Adam Harvey is at home in his bar with an acoustic guitar in a part of the world he likes to refer to as The Peoples’ Republic of Bateau Bay. It’s here Harvey gathers up friends and neighbours for an after hours singalong with a few beers and his trademark one liners. The big man is self effecting, but the accolades he’s received over his two decade career as a country artist are a mile long. He’s clocked up sales of over half a million albums, with eight Golden Guitars to his name and has a string of gold and platinum discs to his credit. Harvey has made some mighty fine records along the way: the staples Both Sides Now, Cowboy Dreams and the recent Family Life are among them… and then there’s the much loved collaboration with Troy Cassar-Daly The Great Country Songbook. Now he can add one more to the list, Harvey’s Bar… The Backyard Sessions.
Harvey’s Bar was recorded at home with Adam literally surrounded by friends. The party was in full swing, the one liners were hitting the mark and the ‘record’ button in the studio was definitely ‘on’! The finished album shows a man at the peak of his powers: relaxed and in celebratory mode. The results are infectious.
“Because I’ve written a few drinking songs in the past,” explains Harvey, “and I talk about how “this happened in the bar, or we wrote this in the bar.” I have a lot of people that come up to me and say, ‘God, I’d love to spend a night in that bar’. I started to think ‘why don’t we try and take a bit of that bar atmosphere and bring the bar to them’. That was the whole idea of the album. I started thinking about some of the songs that we would be sing-ing in the bar. I got the guys in and it didn’t matter if they made a mistake. It’s all about a bunch of guys sitting around together having a good old night, and a few drinks, and hav-ing a bit of fun playing the music.”
Prior to recording the album Harvey went into serious (and not so serious) songwriting mode.
The album includes some fine new originals including ‘Harvey’s Backyard’, ‘Just Another Player In A Band’ and ‘Alcoholaday’. Occasionally helping out with the writing were good pals Clint Crichton and Luke O’Shea.
“The first song I wrote was ‘Alcoholaday’ and that captured the whole vibe of the album: sitting out in a bar, having a bit of fun. I was telling Luke, who’s a great songwriter, about the theme of the album and within an hour we’d written the title track ‘Harvey’s Bar’
The song captures the mood of the night. The music fires up and all the neighbours come in: they know it’s time to have a little party in Harvey’s Bar. My mate Pete starts to get car-ried away and gets his bloody top off: he thinks he’s a supermodel and, then, when the missus gives everyone the death stare, it’s time to pack up and go home.”
Those recordings later became the final album, capturing all the fun of a great night out. Harvey’s Bar was later mixed by Jeff McCormack.
“We had the people chatting away in the background and some of it we left in,” explains Adam, “Obviously some swearing we had to cut out, but that was the whole vibe. At the start of the album, when you hear a bit of music and the roller door goes up, I wanted lis-teners to feel like they’d stepped into the bar on a night of a party at the Harvey’s.”
Alongside the new material, Adam has recorded some old favourites. There’s a terrific ver-sion of Mental As Anything’s ‘The Nips Are Getting Bigger’, alongside Merle Haggard’s ‘Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down’ and a duet with Golden Guitar Winner for Best Alterna-tive Country Album Lyn Bowtell on George Jones’ drinking chestnut, ‘Bartender Blues’.
When the show hits the road, audiences are in for a treat. Harvey will be bringing with him a living breathing replica of his own bar that will be re-built on stage.
“I think that a lot of artists are frightened to allow their audience or listeners into their own personal life,” he explains. “That has never been something that’s worried me. Country music fans are like one big family and with this album I want to try and let them inside my home, with my family and friends. Some peoples’ perceptions can be funny though. They see an artist on stage and never even con-template that after a show, that same artist goes back to living a normal life. Making school lunches, walking the dog, mowing the lawns, and having backyard BBQ’s with friends. I want to invite the listener into that personal space, so they can get a feel for a night with me, in my bar at home.”