Ben Murphy is heading to Queensland, with a new album to promote and string a concerts to play with 2018 Star Maker winner Brad Cox.
Carousel Keepsakes is the new album by the Gunnedah lad, under his stage name Carl the Bartender.
Produced by Gareth Hudson at Hazy Cosmic Jive Studios in Newcastle, some of the nine original songs on Carousel Keepsakes touch on personal hardships.
Murphy toured for four years with bluegrass band Good Corn Liquor, clocking up 500 shows and supporting some of the finest names in Australian country music.
The band’s darkest hour is reflected upon on the new album.
Murphy was overseas in April 2015 when he heard the news that the band’s front man, Stu McKenzie, had been killed in a car accident in the Hunter Valley, and one of the songs, High On The Highway recalls those days, and fittingly has a bluegrass feel to it.
“It’s my account of events, when I was in San Francisco when they had their car accident, of how I felt,” Murphy said.
Former band mates, Ben McCauley and Nicholas Wright, are listed as co-writers on the song.
“When I got home I had a chat with them because I wanted to know as much as I could about what happened, so it’s their recollection of the accident as well.”
The first single, Dogs & Angels, also touches on an emotional time.
“It’s about losing friends and getting a new dog,” Murphy said.
“After Stu passed away, that same year about six months later my aunty also passed away, and a good mate’s wife passed away.
”But in the middle of it all I was gifted a miniature bulldog, Winchester, and he was a bit of a shining light, not just for me but for everybody.”
With the album under his belt, Murphy is now heading north for the live shows with the Star Maker winner.
They met at the beginning of the year, when both were in Tamworth for the country music festival where Cox claimed the Star Maker title.
The tour came about when they caught up again at the Gympie Muster in August.
“I bumped into brad and he asked me about the album, and asked what I was doing in December. He said I’m going up to Cairns if you want to come for a drive.”
With the album released, it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
The Queensland tour, where they are playing nine shows in 10 days, includes a gig at Atherton on Saturday, and continues with concerts at Cooktown, Gympie and Brisbane before Christmas.