A journey across Australia... hauling a half tonne piano.
Grace met Hugh in a small country town. Hearing how he rescued his childhood piano from a suburban lounge room and set out for an ongoing adventure across Australia, she knew life for the both of them was about to change. With a few more clicks around the clock, Hugh 'Stand Up' Murray had come from playing a thousand shows across Australia and the United States, racking up songwriting and performance credits with the likes of INXS, Keith Urban and soul legend Lou Rawls. Grace, well, she was on the run from art school with a sketchpad full of songs and a voice that'll turn stop signs to go.
In 40 degree heat they toiled with the old upright across the Liverpool Plains... then shivered through the brisk still of the Nundle State forest pines while pushing cast iron and wood over the pine undergrowth. Check out the video page to see how this journey with a piano sparks moments of spontaneous connection with the people we meet going about their lives. It's the stories of those people which are inspiring new songs for an upcoming series.
Playing old halls and theatres occasionally sees their bank balance bump up out of the red and into the black. The crack in the windscreen would have been fixed by now, except with summer about to hit, the busted air con has gone to the top of the expense list.
Grace + Hugh have recorded their first album together with a stellar band between Sydney and Nashville, featuring co-writes with Don Walker (Cold Chisel) and Bones Hillman (Midnight Oil). A festival act with infectious grooves and melodies to pluck at heartstrings, Grace’s voice is the perfect foil for Hugh’s soulful piano playing and warm baritone… their vocal chemistry is starting fires on stages across the country.
Ten or so years ago Hugh set out to develop a format where artists are inspired by a true story and its characters to write a new song. On location the songs are then brought to life with the help of the talented, diverse musicians living in the region.
Following on from Hugh taking his childhood piano out on the stock route with Kirk Pengilly of INXS, drover Vane Walker and his 1000 cattle and 40 regional brass musicians, Grace and Hugh have a number of song-stories on a roll. Last year, immersed in the world of coastal oyster farmers who nurture the river to earn a living, they invited conductor Guy Noble on board and he arranged a crackin' orchestral score for the Mid North Coast Sinfonia to the sweeping song 'Slip Stream' which Grace and Hugh wrote on the childhood piano at waters edge.
'What is beautiful.... can also tear you apart' - (Lyric)
A drone camera shot coming in over the ocean at first light ducked in under the Tuncurry bridge to find a fishermans tugboat. On it, a grand piano with Guy, Grace and Hugh, chugging up river. A convoy of oyster barges follow towards a small white sand island where the Mid North Coast Sinfonia waited for their arrival and Guys baton to fall on the first crack of dawn.
What happened next? The river had its say. It rained so hard the island disappeared overnight. Guy and 'The Filmery' crew turned back to Sydney. Stay tuned!