In his latest move in a music career spanning more than half a century, Perth-born rock veteran Brian Cadd now calls the iconic hippie fiefdom of Woodstock home.
“Everyone there looks exactly like me,” the hirsute 72-year-old jokes during a visit to Melbourne.
The former member of the Groop, Axiom and Americana legends the Flying Burrito Brothers and his wife, theatre luminary Amanda Pelman, moved to Woodstock from Boston about a year ago.
Cadd says the town swells with tourists and New Yorkers on weekends but most of the time it’s the perfect quiet spot. There’s enough music going on for him and, for Pelman, Woodstock is within striking distance of Broadway.
“The truth is, it’s a little town, it’s tiny,” he says. “It’s only really got one main street and about 6000 people live there.”
In March, Cadd was one of only two Australian artists announced on the bill for a concert marking the 50th anniversary of the iconic Woodstock festival. He and Melbourne garage-pop superstar Courtney Barnett were due to play alongside Jay-Z, the Killers, Miley Cyrus, Santana, Robert Plant, Gary Clark Jr and many others at Watkins Glen across three days in August.
However, Woodstock 50’s fate will be determined in the New York Supreme Court, perhaps today. Festival co-founder Michael Lang has sought an emergency injunction to recover nearly $US18 million ($25.9 million) in funding, while financiers Dentsu have cited contractual breaches for their decision to effectively cancel the anniversary gig.
When the Woodstock festival was held half a century ago, the Mt Lawley high school graduate was in Melbourne forming country rock band Axiom with former Twilights frontman Glenn Shorrock.
Cadd says that both he and Shorrock had “enormous epiphanies” over Music From Big Pink, the 1968 debut album from the Band, who played at the original Woodstock.
While they saw images of Jimi Hendrix, flag burning and semi- naked concertgoers at what was billed as An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace and Music, the impact of the festival didn’t reach Australia for a few years.
When it finally did at the inaugural Sunbury Pop Festival of 1972, Cadd was too busy with a solo career that was taking off with his eponymous debut album, which led to a move to the US and a deal with Chelsea Records.
The affable rocker says that while he was in the US for Sunbury, most people assume he was on the bill.
“I’d love to have a dollar for everyone in the past 50 years that’s come up to me and said how much they enjoyed me at Sunbury,” Cadd laughs.
Rather than the psychedelic sounds most associated with Woodstock, Cadd has explored what is now called Americana since unveiling Axiom’s debut single Arkansas Grass in 1969.
He also served five years as a member of Americana standard-bearers the Flying Burrito Brothers in the 90s, when he was living in Nashville.
Cadd returned to the Tennessee capital in 2017 to record latest album Silver City with acclaimed Australian producer Mark Moffatt, whose resume includes classic albums from the Saints, Mondo Rock, Yothu Yindi and Tim Finn.
I’d love to have a dollar for everyone in the past 50 years that’s come up to me and said how much they enjoyed me at Sunbury.
The now Nashville-based studio wizard pulled together a crack band and insisted Cadd, an accomplished pianist who got his first professional gig at age 12 for a Perth TV station, leave playing instruments to others and simply be the lead singer.
“He put me in the vocal booth with all the lyrics and said ‘Shut up and wait till I point at you’,” he says. “We did the whole thing in three days, not counting mixing and some vocal repairs.
“They recorded everything at once … which is the way it was when I made my first record in 1966.”
Silver City should have been released last year. However Cadd dislocated his shoulder, which required nine operations to repair.
“I lost a whole year, which at 70 is not an easy thing to do, I can tell ya,” he says.
Cadd is back on the road and heads west this week with the APIA Good Times tour alongside good friends Russell Morris, Ross Wilson, John Paul Young, Joe Camilleri, Kate Ceberano and the Bull Sisters.
“At our age, if you’re alive and still in the industry, you’re a mate,” he laughs.
“In 1966, you were entirely motivated by chicks and beer. There was no money in it. We would have laughed at the concept of still being here.
“The Who sang ‘I hope I die before I get old’ and Mick Jagger said ‘There isn’t a chance in the world the Rolling Stones are going to be together when we’re 30, are you kidding’.
“We were the first of the rock’n’roll stars and there was nothing for us to lean on as an example. Nobody knew whether this was going to last 10 minutes and then the waltz would come back and we’d be gone again.”
Silver City is out now. APIA Good Times is at the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre on May 16 and Perth Concert Hall on May 17.