Jarrad lives his country dream

Country musician Jarrad Wrigley may be a local boy but he’s spending less and less time at home as his career takes off.

In the past year alone he reckons he’s clocked up more than 60,000km driving to shows – and that’s just in his own car – driving the length and breadth of Queensland to towns from the Far North and inland to Mt Isa and Roma, touring the mining towns in between and crossing the border south to the heart of country – Tenterfield and Tamworth in NSW. He’s also been to every state and territory except Tasmania, but that will likely get ticked off this year.

He’s travelled a long way from home in Greenbank to play three to four shows a week “to hone his craft” he says and he will be welcome guest at Butterbox Beats at Kingston Butter Factory on 16 February. For fans new and old it will be a chance to see a different Jarrad – matured (slightly, he has just turned 21) from experience on the road and from new connections made on is travels, including country music royalty James Blundell, and from detours such as his stint as an extra on the set of Baz Luhrmann’s film Elvis where he met and talked music with filmmaker and star Austin Butler.

This time around Wrigley will be accompanied by his new band the Wrebels, a partnership that will be barely six months old by the time they hit Logan but already with some big stages at Gympie Music Muster and Tamworth Country Music Festival under their boots. They will be the opening act for James Blundell at Tamworth later this month.

Wrigley will also be bringing a new song with him, yet to be released but listen out for ‘Cause I did’, and catch him while you can at Butterbox Beats, which is free, because after that he has some big tours planned, including a national one with James Blundell as well as a packed festival calendar.

It may sound like a gruelling schedule but Wrigley is living his dream, emulating the country music idols such as Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two and Hank Williams and the Drifting Cowboys that have influenced his own love for music.

“That’s very much my focus, that old school way of doing it – you strap your instruments to the roof of your car and you drive from town to town to play shows. I believe in grass roots, making proper connections, that’s what’s important.

“My genre of music is that I am very influenced by traditional country and I am very big on going back to the roots and just being a good storyteller whether it’s about the land, animals, people, love or heartbreak and what I’m really trying to do is bring that old proper country sound to the new era. It’s not country pop. I consider myself to be a very traditional and authentic country voice,” he says.

Wrigley loves the travel and seeing “the land”. He plays a lot of country towns and one of his favourite things to do after a show is sit down with the local and listen to their stories after they have spent an hour listening to him. “It teaches me a lot about people and their stories really help me to go and write, maybe something for them,” he says.

In between shows Wrigley makes his way home to Greenbank and his own family roots where mum and dad live on acreage and there are animals and lots of open space around. He also finds time to work on other people’s farms, tending animals and learning as much as he can. Country is in his blood he says, with a long line of farmers in his family tree. His last single ‘Further to the Land’ tells the story about that and the visits he enjoyed as a kid. His nanna introduced him to the old country greats that she loved and now he does too – Johnny Cash, Patsy Kline, very early Elvis and then some Dolly Parton, Willy Nelson, The Highwaymen and gospel music.

That helped set him on the road that he travels now and he’s never been more sure it is the path he’s been meant to take. “I’ve always loved entertaining people and I’m told I wanted to sing before I could talk. Country has always been my thing and the stage to me is the best feeling ever. I’ve never done drugs and I never will because I’d never be able to get the same high as I get when I hear the crowd sing back the words to my songs while I’m on stage. It’s the best feeling in the world.”

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