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Man admits fatal ute rollover at Vic party

Alexander Wells (centre, with beard) has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death.At an 18th birthday party in country Victoria, Alexander Wells was driving around in a paddock with 10 people on the tray of his ute.
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When the vehicle rolled, the youngsters were strewn across ground, and all but one of them survived.

William Grace, 16, was killed at the party at Gladysdale, east of Melbourne, in February 2017.

His mother, Donna Grace, got a call and rushed to the party in a state of panic and confusion.

She realised what had happened without being told.

“I could see police, a ute and someone lying on the ground, covered,” Mrs Grace told the County Court on Tuesday.

“I recognised his shoes, so I knew it was William.”

Police didn’t let Mrs Grace near William’s body at first, but she insisted on being by his side.

“I wanted to hold his hand,” she said. “It was important for me to let him know I was there.”

A friend soon led her away, and panic set in.

“I felt like I couldn’t breath. They had to hold me up,” she said.

A subsequent phone call to her husband, who was travelling for work, had been unbearable.

Mrs Grace spoke at a pre-sentence hearing for Wells, who has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing William’s death.

Tears flowed in the courtroom, which was filled with family members of both William and Wells.

Mrs Grace said her son was an outgoing boy who had been a great support for her during her recent battle with breast cancer.

Craig Grace, William’s father, said his son was his best friend.

“The loss of my son William has broken my heart,” Mr Grace said.

“My grief and longing for my best mate is like a dark storm cloud that won’t leave.”

Mr Grace called for the judge to impose a weighty sentence on Wells to give his son justice.

“This was not a freak accident. An adult in control of a motor vehicle made the wrong choice and it ended in disaster,” he said.

Wells driving remains unclear as some witnesses said he was doing a “donut” but others said he was simply turning.

Judge Paul Higham said the manoeuvre was “inherently dangerous” however it unfolded, given Wells was driving in a paddock with 10 people in the tray.

Defence lawyer Scott Johns SC said Wells had no prior criminal history and was sorry for his actions, but conceded a prison sentence was likely.

“This is a young man who, with everything going swimmingly in his life, errs this way and everything changes,” Mr Scott said.

Wells, who also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving endangering life, remains on bail and will be sentenced on February 23.

Extreme concern over mental welfare of drought affected Hunter farmers: Dairy Connect

Advocate extremely concerned about mental health outlook for Hunter farmers Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy
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Blandford, Upper Hunter Valley. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Ian McCallum is a fifth generation farmer from Moonan Flat in the Upper Hunter Valley. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Ron Campbell at his Merriwa property. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Merriwa, Upper Hunter Valley. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Belltrees, Upper Hunter Valley. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yards. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Upper Hunter. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Ron Campbell drives around his Merriwa property. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Simone McCarthy

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Simone McCarthy

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Simone McCarthy

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Craig Murphy feeds hay to his stock at his Blandford property. Picture: Nick Bielby

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Ian MacCallum with the food required for his stock when there’s little to graze in the paddocks. Picture: Nick Bielby

TweetFacebookHelp is always available at Lifeline on 13 11 14.

‘Advocate extremely concerned aboutmental health outlookforHunter farmers’is part of anongoing series of reportsby theNewcastle Herald,Maitland Mercury,Singleton ArgusandHunter ValleyNews investigating the effects of drought of local farmers in the Upper and Lower Hunter.

Quick-dry-out a factor in sneaky Upper Hunter drought

Upper Hunter drought ‘sneaking up on us’: Farmer ‘Very dry very quickly’: Neville Watts, of Willow Tree in the Upper Hunter, at Scone Sale Yard last week. Picture: Simon McCarthy
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Ian McCallum is a fifth generation farmer from Moonan Flat in the Upper Hunter Valley. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Ron Campbell at his Merriwa property. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Merriwa, Upper Hunter Valley. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Belltrees, Upper Hunter Valley. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yards. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Upper Hunter. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Blandford, Upper Hunter Valley. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Ron Campbell drives around his Merriwa property. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yard. Picture: Simon McCarthy

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Simone McCarthy

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Simone McCarthy

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Craig Murphy feeds hay to his stock at his Blandford property. Picture: Nick Bielby

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Scone Sale Yards on February 6. Picture: Nick Bielby

Ian MacCallum with the food required for his stock when there’s little to graze in the paddocks. Picture: Nick Bielby

TweetFacebook The big dryFarmers across the Hunter have battled through months of drought. Pictures: Simon McCarthy and Nick BielbyNeville Watts sees an historic parallel withthedrought that’s been tightening its grip on the Upper Hunter.

Mr Watts has been working his 730acre Willow Tree property for 14 years after leaving his Muswellbrook farm,which he saidbecame a dustbowl as a result of mining.

Read more:Drought’s decaying effect not just on the land

Now, he said, dryconditions in the Hunter were“getting to the desperate stage for some people”.

A compounding factor that many farmers say is making this drought different to most is the severely hot weather.

Read more:Quadruple bypass after drought stress

“It’s got very dry very quickly,”Mr Wattstold Fairfax Media in Scone.

“In 1955, the flood ran over the Hunter Valley and in 1956 cattle were dying at Glenrock Station, that’s how quickly it dried out.

“This drought we have now is sneaking up on us.”

‘Upper Hunter drought ‘sneaking up on us’: Farmer’is part of anongoing series of reportsby theNewcastle Herald,Maitland Mercury,Singleton ArgusandHunter ValleyNews investigating the effects of drought of local farmers in the Upper and Lower Hunter.

NSW judge delays Aldi basher’s sentence

Mervyn Davidson who assaulted an Aldi worker with a baseball bat has had his sentencing adjourned.A NSW judge wants to see an accused murderer’s psychiatric report before sentencing him for unrelated offences including bashing a supermarket checkout operator with a baseball bat.
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Mervyn Keith Davidson has pleaded guilty to the violent attack at Aldi in Albion Park Rail in the Illawarra in January 2017, when he also assaulted a customer who tried to restrain him.

The 44-year-old has also admitted punching a police officer in the face after being taken into custody and choking his cellmate with his t-shirt – rendering him unconscious – while on remand in Sydney’s Silverwater jail.

He was due to be sentenced last Thursday but was deemed not well enough to sit through the judgment.

On Sunday he was charged with murdering Silverwater inmate Alfredo Pengue, 54, and he wasn’t required to appear in court on that charge during a brief mention on Monday.

Davidson did appear in Wollongong District Court on Tuesday, when his lawyer James Jeffery requested another adjournment on the earlier charges because Davidson was waiting for a psychiatric report.

Davidson saw a psychiatrist on Saturday and it was indicated that he might have underlying psychosis, Mr Jeffery told the court.

“If that were the case, that might affect Your Honour’s sentencing,” he said.

Judge Andrew Haesler said it would be a “denial of natural justice” if he didn’t allow an opportunity to more accurately diagnose Davidson’s condition.

“Whether his underlying mental illness is a drug-induced psychosis or something of a more intractable nature would be relevant to sentence,” he said.

The judge noted that Davidson had been charged with another offence but said he was entitled to a presumption of innocence.

“It could not determine any sentence I will impose upon him.”

The sentencing was adjourned to March 9.

Williams finds health, zen before NZ tour

Robbie Williams has been forced to change his lifestyle after recent health issues.There was once a time when, Robbie Williams freely admits, he wandered about the planet, going from one existential crisis to the next.
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“You know – the archetypal bullshit pop-star stuff,” Williams says.

“Why is it like that, the stadium and all the people and the records and the houses and the cars, and why am I so sad?”

But fatherhood quickly put paid to all that.

The former Take That singer’s children, five-year-old Teddy and three-year-old Charlie, have helped him approach pop superstardom in the same way as others approach their own jobs – just another way to feed his family.

And that mission will take the Briton all the way south to New Zealand and over the next three weeks as part of his latest global tour.

“The kids come and it’s like, okay, it’s about them – Daddy goes to work, Daddy’s got a great job and let’s not worry about it too much,” Williams says.

“Let’s just go and provide for them.

“So yeah – everything has changed.”

The 44-year-old Williams will hold 11 concerts across the Antipodes in the coming weeks, just months after cancelling Russian tour dates due to various health issues, including a mystery illness and severe back pain.

In part due to his health woes and in part due to his wish to stay healthy for Teddy and Charlie, he has since converted to a vegan lifestyle.

He also does yoga and pilates each day.

The Stoke-on-Trent native says he’s now back to his concert-nailing best, and was looking forward to finishing off his tour on a high.

He’d play tracks from the entirety of his 28-year career.

“It’s just time I look after myself a bit better – I love my job, I want to be able to do it for a long time,” Williams says.

“I have something in me that wants to f*** everything up and obliterate myself, it’s inside me and (something) I’m working through on a day-to-day basis.

“I can either feed that wolf or not feed that wolf, and I’m choosing not to feed that wolf right now and look after myself because I like life.”

Williams will hold his first concert in Auckland on Wednesday, followed by Dunedin on Saturday and then nine across .

NSW, Vic threaten to walk from Murray plan

NSW and Victoria are threatening to walk away from the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.NSW and Victoria are threatening to walk away from the Murray-Darling Basin Plan if controversial changes to the strategy aren’t passed in Canberra in a debate that has scrambled political alliances at a state and federal level.
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NSW and Victorian Water Ministers Niall Blair (National) and Lisa Neville (Labor), together warned they would pull out of the deal if amendments to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan fail to get passed by the Senate.

“This is not a bluff,” Ms Neville told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

The changes, proposed by the Turnbull government last year, would see a reduction in the amount of water returned to the environment in the northern half of the basin.

However, a disallowance motion by the Greens, backed by Labor and the Nick Xenophon Team, threatens to sink the government’s plan.

Mr Blair said the Greens were undermining important reforms that would help fix a 100-year-old problem.

“If the disallowances are successful … there is no point continuing with the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the ministerial council process from a NSW point of view,” Mr Blair said.

Ms Neville, who is now at odds with her federal colleagues, said the future of the plan now rested with the Senate.

“If these motions are disallowed it is a slap in the face to communities and a slap in the face to Victoria and NSW,” she said.

“I’m urging every Senator to think carefully about the future of the plan, if they want to achieve viable regional communities, a healthy river, good outcomes for the environment, they must support these components of the plan.”

Mr Blair said the disallowance vote would prevent $180 million from going towards the health of rivers and fish populations in northern NSW and Queensland.

He said it would also mean a further 221 Gigalitres of water buybacks in southern NSW.

“If those principles and the processes that go through the ministerial council are just going to be put on the scrap heap because of this politicking in Canberra, there is no plan,” he said.

Federal Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce last week accused the Greens and opposition of playing politics with the health of the Murray-Darling Basin.

“The only reason they are doing this is for a political reason, the political expediency of trying to create a wedge in South n politics so that people who are not aware of the issues involved can get basically sold this pup,” Mr Joyce told the ABC.

“So the prize for this is ashes in your mouth because you’ve completely and utterly destroyed all the hard work we’ve put into (this) for such a long period of time.”

South n Water Minister Ian Hunter said his state would continue to oppose the Federal government’s proposed changes until “real commitments and real projects” were realised.

“Victoria and NSW are walking away from the promise they made in 2012 when 3.4 million ns almost lost their drinking water and livelihoods,” Mr Hunter said in a statement.

Newcastle artist stimulates climate change conversation with unique ‘breathing’ exhibition

Catch Every Breath: Andrew Styan with his interactive exhibit at The Lock-Up. Picture: Simone De PeakEvery breath you breathe is unique. No two breaths are exactly alike. And yet, for most of us, we spend no time thinking about it.
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Andrew Styan has thought about it a lot. The Newcastle artist developed a project, Catch Every Breath, that “captures” a picture of a person’s single individual breath. First shown at The Lock-Up creative art space in Newcastle ayearago, Catch Every Breath has been tweaked by Styan and is at The Lock-Up again, this timeas part of a national tour from the Experimenta creative art group in Melbourne.

A former metallurgist,Styan has morphed into an artist with a conscience (“the climate change artist” he says).

“You can’t just talk about climate change,” he says with the earnesty of a scientist and commitment of an artist. “It’s all the deeper issues that feed into it. Its about emissions, about consumption, about all those other things that go into it.

“My practice is looking for something that is a neutral medium that people can latch on to, and hopefully a space where people can have a conversation about things. The camps are polarised, there’s nothing in the middle … I was hoping to create work to stimulate some sort of conversation.”

Andrew StyanCatch Every Breath starts when a visitor breathes a breath into a plastic tube that feeds into a glass tank full of water. The breath becomes a bubble in the water. When the bubble passes across a laser beam in the tank it triggers a camera with a flash that snaps the image of the bubble in the water. A computer captures and stores every image, and in the exhibit the visitor’s “breath bubble”is projected on a wall screen within seconds.

“This work is all about your own breath, visualising something you can’t see,” Styan says. “If we breathe, we take it for granted. We share air, you and I are sharing air right now, we take that for granted. This work tries to make a connection between people who are breathing.”

​Read more: What would you do if you found out a politician had lied to you?

The first time Catch Every Breath was shown in Newcastle, about 5000 breaths were recorded. Since then, Styan has significantly developed the concept. You can note the number of your breath and track it down on a website if you wish. You can click and get the three “breaths” closest in shape to yours. Or you can click and ask for a social profile of your “breath” on the spot:your “social profile” measures how far to the political left or right you are; your “social class” can be measured by whether your “breath” is at the top of the imageor the bottom; your “social tolerance” can be measured by the size of your “breath”.

For instance, your profile could show you as a “fence-sitting chilled hippy”.

“It’s a meditative work, also playful work,” Styan says. “Playing with social media, social profiling and all sorts of things, trying to connect us. When you breathe a breath and capture it, and compare it with someone else, or find a match … that’s a very personal scale.”

The Experimenta show which has Catch Every Breath will visit nine destinations over the next three years. Styan estimates Catch Every Breath will wind up with more than 30,000 breaths captured by photography and stored on its computer.

“At the beginning, it was a very raw thing, all you had was thebreath on the screen,” he says. “But it was powerful. Hopefully, Ihaven’t compromised it. Mostly it is about the meditative idea about your own breath. But trying to get you to compare it with all these other breaths in the system, the idea there is a national collective breath.”

The entire Experimenta is a challenging showfor the human mind.

“Alot of theExperimentashow has capacity for interaction,” The Lock-up director Jessi England says. “There is wow. Abit of wonder about them. You can unpack theideas behind it.

“The overarching idea, from biologist EO Wilson, is this idea we haveall theseincredible tools and technologies, but in reality, in our biology and thinking, our influences are paleolithic – how do we navigate change, how do we react to that.

“The rise of the maker culture is a reaction to technology. This show has advanced technologies and simple mechanics.”

Longread: The stingrays return to Throsby Creek

The travelling Experimenta show has a second major work by Styan, Life Support System, but is it not showing at The Lock-Up because it a large installation which featured in a previous show Styan curated at The Lock-Up. The interactive inflatable sculpture features a huge balloon (the economy) with two lung-shapes inside (nature and humanity), all of which can be manipulated by visitors.

The show, Experimenta Make Sense: The International Triennial of Media Art, runs through March 18 at The Lock-Up.

On Sunday, February 18, Experimentaartist Judy Watson will be in conversation at The Lock-Up with Alisa Duff from the Wollotuka Institute about her diverse practice as well as works featured in Experimenta.

Barnaby Joyce prefers the cone of silence over his affair, but who benefits most?

HERE’S an exercise for you after a week of Barnaby Joyce, his staffer, their baby and what the Prime Minister knew about the affair in 2017.
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Imagine you’re a journalist and someone rings to say a politician hasn’t been living in his electorate because he’shad an affair with a parliamentary staffer and his long-term marriage hasended. What, if anything, wouldyou do?

It happened to me a few years ago so I rang the pollie. If an MP isn’t living in his or herelectorate anymore then the people he or she represents have a right to know, is my way of looking at it. The pollie confirmed he was separated but denied living outside the electorate or having an affair. He insisted he was still living at his family home. And then, completely unprompted, he denied rumours he’d fathered a child to theparliamentary staffer. She had a baby but it wasn’t his, he said.

I wrote an article putting all of the above on the record –mainly because too many people had contacted me about it and he said he was sick of the rumours and wanted to set the record straight. But I didn’t think much of it. I had no reason to doubt what he said was true.

A bit later I had a phone call from a man who was a friend of a man who had beenthe parliamentary staffer’s partner. The partner knew his relationship hadn’t been the best but believed he was the baby’s father until he caught the pollie and his partner at his home one day. The friend wanted to know if I wanted to report that.

I answered pretty bluntly that the only way we would be able to report something like that was if he could supply me with documents confirming the baby’s paternity and various other essential points, and even then we would have to think about it. Get any of the above factually incorrect and you’re handing someone a defamation settlement on a plate.

He said he’d get back to me. And so he did, with the documents.

Ask yourself what you would do from that point if you were the journalist and the pollie had clearly lied.

In my case I rang the pollie. He not only confirmed the baby was his but agreed that he had lied to me –and by default the public –about the whole matter.

His exact words were “Of course I lied.I lied to protect [the woman], the baby, my children and my family, and because I didn’t want it in the media.’’

And remember, I didn’t ask him about a baby in the first place. My initial call was about where he was living. What happened after that was a pollie own goalwith twist, half pike, pirouette and back flip.

He retired after that, although it wasn’t a straightforward exit. He’d told me in earlier phone calls that he was sick of politicsand planned to announce his retirement from his safe seat at a partymeeting a fewweeks later.

Going back to the exercise of imagining you are the journalist, what else do you do in this situation? I rang the parliamentary staff member and attempted to make contact with the pollie’s wife. You can argue that was an intrusion on their privacy.

I’d like people to consider this. Male politicians outnumber female politicians across all levels of n governments by a large factor. If we have a political scandal in this country, particularly one that features an affair, marriage break-up and baby, it tends to feature a male pollie and a younger woman –oftena more junior staff member. In many cases the male pollie’s family has relied on the wife either putting her own career aspirations on hold or not working at all to accommodate the pollie’s long absences.

The veil of privacy is invoked whenever a pollie scandal of the affair/marriage break-up/baby kind unfolds. The supportive but betrayed wife is silenced behind that veil, usually for good. The political juggernaut moves on, the male pollie regularly emerges a little bruised (metaphorically), but we’re encouraged to act as if nothing has happened.

We can’t control relationships. Certainly any suggestion of a US-style ban is ridiculous, unworkable and like any prohibition response to a difficult subject, doomed to failure.

But n politics has a history of silenced women who have supported husbands, raised children, smiled and endured endless political events, only to have the rug pulled out from under them when the affair is revealed, whether in public or not.

I attempted to contact the two women in the pollie-who-lied-about-the-baby case to warn them that an article was about to appear –because it had to, he had lied –and check if they would like to say something. The veil of privacy has been invoked in the past by the male pollies and it’s been accepted by journalists and the public, but based on no evidence at all that the pollie’s wife might want to stay silent.

I made the call and reached a work colleague of the pollie’s wife who passed my message on. The reply was that she did not want to comment. Neither did the staffer.

I’m pleased Natalie Joyce made a statement about the impact of her husband’s affair on their family, including four daughters. I’m pleased she made it clear she had “placed my own career on hold to support Barnaby through his political life”.

Barnaby Joyce is leader of a party thatappeals to the traditional, conservative end of the spectrum, with women making uponly 15 per cent of its federal MPs by 2016, compared with 45 per cent for Labor and the Greens. The party that likes to keep its women at home, or in jobs where home and family can be prioritised so the men can lead, is headedby a man who shat in his own nest and expects us to act as if nothing has happened, because that’s whatwe’ve always done.

That’s notprivate. It’s a line in the sand for all of us.

Qld jury considering verdict in Flori case

A jury is deliberating in former Queensland police officer Rick Flori misconduct trial.A Gold Coast jury is considering its verdict after retiring in the misconduct trial of former Queensland police sergeant Rick Flori.
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The jury retired just before 11am AEST on Tuesday following the six-day trial at the Southport District Court for Rick Flori, 47, a single charge of misconduct in a public office.

After five-and-a-half hours of deliberations, no verdict had been reached.

Flori, who has pleaded not guilty to the charge, released footage of police at the Surfers Paradise station bashing a handcuffed man, Noa Begic, in a basement car park in January 2012.

Once the footage was run by The Courier-Mail, an internal investigation led to a search of Flori’s home, where the footage was located on an SD card.

Flori told investigators he’d acquired the footage for “training purposes” and denied knowing anything about the email address used to arrange the leak with a journalist.

Crown prosecutor Todd Fuller said Flori was upset at being overlooked for a promotion to senior sergeant in 2011.

Once he realised the footage included the man who’d been given the promotion at his expense, Senior Sergeant David Joachim, he’d set about leaking it to discredit his rival, Mr Fuller argued.

Mr Fuller said in the email sent to the journalist, Flori failed to mention any of the other officers involved except for Snr Sgt Joachim, despite Senior Constable Ben Lamb being the man who kneed and punched Mr Begic.

“The email doesn’t even mention Constable Lamb,” Mr Fuller said.

“His attack is on David Joachim. Rank. Name. Position.”

Mr Lamb was later disciplined for his actions, receiving a suspended dismissal from the police service.

Flori’s defence barrister Saul Holt QC labelled the accusation of a vendetta from his client against Snr Sgt Joachim to be nonsense.

Mr Holt said Flori had made complaints about several other officers during his career and his behaviour towards Snr Sgt Joachim wasn’t exceptional.

“Rick Flori is happy to complain about anybody if the complaint is valid,” Mr Holt said.

“David Joachim is no more than a mild irritant in Rick Flori’s history of making complaints.”

Mr Holt said Flori’s motivation to leak the footage was “pure” and intended to ensure those responsible for the violent arrest were exposed.

“This incident is astonishing … the fact we know about it through the leak is a good thing,” he said.

Deliberations will resume on Wednesday.

William Crighton set for European tour, new album

Commanding: William Crighton playing at 48 Watt St, Newcastle, in 2017. Picture: Paul DearWilliam Crighton’s tantalising journey towards music success continues to pick up steam at a hectic pace.
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This week he landed in Kansas City, Missouri, for a four-day showcase at Folk Alliance International (among the huge list of talent attending are Aussies Liz Stringer andRuby Boots).

Next week, accompanied by Matt Sherrod, drummer extraordinaire and producer of Crighton’s debut album, he will be performing across Canada in tandem with Canadian blues rocker Terra Lightfoot, who toured with Crighton in last year.

Afterhe touches down in next month Crighton’s got four dates with Vikki Thorn (The Waifs) in NSW and then Bluesfest at Byron Bay at Easter, where he’s scored four performance slots.

It was two years ago that Crighton, who lives in Bellbird with his wife Jules and two young daughters, launched his powerful self-titled debut album full of vivid imagery that challenged the mind –killing a pedophile priest, losing a mate to suicide, questioning religion, living in the bush. The music, combined with his overpowering stage presence and intense vocals (and a band to match), caught the attention of an audience eager to sample something new.

“In the last 12 months we played a world music fest, folk fest, country, rock and blues … we’ll show up anywhere that will have us,” he says in a phone chat before heading to North America.

“There’s always a new challenge, you never know how it’s going to go.Each show is different to us. Each show has a different feel. That’s part of the excitement, part of the reason we do it in the first place.

William CrightonWilliam Crighton sings Jesus BluesThe year ahead already looks exciting. Crighton anticipates releasing his second album, perhaps as early as April. And he’s booked to play two major festivals in the UK, including Boomtown Fair in Winchester, followed by an extensive European tour.

Crighton has never been hesitant to put new music in front of an audience, or do covers. Nevertheless, the power and emotion of the first album has set high expectations for album number two.

“It will different to the first,the inspiration is different,” he says of the new album. “The context is different. I’m not living at Barrinjuck with Jules and the kids. I’ve been busy touring and playing, so the focus has come in and out, I focus and then do something else. That’s been the way it has unfolded over the last 18 months.”

Read more:

The back story to William Crighton

Review: 48 Watt St, May2017

Crighton’s journey, December 2016

Review: Cambridge, March2016

Once on stage, Crighton leaves no doubt his beliefs and his music are entwined. And that’s not about to change.

“For everyone who hates you, someone will love us,” he says, discussing a performance in January at a sheep station outside Tamworth.

“Fifty per cent of the crowd had never heard of me. That was an interesting dynamic, especially telling stories. It does make some people uncomfortable. I don’t why, it just does.It reinforces that art is subjective.”

His own journey of discovery will be reflected in the music on the new album, bet on it.

“Your politics are part and parcel of you as a performer: life is political,” he says.“It’s hard to separate the two. I don’t know how you could do that. I am very passionate about protecting our environment. I’m not just saying that, but trying to investigate.

“I recently went to the Adani coalmine protest camp, and spent some time. I talked to the locals, getting a decent overview … I’ve been trying to focus on fact-finding missions. In order to educate myself.So I am not a hollow drum. It is important in this day and age not to educate just by being passionate, but having the tools.”

Full throttle, full speed ahead.

.