Wildes Meadow Band is a recording of an extraordinary group of people at a unique moment in time.
It began as Brett Winterford’s pick of the many musicians that have delighted audiences at High Tea, an unlisted venue near Sydney’s Central Station he curates with a small group of friends in between his touring commitments.
Every fortnight for the last six years, the High Tea crew have lit up a Surry Hills warehouse with candles, thrown down cushions and hosted 100 guests for tea, wine and an intimate musical performance.
This routine event – ‘High Tea’ – forged itself as a welcome alternative after the loss of many of inner Sydney’s most hallowed venues over the past decade. It also forged a number of new collaborations and friendships – the Wildes Meadow Band prince among them.
Syd Green, Mark Holbert and Matt Tonks formed the core of Wildes Meadow Band after joining Winterford for a lively High Tea performance one Thursday night. The gang was just buzzed enough from the show to drive to the Southern Highlands the following morning with some recording gear to try and repeat the performance for posterity.
They set up in an old farmhouse that belonged to a mutual friend in a foggy hamlet called Wildes Meadow. The house sits on a small elevation, high enough to offer a pleasant vista over a lake and muddy pastures dotted with Highland cattle.
The band’s selection of Winterford’s songs cover a lot of territory – from politically charged anthems about the sorry state of Australian political discourse (End of Shame, Empathy, How to Feel, Middle Australia) to the very personal politics of long-distance relationships (Alles Klar), divorce (The Hardest Part), joy (In Our Wellingtons), sex (The Sciences) and sexism (I want to be proud to be a man).
The production of the ensuing album was crowdfunded – largely by fans of Winterford’s prior work ‘The Greenthumb EP’ and from High Tea regulars keen to bring the collaboration of some of their favourite sons to life.
Mixed by Josh Schuberth (Winterford’s collaborator on ‘Greenthumb’) and dotted with special guest performances from Brian Campeau, Stu Hunter and Kent Eastwood, ‘Wildes Meadow Band’ delivers Brett Winterford’s thoughtful folk songs some welcome stomp and swagger.