I’ve passed by God’s Kitchen on the odd occasion and had a listen to this bloke filling the courtyard with his one-man show, and sounding like he’s just come from an outback get together where he’s been collecting didgeridoo’s. So when the ‘ed said to me, “Hey Judge, you interested in having a chat with Rhys Crimmin next time he’s in town?” I grasped eagerly with a “yes please”.

I wandered down to Mornington on a very cold and wet summer Sunday afternoon thinking, ‘great, no sunny outdoor entertainment this week’, before I remembered the beautiful rich and resonating sound you get inside Mornington’s God’s Kitchen… the place used to be a church, after all.

Walking up and shaking hands with Rhys was no easy task. He was setting up for his gig and I had to lean over the half dozen or so guitars, and a couple of rather sizeable didgeridoo’s (for those technically minded they’re in the keys of C and D)…..as well as singing he also plays 6 String Acoustic Guitar, 12 String Acoustic Guitar, Resonator Guitar, Weissenborn Lap Steel Guitar, Didgeridoos, Harmonicas, Kazoo, Stomp box, Foot Shaker, Tambourine, Keys, Djembe, Xylophone, Vibraslap, Bass. ..’jeez it was a wonder there was any room for the audience!

After setting up Rhys plonked himself down for a chat and gave me a history that was quite unusual…he has never had any formal training or teaching for any of the aforementioned instruments, does not come from a musical family, and has never actually, in his own words “chased” any kind of industry support for what he does.

To listen to his footstompin’ blues and reggae oriented performances you would swear that he’s been playing for about 40 years. Yet he is only 24! This reminds me of a certain Lloyd Spiegel, who used to hang around with local musicians at a very young age and is now highly regarded as one of Australia’s finest blues singers. I wonder if the same fate awaits Rhys Crimmin?

From the age of 17 Rhys told me that he had pretty much already decided to become a musician and had no other thought in his mind. Still completing his Year 12 studies, he was already playing gigs four or five nights a week in and around his native Warrnambool on Victoria’s South West coast. Talk about determined… Warrnambool is not the kind of town you’d normally associate with huge opportunities for a seventeen year old “blues” guitarist. But, he says “I just kept plugging and plugging and eventually they had to give me a go”. But it paid off for everyone as a strong local following soon turned up for every gig.

He kept teaching himself how to play more and more instruments, becoming accomplished after roughly six-months with each, whilst also working out that he had to sing as well if he wanted to further his career…he openly admits that he is not a ‘natural’ singer, but you wouldn’t know if you heard him. He has the kind of voice you associate with the great blues singers, and he puts the same kind of feel into it.

Interesting too are the various styles you seem to hear in his guitar playing with, at times a particularly similar ‘strut’ to Mark Knopfler, but with a much more bluesy sound…I’m not sure if Rhys would agree with that view, or would even be comfortable with such a comparison, but nonetheless I felt like I could hear it.

I was quite interested in his influences. He says that he listens to just about anything but cites Bob Marley and Folk / Blues singer Ray La Montagne as significant.. two very different styles and genres, but indicative maybe of the type of music Rhys himself has developed.

Rhys won the Australian Busking Competition in 2003, released his first CD in 2005 (the 7-track ‘Night Owl’) and followed it up with the 2008 12 –track ‘Musical Journey’.

Having had the opportunity to listen to both you can feel the growth in Rhys himself. He does prefer the latest, probably for that reason, but they are both well representative of his interesting style and variable sound types. Listen and you’ll hear ‘footstompin’, almost traditional blues with a fair smattering of well- placed didgeridoo rhythms and reggae influences. It’s in some ways quite hard to define accurately, but that can only be a good thing. Get down to one of his gigs and you’ll see for yourself.

You can only buy his CD’s at a gig or from on-line shop www.musicplug.me , which you can also link through www.rhyscrimmin.com . 
Rhys is content with this, having sold “ a few thousand” this way and never having to relinquish control of his destiny. He markets himself, finds his own gigs, manages himself and sells his own music. A truly independent musician!

In The Dock With Judge Fudge: Rhys Crimmin’s One Man Show

Judge Fudge caught up with Rhys Crimmin at God’s Kitchen

Mornington Life Magazine, Autumn Edition 2010

 

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CDs and T-shirts are available to purchase online over at MusicPlug.me