Beat towards the calm

• Aminah Hughes. Photo supplied

THE title of Aminah Hughes’ new album, Blue Wooden Boat, harks back to a raucous New Year’s eve party in Fremantle.

Things were getting feral at the hootenanny bash and the frantic drumming to welcome in the new year was annoying Hughes, so she wandered outside.

“There was a beautiful blue wooden boat in the back yard, I got in and started singing,” says the Joondana songwriter.

“People came out and lay on the lawn and I just sang for hours.”

Hughes studied classical and baroque flute at UWA, but she wanted to dabble in other genres and dropped out.

After completing a poetry minor at Curtin University, she decided to head to Ireland to find her muse.

“I took my flute and went to the Sligo Jazz School to learn jazz.”

Collaborating with Seamie O’Dowd, a celebrated traditional and blues musician, Hughes performed in Australia, Ireland and the UK, including the Galway Arts Festival and Bath Folk Festival.

She toured with Californian songwriter Thom Moore (Mary Black) and appeared on Irish TV and BBC radio, as well as playing with the Sligo Baroque Orchestra.

Blue Wooden Boat is a mix of folk, alt-country, blues, jazz and soul: “With a spoken-word twist,” Hughes says.

The album has new original music, but also includes an Archie Roach song, a Joni Mitchell medley and a Russian folk song translated into English.

Hooking up with fellow Australian musician Tommy Emmanuel in Ireland, they played a number of shows together and he was happy to guest on Blue Wooden Boat, despite a heavy touring schedule in Germany at the time.

Recorded in Ireland, the US, Australia and Germany, Blue Wooden Boat also features Waterboys fiddler Steve Wickham, the Nashville gospel singers, and The McCrary Sisters.

The album launch at The Ellington on November 14 will feature Perth musicians Russell Holmes, Jon Clements, Karl Florisson, Michael Perkins, and Kathy Potter


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