Helen Hopcroft grew up in Tasmania in the era before the internet and cheap airfares.
"It felt like an isolated rock on the bottom of the world, a long way from anywhere. I used to listen to people like Lou Reed - songs about being disenfranchised, this feeling that life was happening somewhere else," said Helen, now of Maitland.
"My family used to listen to stuff like The Hurricane by Bob Dylan and The Devil Went Down to Georgia by the Charlie Daniels Band. When I was a teenager, I picked up the idea that old records were cool, so I started listening to blues musicians like BB King, Muddy Waters - those great Delta blues sounds."
Helen is vocalist for The Majishans, which played its Nashville show at the Newcastle Fringe Festival in March. The group will perform Nashville in St Kilda next month.
"A few years ago, my cousin Julien Poulson and I took Steve Kilbey, of The Church, and a bunch of brilliant creative types out into the Australian desert for a road trip to Tibooburra," Helen said. [They spent some time under the Milky Way, no doubt]
"We left Maitland on September 1, 2020 and got back eight days later as changed people."
The Majishans and the Nashville show emerged from that time.
"I'm strongly drawn to narrative forms, both in music and art. I like art that tells stories," said Helen, who produced Nashville - a rock odyssey that tells the story of an almost famous Australian band.
"Some of my favourite artists - like Tom Waits - tell strange, funny stories about individuals who are both ordinary and extraordinary. A lot of my art is about the people who get left behind, the people who get left out.
"When I spent a year dressed as Marie Antoinette, and went about my everyday life in Maitland, I saw it as being about highlighting social inequality in Australia. I liked the visual contrast of sending an elaborately costumed symbol of elitism and social disconnect out onto the streets of a struggling regional city."
Helen is inspired by Allen Ginsberg and the Beat poets of the 1950s, the New York artists of the '60s, The Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen, The Cure and contemporary artists like Mo' Ju and Mia Wray.
The Majishans guitarist and composer, Anton Romero, is influenced by Lou Reed, Dylan, the Pixies, Radiohead, Sonic Youth and Television.
"Our soloist and my partner, Tony Jozef, has similar tastes but also likes Miles Davis and Alain Stivell, a '70s Celtic revivalist. Our sound and light guy, James Carter, adores Queen and enjoys bringing that kind of OTT [over-the-top] theatricality into our act."
The band was recently on a road trip to play a gig in Wollongong.
"Everyone took turns playing our favourite songs - it turns out that we all like different stuff! I like to joke that we're the musical embodiment of August 1979," she said.
Helen has always loved music but, apart from some early piano lessons as a child, she never did anything with it.
"Julien was in bands from a very young age and I used to want to be part of it, but it wasn't something that our family culture encouraged for girls."
John Paul Young's anniversary show, titled 50 Years Young, was to be held at Lizotte's at Lambton on Friday.
The show had been postponed, as JPY's drummer Greg Plimmer had emergency eye surgery.
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