renowned guitarist from the land down under, Australian fretboard
ace Ben Rogers turned mwe3.com on to Heart
And Soul, an album he
played on as a member of the band called Louey Hestermans
Whimsy. Ben has been talking up Louey's new Whimsy album on his
social media pages andwith the music covering an impressive
range of musicWhimsy's Heart And Soul album takes you
on a remarkable sonic journey. Imagine the deep folk-rock songs of
Fairport Convention with Richard Thompson, with the occasional surf
rock instrumental and picturesque, old English folk instrumental.
A relatively unknown singer and songwriter outside of Australia, Louey
Hesterman is a most entertaining artist and band leader. On Heart
And Soul, Louey shares the Whimsy vocal spotlight with female
vocalist Cora Browne with other contributions from Christy
Cooney and Cyril Moran and of course, guitarist Ben Rogers.
Whimsy plays up a storm and the classic, folk-rock flavored lead off
track The Murray River Song is a splendid choice for a
single. Ever the reluctant guitar hero, Rogers gets an excellent center
stage spotlight on a rock instro written by Louey called Waves
Of Apollo. Cover art and imaginative album graphics are by Nikki
Scarlett, who is the bass player in Ben Rogers bands. Track
12, Home is another memorable song masterpiece and gives
a good indication as to the depth of Hestermans masterful songwriting.
With several songs looking back at Hestermans ordeals when he
served in the Vietnam War, the music of Whimsy merges toe-tapping,
topical folk-rock with a shot of rock and roll heart. www.greensouthrecords.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Can you tell us where youre from originally and where you live
now and what you like best about it? Being from Australia do you travel
sometimes out of the continent? Can you tell us why it took so long
to get an album from Whimsy? Is Heart And Soul your first album?
Louey Hesterman: I was born in Carlton, a suburb of Melbourne,
but spent my childhood on a dairy farm in Koyuga, near the Murray
River Port of Echuca. I now live in the beautiful seaside town of
Apollo Bay, 3 hours from Melbourne. Over the years Ive spent
many days near the Murray River and always found much peace watching
the steamships paddlewheel their way slowly up and down the river.
Later on I lived in Mildura, also a town on the Murray, so I have
had a lasting connection with the peace I found there as a child.
Over the years I have traveled extensively away from Australia including
a year in the Army in South Vietnam as a soldier. In the early 1980s
I traveled around the world, including time in Europe and the United
States. I have always been a gypsy and love travel.
Following a divorce about 8 years ago, I became free to pursue my
music more seriously for the first time in many years. Two friends
had heard some of my songs and were determined to help me make a CD.
been a compulsive song and tune writer since childhood, not for money
nor sense of any reward, but purely as an introspective analysis of
any moving situation I happened to be in at the time
always heard music in my head, and in my early teens, started to believe
there was something seriously wrong with me! The melodies I heard
even included full orchestration at times. Now looking back over the
years, having written or composed over 400 songs and tunes, my satisfaction
was in completing the creative process. I was always leaving it to
a much older Louey to worry about actually recording the
songs. Consequently, I am now that older Louey.
The name Whimsy was conjured by Melanie OShanassy,
a friend who thought much of my music was whimsical. So the Whimsy
band only started to exist as the songs for the album were chosen,
usually between Melanie, Cyril Moran and myself. This was an arduous
process for me over two and a half years, being almost unable to determine
whether a song was suitable for my first album. Fortunately, Melanie
and Cyril both had strong opinions and gradually a concept for the
album appeared out of the songs chosen and we began the actual recording
Yes, Heart and Soul is my first album. I have had my songs
recorded and released by other artists over the years, and I have
co-produced albums for other people, but this is my first.
mwe3: Some of the tracks date back to the 1970s. Is the Heart
And Soul album a chance to bring your musical history up to date
so to speak? Whose decision was it to put the album together and have
it released? You said it was also filmed?
Louey Hesterman: Yes, the Heart And Soul album is a
cross section of snapshot views of the songs I have written over the
years since my late teens.
Having agreed to produce this CD, many good things have occurred in
parallel with the journey of putting it together. Many of my musical
friends have always known me as a guitarist, but not many know that
Im also a songwriter. Heart And Soul is my opportunity
to now bare my soul and let everyone hear what has also been going
on in my head over the years.
The decision to put the album together was mainly my two friends Melanie
OShanassy and Cyril Moran, who co-produced the album. Dave Walker
from Greensouth Records became involved about a year ago, and deserves
much of the credit for drawing the album together from a mishmash
of material recorded in several studios around Victoria over a long
period of time.
A few performances of the band have been filmed on a
semiprofessional basis, but we dont have a professional video
at this stage.
The CD has definitely given me a new chance and the encouragement
to start writing again.
mwe3: Does The Murray River Song tell your life
story? How did you put the melody together and work out the songs
vocal harmony with Cora Browne? The song is truly a masterpiece of
well thought out music. Youre from that area where the Murray
river is? I always wondered what it would be like living near a river.
What can you tell us about the Murray River and what made you want
to write a song about it?
Louey Hesterman: As mentioned before The Murray River Song
is a reflection of being born by the Murray in my heart.
I wrote the lyrics and the melody about 20 years ago. Living in the
Dandenong Ranges at that time, I missed the river and the peace and
escape from the real world that it seemed to offer me.
Cora Browne, another beautiful songstress and friend, was always the
female voice I heard in my music. She was wonderful. We worked out
the harmonies in Dave Walkers studio after Id recorded
the lead vocal and guitars.
In times of turmoil some part of my mind always returns to the river
its eternal peace and quiet flow.
The Murray River is Australias longest river, very wide in places,
running all the way between New South Wales and Victoria and through
South Australia, finally emptying in the Southeastern part of the
Indian Ocean. Aboriginal people have lived around the Murray for at
least 40,000 years. For over a hundred years it was a major transport
corridor for boat, barge and paddle steamer. Some paddle steamers
still operate along the Murray as tourist attractions these days.
It is a beautiful river. It occasionally floods, forming billabongs
and giving life to many large Red Gum trees.
In times of drought the river runs low, exposing huge sandy banks.
Like the river, my hearts been high and my hearts been
low. I wanted to capture the influence it has had on my life.
I was thinking about the Donovan connection in your music as you add
in some Celtic imagery and even humor you can hear on Giants
Are Too Tall. Did you write that as a humorous kind of track?
Louey Hesterman: Giants Are Too Tall is a childrens
song. It was originally written in the 1970s for Daryl Somers, a friend
of mine at the time. Daryl had a morning TV program called Hey
Hey Its Saturday, that he compered with a hand-held puppet
called Ossie Ostrich.
Although originally a childrens program, its popularity resulted
in a move to a nighttime slot with an adult audience. The song retained
its meaning. Daryl wanted a song that would combine the two personalities,
so I came up with the childlike concept of a giant being
Daryl, and a much smaller person in Ossie, a smaller ostrich.
As I wrote the song lyrics, my thoughts moved to someone small needing
encouragement to believe in themselves, mixing with giants
no matter what their size they are all equal. Say hello and
smile for me, thats all you have to do. Children,
especially, seem to relate to this song. Glad you connect me with
mwe3: Can you say something about how Whimsy came together
as a band. I know Ben Rogers thanks to his excellent guitar work but
I had not heard your music before. How did you assemble the band to
make the album?
Louey Hesterman: The Whimsy band began forming as the musicians
required to play the music itself became evident. Initially Cyril
Moran and I teamed up, and we wanted a female voice, and that was
Cora Browne. Cora and I worked together in a musical stage play about
Banjo Paterson, the man who wrote Waltzing Matilda. Apart
from her singing ability, Cora is a fine actress, and a delight to
have on stage or in any studio.
Some time elapsed, and during rehearsals we decided to invite Christy
Cooney, a great traditional and contemporary Irish music balladeer.
Christy had been the front man for The Cobbers, an Australian Bush
Band that recorded and toured extensively.
I met Ben Rogers in the 1960s, when as a 17 year old I worked in Mildura,
on the Murray River, and joined a teenage rock band called The KMotions,
in which Ben played lead guitar. We were very successful on a local
scale but things fell apart when I was drafted for National Service
A couple of years ago Melanie suggested we hold an event to mix all
of my old friends with my more recent new friends. She hired a theatre
and invitations went out. Ben Rogers and I rekindled our friendship
at this event, and I asked Ben if he was interested in recording a
tune for me. I had written a tune called Waves Of Apollo
that needed some fine playing if it were to be recorded. Ben was keen
to be involved, and within a few weeks we had a recorded version of
consulting other band members I invited Ben to join Whimsy, and that
completed the depth of talent we were seeking to finish off the album.
Incidentally, the primary requisite we all needed was to be able to
play, travel and enjoy each others company in the process
in my opinion that is Whimsys biggest asset when we travel
we all have lots of fun.
With the addition of Ben, Whimsy could now play and record the rest
of the CD.
mwe3: How did the album come together, as I see some of the
tracks, like the instrumental Looking For Ireland was
recorded in 2011. Tell us a little about that track. I like albums
that combine both vocal and some instrumentals too. Why are instrumentals
so overlooked in pop music?
Louey Hesterman: For more than a year we had been waiting for
a particular studio to become available. This resulted in much frustration,
as for me to travel to Melbourne involves a 3 hour drive each way.
At times I was going to shelve the idea of the CD as becoming too
difficult, not knowing if we were ever going to finish the project.
With Ben Rogers having his own studio in Melbourne and having totally
finished one track in just a few weeks, I decided to try using different
studios. We used Bens Thurston Studios for Heart And Soul,
both the instrumental and the vocal versions.
the meantime I followed up on a couple of songs Id recorded
in the 1970s. I had recorded Agent Orange and Home
in Bruce Adderlys studios in West Melbourne, and I rang Bruce
to ask if he still had the master tapes. Fortunately he did, and was
enthusiastic about helping me with the CD. He had moved to Shepparton
in Northern Victoria, where we subsequently recorded Adventure
Slowly, we were gathering momentum, but from different places and
times, and now with different studios.
As a Vietnam Veteran I definitely wanted the two tracks on the CD,
even though some thought Agent Orange was hard-hitting.
In about 1998 I visited Ireland and fell in love with the country
and its people. I asked Joseph Bourke, a classical pianist, if he
could arrange a string quartet for me, to produce an instrumental
version of my composition Looking For Ireland. As it turned
out, we dropped the string quartet idea for a soloist on flute. He
needed someone to pull together what was now a disparate collection
of songs, tunes and artwork. As indicated on the sleeve, the front
cover artwork was designed by Nikki Scarlett, who is the bass player
with Ben Rogers Instrumental Asylum and the Ben Rogers Trio.
We had recorded the basics of South Sea Islands, Coffees
In The Pot and Murray River Song at Dave Walkers
Frankston studio in one long grueling session, as I remember, but
much was still needed to collate tracks, and finalize mixing and cover
design and layout. I was amazed at how much is involved in producing
a CD! Dave took it on, coordinating everyone in the process. We had
set a release date for May 2017 and Dave set to work with Cyril and
myself, determined to make it happen.
I agree with you Robert
I prefer to listen to a mix of tunes
and songs. Apart from variety, I have written many tunes for piano,
guitar or orchestra, which have no words or lyrics. Many times, the
music is more important to me than the lyrics.
Most young writers are probably lyric or topic based maybe
concentrating on having a hit song; people outside the
pop genre may be more inclined to write instrumentals?
mwe3: How influenced were you by tropical South Seas music?
I noticed South Sea Islands has some great imagery and
is that your guitar work on it? Its another great track featuring
you and Cora. What is your favorite island paradise? Does Australia
have tropical parts to it? How far from Tahiti?
Hesterman: In the early 1980s I traveled, with my then wife, around
the world for a year. During that time we saw many places, and after
months of travel, became homesick for Australia. Our travels included
spending some time in Hawaii on our way home
I love Hawaiian
Having already been to Asia and Fiji, Hawaii was similarly beautiful,
with tropical sands, coconut trees, etc.
I wrote South Sea Islands while I was actually in Hawaii,
using basic chords on a ukulele I bought in Hawaii. From memory, I
was sitting under a coconut tree with pen, paper and uke. On the recording
of this track I played guitars and bass while Cyril played ukulele.
Cora blended lovely harmonies, making it a very happy song.
My favorite island paradise so far is the Aire Islands, north east
of Bali. There are several islands, all in idyllic situation Pure
White Sands and Emerald Sea. I stayed on one without motor
cars only horse and donkey led carts. The diving was magnificent.
Australia has many islands in the Northern tropical zones. Apart from
the Barrier Reef islands, which are fabulous, North of Darwin there
are more islands than could be explored in one lifetime. More than
half of Australia is either semi- or tropical.
Melbourne is over 4,000 miles from Tahiti. I havent been to
Tahiti but would love to do so.
mwe3: Bens contribution to the Whimsy album is rather
considerable. Even though I always thought of him as a kind of Aussie
Hank Marvin, I was marveling at Bens playing on the instrumental
Heart And Soul and hes got some nice slide on there.
How did you meet Ben? Can you compare the instrumental version with
the vocal version of Heart And Soul? Its an excellent
song, both versions, and the piano is cool too. Which one is the newer
Hesterman: Ben is a marvelous musician and songwriter, and a close
personal friend. As mentioned, I met Ben in Mildura when I was 17
years old. Our band called The KMotions won a district Battle
of the Sounds' competition, and we had many great times together as
We reconnected as friends a couple of years ago at the
Event which brought many of my old mates together to meet
more recent friends.
All the future members of Whimsy were there, even singing together
a chorus of my Prayer For Eireann, which later, miraculously,
Dave Walker blended into the final chorus on the CD.
I wrote Heart And Soul purely as an instrumental, on guitar.
As it developed, I would play the tune instrumentally during breaks
while I was performing with Cora, on The Man They Call The Banjo
stage plays. Cora seemed to love the tune, and frequently hummed along.
I promised her that if I put lyrics to the tune, I would get her to
sing the song.
How it became a song: Years after the tune was written, I went to
Darwin and there I penned most of the lyrics. Cora, Cyril and Ben
loved the lyrics, but they needed to be work-shopped to make them
a bit easier to sing and to make more sense to the listener. They
thought the song had become very significant as a link to my two daughters,
thus it became the theme song for the album.
heartfelt solos on various guitars have made the instrumental and
song two of my favorites, after listening many times
mwe3: Is Coffee In The Pot a kind of wake up song?
(no pun intended) Or is it more of a post break up song? Your guitar
work is excellent on that track.
Louey Hesterman: Coffee plays a big part in my life
cant seem to get going without at least two cups. Ive
written a few songs about coffee/life over the years. Ive imagined
a real cad who has cheated on his girlfriend, and now
wants another chance at the relationship. Again, it basically started
as a blues guitar tune, the words followed as the tune progressed
to a chorus. I still hear the song with brass, but Justin Brady played
a wonderful series of harmonica tracks.
mwe3: Can you say something about Waves Of Apollo?
Its a great track and it really adds some good old family instro-tainment
to an already excellent batch of songs. This stands out as one of
Bens best tracks sound-wise. Apollo as in the greek god?
Louey Hesterman: I live in Apollo Bay, a beautiful town about
3 hours West of Melbourne.
wrote the tune, very slowly, while I was attempting to learn mandolin.
Whilst on tour with another band I play in with Cyril, we started
playing the tune between performances. Cyril sped the tune up, and
Ben gave it steroids! They now play the tune together in concert,
to enthusiastic audience applause. I usually stay out of this master
class of playing! Waves of Apollo takes no prisoners at
the pace Ben and Cyril play it! Ben recorded the album version with
his Instrumental Asylum band. Apollo is the Greek God of the Sun.
mwe3: Is Prayer For Eireann a tribute to Ireland?
Is that the Celtic connection in the Whimsy music? Its also
a showcase of Cyril Moran. It has a slight Mike Oldfield effect which
is very nice.
Louey Hesterman: It is definitely my prayer for peace in Ireland.
My hope is that these beautiful people can live together, North and
South, without the bloodshed of the 1970s. I visited both the South
and Northern Ireland. The South seemed full of laughter and fun, while
the North seemed more reserved and stoic. It surprised me to see double
decker buses, similar to those I saw in London, in the North. A bit
like two different countries.
Cyril, Christy and Cora were all born in Ireland, and they bring wonderful
sparkle and Irish culture to Whimsy. Cyril sings like a lark, and
his playing and song writing is wonderful too. As co-producer, Cyril
has ears like an elephant.
My connection with Irish heritage, Irish music, is probably due to
Viking genes, as Hesterman is in the Book of Vikings
at Giants Causeway in Norther Ireland? Cyril sings magnificently,
I am very proud an Irishman sang that on the CD.
mwe3: In the CD artwork, you mention the time served in the
Vietnam war. How did that come about? I remember we were so scared
of going to Nam. In early 1972, while in high school I got a draft
notice to go and register which I did. I attended some big antiwar
rallies but the damage was done. It must have been quite an ordeal
for you. I didnt know Australia also fought in it. Your song
Agent Orange puts it all into perspective. Did you come
into contact with the chemical agent orange? Whose idea was it use
those horrible poisons in a war?
Hesterman: In 1968, after registering in 1967, I was called up
for National Service. Living in Mildura at the time, this was a life-changing
event for me. Although the call up was only for two years, many things
happened that probably formed me as a person. I spent nearly 13 months
in South Vietnam, seeing and doing many things it has taken me many
years to forget. We patrolled up and down many rivers, were attached
to American Forces at times, and during that period, a lot of defoliant
was sprayed over us on the rivers.
At the time we didnt know what the spray was, and it burned
our skin if we didnt have our shirts on. Later we learned it
was called Agent Orange. I had rashes for many years,
untreatable by doctors.
Many things happen in war, I suppose thats why many of my songs
yearn for peace. The American forces used the defoliant in a desperate
attempt to defoliate both sides of the rivers, to make it more difficult
for Viet Cong to attack vessels on the water.
Agent Orange was my attempt to pain the graphics of what
happened to us, and in particular how governments and society at large
abandoned us when we came home. A very tough year for everybody.
Home is another quintessential song. It dates back to
1976. Who are the other players on that track? Some fine guitar work
too. Since it dates back to 1976, thats 40 years ago! Wow, so
it was just sitting on the shelf for 40 years? Not a bad find. Just
smart song writing. 1976 was such a great hopeful year as I remember
it. I wish I could go back. People living not dying
I read you
actually wrote the song in Vietnam in 1970? Geez, that was a tough
year for everyone.
Louey Hesterman: True, I wrote this song in 1970, in South
Vietnam by the Mekong River.
I wanted to come home, I had been away nearly a year. So glad you
like this track Robert me too, ego aside!. Im amazed
that the song still stands up, after 40 years, to be still very meaningful
I have tried to find the names of the other musicians on this track,
the original studio notes have been lost, but Steve Groves and I arranged
it, and he plays a beautiful measured solo. The drummer on this track
is fabulous I love listening to his brush work. It is a difficult
song to play properly on drums.
mwe3: Adventure Before Dementia closes the Heart
And Soul album with a bang so to speak. Is that a kind of Cockney
sing-a-long? Good to close an album with a funny kid of track. Was
that the last song your wrote for the album?
Louey Hesterman: Adventure Before Dementia was
recorded in Bruce Adderlys new studio in Shepparton, Victoria.
In the 1990s, here in Australia, a few X, Y and Z Gen people were
waiting for their Baby Boomer parents to fall off
the perch to get their hand on their inheritances. This is my
response, imagining becoming a Grey Nomad, traveling Australia
by caravan. Although I wrote it 20 years ago, it is probably still
relevant to my generation. As a joke, I sang it with a broad Aussie
mwe3: Be great if more people inside and outside Australia
could tune in to what youre doing on this amazing Whimsy album.
Its so varied. Lets not forget the great Australian artists
and your music. Tell us about other plans and things going on for
Whimsy this year and next?
Hesterman: It is inspiring for me. Although I dont have
many more plans at the moment, my Whimsy Band is keen to stay together,
and were planning a series of CD release shows around Australia.
As most members are working musicians around Melbourne, weve
decided to concentrate on major festivals if possible. If I get around
to another CD before I fall off the perch, I have many songs and tunes
left to choose from. I will keep you posted about any great