Heaven of a year

IT’S been one hell of a year for Perth singer/songwriter Toby Beard (who prefers to be simply called Toby).

She got married, became a mum, took out duel Dutch citizenship, cut a new CD in Denver with The Lumineers’ producer Ryan Hadlock, and toured seven European countries for an epic 55 performances over a mad 63 days.

“It was one of the best years of my life,” she tells the Herald.

A fan of US group The Lumineers, she emailed Hadlock not really expecting to hear from him.

“But he wrote back saying ‘let’s do this’,” Toby says.

Nobody Told Me, set to be launched at the Fremantle Arts Centre in February, reflects a change in Toby’s rootsy style of music following her tour: “Now it’s got a bit of European gypsy, blues and rock.”

The album is also more stripped back than previous releases: “I feel like it captures my live shows more, which I have been aiming to do. It’s not as big band sound.”

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“The most astounding thing about Europe was the attention, and honesty, of audiences, especially in her mother’s birthplace, Holland,” Toby says.

“People are there to listen to the music…and they will tell you what they think…never in a nasty way, but supportive.”

The tour was great, but gruelling.

“You spend so much time on the road. You drive 10 to 12 hours, get out do a gig and then drive eight hours the next day.”

A 4000-strong lesbian festival in Germany was a bit daunting for blokes in the band: “[but] we had  a great time,” Toby says.

The unknown act from Australia would be doing well to sell a dozen CDs, organisers had warned: “We packed out a big hall and sold the most CDs of the festival.”

Toby’s pregnant partner Amy went along for part of the tour and the couple took a month off for their honeymoon: They’d married in Donnelly River, after deciding they couldn’t wait for legislation to catch up with community sentiment.

“It was a huge wedding, and nothing non-wedding about it. We did our vows and signed our own certificate.”

You can catch Toby at the Fremantle Arts Centre as part of the free Sunday concerts, December 28, 2–4pm.  Take a picnic and kick back for a “raw, energetic brand of blistering roots and rocking reggae”.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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