For expatriate Canadian singer-songwriter DANNY MACK, the move from Vancouver to Australia was just another step in his life adventures. A veteran of more than 40 years in the music business, Danny has taken his songs around the honky tonk bars and clubs of Canada and the US, and across to Europe. The ‘Cement City Cowboy’ as he is alternatively known, has shared the bill with some of the most recognizable names in music, from legendary rock band THE DOORS, to country rock pioneers THE BYRDS, COMMANDER CODY, JERRY JEFF WALKER, blues exponents DR JOHN, BB KING, JOHN LEE HOOKER….and the list goes on.
The downside of his career was the years spent fighting drug and alcohol problems, which eventually led to him spending time in a detox centre at the age of 34 during the 1970s. But his passion for music rarely wavered and, while it has led him to wander the world stage, it was a passion of a different kind that led to Danny’s move to Canberra – his Australian wife Bonnie, an IT specialist.
“Bonnie came up to Canada in the ‘90s to work towards the millennium bug, and we happened to meet and that was it” Danny explains. “We’ve been together ever since”.
The couple decided to pull up stakes in Vancouver in the second half of 2005 and relocate to Australia’s national capital. Even before that, however, Danny was becoming increasingly aware of the Australian brand of country music.
“When we were living in Canada, Bonnie’s relatives would send us CDs from Australia. One of the artists was KASEY CHAMBERS and another was JOHN WILLIAMSON. When I heard the writing, the production and the performance of those songs, it just touched me.
Before leaving Vancouver, Danny had started work on his latest album, Ride Me Down Easy. For the first time in his career, he’d decided to record an album of cover songs. One of those was Kasey’s The Nullarbor Song.
“When I hear a song that I fall in love with, I’ve got to spend some time with it, and ultimately learn it and perform it. The Nullarbor Song was one of those songs, as was (John Williamson’s) A Bushman Can’t Survive. Now that I’ve come down here, I find that A Bushman Can’t Survive is almost like an anthem.”
With three songs already in the can, one of Danny’s first priorities was to take in the 2006 Telstra Tamworth Country Music Festival. In another twist of fate, he met up with Kasey’s dad, BILL CHAMBERS, and they soon found common ground in what they believe is “real” country music. Danny was keen to finish the Ride Me Down Easy project, and Bill obliged by offering an invitation to his recording studio on the Central Coast.
The result is an album featuring the songs from some of the world’s best country music songwriters, including JOHN PRINE, MERLE HAGGARD, WILLIE NELSON, BILLY JOE SHAVER and of course, Kasey Chambers and John Williamson.
Danny returned to Tamworth in January to showcase some of the songs at the 2007 Festival, linking up with some of Australia’s leading country musicians, including pedal steel player Michel Rose, guitarist Brad Bergen, bassist Simon Johnson and drummer Mal Lancaster.
“Without a doubt those four guys are the best band I have put on stage for years, if not ever” Danny exclaims.
Danny’s plan for 2007 include doing the country music festival circuit. Another is setting up an intimate, storytelling-style show at Canberra’s Rose Cottage on March 30. It’s a far cry from the days when he performed at Amsterdam’s Milky Way club, or New York’s Lone Star Café with the Sir Douglas Quintet. For Danny however, it’s all about the music – country music.
“I’m in music for the song; that’s what I really love” he explains, “If I sit in my living room, and sing a brilliant song, and nobody else hears it, that’s enough for me. But I get to go out on stage, and if the audience responds, that’s a bonus”
Danny Mack is one of country music’s survivors, and with the wealth of knowledge and experience he brings to our shores, he is certain to be a positive influence on Australia’s up-and-coming country musicians.
CAPITAL COUNTRY MUSIC NEWS MAGAZINE. March 2007. Australia.
CHECK OUT DANNY'S MAJOR INTERVIEW WITH HOWL MAGAZINE AUGUST 2012