By Luke Voogt
Geelong born-and-bred blues artist Wayne Jury has opened for some of the biggest Aussie bands in history.
Now, after releasing a new six-track record in January, the Herne Hill singer-songwriter is coming to the Potato Shed for a live-streamed show.
“I was meant to have a launch and had some gigs lined up, but everything got cancelled,” he said.
Instead, Jury played his first online gig earlier this year at Pistol Pete’s, after three decades performing for live audiences.
“It’s a totally different experience,” he said.
“In some ways, it’s kind of liberating. You get to respond to just the emotional intent of the song and what it means to you.
“[An audience] tempers the way you perform a song – you’re interacting with them and responding to their moods.
“Although I do miss the interaction of a live crowd – there’s nothing like it.”
Jury has fronted rock and blues bands across Australia since age 16 and has opened for AC/DC, the Little River Band, Cold Chisel, Dragon and more.
His early band, Unk the Funk, had a residency at Sphinx Hotel back when it was the Golf View Hotel.
“Anybody who was anybody at the time would play at the Golf View because it was on the national circuit,” he said.
As solo artist, Jury has played thousands of gigs across Australia, opening for the likes of Nathan Cavalleri and blues greats BB King and Albert Collins.
Since 1994 the multi-talented tunesmith has written 200 songs for J Albert and Son Publishing, the home of AC/DC, Rose Tattoo and Easybeats.
He even wrote a pop song for Aleesha Rome that made the Aussie top 10.
Jury’s peers have noticed his adaptability too.
He learned 20 Gangajang songs in three days when the band called him in as a temporary replacement for lead-singer Mark Callahan.
“Their drummer Graham Bidstrup called me up and asked if I wanted to learn a bunch of Gangajang songs.”
Jury also filled in for The Angels’ Doc Gleeson in a 2005 reincarnation of the Moonshine Jug and String Band.
Fast-forward 15 years, Jury had just launched six new songs before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“It’s a mixed bag. Some bluesy stuff and some folksy stuff,” he said.
“I’ve always got songs on the go in various stages of completion.”
One of the songs, Jimmi Jimmi, had been “hanging around for years”, he said.
“That’s always been a favourite of my Sydney fans – they’ve been bugging me to record that for ages.”
Jury recently joined Queenscliff’s Tides of Welcome Choir as director, although the pandemic has made practice tricky.
Mentoring up-and-coming local blues artists had also become more difficult, he said.
“It’s pretty ordinary, you can’t play together [online] because of the time lag,” he said.
Jury comes to the Potato Shed next Friday with local harmonica player Jack Meredith, who will also play a few of his own tunes.
Jury said the pandemic had made him rethink “what I get out of what I do” and made him care less about writing for specific genres.
“Now I just write a lot more for myself and hope people enjoy it.”
He planned to cut random pub gigs from his schedule post-COVID 19, and only play shows where people had come specifically to listen to his songs, he said.
“If we ever do get back to live performing, I don’t want to do any of those gigs where I was kind of wallpaper.”
More information: geelongaustralia.com.au/potatoshed