
Apr 28 Berklee Performance Center Boston, MA
Apr 30 Southgate House Revival Newport, KY
May 1 The Ark Ann Arbor, MI
May 3 Danforth Music Hall Toronto, Canada
May 4 Bronson Centre Ottawa, Canada
May 5 Club Soda Montreal, Canada