You can blame it all on Nils Cusack, if you wish.
The first Stereo Story. 2013. The first gig. 2014. And then another 20 shows.
Yep, it’s all Nils’ fault. ‘Though his name was Jack back then. Jack Gramski. Stage name for a 21st century troubadour. (I used to introduce Jack as ‘The Woody Guthrie of Werribee’ and, as a nod to a previous job, ‘The Billy Bragg of Baker’s Delight’.)
He was busking at the Newport Folk Festival in Melbourne. July 2012. Singing Dylan and Springsteen songs. And some of his own. He had a crackerjack song called Waiting In Line, about being in the long queues at Centrelink. And another good ‘un about characters on the Werribee train.
I wrote a story about hearing his version of the Springsteen song Growin’ Up and put it on my little personal blog before I’d even thought of the term ‘Stereo Stories’ (let alone the website). And when I dreamt that the story could work on stage I tracked down the busker with the big voice.
He quickly cottoned onto the idea of a song weaving its way through a story, and away we went.
Growin’ Up was just the start. Then came State Trooper and the Tom Waits’ song Everything You Can Think Of Is True. Senses Working Overtime. Words From Robin To Batman by The Kill Devil Hills. Paul Kelly’s Before Too Long. One Direction’s Best Song Ever. Neil Young’s Crime In The City. Stevie Wright’s Guitar Band. The Osmonds’ Crazy Horses. The Mercy Seat by Nick Cave. And his tour de force, Richard Thompson’s 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, performed with nervous gusto at the Write Around The Murray Festival in Albury in 2018. Solo or as part of the band, Nils has been a pivotal presence on stage.
Lately Nils has been on leave from Stereo Stories while concentrating on study, work and a new musical direction. But, yep, you could