Local Americana singer-songwriter Kelly Menhennett is a perfect booking for the Governor Hindmarsh’s annual Deep South Festival given her latest album Small Dreams was recorded in Nashville.
Local Americana singer-songwriter Kelly Menhennett is a perfect booking for the Governor Hindmarsh’s annual Deep South Festival given her latest album Small Dreams was recorded in Nashville. Raised on American country, soul and blues, Menhennett left a career as a winemaker in the Riverland to pursue her musical dream. She won the Telstra Road to Discovery competition in 2011, which enabled the folk, roots and alt-country singer to travel to Nashville for songwriting workshops and perform at the famed musical city’s annual Americana Music Festival. While there, Menhennett linked with producer Nielson Hubbard (Strays Don’t Sleep) who was one of the songwriters she worked with. “We got on really well,” says Menhennett. “We never actually finished anything on that particular day we caught up. Most of our time was spent getting to know one another, which I find is a really important component of being able to write with someone. I don’t particularly write well with people I don’t know. We just got to hang out and we created this seed of an idea and finished it off by email and Skype in the few months that followed.” When it came time to record her second album, Small Dreams, Telstra Road to Discovery’s head judge Bill Page suggested she head back to Nashville to work with Hubbard. “I was hoping I could do it in September [last year] to go back to Americana [Festival] and that was the only time he had free that year. All the stars aligned and I returned last year to record it. It was a magical experience.” While Menhennett worked on the album, one of America’s best known retro rockers JD McPherson stepped in to record some backing vocals for a HBO show. “He just strolled up to the studio and was throwing compliments at me for my album; it was just riduciulous. Nashville’s an amazing place for that. Even for connecting with Australians. I got to perform on stage with Paul Kelly at the Bluebird Cafe. Things like that would never happen in Australia.” Menhennett hopes to return to Nashville for Americana next year. “I would have loved to have gone back this September but I chose to tour Australia. I will put that money into more touring this summer. I thought I’d just stay home this year and goon another trip next year.” At Deep South, Menhennett will perform alongside The Timbers, the reformed Hiptones, Kevin Borich and Mojo Juju, as part of the three-day festival. “This will be the first time I’ll play at Deep South. I’m looking forward to it actually; it’s a great opportunity to watch some similar acts. It’s a stellar line-up.” Deep South Blues Festival The Governor Hindmarsh Friday, November 28 to Sunday, November 30 thegov.com.au