Bertie Blackman considers herself one of these artists. Acclaimed in her own right, Blackman jumped at the opportunity to be a part of Straight To You: Triple J’s Tribute To Nick Cave. Spanning across seven cities, these eight gigs will feature a variety of musicians coming together to pay homage to Cave’s back catalogue, all under the direction of Cameron Bruce. It will be a chance not only for artists such as Blackman, Dan Sultan, Lisa Mitchell, Johnny Mackay and Ben Corbitt to come together as something of a refined tribute band; these musicians may better understand themselves as a writers and performers by examining the work of one of their influences. Blackman is doing her best to prepare herself.
“It’s going to be a really growing experience. I mean, every experience is, but I’m starting to research a lot of Nick Cave as of late. I’m going to head down to the ACMI and check out a bunch of his old films. I’ve got to get a feeling of him, and all his aspects. It’s just inspiring as a creative person to see someone that’s branched out in so many ways. It’s just brave and interesting.”
Brave and interesting, indeed. Cave has done a fine job at forging his own path and in turn, touched the lives of many along the way. Blackman remembers the moment the music of Nick Cave first impacted her life, and she relates the story with a palpable fondness.
“I think I was seven at the time. I was driving down to the coast with my family. My niece’s mother, my half-brother’s now ex-wife, she was really into Nick Cave. She used to play music really, really loud in the car. I remember heading down the coast and hearing The Ship Song and seeing the rolling greenery and the mountains. It was really dark and rainy. This voice just came at me from the stereo. It was one of my first moments as a child as having a strong feeling of nostalgia, yet also thinking about the future of my life at the same moment.”
Many Australians likely have their own Nick Cave stories in their pockets. So what is it that has allowed Cave’s work to resonate so heavily in the country he grew up in? Is it his dedication to his vision, his understated public persona or his ability to work free of genres? Blackman has her own theory.
“He is a man who is absolutely himself. He’s an amazing storyteller and he comes from a small town. Save for a few capital cities, Australia is quite rural. He’s a person who a lot of young songwriters could aspire to. He’s had a really incredible career, from The Birthday Party stuff, to the film stuff, to his books of poetry, he is truly an artist in his own right. And I think that’s inspiring.”
Although the pure musical lineage between Cave and many of the artists partaking in “Straight to You” may be difficult to trace, there is an element of his work that is stronger than anything that be recorded. Bertie Blackman has fell under his spell and scores of Blackman’s fans are better off because of it. And with Straight To You, Blackman may be able to expose this spell to fans both of hers and of Cave’s respectively.
“Nick Cave takes no prisoners. He is who he is. He’s been around the world and lived in all different places. And as far as I know, he hasn’t sacrificed anything. Nothing seems like a lie, to me. I believe it. I believe he is who he is. I think that’s a really important part of being an artist: you have to be true to who you are. It means a lot to people if you’re sharing a part of you. It can resonate a lot with people if you’re sharing the ‘true’ part. It’s a really important thing for me as a writer and performer. It moves you; you can’t deny that.”