- Fred Eaglesmith
& The Flying Squirrels,
with special guest Bill Chambers
@ Lizotte’s Restaurant, Kincumber, Thursday, April 5, 2007
Squirrels cut loose in Central Coast eatery
After almost five hours’ driving last Thursday I
arrived at the Central Coast for a night I’d been looking forward
to for some time. I was going to Lizotte’s Restaurant,
Kincumber. The act was Fred Eaglesmith and the Flying
Squirrels, with Bill Chambers as the opener. It doesn’t get
much better than that now, does it? It’s a beaut venue, and I’d
read about so many great acts going there previously, so this was
going to be a memorable evening. And that it was.
Billy Bob is one of the most underrated acts in the country.
He just gets up there and does it – from set up to pack down, it’s
all Bill. But this time he had company. Willie P Bennett,
Fred’s harmonica and mandolin player, joined Bill for his tasty
set. From Teresa to Ain’t Your Town No More, it was pure
enjoyment all the way. Willie’s mastery of the harp is
something to behold and his sheer love of playing shines through
in every song. For one song, Bill called on son-in-law Shane
Nicholson to take the stage for, and Shane’s soulful harmonies and
guitar picking was a real highlight of a fabulous set of Bill
Dinner was delicious – I had the scotch fillet, and it was cooked
to perfection – not mooing, of course. Can’t cope with that.
But just right, so thanks very much to the chef. Then it was on to
the star attraction – Fred Eaglesmith and The Flying Squirrels.
I’d only ever seen Fred on his own before, when he came out here
from Canada about five years back with a contingent of Canadian
and American singer-songwriters for a series of shows at Wests
during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
The Squirrels were an absolute delight, starting with drummer Kori
Heppner’s unadulterated passion for her role in the band.
After flirting with a radio career, Kori took a detour onto the
drum stool via the merch table – and she’s loving her work.
Then there was Luke Stackhouse from Port Dover, Ontario, who opted
out of the punk scene to wear a fluffy tail on the road with Fred.
Two years ago he swapped punk guitar for Squirrel-style upright
bass and hasn’t looked back.
Snappy dresser and multi-instrumentalist Willie P had already won
a new fan in me during Bill’s set. I was rapt to see him in
full flight with his fellow Canadians. In a career spanning
more than 30 years, Willie’s skills have ensured he’s travelled
far and wide and made some beautiful music along the way.
Bill was an honourary Squirrel, which he seemed to relish.
Don’t think he could do it for too long though, due to the rib
injuries it may incur. Bill laughs so hard at Fred’s jokes
he could easily break something. And they call it work?
For one song Fred was joined by one of his most ardent admirers –
the beautiful mother-to-be (for the second time) Kasey Chambers,
and Kasey’s harmonies were exquisite. I think it was Bill,
Kasey and Audrey Auld who first championed Fred before Australian
audiences almost a decade ago. Now it’s about Fred. He
joked, he spoke. He sang, he jeered and his monologues were
memorable – some absolute gut-busters. I discovered he’s a
totally different Fred with the Squirrels behind him. I’m so
pleased I made the trip as it really was a night to remember.
The “beer-soaked woman in front”… who was barely damp.
- Exquisite Squirrels:
Willie P Bennett, Kori Heppner, Fred Eaglesmith and Luke Stackhouse.
- Now that’s a look:
‘What the?’ could be what Fred is thinking at this point.
- Loving it: Kori Heppner loved every
minute of the show, singing every
- word and having a fine time with the
- An added bonus: Bill Chambers’ set was
enhanced with the gorgeous harmonicas and harmonies of
- Willie P Bennett. Shane Nicholson is
obscured on Bill’s right.
- Like a fine wine: Willie P Bennett’s
harmonicas and mando were an integral part of the Squirrels’ sound,
- and his harmonies were to die for.
- Multi-talented: Luke Stackhouse came from
a punk background, and only learnt double bass when he began
- playing with Fred – and his harmonies
- More than pretty enough: One of Fred's
major fans in the land of Oz, Kasey
Chambers, hopped up on stage and joined him for one song, much to the
delight of the capacity audience.
- Stars out for the night: Sara Storer,
Beccy Cole and Di Chambers wouldn’t have missed the gig for quids.
- Sara and Beccy were to leave the
next day for their Songbirds tour with Gina Jeffreys.
- Fredheads all three: Worm, Kasey Chambers
and Shane Nicholson taking some night air on Lizotte’s verandah.
- Double dose: Central Coast/Tamworth
businessman Brian Clarke couldn’t get enough of Fred.
- He caught the show at the Vanguard on
Tuesday night, then doubled up for Thursday night’s gig at
- Lizotte’s, taking three friends along.
- With the band? Kate Meurs and Jessica
Belle – two devoted Bill Chambers fans.
- Fred fans: Jim and Christa, from the
- Loved the show: Brian Clarke, Beth Clarke
and John Di Candelo from the Central Coast.