The Winnie Blues Release “Half Wide Awake, But Dreaming”, Announce Americana Fest Showcase
Both born in Australia, Alice Beatty and Cameron Potts actually met here in the US for the first time, at a show in New York City for another Nashville based Australian, Ruby Boots. I wanted to hear more about their story of connection, reconnection in Nashville, getting married and releasing a full length album together. Their ten-track record, Half Wide Awake, But Dreaming was just released last week and if you listen to The Local Brew Hour on WMOT, you’ve likely heard some of their songs. They recorded at Dog House Studios in Nashville with producer Nick Bullock. Half Wide Awake, But Dreaming feels like modern day folk meets the classic country sounds of the 60s and 70s. The Winnie Blues were announced in the first round of official Americana Fest showcases earlier this week.
AnaLee: I loved reading about how you two met in NYC but didn’t really connect until you discovered you’d each moved to Nashville! What a trip! Would you tell us about that and about how you became The Winnie Blues?
Alice: Well, it was 2016 and I had just moved to NYC from Australia the week prior. I saw that Ruby Boots was playing a set down at Rockwood Music Hall in the lower east side, so I toddled off there to see my first gig since landing. Naturally, she was exceptional and made me feel both inspired and comforted (because she’s a fellow Aussie). But it was maybe only half way through the show I realized the guy I was standing next too, was also Australian. I was so excited and again, comforted to be around Australian accents, so I bought him a beer.
Cam: We joke that I never returned the favor, so I probably still owe Alice a drink! We went our separate ways that night and didn’t re-connect until both realizing that we had separately moved down to Nashville 6 months later. We ended up meeting up again at Mickeys in East Nashville. We then made a plan to do a co-write, and then everything tumbled from there. In February 2020, we headed back to Australia to get married! It was pretty lovely to be surrounded by family and friends, especially as Australia had just suffered the worst bushfires. Our plan was to return to Nashville, release our album and tour. However, we arrived back in town the night before the tornado, and two weeks later the global pandemic hit. But here we are now! Grateful and excited.
AnaLee: Tell us about your recording experience in Nashville with producer, Nick Bullock and who plays on the album. I love that pedal steel!
Cam: We feel so lucky to have had the recording experience we had. This record is the outcome of pulling together talented people, who are simultaneously just good people. With Nick as producer, as well as playing guitar and mixing the album - he had his hands full but still managed to create a smooth ride for us all. We recorded this album live at Dog House Studios, with Ryan Brewer on drums/percussion/keys, Cameron Carrus on bass, Joanna Sugamelli on strings and Chris Lippincott on pedal steel/keys. Chris is absolutely killer on steel! He can easily transition from expansive, gentle and pretty tones to absolutely shredding.
Alice: During our first meetings with Nick, we told him that we wanted a record that sounded liked ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’- Olivia Newton-John meets anything by Nick Cave, and Bullock took it from there. We think he absolutely nailed it!
AnaLee: Can you tell us about the song and video for “Tennessee Rain”?
Alice: For sure! Cam actually wrote the hook to this song before we met. He was walking downtown during one of those Tennessee summer storms, and the line ‘slow, slow, slow Tennessee rain’ formed. We finished this song together during our first experience of the tornado sirens. We were living in a 500 square foot little house, with no basement and the storm was pretty terrifying. Thankfully there was no major damage, just one or two trees down around the house. We stayed up that night, comforting ourselves with a bottle of red and wrote Tennessee Rain. This song is pretty emblematic of where we were both at, at the time. We were both going through some pretty big transitions, and it was also the start of our relationship. We felt that if we had each other, and could keep eyes forward - everything will be okay.
AnaLee: When Googling The Winnie Blues, you get all kinds of images of what appears to be a very popular brand of cigarettes in Australia. I’m wondering what, if any, the connection is?
Cam: Ha! Yes, great catch! Winnie Blues is indeed a colloquial name for a brand of cigarettes in Australia that were popular in the 80’s/90’s. It’s our little way of giving nod to a period of time in Australia, rather than the actual smokes. Aussies often say that hearing our band name throws them back to their younger years. There’s some nostalgia involved, and we feel it’s a nice way for us to carry a bit of Australia with us.
AnaLee: The video for “Lonely Love” looks like it was shot during the pandemic. I cannot remember the last time I saw downtown Nashville that empty! I love how this song really stretches out instrumentally, can you tell us about it and the video?
Alice: That video was actually only shot two weeks ago! The 6th of July to be exact. The trick is to get down there at 4:30/5:00am. Generally speaking, the only people down there were service folks setting up for the next day, and downtown heroes from the night before. We filmed this video ourselves using an iPhone and Cam edited it, with some color-correction help from our friend Sam Stephenson. Our hope was to actually film down there at nighttime, to represent a loneliness in a crowd, however the thought of being around thousands of tourist-honkytonkers was enough to squash that idea pretty quickly.
Cam: This song became unintentionally much bigger than we ever anticipated. Chris and Ryan jumped on piano and created this lush and pretty intro, which lead to us all jamming out the outro. That was done in one take. If you listen really carefully, you can actually hear me laugh during the outro- because it was that f**king good, we couldn’t believe it haha. Again, we feel so lucky we had such talented people play on this record.
AnaLee: Congratulations on finally getting the album out, your upcoming release show at Dee’s next Friday and your Americana Fest showcase! What do your tour plans look like at this point?
Alice: Thank you! We feel so proud of ourselves for getting to this point. It’s been a long time coming, and a lot of work. We are so excited for our show next week, we think it’s going to be pretty special. Following the launch, we are hitting the road up to Iowa to play the Campfire stage at Hinterland Festival the next weekend. We have a bunch of dates in a bunch of states until October, playing with Dustin Ray-Smith.
Cam: We are also pretty excited to announce our first official showcase at Americana Fest this year, so we are looking forward to that too. We would love to get back to Australia at some point next year to tour. ‘Half Wide Awake, But Dreaming’ was just featured as Album of the Week by ABC Country radio, so I think there is definitely a desire for us to get back there and play. It all just depends on the border quarantine situation. Australia still mandates all travelers into Australia to quarantine in a hotel room for two weeks - vaccinated or not, which is pretty dang expensive. So, we’ll just keep an eye on the news and remain hopeful!
The Winnie Blues, “Tennessee Rain”
The Winnie Blues, “Lonely Love”